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.”

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Timely Article by Wade Burleson: Time to Get New Friends If.....

Readers: if you haven't already, visit Wade Burleson's site and read his article "It is Time to Get New Friends When....".

Wade writes:
"Friends who shame you, friends who harbor grudges against, friends who expect or demand certain performance from you, friends who are disappointed in you as a person, friends who won't forgive you, friends who don't/won't/can't give you freedom, friends who get angry with you and close off emotionally from you, and friends who expect/need certain things from you are saying, "I have placed you on a platform of performance expectations, and if you don't meet my expectations,  I want nothing to do with you."

This is so very true. It is one thing for those who don't know you to judge you and blame you and treat you as an enemy and the cause of their problems, but when it comes from within your own family and circle of long-time friends, it is especially hurtful. I know, I've been there. We all have.

But on the other hand, when those who differ with you, or even might be disappointed in you or think you're off your proverbial rocker and a heretic of sorts - or those you've mistreated yourself - still express love and patience and kindness toward you, that is when you see what Christianity should be about. I know this too, and have experienced it recently.

Sad thing is when we shame our friends and family members and hold grudges and expect performance and adherence to their doctrinal views in exchange for their acceptance - we are showing that we don't believe the bible, and we are denying the basic tenants of the faith we profess.

Thanks, Wade, for a timely article.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

As a Gift to Our Mothers and Daughters, Consider You May Be Wrong About the Doctrine of Male-Only Authority in the Church

Readers: Below is a re-posting of my 2011 Mother's Day post. Enjoy!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you WD-reading Mothers! I hope your day is filled with love and joy!

I want to take this Mother's Day as an opportunity to encourage all men who read this blog - for the good of your mothers, wives, daughters, and granddaughters - to consider that you just might be wrong about what the scriptures say about women and their subordinate role they must play in the church.

I know that the prevailing thought based on scriptures such as 1 Timothy 2 and the account of the fall in Genesis 3 is that women should be subservient to men, and that men should have authority over women, and that women are forbidden from teaching men, or holding certain offices in church.

I know, because I was taught that in Southern Baptist Churches my entire Christian life. I've been taught it by people in my family and by my baptist pastors for over two decades. It was when I heard of the firing of Dr. Sheri Klouda by Paige Patterson that I first considered that perhaps this doctrine that led to this tragic action taken by Patterson was wrong. I read a good portion of Patterson's deposition in the Klouda case a couple of years ago, and the absurdity of statements made by Patterson under questioning of Klouda's lawyer, Gary Richardson, further led me to believe that this doctrine of male authority in the church is counter to scripture and the will of God and required my further investigation.

And I have to say one of the turning points that caused me to dig even deeper, is last year when I came across Ergun Caner's "joke" at the 2007 Ohio Free Will Baptists Men's Retreat when he said that he believed women should be behind the pulpit...how else could they get back there to vacuum....and his jokes about "mutant granddaughters" barking like dogs. It made me sick that this sort of thing came from one of the most popular baptist preaching-circuit personalities.

So after much reading and research I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong, that in fact the bible does NOT teach that God's plan is for men to have authority over women, and that the Bible does NOT teach women are exempted from having leadership positions over men in the church. I may explore this topic in future posts as to the particular arguments for what I believe, but I want to in this post simply implore men to consider an alternative view by a conservative teacher that can be trusted in this area. His name is Jon Zens.

Jon Zens is a preacher and author that has spoken around the world, but mostly outside the institutional church which is why many Southern Baptists have not heard of him. He is a pastor of a church, but does not draw a salary. He has taught and lived out for years a different model of pastor, not of a pastor having authority over people, but of serving and being amongst the congregation as a servant. You can read Jon's bio here. Jon is a good friend of author Frank Viola ("Pagan Christianity"), and also of Cal Thomas who uses Jon as a reviewer and editor of his work. Jon and his wife Dottie are sweet Christians who in recent years have been involved in traveling to the Philippines to help women and children get out of the sex-slave trade.

I had the privilege of meeting Jon for lunch last September when he was in Jacksonville to do some teaching at a home church group here in Jacksonville, after which he traveled down to Gainesville to meet his friend Frank Viola and minister in that city. We talked over lunch about my family's experience at First Baptist, the journey I have traveled through my blog, and my views on tithing which Jon has written about for quite some time. Jon graciously shared with me a bag full of books and other materials related to topics I was writing about on my blog that he had written about.

What I would recommend for men (and women!) who are willing to just possibly consider they have been taught wrongly what the bible say about women is to listen to Jon Zens' 8-part teaching series he delivered at Wade Burleson's church last September. Click here to go to Emmanuel Baptist Church's video archive, and scroll down to September 2010 to see this teaching series. Also, Jon has written a book entitled "What's With Paul and Women", and another one out this year entitled "No Will of My Own - How Patriarchy Smothers Female Dignity and Personhood". Read Wade Burleson's forward to this latest book here at Wade's blog.

Let me give you a quote from Wade Burleson's foreward he wrote for Jon's book "What's With Paul and Women":
"The viper known as 'the doctrine of male authority' has bitten the church. the toxin emitted by this errant teaching affects the females within our assemblies. It debilitates their God-given gifts, denigrates their Spirit-led ministry, and downplays their role as new Covenant priests. Those of us who have seen the church bitten need assistance, and help has arrived. This book will help you suck out the venom of male-only authority within the church. It will do so by helping you be able to articulate Jesus' view of the equality of women and then revealing for you how Paul's words in 1 Timothy 2 are consistent with Jesus' own teaching and ministry. You will be able to point out to others how the modern institutional church has misconstrued and misinterpreted Paul's writings on the subject, while at the same time ignoring Jesus' words and life on the same subject."
So I hope this Mother's Day you will commit to at least consider the possibility that you have learned wrongly what the Bible says about women, and do further investigation starting with Jon Zens' bible teachings in this area. I believe this is so very, very important. I believe this wrong teaching that has infected our churches for so long is why we are reading about so much sexual abuse and cover-ups in our churches as Christa Brown has chronicled for years. I also firmly believe that the absence of women from any serious positions of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention or in our churches is why there is no movement at all toward reaching out at a denominational level to victims of pastoral abuse or establishing a database of credibly accused ministers to keep predator pastors from freely moving from church to church. Many of the problems we see in the SBC, I believe, are related to having women on the outside of the leadership circle.

So Happy Mother's Day...and please, men....as a gift to the women in your life, be open to what God might speak to you in this important area.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Celebration Church Cited by City of Jacksonville for Violation of Noise Pollution Ordinance

"This will be our final comment on the matter."  Celebration Church's response to citizens' complaints about excessive noise levels coming from the church.
Looks like Celebration Church has NOT made their final comment on the matter of their noisy worship services bothering the neighbors.

Stovall Weems and Celebration Church can no longer simply ignore the concerns of the residents of the Sweetwater subdivision over the noise pollution coming from their church.

This week Celebration Church received a "Notice to Correct" citation from the City of Jacksonville's Environmental Quality Division, for being in violation of the "Noise Polllution Control" regulations. The story here from First Coast News says that this past Sunday the city took noise level measurements and found "octave band violations" - meaning for certain sound frequencies the church exceeded the decibel levels allowed by the city. The church has until May 13th to correct these violations.

How sad - a church is in violation of the Noise Pollution ordinance of their city - and they refused to take action at the request of their neighbors, requiring the city resources to have to be spent to force them to take real corrective action.

I want to say congratulations to the citizens of Sweetwater. They did the right thing. They tried to handle this directly with the church over a span of about 6 months. They wrote letters requesting action by the church, and received little response or action from the church. The church's written reply to the citizens - prior to the city's EQD becoming involved - said in part:
"We are sincerely sorry if our services or events have disturbed any of our neighbors. At Celebration Church, we seek to serve and add value to our community. We have worked hard to incorporate exterior noise reduction into the design of our campus on RG Skinner Parkway. With these efforts, even the highest volume levels inside the sanctuary are minimized to a level that is barely audible outside the building.....This will be our final comment on this matter. Thank you so much for your inquiry."
How arrogant. "This will be our final comment on this matter." they said. Not so fast, Stovall and Celebration Church. It absolutely will not be your final comment. You might be able to ignore the citizens' complaints and say that your music is "barely audible", but the city doesn't agree, and they are dealing with engineering measurements, not your opinion. In fact they found you in violation of the Noise Pollution ordinance of the city.

Stovall and CC, we hope you are more responsive to the City of Jacksonville officials than you were to either the citizens of Sweetwater, or to First Coast News, who you refused to grant an interview to discuss the citizens' concerns. You could have answered this question months ago: did you hire an engineering company to take octave decibel readings at the perimeter of your property during services to prove you were in compliance? If so, you could have provided that to the citizens, or to First Coast News.

It is quite sad that a church couldn't handle this themselves, without the city having to spend its resources to discover octave band violations. The church could have detected these violations - or just heard the neighbors concerns and they could've tone down the music accordingly. I've been in the church before, and it is the loudest noise I have ever heard as it actually vibrated by innards - and I've been to my share of indoor rock concerts. There is plenty of room for their music levels to be reduced.

Last night the Twitter account of Celebration Church posted this Tweet:

Yes, the Watchdog and the citizens of Sweetwater have a prayer request, Celebration Church pastors and prayer teams. We hope your pastors will pray that your noise levels will be in compliance with city code next Sunday during worship.

Here is the prayer that you can pray, Celebration:
"Dear Heavenly Father, we pray that this Sunday when the EQD takes more sound measurements, that we will be below 75 decibel levels on the octave ranges of 31.5 Hz, 63 Hz, and 125 Hz, and 250 Hz, when our cool bass player and drummer is the loudest - so that we don't have to pay any fines for our violations."

Or better yet - don't pray. Just turn down the dang amplifiers. God can hear your praise just fine at 50 dB.