Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
I won't comment much on it, other than to say it is definitely worth listening to. He will likely have it posted on his 501(c)3 website www.inlight.org by Tuesday.
Mac didn't waiver one bit on the sin of homosexuality, describing how we arrived at the position we are today where the society is embracing this sin as normal, what this says about our nation's relationship to God. I had never heard this said before, but Mac said that throughout the bible homosexuality is a "signal sin" - that when this sin becomes prevalent and accepted in a culture it shows just how depraved the society has gotten, and that God has to some degree removed his hands from the situation.
But Mac at the end of the sermon, did an incredible job of preaching about man's response should be to the sin itself - that is what a person who struggles in this area should do. It really was a classic - a preacher trying to encourage his people to fight, to wage war against all sin in their lives through the Holy Spirit.
Excellent sermon Mac. Keep 'em coming.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Clip #1: Here Mac announces how he can determine the attitude of mom and dad based on spending a few minutes with a teenager. Listen to this clip. So if you have a rebellious teenager, keep him/her away from the Brunsons else Mac will assume you're filling your teenager with "garbage". Oh, notice that Mac explains how important, how contagious attitude is - all the while why he does with an arrogant, angry attitude. Priceless.
Clip #2: More than any preacher I've heard, Mac seems to want to tell his congregation on a regular basis how tough it is to be pastor of his church. No question pastors have pressures...but I mean to hear Mac describe his lot you'd think that he bears the weight of the free world on his shoulders. Its tiring Mac - just do your job, and quit telling us how we don't have a clue what we would do if we pastored the church. We do have an idea of things we would NOT do that you have done.
Mac says something in the clip that is very curious, and doesn't really make sense: "I can tell you something...its a position [FBC Jax pastor] where the weight of temptation is greater than anything you can imagine. You don't know, you don't have a clue." That is odd; "weight of temptation"? Whatever does he mean? Temptation to do what? Accept large gifts, put wife and son on staff, hold Israeli fundraisers, change bylaws with no explanations to the congregation? I guess Mac sure didn't hold up under those temptations, he gave in to every one!
Mac says in the quote that he has to "deal with more criticism in 30 minutes than you can handle in 6 months." Mac let me tell you something - the more you speak as though you know what life is like for the average person in your church the more painfully obvious it is that you don't have a clue. You don't understand that the pressures and criticism you face are likely nothing like the pressure the average working stiff in your congregation faces. Most people at work face intense competition from peers, demanding customers, supervisors who are pushing harder and harder, companies cutting back jobs and salaries from a troubled economy, and a paycheck shrinking as life's expenses increase without much of a raise if any. No one at work tells Joe Blow that they're "God's man"...they don't get to choose their supervisors...they don't have people lining up to give them free gifts, and they work in companies with strict nepotism rules forbidding them to hire their family members in their same office, and alas they must leave Fido at home. So PLEASE quit your bellyaching to us Mac about how hard things are; most of the pressure you feel now is likely you're own doing, the result of poor decisions you've made as pastor that you've never attempted to explain or apologize for. Your bellyaching falls on deaf ears - you have your family working with you, you have a lavish office suite with your wife, secretary, and dogs in the office. You rub elbows with the rich and powerful at Deerwood in your million dollar home and even though you abuse your congregation week after week people still love you and worship you. So you have a few recalcitrants giving you a hard time week after week about your poor leadership. Get over it. You have the keys to the church, and a flock of gullible sheep that will follow you anywhere.
Life ain't that bad Mac. But maybe as you say at FBC Jax you're in the "place of preparation" for something bigger. We could only hope.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Before posting her response, a few comments are in order.
This blog is primarily about FBC Jax and the pastorship of Dr. Donald "Mac" Brunson. Has been, always will be. The issue of "Sheri Klouda vs. SWBTS and Paige Patterson" has made its way to my blog because of the decision of Mac Brunson himself. On Sunday July 13th, in the Sunday evening service at First Baptist Church Jacksonville, to the good people of FBC Jax Mac Brunson either maliciously lied, or careless perpetuated a lie told to him by Paige Patterson's attorney during a "trip to Greece", about Sheri Klouda's testimony in her case and her views of her case as it pertains to scripture in 1 Corinthians 6. I blogged about this here; and click here for audio of the clip where Mac perpetuates the lie.
Those of you who are familiar with Sheri Klouda's case through the baptist news agencies and the blogosphere will read in her own words below her story contradicting stories told about a supposed job offer made by Paige Patterson; even one anonymous blogger here who blamed her hardships suffered from this lawsuit on Dr. Klouda herself for not taking a similar job offered by Patterson. And she of course explains her real views of her case in light of 1 Corinthians 6 and other relevant scripture - which shows how Mac Brunson completely misrepresented her views.
Finally, I can say I was absolutely sickened to read her testimony of how she was wronged by Paige Patterson and the subsequent suffering her family has had to endure. And now to read her own words confirming the lies that have been told about her dismissal, and now to know that our own pastor, Donald McCall Brunson has decided to insert himself into this and use his influence and power, and the prestige associated with our church name, to further perpetuate lies about this good woman, I am OUTRAGED. Shame on you Mac Brunson. Its clear that Dr. Klouda harbors no animosity toward the people involved, but feels the need to set the records straight.
Here is her response:
To All of Those Who Have Responded:
I would first like to mention that the court documents for the Klouda/Patterson depositions are publicly available in Fort Worth, should anyone wish to look at them, which should support my claims.
I would like to put some rumors to rest, if I may.
First, I was never offered another permanent position with the same salary and benefits. The only position I was offered was temporary, and would only last until my pending dismissal in December of 2006. I begged Dr. Patterson to find a place for me at the seminary several times, and I would have taken anything I was offered, given my husband's rapidly declining health and the need to financially support my family. I was desperate. We just bought a home based on the premise that I was hired on tenure track and would be given the same opportunities as other professors to apply and achieve tenure. My daughter was already in high school, and all of my family, including my elderly grandparents, parents and my siblings all reside in the area. There is no document related to this new position, nor was anything ever produced to support this claim.
Second, Paige Patterson testified that several students came to him complaining that I was "teaching the Bible," soon after he decided he would eventually terminate me. However, he took no notes, has no records, no emails, and does not know the names of the students that accused me of this.
Third, I was hired for the teaching position by the board of trustees, who felt that I was qualified to undertake these responsibilities. It was only a year after Paige became president that he decided to begin the process of eliminating my role, stating that I was unqualified to teach only because of my gender. As far as I can see, you cannot have it both ways.
Fourth,the case was dismissed not because the facts were disputed, but on the basis of the separation of church and state. In other words, the deposition makes it quite clear what the grounds of my dismissal were, and they had nothing to do with my performance. In addition, the role of a faculty member in a seminary is considered to fall under a ministerial exception, consequently, the law views me as a "minister." Ironically, I was dismissed because as a woman, I was not "qualified to be a minister." Paige did not mind taking advantage of that judgment even though he states categorically that I am not qualified to be a "minister."
While it is true that the lawyer had me read I Corinthians 6, I responded that "it appears to suggest that one should avoid bringing suit against another believer," however, I clarified this by explaining that this declaration assumes the wronging party will do the right thing to the one accusing him, or that other believers will compel the wrongdoer to respond appropriately. In addition, the Old Testament, which is part of our Bible, institutes and discusses at length judges, courts, and suits as stipulations approved by God and put in place to protect the individual in a believing community from harm by another. The Bible constantly addresses powerful people taking advantage of those who are less powerful Not only did I go to Dr. Patterson and ask him to treat me fairly several times, since I did nothing to deserve losing my job, and in fact, was serving in that role by the approval of the board and those in authority, but other believers went to him on my behalf to try and obtain justice and grace. I was asked if I knew that there were church mediation places set up specifically for the purpose of resolving these matters between believers, and I acknowledged that if I had known that option was available, I would have tried that approach. While I do not know Pastor Brunson personally, and I have never met the man, even though I taught junior high Sunday School for five years, he or anyone else (a deacon, an administrator, somebody who would care?) from FBD never advised me or discussed what happened to me, or counseled me as to what to do. No one in my own church came forward once when my husband was ill, or expressed any concern about out situation at all apart from a few of the adults who taught junior high.
As a result of Dr. Patterson's unilateral decision, we lost all of the equity in our house and sold it for less than we paid for it since we couldn't afford the payments any longer. I lost all of my years towards tenure, some of my life insurance, retirement for two years, and took a reduction in pay equivalent to $15,000 a year. My husband lost his job of 12 years, and took a job that paid half of what he received in Dallas. His heart condition is inoperable (he had another heart attack in November), and he needs a defibrillator put in to restart his heart when he suffers heart attacks. We are still trying to pay off those medical bills so that he can get the procedure done before he has a major attack. He must either apply for early retirement (at the reduced amount) or try to apply for disability, which takes approximately 808 days in Indiana before approval. He will have no life insurance, and we will have even less income. We of course, have no money to buy a home since we lost all of our equity in the Dallas sale. We are already going month to month, and I am very concerned about how to proceed. Somehow by the grace of God and his provision we will make it. I hardly think this constitutes "whining," and I did not "refuse" any position at the seminary.
Finally, I just want to reaffirm, I am still Southern Baptist at heart, and I harbor no hard feelings towards anyone involved.
Blessings in Christ,
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday night Mac Brunson preached a sermon on church discipline from 1 Corinthians. In the first 2 minutes of his sermon, Mac commented on 1 Corinthians 6, where Paul describes one of the problems of the church in Corinth being that of legal disputes between believers. While not the central verse of his message, Mac said this was an example of just how low the Corinthian church had sunk - that Christians were suing Christians.
But as only Mac can do, he had to take it one step further. Without giving any names he explained that in our Southern Baptist Convention we had a "famous lawsuit" where "one Christian was suing another Christian and an instutition". Mac was referring to the case of "Dr. Sheri Klouda vs. SWBTS and Paige Patterson". Sheri Klouda was a seminary professor hired by the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) trustees in 2002 prior to Paige Patterson taking over as SWBTS president in 2003. Paige Patterson eventually told Sheri Klouda she would not be recommended for tenure as she was not suitable to be a professor of theology because of her gender, and scripture forbade her from teaching men. This ultimately resulted in Sheri Klouda bringing a lawsuit against Paige Patterson and SWBTS for gender discrimination. My intent here is not to argue whether the lawsuit did or did not violate precepts in 1 Cor 6, but to point out a lie that Mac perpetuated from the pulpit about Sheri Klouda. But if interested, click here for a good overview of the entire case, written by Wade Burleson. If you do just a little bit of research on this you'll see that Dr. Klouda and her family suffered terribly from this entire ordeal. She is now a professor at Taylor University in Indiana.
But back to Mac's sermon. Mac said Sunday night that the lawyer that tried the case (actually the defendant's lawyer) traveled with him to Greece recently, and Mac says the following (click here to listen to the audio yourself):
"He [the defense attorney] had this person [Sheri Klouda] sit in the witness chair, he gave that person a copy of God's word, and had that person open it to the 6th chapter of 1st Corinthians and he had that person read that [scripture] into the record and he [the defense attorney] asked that person 'now in the light of God's word were you wrong to bring this lawsuit?', and on the record they [Sheri Klouda] admitted they were wrong to bring the lawsuit"
Only one problem. That's a lie. That totally misrepresents Sheri Klouda's testimony in the case. She did NOT admit she was wrong to bring the lawsuit. As anyone who followed the case knows, Sheri Klouda has stated in her testimony in the court and outside the court that the conditions of the situation warranted her taking legal action as she did and that it was not a violation of 1 Cor 6. Its also safe to say that she did not lose the case on the material facts but the court's unwillingness to intervene in church or religious disputes.
Very interesting that Mac chose to lie about this. He didn't have to - the fabrication he told, even if true, wouldn't have shed any light on lawsuits and believers - the lie was completely gratuitous. He could have made his point and used the Klouda case as an example of 1 Cor 6 lawsuits - even saying that he thought Sheri Klouda was wrong in bringing the lawsuit. Many people hold that position. But no, he had to go further. People post here wanting to know my motives - what are Mac's motives in telling a lie about Sheri Klouda and misrepresenting her testimony? Could it be that by telling this story in the fashion he did that it makes Sheri Klouda look less of a Christian (bringing a lawsuit against Patterson then supposedly admitting on the witness stand that she was wrong?) and helps to put Paige Patterson in better light? Would we dare call that slander to use his pulpit to say this about Sheri Klouda?
You say "Mac was just telling us what the lawyer told him." OK, but did Mac pick up the phone and talk to Sheri Klouda as he prepared his sermon to make sure that the lawyer was right and that Sheri had admitted on the witness stand that she was wrong? Why wouldn't he check his facts? For crying out loud, Mac Brunson was Sheri Klouda's pastor when he was at FBC Dallas - wouldn't that alone make him want to get the story straight and make sure that he doesn't malign Sheri Klouda?
There you have it FBC Jax. Yet another example of careless preaching, by an arrogant out-of-control preacher who has a problem telling the truth. And this time Mac's lie maligned one of his own sheep from FBC Dallas to throw a bone to one of his buddies. Sick.
But no one at FBC Jax seems to care. Mac is "God's man". He can do and say as he pleases.
David is a proponent of postponing young people's baptism until after they reach the age of 12. This article is particularly timely given that this week is "Vacation Bible School" and there will be plenty of parents considering whether to allow their children who make professions of faith to be baptised.
Perhaps this article might be helpful to a parent during this week of Vacation Bible School.
David Rogers article on Semi-Infant Baptism
Sunday, July 13, 2008
He then showed a 4 minute video of these men describing their business venture, how they arrived at the idea, and what its purpose is.
After the video, Mac says that these men are importing alabaster from this region so that they can return the profits to mission work at the NAME. And Mac said "100% of the money you spend on purchasing the alabaster goes right back into mission work in that region". Yes, he did say that. That is hardly possible, I assume he means 100% of the profits. Which means its a not-for-profit venture. We shall see.
Interestingly, Mac's ace marketing consultant "The A Group" may have some involvement, since on Maurilio's twitter account are these two entries showing he flew to Jacksonville on June 19th to meet these two men: Interesting, it seems that more and more of our church time and resources go into promoting private business enterprises and interests of a select few people in our church. We had the "Time to Stand With Israel" at the insistence of certain influential deacons who have business interests there. Then we had the video commercial displayed during a sermon promoting the home building business owned by the two sons of the developer who donated the $307,000 tract of land to Mac Brunson where he built his million dollar home. And we know that we pay large sums of money to Nashville church marketing guru Maurilio Amorim for our website and other promotional and marketing services. Now two guys with an alabaster business that perhaps our church marketing guru is also involved in. How sad it all is. But to say anything about it and to make people aware of it on a blog, is apparently one of the worst sins that a Christian can commit according to Jim Smyrl on Wednesday, and as we'll likely hear from Mac tonight as he speaks about church discipline.
On an unrelated note: how much of God's money given by God's faithful saints at FBC Jax was used to re-do Maurilio's bathroom in Nashville so he could have a six-head shower that he completed on June 21st, as he "twittered" about on June 21st?
Click here to see Maurilio's six-head shower.
Six-head showers for Maurilio Amorim and million dollar homes for the preacher: Ain't God GOOD?
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Apparently Maurilio Amorim, the owner of the A-Group, was in Jacksonville today, as he blogged (actually he "blogs" and "twitters" - "twitters" is a way to blog in small real-time snippets throughout the day) that he was flying to Jacksonville, and having lunch at the Deerwood Country Club. Don't know if he was meeting Mac Brunson and discussing FBC Jax business, but I can't imagine Maurilio has too many clients that live in Jacksonville at Deerwood Country club.
But the fact that Maurilio is in town just reminds us of one huge difference since Mac came to FBC Jax. Apparently our staff of over 20 God-called, full-time, seminary-trained (most of them) ministers are not enough for us to develop our own church growth strategies. Do we really need to be paying a very wealthy church marketing executive who lives in Nashville to be helping us plot our church course?
Sorry Jim Smyrl to engage in "idle chatter" here...but people of FBC Jax do you want to know where your tithes and offerings are going? As we saw tonight we have to collect nickels and dimes and dollar bills at the conclusion of our service to gather up the money to help the poor African-American church rebuild across town because we don't have money in the budget apparently to help them...but by golly gee whiz we have plenty of money to pay Maurilio to be our marketing consultant.
I don't fault Maurilio one bit, and none of this is meant as a criticism of him in any way. He operates a profitable business that apparently is in high demand, and he is a Christian and by all appearances operates with high morals and ethics. But those of you at FBC Jax who don't like to think of your tithes and offerings going to an out-of-town marketing firm might be interested to know what kind of a lifestyle you help support when we pay the A-Group to be our marketing firm.
As I already mentioned, Maurilio "twitters". This means throughout the day he posts about his life - where he goes, where he flies to, where he vacations, where he eats, what shows he goes to, etc. If you visit his "twitter" site at: http://twitter.com/maurilio you will be able to see that he lives pretty well. Activities that he gets to engage in:
- vacations in Las Vegas
- stays at the Palazzo resort
- enjoys private Kineses work outs at the Canyon Spa and Gym
- dines on French food at the Paris Hotel
- spends $100 dollars for steaks at his hotel
- goes to the Blue Man Group show
- spends $700 for tickets to the Cirque De Soleil show.
All of this and more is on full display at his blog and twitter site, so I'm not attempting to expose anything, and not being critical of Maurilio. Just wanting people at FBC Jax to know that our pastor deems this marketing firm to be an absolute essential part of our church strategy.
Just how much money do we spend on the A-Group? Is that money well spent? Just what have we gotten from them that has helped us win a soul to Christ? What have they done for us that our own staff or even local firms here in Jax couldn't have done for us? Call me old fashioned, call me a recalcitrant and a trouble maker (and Smyrl may call me a boiling, festering cancer), but the thought that we need to hire a jet-setting marketing executive in Nashville to help us with strategies to reach our city for Christ is completely foreign to me. I wonder where like-minded men of FBC Jax are that know better.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Now therefore until the pastor and/or the church lay leadership begin to address these concerns, including public explanation of the bylaw changes enacted in December 2007, and until the pastor begins to display the humble servant-leadership as portrayed in the New Testament, our tithes and offerings will be given to other worthwhile Christian purposes that will meet people's needs and further the gospel. We do not feel compelled by scripture to continue to financially support the ministry of FBC Jacksonville as continued giving to the church is to condone the past practices and encourage even more abuses in the future.
Be it decreed this, the 25th day of June, in the year 2008.
I hope that enough Christians will join us to make a difference.
Friday, July 4, 2008
I immediately called the explanation (politely) "horse dung". Then within minutes an anonymous attorney familiar with tax consequences of gifts given between employees of 501(c)3 religious organizations and shareholders, gave some clarification to 47's explanation.
Here is the salient portion of the attorney's explanation:
The gift was given from one "shareholder" of an organization to another "shareholder" of the organization. This, in and of itself, is absolutely harmless. Where it gets sticky is the fact that it was a "shareholder" giving a gift to an employee of the organization. Had Dr. Brunson announced that there was a member of the church, or "shareholder" in the organization, that had given him a substantially sized gift, the responsibilities that go along with that gift, would have then fallen on the whole organization. According to the churches 501(c)3, the announcing of such gift would be viewed as, or considered by law, as an employee associating the organization with the gift, therefore incurring tax consequences for the organization by the terms of the 501(c)3's Excess Benefit Transactions. Basically, had the deal been announced publicly, the government would have seen an employee who received a gift from a "shareholder" passing his tax responsibilities to the organization, having them pay his taxes.
Basically, had the deal been announced publicly, the government would have seen an employee who received a gift from a "shareholder" passing his tax responsibilities to the organization, having them pay his taxes.
Interesting explanation. I don't believe it. If I understand 47, Mac Brunson WOULD HAVE told us, perhaps he WANTED TO tell us about this incredible blessing of God...but doggone it those pesky IRS rules actually prevented him from doing so because tax consequences would have been incurred. It was in our best interest NOT to know!
As 47 said, answering these questions only leads to more questions. Here they are:
1. 47 I will assume you are a staff or family member that has close access to Mac Brunson. So, can you tell us the decision to not announce the gift was a conscious decision made at the time the gift was accepted? Did Mac WANT TO tell us, but shoot he just couldn't for our own good?
2. Is it really possible that the tax consequences to the church of this gift could be swayed by just a man explaining the nature of a gift, of expressing thanks, or just sharing the fact that a gift was given? Is that possible? Don't the facts surrounding the details of the gift: the relationship between the giver and receiver, the size of the gift, the timing of it in relation to his employment date, etc...don't the facts of the gift trump whether a man opens his mouth to announce a gift?
3. Approximately 18 months after the gift was given, in the middle of Mac's sermon he aired a professionally produced commercial for a business owned by the sons of the giver of the $300k land gift. Does this have any tax consequences to the IRS as how the gift is viewed?
And finally: regardless of the answers to these questions and whether "47" and the "anon attorney" are right or not...doesn't this all just stink? Couldn't the gift have been refused, or directed to the church so the church could best decide how the gift is used?
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Actual attendance is often much different than membership.
Yep, that's right, this is the sub-headline in Brumley's June 30th piece about how...get this...our actual attendance is much lower than our membership numbers! Now how is that for news about FBC Jax! While the pastor at Jacksonville's largest church - which just so happens to be run by some of the most influential people in Jacksonville including politicians, a judge, and a candidate for judge - has accepted a $300,000 gift from one of its members violating an ethical standard that would exist in any profit or non-profit corporation setting and has put wife and son on staff and whose numbers are plummeting - Brumley has a story about our membership numbers. Gee, that is some late breaking news for sure!
It would be nice if our local media would do their job and actually go and ask Mac Brunson about the ethical standard he used in accepting the land gift. Its a little harder for Team Brunson to refuse answering media questions than questions asked of anonymous emailers or coward bloggers. Was the land gift truly a gift according to IRS standards? Maybe ask Mac about the wisdom of putting wife and son on staff with no stated ministerial responsibilities. How about the glaring differences between his own actions and ethics in his book used in SBC seminaries to train pastors? Maybe a story about nepotism in our local mega churches? What about the bylaw changes made at FBC Jax that hardly anyone in the congregation understood, but were asked to vote on last December? Did FBC Jax have its method of church governance changed? Why was a discipline committee begun? And many more questions that require answers - nope, need to first look into that gap between membership and attendance numbers.
This Brumley story is more proof that there is a valid use for blogs. When the large media outlets ignore an obvious story for whatever motives they might have, blogs do provide a way for light to be shown on newsworthy facts. Bloggers were responsible for exposing the Dan Rather lies about President Bush's military service when national news outlets ignored the story. So while Brumley writes about membership numbers and the "blazing oratory" of Mac Brunson and his penchant for Krispy Kremes and driving pick-ups, this blog will continue to expose the abuses of Mac Brunson at FBC Jax.
And one minor detail Jeff: not sure where the "up to 3000" attendance figure came from for Wednesday nights at FBC Jax, but I think you have an extra zero stuck in there. Wednesday night attendance has fallen greatly as has Sunday night - mostly because people don't know who is preaching, if there will be preaching, and if it will be a bible study or a history lesson.