"...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, August 14, 2008

A Pastor Refuses Gift From Lottery Winnings

Pastor David Tarkington of the First Baptist Church of Orange Park (Orange Park is a suburb of Jacksonville, Florida) is showing pastors what integrity is all about when it comes to gifts. And he's showing that even very large gifts - given to the pastor or to the church - sometimes aren't worth accepting if its possible that the gift might cast a shadow on the church.

A news report came out today that Pastor Tarkington (see picture at left - he, like Brunson, is a SWBTS grad) has refused a $600,000 gift to his church from Robert Powell, who recently won $6 million in the Florida Lotto and attempted to give a tithe to Tarkington's church.

Tarkington is not speaking publicly about his refusal of the gift, at least not yet, but what an example Tarkington is setting for pastors when it comes to gifts. Perhaps Tarkington believes it would be a poor testimony for his church to accept a gift that was generated by the vice of gambling. Perhaps Tarkington has preached to his congregation that playing the lotto is not wise and Christians should avoid it - and accepting the gift would make him look like a hypocrite. Tarkington knows that the potential....just the potential....of bad press by accepting "lotto money" just wasn't worth it. So he refused the gift. Wow. Now that's a testimony. That's integrity.

Contrast Pastor Tarkington with Mac Brunson. As I have written about numerous times here on this blog (here and here), Mac Brunson accepted a $300,000 land gift from one of the donors of his church, FBC Jacksonville, just three weeks after Brunson was hired. When this blog called Mac out on this and said he had no business accepting a gift from one of the church members, especially just weeks after Mac was hired and given a generous salary and benefit package by the congregation, Mac's supporters have said repeatedly that the gift was God's blessing on "God's man", that it was a private matter. To make matters worse and raising even more suspicion, about a year or so after the gift was given, Mac aired a commercial for the business of the sons of the man who gave him the gift - right in the middle of his sermon.

Too bad Mac didn't have the integrity of Pastor Tarkington when he was faced with the decision to accept or not accept the $300,000 land gift. Too bad he didn't realize that people would learn that in his textbook for pastors that he cautions pastors against accepting large gifts and he would be viewed as a hypocrite if he himself took a large gift. Sure, the local media hasn't reported on Mac's gift...not yet...but if and when they do, he'll have to a bit of explaining to do as why he accepted the gift, why he did it when he tells others to not do it....why the deed says "for love and affection" when he barely knew the giver...and why he never told his congregation about the gift. So many answers he'll have to give, and when it hits the press it will set FBC Jacksonville back a few more decades when people again accuse FBC Jax being a church of rich, money-hungry fat cats. Too bad Mac couldn't see that the problems the gift is causing him now in his ability to lead the church, and WILL cause him when the media shines light on it.

Jim Smyrl preached tonight about how America is becoming a "post-Christian nation", and that perhaps in the next generation churches will be turned into bars or coffee houses as in Europe. Jim says people in America are becoming less interested in church and Christianity - and he likes to blame this on stuck-in-the-past Christians, traditionalists, legalists - you know, those crusty old church members who like the preacher to wear a tie. Maybe one of the contributors to this problem too, Jim, is pastors like Mac who seem hell bent on using their people and their position and their power to enrich themselves and their family. When people see a preacher earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, putting family on staff, accepting $300,000 land gifts from his church donors on the side, driving luxury cars and using God's money for building luxury office suites and putting himself on national TV...maybe THAT is one of the major problems in Christendom today Jim Smyrl. The lost seeing men like Mac using Christianity to gather riches unto themselves while calling others to sacrificially give. Its not just complacent church members that are the problem Jim - its preachers among your own ranks that are hurting the church.

But thank goodness for the David Tarkington's out there...that still can look at a gift and rightly judge the wisdom of accepting or not accepting it. His decision to turn the $600k down probably wasn't easy, some in his church will no doubt tell him all the good he could have done with it...some might even call him a "legalist", a "traditionalist", and a "fundamentalist" for not accepting it. As I've written before, Mac could have used his influence on the giver to encourage him to give the gift to the church, as a down payment on the school, to perhaps serve as a seed to encourage others to sacrificially give - but he didn't. But Pastor Tarkington, you advanced the cause of Christ in your decision to refuse the gift. Good for you and good for your church.

Too bad Mac couldn't do the same.

34 comments:

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

To clarify:

I am not condemning the man who played lotto...I'm not condemning any pastor who might have or has accepted the lottery winnings into their church offering. I'm merely pointing out that Pastor Tarkington should be commended for refusing the gift based on principle. He is to be commended for his integrity.

Big Tuna said...

blah, blah, blah.....prosperity by God's servant is BAD....I hear nothing but jealousy and a losers attidude. Speaking of dude...get a life or a real job man. Maybe if you left the single wide long enough to go to work you too could live behind the gate. By the way, there are few lots in Deerwood worth $300,000. J.D. has owned lots in D.W. for years. He probably paid less than $50K for the lot. Makes me think you have Deerwood envy. Get over yourself and do something profitable for God and man instead of whining. As for the guy in OP, his option although I question his wisdom. I'll take ALL of satans money and use it for GOOD. Hey Dog Face, you must be ex-staff (maybe Douggie Piggy or some other pencil neck geek) or maybe their mommy. Can you say sour grapes (of wrath)?

Big Tuna said...

Hey dog breath, I dare you to publish my last comment.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Sure Big Tuna, no problem.

Your anger and attitude tells me you need to examine yourself. You sound very angry, and your comments I don't think would ever come from a Christian. Maybe you're not saved. And maybe God has wrath ready to pour out on you brother.

No, I'm not Doug Pigg. You and the Brunson team would love to think that it was an ex-staff member, that someone who has a grudge against Brunson is out to harm him. Its awfully hard to deal with the fact that its just some dull, boring, ordinary church member who has had enough of the Mac Brunson abuses and is willing to speak up, albeit anonymously.

To those of you first time visitors, this "Big Tuna" is just a taste of the hate and vitriol bloggers have faced from the sweet FBC Jax Christians who can't deal with the reality about their pastors actions. So they lash out and denegrate and make fun of people, that they're trailer trash or something of the sort. How sad indeed.

By the way readers, this story of David Tarkington refusing this gift is on www.thedrudgereport.com. I predict it will be nationwide news, and Fox News and CNN will likely pick it up as well.

Way to go David Tarkington!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Readers - this is quite a story. This blog has smashed all previous highs on hits and page views as this story is getting incredible media attention.

A pastor in this money-hungry society has DARED to refuse a $600,000 gift, and people are lining up on both sides of the issues. Some are heaping praise on Pastor Tarkington for such a strong, bold, principled stand. And there are those who are attacking him, wondering if he will check the source of EVERY GIVERS money to make sure its clean enough.

Be sure to visit Pastor Tarkington's blog (I have it hyperlinked in the article), and also visit the news report that I have hyperlinked in my article - there are over 100 comments made by readers of the newspaper, on both sides of the issue.

It is very heart-warming to read of people from his church who are super proud of their pastor in doing the right thing. Whether you agree with Pastor Tarkington or not, you have to admire him standing on his convictions and doing what he thinks is the right thing.

gmommy said...

Big Jerk...sorry...Big Tuna says:
" and do something profitable for God and man...."

How can this person be so insulting and classless in one breath then tell watchdog ...or anyone...what they should do for God????

This attitude is the current trend the mega ministers have toward the congregation today. They really think they are above everyone else but can behave any way they feel.

Big Fish, along with Mac are very confused about money and possessions.
They don't make you godly or give you class

Eric Smith said...

Big Tuna - wow, seriously, any credibility you may have had flew out the window with the juvenile name calling. Good grief...

Steve said...

Would someone explain to me why this demonstrates integrity by refusing this offering?

Dr. Lindsay has been quoted to me numerous times as stating he would take lottery money as "the devil had it long enough." or something to that affect.

Also, I wonder how many people in the church "earn" their money in manners in which the bible would consider "ill-gotten" such as bankers that overcharge on interest, people that work for credit card companies that do the same, construction people that constantly overcharge for their work, and how about todays most pressing one; people that speculate on the price of oil at the expense of those that use the finished product, gasoline.

Now, I will state that if this pastor consistently preaches against gambling and has coupled that with a statement that FBCOP would never knowingly take lottery money, then perhaps I could see keeping your word as the case for integrity.

We as christians must be sure we do not do something good to avoid doing what we are told to do. In other words, gambling comes under coveting, giving 10% does not erase the sin of coveting.

But Pastor David is missing out on something by not taking the money. Across the street from that church is something of an inner city, similar to NW Jacksonville. He had a chance to take it and give it to the poor just 100 yards away from his church. By taking it from the coveter, he could have impacted that neighborhood for the Kingdom of God.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Readers - be sure to visit David Tarkington's blog today (its hyperlinked in my article) - he posted a new article giving a bit more insight into his decision.

He has so much integrity that he refuses to speak to the media about this because it involves a matter of one of his sheep. Wow, some pastors I know could learn some lessons: like, don't give out details of your counseling sessions, don't slander church members from the pulpit, and don't let your church marketing consultant speak ill of your church members...

If you believe David has shown great integrity in his decision, be sure to post on his blog and let him know. He has been blasted all over the Internet for his decision. Just as I predicted when I wrote my article Wednesday night, sure enough David has been attacked as a legalist, someone who is doing wrong by not taking the money to do good, etc. But people I know can tell you for sure this guy is far from being a legalist...he just felt that as the sheperd of his people and the church, he felt it best to pass on the gift. This in no way limits God's ability to do something else with the $600k...just that David believes God doesn't want it to be used at his church. You have to respect that.

To see what is out there in the blogosphere on this article, click on the "Watch in Real Time" under the new Feedjit feature on the blog...and you will see many websites referencing this story. Some of them have comments of their readers...a few have even commented on Mac's accepting his $300k personal gift from one of our church donors.

anon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FBC Jax Watchdog said...

About Homer Lindsay, Jr's comment on the devil's money.

He made a comment about Oral Roberts accepting money from a man that had made a huge gift to Oral Roberts University, and the man had ties to the gambling industry, casinos, etc. That was a gift to a univeristy, not to a church.

I don't think it fair to say what Homer would do...he was commenting on that particular situation which did not involve a church. I challenge to ever quote where Homer said he would take a large gift from lottery winnings of his church member. He never said it. It is shameful of you to imply that perhaps Homer would have taken it. I think those that knew Homer would say there is a good chance he would not have accepted it.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - yep, Tarkington did blow some minds with his decision. In this day when mega church pastors act like over-paid rock stars and like rich CEO's, they wouldn't think twice about accepting it. Here's a guy who turned down a gift that is likely the size of almost a year's worth of his church budget.

Wow!

Mac was faced with accepting a gift that was about as large as one year's salary at his church...and he grabbed it! Gotta get it while you can!

Steve said...

anon, that is a very good point you made regarding my comments. But I really am interested in how this ties in with claiming it is a case of integrity.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Steve - I can tell who you are based on your posts. Your comments reveal your identity!

But you ask how this ties into integrity. Are you even listening to your pastor?

Brunson himself said that "honor and integrity" is "doing the right thing even though it is the difficult thing to do". That is one of the definitions.

Whether you agree with Tarkington's decision or not...you must agree with this: he was faced with a decision...and for sure he could have accepted the 600 grand and done a lot of good with it. It was very tempting. But he evaluated what he thought the right thing was, even though it might not be popular, some might call him stupid and legalist...and he made what he thought the right decision was. That's integrity.

The question YOU should be asking, Mr. youknowho...is this: Can you point out how Mac's decision was one of integrity? Where is the integrity in accpeting a $300,000 land gift from one of the donors of the church that hired you weeks before? Is there any integrity in that?

Robert L. Peeples said...

The $600,000.00 was an amount of money that was given to the church, the local body of believers as a tithe. It was not a personal gift offered to an individual like in the case of Pastor Brunson.
There is a difference!

I think Pastor Tarkington did demonstrate integrity and continues to do so through this situation. He has even done so in the same way Pastor Brunson has.
Pastor Brunson accepted a personal gift, nothing wrong with that. And yet, there are those legalists out there who continue to say that it was a bad move ethically and spiritually for the church and for himself. But Pastor Brunson has continued to stand behind his decision and so has Pastor Tarkington. Pastor Tarkington did not let the church accept the tithe of $600,000.00 and has stood his ground. Both of these preachers have stood behind their decisions exemplifying character and integrity despite the media outlets and the church members who oppose them. Both men faced a crossroad, made their choice and stood behind their decision.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Robert - STOOD BY HIS DECISION?

Are you delerious? He has never mentioned the gift. He has never acknowledged the gift. He has never explained the gift. Its never been addressed. Come on, you're just not credible. One thing I like about your posts is they remind us of the silly things Mac has said himself.

The only thing close to him "explaining" the gift was in his sermon a few months ago...where he told a little white lie about how he pays for his house...yes, he pays for the house, but not the land.

Listen to Mac himself, giving the only thing close to the explanation of the land gift:

Click here to listen to Mac "explain" his land gift.

Is that not just precious? Does this not just give you the aire of arrogance that characterizes Mac Brunson? What absolute, bold, brazen, arrogance to hear him say that the last time he checked the government doesn't tell him where he can live!! Wow, what a contrast to David Tarkington - David, didn't you KNOW??? The government would have had no problem at all in you accepting that $600k gift!! Therefore it would have been all right!!

Thanks again Robert, your post reminded me to trot this classic example of Mac arrogance out to contrast it with the integrity of David Tarkington

Steve said...

The pastor has offered NO explanation as to why he turned it down and apparently, will only offer an explantion to people in his congregation. If you want to claim the pastor showed integrity then I have no problem with it, but to try to compare a gift to the church to a gift to an individual is not really the same.

Your latest article is about is this blog taking another churches business to use as a platform to continue to slander Dr. Brunson.

Steve said...

Oh and by the way, we can all learn from others, I am not debating that but you seem to think the pastor should be trying to learn from the FBCOP pastor.

How about you? Are you listening to what he saying? He will not discuss church issues with the outside world. Yet here you are doing it with no conscience.

Robert L. Peeples said...

AMEN Stevo! You are right my brother. On both accounts you are correct.

Dog, the pastor owes you no explanation of why he lives on the piece of property he lives on. It has nothing to do with the church and you were not the giver or the receiver in that transaction. Therefore, neither you or anyone else is entitled to an explanation for it. That's why he shows integrity in his silence about the land.

Mark Renfro said...

Mr. Powell,
Our church would be happy to tell your story and accept your tithe. Check our our church at www.celebrationcovenant.com We are in Frisco Texas and growing rapidly.
- Mark

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I do commend you Robert for your steadfastness in defending the indefensible.

Robert L. Peeples said...

And I commend you on your bravery knowing one day you will stand before the good Lord himself and give an account of your life. Especially on computers and blackberrys.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Hi Readers - just off topic a bit...but visit Maurilio's blog, he makes a great point about his recent experience with "low tech, high touch" marketing...but he reveals on his blog that he buys $300 shirts. I posted a note on his blog that you might find interesting...not that I have a problem with a person buying $300 shirts...but why would a consultant whose clients are churches, and churches that are made up of people who sacrificially give to the Lord...choose to purposely reveal on the Internet that they have tastes in dress shirts that cost $300? Its a real head-scratcher when a guy whose clients are CHURCHES, chooses to reveal on the Internet that he buys $300 shirts.

Diana said...

Why don't you go to the other church since Pastor Tarkington shows the integrity that you are looking for in a pastor. Don't understand why someone would waste this wonderful life being ticked off about their pastor when there are a lot of churches out there.

And why do you care what he spends on a shirt???? You do not know how someone spends and manages their monies and quite frankly it is no ones business.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

The shirt is a comment about Maurilio, Mac Brunson's ace church marketing consultant...and I don't care what he spends on shirts. I find it interesting that HE desires to broadcast to the world that he buys $300 shirts, when his clients are churches. That's all. Again, I'm not revealing that he spends $300 on shirts, he already did that on his blog. I just am honestly curious how a guy blogs in a way that reveals his $300 shirts and his 6-head showers...that's all. Is that OK with you Diana?

Robert L. Peeples said...

Diana,

You make a good point. I do not care about what Maurilio does in his spare time and I don't read his twitter or blog every day like the Dog does looking for something to write about.
BUT, when he does put his every day activities on the web for every one to see, he does open his self up for examination..if that is the right word. See what I'm saying? When you broadcast to the whole world your lifestyle, it's kind of inviting everyone into your life and that means people will have opinions about what you do everyday since that person is making it public.
Still, I pay no attention.

Watchdog, you are complaining about Maurilio's spending habits because those monies from those habits come from "people who sacrificially give to the Lord."
See where I'm going with this...
You always hammer me when I talk about people giving sacrificially to the Lord. Weren't you the one that was so against me saying we are supposed to tithe, to give our money sacrificially to the Lord?

char said...

Dr.Watchdog keep up the good work,revealing truth is never popular;Exposing errors got many of the Apostles killed.I have been watching FBC Jax since Brunson arrived and I began to see Irregularities from the very beginning(Day of Faith).Robert and those who try defend the clear inequities of Brunson under the guise of following God's man are the same kind of individuals who will hail the coming of the Anti-christ as the true messiah.Reading Roberts blogs displays a lack of anykind of discernment and a pied-piper mentality,definitely not the qualities of a Berean Christian.And as I have stated multiple times Dr.Watchdog IT ONLY GETS WORSE.I after watching Brunson on TV,observing some of his actions since arriving in Jacksonville and keeping up with this blog I believe he is consumed with himself and his agenda and not with Christ and the Gospel.Also Robert since you seem to have so much to say; What is your take on Brunson's slander Dr.Klouda? You have yet to answer that question.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Char - Robert has answered the question on Sheri Klouda - his response was that we can't be sure who Brunson was referring to because he didn't use Klouda's name.

Brunson slandered Klouda. He never apologized to Klouda. When Klouda was going through the trauma of being fired by Patterson, Brunson was her pastor at FBC Dalls. He never called her, never offered comfort, never offered any pastoral advice on how she should handle the terrible tragedy of being fired as a university professor because of her gender. But then Brunson decides to state a lie from the pulpit of the great FBC Jacksonville to slander her a few years later to help his friend Paige Patterson. Absolutely no integrity - if Brunson had one single ounce of integrity he would correct his statements from the pulpit, and would call Sheri Klouda to apologize. But that ain't gonna happen. That would require him to humble himself in front of his congregation and he won't do that.

And all the supporters can say is "Gee, he never mentioned anybody's name, so we can't be sure just who his story was about".

It is so very, very sad.

ThyPeace said...

Watchdog, I have been reading your blog for the past 2 months.

I have learnt very important issues concerning ALL christians from your site. They are not directly related to Dr. Brunson.

The first one is about Dr. Sheri Klouda. This is a tragic case, raising important issues whether women are allowed to teach AT ALL to men (scriptural or christian). It portrays Dr. Patterson in a very poor light and lot of southern baptists as going retrograde. I personally feel that women during the time of Christ were better treated than what has happened to Dr. Sheri Klouda.

I understand Dr. Brunson mentioned about what the defence lawyer told him ... it too is sad.

The second revelation is the sexual abuse by pastors. The current case of Darrell Gilyard ... is a process where all the checks and balances have run amok. The result is innocent women and children are sexually assaulted while being counselled. ALL the church leadership and deacons, WAKE UP. There is no need to stonewall, people who are bringing the charges. Just investigate them and do your job.

I also found your links to Christa Brown and Tiffany Craft very educational.

One final resource and wonderful discovery I made from your story of Dr. Sheri Klouda was about Pastor Wade Burleson. I have found his blog to be very refreshing and graceful. He is one in a million. Here is a preacher who can disagree with you objectively and gracefully with style.

I sincerely pray to god, for ALL bloggers to emulate Jesus. If not Jesus, atleast Wade Burleson.

Please bring some grace to our disagreements. We can still do it with objectivity and without name calling. I implore both Watchdog and supporters of Dr. Brunson to tone down the rhetoric and try to stick to points of disagreement.

Gatormom said...

Obviously some people on this site don't know what is really going on. I am a member of First Baptist Orange Park and very happy to say David Tarkington is my pastor. The Powell's are not upset that the church wouldn't accept the money - they understand and appreciate the stand David took - the Biblical stand I might add. Certainly any church could use the money - but that just proves that God gave David the right answer - and that is that.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Gatormom - it is quite amazing how out on the Internet where this news story has gotten quite a bit of attention - there are so many people throwing barbs at your pastor! A man takes a stand on principle, doesn't do it to gain attention, did it in love apparently toward his church member who offered the gift...and he is criticized as a legalist, missing an opportunity to use "the devil's money for God's glory" (as though the only way God could use the man's gift is through the church!!) and many other criticisms. But all you have to do is compare your pastors actions to those of the pastor of the "big church" downtown, and we see a huge contrast in integrity. Many of the mega church pastors today have HUGE egos, they and their wives love a rich privileged lifestyle, and they look for ways to build their personal brand and wealth at every opporutnity. Bravo to your pastor for acting like a sheperd of the flock and not a money-hungry CEO.

oc said...

It's just incredible. It's incredible because some think it is so different and new. People are upset because a pastor made the right decision. Wow. That tells you where some people's hearts are at.

Gatormom said...

You are so right OC - when a pastor makes a decision that the world doesn't understand - certainly it would have been easy for David to take the $600,000 from Robert and Gail; but what kind of reputation would he and our church have. God is using this bad publicity for good - He always does.

Anonymous said...

Proverbs 11:13
A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.