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

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"It's Not Your Money!!" Says Steven Furtick, as He Proudly Screams "Yes! The Church Wants Your Money!!"

"Yes, the church wants your money!! Guess what?  It's not your money! God gave you that money, Big Boy!....my name is Steven Furtick, and I approve this message!" Steven Furtick - SEE VIDEO BELOW
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What is so fascinating about mega church pastors is the new lows to which they plunge in their attempts to expand their church, and to extend their reach into the pockets of their followers.

In the video below, Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC, proudly proclaims that "Yes, the church wants your money", and then tells his church members as they hoot and holler:  "It's not your money!"

What Steven means is that he and his church have a greater right to your checking account than you do. None of your money is yours, says Steven. All of your money is God's, and you need to give God back at least 10% if not more, since he gave it to you. And here's the catch: to give God back what he gave you - which doesn't make sense since God owns it all anyways - according to Steven you have only one choice: give it to Elevation Church - because Steven is building the church that Jesus promised he would be responsible for.

"And once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks who went for a walk in the woods..."

Furtick's claim to his follower's money is so illogical, and so wrong-headed, that to hear the hoots and hollers from the crowd as Steven spews this nonsense, tells me this church is on its way to being a cult, and Steven Furtick a cult leader. Perhaps it is there already.

I don't point out the exploits of Furtick and his other mega church pastor friends just to get a laugh and chuckle. This is serious business, these guys are forever damaging Christianity in America.

When I heard Furtick spew this nonsense, it reminded me of the story a friend told me about why he had to stop attending his church. His pastor was so aggressive in raising money that he told the men in the congregation that if they were not tithing, they were not "real men". The pastor said they were having other men "pay their way", and that no real man would have another man pay their way. And for good measure, the pastor said if you're a man not tithing you probably are not a Christian. This man was giving some money to the church, but he was struggling financially, had two kids in college, and was being very generous to his family in providing for their material and educational needs. He went to church to get encouragement in his faith, but instead was told on multiple occasions from the pulpit that he was no damn good, was not a man, that the pastor was the "real" man, and that in fact he probably wasn't a Christian because he didn't give 10%.

So this man felt he couldn't return to the church and continue to expose his family to a preacher who denigrated their own father's faith and manhood from the pulpit.

This is what is happening in evangelical churches - pastors who have such a love of money and power, they are turning away clear-minded, rational-thinking believers. And young people who are very adept at seeing through these shallow preachers, will be turned away from Christianity altogether.

And what this will leave is churches predominantly filled with Kool Aid drinkers who don't dare question the pastor, and who will fork over 10% of their money based on fairy tales and myths and believe they are buying favor with God.

Avoid these churches like the plague, Christian.

Yes, the Church Wants Your Money, 'Cause it Ain't Yours Big Boy!! from FBCJax Watchdog on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Letter from a Friend: There is Hope After an Experience With a Spiritually-Abusive Pastor and Church

This Thanksgiving week, I want to wish all of the Watchdog readers a wonderful time with your family and friends as you give thanks to God for all of the blessings we enjoy.

Over the past 5 years of blogging I have made many new friends who have followed our story on the blog, and have contributed to the blog's success in helping shine a light on misbehaving pastors and churches. I thought this Thanksgiving week would be a perfect time to share the testimony from one of the Watchdog readers I have corresponded with via email and telephone over the past few years as he and his family endured the antics of a spiritually abusive pastor who arrived at their church some years ago. I asked him to put in writing his testimony for my readers, and today I am sharing his story with you.

There is so much of his story that I can relate to. But if you read his entire story, you'll see it is one of hope: that even after you and your family have been hurt by arrogant and abusive clergy and their enabling lay leaders, you can find a new church where the leadership are transparent, loving, and seek to minister to you and your family.

Thank you to my friend for sharing this testimony with all of us. Please read it to the end, he has some very wise advice for all of us in his concluding paragraph.

So enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
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Dear Tom: I have been a follower of your website for a number of years, having discovered it after my wife and I and many friends experienced firsthand a “pastor” who came into and church who was totally void of the fruits of the spirit; who autocratically ruled with a heavy hand, and who practiced spiritual abuse upon the members of the church who did not obey his directions.

Disagreement with him was labeled of the devil. Those who disagreed were referred to as “Satan’s Agents”. Deacons and Sunday School teachers were removed, or not asked to come back to serve when their terms ended if they did not agree to everything the “pastor” wanted to do. Loyalty oaths to the Pastor were required to be signed to remain a deacon and Sunday School teacher. All transparency with finances was removed. Those who disagreed were “bitter, angry and selfish”, disobedient to God; “kinks in the hose – squelching God’s work”, “snakes in the garden”. (Actual sermon titles!). Long time staff members were run off by the pastor, on trumped up charges of sinful lifestyles and impure hearts. (Based upon his sole declaration, without any evidence). 

Unbridled anger was exhibited by the Pastor in sermons, and in meetings with members, when he did not get his way. With amazement many of us watched as our fellow members seemed not to be bothered in the least by such behavior. Lives of Godly men and their families were ravaged. Unfounded charges were relentlessly made by this person, without any hesitation or guilt as to the lives he destroyed. So convinced of his own Godliness, there was no limit to his actions. 

Those who stayed “went along”, for fear that they might displease God if they “don’t obey their pastor” as the pastor tells them the Bible requires of them. He analogized himself to Moses who was leading the Israelites through the wilderness; he claimed to be leading the “dead” church that he came to pastor through a desert – a city under the “grips of Satan”. (We are a small Texas town, with lots of good people; it is truly hilarious at some point). He claimed to be a “Prophet”. He and his followers justified anything and everything they did by claiming it was of God. Over the 8-9 years he has been at this Church, there has been an almost complete turnover of membership. As I read about the things you have related from your experiences, I can only think the man must be reading and operating from the same playbook as your previous pastor. (I’m pretty sure they know each other). 

However, God has provided an oasis for us. My family and I left, without looking back. In the last year and a half my wife and I have joined another church in our town. It is quite a refuge for many hurting people in our city. Many from our former church attend there, and many have moved to other wonderful congregations in our town. The pastor of our new church family is wonderful. Get this – he is kind, outgoing, fun, friendly, loving and a great communicator and student of the Bible. He does not seek the limelight or notoriety or fame. He merely seeks to love and care for those who attend.

Since I was ordained as a deacon many years ago at my former church I was asked to be deacons at our new church. We had our first deacons meeting two weeks ago. Our new pastor visited with us and advised of how "things are handled at our new church". He informed us that we were not his rubber stamp, not his yes men, and that he did not "run" the church. He told us that the congregation did. He told us that he would never check giving records, so to not be influenced by persons who did or did not give money to the Church. 

He asked us to let him know immediately if we sensed any un-Christlike attitude or spirit from him and to schedule a time to visit with him and let him know our concerns if we did. And he really meant it! He told us that he only wanted to love and minister to the body. He has no goals of mega growth, no agendas for fame, no desire to be well known. He also told us that we would never be asked to sign a covenant or loyalty oath to him or the church. He said he trusted that through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ that we would be right with God and therefore we would all treat each other and himself as Christ directs - and therefore all things will work in accordance with God's will. He truly believes in the Priesthood of the Believers and the personal relationship one can have with Christ. He trusts us to allow Christ to lead our lives, even if it means that we might have a disagreement with him as to what God wants for us as a group. He is confident in Christ’s ability to move the group as Christ sees fit, not as he (the pastor) plans, desires, or directs. 

It is telling that when the pastor of our new church arrived as a bi-vocational pastor over 8 years ago, there were 35 people who regularly attended. He is now full time. That number in attendance is now close to 400 on Sundays, and growing. New Christians, the un-churched, and many others in our community are now in attendance. Our church continues to grow. More people are attending each Sunday. We are about to exceed the capacity of the sanctuary. No surprise! The one common comment that is always heard from those who visit and who join is “we love the loving feeling of the congregation”. 

It is so refreshing and I though you and other readers would like to hear about a healthy body of believers and a loving pastor. I just wanted to encourage others in our world who may read your website and who have been exposed to unloving and unkind leadership. There are very wonderful congregations for them to attend. We have found one, and pray and hope for the best for those who have suffered at the hands of similar men. 

If I may add my advice to those who may be dealing with similar situations, don’t try to wait such people out – it is a waste of your time and a loss of opportunities for peace and worship with God. Find a place where you can worship God without the distraction of men who try to get in between you and God. Such “pastors” (so-called) are in reality a barrier between you and God; they seek to squelch the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life because they seek to be a God-like figure who you must spend time following, listening to, and obeying. They must act this way to control you; they only need to control you because they have earthly desires at heart. It is selfish and un-Christlike. Please run from it and find peace. 

Keep up the good work Tom. You have been a blessing to me.

Friday, November 9, 2012

News Flash: Jeffress Declares Obama is NOT the Anti-Christ, As His Poll Numbers are a Bit Too Low

"I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he's not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes. President Obama is not the Antichrist." 
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Wow, that was close. I thought for a minute there, after the election, that Barack Obama was the Anti-Christ.

But thanks to Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, I slept easier last night knowing the Southern Baptists have determined:

Barack Hussein Obama, is NOT the Anti-Christ.

How has he made his determination? He doesn't say exactly, but says "one of the reasons" is that "the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes."

I love how the fundamentalist Baptist mindset works: let's start with the assumption he might be the Anti-Christ. Then look at his poll numbers.

He goes on to say Obama is just "paving the way" for the Anti-Christ, you know, like "John the Baptist" for the Anti-Christ.

Watch it for yourself:


In all fairness, let me say to my readers:  Robert Jeffress is NOT the Anti-Christ. I am not saying he is the Anti-Christ at all. However, his leadership of at FBC Dallas in convincing the members to spend $120 million on a glamorous new church and fountain while our country suffers economically - he is just paving the way for the gullible sheep to follow the Anti-Christ.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On This Election Day, I am Extremely Positive, Unlike the Evangelical Sourpuss Pastors

As the Watchdog, I listen to a number of sermons each week...a variety of evangelical pastors at churches and at seminary chapel services, and on this election day I want to make a few comments regarding preachers and the 2012 election.

It is amazing how negative and dark so many mega church pastors have become lately, especially over the election. Not only are they are complaining about the money drying up and how people aren't tithing and aren't "committed"; but now and in the weeks leading up to the election so many of them are preaching doom and gloom over the election and the state of America.

One of the things I remember most about Jerry Vines' preaching that I heard for 20 years, was just how upbeat and positive he was when he was my pastor. He preached the Bible, he preached truth, but he was upbeat, positive - a very happy person. If I were a visitor in many of these baptist churches today with angry, negative, dark pastors, I would run for the exits and reject the distorted gospel they preach. In fact, it is no wonder we are losing our young people at these churches, as for the most part young people are hopeful for the future and don't respond to angry, old men who preach like they have a chip on their shoulder.

One of the reasons I believe Romney will probably win this election is that he is so upbeat and positive about the future of our country, while Obama has gone dark and angry near the end of the campaign. People respond to a message of hope and future prosperity, not one of doom and gloom and despair.

I even heard a mainstream baptist mega church pastor this weekend blame God for 9/11, claiming that God himself is the one who has decided to ruin our economy because our country is no damn good. He said that no president is to blame, that the blame actually falls right at the feet of God who had to punish us for our national sins.  If God is angry at anyone, he would be angry with wealthy mega church pastors who stand in pulpits and maliciously misrepresent who God actually is to people who come to church to hear the message of hope in the gospel.

It is too bad that so many pastors preach now like Obama has campaigned near the end - no message of hope, only blame and despair.

The Watchdog remains upbeat, positive, and hopeful for the future!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What WOULD Your Mega Church Do If Everyone Tithed? This Jacksonville Mega Church is Building Their Own Hotel!!!

Have you ever heard your mega church pastor say something like:

"Until God's people learn how to tithe, we'll never accomplish for our church what God wants us to accomplish."

I've heard it often, and heard it recently. This begs the question:  Just what WOULD a mega church pastor do with all the money that would come his way if all members forked over 10% of their income?

Well, we have a glimpse of what the answer might be, right here in Jacksonville, Florida.

Rodney (R.J.) and April Washington are the pastors of "Titus Harvest Dome Spectrum Church" - whose website is www.rjwashington.org - and at their church property they are nearing completion of their church's very own 4-story, 80-room hotel constructed at a cost of $11 million.

Yes, "Apostle R.J." and "First Lady April" Washington are building the "Marble Waters Hotel and Suites" - pictured above - right here in Jacksonville on the church property.

What would compel a church to decide to get into the hotel business? That is a good question, as "hotel rooms" and "mega church pastors" aren't real good combinations, if you know what I mean. Perhaps the Apostle is going to use the hotel to care for widows and orphans, or to house the homeless in our city?

What we do know about the Marble Waters Hotel and Suites, is that it is a for-profit business venture. According to the local Jacksonville business weekly, the site is at the church property, and the permit was pulled by "Water Marble Holding, LLC", whose managing member is Titus Harvest Dome Spectrum Church and Apostle R.J. is himself the registered agent for this corporation.

But it doesn't stop there. There is also a "Marble Waters Hotel and Suites, Inc.", a FOR-PROFIT Florida corporation, whose address is located at one of the church properties. Guess who is the head of this for-profit corporation? Yes, it is "First Lady April" herself, with Apostle R.J. as the registered agent.

So this gives us a glimpse of what might happen if everyone tithed at a megachurch: there would be so much money that they would use it to build a hotel with a spa, owned and operated by the pastor and his family.

Or, they might use it to spend $20 million to open seven-new satellite churches like Ed Young, Jr., or they might use it to build a magnificent water fountain as an "architectural invitation to Jesus Christ", as a part of their $120 million campus renovation - like First Baptist Dallas.

"Bring ye the whole tithe into the storehouse/hotel."