"...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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The "Lies and Slander" (and Occasional Stupidity) of Mac's Defenders

Ever since this blog started, all but a very small number of posts have been put through, that were both pro Mac Brunson and anti Mac Brunson. I've never had a problem with people posting here defenses of Mac Brunson, I've let every single post through.

Its also very interesting that many of Mac's supporters have very vaguely defended him by just saying the blog is spreading "lies and slander" about Mac Brunson, without directly addressing the issues raised.

As of late there has been a flurry of activity of Mac Brunson supporters on the blog. That is great, I welcome all posters. The problem is, in their zeal to defend their pastor, they are engaging in the very same thing they are accusing this blog of doing: spreading lies and slander.

I'll just post a few of the quotes here from the past few days that are "lies and slander".

We'll start with someone who calls himself "Micah".

Here are few gems from Micah:

"....Doug Pigg was lying to the Pastor and staff, and keeping budget information and figures from committees." and then later "As to the post shaming me for what I said about Doug Pigg...Whether you like it or not sir, he was fired for lying and keeping budget information and other information a secret. It makes no difference if you agree or not, that is the truth. "

Really, Micah? Doug Pigg is a liar? He "lied to the pastor"? Who told you that? Where did you get that information from? If that is true, there no doubt has been a breach of confidentiality on your part or someone on the staff's part that released this information. If its false, then you're quite possibly a slanderer. I'm sure that your remarks here will get back to Doug Pigg and maybe he can inquire with the church how such information was released to "Micah".

Here's another:

"why do you avoid the fact that the Pastor has openly announced that his land, was simply a gift...he didnt ask for it, nor did he seek it, but it was a gift. "

Mac has never openly announced that the land was given to him as a gift. The $300,000 land gift given to Mac Brunson by one of donors just weeks after Mac arrived has never, ever, been discussed in any way to the congregation. If it has, please someone correct me and I'll retract this statement.

"the Pastor has openly announced that he was approached with the idea to change the bylaws."

One of the most arrogant moves our pastor has made, in my opinion, was the decision to change the bylaws without widespread dissemination to the congregation beforehand, and without even the pastor standing before the congregation to summarize the changes before the vote. Not one word to his congregation. The pastor "openly announced" that he was approached with the idea? I don't believe he has ever said anything about that - but whether he has or has not and whether the changes were his idea or not, he's the pastor and the shepherd of the flock and its his responsibility to communicate these things to the church. His failure to communicate the bylaw changes, which we know included the addition of a "discipline committee" and changes to pastoral authority in the church, have greatly harmed the trust many people have in him to be open and honest with his congregation. Definitely not a wise move when there will be some very major decisions to be made in the future that will require the support of his congregation.

"Where in the Bible does it say gifts cant be given and received? Does it not say that every "good and perfect gift is given from the Father"?"

OK, not a lie or slander, but just stupidity. No where does the Bible say gifts can't be given or received, no one here has made such a claim. But common sense tells us that some gifts should not be received - we know this to be true in the corporate world, and we certainly know it to be true in Christian ministries - just ask Senator Grassley. And if this land gift was God's moving and doing, then by all means share it with the congregation so we can all rejoice...otherwise it looks like an enticement to bring him here. Then of course the video produced of the donor's sons' business earlier this year looks like a return favor, but that's for another time.

"Why do you avoid the evidence given that shows the Pastor kept his word to Rev. Jones? "

I certainly haven't avoided that evidence. I asked for it, and one or more posters have said that FBC Jax met its obligation to Rev Jones. I posted all messages concerning Rev Jones.

"When someone does sign his name, he is immediately attacked and ridiculed. "

Lie. Issues are discussed here. If you can't stand to have your ideas critiqued then don't post.

"Doesn't the Bible say that as believers, we are accountable ONLY to God? Yes, I'm quite sure it does. No man is accountable to another man, that makes no sense because no man, but Christ, is perfect."

I'm not aware of the verse that says we are accountable only to God and not to man. Besides that's just ludicrous. The Bible is full of scripture that speaks how we are accountable to each other, and we know full well that we ARE accountable to our fellow man.

"So, to sum it up...Watchdog, you are showing fake concerns about the issues because you dont care enough to put your name to it..."

My concern is genuine. I blog anonymously for other reasons that I've stated numerous times.

"Nothing the pastor does ever takes place without a voting committee agreeing its the best thing to do. "

Wow. I hardly think that is the case. Did a committee vote on "Time to Stand with Israel?" (maybe, I'm seriously asking). Did a committee vote on the use of non-SBC Sunday School material? Did a committee vote to allow Mac to travel to North Carolina to proclaim to his friends that he is in a "hotbed of legalism"? Did a committee vote on the decision to spend church resources on a video commercial promoting the sons of the $300k land donor? Did a committee approve that we would hold a "media evangelism" offering on Resurrection Sunday? Sure, committees at FBC Jax do approve many things, but not all decisions of the pastor. And the history of our church is that we all follow the pastor's lead, and the committees for the most part follow the pastor's desires...which worked well under Lindsay and Vines for the most part, but isn't working so well now.

So please, Mac's defenders, post here as much as you like. But try to limit the lies, and try not to drag any previous ministers into the discussion, and let's leave FBC Dallas out of this as well. All of this speaks NOTHING to the subject of this blog, which are the abuses of Mac Brunson.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mac Brunson: Let God Vindicate

Mac Brunson is a very gifted preacher. He has it within him to be an outstanding Bible expositor. But as we saw once again this Sunday, when he feels the need to stretch or twist scriprute and make the sermons about him in a more or less indirect way, he gets into trouble.

This past Sunday Mac continued his series on what to do when the storms of life come upon us.

He was preaching through Acts 28, verses 1-6, the account of when Paul was shipwrecked and bitten by a viper and the natives thought him to be a murderer. He took this account, which was most definitely about how God had his hand of protection on Paul, and made it an example of how God's man can be "falsely accused", and that when we as Christians are falsely accused, we should follow Paul's example and let God vindicate us.

Listen for yourself here to this 3 minute clip: Mac Brunson on False Accusations

I'm totally unqualified to assess Mac's interpretation of scripture as I'm no Bible scholar, but this to me is such an obvious misuse of scripture that I'll take the burden on of having to state what so many were thinking during the sermon:

1. He starts off by stating "some of you are in a storm right now of being misunderstood by somebody. Some of you are wrapped up in a shipwreck of people who have prejudged you and assumed things about you and have attacked you unfairly and unjustly and un-Christlike." Most of us Mac aren't in that kind of storm - wait a minute, I think you may be on to something: you must mean those of us who you "prejudged" by your attacking our congregation as being "legalistic" and assuming everybody "has a list" and assuming we "don't seem to have a real relationship with Jesus Christ"....yes, I suppose we do understand that kind of storm. Seriously, I guess its possible for some of Mac's listeners to be in that situation, but it sounds too much like he's talking about himself. In fact he says just moments later: "Become a Baptist preacher and talk to me this time next week" so yes he does see this situation as applying to himself. To suggest that this scripture in Acts 26 is about people "prejudging God's people" is an incredible stretch. The natives weren't "prejudging" Paul they were reacting to the situation as best they knew. And if they were it most certainly doesn't apply to Mac's situation. No one prejudged Mac when he came - in a negative way anyways - we all prejudged him to be our loving pastor to come and lead us. We welcomed he and his family and there was no prejudging. The storm that Mac apparently feels himself to be in now is based on months and months of observing his own actions and people listening to his own words.

2. Then he continues: "What does Paul do? Defend himself? No. Cry out on his behalf? No. He knows God will vindicate him." I might add that Paul didn't either complain about emails and how hard his job is. The fact is the scripture is silent about what Paul did in response to the native's assumption that he was a murderer. He might very well have defended himself as he did at Lystra in Acts 14, but the scripture here is silent...perhaps because this is not what the scripture is teaching that we should not defend ourselves against false accusations - many commentators state that this event was a direct fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy in Mark 16:18 and Luke 10:19! Why does Mac feel the need to stretch scripture to say things that it does not say?

3. He then continues: "Know this brother or sister in Christ. You feel shipwrecked on the shore of being attacked? Let...God...fight...your....battles" (followed by silence and crickets chirping). It sure sounds like Mac is recommending that if we are attacked unfairly by ungodly people, that we should not defend ourselves. According to Mac we should do as Paul did in this situation (or may not have done - the scripture doesn't say - but maybe it does in the Greek) and remain silent and wait for God to vindicate. Mac is using a scripture that clearly is not meant to address Paul's reaction to the natives thinking he is a murderer, to draw a conclusion that the scripture wasn't intended to teach, and which conclusion is contrary to how the apostle Paul generally handled situations where he was falsely accused!! Read Paul's defense of himself just two chapters earlier when he stood in front of King Agrippa. Paul actually said "King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews...." Then later when Agrippa calls him insane, Paul says "I am not insane, most excellent Festus". Mac perhaps you should follow Paul's example there! So if Mac desires to teach his congregation how to respond to false attacks using Paul as our example, I think it reasonable to use Paul's defenses of himself in other areas of Acts rather than one instance where he was bitten by a viper and accused of being a murderer by frightened natives. In fact everyone sitting in the service has probably been falsely accused, or attacked at some point. How should we react? Just clam up and let God handle it? I think most of us know that as we strive to live peaceably among men that we can and should give a defense of ourselves and we don't have to just wait idly by for God to vindicate. I would argue Mac is doing just the OPPOSITE of what a mature person in a leadership position would do. If a strong leader senses growing unrest among those he's charged to lead, the normal course of action is to address the questions and try to give an explanation. Leaders most certainly should NOT complain to those they are leading about how tough their job is each week, telling people they should haver THEIR job for a week, etc. etc. So Mac either speak up and defend yourself, or take your own advice and clam up and let God vindicate you over time - but for heaven's sake enough of the complaining about how hard you have it.

4. The Spurgeon story about the eggs - Mac is drawing an analogy between the heat Spurgeon received for not giving his eggs away, and the heat Mac is getting for nepotism, high salaries, living large in a million dollar home, receiving a $300,000 gift and other abuses. I have no doubt that Mac is a generous man, but whether he is or is not really is not the issue so using this Spurgeon story to deflect the criticism he has received is really sad. As Spurgeon once said: "Our gifts are not to be measured by the amount we contribute, but by the surplus kept in our own hands. The two mites of the widow were, in Christ's eyes, worth more than all the other money cast into the treasury..."

Mac - please stick to preaching the Word, and let the Holy Spirit do His work. You don't need to make the Bible say something it was not intended to say, to give poor advice to people on how to handle attacks, while justifying your own poor decisions.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Why I Don't Leave

This is a long post, but I want to try to explain to those who ask the valid question "if you're so unhappy with your leadership, why don't you just leave?". I hope the pastor's yes men will read it, consider it, and try to help out with the ongoing problem.

Suppose you bought a small house in a nice neighborhood when you were young. You met many of your neighbors, shared ups and downs with them, and came to love them and depend on them. Yours was a fantastic neighborhood! It had a homeowner's association that kept the place neat and clean and safe. Sure, there were rules, but most agreed those rules provided a better quality of life and were based on wisdom. The president of the HOA was dedicated, committed and had earned the trust of all the residents. Suddenly, after living there 30 or 40years, raising your kids there, and investing thousands in your home and in the lives of those neighbors around you, a new president of the homeowner's association came in. He seemed great at first and you and all your neighbors gave him a standing ovation and were so happy to have a new leader to take the neighborhood to the next level.

Unfortunately, he immediately began to use the very high HOA fees for himself and his family and then began taking up offerings from you to pay for needed things around the neighborhood. You got the feeling that he did not come to your neighborhood to help the neighborhood, but to help HIMSELF and his FAMILY, who he continually made it clear were his priorities over anything and everything else. Anyway, when you asked about where the HOA fees had gone and why we didn't have the budget to continue the things we had been doing before, he gave conflicting answers, criticized you, and told you "you never asked the previous HOA presidents these questions." Then, like Barrack Obama, he started talking about "change" being good without any specific examples of what was going to change for the better. When you talked about what was great about your neighborhood, he accused you of worshiping the previous HOA presidents, worshipping the past and still, you never really saw any change. He seemed angry at you all the time, as he had been at the residents of the neighborhood from Texas he had just come from. HE EVEN HAD YOUR PRIOR HOA PRESIDENT COME IN AND BLAST YOU during a neighborhood appreciation reunion you had planned for your former HOA president. Some were never able to get over that hurt.

Anyway, he also immediately replaced the loving experienced HOA members who had helped make the neighborhood beautiful with people who did not seem to know much about the neighborhood or its needs. Instead, he hired people that knew HIM and his NEEDS. You could call them yes men. He then criticized your neighborhood to others, and your property values begin to fall. So, eventually, you begin to doubt the new man's leadership. When you finally humbly dared asked any questions you were told "if you don't like it, why do you stay - sell your home and leave!!" This shocked you and made you sad, even angry, while revealing the problem was much worse than you had even anticipated. But you made up your mind you would not leave your home. Instead, you would TRY and see what else this guy was up to, hoping others would see it too and simply hold him accountable. Others that supported him instantly accused you of hating him, accused you of attacking him and his family, some called you Satan, some threatened you with heart attacks, some questioned your faith, and some outright threatened physical violence to you and your family. You again were shocked since you had never said you wanted him fired or harmed, but only that you thought he should be open and accountable with ALL the residents. Then he decides to change the HOA charter and bylaws but seems to want to do it with as few of the members knowing the particulars, again raising suspicions.

You see, some wealthier neighbors gave him great gifts and he seemed to give them special favors, which instantly killed the morale of the rest of the neighborhood. Some of those neighbors also complained that the HOA rules were "legalistic" without telling which ones. Some rules the new HOA president liked and would play audiotape of the prior president to persuade you to do what he wanted. Other times, if you mentioned the prior HOA pres, you were labeled as recalcitrant. Anyway, after several months of praying and waiting on God, you finally asked some other neighbors about this situation. As soon as the new pres realized that you were doing this, he sent OTHER neighbors of yours that you knew and trusted, to your home to confront you personally. You were called a coward, yet the new pres never took the time to even attempt to speak with you personally. He just said how busy he was, how many residents he had to deal with it, and he went on vacations and focused on other issues. You were so proud when your HOA pres was elected to a prominent leadership position within the city, yet he disappointed you when he failed to honor his commitment and it was published in the newspaper.

I digress...when the concerns did not go away, the new HOA pres suddenly began to whine like a little girl about how difficult his job was, and how difficult and unloving, and legalistic and lost his residents were...to OTHER HOA presidents. Also, he would be angry and blast ALL the neighbors at HOA meetings, most of whom were not really even aware of the issues he was whining about.

As for blogging about the neighborhood? Sure, this could drive away anyone considering buying in your neighborhood who happen to read your blog instead of going the neighborhood site for information, but so be it. At least new potential buyers of homes would know what they were getting into. But why blog in the first place? Why was a blog necessary? You see, its because you DID send him an email with your name on it and he arrogantly and stubbornly ignored it or gave you a contrite answer and then black listed you. You never felt the same around the neighborhood after that. Many of your long time neighbors did get fed up and leave, and your neighborhood continues to decline after a couple of years.

That's it. I hope it helps you understand how we got here. And every now and then, someone will just happen to drive down your street, ask you if you want any cheese with your wine and tell you to sell your home and move. Others will say you should pray for the new man, others will say let God handle it, and others will say you should simply "be a man" and try talking with the new pres. They just don't get it.

So, this is why I stay at FBC, it is like my neighborhood with a new HOA president the last couple of years. I know this is not a perfect analogy, but I believe it fits.

And I still like my home, my neighborhood, because of the neighbors that are still here, as the HOA president is not the neighborhood.

So I stay.

And I fight. In my own way.

Does this make sense?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Is Our Problem "Legalism" or "Hypocrisy"?

Mac Brunson declared us a "hotbed of legalism".

Some of his supporters have posted here agreeing with Mac that we were or are legalistic; then citing examples of supposed "legalism" that are not even legalism. So Mac labels us legalistic (which is such a damning phrase that no SBC church wants to labeled), and those that agree with Mac's assessment don't even know what it is. Just eight years after Homer's death and two years since Vines leaves and we don't even...well, I digress.

So Mac has passed judgement on us as "legalistic". And in front of 100's of SBC pastor's to boot.

Sure, over the years many in Jacksonville have claimed FBC Jacksonville members were "legalists", but it was usually the liberals that called us that because we took strong stands against sin in our city. Our church used to know the difference between "legalism" and "high standards" and "strong stands against sin".

While we're talking about labels - another label applied to FBC Jacksonville over the years is "hypocrite". People in our city have long called our church members hypocrites...claiming that we say one thing with our mouths, then behave in ways contrary to what we say.

So Mac has called us legalistic. Now for Mac's diagnosis.

Mac, you're not a "legalist". But Mac, you are a "hypocrite". And now you've given the city reasons to believe our church is hypocritical.

Why are you a hypocrite?

You say you are concerned over crime in Jacksonville.

But your actions say otherwise. Unlike you not telling us why we are legalistic, I'll tell you why I call you a hypocrite:

1. You agreed to sit on the mayor's Crime Prevention Steering Committee. But as the Florida Times Union reported you made only 2 of 7 committee meetings. This is not surprising; you vacate your pulpit at only a slightly better rate than that; and you don't tell us most of the time when you won't be there, you just, well aren't there (which we don't mind so much anymore). Hopefully you showed the Steering Committee members like Wayne Weaver, Nat Glover, John Delaney, and Steven Wallace more respect than you do your congregation by letting them know in advance you won't be there. Or is that being "legalistic" to expect you to tell people you won't be there?

2. You promised Rev. Daniel Jones on Sunday, September 30, 2007, that FBC Jacksonville would help him get his church sanctuary (Christ Ministry of Changing Lives) back and operational. His church is in one of the most crime-ridden areas of our city, and the federal ATF agent investigating the arson says that his sanctuary was burned down because of the positive impact his church was having in his neighborhood. You even had him come to the church on that Sunday night, and you even called him to the platform so you could promise to him in front of all of us that our church (under Trey's able leadership) would help him. Then we read in the Florida Times Union 6 months later that Rev. Jones is still not in his sanctuary, and is still well short of his goal according to the Times Union article. We can only assume that FBC Jax did not follow through with its commitment, else one would assume FBC Jax would be listed on the list of rebuilding sponsors at Rev. Jones' website.

3. On the same day that you collected a special offering to pay for local TV advertising and to pay to put your sermons back on national TV, the Florida Times Union had an article describing how Rev. Jones' church still isn't in his sanctuary. You used your power and influence to raise money to put yourself on TV in local commercials and on national Christian TV, while Rev. Jones was putting a tent up to hold services next to his burned out building.

You're a hypocrite and I've explained why. You say you're concerned about crime in Jacksonville. But you can't attend the Steering Committee Meetings, and Pastor Jones is still not able to fully function in his crime-ridden area of Jacksonville after we promised to help him. If any of these facts are wrong, please let us know here, or better yet tell your congregation.

Now, can you explain why WE'RE legalists?

------------------------------------

Note: this site gets 500 views per day...if you are reading this and would like to contribute to Pastor Jones' church's rebuilding efforts, you can do so through "PayPal" at his website: Christ Ministry of Changing Lives. If you instead would like to contribute to Mac's Media Evangelism to pay for the Starbuck's commercials and to put Mac's sermons on nationwide Christian TV, go to the FBC Jax website.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

First Baptist Academy: New School in a Hotbed of Legalism

Jacksonville - you are no doubt aware that First Baptist Church Jacksonville is working to open a school in the Fall of 2009. The name of the school is the First Baptist Academy of Jacksonville. Pastor Mac Brunson is the founding pastor of this school.

Here is a link to the school's website: http://www.fbcjaxacademy.com/

You might be interested in knowing that the pastor of First Baptist Jacksonville, Mac Brunson, the founder of this school, said the following about his church, which will operate the school as a ministry to Jacksonville as a part of our desire to spread the gospel:

"Down in Jacksonville, I'm in a hotbed of legalism. Everybody has a list of rules, and they all seem to have no real relationship with Jesus Christ."

If I were a parent looking for a Christian school, I would be very concerned about sending my kid to a school where the church operating the school is a "hotbed of legalism" according to the pastor. I also would be concerned if the pastor things "everybody has a list of rules", and that no one "has a real relationship with Jesus Christ". I don't think we want our kids indoctrinated by legalists, do we?

To be fair, here are the links where you can hear the words of the First Baptist Academy of Jacksonville founder. These were spoken by Mac Brunson on April 7th, 2008, while preaching in North Carolina at a pastor's conference.

"I'm in a hotbed of legalism" - the short version

"I'm in a hotbed of legalism" - the longer, more "in context" version.

Buyer beware. You might want to contact Mac Brunson for some clarification on what he meant if you are concerned.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Words Mean Things

The last week has been quite instructive for the members of First Baptist Church - at least for those who have been concerned over the poor leadership and abuses of Mac Brunson at our church.

We heard Mac say the following to a group of pastors in North Carolina: "....down in Jacksonville I'm in a hotbed of legalism. Everybody's got a list of rules, but they seem to have no real relationship with Jesus Christ."

Of course one might think that Mac was referring to "Jacksonville" in the broad geographic sense, as in "this area of the country"...but our blogging friends who speak to the pastor and other staff members helped clarify that Mac was not talking about "Jacksonville", but really "First Baptist Church Jacksonville". In fact if you listen to the quote in context, its clear that prior to the "hotbed" quote he was talking about the church in general, then turned his comments to the church "down in Jacksonville" in particular.

Said one of Mac's supporters in the previous thread:

"The problem Watchdog has is simple. Fact is FBC has been legalistic for years. So, when our pastor calls this sin out, he takes it personally. Makes complete sense. Then he turns the gun on our pastor and calls it slander.....Fact is he [Mac] has been fighting this trend from the beginning. WD has had his eyes closed to this until now."

So now we know...Mac has an agenda to "fix" this legalism that is rampant at our church - and the key is: HE'S BEEN FIGHTING THIS FROM THE BEGINNING. As I said in the previous thread, this helps give us context now to look back at what has happened to our church over the past two years. If the man came here to eradicate the "legalism", no wonder the staff changes - no wonder the abusive preaching from the pulpit. Perhaps, even the small group of lay leaders who courted Mac to come here, lavished him with gifts and perks because - well - he was coming here to save our church from the dreaded legalism we were in! Those of us who know something of what legalism is, and what its like to be in a legalistic church, know full well that our church is not legalistic, or even that we are trending in that direction. That is not to say we don't have our own set of problems, but legalism happens to not be one of them. If anything, the standards we used to have that some claimed were legalism have become more lax in just about every area of church life - including rules on nepotism and accepting large gifts from donors of the church.

So perhaps Mac can clarify when he has a chance to return to the pulpit what makes us legalistic. Let's help him out a bit and parse his statement and ask some pertinent questions:

1. "...down in Jacksonville, I'm in a hotbed of legalism"....ok, that is interesting. Mac doesn't just say we are legalistic, but that actually we are a "hotbed" of legalism (notice he is the subject of the sentence - "I'm in a hotbed" - why its all about Mac, isn't it?) Being the learned and well-read man that he is, I'm sure Mac used that word exactly as he meant it: a "hotbed" is a spawning ground, a place where rapid growth occurs. So Mac is saying our church is so legalistic that it is a place where legalism is growing and expanding, perhaps festering. Quite interesting. I'm sure that assessment of our church will really help attract people downtown that we're trying to reach - And don't those pastors want to come down to a conference at the "2009 Hotbed of Legalism Pastor's Conference". And this will certainly help attract quality staff members to our church to replace Calvin Carr and Lainge Patrick - I mean who doesn't want to go serve in a "hotbed of legalism". And of course parents all over town will be beating our doors down to enroll their kids in this "hotbed of legalism". But that will be for a future post: "Send your kids to First Baptist Academy: the Hotbed of Legalism in Jacksonville". Maybe our mascot can be the FBA "Fightin' Recalcitrant Legalists".

2. "...everbody's got their list of rules..." Can you tell us who is "everybody" Mac? And what kind of list? Is it like Ghost's list yesterday of your abuses that troubles you? Just what rules? Are they the rules that say: when the pastor comes we'll give him a $300k piece of land? That rule didn't seem to bother you much. Is it the rule that we have that says the pastor has the reigns and calls the shots - allowing him to hire family members? Is it the rule that allows you to make changes to our bylaws without making a genuine effort to communicate those to us? Those are fighting words, Mac, to tell a group of pastors that "everybody" at your church as a list of legalistic rules. I don't know about the rest of the people at my church, but I'm going to stand up for my church in the face of your slander - and I'll do it in this blog as my forum despite the nasty attacks bloggers get from your defenders.

3. "...but they seem to have no close personal relationship with Jesus Christ". Just who are these people you're referring to? Are these the majority of your congregation? Besides, wo are you to judge us individually, and why would you pass judgement on us corporately in front of pastors in North Carolina? What is your criteria that you're using to ascertain their close personal relationship with Christ? Is it you and your spiritual elites perhaps are able to assess whether we have close personal relationship to the Lord? Perhaps you're referring to those "recalcitrants" who are turning up the heat on you because of your abuses? You already once said that those who don't agree with your changes are "comfortable in their sin and compromise" - now that quote seems to make more sense since you believe us to be a hotbed of legalism.

Well, its good to know that some in the church leadership reads this blog multiple times every day. We hope that Mac will be briefed on the bag of excrement he has stepped in this time....and we hope that more members of our church become aware of the words of their pastor....sowing discord? No, I call it spreading the truth.

Monday, April 14, 2008

FBC Jacksonville: The "Hotbed of Legalism"

I'm now convinced when Mac Brunson said the following on 4/7/08 when preaching at Hickory Grove Baptist Church, he was referring to his own church:

"...'holding to a form of godliness though they deny the power.' That's legalism. And I want to tell you something, down in Jacksonville I'm in a hotbed of legalism. Everybody's got a list of rules, but they seem to have no real relationship with Jesus Christ."
Mac Brunson, April 7, 2008


Are you reading that FBC Jacksonville? Everybody's got a list of rules, but they seem to have no real relationship with Jesus Christ. That's you FBC Jax member. You have a list. And you have no REAL relationship with Jesus Christ.

That is what Mac Brunson believes about his congregation. And to make matters worse, he doesn't have a problem telling a group of pastors behind our backs when he is out of town and doesn't think anyone is listening.

Be a man, Mac. Don't creep around churches in the SBC telling people that we're legalistic, that you've been attacked by recalcitrants since you arrived. TELL US TO OUR FACES. My guess is you can't, because you're afraid you'll tick too many of us off and we might not keep giving you money.

But FBC Jax, doesn't this help you understand his terrible behavior in the pulpit, and condescending attitude toward us? When you hear him tell a group of pastors in his old stomping grounds in North Carolina that we're legalist and have a list of rules and no real relationship with Jesus Christ - does that not explain why he puts us down as not reading our bibles, that we should humor him at least by flipping through the hymnal, that we're worshipping the past, that he can't find but 50 men just 6 years after Homer died, etc.? Things are becoming clearer.

And doesn't this help explain the housecleaning at our church? If he showed up and found a "hotbed" of legalism, then he needs to clean-out those hard-headed, Pharisaic ministers like Bobby Barton, Doug Pigg, and Lewis Howard. And that fuddy-duddy Rodney Brooks who thinks his music is God's music, he has to go. And he knows his own family can't be legalistic, so definitely bring them and put them on staff to do what these other legalists have done - so legalistically - all these years.

And to make it even more sickening: the one area that one could argue that we HAVE been legalistic about all these years - the tithe - Mac DOES hold on to that legalistic teaching, even having the gall to reach back and play excerpts from that legalist Homer Lindsay, Jr. to remind us that we need to tithe if we're going to see God's blessings.

Slowly but surely, Mac, we're starting to figure you out.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mac Brunson: "Jacksonville is a Hotbed of Legalism"

Mac Brunson preached 4/7/08 at the "Empowered Church Conference" in Charlotte, NC at Hickory Grove Baptist Church, pastored by Dr. Joe B. Brown. My intent here is to let everyone know that Mac views Jacksonville as a "Hotbed of legalism". I've never heard him say that before here in Jax, and as you'll see below he doesn't explain this claim, so we are left wondering what he means. But before I give you this quote of Mac's, some up front words of explanation.

You can listen to his 4/7/08 sermon at this link: Hickory Grove Sermons. Thank you Dr. Joe B. Brown for having a website at your church that archives every single sermon at your church, whether it be yours or even one of the pastors who spoke at your recent convention. I don't know of many pastors who would make the sermons preached by popular megachurch pastors at a convention available FREE AND CLEAR on their website. It shows that you're interested in getting the Word out to the world, and not holding a conference and making money off of people to purchase the sermons. I think many megachurch pastors who are intent on gathering money from sheep outside their own church could learn a thing or two from you. And certainly our church could look at your website as an example of one that does provide useful sermon resources as a part of its own ministry, and not just giving its sermon ministry over to the pastor's 501(c)3 website.

But about Mac's sermon. Before I point out a few things about this sermon, I want to first explain why I listen to his sermons out of town as I'm able, and then blog about them. No doubt the few anti-Watchdog bloggers who are vocal here calling me a coward and that make assumptions about my mental state and motives, will say I'm out to get Mac, that I need to get a life, etc. No, the reason I am listening to Mac outside of Jacksonville and I encourage you all to do the same, is that it might serve to give us some perspective on what is happening to us in our church. Mac often times preaches "from the hip", and says things I believe he didn't plan to say and probably at times wishes he hadn't said. So it can only help us to listen to Mac's sermons away from his home church to gain some perspective on what he does here and why he does it. We saw this last year in a few sermons he preached in North Carolina that I blogged about.

On the positive side: a very solid sermon from Mac. Those who might think Mac is a "purpose driven" preacher, or that he is somehow not a true conservative, should listen to this sermon on how a preacher can energize their church. When you listen to this sermon it is absent the anger that he is prone to express to us (presumably because he is not angry at his audience?), seems to speak from the heart to preachers, and he is quite funny actually at times. Parts of this sermon he has preached to us, about the "vanishing church" in northern Africa where the 27 books of the NT were confirmed, yet that church is in ruins while a new mosque sits within eyesight. All in all a good sermon that I think our church should hear. He even addresses "election" that many interested in the Calvinism issue in the SBC might be interested in hearing!

Now some of the critiques:

1. In his 2nd point, he talks about the "sustaining sufficiency" of scripture. He gives some "context" for this point talking about "demoniacal times" as described in 2 Tim 3:1 - after reading these verses he says "...have you ever lived in day where you've seen people more unloving than they are in are our day; irreconcilable, and listen I'm not talking about people in the world I'm talking about guys in the church. Pastors even!! Irreconcilable....mad and screaming at everything, furious, upset, day in, day out, irreconcilable". Then he goes on quoting more of 2 Tim 3: "...'holding to a form of godliness though they deny the power.' That's legalism. And I want to tell you something, down in Jacksonville I'm in a hotbed of legalism. Everybody's got a list of rules, but they seem to have no real relationship with Jesus Christ." I find that quite interesting. Just who is he referring to? Christians in Jacksonville in general? Or the stiff-necks at FBC Jax that he thinks "have a list". Not sure what might be on that list, maybe things like "1. pastor should not take quarter million dollar gifts from donors; 2. pastor should not put son and wife on staff with no stated ministerial responsibilities; 3. pastor shouldn't ramrod bylaw changes." Quite a dangerous accusation to throw around, quite a broad brush to be painting with, without explaining one's self clearly. Furthermore, is it really THAT bad? Are people today IN THE CHURCHES furious, upset, mad, day in day out as he claims? Or is that his perception of his experience at FBC Jax and he is projecting that on to his audience of pastors?

2. In the same passage he talks about how pastors will be persecuted. Mac says the following: "....'and indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.' Pastor: that's you, that's me. If you're serving Jesus Christ this day and time let me tell you something somebody's mad at you somewhere. Now if you want to go over in the corner and suck your thumb and say nothing to nobody, then nobody's going to bother you...so you're going to face persecution." He mentioned pastoral persecution to us this past Sunday night, and now he refers to it two days later to these pastors. I interpret this as Mac thinking the opposition he faces at his church is "persecution" at the hand of people in the church because he is "living a godly life in Christ Jesus." I so wish Mac could separate criticism over his methods and poor decision making, from real persecution that preachers get when they step on toes for righteousness sake. Jerry Vines was one who did suffer persecution when he made his "Mohamed was a demon-possessed pedophile" remark. Boy was he persecuted for that - and yet he handled it with dignity and grace - NEVER complained about it. Never made his own persecution something to preach about. He just responded to his critics one Sunday in the pulpit before he preached immediately after the controversy (as he said, he remained silent until he got back to his church, because he said he believed whatever he had to say on the matter he had to say it FIRST to his own church since he is FIRST a pastor), and then moved on. Mac as far as I can tell, and I could be wrong, he is not being persecuted because he is a great father, husband, preacher, lives a clean life, preaches against sin, etc. Its because, in my opinion, his abuses of his leadership has caused people to doubt his motives, question his decision making ability, and now wonder if he is God's man for our church. His ability to lead has been damaged because of his own actions and attitudes. He has to come to grips with this. Also, Mac will be persecuted for anything he tries to do that is perceived to be part of the "purpose driven" movement. That's just the way it is, and he needs to get over it and stop talking about it. But this purpose driven criticism is separate from what he is facing at FBC Jax and he mustn't confuse the two.

3. When Mac mentioned "election", he said the following: "We've come to this whole issue of election because it gives us an excuse not to lead people to Jesus Christ. I think it gives us the opportunity to explain away why we're not baptizing people any more in our churches. 'Well, they're just not elect'. Well I want to tell you something: from the Friday of Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday morning we saw 118 people get saved. I just hope he keeps electing them in Jacksonville." I never did hear that 118 professions of faith were made that weekend, is that really true? I know we had quite a few baptisms Easter Sunday, but were there really 118 "professions of faith" during this weekend? I just want to be accurate: were there 118 people who expressed professions of faith, or was there a total of 118 decisions, some of which were baptism, some professions of faith?

But I would like to know why Mac thinks Jacksonville is a "hotbed of legalism". Does anyone think this is true? I would assume he is not talking about FBC Jacksonville, but our area in general. When I look at our city, I see a city chock-full of strong churches, many that take strong stands for the gospel, many of which have very innovative techniques to reach a very diverse group of people in Jax. No question, this is a "conservative" city - many church members are in local politics and judiciary. What I and other see about Jacksonville as being very positive, I guess Mac sees it as "a hotbed of legalism". Strange indeed. Maybe he is getting to not like Jacksonville.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Let FBC Jacksonville be Your Third Place"

Received an email from someone who has seen several new TV commercials that have been running late at night, perhaps on Channel 12 or Fox News. Maybe we paid for those in our special "Media Evangelism" offering on Resurrection Day.

One of the TV spots could be entitled "Your Third Place". It features Mac holding a large coffee cup, probably in his study as it looks like there are books in the background, and explaining how the success of Starbucks is attributed to their stores being not just "coffee shops" but "third places" in peoples' lives. Mac explains how everyone needs a "third place" in addition to their "home" and "work" - the third place where they can gather, relax, meet people, etc. Starbucks has created environments at which people are comfortable as the "third place" in their lives.

Then Mac says: "Why not consider something very radical: make FBC Jacksonville your 'third place'". He says a few other words about the church, then closes with the very witty invite: "You visit FBC Jacksonville, and after the service the coffee is on me.". Aw shucks, Mac wants to buy you a cup o' joe; oh boy, I can see the crowds coming to have some coffee with Mac - is he just speaking figuratively, or is there a place where we can enjoy a latte with Mac?

Nothing new and innovative here; the church marketing bunch has been presenting this concept of the church as the "third place" in people's lives for quite a while. I'm just not sold on the idea that our church is really going to be an attractive place for some person to try it out as their "third place".

Just thought I'd share this with you, since its likely you'll not hear anything from Mac on the results of the Media Evangelism offering otherwise he'd have told you already and you might not be up late enough to see these spots. As one poster said here earlier, the decision to buy the TV spots and the decision to put Mac on INSP network was probably already made and in the works - the Media Evangelism offering was really not really a means of raising the funds so we could do these things - but a ploy to raise funds to help pay for something already decided upon. My guess is that we'll hear nothing about the Media Evangelism offering, but come May we'll see InLight back on at INSP network. You can bet the Watchdog will be watching and will let you know.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Debbie Brunson Elected Secretary of IMB Trustees

According to the SBC Today blog, today Debbie Brunson was elected as "Secretary" of the International Mission Board trustees. She will begin her term at the conclusion of the SBC Convention in Indianapolis June 10-11.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Where Was Mac?

Today the Florida Times Union published a front page story critical of Jacksonville community leaders who volunteered to serve on Mayor John Peyton's anti-crime panel last year. The attendance overall at 7 meetings held since December has been around 50%. Mac Brunson, pastor of the First Baptist Church Jacksonville agreed to be on the panel's "Steering Committee", but unfortunately Mac has only made 2 of the 7 meetings held since last December, for an embarrassing 29% attendance rate.

Here is the table from the newspaper today that shows Mac's 29% attendance at the Steering Committee meetings; notice he made the first two but has missed the last 5.




That is quite embarrassing, that our pastor has volunteered to help reduce crime in our city, yet can't find the time to make it to but 29% of the meetings as a member of the Steering Committee. As reported here on this blog last year, in August before the Day of Prayer Mac talked about how the high murder rate is unacceptable, in fact he said: "There are people in our city that have to live everyday with gunfire in their neighborhood; no one should have to live like that, I don't care WHO they are!" and then he followed that with: "I wouldn't put up with that in my neighborhood...in fact I have 5 or 6 guns, I wouldn't put up with it." Of course Mac lives in an exclusive gated community backing up to a golf course, so its a good thing he has those guns to protect himself. But I wonder, is Mac all talk and no action? Is he really concerned about crime in our city? Or was it just politically expedient for him to say he was, but when it comes time to roll up the sleeves and get to work on the problem he can't find the time? To quote Ed Hearle, a member of the law enforcement committee who has made all of the meetings: "Seems to me if you agreed to serve on something this important, you'd be there half of the time."

This leads one to ask another question that was never answered: to what extent did FBC Jacksonville follow through with its offer to help Pastor Daniel Jones rebuild his church? In the Sunday evening service on September 30th, 2007, Mac Brunson publicly offered to help Pastor Jones get his church facilities, which are located in a crime-ridden part of our city, back and usable after there were nearly burned down by arsonists not happy with the influence Pastor Jones was making in that part of the city. We ask this question because the Times Union reported just a few weeks ago that its been a year since the arson of Pastor Jones's church, and six months since Mac Brunson offered his help, and Pastor Jones was still not back into his church facilities. One would hope that FBC Jax followed through with that commitment to help, but one wonders after seeing the Times Union article.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Its Enough To Make One Feel Sorry for Mac

Tonight I actually felt sorry for Mac. He showed tonight that he is unable to differentiate between: a) valid concern, even well-meaning opposition from those in his congregation over his leadership, personal actions, and decision making methods at our church, from b) opposition that a preacher might receive from anti-Christian forces for preaching truth. Big difference. Perhaps when a preacher like Mac faces some opposition or even criticism in the church it just might be God moving in His people to get the pastor's attention, maybe to keep him from doing something he shouldn't.

Tonight using Philipians 1: 27-29, toward the end of sermon, Mac called those who might be concerned over the start up of a school or his plans for satellites, easily "spooked" like a horse. Then using verses 28 and 29 where Paul speaks of those who oppose the Phillipian Christians as a sign they will be saved by God and are thus in the will of God, and that the opposers will be destroyed, Mac indirectly compared himself to Jerry Vines who was attacked for his "Mohammed was a demon-possed pedophile" remark at the SBC some years ago. He then made reference to Paige Patterson who is being attached and "crucified" because he takes strong biblical stands. I'm not sure what kind of similar "opposition" that Mac faces that he is referring to, but it must be that which is internal to his church because he spoke about how so many in the church are scared to start a school, and their "hair stands on end" when we consider satellites, and he mentioned those pesky emails again. Sometimes its hard to follow Mac, but he certainly led his listeners to believe that versus 28 and 29 apply to his ministry and the opposition he has faced of late over things like holding unannounced votes to take $500k for a school, the $300k land gift he accepted, etc...none of these things has anything remotely to do with strong stands he has taken, but rather poor judgement exhibited by Mac himself.

So to follow Mac's logic, he is facing stiff opposition in his plans because he is a strong preacher like Vines and takes strong stands like Patterson, but to Mac the opposition he faces (which is all internal to his church) is a sign to him that he IS in the will of God. And if he believes that verses 28 and 29 apply to our church now in the opposition being raised against Mac (how bad can it be anyways, he did get the obligatory "envelope" and pastor's wife flowers for his aniversary, with TWO standing ovations for the excellent job his first two years), then that means Mac views opposition to his plans as coming from those who are opposed to God.

That is dangerous stuff - to make the claim that the opposition he is facing over the direction he is taking the church and questionable actions he has taken - is tantamount to opposition that Paul warned the Philipians of from anti-Christians - well, its just scary.

Unless you've drunk the Kool-Aid already, then I suppose it all makes perfect sense.

Would you like that in Grape or Cherry?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mac Brunson Interview During Pastor's Conference

If you haven't already, visit this site:

Mac Brunson Interview at SBC Today

and you'll hear an interview of Mac Brunson conducted by SBC Today's Tim Rogers during the Pastor's Conference in February.

Some Highlights:

"How do you deal with blogs that are set up to harm the ministry?" asks Tim Rogers.

Fast forward to the 4:55 mark to hear this question and Mac's response that most blogs are nothing more than women gossiping in a beauty shop. Wow, talk about "living in the past", Mac, you definitely are there. Mac also claims he never reads these blogs.

"What does the next Southern Baptist President need to focus on?"

Fast forward to the 10:00 mark to hear Mac say that the next president needs to "save his hide" because "they" are going to be "draw and quarter him". According to Mac there are two main issues he's worried about in the SBC:

1. The way pastor's treat each other, and "hurting pastors"...and he uses of all people Darrel Gilyard as an example of a hurting pastor. He then sets up a straw man to defend Patterson ("Dr. Patterson didn't make that man do that, he sinned on his own.") and then he says Patterson and Vines didn't cover anything up (in reference to the Gilyard story) because "they'd enjoy exposing it too much." It is a strange thing to point to Gilyard as an example of how pastors are hurting. I'm sure he must regret using that as an example.

2. "Massive egos that are out there....its sad because its no more about Jesus its about the personality." Tim Rogers showed great restraint in not laughing out loud as Mac called the kettle black. But one thing is for sure, Mac hit the nail on the head with that comment; only problem is he's also talking about himself.

"How do you and Debbie follow God's call..." relative to deciding where God's call is to a ministry.

Go to the 6:30 mark and hear how Mac explains that he consults with his wife and that a man and wife should be of one accord in important decisions. Then Mac says again what he has said multiple times from the pulpit: "Why is a woman more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit than men are? I think they are. I really do. Now I can't prove that in scripture but I really believe they are. If the Lord confirms it [the decision] in her heart, then its kind of a word to me."

I've really thought about Mac's view that in general women are more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit than men, but the more I think about that the more disturbing I find that Mac believes that and has said it multiple times to us. Sure women are more "sensitive" to many things that men are not, but as a blanket statement "women are more sensitive to the Holy Spirit than men are" is absurd. As much as I find it disturbing, I also find that knowing Mac believes this helps me understand some of the decisions made by Team Brunson during their first two years. More on that later. He also says at the 22:00 minute mark about taking a special office or position in the SBC - he whispers "I don't think my wife would let me do it" - and he wasn't joking.

At the 19:45 mark Tim Rogers states: "There seems to be this persona out there that you have got to be this huge mega church pastor...this celebrity status person to be able to invest your life in others..."

Mac responds: "We have got to get away from this concept of celebrity status. God saves us from that. We are not celebrities. We worship the only 'celebrity' - that's Christ. All ground is level at the foot of the cross. God doesn't love me any more than he loves any other pastor."

Wow. I'm glad Mac cleared that up for everyone: God loves pastors at smaller churches as much as he loves the mega church pastors! I wonder if Mac came to this conclusion about how we have to get away from the "celebrity status" AFTER accepting the $300k land gift, since that is what celebrities get - they get love and affection (and gifts) from people who don't really know them but are impressed by their name and their positions of power. Many decisions Mac has made since coming to FBC Jacksonville contradict this statement. If Mac truly believed this, what a statement it would have made for him to refuse the land gift but instead announce to the church that this gift is going to the school, or to some other ministry instead of purchasing him land and enriching himself by $300k at the stroke of a pen.

Lastly, at the 22:00 mark, Mac said his joy is watching his children blossom into ministry. He says: "I have one son here with me, who ran this whole conference; this whole conference was on his shoulders." Unbelievable. I'm certain it was a great conference, and that Trey did a wonderful job organizing it, but this points to the dangers of nepotism especially involving a leader's children. Its difficult for parents to realistically assess their children's performance - that "whole conference" is not on Trey's shoulders. The conference is what it is because of what it has been in the past, and the reputation our church has that still draws people to our church's ministries. Furthermore there were hundreds and hundreds of volunteers that made the conference a success, and many of our ministers organized the pastor's conference for 20+ years long before Trey came - and these ministers juggled their other ministry responsibilities along with the PC. But Mac gives credit to his son and never mentions his church. Another example of celebrity mentality.