2 Samuel 16:9,11 - "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head...let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him."

Matthew 7:15 - “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11 - “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is the Iron Still Swimming? - Part 1

Readers - I want to share a few thoughts on Mac's sermon Sunday entitled "And the Iron Did Swim". Mac on our Chest of Joash Sunday 9/28 reached back into our church history and preached on the same scripture, II Kings 6:1, that the Lindsay's often used over 60 years to recount the history of miracles at our church. Listening to Mac's sermon, which I found quite empty and uninspiring, has caused me to reflect on the question: what is the difference between Mac's preaching "The Iron Did Swim" and the Lindsay's preaching? What made the Lindsay's preaching so powerful?

Its quite an appropriate question to ask ourselves at this point, given that Mac has decided to use this scripture and sermon title from the past. Mac's sermon was full of interesting history of our church and references to Homer Lindsay, Sr. But to help understand the difference between Brunson and Lindsay I went back and listened to Homer's sermon from sometime in the early 1990's - most of the members have this as it is in the "Best of Homer, Jr" tapes we received in 2000 when Dr. Lindsay, Jr. died. I recommend that readers who have access to this sermon listen to it again.

Some random thoughts when dwelling on Brunson and Lindsay:

- Homer oft used the "The Iron Did Swim" sermon to express thanks for the many miracles that God did and was doing at our church. Very positive. Homer would go over the miracle of our youth ministry, of our men's ministry, of souls being saved, people loving Jesus and their community. Always Homer acknowledged these miracles were 100% God miracles, not man-manufactured miracles. Contrasted with Mac, who on 9/21 preached a sermon to showcase all that he and Smyrl have done through the theology driven ministry - all the wonderful things Mac has done (e.g. Shelly B: "Thank you Dr. Brunson for theology driven ministry..."). On Sunday 9/28 Mac turned the "Iron Did Swim" sermon on its head, to use the scripture to accuse us of losing our "spiritual edge" (whatever that is) as a metaphor for the axe head falling in the water...and at one point said we should "...pray to get God's spiritual edge back in your life." OK...so let's all pray: "Dear Lord, we pray to receive our spiritual edge".

- One of the very striking differences in the preaching of Homer and Brunson is: JESUS. Mac again Sunday barely mentioned the name Jesus. Just twice. Homer's sermons in general, and his sermon on "The Iron Did Swim" he mentions Jesus over and over. Love for Jesus. Love for souls accepting Jesus. A lighthouse for Jesus Christ.

- Homer loved his people. Oh, he preached hard. But Homer recognized that in his large congregation there were people at all different spiritual levels: some very committed and mature, some new Christians, some back-slidden, a few recalcitrants and some wolves in sheep's clothing. But the difference: Homer AND Vines preached the Word, always in love but in truth, and they let the Holy Spirit do the convicting. Mac just preaches hard on people, at times twists scripture to intimidate and instill fear - as though he doesn't trust God's word to be fitted to the many different spiritual hearts in the congregation. No doubt Homer loved his people.

- Another striking difference is root of the motivation for all that is done at FBC Jax. When Homer and Vines preached about giving and serving, it was to motivate us out of our devotion and love to Jesus Christ first, and out of love for our neighbors and friends second. Mac once again Sunday as he has done since arriving, tries to manipulate people to give and serve out of fear, out of duty and obligation to Old Testament scripture, and out of devotion to an institution (FBC Jax). Mac does not try to motivate people out of their love for Jesus. Why? I don't know. Perhaps Homer understood that the greatness of the church was in its people loving Christ and responding out of love, whereas Mac and Smyrl believe success is gained through legalism, through man's ideas and actions, and a well-structured "cutting edge" program like Theology Driven Ministry. Homer trusted his uneducated leaders to preach the Bible in Sunday School.

I have more to say about some of Mac's antics on Sunday, how we knew Homer was a God-called preacher, and a few other insights as well as some audio clips of Homer and Brunson. If you have thoughts you'd like to share about the sermon Sunday, or about Homer Lindsay Jr. or Sr. that you might have thought of after Mac preached about our church history, chime in here!


Ramesh said...

Watchdog: A suggestion

Can you enable Blog Comment Feed for your site? You might have to put a link on the front page too.

This will make it easier for me track all the comments coming in by subscribing to it in my Google Reader :-)

Thanks for your help.

Anonymous said...

The sermon on the Iron Did Swim by Dr Lindsay Sr first and then later by his son is unequaled in our day and time. Sr Lindsay brought the church out of bankruptcy and was primarily providing Leadership in the ministry of the church that had failed in so many ways. Sr Lindsay wanted to be a lawyer, but realized the call on him from the Lord and his amazing leadership, compassion for the lost, love of the congregation and his gracious wife Ruth paved the way for a downtown church to make it during WWII and the 50's and 60's. He would hold great revivals with evangelists like Eddie Martin, Angel Martinez, Mike Gilchrist, Jerry Spencer, James Robison, and others which gave inroads to the church growth and leading the SBC in baptism's and new members. You could hear a pin drop when listening to that sermon by Sr. and he preached it several times over the years and it just got better and better. The final touch on your life as a member of the church during his tenure was at the close of the evening service with his end of the perfect day salute. You knew that you had been in the presence of the Lord.

When Lindsay Jr came to FBC in 1968 he carried on that mission which his dad had started: love the people, give them responsibility, and preach the Word. Likewise, Lindsay Jr had a loving devoted wife who served alongside of him. Serving in the new membership program, visiting the lost and sick, praying and walking in grace. It is truly remarkable how this pair of pastors carried the torch for 60 years. But, how God blessed their ministry. Elisha may have experienced a miracle of having the iron swim that one time but God overflowed the ministry of the Lindsays day in and day out for 60 years. Sometimes they planted, sometimes they watered, and then they stepped back and saw God give the increase. The fact is there will never be another Lindsay type. Unfortunately, like Lincoln, they belong to the ages. I recall an older deacon asking Dr Lindsay Jr one night how did it feel to walk on water. Dr Lindsay could not believe what he had heard and it made him that more humble in his committment to the Lord. That deacon knew something we would learn later. For a lot of people in Jacksonville they never had the priviledge of knowing either of these great pastors. They were real and they loved people. They would not even believe something bad about someone as their hearts were full of joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness and other graces that they had learned from praying to the Father and loving and studying His Word. To God be the glory great things He has done by allowing some of us to have known these men and their wives.

Anonymous said...

To have been in the Lindsay era(both Sr. and Jr.) was to have been in something so unique we will never see it again. Believe it or not I have a copy, in booklet form of Sr.s "The Iron Did Swim", sermon.

The "secret" of their success was, they loved the Lord, His word, and the people. These men were truly called by God to preach. They both were very humble men. They never bragged about themselves in any way. Both were educated. Sr., had studied to be a lawyer, but God had chosen him to preach. Jr., also was educated, but down played it, because he knew that his strength came from a daily committment and walk with the Lord.
Sr., once said about young preachers thinking about going into the ministry, "If you can do anything else, do it." In other words if God will let you do anything else successfully do it. Because a truly "called" man of God has no choice but to answer Gods call.

The faith that these men had kept them close to the Lord. We trusted them because we knew they prayed over everything. They never berated the people. They preached hard against the devil and hard against sin, but they never preached against the people.
They never berated the people. They were always available to the people, and somehow they knew who you were and who your children were. Most of all they prayed for you, many times by name. You could ask them anything and get a truthful answer. They hid nothing. Both men led, they did not drive the people. They taught the people to love the Lord through the Word. No gimmicks, no substitutes, just plain preaching from the Bible. God had His hand on these men, and we received the blessing.

I never left a service without feeling I had heard a spiritual message from the Lord.

Mrs. Lindsay Sr., and Mrs. Lindsay Jr., (Shirley}, were perfect partners for these men. To have been blessed with their Godly wisdom through the years was truly a priviledge. Many have personal stories of "Miss Shirley", that warm the heart and feed the soul.

Dr.Lindsay Sr.s End of a Perfect Day, sermons on Sunday nights were so spiritual that people would walk out of church so quiet you could tell they were reflecting on the message. What was their secret? It was love for the Lord. It kept them humble. I am so very thankful that the Lord allowed me the priviledge of being under their ministries.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Does anyone know what the connection is between Smyrl's "Theology Driven Ministry" model that Mac has embraced and implemented at our church, and the "Theology Driven Ministry" conference held at the SEBTS in March 2007? Are the two related?

Can anyone explain in layman's terms what the heck "Theology Driven Ministry" is at our church, and how it has changed how we do ministry?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the opportunity to remember Dr. Lindsay, Jr. I did not know Sr., but I was drawn to Jr because of his clearly being a man that was sold out to Jesus. His statement about alcohol "as a man who has walked with Jesus for over 60 years, I am begging you...GET RID OF IT" was just one example of how the man could preach boldly while showing love for the listener.

Yes, I drove by several churches on my way downtown, parked in parking garages and walked several blocks, rode elevators, had to have a meeting point to find my family, all because there was a MAN OF GOD downtown that I did not want to miss or have my family miss. Vines was faithful to carry the torch and care for the sheep after Jr suddenly died.

And Ms. Shirley was a true Christian. If you knew her, you knew what a Christian lady was supposed to be like. I don't believe her or Ms Vines ever took a salary for their love and devotion to the Lord, to their husband and to their congregation. I guess the Lord and their husband's provided for and met all their needs.

Reflecting back on these great Christian leaders brings some sadness, but I know God continues to work in people just like them all over our city. Let's continue their legacy in our city as we go and be. Let's not waste our time and talent and finances downtown where God's hand is no longer on the leadership.


Anonymous said...

What a treat to hear from some of you who have been fortunate enough to sit under the ministry of both Dr. Lindsay Sr, Jr and Dr Vines. I was immensely impacted by Dr. Lindsay Jr in an indirect way. My grandfather was a pastor and I tell people all the time no man influenced the ministry God has given me outside of my grandfather than Dr. Lindsay. I have so many sermons including the best of Dr. Lindsay, Jr following his death. and quite a few of the booklets that were printed from his sermons.
Thanks again for such a treat of all of your memories.


Ramesh said...

I would like to thank all the comments about Lindsay's. The past two weeks, I have been learning a lot from the comments here at WD blog.

I clearly have not heard the Lindsay's. My Christian walk is recent. Only in the past four months I have been exposed to the underlying streams of dissent, hope, despair, arrogance, exclusivity and tyranny.

All this from Christians. All from Southern Baptists.

Allow me to explain.

For me, Christianity has been a personal walk with Jesus. I am most dependent on Jesus early in the mornings. I am actually more lucid and trusting of Jesus (as the day goes on my doubts return). I start my day, coming to Jesus as I am, with all my baggage. I find so much love, acceptance, forgiveness and mercy in His Word.

I read my bible first thing, then I read Oswald Chambers. Then I pray. This is how I start my day. The days I do not do this, I am always feeling lost.

To me, being a Christian is a personal walk. It's purely a relationship one-on-one with Jesus. No one else is involved.

The reason I mention the above, is I want to contrast that with what is happening in the Southern Baptists now.

What is happening at fbcjax, is a small part of the struggle(s) going on in the Southern Baptists. There is a deep undercurrent of tyranny taking place in the Southern Baptists.

This tyranny is from people who I believe are deeply mistaken, are trying to do God's work in attempting to protect God's word from abuse and misuse.

God does not need help from men and women to protect His Word. I believe His Word to be a double edged sword, that always does the Lord's bidding and will not return without accomplishing what it's purpose is.

The tyranny comes because they are trying to do God's work. But they are not doing what God has ordained them to do. That is to Love the Lord, Love His Word, and Love their neighbors.

If you look at the problems of fbcjax leadership, treatment of Wade Burleson from IMB, treatment of Klouda, the rejection of people victimized by Gilyard ... it's all due to the above.

The leadership of the Southern Baptists are almost behaving like the Pharisees in Jesus's day. They are missing the Spirit of the Word, for their foolish attempts to protect the Word from misuse and misunderstanding. And they are attempting to impose their practice on the rest of the Christians.

When one speaks out against this tyranny, the people are being ostracized and mis-categorized as trouble makers.

I do not wish to hog WD's blog's comments section. I will keep posting more comments. I will try to spread them out.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Jim Smyrl preached tonight, and its a sad sight to see such a promising young preacher being led astray under Mac Brunson. Instead of preaching the word and letting the Holy Spirit fit the word to the people's hearts, ole Jim follows Mac and plays the role of the Holy Spirit.

This will be for another post, but wanted to share my thoughts on Smyrl's sermon.

He starts off by saying he is going to preach on Homer Lindsay Jr.'s favorite passage out of 2 Chronicles.

Here are the points on nonsense and unwise counsel and contradictions from Smyrl:

1. Smyrl announces that one of the things he learned in seminary is the biblical doctrine of "pastor-led" churches, and so many churches today are in trouble because they are led by congregations and deacons. We once were a congregation led church, that did voluntarily give a lot of authority to our previous pastors, until Mac showed up and changed our bylaws. DID YOU HEAR THIS CHURCH? This is evidence that Smyrl and Brunson think you are biblical idiots. Not only can't you "run the church", but you aren't capable of teaching the Bible unless you take their Wed night classes and earn their little certificate, and most of you are only spiritually wise enough to ask questions in small groups instead of standing and teaching the Bible...sorry, I digress...

2. Smyrl related that he went to a church to serve that was not in God's will and he was miserable, and he and his wife realized that they were being punished by God for having accepted that call. Yep, God is into "punishment" to those who don't serve where God wants them to serve. What a wonderful, punishing God we serve.

3. At the end of the sermon he decided to relate a story of how an elderly man came up to him in church to point out how the standards have fallen with the dress of the kids...now keep in mind the youth choir and orchestra is behind Smyrl as he preaches and relays this story....and the old man Smyrl said pointed out the untucked shirts, flip flops...and Smyrl said his response to the man was that the man himself was the one who was not dressed appropriately because his button down shirt and slacks and dress shoes are "wordly" because that is how the contemporary world dresses. So ole Jim, put that old crumudgeon in his place by golly....that HE HIMSELF was the one who was not dressed right, and that he had no business pointing out that flip flops and ratty jeans and untucked t-shirts are inappropriate...the obvious conclusion being that those things are OK for youth at church and anyone who dares voice concern over such a matter is worthy of being talked down to.

As I have said...our pastors Jim the Pearl and Mac the Knife are into division...they love to divide the church themselves...pitting one faction in the church against the other. In one swipe Jim pits the elderly of the church against the youth...and Jim pits the young people hearing him preach, against their parents some of whom might be doing their dead-level best to hold higher dress standards than flip flops and ratty jeans. Thank you Jim Smyrl for helping to divide our church over issues like dress and make life harder for the parents of youth in our church.

Jim you started your sermon off as though you were going to honor Homer by preaching his favorite versus...you ended up dishonoring Homer by your careless, amateurish preaching sir.

Ramesh said...

Smyrl announces that one of the things he learned in seminary is the biblical doctrine of "pastor-led" churches, and so many churches today are in trouble because they are led by congregations and deacons.

This is the source of the current problems at fbcjax. And it indicates problems at the seminaries too. And it points to TDM and others.

Lord, please help us. Lord, please have mercy on us.

Anonymous said...

About the Smyrl dress comment.

The poor guy is just young and he doesn't know what he's saying. He needs to be mentored to not make such mistakes from the pulpit.

If indeed the man came to Smyrl to assert that perhaps we need higher dress standards for our youth - that is not legalism and it certainly is not worthy of a smart-alek rebuke from Smyrl. Those are...standards. It is one thing to say "I believe we should have some dress standards for our youth such as tucked in shirts and shoes with no flip flops". If Smyrl thinks such an assertion is legalism, or that this is sin to make such an assertion, he's one of the more unwise clergymen I've ever met. The man has put forth a standard, and people can agree or disagree on certain standards. If on the other hand the man said "Look at those young people going to hell wearing their flip flops - they need to repent and wear loafers like I am wearing loafers so that they can be right with the Lord" that would be legalism. Jim doesn't have the wisdom, doesn't have the discernment to even be able to differentiate between STANDARDS and LEGALISM. And yes Dr Lindsay, Jr. knew the difference. We had very high standards in our church for workers and for youth, and over time these standards were relaxed. Its OK to have standards. And standards can change. I would think that Mac could maybe help Smyrl understand the difference, but I'm afraid he's as clueless as Smyrl in these matters.

The irony of it all...the man was not being legalistic in suggesting higher standards for youth...but Smyrl WAS being legalistic and disrespectful toward the man. But Smyrl did this last year as I recall when he didn't wear a tie for the first time in the pulpit and he said some smart alek comment about people being more concerned with dress than they are their friends dying and going to hell. Jim "Joe Biden" Smyrl. God love ya Jim.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

$100 to anyone who can decipher Jim Smyrl's blog entry:


I'm pretty sure its in English, but I can't really be sure.

Just wonder who is the audience.

No wonder he and Brunson think we're all a bunch of Homer Simpson brainless, bible-less boobs. We're not capable of seminary-speak.

Anonymous said...

Just a short comment: For Jim or anyone's information. Dr. Lindsay was always concerned about APPROPRIATE dress in the church. He said many times over that we should come to the Lord's house dressed respectfully. That the Lord deserves our best. I think sometimes if you are the preacher it becomes easy to push your opinion on the congregation by placing words in the past preachers mouth. Believe me Dr. Lindsay and Mrs. Lindsay always wanted people dressed for church properly. They didn't require you to dress like millionaires, but to be clean, neat and modest in your attire.

Jim has forgotten a few things; if he was ever taught them. The elder gentleman that spoke concerning the dressing down by the young people sees through eyes of spiritual wisdom what happens when Godly standards are allowed to slide in the church. Drop one standard, then another, then another. Soon you have young people that find God's house NO DIFFERENT than the rest of the world. They soon feel that maybe the Lord doesn't require anything of them either. So why respect their parents, their teachers, the church or the Lord.

As for the way Jim handled the elder gentleman this is a shame. Dr. John Phillips made a similar comment to this in his book Exploring the Pastoral Epistles,page l39: Older men of the church should be treated with honor. Speaking of Paul, Dr. Phillips said that the apostle,referring to older men, said that they should not be criticized, or treated harshly, or in any way abused.

I think this was an error on Jims part, as he not only spoke harshly to the gentleman, but went further in bragging about it in front of the young people present and to the congregation. I know the preachers require respect of the young people. Not to mention if someone spoke harshly to the pastors fathers. I don't think it would stand, do you? Badly done Jim. But I guess you are still young enough to learn. Perhaps an apology to the older gentleman is in order.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - thanks for sharing those thoughts. I don't attribute this to an "error" on Jim's part.

This is a way of thinking in the leadership of the church - specifically Mac the Knife and Jim the Pearl Smyrl.

They talk out of both sides of their mouth. They are confused.

Mac tells us, no, SCREAMS at us, Sunday with a "GOT THAT?" at the end that older men are to come along side and mentor the younger men, to tell them what God did in the past. But for 2 1/2 years he's told us that we should NOT be looking to the past, that successes in the past are NOT to be dwelled on. So now he yells that we should be talking about the past. Confusion.

Then Jimmy "Joe Biden" Smyrl puts elder against the youth in the church by telling the youth that some old man things they are dressing like slobs. That really helps matters doesn't it?

And as the Anon correctly said Jim did the same thing last year when declaring that the elderly who do want the preacher to wear a tie are spiritually immature, and that there are people in the congregation concerned about his not having a tie but not concerned about their coworkers going to hell.

They decry legalism week after week. Mac even slandered us as a "hotbed of legalism"...while his preacher boy Smyrl shows his own legalism by judging a man who dared suggest higher dress standards for youth. Shame.

Any wonder why Vines and Lindsay said preachers should be expositors of the Word, preaching verse by verse? We're living now through what happens when abusive preachers have agendas and pit members of the church against each other and misuse scripture.

God help us.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog:ll:27: These preachers are full of themselves. They make the mistake of thinking they are the authorities. This is where many of these "programs" come into the church. The Purpose Driven movement, the Theology Driven Ministry ( a Presbyterian brain child). It goes like this:" You people are so fortunate to have me here to show you what God has hidden from you UNTIL I got here." "Now let me and my INTELLIGENCE show you something."

It's a new wrinkle. Why can't these preachers HUMBLY preach the bible as written. It doesn't require a NEW slant, a NEW presentation. I think the preachers hide behind academia because they don't know the bible, or they arn't called in the first place to preach. But, they try to fool the people by spouting new programs, trying to make you believe they are the intelligent ones, and you are just the dumb church member that they have to "lead". These "new" programs are not some new revelations from God. You have't missed out all of these years. Do you really think God would have waited until someone came up with Theology Driven Ministry to tell you something new. I don't believe God has witheld anything "good" from us. Preach the Word, forget the gimmicks. Solomon said there is nothing new under the Sun.I think a good dose of humility might help many a preacher. Look at Dr. Lindsay, a humble, Godly man and what a preacher!!!

Anonymous said...

WD: You are correct. God is the only one who can help us as the deacon body cannot discern disaster when they see it. I guess they have been put on the guilt trip so long now that they are just closed mouths about anything that matters. I think some would like to change things but they have weak backbones. Someone questioned whether the church is a cult...well in some ways it seems that way. No accountability. No standards, setting one against the other, and for goodness sake do not bring up the term priesthood of the believer as it would disintegrate the authority of whoever is in charge.

Anonymous said...

Followup sermons on "The Iron Did Swim" by both Dr Lindsays is sort of like trying to redo Lincon's Gettysburg address. It can't be done and those that attempt such spiritual literary feats fall far short. Like wading through quicksand. I suggest they take a lesson from the producers of the second Gone With the Wind. Don't even bother. You will just show your ignorance and look childish. Those are way too big of pair's of shoes to fill.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog" You ask: "Is the Iron Still Swimming?" The answer is a resounding NO!! It is bogged down in the muck and mire of self service, egotism, profiteering eliteism. None of which is the mark of a God called preacher. Any self respecting preacher would admit that a mistake has been made here and find himself "called" elsewhere. The money expended so far should be an ample reward.

The situation at FBC is somewhat like a battlefield gone wrong. Where once the Commander was respected, trusted and a true warrior for the Lord, we now have a change in a leader that has divided his own army, pitted one against the other, and is losing ground in the battle for souls everyday. There is too much at stake here to forfeit the battle. The War for the lost, and the fight against the devil rages on.
Less we forget, Salvation, preaching the Word, ministering to the suffering, winning the lost to JESUS is {was} the hallmark of this church. Humility is gone from the pulpit. Replaced by an angry man. Instead of a Gen. MacArthur fighting to win souls we have an angry little Napolean that only wants to be "Emperor". Well you know that story...... Waterloo, Waterloo. How's that for a history lesson!!!

Anonymous said...

What is Loyal Heart Ministries? I found it on the Internet. Apparently, it is a 501 c (3), non-profit organization that actively seeks contributions. Is this a separate ministry for Jim Smyrl that provides him income in addition to his ministry at FBCJax?

Do all of the pastors and staff at FBCJax receive supplemental income with personal ministries?

Just curious.

it is written said...

Dr.Watchdog I am a local pastor and I have listened to countless sermons by great and not so great preachers.But after watching Brunson's sermon Sunday morning on the "Iron swimming" It has to be one of the WORST sermon's I have ever heard!And Brunson has a doctorate in theology....THIS GUY IS UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!