"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where is the Leadership?

Ole Mac Brunson has made significant changes to the bylaws of our church and no one seems to care. And Mac Brunson is so spineless that he won't even bother to tell the church what the changes are. Not a word. What a disgrace.

You probably thought, as I did, that the by-law changes voted on last night were just some minor administrative changes. After all, the two men who conducted the business meeting last night made no explanation of the by law changes - not even a brief summary or statement regarding what the changes were. Surely, the pastor would stand before his people and spend 1 minute explaining what the changes are, why they are made, and what the implications are. Nope. Doesn't feel the need to. To him you are the stupid sheep who will rubber stamp everything - from by law changes, to his FBC Academy, with either no explanation, or the lamest of explanations ("people aren't home anymore" so we need to reach them with a school).

Last night in the business meeting you saw a very clever maneuver - absolutely no explanation whatsoever of the by law changes which were NOT just minor insignificant administrative changes. But Mr. Moderator did give a direct reading and explanation of the proposed changes to the articles of incorporation which WERE minor and relatively insignificant. Because of the direct reading of the changes of the articles, the membership was left with the impression that the bylaw changes TOO were administrative and insignificant. Apparently they were not.

Well, I will confess I didn't go and read the proposed by law changes in the library which were announced in the past few weeks' bulletins. Apparently we all should have.

Here is a quote from an anonymous poster last night when asked about the by law changes:

"A quick summary of the ones I remember:The Pastor appoints the Board of Trustees with the input from the Chair of the Deacons and then the Board is elected by the church.

The Pastor provides input and consents as to which Deacons participate on the various committees.

A disciplinary committee was established with responsibilities.

By your membership in the church, if there are any disputes with the church you agree to mediate the matter with the church. If there is no resolution with the church, then the issue will go to the Florida Baptist Convention to be mediated by them.

The amount of money that can be spent and the various approvals required were also changed."

If those changes don't require the leader of our church to give an explanation of what he is doing and why he is doing it, then we all might as well just hand the keys of the church to Mac Brunson, we'll all sign a pledge card stating our loyalty to Sir Mac, and just let him do as he pleases.

FBC Jax - wake up. The train has not only left the station, but its gaining speed and soon will be out of control.

Anyone else care to give more explanation or analysis, pro or con, of the proposed changes to the bylaws last night?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gamble: Parents Who Send Kids to Public Schools are Disobedient and Rebellious

Mac Brunson is bringing in Ed Gamble Wednesday night to talk to the church about FBC Jax starting a Christian school.

Its always good to know where a speaker stands on important issues before they come in to address a congregation. No one in our church has probably ever heard of Ed Gamble. We don't know who he is, what his organization is, or what he believes.

So here is some background information for members of FBC Jackson on Ed Gamble; this will be useful since Mac has invited Ed to convince us, er I mean talk to us about starting a Christian school.

Keep in mind: there are many in the Southern Baptist Convention who believe that Christian parents should not put their kids in public schools. Among them are Al Mohler and Voddie Baucham. And Ed Gamble. I have to say that I myself lean toward Ed Gamble's view of public schools, but unlike Ed Gamble I'm not willing to call a parent "disobedient" for sending their kids to a public school.

- Ed Gamble is the director of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools. So far as I can tell there is no official connection of his organization to the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBACS is a 501(c)3 organization incorporated in the state of Florida. They are based in Windemere, Florida. Their mission appears to be in helping churches start what they call "Kingdom Schools". They hold workshops and seminars to help schools get started. They have resources at their website for starting schools, but the hyperlinks to the resources don't work. They do maintain a database of Christian schools around the country, but its hard to find any in their database that are members of their organization.

- Its quite apparent that Ed Gamble will be of little help in us determining if we should start a school - his bent - as you will see below - is that churches all over the country need to get on the ball and start Christian schools - a network of over 5000 by the year 2025. So he will be here to tell us how urgent it is that we do start one. But perhaps he can inject some reality into what it will take, and the sacrifice involved in starting a school, and maybe he will surprise me and discuss how to determine if a school is a right choice for a church.

As for what he believes:

- Ed Gamble believes it is not biblical for parents to send their children to secular schools.

Here's an excerpt from onenewsnow.com:

Gamble says sending children to be indoctrinated by a secular, humanist institution is not biblical.

"Failure to do what God says is called disobedience. You can color it whatever color you want, but it's still disobedience -- it's rebellion," argues Gamble. "And when God's people don't take ownership of the education of their children, they're disobeying God."

- Ed Gamble believes that parents sending their kids to public schools with the belief that they will be "salt and light" are deceived. Another excerpt:

Director Edward Gamble says Christians who give their children over to the secular public school system are disobeying God's command to educate their children biblically. He says many Christians believe the false argument that Christian children can be "salt and light" in the secular, humanist environment of public schools.

"I've heard that over and over and over again for the last 20 or 30 or 40 years," Gamble confesses, "and when I look at the results, the results say that the world influences the kids more than the kids influence the world."

- Ed Gamble believes God will judge pastors who are afraid of publicly condeming the public school system for fear of offendng members who are teachers and administrators in the public schools, or parents who have their children in the public school system. Another excerpt:

Gamble says pastors who defend public schools are remembering a public school system that does not exist anymore; a setting where God was welcomed, not banned. And lastly, he states that these pastors do not want to offend.

"They look out over their congregations, and they see all these people who work and teach and are involved in the public school system -- and frankly, they wonder how in the world they could take a position that appears to oppose those people's livelihood or investment," he explains. "And I'm not sure whether that is a failure on the part of the pastor to be courageous enough to call the situation what it is."

Gamble says if this is the case, God will judge that.

Where do you think our pastor stands on these matters?

Welcome to FBC Jax Mr. Gamble. Perhaps you can help us as we determine whether a school at FBC Jax is the right direction for our church.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

FBC Jax Beware: The Major Fleecing is About to Begin...

Watch out FBC Jax...the fleecing of the congregation is about to be cranked into high gear: we're behind budget (or we've overspent on missions - Mac has said both things on separate occasions), Mac is ready to move forward with the school idea now that he has determined door-to-door evangelism doesn't work anymore (yes, that's what he said), and we will need to dig deep to do the much needed renovations and improvements of our facilities. All this means: more money from you, with little accountability from the church on how they are spending our money.

Case in point: Mac Brunson preached last night about how important prayer is to the Christian life. Then Mac Brunson had his deacons lead you in prayer in groups to pray about three needs:

1. That God would "unleash the financial resources of the church" and as he said: "...and you are the resource". Carefully chosen word "unleash"...this means that the resources we need are bound up or tied....by YOU the congregation...and we need YOU to let loose of YOUR money that YOU have tied up, that YOU are holding back...YOU have it, but just aren't giving it.

2. Pray about the big decision of starting a school (which after the deacons led us in prayer its apparent that what Mac wants us to pray this way: "Lord, please help me want a school at our church as badly as Mac Brunson wants a school...")

3. Salvation of those who come to our church (presumably so they too can become a "resource" and give and help underwrite the budget of the church and Mac's new school)

I don't know about you, but I didn't pray as Mac suggested.

About prayer request #1: I did not last night and will not be praying that more people would give more to the church. I don't think that's what we need to pray. If people are giving less, and knowing that our church has ALWAYS been a generous congregation meeting the financial needs of the church, then perhaps there is a root cause for the decreased giving; maybe decreased giving is a result of discerning Christians becoming concerned with what is happening in the church.

Why might giving be down? Why are people not "unleashing" the resources of the church?Perhaps its because people are concerned about the following:

- budget cutbacks in areas of ministry, cutting ministry or alternatively charging increased or new fees to the lay leaders to support their ministries;

- the preacher being given a $300,000 piece of land 2 weeks after he arrived with no explanation to the congregation of why this was done and the circumstances surrounding it;

- the preacher asking for us to give more while he and his wife are earning hefty salaries that allow them to live lavishly in a million dollar 6 bedroom, 4 1/2 bath home in a gated, exclusive community (like it or not, requests from a millionaire preacher living in a million dollar house asking people to pray about giving more to their church causes people to watch their pocketbooks closely. See "Benny Hinn", "Joyce Meyer" and "Kenneth Copeland"). This causes people to wonder if our money is being spent properly when the preacher is able to live so lavishly.

- that Mac has admitted that we overspent on missions this past year to the tune of about $500,000, and that our finance committee was "terrified" over it (Mac's sermon at Mud Creek Baptist Church 10/8/07). No explanation as to how this overexpenditure occured, why we "overspent", who decided to overspend, and what it was this "overspent" money went towards (see next item)

- that overspending on missions doesn't just mean giving more to missionaries, but that it involves spending tens of thousands of dollars for staff members and some of their family members accompanying them on "mission" trips. When lay people go on missions, they need to come up with the money, but Mac and staff travel on mission trips on the church budget, and occasionally take their family members. So again, it rings awfully hollow when we are overspent on missions when our staff members and our pastor uses budget dollars to travel on mission trips, yet laypeople are expected to pay their way on all mission trips.

So instead of praying that you all will give more, I am praying you will NOT give more, and I am praying Mac Brunson will be totally open and honest about our financial situation. He said last night that our church is behind $200,000 to $250,000 in our giving; he specifically said that we've not overspent by that amount, but that the congregation is behind in giving what they committed. Very interesting, because this contradicts what he told the Mud Creek Baptist Church on 10/8/07 that our church was short on our budget because we overspent on missions. Yet Sunday night he doesn't mention this, he just explains that our church is behind on its giving what we had committed (in other words - the financial problem is caused by and should be solved by the congregation). So which is it Mac? Did you overspend on missions by sending staff members and family members on mission trips, or are we slackers and haven't given what we committed in the last budget year? Or is it both? If you're going to say we are behind on our giving, why not also explain the mission over-expenditure that you mentioned when you preached out of town? So until our pastor is more open, honest, and transparent with these financial matters, I'm praying that people will NOT give more. I'm praying instead that Mac will find it in his heart to be open with his congregation, and not try to manipulate us into giving more by telling us how important prayer is in the Christian life, then having deacons "lead us" in prayer that we will let loose of more of our money, while he is earning a huge salary allowing him to live a lavish life style.

About praying concerning the start-up of the school: Realize church that Mac doesn't really want you to pray about the school in terms of whether we should or should not start a school. He has already made his mind up, he has already rallied the support of the deacons and staff and apparently the board of directors, and now their job is to convince us too that a school is a good idea because we will have to open up our wallets and pay for it, although hardly any of us will be able to afford the tuition to send our kids. Mac knows this, so he tells us that the school must be done because - get this - listen to this Southern Baptist Convention - that door-to-door evangelism doesn't work anymore because "people are never home." He actually said this in the context of why a school is necessary - that to reach people we must educate their children. This is absolute hogwash, and he actually expects us to buy it! There are many good reasons for FBC Jax starting a school, but as a primary outreach tool because other evangelism methods are not working is just not one of them!

One thing I've learned about Mac Brunson over the past year and a half - he likes to bring in people from the outside to preach to us to rally sympathy for him, or support for his vision. He did it with Dennis Swanburg for the Vision ("Mac's tiiired...he's been planting shade trees"), he did it with Phil Waldrep when under pressure from the previous blogger, he did it with Jerry Vines at the 2007 Pastors Conference, he did it with Johnny Hunt earlier this summer when giving went down, and of course he had Paige Patterson ask for prayer because Mac was being attacked by recalcitrants at his church. Now this Wednesday will be the next episode - he will bring a person in from the SBC whose job it will be to tell us how powerful a ministry it will be to have a school, and how great it is going to be.

Perhaps having a school is the way to go...but church we should not vote on it until our Pastor comes clean with us, and explains what the projected costs will be during the start up years, how this will impact our other areas of ministry, and he comes clean on the other financial matters discussed above. He needs to share with us some research done that might project enrollment out into the future, what expected tuition costs will be. Pray that this information will be shared so a smart decision can be made. I for one don't believe for a minute that having a school is a signficant element of reaching Jacksonville with the gospel - we will reach mostly rich, white people who live like Mac lives, but the average church member who is struggling to make ends meet (and trying to "unleash" more of the church's resources) will find it difficult if not impossible to send their kids to the private school. Again, not that a school would be a bad thing necessarily, but to try to convince us that we MUST in order to reach people with the gospel, and that we MUST because other evangelism methods like door-to-door are outdated, just doesn't pass the smell test. Furthermore, Mac Brunson has not earned our blind trust to lead us into such an endeavor unless he is open and honest with us about all the costs.

Finally, did you notice Mac last night rolled out the "if you're not happy here, you should go to another church" mantra? I'm sure we'll be hearing more of this in the future as the heat is turned up to give more. He's sensing resistance, so he can't hold himself back from telling his congregation that if they don't like things, if they aren't happy, they should go elsewhere.

Mac declared his allegiance to the church two Sundays ago, stating that he was called by God to the church and he is absolutely committed to it. That's great Mac, but so are we. We have been called to this church to serve just as much as you have, and we aren't going to bail out on our committment any faster than you will, whether we are happy or not with what goes on in the church. We are committed to the church just as much if not more than you are - most of us have demonstrated this over decades of faithfulness, and no 300,000 dollar gifts were used to entice us to come to the church and serve...so please don't roll out the "if you're not happy please go away"....because we will say the same to you...if you don't like us, if we're not following you like you would like, perhaps it is YOU who should go somewhere else.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Overspent on Missions - Mac to Finance Committee: "Ye of Little Faith"

One of Donald M. Brunson's strengths is not keeping his congregation informed - his first year we saw this clearly as he rarely told us if he was preaching from Sunday to Sunday. Or in bringing wife and son on staff - no explanation, and no formal listing of ministry responsibilities on the church web site like most other ministries that employ pastor family members. Ditto on the Israeli event that he mentioned ONE TIME to his congregation, 10 days before the event, and never seriously explained why we should be behind him in that endeavor. Its beginning to look like Mac views our church and its resources as something at his personal disposal, and doesn't view himself as having a responsibility to inform us and "bring us along" with him on his decisions...must be he views our role is just to shut up, serve, give, and "be the sheep". But if he needs something from US....like if we have a budget shortfall that needs to be made up, well he has no problem communicating THAT consistently and clearly week after week.

We see this in the issue of the budget shortfall we are currently experiencing. He has told us on several occasions that we are "behind budget" by about half a million dollars, yet hasn't explained why; quite curious in light of his claims that "giving is up" that we are "behind budget". Wouldn't that dictate an explanation of why we under budget and in what area did the excessive spending occur? "What did we overspend on" is an obvious question in the minds of the congregation.

Apparently, FBC Jax, if you want to find out key pieces of information about what's going on in your church, you have to find out where Mac is preaching out of town and listen to Mac's sermons when he is on the road (provided you can find that out!) then you can find out the missing pieces of information that he doesn't tell us.

Case in point: Mac preached a three-day revival at Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, NC on October 8-10 during his recent vacation (which he didn't tell us about - not that he has to, but one would think he at least wants his congregation to pray for him if he's leading a revival) and there he explained in one of his sermons WHY FBC Jax is behind budget: we have overspent on missions. Also, Mac proclaimed that Jesus Christ himself cut the budget shortfall in half on one Sunday! And he also threw in the barb that our finance committee was "terrified" at the budget shortfall and has little faith. Listen to the following clips:

Here is the clip from the sermon on the budget and our finance committee.

Here is another clip giving some tidbits of information that might be interesting to FBC Jax members.

Here is Mac forgetting that he pastors FBC Jacksonville and not FBC Dallas.

[You can watch the video stream of Mac's sermons at Mud Creek by clicking on "video on demand" at the church's website which will direct you to the "316network" where their sermons can be accessed. Maybe by the year 2010 our church, one of the flagship SBC churches, might be able to video archive our services on our website...sure would like to know what agreement our search committee made with Mac that prevents us from doing this. We are being very poor stewards of the technological resources God has given us in not archiving the video of our church services and making them available worldwide 24/7. Mac makes audio of selected sermons available at his own 501(c)3 website, but without sermon titles and without dates!]

Back to the budget: why did we overspend on missions by half a million dollars - doesn't our budget guide us and keep us from doing this unless we cut spending in another line item? Was it the finance committee who didn't do their job, or did the pastor commit our church in missions without prior approval? Maybe the best question is: does not our church have an expenditure approval process that prevents HUGE over-expenditures like $500,000? Maybe I missed something, but in the past 25 years I don't recall hearing of 1/2 million dollar budget shortages because of overspending in one area - so no wonder our finance committee was concerned ("terrified" as Mac almost said in the clip but stopped short at "ter..."). Our church is used to being on-budget and paying as we go...but perhaps this is part of the "change" that Mac and Jim Smyrl have been preaching to us about.

Lastly, if you would like to hear the Paige Patterson clip at SWBTS explaining how poor 'ole Mac was attacked by "recalcitrants" ever since he arrived at FBC Jax and never got a honeymoon, click here. Click here for my article on this matter and what a lie it is that FBC Jax didn't get give the Brunsons a "honeymoon".

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Night to Stand With Israel

Well, tonight is the night that the event is being held at our church to raise money for the Israeli hospital. I have a clear conscience that I did my best to get the information out to the church that no one on our church staff would bother explaining to the congregation. I tried to explain that our church has no business sponsoring and advertising an event to raise funds for a hospital that performs abortions - no matter all the other good things the hospital does - they still perform abortions. I tried to explain that the impetus of the event may not have been conviction on our pastors part to help the Jews in this manner, but the impetus may have been financial interests of "prominent deacons" and other men in the biomedical field. I did my best to make the argument that hosting this event at our church, an event NOT explicitly proclaiming Jesus as Messiah may harm our ministry in Jacksonville, and does a disservice to those lost people (Jew and Gentile) who attend.

How sad that our pastor never did address the concerns that discerning members have about holding this event at our church. How sad that staff members approached by various members had little to no information about the event and offered no answers other than to "go talk to the event's advisory panel". I received an email from a seminary student at Southwestern Seminary who is quite shocked that Mac Brunson is sponsoring this event at his church - this student explained that Mac preached a sermon at SWBTS recently on the lack of discernment in our churches today - yet here is Mac not having the discernment to tell this group to have the event at another venue, and not having the integrity or wisdom to know that he has a duty to explain fully the reasons why this event is a worthy event for our church. But this is a new day at FBC Jax under Mac Brunson.

I hope some of our members go. Maybe some members who attend will report back here. Here is a list of questions deserving an answer:

1. Were our ushers there to greet the attendees?

2. Did our ushers greet the visitors and hand out visitor's cards and collect them?

3. Were any of the Christian symbols covered for this event, such as crosses, or the names of Jesus displayed below the pulpit?

4. How many times was the name Jesus mentioned?

5. Was the gospel ever presented in any form or fashion?

6. What was Mac's speech about?

7. Were the names "M-EDG" or "Florida Israel Biomedical Initiative" mentioned?

8. How many people attended?

9. What kind of music, if any, was played?

10. Who was the host or master of ceremonies for the evening?

11. Did this have the feel of a church service, or was it more of a political event, a fund raiser?

12. Were deacons and FBC Jacksonville staff present? Which deacons were present for this event?

13. Did Mike Cohen or John Perry of M-EDG speak at the event, or were they mentioned or present?

14. Were any comments made by the speakers regarding the objections to this event being held at FBC Jax?

15. Who is the 501(c)3 organization collecting the funds and responsible for distributing them to the hospital?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Senator Grassley Ain't No "Recalcitrant"...

Hurray for Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee for opening an investigation of six televangelists for possible financial misconduct. Grassley is going to try to find whether these "ministries" have been improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to support their leader's lavish lifestyles.

Its quite easy for these televangelists to ignore requests from their contributors to see detailed financial information...let's see how well they ignore Senator Grassley. I doubt Paige Patterson will be calling him a "recalcitrant" and accusing him of attacking "the men of God". No doubt these televangelists have their lawyers ready to put roadblocks in front of Grassley to hide the truth from him too; but it won't work.

The six televangelists are (no surprise): Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Bennie Hinn (not Bennie!), Paula White, and Eddie Long.

Its just a matter of time before the government starts looking at the tax-exempt status of mega-churches also who are clearly using money from their congregants to enrich the pastor and his family...and the pastors use their brand name that is built through the church ministry to sell books and tapes and further build their financial empire...all the while hiding the detailed financial information from the members on salaries and gifts and perks.

Way to go Senator Grassley - we'll be watching as you hopefully expose these millionaire charletons for who they are! But don't stop at the televangelists...there are plenty of mega church pastors operating in similar fashion that you ought to take a look at. Imagine the shake-up among mega churches if Senator Grassley announced they were going to investigate one of the big-name pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention - pick one that lives in a multi-million dollar home, has family on staff with no official ministry responsibilities, and accepts six-figure "gifts".

Click here to read the story. You'll see the story references a man named Ole Anthony who has a ministry called "Trinity Foundation" which describes itself as: "...a watchdog monitoring religious media, fraud and abuse." To go to Mr. Anthony's website click here and read some interesting (and disturbing) articles on these televangelists. Another interesting site to visit is Ministry Watch based in North Carolina which provides information to donors of Christian ministries.
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Update: Click here to see a CBS interview with Ole Anthony as he describes these ministries and the lack of accountability they have in how the donations are spent. He says near the end of the interview that he doesn't have much of a problem with local churches where there is accountability to the board of deacons or elders...but the question that members of churches like FBC Jax should ask: what official group of members in our church has REAL oversight responsibility of what goes on in our church? To what men is the pastor accountable? Before you piously answer that last question with a "Why he's accountable only to God!" answer, consider this question: if we ever have a pastor who is doing bad things, who would be responsible for calling him out and putting a stop to it? Stated another way, how would we avoid a repeat of the Trinity Baptist Church diaster where there was no pastor oversight and accountability and gross sin went on and on for years? Its not the deacons, we know that. Is it the FBC Jax Board of Directors appointed by the pastor? Just some food for thought.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Bold, New Direction

This Thursday is an important night in the life of our church. We embark on a bold, new direction. We are trodding into territory only the likes of John Hagee dares to trod...yes, the John Hagee who now boldly claims that Jesus never came to be the Messiah for the Jewish people, and hosts non-evangelistic events to raise money for Israel. This Thursday our church is hosting a very similar event called "A Time to Stand With Israel". Despite our pastor's claims, this is an event that for all practical purposes is being hosted and sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. Its on our property, we are the ones who have it proudly displayed on our website...its our baby. This blog is the only place that I've seen any serious attempt at analyzing this event: what is its purpose, why would our church do this, what are the pros/cons of sponsoring such an event. This blog is the only media that has made an attempt to disseminate information to the church members who deserve to know what is going on in their church. But nothing from the pulpit except the most basic analysis from Mac Brunson (we got our bible from the Jews, Jesus was a Jew, and Israel is the apple of God's eye). He never made an attempt to answer any of the serious questions in peoples minds that have been expressed here on this blog - questions having to do with abortion, with the mission of our church, and the possible financial or business motives of hosting such an event. What an absolute abdication of leadership responsibility on the part of our pastor to avoid addressing any of these issues.

Why do I say we are embarking on a new direction? Well, as far as I can tell, this is the first political, non-Christian, fund-raising event that we've ever had at our church. For years and years and years, our church has stood for one thing: JESUS CHRIST IS THE MESSIAH AND SAVIOR, HE IS THE ONLY WAY TO GOD, AND ALL MEN MUST ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST TO GO TO HEAVEN. All events we've held have been focused on getting this message out in various forms: preaching services, pastor's conferences, children's musicals, high school drama performances, special Christian music events, family conferences, Christian comedian events, and on and on. Our message....our mission...always very clear, very consistent all these years. So clear that we have from time-to-time gotten heat from local and national media for being so "rigid", so dogmatic. When Dr. Vines dared to say that Mohamed was a "demon-possessed pedophile" at the 2002 Southern Baptist Convention Pastor's Conference, national attention was focused on our church. But our pastor, the man representing our church, didn't back down one inch, he didn't flinch a bit....he stood in the pulpit on the Sunday after all the hullabaloo, and proudly declared that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God, and declared that he was too busy pastoring the church and spreading the gospel to meet with any leaders of other faiths to discuss his comments. Jerry Vines received a standing ovation from his congregation for his bravery.

Fast forward 6 years to Mac Brunson - Mac is not only hosting an event that is expressly non-Christian (not just "secular", but honoring a religion that does NOT believe what we believe about Jesus Christ) that has no more business being at our church than we have holding a church service at the Moose Club....but he won't even mention this event, won't even bother to announce it the Sunday before it takes place. Certainly he knows his congregation is concerned and has questions. If its not important enough to announce on the Sunday before it is held, just how important is this event? Shouldn't he show us the courtesy of explaining it again, maybe talking about why it IS a good event for our church? How it IS consistent with our message and mission? The flyer on our website proclaims that this is a time for Christians to show their support for Israel! So shouldn't he be telling us that the Sunday before?

So there you have it...I've posted several times here explaining why this event has absolutely no business being hosted on our church property. If you want you can go back and read those comments, as I won't rehash them here.

But I hope there will be some members who are in attendance Thursday night who can report back here and share their experience with the rest of the church. We need to get answers to the congregation on the following questions:

1. Were our ushers there to greet the attendees?

2. Did our ushers greet the visitors and hand out visitor's cards and collect them?

3. Were any of the Christian symbols covered for this event, such as crosses, or the names of Jesus displayed below the pulpit?

4. How many times was the name Jesus mentioned?

5. Was the gospel ever presented in any form or fashion?

6. What was Mac's speech about?

7. Were the names "M-EDG" or "Florida Israel Biomedical Initiative" mentioned?

8. How many people attended?

9. What kind of music, if any, was played?

10. Who was the host or master of ceremonies for the evening?

11. Did this have the feel of a church service, or was it more of a political event, a fund raiser?

12. Were deacons and FBC Jacksonville staff present? Which deacons were present for this event?

13. Did Mike Cohen or John Perry of M-EDG speak at the event, or were they mentioned or present?

14. Were any comments made by the speakers regarding the objections to this event being held at FBC Jax?

Perhaps some of you bloggers have other questions to add to the list. Let's try to get answers to all of these and share them with the congregation. Audio clips would be helpful!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

"Preacher Pads": Livin' Large With God's Money!

The theme song of "The Jefferson's", the 1970's spin-off sitcom about George and Louise Jefferson (neighbors of Archie Bunker), was "Movin' On Up". Who can forget that familiar jingle about 'ole George Jefferson finally making it big and "movin on up to the east side". We were happy for George, as his dry cleaning business that he worked for so many years took off and let him make it big.

It sure seems that mega church pastors and TV pastors lately are living that song in their lives....they land the big church, a TV ministry, maybe a book deal...then they are "movin' on up" into luxurious, opulent lifestyles. Only the money they are using is not coming from their family businesses, it comes from people giving their tithes and offerings - you know, "God's money".

The Memphis ABC-affiliate did a feature story last week on preachers in their area documenting the value of their homes, and their parishioners responses. A number of pastor's in the Memphis area that are on TV live in houses valued at over 1 million dollars. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, was included in this story, and he lives in a "modest" home of around $490,000 sized at 3600 square feet.

We're still waiting to see the public records on the Brunson's home. Unless the builder gave them a huge discount, the sale price of their 5500+ square foot home in exclusive Deerwood, built on the 1/2 acre lot backing up to the #5 fairway gifted to them two weeks after their arrival in Jacksonville, will come in at over a million dollars - enough to put them in the upper echelon of TV preachers in Memphis!

Sure would be interesting to see how Mac Brunson's humble abode compares to other mega preachers in this area. Maybe our news media will do the same kind of story.

But click here to see the video story as it appeared on the news. Click here to see the written article.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Omission: The Sin Against Israel

As anyone who visits this blog knows by now, Dr. Mac Brunson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville has decided to use the church facilities at FBC Jacksonville to host an event called "A Time to Stand With Israel".

The purpose of FBC Jax in hosting the event is not clear, but the pastor's office has stated that it is one way we can "show the love of Jesus to our Jewish friends". This is certainly debatable, since the objective of the event is NOT to witness to the attendees, but instead to honor the Jewish nation and to raise funds for a Jewish hospital while not directly addressing the Jews' need for Jesus Christ. Believers at FBC Jax have consistently been taught by our pastors over the years the most loving thing we can do is to tell people - Jew or Gentile - about Jesus Christ; the most unloving thing we can do to a lost person is affirm them in their lost condition and beliefs and not tell them about Jesus. So as I have said numerous times in the past weeks on this blog it is sad - no, it is a tragedy - that the pastor of our church has decided to host this event at our church. A worthy event? Yes. Consistent with our church's mission and message? Clearly not. Perhaps in his speaking slot at the event Mac Brunson will use this as an opportunity to tell the message of Jesus, but it is doubtful.

Don't agree with me that its a sad thing we are hosting this event not focused on Jesus' Messiahship? Think I'm crazy saying its an absolute tragedy that we are handing over the use of our facilities to men who are going to use our resources to glorify Israel while not proclaiming Jesus is their Messiah? Well then listen to the Executive Director of "Jews for Jesus". I came across an article of his that really says what I have tried to say here on this blog the last week.

You've probably heard of "Jews for Jesus", a 35 year old evangelistic organization whose mission is "to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide. " Jews for Jesus is headquartered in San Francisco and has many ministries throughout the world focusing on bringing the message of Jesus Christ's messiahship to the Jewish people. David Brickner is their Executive Director. Listen to what he wrote in his May 12, 2006 article entitled "Omission: The Sin Against Israel", where he points out the danger in these kinds of events; he refers to an article written by Robert Stearns urging Christians to support Israel politically, while ignoring their need for Jesus Chris. Note below that he addresses directly "Christians United for Israel", John Hagee's group that sponsors these same types of non-evangelistic events to support the nation of Israel.

I know this is long, but you have to read this. I've added my own highlights. If you want to read Mr. Brickner's entire article, click here.

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Good deeds sometimes do more harm than good. That’s right. If we busy ourselves with doing good while omitting what is best, then what is good eventually shrivels into a sorry substitute for what is best....Nowhere in his article does Stearns make the slightest mention of Israel’s desperate need to know her Messiah. Nowhere does he tell Christians that their prayers for more Israelis to come to saving faith is an important part of Christian support for Israel.

Stearns directs an organization that stands side by side with a growing number of organizations that encourage Christians to support Israel, and instruct churches on how to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Yet there is an aching, gaping omission regarding the gospel of our Messiah Y’shua, and the need for the people of Israel to receive Him.

When it comes to Israel’s well-being, this glaring omission threatens to undermine all the good intentions and good deeds that characterize several Christian organizations.....

How can Christians teach one another to pray for the peace of Jerusalem but fail to mention the Prince of Peace? Soothing words of comfort and kind acts are good as far as they go, but they cannot prevent the inevitable loss that every soul who dies without Jesus must face.

We recognize the validity of ministries whose main focus is not gospel proclamation, but those that ignore or, at times even contradict, the need for Jewish people to receive the gospel go against the clear teaching of the Scriptures.


How did Jesus pray for Jerusalem? He wept over the city and said “If you had known. . . the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes….How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings...” (Luke 19:41-42; 13:34). Jesus was so committed to peace for Jerusalem that he stretched out his arms and died upon a cross to purchase that peace with His own blood.

How did the apostle Paul pray for Israel? “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved…. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 10:1; 9:3).

The Scriptures should inform our support and prayer for Israel, and yet they do not factor into the plans or purposes of many organizations. Indeed, they are an embarrassment to some. For them, omitting any mention of Israel’s need for the gospel clearly is not an oversight; it is intentional. In describing the most recent and potentially powerful of these organizations, a group called Christians United For Israel, in this month’s Charisma magazine comments, “To engender the trust of the Jewish community, the organization is to be ‘non-conversionary’ in its approach to Jews…hoping Christians will not let theological concerns stop them from supporting the state of Israel.”

To Christians United For Israel I would like to say, here’s a news flash. Theological concerns absolutely must guide our support of Israel; otherwise that support will become unbiblical and unchristian. Who ever said that we can’t support Israel and also stand firm for the good news of Jesus Christ for Israel? Indeed, we must do nothing less.....

Now more than ever we need Christians to stand for the gospel going to Israel....Any Christian who wants to show the love of God for Israel needs to remember that the greatest way to say, “I love you,” is to tell of God’s love in Jesus. To withhold that message of love from the people of Israel is like never having said I love you at all.

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Mr. Brickner published another article recently on these topics here where he says:

Unfortunately, many Christians who genuinely love Israel have a hard time understanding that political efforts cannot take the place of the more difficult, seminal and enduring work of Jewish evangelism. Many Christian organizations that support Israel gain friends and allies by agreeing not to talk about the gospel....A growing number of evangelicals seem willing to avoid this biblical command [proclaiming the gospel to Jews] in the interest of better relations with Jewish leaders here and in Israel.

Hear that Team Brunson? You want to "show the love of Jesus to our Jewish friends"? Either hold this event as an evangelistic event to proclaim the gospel, or have the organizers and sponsors (whoever that is, no one seems to want to claim this event as their own) hold it at some other site so the attendees (and others in our community) don't get the wrong idea that we affirm them in their lost condition without Jesus. I think Mac knows what is right, but is afraid to change at such a late date. His "we're hosting it but not sponsoring it" statement this past Sunday is a small admission that he knows he has no business holding this event at his church.

Its never too late Mac to do the right thing. We're waiting and watching.