"...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

Friday, April 30, 2010

To FBC Dallas, As You Approach "Commitment Sunday"

Dear First Baptist Church Dallas Lay People:

As your May 2 "Commitment Sunday" approaches, just some friendly words of encouragement and advice from the Watchdog. I don't know if you will reach your goal of $130 million, but I wish you the best in whatever comes about from your campaign. The marketing campaign and the messages targeted at your wallet and financial portfolios makes me question whether this is God's will or man's will. I personally have a difficult time with the magnitude of the project, but even moreso the textbook secular marketing techniques used to play on emotions to get you to part with your wealth.

But some friendly, albeit unsolicited, advice:

1. Be conservative in your pledge amount
You will be doing your pastor and your church a favor if you pledge on the conservative side - that is if you are pledging at all. If you believe, as I do, that the $130 million price tag is probably low, and you couple that with likely probability that the actual pledges that come in can be expected to be higher than the eventual receipts, this can spell financial disaster for your church.
Make sure that what you pledge is reasonable, within your means, and won't create a financial hardship for your family. You having plenty of money for your family, your kids' education, and helping others in need is more of God's will for you than a "Crystal Campus". And do not pledge or divert funds from your retirement to the program; the mega church pastors who advocate such building projects are not dipping into theirs, and they won't be around to help you in your old age.

Suppose if the actual price tag is $150 million - which is not far-fetched at all - and if the actual pledges that come in after 3 years are $100 million...you have just straddled your church with a $50 million debt that will cost tens of thousands of dollars per week to service the interest. In this case the "For Future Generations" will be referring to massive debt as well as a new campus.

If you believe the church should pay off the existing debt first and then bank maybe 10% of the new construction cost BEFORE embarking on construction, maybe you want to consider handing in your pledge card marked "undetermined" or "as the Lord provides".

2. An excessive pledge amount is not necessarily proof of great faith, and it does not mean you are a more faithful church member.
Don't get sucked into the idea that the more excessive or risky your pledge is, that the greater faith you are demonstrating. The televangelists use this trick all the time, your pledge to their ministry is the "seed" or the "bridge" to your blessings.

God doesn't expect you to give generously and sacrifically to a building fund. God can use your new buildings for His glory, no question, but he can also use your present facilities. Nowhere in the New Testament are believers encouraged to give to glamorous structures. They are commanded to be generous in helping fellow believers, and caring for the poor and widows. An excessive pledge will make your pastor happy, but it might be that God wants you to be doing OTHER good works with your money.

3. Be cautious in approving the project
If the estimated cost of the campus is $130 million, based on depressed construction costs, be safe and assume the cost will be a minimum of $150. If your church does not get to at least $150 million in committments, I would hesitate to approve the project. People mean well, and might make committments they can't keep - especially since the hard marketing techniques may lead to committments based on emotion and may never pan out. When you're talking about projects in the hundreds of millions of dollars, your church can face financial ruin if you're off 20% on both the costs and the giving side of the equation.

4. Don't overestimate the importance of new buildings.
Don't think that your new campus is going to necessarily reach one single more person for Christ than you would with the old buildings. It's cliche to say "buildings don't reach people for Christ", but it's so true. You might need new buildings to replace the ancient ones that are falling apart, but don't think for a second that anybody in Dallas is going to be impressed with your new facilities. There's nothing you can build that will outdo the world's construction. The Crystal Campus looks glamorous in the videos and marketing pieces, but its still just a steel and glass.

You might steal some sheep with the newness and the "wow factor" at the grand opening, but your facilities within a couple of years will be outdone by some other church, your technology will become outdated, and the luster will have worn off. What reaches people for Christ are loving, committed disciplies of Christ who share the gospel in word and deed. It doesn't hurt either to have a genuine God-called preacher, and small bible study groups of loving people are what changes lives, not buildings. If you have that now, you already have what you need to do God's will.

About the last point: I was at FBC Jacksonville when the Children's Building and Visitor's Center was built around 2000. It was billed as the most state-of-the-art children's church facility at the time, and probably was. It was to provide a singular focal point downtown with the "water feature" with the high and lifted up cross, on the campus' central street corner (sound familiar?). It would tie our campus together with several more sky walkways to the pre-school building and a path to the worship center. It was going to give us a central point to greet our visitors in a beautiful foyer and conference area - which incidentally was converted to the Pastor's Office Suite that your former pastor now resides in - but I digress. And it was paid for in cash - no risk, the money was given, and then it was built.

I don't have the exact numbers, but I'm not sure that the building did much to grow the Children's program, or reached more families for Christ. You see, FBC Jax already had the best children's director in Shelly Baumgartner, and the best children's music director in Nancy Brandt. More than that, it had workers that were totally sold out to discipling children and reaching families. I worked one year in 4th grade the first year the building was in operation, and was blown away by the steadfast commitment of these FBC Jax children's workers. They were going to fulfill God's will for their ministry whether it be in that new building, or back in the circa 1920 building they were in prior to that. To be fair, that building now houses the FBC Academy, so it is serving dual purposes, which is good.

The lesson is: it ain't the building at all, its the people in the building, and their genuine love for people...seeing people as sinners who need a savior and families that need to be loved - not as noses and nickels. If you have a wonderful state of the art campus and an abusive, angry preacher (which you don't - on the latter), you might as well be back in the 100-year old building. If you have the most modern campus and your church is all about attracting the rich, the "beautiful people", Dallas will sense it and be turned off to your message. If you have a "water feature" that changes colors with the season, but have serious long-term debt that stifles your ability to carry out needed ministries - well, you get the picture.

Build, if God leads. But be sure it is God leading, and not man.

That's my two-cent's worth, from the Watchdog.

And on Commitment Sunday tell Sandy Patty I said "Hi".

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baptist Seminary Prez's Gone Wild: Cooper Calls Mexicans "Wetbacks", Caner Says Adopt Mexican Kids for Roof Repair and Yard Work

"BAPTIST SEMINARY PRESIDENTS GONE WILD!!!"

No wonder Baptists in the south have such a reputation as being hick, racist, rednecks.

Two Exhibits:

Exhibit #1: It was reported yesterday that Criswell College president Dr. Lamar Cooper referred to Mexicans as "wet-backs" during his Sunday School class broadcast by FBC Dallas on their Sunday morning radio broadcast. While no audio tape has surfaced, First Baptist Dallas and Criswell College have acknowledged the racial slur and issued apologies. As of this writing I know of no apology coming from Cooper. [update: this post first said it was made on his college radio broadcast - subsequent reports now say that the slur was made during his Sunday School class, which is broadcast by FBC Dallas on Sunday mornings between services; the above paragraph has been revised to reflect this. See this article].

Exhibit #2: While we're on the topic of seminary presidents speaking racial slurs against Mexicans, we can't help but reach into the Ergun Caner archives and quote one of Caner's many racial stereotypes that he pulls from his bag of tricks during his traveling show. During a conference in Seattle a few years back, Caner took a swipe at Mexicans (listen to audio clip below):

"The Mexican students [at Liberty] and I get along real well. They're my boys. I always joke with 'em, I say 'Man, if I ever adopt, I want to adopt a Mexican because I need work done on my roof. [uncomfortable laughter], and, and uh, I got a big lawn...so, [nervous laughter]." Ergun Caner, Seattle, WA.

My wife is Hispanic, and she is offended to hear Caner's Hispanic and Mexican stereotypes. I am too.

These are our leaders in our religious educational institutions, and they're speaking derogitorially of Hispanics? And the above reference to adopting Mexican children because they will fix roofs and do yard work is not the only stereotype Caner has used about Hispanics and Mexicans - it is standard fare during the E. Michael Caner traveling show.

One can only wonder if the Southern Baptists will have Caner tell this joke about adopting Mexicans for roof repair and yard work at the Annual Meeting in Orlando, where they will be emphasizing the importance of adoption.

video

Don Redman Asks Muslim to "Pray to Your God" For City Council


Don Redman, long-time FBC Jax member and City of Jacksonville councilman, during the hearing this week to consider the nomination of a Muslim professor to the city's Human Right's Commission, demanded the professor to pray "to his God" in front of the council. See the video clip below. Click here to read a related news article.

After the audible gasp of the crowd at such ignorance and stupidity, and the city attorney trying to step in to save Redman from making a complete fool of himself, Redman bumbles and stumbles to try to explain why he asked such a question - a question that could be considered a violation of the Constitution to put forth a religious test for a person to serve in a public office.

I'm sure FBC Jax is proud of their councilman. But of course, this coming from a FBC Jax member should not be a surprise...their number 2 preacher, Jim Smyrl, warned the FBC Jax faithful last year that if they stay silent as Muslims built a mosque in Jacksonville, "And a big dome goes up in our city and we sit back passively and say 'Well, if that's what they want to believe, alright." Well, get ready brother, 'cause your grandchildren are going to come under Muslim law if you keep silent" .

If there are legitimate concerns over this man's past, bring those up for discussion. But to ask him to recite a prayer to his god, is just plain ignorant and offensive, and a poor testimony.

Don, you hurt the cause of Christ when you act that way.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ed Young Can't Drive 100 Miles to Tyler, Takes the Jet Instead


Brett Shipp of WFAA news in Dallas/Ft. Worth, came out with another news report asking valid questions about Ed Young's use of his private jet. Above is the news report, I encourage all clear-thinking Southern Baptists to watch it.

How sad that it takes a news reporter to hold guys like Ed Young accountable? Instead of Ed's friends and peers telling him to cool his heels with the jet, they fly in to defend his use of a jet at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars per trip.

Will the president of the Florida Baptist Convention, John Cross, fly out to defend Ed's use of the plane for trips to Tyler, Texas, and to exotic resort locations? Maybe the jet can fly to Florida and pick John up so he can again tell Fellowship Church how awesome Ed is. Remember, Florida Baptists: John Cross, your president, endorses these trips. He endorses 100-mile trips from Dallas to Tyler, Texas - he said so when he came to defend Ed in February after Shipp's first report. He endorses 50 trips from Dallas to Miami at the cost of millions of dollars.

But God is so good to Ed. Not only did God open the door for Ed to buy a church in Miami and slap his "Fellowship Church" brand on it, but what a coincidence that the Lord led Ed to buy a $1.1 million condo in Miami as well! Praise Jesus!

And what a coincidence - the most oft traveled to location of Ed's jet is Miami, where he has BOTH his condo and his new church...so he can mix "business" and pleasure on his jaunts to South Florida!

Perhaps the most disgusting display of excess in this report are the 10 trips taken from Dallas out to the church's retreat center in Tyler, Texas. Only 100 miles, a short hour and a half trip that would cost maybe $30 in gas, instead costs THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS in the use of a leased jet.

But one thing is for sure: the people of Fellowship Church, and certainly Brett Shipp - will never, ever, EVER get their hands on detailed financial information. That is what we have learned about mega church pastors over the past 5 years. They will go down in flames, they will leave the church, before anyone will release financial information. Members at Fellowship Church either need to keep giving the money to fund this extravagance, or they need to stop funding it. If they keep funding it, they will just have to trust Ed that he is paying for ALL of his personal use of the jet at a fair reimbursement rate. It's all about trusting Ed.

And I don't trust these wealthy mega church celebrity pastors any further than I could pick them up and throw them.

But they know - people are gullible, they love to worship celebrities, and some of them are proud to fund such luxury for their "man of God". I have heard from several members who tell me that the heat is being turned up on givers to fork over more money as finances get tighter as more members leave.

Thank you, Brett Shipp. You are standing in the gap right now until the people of God get their head screwed on right and start holding their leaders accountable.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Caner 2001 Sermon at Prestonwood: The Worst Deception Yet

"And coming to America I had lived under the misconception that you hated me, as a Muslim. That really affected a lot of what I did in my younger years. I'm not really proud of the fact that I am part of, was part of Islamic Jihad. I'm not proud of the fact that it actually was my people who were involved in what took place in the horror [of 9/11]."


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I have maintained that the 11/20/01 sermon at FBC Jax is the most damning evidence against Caner, showing his intentions to deceive unsuspecting Christians over his background right after 9/11. But the Prestonwood Baptist Church sermon from late 2001 takes the cake. It was broadcast TODAY (4/26/10) on Focus on the Family, in their broadcast entitled "From Jihad to Jesus".

It only gets worse for Ergun Caner. The more we hear of his sermons, the more the lies and deceptions mount. The evidence is clear: he purposely misled Christians into thinking he was a trained terrorist, in the Islamic Jihad. The more guys like Tim Guthrie and Tim Rogers defend Caner, the worst it gets for Caner. Men that should be helping Caner see his need to confess and repent, are only making it worse for their friend.

Here are some of Caner's quotes from this whopper of a sermon preached by Caner shortly after 9/11 at Prestonwood Baptist Church:

"I was born in Sweden, raised in Turkey, came to America in 1978. When I came to America I came through Brooklyn, New York, of all places, which is where I learned English."

Unbelievable. Standing in front of shell-shocked Christians after 9/11, and Caner betrays their confidence by lying about where he was raised, where he learned English, and when he came to America. That is deception. A man that is misusing the pulpit to purposely mislead people about who he is and were he is from has no business being in the pulpit.

"English was not my first language....and I walked into that little church, my English was very poor...they didn't make fun of my accent, they didn't make fun of the clothes that I wore, or make fun of the fact that I wore a turbin, they didn't call me a 'towel-head'....a year later, still young in Christ, still with very bad English, I came forward in my little country church that loved me, and I surrendered to preach."

Notice, he wants people to think he was an immigrant as a teenager that could not speak English...when the fact is he was raised in America and spoke perfect English.

"I am not, um, I am not just a Muslim, I am not just a Sunni, and I wasn't just, um, involved in Islamic Jihad. I was the son of a Muasin, that's the cleric, the one who does the call to prayer, the beginning of the prayer time..."

Holy Cow!!! The man is telling people that he was raised in Turkey and was in Islamic Jihad! He wants people to think he was a trained terrorist. He did the same at FBC Jax on 11/20/01.

"I spent the first 17 years of my life assuming that you as Christians hated me. I mean I had never been in a church, I had never really been around too many Christians, there's not that many of them in Turkey or in Sweden..."

More outright deception. The man is saying that he grew up in Turkey, and thus was not exposed to Christians. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio. I assume he grew up with plenty of Christian friends.

"And coming to America I had lived under the misconception that you hated me, as a Muslim. That really affected a lot of what I did in my younger years. I'm not really proud of the fact that I am part of, was part of Islamic Jihad. I'm not proud of the fact that it actually was my people who were involved in what took place in the horror."

Now he is really laying it on thick. He is saying that as a youth he was part of the terrorists, that in his "younger years" he was involved with "his people" that committed the terror of 9/11. Creates a great story line: youth trained in terrorist Jihad came to America and found Jesus, else he would have been one of the 9/11 terrorists. Please. Why can't Caner just tell the truth about his youth?

"Do you know that most of the people, most of the Muslims, who were here on the bombing day, were shocked and horrified by what took place. Most Muslims were shocked by the bombing. Do you know why? Because here in America, Jihad is theory. But from where I come from, in Europe and the Middle East, Jihad is sadly, a fact of life. I was raised in it."

Again, purposeful deception to paint himself as an expert of Jihad, that he experienced it in Europe and the Middle East.

"Five times a day, even when I was in high school, even in Brooklyn, New York, I would get my prayer rug out of my closet, out of my locker, and roll it out in the, in the bathroom, and do my prayer."

OK, so he was in high school in Brooklyn, New York? I thought it was in Columbus, Ohio...when did he move to Brooklyn from Columbus?

Unbelievable. The more that comes out about the deceptions, and the more his peers defend him and don't call for him to publicly confess and repent, the harder the eventual fall will be.

And the more embarrassing it will be to us in the Southern Baptist Convention, that we didn't do our due diligence, and we bought his deception hook, line, and sinker.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Coming Soon: Watchdog Will Announce Run for SBC Presidency

Sources say next week Willie Mehmet Watchdog, the first ex-Catholic and ex-Mafia blogger, will be announcing his presidency for the Southern Baptist Convention. With the lack of clear direction in the SBC and recent scandals from resume enhancing to jet leasing, the time is right for Willie Mehmet to announce his quest for the SBC presidency.

Mehmet will announce the Great Conservative Resurrgence Resurrgence (GCRR), to lead the SBC into a resurrgence of the CR platform and strict enforcement of the conservative theology and practice throughout the SBC.

"We need to quit pussy-footing around with our conservative ideals", says Mehmet Watchdog. "Our convention is conservative, and we need to enforce our conservative views on all those that bear the name 'Southern Baptist'. We need money, and its in the pockets and portfolios of our stingy members who are not tithing. For the good of our convention and our country, we MUST strengthen our commitment to the CR."

Willie Mehmet, who was "rrrraised in Eurrrope", and who recently shared his testimony of converting from a strict-Catholic upbringing and his Mafia training in which he was "raised to do that which was done on Godfather I, II, III and some of what was on Goodfellas", will announce this week his candidacy, and his GCRR platform. In the face of some recent criticism over his Catholic and Mafia upbringing, Mehmet says that "I indeed was raised in Eurrrope as a devout Catholic and Mafia member...much of what I learned about Americans I learned from watching episodes of '24' and 'American Idol' back in the 1980's, when the censors in Italy and Beirut and other majority-Italian countries allowed those programs."

Unlike most SBC presidential candidates, Mehmet (whose wife calls him "Dutch", but prounounces it "Dooo-utch" and whose father-in-law is from Kitty Kill, South Carolina, and who drives a pick-up truck and eats Krispy Kreme) will appoint a special team of individuals to implement the GCRR, which reportedly will include some of the more popular CR celebrities and their blogging supporters and defenders.

Stay tuned for details of Mehmet Watchdog's GCRR team appointments!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Trip Down the Danube Canceled: Could This Be the Judgment of God?

We learned this past weekend that Mac and Debbie Brunson's "Trip Down the Danube" cruise on the luxurious "River Beatrice" with 100 of their closest friends, with "100% Egyptian cotton linens and cashmere/wool blankets" in the state rooms - was canceled.

Why?

Volcanic ash from the Icelandic volcano shut down air travel to and from Germany.

We as Christians must ask: Why did this volcano erupt?

Taking the cue from our American Christian leaders like Brunson and Pat Robertson, we must seek answers to the following questions:

Could this volcanic eruption be the judgment of God?

What is God telling us? What is God telling the Icelanders?

Perhaps the Icelanders are not tithing to the national church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland? Could it be that their failure to fork over 10% of their income, their desire to drive stolen cars and wear stolen clothes has caused God to shake the foundations of this volcano?

Maybe the Icelanders failed to "just slice off a big hunk" of their assets for the ELCI building program and God didn't like that.

Perhaps God tried to wreck their economy, and raise their gas prices, but that didn't get their attention, so God pulled out the 'ole "volcanic eruption and ash" trick.

Or maybe God is paying Europeans back for being the training ground for Ergun Caner in his youth; after all, according to Caner he was "rrrraised in Eurrrope" before he came to "Ah-meerrr-icah", when he was trained in the "Islamic Youth Jihad", training to "do that which was done on 11 September".

Or maybe the Icelanders' ancestors, much like the Haitians, made a deal with some Viking demons long ago, and God is paying them back for it?

Or maybe, just maybe, God didn't want the "Trip Down the Danube" to take place. Maybe he used the volcanic eruption to stop yet another example of modern Christian celebrity worship and excess all in the name of Jesus? I don't know, just asking the questions.

Maybe when Mac Brunson returns from Europe, he and Pat Robertson will share their insights as to why this tragedy occured.

And by "tragedy", I mean the volcanic eruption, not the cancelation of the "Trip Down the Danube".

:)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jeffress: 'Just Slice Off a Big Hunk of Your Personal Assets' and Give to the Campaign

"There are probably some of you this morning who would, if you were honest, would say 'Pastor, I wish I were more interested in spiritual things than I am...Pastor, I wished I loved God more than I do. Frankly I don't love Him, I don't think about Him very often.' If that's true for you this morning, may I suggest to you: the greatest thing you can do for your spiritual health, would be to take a large chunk of your assets, and give them to this campaign. Just slice off a big hunk of 'em [as he slices with his hand, shown at left] and give them to this campaign." Robert Jeffress "The Treasure Principle", 4/11/10. [Click here to view video clip].

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What is going on in the Southern Baptist Convention? I mean let's get real. We have Ed Young, Jr. flying around in a leased jet that his church never knew about until a TV reporter exposed it. We have one of our premier, front-line apologists Ergun "Butch" Caner having been found to build his fame and fortune post 9/11 on lies to sell himself as a devout Muslim raised in Istanbul and trained to be a terrorist. And now we have Dr. Robert Jeffress at First Baptist Dallas telling his church that if they really want to get close to God, I mean if you really want to love God and start revival, well, its easy as pie!! Just slice off a big ole hunk of your assets and give them to his $130 million building program. Not to the poor and needy - not to the Cooperative Program - to the building program.

These are troubling times in the Southern Baptist Convention.

We are beginning to make the worst of the televangelists look, well, NORMAL!

As I continue to look at the proposed $130 million "Crystal Campus" at First Baptist Dallas, its not the enormity of the price tag that causes me concern. Its the fund-raising methods being used.

In his 4/11/10 sermon, Pastor Robert Jeffress offers the following advice to his church members:

Beware of Financial Advisors
While Jeffress is encouraging people to use a "tithe on your assets" as a starting place of how much to give to "the campaign", he also is cautioning people to beware of their financial planners who might tell them its not wise to give such a large gift. He says they may have selfish motives, since they "get a percentage many times of the assets under their control." To view the video clip of this, click here.

This is dangerous ground. According to Jeffress, Christians are to assume that financial advice is skewed because the financial advisor gets a cut of the assets (which they don't)? Maybe that is the way mega church pastors view their parishioners, as people with assets to tap into. Can't Jeffress see the hypocrisy in saying this? It is HIM who is after a percentage of the assets, to the tune of 10% or more - NOT THE FINANCIAL PLANNERS! I would say we should be more wary of financial advice from a mega church pastor who is obsessed with a $130 million dollar new campus, than I would be from an educated, trained, licensed financial planner.

Whoever it was that told Jeffress about their financial advisor cautioning them: it likely was very wise advice based on the person's debt to income ratio, their future earning potential, maybe they were telling the person that they won't be on track to retirement and need to instead increase contributions to their 401(k). Its scary when I see people standing up at FBC Dallas giving testimonies that they are taking retirement money or income and funneling it now to the church - reminds me of the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker days. If God is leading people in that direction, fine, but it seems like the leading might be coming more from the preacher and the church marketers and less from the Holy Spirit.

People of FBC Dallas, please, please, please: LISTEN TO YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISOR. In fact, whatever you do, don't give a sizeable gift UNTIL YOU DO talk to a licensed financial planner, one who does not have any ties whatsoever with your church, that can help you see the long-term consequences of your decision. Remember, what you do NOW can have adverse consequences not just on you, but your ability to obey God in the matter of being a generous giver in subsequent years.

Give a "Big Slice" of Your Assets to Get Back to God
As quoted at the top of this article, Jeffress is telling his people that the path to getting back to God, to restoring one's spiritual health, to igniting a revival in their church, is to give a significant portion of one's assets to "the campaign". "Just slice off a big hunk of 'em", he said while making the slicing motion with his hand. See the video. Its unbelievable.

Stop With the Consumerism Mentality
Jeffress is right to encourage Christians to avoid the consumerism philosophy of America. He says people don't need "a fifth pair of shoes", or a larger house...but can't he see the same argument applies to his church and this campaign? Why does he need to build a $130 million dollar campus when he already has one? Have they considered something more reasonable? While his parishioners CAN get by with fewer shoes and their current house, so CAN HIS CHURCH get by with their current buildings, or at least a more modest plan for growth. Can't he see that his entire vision - building this grand campus to attract modern worshipers downtown via beautiful buildings and a waterfall - is itself born out of the consumerism mentality that has a grip on our culture?

Giving to "The Campaign" Is "Storing Treasure in Heaven"
Jeffress never does make a valid argument of how giving to "the campaign" is equivalent to "storing treasures in heaven". Is it really? When we get to heaven, God is going to have a heavenly bank account where the money we gave to Jeffress' building program is there? I didn't know that when Jesus told us to "store treasure in heaven" that this meant writing checks to a mammoth building program in Dallas. Maybe some smarter than I can comment on what Jesus meant, but I'll take a wild guess and say Jesus wasn't referring to slicing off a hunk of one's assets and giving it to the building of a huge "Crystal Campus".

Frankly, I find his sermon in trying to convince his people to give a significant portion of their portfolio and savings, while creating doubts about financial advisor's advice, offensive, almost condescending. The only thing I can liken it to is one of the recruiting pitches that you get from an Amway rep in your home. They pull out all the charts, all the cliche's that you can see right through, to try to get you to sign on the dotted line so they can build their down-line. That is how this sermon comes across.

But at least Jeffress' is a gentleman in the pulpit, and he doesn't yell and scream and sweat with veins bulging from his neck. And he isn't demanding a million dollars in two weeks....but he does want $130 million in 156 weeks.

May 2nd is their "Move that Mountain" day or whatever they call it. If this aggressive marketing campaign results in the raising of the funds for this Crystal Campus, then more power to Robert Jeffress and First Dallas for pulling it off. If they're successful, church marketing experts should carefully study how they did it, because they are pulling out all the stops.

I just hope the good people at FBC Dallas WILL not be caught up in the pressure from the pulpit, the slick video and copy marketing pieces, and the peer pressure through testimonies, and WILL listen to their financial advisors and their family members who are not in the church.

Bottom line: Give as the Lord leads you, not as a pastor and their marketing team leads you, and then God will be glorified, Crystal Campus or no Crystal Campus.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Advice to Church Leaders on "Watchdog Bloggers"

The blogger "Tall Skinny Kiwi" posted an article called "10 Ways to Stop Watchdoggers from Barking".

The Tall and Skinny one makes a reference to the FBC Jax Watchdog case, and then offers the following 10 tips to Christian leaders who might have a "watchdog blogger":

What to do when the watchdoggers are nipping at your heels? Here are 10 ways to deal with them:

1. Don't be a jerk in the first place!

2. Be honest and live a holy life. Secrets get shouted from rooftops.

3. Build your own social media platform and keep friends close to you.

4. Take your online profile seriously. High Google ranking will enable you to tell your own story. [See my blogging tips]

5. If you are too busy to maintain a social media presence then have someone close to you do it on our behalf. John MacArthur (who actually has an untainted reputation and almost non-existant fallout online) has Phil Johnson. John Piper has Justin Taylor who handled the recent "Warrengate" issue. Who do you have?

6. If you fly around in a jet then you should be the first person to tell your church that you fly around in a jet.

7. Educate your watchdogging critics on private email. Don't belittle them publicly. Love them and befriend them as early as you can.

8. Own up to your faults. God might be using the watchdoggers to purify you.

9. Don't get paranoid. You don't have time to track everything that is being said about you and it will be a real bummer to read it anyway.

10. Ask God for mercy because we are all jerks sometimes.

[the above, including the embedded links, is reprinted from the Tall Skinny Kiwi]

Not bad advice. In the comments section of the above article I offered tip #11.

Those of you that have followed the SBC blogosphere over the past several years...what advice would YOU give to a Christian leader who is the topic on blogs?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Caner Should Resign at Liberty

Wade Burleson has written an excellent article on the Caner biography fiasco.

Wade calls on Jonathan Falwell, Jr. and the trustees of Liberty to do the right thing, to publicly address the fabrications of their seminary president, and Wade believes Ergun must show humility and admit what he has done and apologize to those he has lied to.

Wade also says near the end of his post:

"I hope Dr. Caner keeps his job at Liberty."

I believed the very same, until this week.

I believe Caner should resign, or Falwell should send him packing.

Why have I changed my view on Caner keeping his job?

After I listened to Caner's 4 sermons preached in February 2007 at the Ohio Free Will Baptist Men's Retreat, I realize this guy has an incredible tendency to view people according to false stereotypes, and has used the pulpit to spread them.

A guy who would speak this garbage as a Christian minister has no place in an institution of higher learning, and much less a place in a church behind a pulpit.

How can the head of a religious school be a man who speaks derogatorily of just about every minority group using false stereotypes, whipping his audiences into laughter? Is it because he is a self-professed "camel jockey" or "towel head" that he things he has the right to perpetuate these stereotypes?

His four sermons at the Ohio Free Willers retreat was laced with jokes about women in general, ugly women being dogs, older women in churches pushing their "mutant granddaughters" on single ministers, Hispanics at Liberty pimping his truck using stolen parts, skinny "pixie" airhead girls at his seminary infatuated with their weight, Turkish women having better mustaches than Turkish men, Mexicans who "come here in the back of Chevy's"...and we know his false stereotypes of black and Hispanic worshippers at FBC Jax last June.

He even said this about "women behind the pulpit" to the hoots and hollers of his male audience:

"Dr. Caner, do you believe in women behind the pulpit? My answer is well, yeah, of course, how are they going to vacuum back there unless they get behind it....[laughter, and hoots and hollers].....and that's going to be in half of your pulpits next Sunday. FEEL FREE!!! I LOVE THAT LINE!! But you know one line like that shuts it all up, 'cause they're not going to talk about it, and they're not going to talk to you for a while, which is good, which is good."

I wouldn't send my daughter to a Christian school where the head of that school says such things about women. Might go hear him at a comedy night club or watch him on Leno, but hearing him say this as the head of a seminary where women, blacks, Hispanics, and others go to get an education? How long would Bernie Machen last at UF as the president of the school if he said this stuff? Heck, how long would Urban Meyer keep his job if he said such garbage?

Keep in mind, all of these stereotypes he spoke in 2007 and 2009, AFTER taking the helm of Liberty's seminary. And he spoke these in front of a group of mostly pastors and lay leaders. And its posted on the Internet for all to hear.

And lastly, let's face it: his entire fabrication of being a Muslim who was in the Islamic Youth Jihad, lived in Istanbul and his dad coming here as Islamic "missionaries"....its appears to me to be an attempt to stereotype ALL Muslim immigrants in our country...that they should all be feared because they are here to convert us and to strap bombs to themselves and blow us up.

I've thought about this, and after hearing the incredible lies and exaggerations spoken by Caner about his past, I don't believe that his dad was a devout Muslim, or that his dad brought his family here to be Muslim "missionaries". I think for Caner to tell that story is to demean the memory of his father. I believe the more likely story is that Ergun's dad, an educated professional, came here to live in a country where he could raise his family in freedom, where his boys could get an excellent education in Columbus, and then attend colleges and get degrees and pursue their dreams in this wonderful country. And they sure did, and good for his dad in bringing his family to this country.

I don't buy into this stereotype that Ergun Caner seems hell-bent on perpetuating about Muslims in our country. Most of them are peace-loving, family-loving citizens who work hard and want the best for their families. They are not "missionaries" to come here waiting for the signal from bin Laden to strap bombs on, which Caner seems to imply he would have done if not for accepting Christ. I don't think for one minute that any training Caner got at his mosques, or that he received from his dad, was to train him to be a terrorist. And I don't think his dad was a polygamist, as he implies in his sermons about him "having many wives".

Don't get me wrong, I hope that all Muslims in our country would hear the gospel and find redemption in Jesus Christ, but we will never win them to Christ by fearing them or stereotyping them as terrorists waiting to happen.

And we will have a much more difficult time winning Muslims to Christ when we elevate a man like Caner who the truly devout Muslims look at as an absolute JOKE, a guy who has lied about his Muslim upbringing to create a good testimony that gullible Christians will cheer - and we as Christians KNOW he is lying, and do nothing. Isn't our message to the Muslims that Jesus Christ is the way, the TRUTH, and the life? The TRUTH? How can the Muslims hear our message when we are not interested in the truth?

And then Muslims look at the leaders in Christianity, our pastors, men trained in Christian seminaries - guys like Tim Guthrie, and David Worley, and Peter Lumkins and others - these men of all men should have the spiritual foresight to see the harm that Caner is doing - and doing to the very cause these men have devoted their lives to! Not only do they not see the harm, they actually have gone after and mocked and ridiculed those of us Christians who dared to stand against these lies of Ergun Caner in their misguided attempts to protect one of their own.

So I say to Jerry Falwell, Jr...cut ties with Caner. Give him a generous severance package, let him go find in modern Christianity where his true calling is. He is a gifted speaker, no doubt. I don't doubt he is a true Christian, but he needs to find another Christian vocation. Maybe it's to be a traveling preacher/comedian like Dennis Swanburg, or to be a pastor once again, or to be a teacher at some school. Or maybe continue his writing career.

But the head of a prominent Christian seminary?

I think his lack of truthfulness, his willingness to spin a yarn about details of his past that never happened, and his penchant for using the pulpit to perpetuate false stereotypes makes him completely unsuitable for THAT position.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ergun Caner to Ohio Free Will Baptists: Growing Up I Learned About Americans on Turkish Television

I have now heard probably the most troubling exaggeration from Ergun Caner: Caner explaining in great detail how he learned about America while watching TV growing up in Istanbul, Turkey. To just say "I came from Turkey" or "I lived in Turkey" is one thing, its another to spend several minutes describing TV shows that you saw while growing up in Turkey.

I realize there is no more need of additional proof of Caner exaggerations, but if what Wade Burleson says is true and the Chancellor of Liberty University is reviewing Ergun's new version of his biography right now, they might want to listen to THESE excerpts to make sure they get it right this time.

I still hope that Caner will come forth and give an apology.

If the public records are correct, and if his own words in his book co-authored with his brother are correct, Ergun moved to the states in 1970 when he was the age of 4, and never lived in Turkey.

But in the sermon exercpt below, delivered in early 2007, Ergun explains in great detail that what he learned about America he learned watching American television shows broadcast in Turkey - growing up in Istanbul.

This excerpt was taken from one of Ergun Caner's four sermons preached at the Men's Retreat of the Ohio State Association of Free Will Baptists in early 2007.

Each sermon is available for downloading here (until they are taken down after this post goes up).

Caner says the following about his upbringing in Istanbul, Turkey:

"Until I came to this country, I saw thru television. It was whatever the Turkish government allowed into the country that passed through the censors, and secondly it was what was basically free, or didn't have to be translated. And so we got a lot of sports. And we got a lot of shows that, would uh, would, would be self explanatory. And that, that actually became this big window into, uh, uh, America for me. Uh, for instance, 'Andy Griffith' was, was, um, a show that we would get. I didn't understand it, but I thought all of America was sort of like Mayberry, and, um, it's true, I thought all of America was like Mayberry. It was in black and white and they sent it for free, and, and so I thought, and I, uh, moved to New York. And its not a real good comparison there, um.

"The second thing is was, was, American baseball. And, the, Cubs, WGN, would send Cubs games. And I learned American baseball by watching, you didn't have to translate it, you just you, you watch the game. You would hear, uh, apparently it turned out to be Harry Carey in the background, um, and that's how I thought American's talked, um, but that was, that was, you didn't have to translate it.

"The, the, third thing that I got, uh, which is a little embarrassing, but it's true. Was, uh, out of Atlanta, Georgia - and in Instanbul it played every two weeks for two hours, we would get a tape, of - uh, I guess it was a tape, they'd put it on, uh, Turkish television, there on Haberity, which was the station. Georgia, championship 'wrastling'. And nobody ever told me that it was fake, you understand. So you will hear me constantly throw out references to things that, that, from my youth, because, I thought Americans were the toughest people on the planet. Um, you got hit in the head with shoes, boots, and uh, chains, and I thought Rick Flair was the governor, and, and, and Dusty Rhoads was the uh, was the mayor and so that was my upbringing, um. "

Is he purposely deceiving these people, or does he perhaps believe his own stories?

Also in these four sermons, you will hear a sampling of just about every exaggeration that he's used, including:

- references to his debates that he has had at college campuses all over America and in London, discussing in detail his debating philosophy...debates that James White says have never happened.

- states that he is Turkish, makes no mention of his birth in Sweden, and that he came to the states to Brooklyn in his "early teens".

- However, the year of moving to America is now 1978, and his family came as "missionaries to you" to build mosques. The year 1978 is significant, he says, in that it is the same year that Ayatollah Khomeni declared 'We will not stop until America is an Islamic nation.'

- Takes a swipe at Mexicans: says that "his people" come here to America faster than any group except for Mexicans, and we (Turks) "don't come in the back of Chevy's". Hardy-har-har.

- used the line "Jesus strapped himself to a cross so I wouldn't have to strap a bomb to myself." Yes, if not for Jesus, Caner was being trained to be a Jihadist.

- claims to have a PhD, and lists his degrees, and gives the number of books he has written, and the total number of copies he has sold (300,000).

- says most Turkish women have better mustaches than Turkish men. Good to know.

- makes fun of and mocks "mutant granddaughters" of women in church who try to push them on to single preachers, and makes a dog barking sound to say that they are dogs.

- and then this doozy: "Do I believe in women behind the pulpit? You bet I do, how else do you expect them to vacuum back here if they can't get behind it?

If you've ever listened to Perry Noble at NewSpring in Anderson, SC, Ergun Caner really gives Perry Noble a run for his money. These guys could do stand-up comedy together...they would make a great TV show.

And hearing the response of these attendees to Caner's quips....I thought that lay people were gullible...boy, these preachers really ate it up. Caner had them eating out of the palm of his hand. The clips sound like a sitcom laugh track, seriously.

What a performance. Can't wait til he comes back to Jacksonville; he will definitely needs some fresh material, that's for sure.


video

Monday, April 12, 2010

McKissic Draws Attention to Racial Divide in SBC - Calls for Caner to Apologize and Brunson to Set the Record Straight

Bravo to Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.

In his blog post last week, McKissic commented on race issues in the Southern Baptist Convention, calling on the SBC to repent "for passive and intentional acts of racism in SBC life".

McKissic used the Caner June 14th, 2009 evening sermon at FBC Jax as one of several indicators of race problems in the SBC. McKissic calls for Ergun Caner to apologize to FBC Jax for his false characterization of black churches in his sermon preached to the FBC Jax faithful that night - in which Caner stereotypes black churches as collecting multiple offerings until they get the money they want, and where the women wear satellite dish hats with curtain rods down the front, and where men wear shoes that match their hankie that match their ties that match their cars. And of course Hispanic worshippers, so says Caner, blurt out war-cries like Speedy Gonzales when singing hymns.

McKissic even says "Mac owes it to his people to set the record straight". McKissic says "....his [Caner's] remarks were damaging to the reputation of the Black church in the minds and hearts of his hearers. One would expect better than this from a Seminary President."

Amen, and amen, Pastor McKissic. I said the same thing last June, that what Caner said was wrong and hurtful, has no place in a Christian pulpit, and his remarks wouldn't be appreciated by black or Hispanic pastors. You're the first pastor that I know of that has spoken up against this. I said it is precisely these kinds of careless remarks that make the SBC look like a bunch of hillbilly rednecks to outsiders.

And as I have commented here before, what made Caner's remarks even more damaging is that this particular night at FBC Jax, the elementary-aged children were in the service with their parents so they could be recognized for their scripture memory work. Instead of being in AWANA, that night they were treated to the comedy routine of Ergun Caner - and they watched the adults double over in laughter as they heard Caner mischaracterize black and Hispanic believers.

In case you haven't seen or heard the Caner remarks, below you can see the excerpt yourself and see and hear the crowd's approval. Here is a link to an Associated Baptist Press article on McKissic's blog post.

Will Caner apologize? Will Brunson set the record straight? I'm sure they will...right after Caner apologizes for telling us in 2001 he was "r-r-raised in Eur-r-rope" and was "trained to do that which was done on 11 September". But please, don't hold your breath.


video

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Caner's "Apology": "I Have Never Intentionally Misled Anyone"

Ergun Caner says "I have never intentionally misled anyone."

If Ergun Caner has not intentionally misled anyone about his Christian testimony, then all us Conservative Christian Republicans owe Bill Clinton an apology for calling him a liar over his infamous "I never had sexual relations with that woman" remark.

Clinton attempted to mislead us over his sexual relations with Lewinksy. On purpose. Because he had much to gain by misleading us.

As the discussions continue over the truthfulness of important parts of Ergun Caner's testimony about his upbringing as a Jihadist, a terrorist trained in Europe, even descriptions of himself as a "hardened terrorist" - it is helpful at this juncture to look at what his defenders are calling his "apology" regarding these multiple inconsistencies.

The defenders of Caner say he already has apologized. They say this is an attack on Caner for his views on Calvinism, or his fundamentalism. They say the bloggers are liberals. It's an effort by Satanic Muslims do "bring him down". Caner himself referred to the bloggers who are holding him accountable "small band of professing Christians" (we know what that means: a bunch of insignificant nobodies who aren't really Christians, anyways).

Caner has repented, his defenders say.

Really?

Here is the part of his statement on SBC Today under the heading "MISSTATEMENTS":

Every minister has made pulpit mistakes. Being called a “liar,” however, is a serious charge, especially when it is made by Christians. That would indicate that (1) the accusers can know the motives of the accused person’s heart, and (2) the accused person intentionally misled people.

I have never intentionally misled anyone. I am sure I have made many mistakes in the pulpit in the past 20-plus years, and I am sure I will make some in the future. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.

I point to the sermon at FBC Jax on 11/20/01, and I make the charge that he intentionally misled Jerry Vines, and the good people of FBC Jacksonville. He claimed to have been "raised in Europe", until the age of 15 to be in "Islamic Youth Jihad", and that he "was trained to do that which was done on 11 September". His pronunciation of "Europe" and "Ah-mee-di-cah"...his mentioning of learning to speak English in Brooklyn, and that at the time of his salvation near the age of 18 that he spoke broken English.

All of that, taken together, in the context of a sermon right after 9/11, I submit was intentionally misleading the people of FBC Jacksonville.

It wasn't a "misstep".

It wasn't just "scrambled words".

It wasn't "confusing".

It was crystal clear. He painted the portrait of himself, in the FBC Jax pulpit, as that of being a trained terrorist who came to America to kill us.

Yet as documented in he and his brother's own book, they came to "Ah-meer-di-cah" when Caner was 4.

Caner was 4 years old when he moved to Columbus.

Yet he made me, and others that day, believe he came at the age of 15 as a trained, Islamic Jihad terrorist.

When will Caner publicly apologize to his Christian brothers and sisters all over the SBC for his intentional misleading of people about his upbringing? I don't think its coming anytime soon. He has taken cues from his good friend and coauthor Mac Brunson, apparently - when Mac slandered me by calling me a "sociopath" and "mentally unstable" in the Florida Times Union last April, he never apologized. Never retracted or clarified his statements about me...but 6 months later, from the pulpit, he said his remarks were a "stumble" - a victim of a reporter who put his "stumble" on the front page.

Caner "misspoke". Brunson "stumbled".

For two men who love to preach hell fire and brimstone and repentence and church discipline for recalcitrants and their own critics - what a poor testimony that they can't come clean and apologize for their public words that harm the cause of Christ.

But these are the crazy days of the SBC in which we live.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ergun Caner: Now He's Described as "A Hardened Terrorist"

To quote our blogging friend, Pastor Rod: "Worse and worse".

Above is a screen capture of an ad for Caner's CD testimony of how he became a Christian.

This is from the website "Living With Joy", owned by evangelist and Christian conference organizer Phil Waldrep (Phil Waldrep Ministries). Phil is good friends with Mac Brunson, as Mac has preached at several of Phil's conferences (remember the 4-day marathon in the fall of 2008 in Tennessee?).

Can you believe it? Caner is being hailed as a "hardened terrorist". Phil Waldrep is describing Caner as coming to America to be a terrorist. Why not go all the way? Let's just say that Caner was good friends with Osama bin Laden. That will REALLY sell some CDs, huh?

This is deceit of the worst kind. The kind to make a buck and sell some CDs. For $35 bucks. Not even a DVD. An audio CD for $35.

See, all of the church marketing experts know: very few Christians want to buy a CD entitled "Hear how the chubby kid from Columbus, Ohio accepted Christ in a small Baptist Church." No serious Christian would download a free sermon of that, much less pay $35 for it.

Oh, but market it as the testimony of a "hardened terrorist", as the guy who almost was on the 9/11 planes, and the lap-it-up, gullible Christians will shell out $35. They are dying to hear the story of the guy that was "trained to that which was done on 11 September" before he converted to Christ just in the nick of time.

Is/was Caner a hardened terrorist? What qualifies one to be a "hardened terrorist"? Training? Experience in carrying out terrorist activities perhaps? I don't know.

I don't think for one second Waldrep would put up that outlandish a description of Caner unless he honestly believed Caner WAS a hardened terrorist. So who would have convinced him of this? Or, who wrote this blurb, was it Caner or Waldrep? Hmmmm...

Well, one thing is for sure, the April Fool's spoof about "Willie Mehemet Nazzareno Antonio Watchdog" was closer to the truth than I originally thought!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ergun Caner: The November 2001 Sermon at FBC Jax

This I hope is the last word I will have on the Ergun Caner issue.

Below I have posted the entire sermon preached at FBC Jacksonville on November 20, 2001, just a few short months after 9/11 [update - sermon has been removed]. I am doing this so that people can hear his comments in their full context and judge for themselves the level of truthfulness Caner displayed in his first big SBC speaking gig. This was the coming out party of sorts for Caner. Preaching to 9000+ with Vines over his right shoulder amening and nodding - Caner painted a portrait of himself that was much less than truthful.

You will note the following in the sermon:

1. He claims to have been "born in Europe"...note the pronunciation with the rolling r, to make it sound as though he has a Middle Eastern dialect. Hear his pronunciation of "America" - again, a Middle Eastern dialect.

2. He claims that until the age of 15, he was in "Islamic Youth Jihad" - his explanation leads the listener to conclude that this was youth jihad movement was outside of the U.S., since he was "raised in Europe"...leading us to think he was in the Islamic youth training camps that we were only becoming aware of at that time after 9/11.

3. He claims to have been "..trained to do that which was done on 11 September". Again, the listener would conclude (I know, because I was an original listener, I was THERE when he preached it) that this was done in Europe, possibly in an Islamic youth terrorist training camp. Yes, we thought we were listening to an ex-Jihadist, terrorist-in-training.

4. These are not just minor mistatements or stumbles that Caner referred to in his apology issued a few weeks ago. This was, I believe, a deliberate attempt to make the folks at FBC Jax think Caner was something he was not.

Why would Caner do this? What did he stand to gain? Well, I don't know his motives, but he certainly had much to gain to paint himself as the ultimate expert on Islam right after 9/11. In so many words he led 9000 people that day to believe that he was a trained Jihadist terrorist.

But this is not what public documents show to be the truth. Caner was never trained in any Islamic Youth Jihad movement in Europe, trained to do terrorist activities. Public documents show he moved to Columbus, Ohio when he was 4, and never left the country. If he WAS trained as a Jihadist in Columbus, and received 9/11-style terrorst training, he should now explain it.

Now I submit to you:

- if this was Barrack Obama who was found to be fibbing about his past, the same guys defending Caner now would have been using that to discredit Obama as a serious politician, someone who can't be trusted if he would go so far as to grossly exaggerate and misrepresent his credentials. And if anybody needed to pad their resume, it was Obama for sure.

- if this were Wade Burleson, found to be fibbing about his educational credentials, or preaching that he was a youth missionary somewhere to boost his credentials to speak on IMB matters...the same cast of characters: Hobbs and Volfan and Guthrie and the SBC Today Bunch and many other Pattersonites - would use this to discredit Burleson. You know it, I know it, and the SBC lay people know it.

- if this was the Liberty University football coach, that lied on his resume about a degree he didn't earn, or that he held a job in the past that he didn't hold, I believe Liberty would fire him. George O'Leary was fired at the Notre Dame head coach before he ever coached his first game...because of one line on his resume that was not true. Catholic school...fired the football coach for not being totally truthful.

I know this will not in any way, shape or form sway Caner's defenders, especially those who have already defended him by attacking myself, James White, and Debbie Kaufman. But I don't write this blog for pastors. I write it for lay people who are wising up about what is going on in their churches, mostly mega churches. Lay people in growing numbers are getting tired of being used by their pastors. Yes, the people of FBC Jax were used that day. There was a day at FBC Jax when they could believe that a man standing in their pulpit would be totally honest and would not have one hint of deceit in his sermon but that day is long, long gone. Honesty was the norm and what we expected in Caner - after all, he was brought in by Vines himself. We never thought Darrel Gilyard would lie about living under a bridge when he was introduced to us, and we never thought that Ergun Caner would lie about being a jihadist trained in Europe.

Do I want Caner fired? No way. I have always liked Caner and his style of preaching. I have nothing either against Liberty University. But I would like for Caner to apologize publicly to FBC Jacksonville for misleading them about who he was in his important sermon right after 9/11. I know that will never happen, but it would be the right thing for Caner to do. But one thing I do think this will accomplish: perhaps he will stop these exaggerations about his past now that he knows people are listening. And I hope this sends an equally strong message to any other upcoming pastors who desire to hit it big and might be tempted to misrepresent or sensationalize their testimony or background or experience to an unsuspecting church.

I leave you with some advice that Mac Brunson, Caner's good friend and co-author, would likely give to Ergun Caner, staight out of Brunson's guidebook for pastors:

"In the Bible, people in leadership positions were called upon to have higher ethical standards than the other people of God. The pastor should never see how close he can come to the line between what is ethical and unethical, but he should stay as far away from it as possible."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"From the Dog House to the Blog House" - the Watchdog Story

Finally, the day has come for the Watchdog to tell his story.....its what you've been waiting for in the soon released memoirs of the Watchdog:

"From the Dog House to the Blog House" by Willie Mehemet Nazzareno Antonio Watchdog, aka "The Hitman"

subtitled "A Former Devout Sicilian Catholic Mafia member Becomes Southern Baptist"

Watchdog readers have long thought that the Watchdog was just some boring, run-of-the-mill, trespassed church member gone bad...oh, but you haven't heard the REAL Watchdog story: his name might be just FBCJ Watchdog, but his born name is Willie Mehemet Nazzareno Antonio Watchdog, and he was born and raised as a strict Sicilian Catholic mafia gangster who became a baptist as a teenager.

And its all coming out in his new book, and will be retold (embellished) as he tours the world preaching about his old days as a teenage mafia gangster raised in a Catholic household and sharing his expertise on all things Catholic and mafia. And oh, can he spin a yarn!

Buy his book and you can meet the real Willie Mehemet Watchdog, aka "The Hitman". You will laugh, you will cry, you will open your wallet as you read about his life. Willie Mehemet Watchdog will at long last tell the compelling story of how he was raised a devout Sicilian Catholic by a strict Catholic father, and was disowned when he became a Baptist blogger at the age of somewhere between 13 and 17.

Here are some excerpts from the soon released classic telling the unique story of Watchdog:

"Mehemet Watchdog was born in Norway, but was raised in Europe, Beirut, and Turkey (along the Danube River), before emigrating to Columbus, Ohio, with his Sicilian Italian Catholic Mafia boss father at the age of 12 or 13 or 14 or thereabouts. He risked it all, tearing off his strict Catholic altar boy clothing to come to America and don his baptist tie and coat."

Hear the Watchdog "The Hitman" describe his very troubled upbringing in his own words:

"Let me tell you something, I submit to you that I was raised in the Sicilian Mafia Cosa Nostra until the age of 15 or 16 or 17 or so, when I came to America....and let me tell you something, I was raised to do the very things that were portrayed in the Godfather I, II, III, and a few of the things in 'Goodfellas' - especially the scene of the guy in the trunk. But when I came to America, I realized I didn't need to kill people anymore."

Hear how Willie Watchdog had to bear the brunt of jokes and ridicule and scorn for his Italian Sicilian Mafia upbringing:

"When I first went to church, I wasn't called 'Dago', or 'Mary worshipper', 'popeblower, 'Mackerel Snapper', or 'Al Pacino'....I got plenty of that OUTSIDE the church....they didn't care that I spoke Italian and was a killer. Oh yes, I said my Hail Mary's 5 times a day in the bathroom - that's how devout I was."

And his Sicilian Italian upbringing that led him to think that Americans wanted to kill him:

"Yes, in my upbringing in Europe, Beirut, Turkey, and other mostly Italian countries, I was taught that you Americans hated me for being a Catholic. Did I say I was trained to do that which was done in Godfather I, II, and III, and some of what was done in Goodfellas - especially the scene with the guy in the trunk?"

And about receiving his calling to become a baptist blogger:

"It was shortly after I became a baptist, though my English was still poor, though I could not speak as clearly as others, I surrendered to the ministry, I was being called by God to blog - it happened during a trip on a camel up the side of a mountain in Israel - and I knew God had called me. My brother and sister, if you are in this room, within the sound of my voice, I tell you that though I was in the Mafia, you are at war as well. Because though you are at war with God, God wants to win you, not kill you."

Wow!! What a conversion story Watchdog has to tell!

So put in your advance order for the story of the Watchdog...time is short!

Stay tuned for his upcoming books, after his star rises:

"Unveiling Catholicism: An Insider's Look at Catholicism"

"Unveiling Cosa Nostra: An Insider's Look at the Mafia"

"Unveiling False Biographies"

"Unveiling the Unveiling: An Insider's Look at Unveiling things that Need to be Unveiled"

"Veiling Your Biography: An Insider's Look at Writing a Fancy Biography to Get Good Speaking Gigs and Book Deals."

"The Art of Speaking Jibberish"

"Befriending Catholics so You May Confront Them With the Lie They've Been Living"
- coauthored with fellow ex-teeange mobster Jimmy "The Pearl" Smyrl [click here for context]

"The Rise and Fall of Mike Warnke, the Ex-Satanist: Lessons on How Not to Embellish One's Testimony"

"Satellite Dish Hats and Curtain Rods and Shoes that Match their Cars - A Humourous Look at the African American Worship Experience"
[click here for context]

"More than a Pope: An Insider's Response to Catholic Beliefs"

"Mafia Jihad: Two Former Mafia Members (Watchdog and Brother Marmaduke) Look at the Crusades and Killing in the Name of Gotti"

"Why Baptist Churches Die - 101 Ways You Stupid Sheep Mess Up a Pastor's Ministry" - Written with Watchdog's Good Friend

"Why Baptist Churches Die, Revised 2010 - The FBC Jax Story"

"Out of the Sicilian Shadows: Leading Catholic Women into the Light of Christ"

Also, if you want to join Willie Mehemet Watchdog on a trip to the Holy Land, including a tour of his homeland in Turkey, Norway, Italy (Sicily), and a brief "cruise down the Danube" and other areas like that where Watchdog was raised, STAY TUNED! Coming in April 2011!!!