"...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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

News Flash: God Causes Bills Receiver to Drop Winning Pass; Receiver and Bills Fans Obviously are Not Tithers!

Things are really starting to get seriously bad in this country. God not only has caused our economy to crash because of non-tithing Christians, now apparently God is causing our NFL receivers to drop passes. Causing high umemployment and stock market crashes are one thing, but brother when you non-tithers start causing our football teams to lose, you've really crossed the line!

Apparently God caused Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson to drop the potential winning pass in overtime Sunday, the ball slipping right through his fingers as seen in the video above. Who would better know than Stevie himself, who posted the following Tweet at the end of the game:

"I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS IS HOW YOU DO ME!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS???? HOW???!!! I’LL NEVER FORGET THIS!!! EVER!! THX THO…STEVIE JOHNSON13"

Why would God do this to Stevie and the faithful Buffalo Bills fans? From what I've been hearing around Baptist churches these days, there is one and only one reason that God will actively hurt a believer like Stevie, and that is if he is not tithing! Stevie Johnson obviously must not be tithing 10% of his salary, and probably making things worse there are just too many non-tithers in Buffalo! Our most popular preachers today, like Ed Young, Jr., are telling us that the reason we can't keep our kids out of the doctor's office, why we can't keep a job, why we have terrible marriages and terrible kids...and apparently why footballs are slipping through receivers' fingers....it is ALL ABOUT THE MONEY! And now God is causing our NFL teams to lose!

Stevie - please, if you want to get back on track and start catching the big passes again, it's all about the money - he'll get the ball to ya, if he can get the dough through ya! You need to bring 10% of your salary to da house! And Stevie, do you want to catch passes at a rate based on the net or the gross? Amen! So tithe on the gross, baby.

What should we NFL fans do? If we care about our NFL team, and we don't want God to make our star receiver drop the winning pass, or running back to fumble on the game winning drive, we should write the owner and make sure that his players are tithing! And we should tithe too, and tithe on the gross. Do we want our NFL teams to win based on our gross or our net? Hmmm?

Oh, and now the huge success Cam Newton of Auburn has enjoyed this year makes sense - obviously his dad tithed on the $200,000 that was reportedly paid to get Cam to Auburn!

"Bring ye all the tithe into the storehouse, saith the Lord, that there may be touchdowns in my stadiums!" (Malachi 3:10, New American Tithing Version)

H/T: Wartburg Watch

Inspiring Story About Matt Chandler

Below is a link to a very inspiring article appearing last week in the Dallas Morning News about Matt Chandler's year-long battle with brain cancer. Matt is the pastor at the Village Church in the Dallas area. FBC Jax had him speak at the 2009 Pastor's Conference.


I have written several articles about Matt Chandler on this blog, including one in November 2009 before he suffered his seizure and the cancer diagnosis - about an incredible sermon he preached to future pastors at Southern Seminary (click here to watch that sermon at the SBTS website). His sermon was almost prophetic when he was warning these young students to not be like so many preachers in our day who get into the ministry to promote themselves to achieve Western success - selling books and tapes and making much of themselves. Then about 2 weeks later he suffered his severe seizure and the discovery of the mass in his brain.

But in that SBTS sermon, Chandler pointed students to Hebrews 11:32-33 where it does say some Christians will achieve great success such as "shutting the mouths of lions" and raising the dead...but Chandler pointed out that so many preachers today ignore verses 35-37 where the writer says that some will be tortured and sawn in two and living in caves for their faith. Chandler expressed his concern that today's seminary students are watching the big shots, the famous preachers who sell books and are on TV and live the glamorous life, and yearn to be like them, and think they WILL be like them if they can sit at their feet and learn their techniques - after all, who gets invited to preach at chapel to these students? Not the lowly suffering pastors, but the popular, glamorous ones. But Chandler says no, some will be ridiculed and sawn in two so-to-speak, and live extremely difficult lives - and they should be willing to accept that possible fate as ministers or they should get out of the ministry lickity split.

Prophetic words, because just several weeks later Chandler's life moved into that realm of verses 35-37, and God gave him the opportunity to live it himself. He no doubt had been achieving great things for the Lord. By many accounts I've read he is a humble man of modest means and does not draw a large salary or accept money from books or speaking engagements and never sought out to be a big time preacher - in fact his story is that he reluctantly took over as pastor of a dwindling congregation of about 200 people that has grown to over 8000. But in the middle of all of this "success", he suddenly had to begin a walk through surgery and chemo and radiation treatments and uncertainty - that has lasted more than a year now.

But Chandler has used it to teach Christians how to deal with tragedy by trusting in God, that no matter what happens, God will get the glory for it even though we might not see how. He has been very transparent using social media tools to allow people to follow him in his journey.

Chandler doesn't use his pulpit to talk about poor Matt Chandler and all of his trials and tribulations and attacks - like some Baptist preachers do - instead through the last year he has been able to glorify God through the madness, giving thanks that God counted him worthy to suffer for His name's sake to make much of God's name, and little of Matt Chandler.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from the Watchdog

Best wishes to all of my readers and commentors for a blessed Thanksgiving holiday with your friends and family.

One of the many things I am thankful for are all of you that participate in this blog who engage in thoughtful discussions that I believe we all learn from, even when we don't agree. I have made quite a few new friends here, and thank you for your support and encouragement on the blog and via email, I can't tell you how much it means!

The Watchdog blog will continue on, and we shall see what 2011 holds! This is the 4th Thanksgiving of the Watchdog blog - so far no trespass warnings this year on Thanksgiving Eve - but who knows it is still early, waiting for that doorbell to ring! But seriously, I have much more to write about regarding the lawsuits, and matters that I know are of interest to all of us who participate in the blog. We're just getting started!

But for now let's go eat some turkey and watch some football!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Daring to Question the Storehouse Tithing Doctrine

In David A. Croteau's book "You Mean I Don't Have to Tithe: A Deconstruction of Tithing and a Reconstruction of Post-Tithe Giving" you will read in the preface just how Croteau came to question that his long-held view of the applicability of the Old Testament tithe to the Christian might be false.

And Croteau gives a glimpse of just how sacred this doctrine is to denominational leaders and how those who question it are punished.

Croteau's testimony in this regard is very interesting to me, as I found his experience to be very similar to my own, and the same as others I've talked to. I've come to believe that many of the erroneous doctrines we are taught we easily believe them if they are taught "gently" and sincerely to us. Sometimes it is not until some bull-in-a-china-shop kind of preacher comes into our lives and kicks the doctrinal door down when we finally wake up and realize what we were taught all along was wrong.

Here are some excerpts from Croteau's preface that give a glimpse of how he started on his journey:

"I was driving to work in the fall of 1999 and listening to Christian talk radio. John MacArthur was in the middle of a sermon and he was explaining why the tithe was not applicable to Christians. I had never heard anyone actually challenge the applicability of the tithe before, so this took me totally by surprise."
Most of us in Baptist pews have been taught this doctrine as fact for so long, even by well-meaning and sincere preachers. We have not heard SBC preachers dare to consider that the Old Testament tithing laws do not apply to Christians under grace. Preachers at best take a hybrid approach: that yes, we are obligated to tithe, but the New Testament says we should do the forking over joyfully and not under compulsion - in fact we should give more than the tithe as proof of just how darned joyful we are. As someone who was saved in a Southern Baptist Church as a teenager in college, I know the tithe has always been an expectation. It is planted into the minds of preschoolers. The Malachi 3:8-10 application to Christian tithing was never, ever to be questioned. If you don't tithe, you're a God-robber, a cheapskate, plain and simple. No one dares question the doctrine. You are expected to tithe - you check the box that says you are a tither on your committment card, and pray no one at church sees your tax returns to see you're only giving 4% on the gross.

But here is what is happening: as the new generation of preachers are beginning to become more brazen about the doctrine, taking it to the extremes now of saying non-tithing Christians are under God's judgment or a curse, or that God will take your money anyways through calamity if you do NOT tithe, blaming your family or financial misfortune on your lack of "faith" to "bring the tithe"...this is jolting more people to open their eyes and question the very basis of the doctrine that we have just accepted blindly for so long.

And thank God there are some men who are coming forth and not afraid to tell the truth. MacArthur is probably the most prominent one for a long time, as is Barna and Viola, but these are not Southern Baptists. Croteau is - he is trained in our seminary, and his research has the endorsement of Dr. Andreas Kostenberger at SEBTS.

Here is what Croteau says he did after he was challenged to question the tithing doctrine after listening to MacArthur's views on tithing:

"That night when I got home from work I read every passage in the Old and New Testaments that mentioned the tithe...at about two o'clock in the morning, I realized I was beat: I could not decipher what was being described. I called MacArthur's radio ministry and ordered the six part series on tithing. Thus began my journey into this subject; ten years later I have now completed this book."
So Croteau made this the topic of his Ph.D. dissertation at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Andreas Kostenberger approved the topic, and Croteau admits he was concerned over the opposition he would face from his writing:
"..I was not looking forward to the opposition with which the concepts would be received. I had already studied the topic for over five years and the resistance I had met with when discussing it with people was, at times, intense."

How true. Bring up this topic in your Sunday School class. Tell your Sunday School class when you next discuss money matters, something like this: "Christians are not under the Old Testament law of tithing. Malachi 3 has been misused for decades by taking it totally out of context. We are to follow the New Testament model to be generous, but there is no prescribed percentage." Try it and see what happens.

During the course of his research Croteau says he reached out to two authors that are cited in his book, and their responses made him realize tithing was more of a "hot button" topic than he realized.
"The first man said that after he had written his book, every church he visited ostracized him because of his view. He was unable to get a job in ministry, so he went back to school and earned a Ph.D. in journalism and began his second career....The second man commented that he received so much disdain for his view that he quickly left the Baptist denomination."
My hope is that more and more Christians will be shocked by the false teachings in our mainstream churches on this doctrine, by men who have a vested financial and professional interest in the perpetuation of the doctrine. Christians must understand they are NOT obligated to blindly fork over 10% minimum to their church, with no accountability from church leadership. They can and SHOULD if they are so led by the Holy Spirit, but not under compulsion, or coercion, or scare tactics. But they are also free to be generous with their money as God leads them in doing His work through many avenues.

When Christians realize they are free to give as the Holy Spirit leads them to being generous and cheerful, then that is when the true church will use it's resources more for true Kingdom work, and less for building the kingdoms of men and preachers.

Croteau wraps up his preface by saying:
"I pray that this work will be received by gentle hearts open to the attempt I have made to inductively analyze Scripture's teaching on this complex, important, and very practical subject. My hope is that readers will interact with the content of this book and not attempt to guess at hidden motives or agendas, that ad hominem attacks will remain on the sideline, and that, through dialogue, the evangelical community will strive to come closer to the truth and thus bring glory to our God."
We shall see in the coming years how Croteau's views are treated. He will likely face the same ostracizing as others, and the same cast of SBC characters will probably belittle his views from their pulpits/stages. You won't see Croteau at the next SBC pastor's conference...but perhaps it will be a grassroots effort. Let the lay people see the truth on tithing, sharing it with others. Let's call for transparency in church finances and if refused, perhaps the Holy Spirit will guide you into giving in other areas. And let's be sure to challenge pastors who teach wrongly on giving.

And over time we can make a difference.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dr. David A. Croteau Has Another Book on Tithing Coming Soon

We have been looking lately at the ridiculous assertions of Ed Young and Steve Gaines and Mac Brunson and even Perry Noble when it comes to the tithe. It can be pretty discouraging to learn how these very popular preachers are misusing scripture from their pulpits (or coffee table on a stage), but there is good news on the horizon on the topic of tithing.

Dr. David A. Croteau, graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and current professor at Liberty University, has a second book on tithing coming out next year entitled "Perspectives on Tithing: Four Views". Croteau is the editor of this book that will examine different views of the biblical tithe from Croteau, Hemphill, Kidd, Ecklund, and North. The best thing about this list of contributors: you don't see Brunson, Gaines, Noble, or Young.

Croteau is also the author of "You Mean I Don't Have to Tithe: A Deconstruction of Tithing and a Reconstruction of Post-Tithe Giving", that we discussed on this blog here. Croteau is a Ph.D. graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where his thesis was on the tithing doctrine, done under the tutelage of Dr. Andreas Kostenberger.

Here is what Wade Burleson said about the work of Croteau and Kostenberger:

"Dr. Andreas J. Kostenberger and Dr. David A. Croteau are the product of Southern Baptist theological education. These men, working on the faculties of Southeastern Theological Seminary and Liberty University respectively, have published many scholarly articles. One joint project, entitled “Will a Man Rob God?”, focuses on the abolishment of the Old Covenant law of storehouse tithing and the establishment of the New Covenant practice of graceful, cheerful and generous giving as believers are led by the Holy Spirit. Both men, inerrantists to the core, clearly display their love for the sacred text in the aforementioned article."

So while high profile pastors under enormous pressure to raise revenue have been beating the sheep to convince them they MUST tithe as a means to obey God and avoid personal calamity, and have been collecting account and routing numbers for auto withdrawl, and accusing their non-tithing members of being spiritual whores and common criminals and burglars and telling them to stay home if they don't tithe, it is good to know over the past several years that Croteau has been working hard on these two projects, out of the limelight. This has not earned him many friends I'm sure in the SBC - in fact as you recall earlier this year it was discovered by Wade Burleson that SBC pastor Les Puryear may have contacted SEBTS about Kostenberger's views on the tithe in an attempt to get him removed.

Mac Brunson of FBC Jax told his congregation in February 2009 that if they didn't agree with him on the requirement to tithe, that they should "Take it up wit da Book". And boy oh boy, has Croteau been taking it up "wit da Book". Thank you David A. Croteau for takin' it up wit da Book, and daring to tell the truth that the Old Testament law of tithing has been replaced by a better way clearly spelled out in scripture: loving, generous, sacrificial giving as Christians are led by the Spirit.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Feds Probe Salaries at Crystal Cathedral - Bankruptcy is the Only Route to Mega Church Financial Transparency

It looks like there is one, and only one way that mega churches will be transparent with their finances and disclose salaries and tell people how the money is spent.

That is when federal bankruptcy officials demand it, so they can make sure that money that should be going to creditors, is not lining the pockets of the pastor and his friends and family.

Pretty sad, because what the federal bankruptcy court trustee is doing now, really is a function that the members of Crystal Cathedral SHOULD have been performing all along: demanding financial transparency from their church leaders to guard against nepotism, and ridiculous salaries and abusing tax advantages afforded to their church.

"A federal bankruptcy official is questioning the salaries of three employees of Orange County's Crystal Cathedral.

The Orange County Register said in a story Wednesday that the U.S. trustee filed objections in bankruptcy court questioning the need for a $132,019 housing allowance for CFO Fred Southard.

The trustee also questioned the need for a $70,000 salary for founding pastor Robert H. Schuller's daughter Gretchen Schuller Penner, who produces the church's "Hour of Power," and the $55,000 salary of her daughter Neyva Penner Klaassen, who works on the TV show.

In defense, Southard said the church ordained him as a minister and he has sometimes acted in that capacity. Cathedral attorney Marc Winthrop declined comment."

Crystal Cathedral has 9 employees making over $100,000 per year (click here to see the list), many of whom are relatives of the pastor. Earlier this week the feds objected to the salaries of three employees, including CFO (a church has a CFO?) Fred Southard's salary most of which is in the form of a housing allowance.

Now today, the feds are objecting to Southard's son-in-law being hired at $62,000 per year with $59,000 of it coming in the form of a housing allowance!

How can this be? Giving someone all of their salary in the form of a tax exempt housing allowance? How much longer will the federal government allow these types of shenanigans going on in churches, knowing they have operate with little transparency to their donors?

All of this is more proof that God does work all things together for good....the good of this mess is we're getting to see a glimpse of what the mega churches are working so hard to hide from their members.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Washington Lawyer at Citizen.org Writes About Subpoena Issues in FBC Jax Blogger Case, and Posts Copy of Motion for Summary Judgement

Readers: go to the link below, and you can read an interesting article just published today by Paul Levy, an attorney from the group called "Public Citizen" a consumer's rights organization based in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Levy contacted myself and my lawyer several weeks ago and was very interested in the blogger case, mostly from the standpoint of why Google and Comcast gave the information Detective Hinson requested, without contacting me to allow me to legally object and fight the subpoenas.


The question Mr. Levy raises is, at what point should ISPs contest subpoenas from the government, especially those which involve freedom of speech and anonymity issues. He calls on ISPs to stand up for their customer's rights in the criminal process as well as civil process.

Perhaps my readers will find more interesting than Mr. Levy's article some of the hyperlinks to documents he has posted to supplement his article. One of them is the motion for summary judgement filed by my attorney just before the settlement at mediation - if you've followed this case for some time, you will find this very interesting. Also is the ruling back in April denying the defense's motion to dismiss, that kept the case moving forward into the very intense discovery phase that lasted most of the summer.

Ironically, one of our posters known as "Louis", a Christian attorney in Tennessee just got his hands on the motion for summary judgement today and had some some very strong words for First Baptist Church and the players involved. He posted those in the comments of the article dealing with the murdering pastor.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pastor Kills Church Member Who Became Concerned Over Financial Shenanigans at Church

I've been writing here on this blog recently about the theological shenanigans taking place in Baptist pulpits to get people to give. Men in the pulpit threatening church members with God's judgement - and financial calamity - unless they fork over 10% of their income to the pastor's church.

Now comes a story that I became aware of from Christa Brown's blog, where the "judgement" comes not from God, but from the pastor who shoots one of his church members who was complaining about financial improprieties in the church.

The pastor is David Love, former pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Independence, Missouri. Allegedly Pastor Love shot Randy Stone in his insurance agency office last March. The story gets even nastier, as apparently Pastor Love was having an affair with Stone's wife as well for about 10 years.

But apparently it was church finances that caused Love to knock off Stone. Says the LA Times:

"[Stone's friend is] not sure what motivated the killing, but says that he heard rumors that Stone was the treasurer at New Hope Baptist Church and may have been about to blow the lid on financial shenanigans at the church."

Oh, and what did Pastor Love do after he shot Stone - who was said to have greatly admired Love and very active in his church - in cold blood? Well, he did what any loving Baptist pastor would do - he delivered the eulogy.

Yes, the murderer delivered the eulogy of the man he killed because he was complaining about finances at the church.

So think twice, you complaining church members, before you go popping off about finances in the church. You just might run into a Pastor Love who you think is coming to pray with you, and just as you bow to pray he puts a bullet in your head.

Gee, my trespass papers from the discipline committee, and the pastor and the judge calling me names in the newspaper don't seem so bad now, do they?

I can't help but wonder: perhaps Mr. Stone's concerns over finances caused him to stop tithing - and maybe Pastor Love thought he was just delivering God's Old Testament judgement to the recalcitrant who dared to ask financial questions and who had stopped giving the "sacred portion" to the church. We're being told from the pulpits that bad things happen to those who don't tithe, right?

Crazy days to be a Baptist.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is God a Loan Shark Out to Collect on What is Due, Else He Will Take Revenge on God's People thru Calamity?

In one of the more obscure scenes of the original movie "Rocky", Rocky Balboa is told by his loan shark boss Tony to collect money that is owed him by a schlub working on the dock. Rocky is told to collect the money or break his thumbs. Rocky finds the man at his job, working on a forklift, and jumps on the guy and demands payment. The man begs and pleads with Rocky, tells him that he is good for the money, to not hurt him else he won't be able to care for his family.

Rocky shows mercy, he extends some grace, lets the man go, and does him no harm.

Rocky later is scolded by Tony who finds out Rocky didn't collect, and didn't hurt the man. Tony tells Rocky that when he doesn't follow instructions, he makes Tony look bad, hurts his reputation and his "business".

That sequence is not an important part of the storyline, but it served an important purpose. It helped show us deep down inside who Rocky really was. While Rocky started off as a two-bit leg-breaking thug, he really was a loving, compassionate guy. He was NOT the norm. He was willing to grant grace to a man who needed grace, even though he knew he would take heat from his mob boss.

Why do I bring this up? Let me explain.

A few weeks ago I posted a video of Ed Young asking his church members for their bank account information so he could auto withdrawl their tithe. This video has been seen by many, and been the subject of much discussion in the Christian blogosphere.

In that sermon, Ed Young pulled out just about every possible tithing trick that preachers have used to extract money from their people.

But there was one tactic that he did NOT use - but one that Mac Brunson used, ironically, on the very same day at First Baptist Church Jacksonville, on 10/10/10. Brunson was preaching out of Haggai.

It was the tactic to tell people that if you do NOT tithe, God is going to TAKE it from you anyways! Mac Brunson characterized God as some sort of heavenly mob boss, a loan shark, and like Tony from Rocky, God is going to "collect" from those Christian schlubs who won't pay him back what he is owed, or don't give money to the church building projects.

So the question is: Who is God? Is he like the loan shark out to get the money that us cheapskate Christians won't pay him back with? Is God sending out his holy hitman preachers to break our thumbs so-to-speak if we don't fork over the cash? Or are these preachers totally misrepresenting the character of God?

Here is what Mac Brunson said in his sermon:

"Let me tell you the third thing about God, and it is this: God collects on what he is owed. God collects on it. In fact watch this, he says 'I'm going to collect on it personally, and I'm going to collect on it materially...He says 'When you don't honor me and do what you're supposed to do and bring to me what is mine, you personally will never be satisfied with what you got.' Never enough clothes, never enough food, never enough this, never enough that, never enough wages".

This is a mischaracterization of who God is. Mac is taking scripture from Haggai, where God is speaking to his nation, Israel, who he has commanded to rebuild the destroyed temple...and he then applies this directly to Christians in 2010.

But Brunson didn't stop there. He continued:

"And your money is devalued, and devalued, and devalued. He says 'You look for much and behold it comes to little.' Why is that? Why is it I can't get ahead? Why is it that we can't seem to make something? Why is it that we can't move up? We're keeping all of this and we're using all of this for ourselves. He says you're not using it for what God intends you to use it for. And he says the reason you look for much and behold it comes to little is because when you bring it home, "POOF", I blow it away."

Unbelievable. Brunson is painting God as some sort of vindictive evil genie who will purposely blow your money away, hurting you and your family if you don't give as he prescribes, to the church. He also assumes that the path to getting ahead, to "move up" is to give money to God (i.e. the church). This is prosperity gospel. This is law, and not grace.

Brunson doesn't stop there. He goes into more descriptions of the vindictiveness of God:

"Let me tell you something [finger pointing], God collects, God collects. 'Well, this broke down, and that broke down, there's a leak in the roof, the kid's wrecked the car, and we lost in that investement, and this happened and that happened and the other happened, and we just can't seem to get ahead, and we keep investing in what are good things and solid things and everybody else seems to be getting ahead but I can't get ahead.' And why is that? It's because I've not learned to do what God called me to do with my STUFF."

There you have it. The reason you are so behind in your bills, that you have all these unexpected extra expenses and home repairs, and even the reason your kids wrecked the car - it is all because God is collecting from you the cold hard cash that you own him.

Then he closes it, by comparing himself to an Old Testament prophet, by saying:

"...but you know what happens? This is what happens. God is good. He sends a preacher to needle the people. Can you all identify? He sends a prophet by the name of Haggai and a prophet by the name of Zecchariah."

And apparently, in this passage if there is anything good about God, it is that God has sent to FBC Jax a prophet by the name of Donald McCall Brunson. Not that God is merciful and kind and loving to his people. No, his kindness and goodness is displayed by the sending of a New Testament prophet/preacher to "needle them". Unbelievable.

What makes all of this particularly troubling is the timing of these comments. Brunson preaches this just one week after he only gets about 1/2 of the million dollars he was trying to raise on 10/3/10 to finish the auditorium renovations. The message from this sermon is clear: you people have been called to tithe and are not so God's judging America, you've been called to finish the auditorium renovations and you haven't done it, and thus you are subjecting yourselves to God's Moose and Rocco who will come and collect it anyways, or maybe God himself will just "blow it all away".

Either way, the message is: God collects. You are indebted, and the way you pay your debt is in COLD HARD CASH given to the preacher's church. God wants it and he wants it NOW. And he WILL collect on it.

Nope. That is not what the Bible teaches. God is loving and merciful and patient...and we as Christians are called to be generous givers, meeting the physical and spiritual needs of people. We are not to give under compulsion, and we are free from the law and the Old Testament punishments under the Jewish theocracy. God is absolutely NOT holding the hammer over us to see whether we give 10% to a church or give to a building renovation fund.

And God is NOT ready to go "POOF" to waste your money in the wind. God is not like Tony the Loan Shark.

If there is a "POOF" sound to be heard, perhaps it is the sound of Christians blowing their money away by giving it to their mega church. And perhaps the ones who are loan sharks collecting money from God's people are actually the pastors who misuse scripture to coerce God's people to give more money to their church.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Church Members Have No Idea Where the Money Goes, and Mega Church Pastors Use This to Their Advantage

In the clip below, you'll see Mac Brunson admit that his church members have no idea how the money is spent that they give to their church, but tells them that "a portion" of what they give to FBC Jax goes to the Florida Baptist Children's Homes.

True, but a bit misleading. Yes, First Baptist Jacksonville members, a portion of what you give to your church does make it to the Florida Baptist Children's homes. But it is a tiny, tiny, miniscule portion. In fact it is only 0.15%, or about 15 cents of every 100 dollars given.


Where do I get the 0.15% from? Well, based on the explanation given by Brunson, we can follow the math: according to the 2010 Florida Baptist Convention budget, 4.2% of the $35.4 million in Cooperative Program revenue goes to the Florida Baptist Children's Homes. According to the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville 2009 budget, 3.5% of their receipts goes to the Florida Baptist Convention. So of your money given to First Baptist Jax, 3.5% goes to the Cooperative Program, of which 4.2% of THAT goes to the Florida Baptist Children's homes. 4.2% of 3.5% is about 0.15%, or 15 cents of every $100 dollars.

Or stated this way: to get $25 through FBC Jax and the Florida Baptist Convention to help orphans at the Florida Baptist Children's homes, you need to drop $17,000 in the plate at FBC Jax.

How much would 0.15% equate to in an annual mega church budget? Well, 0.15% of the FBC Jax 2009 $15.7 million budget would have been $23,550.

That is great. But it is miniscule compared to the humongous $15.7 million in receipts.

FBC Jax spends more than 10 times that on senior pastor salary and compensation. They likely spend much more than that on marketing and consulting fees. If FBC Jax is like most churches, they spend about 35 to 40% of their revenue on staff compensation and benefits. The professional ministers get 40%, the orphans get 0.15%.

$40 dollars of every $100 to the pastor and his staff. 15 cents of every $100 to the orphans.

And really, that is fine, if that is what the church wants to do. But as Mac says, most people who are forking over thousands of dollars to their church have no idea how the money is spent. They're not supposed to, either. As the story goes, by not knowing or asking, church members are demonstrating how much they love and trust Jesus by giving large portions of their finances with no transparency on how it is spent.

My point is not that churches like FBC Jax should give more to orphans. I'm saying it is disingenuous to dangle the "Florida Baptist Children's Homes" to your members as though a significant portion of what they give goes there. If a family gives $4000 per year to FBC Jax, only about $6 of that goes to the Florida Baptist Children's Homes after your church takes their cut, and after the Florida Baptist Convention takes theirs.

It is time for church members everywhere to wake up, realize God wants THEM to decide where their money goes. God gave the money to YOU, not to the church, to use for His Kingdom. Just as many churches are now reducing their cooperative program giving as they give more money directly to mission efforts of their choosing, so should Christians begin directing their money where they feel Jesus' ministry is being done. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can direct your funds to those ministries of your choice; including the Florida Baptist Children's Home where they have a web page for you to give directly to their ministry before the deacons, trustees, pastors, and Florida Baptist executive whatevers get their hands on it.

If you want to give all of your Christian charitable gifts to your church, then do it, that is fine.

But if you believe in the work the Florida Baptist Children's homes are doing, then direct some of your funds directly there. Make $100 dollars of your $100 dollars go to the orphans if you like, rather than just a measely 15 cents of every $100 left over after it filters through the church and the Florida Baptist Convention.

Don't be bullied by pastors and denominational wannabes into giving a certain percentage or to a certain ministry.

Give generously and not under compulsion. Invest your charitable dollars wisely - in ministries that are doing what you know Jesus would be involved in if he were here.

And stay away from charitable organizations who don't want you to know how they are spending the money - until they allow you to see where the money is going in detail.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chris Rosebrough Comments on Brunson 10/10/10 Sermon

Below is an excerpt from the radio show "Fighting for the Faith", hosted by Chris Rosebrough on the Pirate Christian Network. In this clip Rosebrough plays a clip of Mac Brunson's 10/10/10 sermon in which Mac used scripture in Haggai to justify his view that our current economic recession is the judgement of God in retribution for the vast majority of Christians who do not tithe (Mac calls them "those who call themselves Christians" - as perhaps they aren't truly Christians since they are not tithing.)

You'll hear that Rosebrough is almost at a loss for words when he tries to explain Brunson's error. Rosebrough says "even Evil Kneivel can't jump the gap between Haggai chapter 1 to the recession in the United States". True - much, much wider than even the Snake River Canyon, and we know how that went.

Rosebrough sums up his analysis and says:

"Folks, if you want to repent, just send your tithe check to Pastor Mac Brunson, and with each tithe check he gets from you, the United States will begin to inch and crawl its way out of this recession. Boy, that is a major twisting of God's word. Folks that's just biblical malpractice".

Thank the Lord for guys like Rosebrough who expose these false teachings on finances and tithing and other doctrines. He has an interesting website called "The Museum of Idolatry" that is worth taking a look at that chronicles much of the nonsense out there being peddled to the sheep.

I have mentioned Rosebrough on this blog before, so most readers are aware of his ministry. His radio show is mostly devoted to exposure of and commentary on false doctrines in today's churches, but he mixes in healthy doses of humor and irreverence, and also plays examples of solid bible sermons. If you are an I-tunes user, subscribe to his radio show there and check him out from time to time.

His tagline is:

"This is the program that dishes up a daily dose of biblical discernment, the goal of which is to help you think biblically, help you to think critically, to compare what people are saying in the name of God to the Word of God."

That is what we all need to do these days more than ever as false teachings, self-serving sermons, and abusive tactics abound in the emergent, purpose driven, and now even our mainstream evangelical pulpits. Perhaps this is coming about as a result of an ever growing supply of churches and pastors, competing for a stagnant number of Christians, and thus we are going to hear more and more nonsense coming from pulpits as they feel the pressure to compete for a larger share of their local Christian "market".

Readers, let's all keep comparing what pastors are saying in the name of God, to the actual Word of God.

And if you have a pastor who doesn't engage in this sort of nonsense to get you to open your wallet, thank the Lord, and tell your pastor how much you appreciate him. There are still pastors out there who teach with integrity what the bible really says about giving, and generosity, and sacrifice and don't resort to theological gymnastics to get their hands on your wallet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Very Positive Meeting with Sheriff John Rutherford

Today my lawyer and I had our meeting with Sheriff John Rutherford following the settlement of the First Amendment lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville last month. We met downtown in the sheriff's office. The meeting was very positive and productive, and I am greatly encouraged that the end result of this lawsuit will be positive change at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

We listened to the sheriff and the city's lawyer explain what changes they are already in the process of studying and implementing stemming from the facts discovered in this case. There are multiple areas of change they are looking at, even a few more than we anticipated going into the meeting. We also shared with the sheriff some ideas we had in these areas for improvement in JSO policy, and we had a very healthy exchange of ideas.

The sheriff and the city counsel have agreed to keep us posted as they progress through the process of making these changes. I pledge to keep my readers informed of these, and will share more details later.

I can't tell you how extremely satisfying it is to know that the end result of a very painful process such as this lawsuit and the long, arduous discovery process will ultimately result in positive changes to improve the ethics and conflict of interest policies at JSO. We have full confidence that Sheriff Rutherford is committed to making these changes, and as I said I will provide updates in the future as things move forward.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What Others are Saying About the Lawsuit...

Readers: take a look at these two articles having to do with the First Amendment lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville recently settled. There are many more out there that can be found by doing a Google search. These are two of particular interest that I wanted my readers to take a look at, along with the comments.

One of the articles is by Jonathan Turley, famous law professor and legal commentator (click here for bio). It is interesting to see how those outside of our city have viewed this case.

"I Sued the Sheriff..." - November 1, 2010 by Jonathan Turley

Turley wrote a longer article about this case shortly after the news story broke in April 2009, you can click here to read it.

The other recent article:

"Lawsuit Settled After Cop Revealed Anonymous Blogger, Then Destroyed Records to 'Protect Civil Rights' " - November 5, 2010 by Mike Masnick

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Give and Live" Gospel in the SBC: Bring Ye All the Tithe Into My Mega Church - Or Else!



The sad thing about the Ed Young tithing controversy this week is this: He is not the only prominent preacher in the Southern Baptist Convention who is preaching this nonsense on the tithe, threatening people with curses and calamity for not forking over 10% to their mega church.

It would be easy to say Ed is just on the fringe, he is extreme. But it's not true. His theology is right in line with other prominent preachers in the SBC.

Take Mac Brunson and Steve Gaines, pastors of two of the most historic, influential churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. They both preach the tithe, and they preach it hard. Not to tithe is a sin, and a serious sin, no exceptions.

It is the new Southern Baptist repackaged prosperity Gospel...but instead of "health and wealth", it is a "give and live" gospel that says to live in the fullness of God's blessings as a Christian (and avoid his OT curses), you must give 10% minimum, and only to your 501(c)3 church. Undesignated. Anything less, and you are accursed. Don't give it to Haiti, or for the poor in your community, it all must come to the "storehouse", which conveniently happens to be the church where these men collect their hefty paychecks and bennies.

Gaines has accused his non-tithing church members of living in stolen homes and driving stolen cars. Gaines says a Christian's first 10% of charitable giving MUST go to their church in an undesignated fashion. None of that 10% should ever go to any other cause, Christian or secular.

Brunson accuses his non-tithers of stirring the wrath of God, causing God to bring judgement on America. Brunson says non-tithers have brought this recession on to their fellow citizens. He also says that "God collects", that if you don't give God what is owed him, like a mob boss God will hurt you financially. Or as Mac says, "poof", God will just blow your money away in the wind as retribution, so you lose what you should have given to God, because "God collects".

THAT is the tragedy. It is NOT just Ed Young. Ed is merely taking a false doctrine and carrying it out to its absurd, but logical conclusion. You see, if indeed God is in heaven and is extremely angry over us not dropping 10% in the offering plate (that would be 95% of us) - if indeed we have brought a "curse" on ourselves and our nation - if indeed we are living in stolen houses and we are criminals in God's eyes for not tithing - if God is indeed a cosmic bully who is kicking sand in the eyes of the weakling, unmanly non-tithers by blowing away his resources as Brunson says....if that is true....then all preachers should recommend, maybe even demand automatic withdrawl of the tithe. They should warn us that we are bringing a curse on our family, that our careers will suffer and financial calamity is around the corner for us.

And by golly, these preachers should be honest with non-Christians when they proclaim the gospel. Tell them that once they accept Jesus Christ and experience the freedom of forgiveness...that they will have to begin giving 10% of their income to their church else their new salvation will actually lead them into a curse, because God expects 10% minimum.

Watch the video above, as you can see these three preachers in action as they teach their people that 10% is the pathway to peace with God.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ed Young's Tithing Sermon: Show Me the Money!

Update: There is one place you can still listen to the Ed Young sermon excerpt asking for his church to fill out forms with their checking account and routing number. It is at Fighting for the Faith, on the November 2nd, 2010 podcast, starting at about the 9:00 minute mark. Chris Rosebrough analyzes the audio of the video that was removed. So far Fellowship Church hasn't successfully removed it from the Rosebrough website.

Fighting for the Faith - Nov 2, 2010



The video of Ed Young posted here on Sunday has gotten quite a bit of play around the blogosphere. It has even moved over to YouTube. Christians and non-Christians alike are flabbergasted that a pastor from the pulpit is trying to get people to commit to give 10% of their income to his church through automatic withdrawl.

But that is not even close to the worst part of that sermon.

The worst part is what preceded it. The video above is a compilation of excerpts from the first part of that sermon.

He delivers a tithing sermon to scare, humuliate, intimidate, and offend his church members into giving 10% of their income. But if you go to a church where the preacher tells the people that they are obligated to give 10% of their income to the church, you probably have heard many of these same things. But Ed puts them all together in one single whopper of a manipulative, self-serving, heretical sermon.

But boy, he sure is a good performer.

He tells them they are cursed if they don't tithe. He wonders why they come to church if they don't bring the tithe, tells them to stay home or play golf, to quit wasting Ed's and God's time. He says to watch your wallet if you're sitting next to a non-tither. He brags that "blessings track him down" for his 29 years of faithfulness. He even declares multiple times that the blessings of the Christian life are "all about the money".

Ed even says "Show me the money" - which I take to mean "show me your bank account and routing number".

He says that if you don't tithe, your marriage, your job, your kids, will all suffer because you're under God's curse.

I hope that someone in Ed's circle of friends - maybe John Cross, or maybe Ed's father - someone, will help Ed see that he is abusing his congregation.