"...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

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Good Gifts, Bad Gifts...

Interesting contrast in the news this past week about two different kinds of gifts that have gained media attention. These two gifts show two extreme sides of human nature: one side of gifts of corruption, greed, conflict of interest and quid-pro-quo....and the other side of gifts that are given to really do some good, to help those in need, and to honor those who have given much.

First, the gifts of corruption: Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska, who was indicted this week for accepting gifts from VECO, a firm that had been known to lobby Stevens for government action on their behalf. The gifts in question totaled around $250,000, and included renovations to homes, gifts to Stevens' family members. The indictment alleges that Stevens' lied on his financial disclosure forms by not reporting these gifts.

Second, the "good gift": This week CSX Chairman Michael Ward donated $1 million of his personal fortune to the "Wounded Warriors Project", to help support their Training Rehabilitation Advocacy Center (TRAC) which helps wounded veterans transition back to civilian life. This was not Ward's first sizable gift given to help his community.

Both of these stories were in the news here in Jacksonville this week, as well they should. Both of these gifts deserve to be shown - one an example of the decency of mankind, the other an example greed and entitlement.

The coverage of these two stories makes me wonder why the $300,000 land gift given by J.D. Collins to Mac Brunson in 2006 hasn't been covered in the media. Both are highly visible public figures. The gift wasn't needed by Brunson as he already was given a lavish salary and benefit package by his church. On the deed the gift was shown for "love and affection" and yet apparently they barely knew each other since it was given just weeks after Brunson's arrive in Jacksonville. For some reason the congregation was never told about the gift. There is perhaps a possible conflict of interest in Mac accepting this gift, since the giver of the gift is one of the donors of the 501(c)3 organization (FBC Jax) that Mac was hired to lead; then about a year and a half after the gift Mac Brunson aired a testimony/commercial (hyperlink of the audio of the commercial that played in the middle of Mac's preaching on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane) during the worship service highlighting the business of J.D. Collins' sons - this commercial also aired when Mac's sermon was broadcast on TV in the local Jacksonville market the following Sunday. What a coincidence that the only commercial in the HISTORY of FBC Jax ever aired in the middle of a sermon just happened to be for relatives of the man who gave the preacher a $300k gift! Not saying its quid-pro-quo...just that it looks an awful lot like it is.

I commend Michael Ward for such an incredibly generous gift - no doubt when this kind of gift receives media attention it serves as a seed for others to follow suit. While we don't have all the facts yet on Stevens' gifts, it sure looks like he broke federal laws in accepting his gifts and not reporting them.

What kind of gift was Mac's? Doesn't it at least deserve the scrutiny of local media to determine why the gift was given, and why it was accepted and what good it did for the community for a leader of a 501(c)3 organization to accept a $300,000 gift from one of his organization's donors?

2 comments:

Jon L. Estes said...

You know the why of why it was given. it has been stated. "With love and affection".

It matters not if it were 1 day or 100 years which separated the time Mac showed up and the gift was given, the giver is the one who gets to determine the why.

Are you saying there is now way the gift could have been by given with love and affection? If so how do you know, do you know the givers heart?

brother Dog, it would be good if you quit trying to play God and rather start being obedient to the word in dealing with your issues.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Just a few notes on last night's sermon:

Glad to know Mac is a reader of the blog.

In my Jerry Sutton article last week, I said:

"This story [Two Rivers and Jerry Sutton] should send shockwaves through the SBC, particularly to those pastors at large to mega sized churches that operate with very little accountability and openness and transparency to their members - like Mac Brunson"

Then last night in his sermon on accountability, Mac addressed the specific issue of "accountability" of the pastor. Mac proclaimed that he has "28,000 bosses", and is accountable to each member of the church. His proof of his accountability? He answers every single email that comes in, himself, personally. And he admits its a full time job. So he is either lying that he answers all of his email, or he's a poor steward of his own time by answering hundreds of emails every day.

Only problem is that answering emails is NOT evidence of being accountable. Mac's actions since arriving in Jax show that he desires to NOT be accountable to his members.

Does he think we're stupid? Does he think because he says he's accountable, that we'll believe he is accountable to every single church member when his actions and attitude toward the members belies his claim? Does he think that we think spending all days answering emails is equivilent to accountability?

Well, maybe this explains why he can't get facts right in his sermons - he's spending too much time answering emails. If only he had his wife and son on staff and a secretary and his two dogs in a private pastor's suite he could get some help in weeding out the emails and he could spend more time in sermon prep.

Come on Mac. Its OK to admit you're not accountable to us, and you don't have 28,000 bosses. You know it, and we know it. And we don't want to be your boss. But we could start with the board of trustees - it would be nice if they would hold you accountable, and that you would view yourself to be accountable to them.