Matthew 7:15 (NIV) “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11: (NIV) “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

2 Timothy 2:23 - 25 (NIV) - 23Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

OK...The FINAL Farewell from the Watchdog

Yes, I know that I said I was signing off, but in light of the numerous emails received in the last three days asking me why I was stopping the blog and encouraging me to continue, I thought I would share my last and closing thoughts on why I have quit blogging, and what my intentions were, and what my hopes are for the future of FBC Jax.

My intent in blogging about FBC Jax when I started in October was never to blog long term, and my intent was never to establish a cyber community for those who held my same views. I watched the first blog come and go in early 2007. As the heat was being turned up on Mac by the blog in February 2007 I watched in horror at the pastor's conference as our previous pastor Jerry Vines said that he doesn't get paid enough to pastor people who asked questions about preacher salaries, to which Mac Brunson hopped up and gave him a standing ovation and high five and hug - the message Mac sent to his congregation in that embarrassing scene was unmistakable. I think easily one of the low points of preaching in the FBC Jax pulpit as two preachers who were made millionaires at mega churches embraced each other in agreement about how they don't get paid enough to pastor some troublemakers who question their salaries, while humble, mostly poor or of modest means pastors and faithful FBC Jax members watched with dropped jaws at such a disgusting sight.

So in the fall of 2007 after I saw few changes in Mac toward the direction of humility and love of his congregation, and after Rodney left and rumors abound that Calvin was on his way out...I truly wanted to get the word out to as many of the faithful, trusting members of FBC Jax that I could about the antics of Mac Brunson during his first few years. Why did I feel the need to do this? Because so many godly people at our church that for years faithfully followed Vines and the Lindsays are now following Mac Brunson as though he is worthy of the same followship as Vines and Lindsay based on his POSITION as pastor...and its just not so. The love and trust bestowed on Vines and Lindsay as pastors was NOT based on them holding the position of "pastor", but was EARNED through years of hard laboring and faithful service to the Lord's work at FBC Jax. I saw Mac granted the same prestige and power as Vines and Lindsay, but then abusing that power right away through his decisions his first year and a half. I wanted as many church members as possible to know about: the land deal (here and here), the cars, taking time off for the book deals, the nepotism, the salary, the whining and lying to Paige Patterson about not getting a "honeymoon". I wanted them to know about the "Night for Israel" and how the money was going to an Israeli hospital where abortions were performed and how that was an abuse of his power to hold that in our sanctuary. I wanted to broadcast his off-the-cuff declaration on a Sunday night that he was going to discontinue "reward trips" for high schoolers and middle schoolers to see who would serve the Lord not just for rewards - which caught so many parents and high schoolers by surprise, as though the teenagers were freeloaders and only serving the Lord in the church to earn the rewards. I wanted people to know that while out of town he was bragging about giving so much to missions causing a budget shortfall and saying our finance committee lacked faith, yet at our church he was saying that we weren't giving enough causing the budget problems.

I thought that this was the end, that perhaps the blogging could stop. But then the antics continued. Mac then cranked up the idea on the school with the stated purpose of asking for a vote from the congregation in November. So I wanted to broadcast to church and to the SBC that Mac Brunson was telling his congregation that we needed a school to reach the people in Jax because door to door evangelism doesn't work anymore. I wanted to also let the church know who it was that he was bringing in to supposedly talk to us about a school in Jacksonville (Ed Gamble), and I correctly predicted that he would tell us nothing about a school in our city at our church but instead told us all how great Christian education is (which most people know already and didn't help in deciding if a school was the right move for our church).

Mac never did ask the congregation for a vote on his school as he said he would. Then Mac pulled what I consider the most arrogant move of all: changing the church bylaws without ever uttering a single word about the changes to his congregation - not even in the service when the vote was taken did Mac or his president of the trustees attempt to summarize the bylaw changes while asking for a vote. So I believed the church members had a right to know about the bylaw changes done right under their noses with not one single, solitary word from the pastor who supposedly loves them, while at the same time he began to stress the importance of church discipline in his sermons, at times in a very intimidating manner.

Now Mac is going to ask for a vote of the trustees he has nominated. And it will continue. This blog will rest, but the bloggers will be watching. If the antics continue, rest assured a new blog will begin very soon.

So what do I believe about Mac Brunson. I believe, in my own humble opinion that Mac has turned into an "opportunist"....he no longer acts as though he is a "called" preacher, again in my opinion. Called preachers don't seek fame and fortune and build wealth for their families at the expense of their church members. Called preachers don't keep their church members in the dark and clandestinely change the bylaws without a single word to their church. Called preachers don't use their sanctuary for a non-Christian event that might possibly confuse the people in their community of their need for Christ, just to appease some interests of influential deacons. I believe that he WILL have to give a public answer to the questions raised here - perhaps an influential lay leader will rise up and publicly demand an accounting (not likely) - perhaps one of our local news outlets will ask the tough questions and do a series of stories about Mac Brunson (more likely, especially the land deal and the house issue - those make for good news stories - preachers living high on the hog as we saw in the piece done by the Memphis TV station in December). So many questions for an inquiring news reporter: how did Mac get that land? Who donated it to him? Why did they donate it for "love and affection" if the pastor had been here 2 weeks? Who donates $300,000 to a man they know for two weeks? What would Senator Grassley's committee think of this? Did Mac pay taxes on this land, and would the IRS agree that its a "gift"? Did not Mac consider the ramifications of how this gift would be viewed by his new church and city if it became publicly known - if not why not and if so why did he take the gift? Did the search committee know of this gift, and was this gift used by one or more members of the search committee to entice the Brunsons to come, and if so, who ever heard of a preacher having to be enticed to come with the promise of a $300,000 piece of land on which to build a mansion? Why does Mac live in a 6 bedroom 4.5 bath house and how much must his salary be to afford such a lifestyle - and why would he need such a home as an empty nester - and why would people want to give to the ministry of FBC Jax if they know their pastor uses the money to live such a high lifestyle? How can he in good conscience ask the members to give sacrificially for all the new projects (school and church renovations) when he is earning such a huge salary with his wife and son on staff and living in a mansion? What does the average church member think of their pastor living in opulence as compared to their previous pastors?

All this being said, I still have a small glimmer of hope that Mac can turn it around. If enough heat is applied (as in emails and reduced giving) he might find it in his heart to address these many issues that are keeping people from embracing him as their pastor, and even acknowledge poor judgement in some matters and ask for forgiveness (which he would readily receive). But Mac seems to be very proud, and the probability is slim - but he also too must realize this is his last mega preaching gig. I don't think any other mega church would touch him with a 10 foot pole after his 2 years have been exposed - so if he feels like the ship is going down, and if he and his wife love the huge salary and mansion and millionaire lifestyle, he might be compelled to do the right thing and come clean as a last resort. If not and he leaves, his ties to Vines and Paige Patterson might land him a job at the IMB or as president of a seminary - but he better watch out because Vines won't be around too much longer and Paige Patterson's days as an influential SBC leader are numbered after the Klouda case this summer costs the SWBTS tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

So those are my closing thoughts...if Mac does something else absolutely outrageous I might fire the blog back up, but I doubt it. Certainly if I hear that the discipline committee is taking action against dissenters I will post that information here for everyone to read.

I'm glad that I've documented Mac's activities at FBC Jax his first two years; I only regret that such a blog didn't exist during his time at Dallas.

Take care everyone!

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