"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Brunson Elected to Deliver 2010 SBC Convention Sermon

At last week's 2009 Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, SBC messengers voted to grant Mac Brunson the high honor of delivering the "convention sermon" (like a "keynote address") for next year's 2010 convention which will be held in Orlando.

From Baptist Press:

"Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., was elected to preach the 2010 convention sermon and Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., was elected as the alternate convention preacher."

Someone has said that a person elected to deliver the convention sermon may be a person who is being looked at to be nominated as the president of the SBC.

Looks like good times ahead for Mac Brunson.

Congratulations, Mac.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blogging Gems From the FBCJ Faithful

Here are some choice quotes from FBC Defenders of late:

"Your request for a "witness" or "record" of the meeting is just a way of saying I want my lawyer to be present. The church had every right to deny that demand because they were not trying to pursue any legal action as part of the discipline process. And neither should you."

Of course, how unbiblical for a person to want to bring a witness to a meeting with six men who have accused you of terrible sins against Christ and the church.

"But I stand my ground when it comes to you meeting with the discipline committee.You were a given a chance, a chance to make your arguments and defend your positions and to present your view points on the issues you were concerned with.But you refused to meet with them and face them like a man. Instead, you withdrawl your membership and run like a coward and throw lawsuits at anybody you can."

More lies. And why are these people so consumed with calling people "cowards" and "be a man"? The cowards are the ones who showed up at my door with trespass warnings. The cowards are the committee members who wouldn't agree to meet with me by meeting my simple requests.

"Vengeance is the Lord's Mr. Rich. If you honestly think you are in the ok here and that the Lord is pleased with your actions up until now, let the Lord win and take His vengeance on Mac Brunson."

"And what's the deal with suing the church anyways? What are you after?An apology? You won't get one, they did nothing wrong. Money? A settlement? You may get a settlement but money is not what your after is it.You want revenge, retribution, the same thing you tried to avoid by blogging anonymously. Isn't it funny how things play out, hehe."

More heads in the sand.

I urge caution Mr. Rich. Suing the church is a big thing. Remember, power players, and lawyers, and judges are hard to fight.I don't think your lawyer, Mr. Roberts is he?, can win this one.

More threats. My bringing a lawsuit I'm "fighting" judges? What power players should I fear? This shows the arrogance of FBC Jax - how DARE you accuse US. Bring a lawsuit against US? Don't you know who WE are? This writer assumes that a person going up against FBC Jax will be squashed because of the power the church wields.

And this one from last Friday:

"watch puppy, they say jealousy is a terrible thing...what, are you mad because you got kicked out of fbc...just think about that doctor that was just killed [referring to the late-term abortionist shot in the head in church], he has to answer to God for all of those abortions he conducted... you gonna have to answer to God for all of your blasphemy"

And more threats.

I did contact JSO to report that last post, since at the least its a veiled threat if not a direct one, but was told there was nothing threatening and thus a police report was not filed by the officer.

And notice, not one FBC Jax defender will give their name. Not one.

So who are the cowards now? Who needs to "be a man" now?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FBC Jax Gets Good Laugh at Racial and Ethnic Stereotypes

The bold, brash, "let's see who we can offend" style of preaching continues down at the big church under the leadership of Mac Brunson and Jim Smyrl.

Smyrl has gone after the Catholics and priests calling them a "cult" and "cult leaders", has written that Obama voters have voted themselves out of fellowship, and has called the church to protest the Muslim domes in our city else we'll all "come under Muslim law" very soon. Smryl has even called another baptist church's TV advertisement "blasphemous self promotion".

Sunday night it was time to get the Sunday night crowd to laugh and guffaw at the stereotypes of black and Hispanic worshippers.

First Baptist Church Jacksonville had Dr. Ergun Caner preach unannounced Sunday evening, June 14, 2009. Caner apparently was in town to work with Mac on the next version of their book "Why Churches Die", and he preached at First Baptist Church Fernandina Beach that morning. Caner, a former Muslim, is the President of the Liberty Theological Seminary at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia [corrected].

The content of Caner's sermon on what constitutes worship was excellent. Caner opened his sermon with a discussion of various worship styles, pointing out that worship is about substance, not style. True enough. But in the process of making his point, unbelievably, he attempted to make the FBC Jax faithful laugh by exaggerating stereotypes of black and Hispanic churches and their church members that have nothing to do with either substance OR style:

"The central premise and thesis I want to give you, is 'its not what you say, its to whom you say.' Amen? How many here ever been to a black church? Isn't that somethin'? You worship - that's a different style of worship than First Jacksonville and Thomas Road. Anybody that's ever been to a black church: don't you ever complain to me about gettin' out after 12 noon. [Laughter] I preached in one about six weeks ago and didn't even get in the pulpit until 1! [Laughter] They took up 12 offerings. Apparently they go back in the back and count it and if it isn't enough they gonna take it up again. [Laughter] A different style of worship. Different style of dress….I am aware I am in a pulpit without a tie but I can't find a shirt wide enough to button. Boy, you go to a black church, gentlemen, you ain't just gonna have on a blue suit, your shoes are gonna match your suit, and your handkerchief is going to match your tie, and the whole outfit is going to match your car. It's BEAUTIFUL. [Laughter]

And ladies: when we talk about black church, we're talkin' about hats. And I'm not just talkin' Easter hats as some of you may wear, I'm talkin' 'bout satellite dish hats. [laughter]. Big enough to receive a signal [Laughter], with a curtain rod goin' down the front that you can just pull the curtain across. [Laughter]

How many of you ever been to a Hispanic church? Some kind of worship there. That's whole man worship - body, soul, and spirit. In the middle of the song, you may recognize the hymn, you don't know what they're sayin', but in the middle of a song they'll bust out with a BLEEEEEEYAHHHHHHHH. [Laughter]

Its not the style, it’s the substance."

This is stereotyping that has no place in the pulpit. It seems to me to be born out of arrogance on the part of such speakers, and it plays to the ignorance of the listeners. Would Fred Luter laugh at Caner's remarks? Would Voddie Baucham find that funny? How about other black ministers in our city like R.J. Washington at Titus Harvest Dome Church and Gary Williams at First Baptist Mandarin and Rudolph W. McKissick at Bethel Baptist? Would they be rolling in the aisle laughing at Caner's stereotypes of their churches? Are they counting offerings and taking multiple offerings if they didn't get enough, while their members wear suits that match their shoes that match their CARS and their women have curtain rods on their satellite dish hats?

My wife is Hispanic, and I've been in Hispanic churches and I've never heard them yell out a BLEEEEEYAYAHHHHHHH in a church service...in fact I've never heard anybody in our family yell that, let alone in church. Was Caner talking about Mexicans or Puerto Ricans or Cubans? Maybe Spaniards or Peruvians? I mean really, I thought Caner was next going to talk about fried chicken and watermelons, or tacos and burritos - those stereotypes have just about as little to do with worship styles as do the suits, hats, or cars of worshippers.

I know Caner is a fine man, and meant no harm and was trying to be funny while making an important point about being tolerant of different worship styles - which I fully agree with him on. But his poor attempt at racial humor is a prime example of the problem we have in the Southern Baptist Convention. While our numbers are dwindling and giving is down to missions - we have a PRESIDENT of a seminary telling racial stereotype jokes in one of the SBC's largest churches. This is what makes Southern Baptists look like racist rednecks to anyone that is not already a Southern Baptist.

I wonder if Caner would repeat these jokes in any SBC church he would visit - I seriously doubt it. In fact, that morning at First Baptist Fernandina Beach, Caner delivered the same sermon but very much toned down his "jokes" about black worshippers - and the jokes he did tell had only scant laughter (you can listen to his sermon here). But apparently he knows his audience at FBC Jax, and perhaps he knows what Mac and and Jim have been preaching and what they would tolerate, and felt all too comfortable in getting some belly laughs at First Baptist Church Jacksonville using racial and ethnic stereotypes.

The crowd ate it up, and had a good belly laugh.

Perhaps THAT says more about FBC Jacksonville than it does about Ergun Caner.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Brazen Commercialization...

While the Southern Baptist Convention is getting ready this month at its annual convention to deal with declining missionary program giving and an overbloated bureaucracy and the pulling back of missionaries from foreign lands, things must be going great down at FBC Jax. Apparently giving must be strong, and people at FBC Jax have excess money to spend.

Today, appearing on the FBC Jax website scrolling images is an advertisement for a "Danube River Cruise 2010" next April, through Uniworld Tours with "hosts" Mac and Debbie Brunson.


Yep, while the Southern Baptist Convention will have to pull missionaries back from the field next year, FBC Jax will be sending their wealthy "missionaries" on a luxurious river cruise, to "spread the gospel" in Hungary and Germany while sailing down the Danube. Leading this bold mission thrust journey will be Mac and Debbie Brunson.

While the advertisement says "details to come", one can visit the Uniworld Tours website here to get more information and pricing:

Uniworld Tours - Enchanting Danube Tour

According to Uniworld, it will be a "...leisurely paced trip for those who love history, food and wine, architecture, music and diverse cultures in a blend of the best of Eastern and Western Europe." Pricing will be around $2700, exclusive of air travel to get to Budapest, Hungary. The cruise will be on the new "River Beatrice",

described by Uniworld as their "...new, ultra-luxurioius" river cruise boat. Its facilities include "luxurious staterooms, with 80% having French balconies, more junior suites than any comparable ship, and a spectacular owner's suite provide the ideal sanctuary for a restful night’s retreat....All staterooms and suites have made-to-order English Savoir beds draped in the finest and highest thread count Egyptian combed-cotton linens, and cashmere/wool blankets."

Assuming this advertisement on the FBC Jax website is not a cruel hoax, the questions must be asked: is First Baptist Church a CHURCH, or is it a club? Is it a religious organization or a travel agency?

If nothing else, this is poor timing - the economy is still very tight, many FBC Jax members are giving sacrificially in tough times, FBC Jax has a challenging financial year ahead with the start-up of the school, and the SBC is struggling with declining missions offerings - and now the FBC Jax website is being used to advertise for a river cruise next April. From a pure marketing perspective, the timing of the ad is probably good - just before the SBC meeting in Louisville so that more folks around the convention are aware of it.

I was critical of the advertising on the church website last year of the "Holy Land" trips hosted by the Brunsons, but a European river cruise on an "ultra luxurious" boat takes the cake. This kind of advertisement and marketing has no place on the FBC Jax website. The cruise is not a "ministry", its not sponsored by the church, and it sends the wrong signal to the world: that the pastor and the church are involved in using church resources (the church website) to promote luxury cruises around the world.

I don't mind people taking cruises or spending their money as they wish. But using the church to advertise and promote cruises for the very elite - it is another step towards the commercialization of the church, and it stinks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Update on Lawsuits - and Copy of JSO Internal Affairs Report

Readers: Its been some time since the lawsuit was filed against the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney's Office over first amendment freedom of speech and establishment clause violations in the First Baptist Jacksonville blogger matter - so I thought I would give you an update on where things stand.

- the lawsuits have been moved from state court to federal court; discovery process will likely begin sometime in July or August;

- I am told the case number assigned to the case in state court was 2009-CA-6666. No kidding.

- here is a copy of the official response from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office dated April 22, 2009, responding to my inquiry of Detective Hinson's investigation last year. You will see that the response is not from the JSO Internal Affairs office, but the issue was elevated to the Office of General Counsel of the City of Jacksonville. I had 5 questions of the JSO Internal Affairs office in my initial inquiry (click here to read it), and the OGC letter responds to each of my 5 questions.

- the April 22, 2009 letter from the Office of General Counsel was sent just days prior to the lawsuit being filed in state court. Given the letter came from OGC, I am still unsure if an actual JSO Internal Affairs investigation was done, or if they decided my complaint did not warrant one but still decided to have the OGC respond. The OGC says the matter was "reviewed at the highest level of the JSO", but doesn't actually say an investigation was done by Internal Affairs. But that is water under the bridge at this point.

- thanks to FBC Jax members and former members who continue to send relevant information. I can be reached via email at fbcjaxwatchdog@gmail.com.

I will continue to keep you updated as things move along - as the "mills of the Gods grind slowly" as Mac Brunson likes to say.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

King: FBC Jax Pastor and Staff are "Gifts of God"

Last month Kevin King preached a Wednesday night sermon at FBC Jacksonville. Below is an excerpt of the King's sermon, where he tells the members of FBC Jax that the pastor and staff are "Gifts of God" to the congregation, "Gifts of Jesus Christ" he says.

Then he says that "grumbling" against the pastor is to grumble against Jesus Christ. Yep, complain about something you don't like, speak up against what is being done at church, and you are speaking against Christ himself.

The quote is:

"If you get upset with your pastor or your staff, believe it or not, we're gifts of God. These are gifts from Jesus Christ. He established this. And remind yourself: when we get upset and when I want to grumble, when I may not like something, do you know who you are grumbling against? The head. Jesus Christ. You're not grumbling against the staff, you're not grumbling against your neighbor, you're not grumbling against your pastor. Your unsettledness is with Jesus Christ." Kevin King, FBC Jax

Hearing that kind of nonsense makes me sad for the people of FBC Jax. Is that really what the relationship is between members of a church and the leaders? The leaders, paid staffers, are "gifts of God" to the congregation and therefore above being criticized or questioned or complained about? And if one dares "grumbling" or complaining about concerns or even likes or dislikes they have "unsettledness" with Jesus Christ?

That is dangerous teaching anywhere in a church - but its unbelievable that during this trying period at FBC Jax where the church is in the local newspaper over the outting and trespassing of a critical blogger - that the message coming forth is not more openness but "if you criticize or complain we'll consider you as criticizing Jesus himself".

I would welcome anyone to justify with scripture Kevin King's statements. What is sad is what Kevin King says is consistent with A.C. Soud's Deacon's Resolution 2009-1 that Soud had the congregation STAND and ratify...according to Soud "unjust criticism" is viewed as an attack on the Lord's church - and on Jesus himself.