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, October 31, 2013

Problem With Furtick Not That He is Wealthy, But Accumulation of Wealth Occurred BECAUSE He is a Pastor

Over at Pajama Pages, an anonymous commenter "Josh" posted a lengthy comment that was worthy of featuring here. Below is the comment in its entirety, with some highlights by me.

But first a few comments of why I really like Josh's post.

Josh's comments below touch on some of the issues of why this blog began in 2007. I had my own eyes opened up to the same sort of thing: pastors made wealthy simply BECAUSE they are pastors. Pastors who view the church as a business - THEIR business - THEIR FAMILY business. They hire marketing consultants, they use the church resources to build their own brand, to sell their own goods. They view Christians as customers, as impersonal "giving units" who generate revenue for their godly pursuits.

And good people allow it. They defend it. They encourage it. As Josh says, the mentality is that if something is good for the CEO/pastor, it is good for the church. And people who give the money are not allowed to see the details of how it is spent, especially on CEO/pastor compensation. If you scan the early days of this blog, what Josh writes about are concerns I had in my own church, and I couldn't believe that good people in a good church would allow this sort of thing to go on. I figured if more people knew, they would do something. Thus the blog.

I was wrong. And that is why Steven and Perry and Ed will keep on trucking. The consumers are brand loyal. This will be a very minor speed bump for Steven. The only question is: is this business ("church") model sustainable in the long run? As James Duncan wrote yesterday, perhaps not.

Lastly, in a strange way I might give MORE leeway to Steven Furtick and Perry Noble than I would most other celebrity mega church pastors in this: at least Steven built his OWN business ("church") from the ground up, with ZERO members. He just didn't come in behind other pastors and assume the throne and the perks, be anointed the king and get a sweet land deal and immediately build a huge house and put his family on staff and turn the church into his own family business.

Steven has built quite a successful business, and feels he is justified in making lots of money. In his response to the congregation, he emphasized how he started the church with just 4 families.

It is Steven's business, he started it, he is the CEO.

Here is Josh's post:

The problem with Furtick isn’t that he’s rich, or even that he’s a rich pastor. The problem is that he’s rich because he’s a pastor. If professing Christian Steven Furtick started a successfully bakery, retail store or construction company in 2006 that was incredibly successful, so much so that he could buy a 3 million dollar home, few would criticize him for enjoying his earnings. In fact, the world and people in the church generally look favorably on successful Christian businessmen. No one questions how Truett Cathy spends his Chick-fil-a money, for example.

The problem is that Furtick and others got their money by turning the church into a business. Pastors like Furtick are obsessed with business leadership because they fashion themselves as the CEO and identify more with celebrity CEOs like Steve Jobs than with non-celebrity pastors. Decisions are made by the CEO to build the brand, to create a larger customer base, to increase the giving margin, and to expand into new opportunities. Church personnel decisions are made in the same way. Is the youth pastor growing the youth brand? Is the worship pastor stylish enough? While such decisions are constrained at some point by biblical considerations…they aren’t going to hire a guy who publicly rejects the bible…the biblical standards of Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 aren’t really considerations. 

This creates two problems, though. One, churches aren’t businesses and aren’t supposed to be run as such. There is nothing wrong with Macy’s developing a non-fraudulent pricing and promotional strategy designed to extricate consumers with as many spending dollars as possible. Macy’s should offer products and services designed to produce high margin income. But churches aren’t businesses. The pastor shouldn’t spend time developing (or more likely purchasing from consultants) “offering talks,” or message series, or coaching services, or conferences with a goal of increasing the church’s income. The church shouldn’t be selling books and tshirts and lattes and bibles or anything else. God’s house is not a house of merchandise!

So when the Furticks of the Christian world stand up and talk about money (and they talk about money a lot!) it sounds a lot like Macy’s running television commercials for their two-day after Thanksgiving sale. When they preach on tithing (a subject on which bible believing Christians can easily disagree), it sounds self-serving because it is self-serving. Is it Furtick the preacher of God’s word talking, or Furtick the CEO of Elevation Church, Inc. talking? Nothing has changed in two thousand years. A pastor cannot serve two masters.

The second problem is the conflict of interest between the company (the church) and the CEO (the pastor.) Former GM CEO Charles Wilson reputedly once claimed that “What’s good for GM is good for the country.” (A misquote, but that’s not the point here.) Celebrity CEO Pastors seem to believe that what’s good for the Lead Pastor is good for the church. That’s why they freely write and promote books on “church time” and bring in other celebrity CEO pastors to “teach” (with undisclosed and sizable speaking fees). Does Furtick invite Craig Groeshel to teach for $____ because Groeshel brought in Furtick to teach at Lifechurhc for $_____? No one knows because it’s all a big, big secret. Is the five week sermon series on “Sun Stand Still Prayers” for the edification of the church, or to promote the CEO’s new book, which is conveniently for sale in the church bookstore. Building the CEO’s profile will help him sell books, increase his demand as a guest speaker, and feed his ego. But does it benefit the church? None of your business.

The clear conflict of interest is exacerbated by an utter lack of accountability. Sure, if Furtick gets caught sleeping with his cute personal assistant (which has happened in at least two smaller CEO-style churches I’m aware of), he couldn’t salvage his position. But no one from inside his inner circle is going to question his business dealings, his use of church time to work on and promote his books, his purchase of his own and friends books by the church, his speaking fee at churches with mutual relationships, or his promotional choice of message series. Anyone from the inside who did ask such impertinent questions would suddenly find themselves on the outs, and in a personality driven organization, loss of access to the leader is a dire sanction. Outsiders in the media or blog may ask questions, but they won’t get answers. And the rank and file members will stay on and keep giving.

Josh is so right: outsiders in the media or blog may ask questions, but they won't get answers.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Steven Furtick Has a "Walter White" Problem: What Do I Do With this Boatload of Cash?

Readers, if you want to read the most important article written so far analyzing the Steven Furtick mansion issue, please read the analysis of Dr. James Duncan at his Pajama Pages blog.

Duncan explains what Steven's root problem is regarding his money: he has a "Walter White" problem. Walter White is the main character of the hit TV series "Breaking Bad" who had gained so much money from his side business, but yet he really couldn't spend it for fear of the source and magnitude of his fortune would become known. Get the picture? Read this article, it is masterful.

You might say who is James Duncan? Well, James is a blogger who dared to write some articles that were mildly critical of Perry Noble and NewSpring church about 4 or 5 years ago. His family then suffered much at the hands of Noble's minions who sought to harass and harm Duncan, including the disruption of an adoption an attempts to get Duncan fired from his position at Anderson University - and it led to a lawsuit settled earlier this year.

Duncan probably more than any other person has experienced the ugliness of the cult-like mentality that exists in churches like Furtick's and Noble's, where followers view critics as the enemy. They view themselves as God's agents to protect "God's man", and Noble's preaching during this period against bloggers fueled his followers actions against Dr. Duncan. Like me, he has gone through the grueling process of suing a mega church, and the legal discovery process that ensues. Like me, Duncan has sat down face to face with these men and their minions, and watched them answer questions posed by their lawyer. What you see on the platform ain't what you see of these people in real life - both Duncan and myself can attest to that.

And Duncan did prevail, choosing to settle out of court for an undisclosed amount of money for the very real damage done to he and his family.

Duncan is an excellent writer - he is a professor of Communications at Anderson University, and he knows what he is talking about in these matters. And he has more to add to the Furtick saga, so stay tuned to his blog.

Read his Furtick analysis - and his conclusions at the end are some that I really hadn't considered before: the likely outcome of all this money being dumped in the laps of these seeker-friendly celebrity pastors.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Caner - Before and After 9/11 Shots

Below are two pictures of Ergun Caner, courtesy of the Twitterer @caner_repent.

At left is "Butch Caner", or "E. Michael Caner", before the tragedy of 9/11.

At right is the transformed Caner, who now goes by "Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Caner".

Before 9/11 I never saw the George Costanza look-alike on the mega church circuit. He was not famous. He was just a guy who grew up in Ohio from three years of age and became a preacher.

Just a few weeks after 9/11, my former pastor Jerry Vines brought the new version - not Costanza, but the new "former terrorist" version - into my church, and told us he was trained in Islamic Jihad, and he said:  "until I came to America, until I found Jesus Christ, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September".

And the trained terrorist said it with an accent and rolled r's. And he told us he couldn't speak good English in high school.

We were tricked. Bamboozled. We were preyed on, out of our fear from the events of 9/11, we wanted proof that our faith was real, that our faith COULD protect us, that it could change even one of those evil terrorists. And our pastor obliged, and presented what we so much wanted.

But it wasn't real at all. It was fake and contrived, right there on the platform of our church.

And thus was born "Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Caner".

The more time passes, the more sickening and surreal it all seems.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

More Tithing Madness: "Give by Revelation, Not By Reason" Says Rick Warren

We are in the last weekend of October, and you know what that means: the last Sunday that your pastor has to deliver his Malachi 3:10, "bring the tithe" sermon during the month of October.

So in keeping with the time of the year, I wanted to share a quote from a Rick Warren article entitled
"8 Reasons Believers Give to Your Church" that appeared on the Pastors.com website October 24th, 2013. Rick Warren is probably the one man that most evangelical pastors look to for guidance on how to grow their church. If you wonder why your pastor this Sunday is going to be illogical and manipulative in discussing what the bible says about tithing read this gem from Rick to his fellow pastors:
"Teach people that they can either give by reason or by revelation. Giving by reason means this – I look at what I have, I figure out what’s reasonable and I commit that amount. It doesn’t take any faith to give by reason. I just figure out what can I afford to give. Giving by revelation means I determine my gift by praying “Lord, what do You want to give through me?” This requires faith. When you give by revelation, you’re committing an act of worship and saying, 'How much am I willing to trust God?' "

Doesn't this explain why pastors lie to their congregations about a non-existent 10% Old Testament tithe (it really is 23 1/3%) that applies to Christians in order to avoid a "devourer"? The pastors want you to NOT use reason - they want you to have "faith" and give by "revelation". And where do the pastors want this "revelation" to come from? From your pastor standing in a pulpit and telling you that Malachi 3:10 means you are robbing God unless you tithe, and that the devil (or God, depending on the verse they use) will steal the tithe from you anyways. Or that it's not your money anyways, or that your money needs to be "redeemed" by giving the first fruits, etc. etc. That is not revelation, it is lies and manipulation.

How far has modern evangelical Christianity fallen that we are just flat out telling people to not use reason in important matters like giving? One place a father, a mother, a husband and wife - or a young person just starting out - must use logic, reason, and planning, is in the area of their finances. But Rick Warren turns this upside down suggesting to use reason in figuring out how much to give to one's church is to have a LACK of faith. It is not "trusting God" to give by revelation instead of reason - it IS trusting your pastor, and your pastor is wrong if he is telling you this nonsense.

I say pastors who preach this manipulative nonsense are the ones without faith. They don't trust their God to provide the resources for their salary and their church by being honest to people about what the bible says regarding finances.

So have some faith, pastors. God will provide, right?

By using reason, and planning, and careful discussion - looking for the immediate and future financial needs of your spouse and children, you THEN determine how much you can give to your church. Do NOT give by "faith" - meaning don't give the first 10% and think you're being super spiritual waiting for God to give you the rent and electric by month's end. That is illogical, unbiblical, and just plain stupid.

If your reason leads you to being able to give 10% or more, and you purpose in your heart that this is what you want to give to your church, give it. If it is 1%, or 0.5%, then give it cheerfully and don't feel bad. I hear stories every day of people's homes in foreclosure, they've been unemployed or underemployed for months - and these are very decent, honorable Christians who are suffering. Yet their pastor will put a guilt trip on them about robbing God, or worse yet that they are in the financial shape they are in because they didn't tithe.

And pastors, by the way: when we use reason in determining what we give, that does glorify God. God gave us brains, and he gave us the ability to reason.

And God gave us the reasoning ability to detect religious nonsense from a man of God.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Local Jacksonville Connection to the Steven Furtick Story: Stovall Weems on Board That Votes on Furtick's Salary


Last night Stuart Watson's 2nd installment of his investigation into the Elevation Church and Steven Furtick's finances - and Furtick's new $1.7M, 16,000 square foot mansion on 19 acres - aired on WCNC in Charlotte.

And there is a Jacksonville connection to this very hot story that has Steven Furtick's finances under a microscope: as Watson reports our own Jacksonville mega church pastor Stovall Weems of Celebration Church is or was one of the five friends Furtick recruited to make up a so-called "Board of Overseerers" that votes on Furtick's salary!

But that is not all. As reported by Watson, there seems to be a conflict of interest involved with Weems and two of the other 4 "board of overseers" in that they personally have financial connections to the Elevation Church. As reported in the story:

"The board of overseers is made entirely of other mega church pastors just like Steven Furtick. 'The financial well-being of all of these guys are intimately intertwined'. That means Steven Furtick agrees to pay them to preach at Elevation [including Stovall, pictured above] and they pay him to preach at their conferences or mega churches."

So how on earth is it justified that men who earn money from Elevation Church by speaking at Furtick's church - yet have no official connection to the church itself - are on the board that sets his salary, yet none of the members who pay for the salary are able to find out what that number is?

The one Elevation Church official who IS speaking to Stuart Watson confirms that men like Stovall
do get paid for their speaking gigs at Elevation, but the pay is "small in scope". But he won't give any ranges of numbers.

Maybe I can help. I wrote about this practice two years ago in an article entitled "Modern Day 'Circuit Riders' - Traveling Mega Church Pastors Finding Another Way to Fleece the Flocks and Recycle Their Sermons." And in that article I wrote:
"Insiders tell me that visiting preachers at mega churches will earn up to $3000 for a Sunday morning sermon, or $5000 if they do the hard work of staying over and preaching the Sunday evening sermon also. But I'm sure they have not one iota of guilt, since they tithe on the money, which makes them super spiritual.

Not bad scratch. If they earn $3000 in addition to their travel, meals and lodging, that is about $100 per minute for an average 30-minute sermon. Not an hour. A MINUTE. That is professional baseball player per minute money. While churches everywhere are seeing their revenue continue to decline, the mega church pastors are hot and heavy to get out on the circuit to get their share of the visiting preacher dollars. "
And that number of $3000 to $5000 is for a more "modest" SBC mega church here in Jax. I am going to go out on a limb and estimate that Furtick's bunch pays much more than that to its visiting Men of God. But of course we'll never know. It is all top secret.

And while I'm at it, let me quote myself again from this article of two years ago, because this circuit-riding practice gets worse - many of these pastors like Furtick pay other pastors to come in and "beat the sheep", or what I would call shake-down the congregation, to get them to give more money. I wrote:
"Sometimes preachers are brought in to do the dirty work of the pastor. One of the more brazen moves was Perry Noble of NewSpring church hiring Robert Morris to come in for two straight weeks to beat up the sheep over tithing, telling them of the curse on them and their money unless they gave Perry's church 10% of their income. Shameless."
As I said yesterday, I'm glad reporters like Stuart Watson are finally reporting on these practices that are fleecing congregations all over our country, and which will eventually drive evangelical Christianity into the ground as all of this is exposed.

And I highly, highly recommend that members of mega church pastors here in Jacksonville read the Wartburg Watch article yesterday, "Steven Furtick Proves That It Is Time to Stop Giving to the Local Church."  Dee and Deb give EXCELLENT advice to members of today's modern church regarding their financial support of their church.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Watch This Video - Humorously Makes the Point Why You Can't Trust Steven's Friends to Set His Salary

As we await installment 2 of Stuart Watson's expose discussing Furtick's friends who help set his salary, I want to post this video from almost two years ago.

This video shows how much Steven and his buddies love and adore each other. How on earth can these guys who absolutely slobber over each other be the ones who hold each other accountable financially or otherwise?

In the video notice how Craig Groeschel plugs Steven's book. They tell their respective congregations just how lucky they are to have their Man of God as their pastor.

And if you can make it all the way to the end, you'll see Steven tell the story of how thrilled he was when his friend Craig Groeschel flew on a plane to surprise Steven and be the one to introduce him before he spoke. 

Watch this video. It is funny.

But very creepy.

"The House of Steven" - Charlotte TV Station Asks the Tough Questions About Furtick's Money - Exposes Cult of Personality


Last night WCNC in Charlotte aired Stuart Watson's expose on the Steven Furtick $1.7 Million mansion being built on 19 acres. The Charlotte Observer also has posted an article about Furtick. Looks like Satan is busy attacking Steven there in Charlotte. Perhaps even two helicopters were flown over Stevens "not so great of a house".

Watch it. It is fair. Stuart Watson did everything he could to get Furtick and Elevation to talk to him, but Furtick and Elevation must be taking Paige Patterson's advice and not giving answers to the media.

Much of the ground Stuart covers in this piece has been covered by bloggers such as yours truly over the past several years.

Here are some of the most important points made by Stuart, and some that we've covered that need to be emphasized:

1. Lack of Transparency: Watson points out that the church will not give out exact numbers on the sums of money involved in the book deal. How much were the advances, how much did the publisher pay Elevation for the promotions, how much did Furtick donate? Furtick's salary? All top secret, always will be. They have to be. If the numbers were known, it would hurt giving. An easy decision for the church. Total secrecy. I've written about this numerous times, including here.

2.  Cult of Personality: Furtick is a rockstar. Watson makes that clear. Furtick IS the brand. That is the model of the modern mega or giga church. People want their pastor to be famous. They want him to be "edgy", a bit controversial, and even confrontational. He has to be these things because after all, a pastor is fighting Beelzebub himself and is in the business of saving souls.  Ed Stetzer warned about the cult of personality back in 2009. Furtick is a classic example of this phenomena. And if you want a laugh, please check out this video of the "Pastor's Mutual Admiration Society" - one of my best - Furtick and Groeschel singing each others' praises.

3. Pastors Using Their Churches for Marketing and Personal Brand Building: I have been writing about this sickening trend for 7 years (here and here and here for example). I saw it thrust in my face at my former church, and now it is something common place. Pastors use the resources of the church to market their books, their video tapes, their Holy Land trips, their trips down the Danube River, you name it. As Chris Rosebrough points out in Watson's piece, it is the modern day version of the moneychangers in the temple.

4. Megachurches are More "Business" and Less "Church": As Watson shows how money flows back and forth between book publisher, Furtick, and the church, and the church members have no clue about the amounts - we see the cold hard truth. Elevation and others like it are just big businesses who operate as tax-exempt 501(c)3 religious organizations. But they want their followers to think it is the "church of the living God" - and thus they are obligated to support it with the first 10% of their income.

5. Manipulative Methods for Raising Revenue: What the untold story is HOW Elevation raises money. Their financial strategy is to tell members they are cursed by God (or devoured by the devil) unless they give 10% of their income. Furtick has had Robert Morris in to shake down the congregation.

And tomorrow night Stuart Watson will present the 2nd part: who the men are that decide Furtick's salary. They are other mega church pastors, not the members, not elders or trustees elected by the members.

So glad men like Stuart Watson are letting their light shine where it needs to be shone.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Robert Morris Shakedown at LifeChurch: Don't Pay Rent or Electric Bill Until FIRST You Pay the Church - Or 100% of Your Money is Cursed

"Don't give the first portion [of your income] to the mortgage company because the mortgage company does not have the power to bless your finances. Only God does. Don't give the first portion to the electric company, the electric company cannot bless your finances, only God can. Would you rather live with 100% of your income and all of it cursed, or 90% of your income and all of it blessed. That's what the Bible says." Robert Morris at Life Church, October 2013
Above is more October tithing nonsense from Robert Morris - but to be fair, he delivers his any month of the year.

Robert Morris was invited this month to preach his first-fruits, multiplication tithing gobbledygook to Craig Groeschel's Life Church - touted as the largest church in North America with 46,000 members at multiple sites. Craig's church is starting a new fund-raising drive called "Multiply" (by 0.9 apparently), and he brought the master tithing shake down artist Robert Morris to kick things off.

When Robert goes to these churches all over the country he basically gives the same message: that your income is cursed, and needs to be "redeemed" by you forking over the first 10% of it to your church. If you don't do this, God will take it anyways, and you'll be cursed, and your family, marriage, children are all at risk from a "devourer".

It is hard to believe that someone who spews such nonsense is taken seriously, but he is. The only thing more disturbing than what he says, is that pastors actually invite this man and expose the people they are supposed to be helping to this man's garbage that will either hurt them financially, or turn them against Christianity altogether.  I saw it happen here in my own home town of Jacksonville, Florida, when Stovall Weems of Celebration Church - now the largest church in Jacksonville - had Robert in to preach a few months ago.

And some advice from the Watchdog that is based on truth and not fables, that is designed to help you and not hurt you:

"Do give the first, and biggest and most generous payments to the mortgage and to the electric company - and to your kids' college education and to your wife and to your retirement account - BEFORE giving large sums of money to your church. Don't ever, EVER, put the needs of a 501(c) organization above the immediate and long-term needs of your family and then be fool enough to say you're doing it for Jesus. Furthermore, the church does not have the willingness or the ability to "bless you" financially, and all of the aforementioned DO have the ability to bless you as they will return services commensurate with the payments you make."

And THAT, Robert, is what the bible says. Like here:

"People who don’t take care of their relatives, and especially their own families, have given up their faith. They are worse than someone who doesn’t have faith in the Lord." I Tim 5:8

Friday, October 18, 2013

Patterson to Pastors: Don't Talk to the Press, They Can't Possibly Get it Right in the "World of Unbelief"

More lunacy coming from leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention. As Bob Allen reports today in the Associated Baptist Press, Paige Patterson told the soon-to-be men of God at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in chapel this week:

“This also means that you don’t take matters to the press. What goes on in the church of God doesn’t go to the press...I’m not going to talk to the press about things that are matters internal to the church of the Living God. It is none of their business. And they can’t possibly get it right, and they don’t get it right, so why do you take it to the world of unbelief? Whether that be the court, whether that be the press? 'Well there’s just no other way to handle it.’ Yes there is. Commit it to the Lord God Almighty.” 

I hope the students at SWBTS can see just how stupid this is. Telling pastors that they should not talk to members of the press because they are "the world of unbelief".

First of all, why the presumption that the press "can't possibly get it right". What is "it"? He must mean that they can't accurately report truth or facts about something that happens in a church that might be of interest to the public. If the press can't get it right because they are "the world of unbelief", and that pastors should "commit it to the Lord God Almighty", then why does that JUST work in matters of the press? Why not in medicine? Why not just commit your health to "the Lord God Almighty"? Why go to a doctor, after all he or she operates in the "world of unbelief".

This is just another example of how pastors in the SBC are being trained to think they are some special anointed class of Christian that answers to absolutely no one but God himself.

And another reason why religious institutions will eventually lose their tax-exempt status. They don't want to participate in the basic rules of right in our society - like the press being a force to keep large institutions in check. Pastors and their churches are above answering to the local reporter apparently, they are "the church of the living God" and don't answer to anyone in the press.

Not to worry, the common folk will get the word out about misbehaving pastors and idiotic theology and doctrine via blogs, and the common folk in churches will continue to talk to the press when it is necessary.

And pastors, whatever you do, don't talk to recalcitrant bloggers. And don't go to those doctors who use science and medicine to heal people - they are in the "world of unbelief". Just trust the Lord God Almighty to heal you.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October - The Month of Tithing Madness, Pastors Breaking Bad, Becoming "Tithesenberg"

I'm not sure what it is about the month of October, but this is the month that so many pastors "break bad" - they may be wonderful preachers preaching helpful sermons and preaching from the bible honestly and truthfully all year. Like the transformation of  "Breaking Bad's" Walter White from mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher into the infamous "Heisenberg", in October some pastors will turn: they now will tell you grand stories about Malachi 3, about your obligation to "tithe", even scare you and your loved ones to get you to give more money than you can afford to your church.

All from a man who is supposed to help you and give you solid spiritual advice - and should know better - and perhaps DOES know better, but still does it. These pastors may be truthful all year - but come October they feel the need to lie to their congregations about their duty to fork over 10% of one's income - the first 10% - to the church. They won't tell you that the OT tithe was 23 1/3%. They will tell you Jesus endorsed the tithe. They will even tell you that Hebrews says Jesus personally receives your tithe. Usually they will roll out Malachi Chapter 3, and somehow connect an Old Testament practice for the nation of Israel to modern day financial support of 501(c)3 religious organizations.

October 2010 was when I first noticed this October phenomenon - that was the month when some of the absolutely most ridiculous teachings about giving 10% to the church were rolled out:

- America is going to be judged by God for all the lousy non-tithing Americans.

- People who don't tithe are "wasting their time" coming to church.

- God will "poof", blow your money away in the wind if you don't tithe, e.g. "God collects on what he is owed". Like a loan shark.

And this October is no different.

I've got more clips this month from Robert Morris, Craig Groeshell, and Steve Gaines yet to come. And we are only half way through October.

So peeps, if your pastor tries to lay a guilt trip on you this month - if he tries to make you feel less of a Christian for not being "faithful" enough to tithe - if he tries to scare you into thinking you're at financial risk from God and the "devourer" for your poor giving: just remember, he doesn't quite know what he is doing. He might actually think he is trying to help you. Or he might know what he is saying is not true but trying to raise revenue for his church and he knows that teaching tithing "works".

Either way, just smile, nod, and ignore his teaching on Malachi 3. Pray for him. Don't engage him in a conversation about it. And for heaven's sake don't send an anonymous email.

And continue to practice New Testament giving: cheerfully, as YOU have decided in your heart what to give. And always put your family and children FIRST in your finances, not the church.

And wait for November.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pat Robertson Shows Craziness of the Tithing Doctrine If Taken to Logical Conclusion

If you haven't heard the latest craziness from Pat Robertson, this one is worth a listen.

He tells one of his elderly viewers on a fixed income that they still must tithe their paltry income in order to "rebuke the devourer". He even says that her husband is sick precisely because she is not tithing.

"Your husband has all these medical problems because the 'devourer' has not been rebuked. You need to rebuke him. You give your tithes faithfully and God said 'I will rebuke the devourer, the person that is eating up your money and eating up your health.'"

That is Pat's response to an elderly woman asking Pat if she should continue to tithe on her fixed income despite being poor. She wonders if she should instead use tithe money to pay for her husband's medial expenses. Sad to think that she doesn't know the answer to the question, sadder still that she thinks Pat Robertson is the person who can give her the answer.

Before you dismiss this as just "crazy 'ole Pat" doing what he does...consider that he is logically extending the tithing nonsense that evangelical preachers like Steve Gaines, Perry Noble, Robert Morris, Ed Young and others teach to their followers. Pat is practically applying the false theology that a Christian is obligated to fork over their first 10% of income to the church in order to secure God's blessings and to avoid God's cursings.

As nutty as Pat sounds, if what Robert Morris and Perry Noble and Steve Gaines and Ed Young preaches on tithing is true, then what Pat is saying makes perfect sense - that yes, even an elderly person on Social Security should FIRST give 10% of her Social Security check to Ed Young's church before she thinks about paying for her husband's medical care. And oh by the way, if she would only give more money, her husband wouldn't be so sick in the first place.

Hence, as more of these mega church pastors push this storehouse tithing nonsense, the more modern evangelicalism is moving down a road that is not sustainable beyond the current generation of gullible sheep who tolerate it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ergun Caner Platform Guest at Richard Land's Inauguration - Then Speaking at Ravi Zacharias' Conference

The unrepentant Ergun Caner continues his comeback.

As you see at left, Ergun Caner is on the platform while Richard Land is inaugurated as the new president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES).

And then, starting tomorrow Caner is a featured speaker at an apologetics conference hosted at SES, and presented by Ravi Zacharias' International Ministries.

Why a seminary would want to feature Ergun Caner - a man who build a fortune and a reputation based on documented lies about his background - on the platform as their seminary president is inaugurated, is way beyond comprehension. Caner not only has never explained or publicly apologized for his decade of deceit - he is now even suing a pastor for posting on the Internet one of Caner's most egregious offenses, posing as an Arabic-speaking man who was raised in the Middle East while speaking to our Marines during a training session.

I suppose this is just another example of the sorry state of modern evangelicalism. Truth and honor in leadership is not important. Christian virtues of asking for forgiveness and telling the truth no matter the cost are not what are valued in Christian leaders. What is important is whether the man is talented story teller, can he draw and work a crowd, and can he raise revenue. And Caner is a good friend of Norman Geisler, one of the founders and former president of SES. So THAT is important too these days: who do you know.

I couldn't help but notice this irony of Caner speaking at the conference being presented by Zacharias: read this featured quote of Zacharias on the conference webpage:

"In Christian engagement, the goal is to win the person who is of the other worldview - not to destroy the person." Ravi Zacharias

Someone forgot to tell Ravi about Caner's history of uttering racial and ethnic slurs to audiences. He has spoken ugly stereotypes of Muslims, blacks and Hispanics - all to get a laugh and entertain his audiences, under the guise of being an olive-skinned "minority" himself.

Caner is not a person to put forth to help persuade people of other worldviews concerning the claims of the Christian faith. To the contrary, Caner himself is an obstacle - especially to Muslims.

Perhaps if Ravi Zacharias had seen the Ergun Caner tweets below from earlier this year he might think twice about sponsoring an apologetics conference that includes Ergun Caner.  A conference whose goal is to help lovingly "win" people of other worldviews - should not include Ergun Caner. Caner is the antithesis of this strategy - as the tweets below demonstrate:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Acts 29 Pastor Asks: "Have You Had a Spiritual Prostate Exam"? They're Only $99 at the Acts 29 "Raleigh Boot Camp"

I shall file this under: "Pastors say the darnedest things".

Pastor Geoff Bradford says the following in his article this week on the Acts 29 blog:

"Once you hit 40, well, they do bad, bad things to you at the doctor's office. The worst, of course, is the prostate exam....if you were up for a spiritual prostate exam, if your spiritual blood work were up for review; how healthy would you really be?"

Interesting use of the graphic imagery of a digital rectal exam or DRE - drawing an analogy between a DRE and a much needed pastoral "spiritual prostate exam". Their churches need the pastor to get this exam because as Geoff says, "Let's face it: healthy pastor, healthy church. Sick pastor, sick church."

And where do you go to get this extremely important spiritual rectal exam? According to Geoff you can get one at the Acts 29 "boot camp" in November. And it only costs $99.

So pastors, sign up and head to Raleigh in November for your SRE. The health of your church depends on it!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Robert Morris Lays Down the Law: Non-Tithers are "Arrogant" and "Thieves" And Subject to Demon Possession

"Listen to me carefully, I'm going to say something very strong: Any person that doesn't tithe is arrogant, because you believe you can make it your way and not doing it God's way. And you HAVE to be arrogant to steal from God. You have to be extremely arrogant to steal from God. And please understand if you don't tithe, that's an open door to demons...and I don't say that to make you feel condemned or to argue about tithing. And no matter how many doors you close in your life, if you're not a tither, you've got an open door to the 'enemy'."  Robert Morris 9/30/13"
If it wasn't bad enough already with Robert Morris telling Christians everywhere they must tithe to "rebuke the devourer", to avoid divorce, to protect your kids - now Robert Morris has thrown down the gauntlet. Now non-tithers are thieves - they're arrogant, AND they are subject to demon possession.

Yes, demon possession. You know, an "open door" to demons. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? 

This sort of nonsense from Morris - this abuse, really is what it is - declaring Christians at his church to be thieves, that they are arrogant (look at the video and his finger pointing - just who is the most arrogant person in his massive auditorium?) - that no matter how good they are in other areas of their Christian life if they don't fork over 10% they are still subject to little devils ruining their lives - is so laughable given that Gateway markets themselves as being "all about people"

Really? "All about people"? Robert Morris loves "people"? What sort of a man tells his congregation that the 80% of them that don't tithe (probably more) are arrogant and criminals and will have opened themselves to demons entering their lives? That isn't love. What sort of a madman tells Christian people looking for spiritual hope that because they can't give 10% of their income that their resources will be consumed by some unseen "devourer"?

And his finger-pointing, and his emphasis: "Listen to me very carefully, I'm going to say something very strong..." And his emphasis of the primacy and urgency of this single matter of tithing in a person's life by saying "No matter how many doors you close in your life, if you're not tithing..."

To Robert, there is nothing more important in a Christian's life, nothing that will determine your life's outcome, than how much money you give.

Robert, let me tell you something. Read carefully, this is very strong: You are abusing the people of your church. You should be ashamed. I wished that people just heard you and laughed it off and smiled and dismissed your claims as fairy tales. But I hear grown men on the video amen'ing your nonsense so I know many are taking you seriously.

You've turned the "good news" into very, very bad news.

Robert, that morning you were the most arrogant man in the church building.  Look in the mirror, Robert. YOU are the arrogant one.

And I dare say perhaps YOU and your family members who draw fat salaries from the offerings of these people you are abusing with your yarns are more apt to be seen as thieves.

But I will stop short of claiming your false teaching has opened a door to the devils and demons and devourers - I wouldn't ever stoop that low, Robert.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Furtick Prepares His Church for News Report About His 16,000 SF "Not That Great of a House" Mansion

Steven Furtick, the pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC, is building a 16,000 square foot mansion - and according to Furtick an investigative reporter is asking questions about where the money came from.

In the middle of his sermon on "suffering" last week, Furtick told his church how HE is suffering for the Lord: by having to endure an investigative reporter ask questions about the financing of his mansion. Wow, the pain and suffering of mega church pastors - how DO they endure such hardships? They must really love Jesus to suffer so much.

Watch the excerpt below from this sermon:

In the video you saw that Furtick is preparing his congregation for the investigative report by claiming the reporter "wants to make our church look bad", and characterizes him as "a guy who might not like us."

It will be interesting if the investigative reporter gets anyone at Elevation to talk -  since Furtick's  church requires members and volunteers to sign a  "Confidentiality Agreement", that prohibits anyone from disclosing:

"...the Church's finances, including personal financial/salary information related to the staff, the Church's financial statements, balance sheets, offerings information, cash flow, forecasts, and cost analyses."

And I'll leave you from a quote from Steven's Emmy-worthy performance on his "Hey Hater's" video, that I think accurately depicts the disdain that Furtick must have for a pesky reporter who wants answers to his questions about a local pastor building a mansion:

"Fall back! It's a new day! 'Cause we're not looking for approval from you, who give no respect and never neglect the chance to complain. Are you going to criticize, or create? Waste your time, casting stones, breaking bones, belittling everyone you consider opposed?...A new light has dawned to still the tongue of the cynic..."

Yes, a new light has dawned at Elevation Church, all right. It is the light of the free press, and the light of the inquisitive mind of an investigative reporter who has questions, and who wants answers.

Let your light shine, Mr. Investigative Reporter. Don't hide it under a bushel, let it shine, let is shine.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

NewSpring Members Asked to Choose Sermons - #1 Sermon They Voted? "Is Interracial Dating and Marriage Wrong?"

Yes, the first sermon in Perry Noble's new sermon series "You Asked for It" - a sermon series whose sermon topics were chosen by the church members - will be devoted to a question that apparently is still bugging the Christians at NewSpring Church:

"Is interracial dating and marriage wrong?"

Who woulda thunk it - in 2013 the issue of interracial marriage is still up for debate in the minds of some Christians? I guess if you can be convinced that the Bible says you are required to give 10% of your income to the mega church down the street to "rebuke the devourer" and keep your car running longer and avoid sickness - then the question of whether interracial marriage is "wrong" might be something you are still confused about.

And who better to settle your confusion over the "sinfulness" of interracial dating and marriage - than Man of God Perry Noble. Perry is the master at tackling very difficult topics from the pulpit.

For instance, Noble helped the NewSpringers figure out that if they don't like his church music, they "officially suck as human beings". He also was able to explain the link between homosexuality and non-tithing Christians, and also was able to label his church members that are not sufficiently committed to his church, as "spiritual whores". No one but Perry could have delved into those difficult, perplexing problems.

So now, let's let Perry Noble settle the matter of interracial marriage in 2013.

Next week perhaps Perry can answer: Is the world flat?