31 May, 2007
Karen Tarville is not one to fool around. Among her friends, her family and her fellow church members she is known as a "no nonsense" kind of person. But recently her attitude towards others has become disturbing and is beginning to deeply trouble many around her.
It all began about five weeks ago during Tarville's Sunday School at the United Baptist Church in Victoria. The small adult class had been studying through the book of 1 Corinthians when they came to verses 4 & 5 of chapter five, where the Apostle Paul says in reference to the Corinthian man who is involved in immorality,
"In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
The class discussed the verses for several minutes and came to no conclusion, but members of the class reported to have noticed a "strange look" on Tarville's face.
"It almost looked as if Karen was smiling" said Crista Lindsey, a member of Tarville's Sunday School class. "She didn't say anything while we discussed the matter, which is strange, she just kept sitting there looking around the room with this strange smile on her face."
It was not until the following Sunday that a problem emerged.
"I was helping Karen get the coffee ready before Sunday School and everything was going fine" said Lindsey. "Then I told her that I had forgotten to bring the half-and-half from home. She suddenly just flew off the handle and started yelling at me. Then she got right up in my face and pointed her finger at me and said 'I'm delivering you over to Satan!'"
As the day progressed on, people began noticing Tarville's outbursts more and more as she one-by-one delivered people over to Satan.
"I don't have time to mess around" said Tarville. "I'm just following Scripture here. If I don't like what you're doing you can bet I'm going to deliver you over to Satan. It's the only way your spirit can be saved, so consider it an act of kindness."
Members of the congregation have become frustrated and angry over Tarville's attitude.
"I think she is grossly misinterpreting that passage" said member Jeff Parks. "She came up to my ten-year-old son after church and told him 'You really need to pray for your dad, because I had to turn him over to Satan this morning.' William came home crying."
The church's pastor and elders have made plans to confront Tarville, but knowing her personality they are less than confident that the confrontation will go well.
"We hope for the best, but chances are we're all going to end up being 'delivered over to Satan' by Karen" said the church's Pastor, Edgar Strum. "We've considered turning the tables and delivering her over, but I just don't know about that yet."
30 May, 2007
At Riverwood Church of God the staff has "had enough." Six weeks ago the church's youth minster, Christopher Marcus bought himself a new MacBook, getting rid of his old Dell notebook computer, and since that time all of the rest of the staff have had nothing but grief.
"At first I find Christopher's enthusiasm quite amusing" said the church secretary, Darcie Long. "He was very proud of his new computer, and to be honest, I really thought it was neat. I had never seen a Mac before, but it looked nice, and did lots of interesting things. But day after blessed day he just kept telling me how awful my computer was. How 'Windows XP is the operating system of the antichrist.' It just got old."
"He talks about his new computer as if he's had some kind of second blessing" said Peter Sharpe, Riverwood's associate pastor. "When he talks about his new MacBook he says things like 'I've seen the light' and 'with my Mac I never stumble.' I'm just sick of him talking to us like we're idiots because we still use PCs."
Marcus' enthusiasm over his new computer has even made into lessons he teaches the church's youth.
"Christopher was telling us about all of the evil things that Bill Gates has done" said fifteen year-old Thomas Parker. "He showed us how Bill Gate's name can be converted to mean 666 and how the letters 'XP' are actually the two Greek letters that this guy Constantine saw in the clouds, making the Roman Empire Christian. It can only mean that Windows is evil."
As a result of Marcus' influence, many of the church's youth have refused to do their homework on their families' computers, thus angering many of the parents.
"I'm happy he likes his new computer, but it's been six weeks now, and something has got to give" said Jim Carville, the church's pastor. "I don't care what kind of computer he uses, he just needs to move on and quit annoying the fire out of the rest of us."
DISCLAIMER: I am a Mac user. I love my Mac. I personally think Mac is better than PC. I just thought it made a funny story. See, I can laugh at myself. So please don't send me any hate mail or start telling me how wonderful your Mac is. Believe me, I already know!
29 May, 2007
Presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton paid a campaign visit to Montgomery this past weekend and spent Sunday preaching in several churches in the area. Clinton began her "Lord's Day" at Lakeside Presbyterian Church where the Senator spoke to the congregation from Romans 8:29-30.
"It says here that 'those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son'" said Clinton. "What we have here is an undeniable statement of sovereignty. To 'foreknow' here does not merely mean to look ahead in time and see what is going to happen. God did not make his choice of us because he knew that we would choose him, but because he set his love upon his elect from all eternity."
Clinton's sermon went almost an hour during which time she further exegeted the passage from Romans at times referencing others whom she admired.
"I count the great 19th-century Baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon to be one of my greatest influences" said Clinton. "And in regards to this passage he states 'We are not to be passive like wood or marble; we are to be prayerful, watchful, fervent, diligent, obedient, earnest, and believing, but still the work is God's.' And we find this to be wholly true. Predestination doesn't mean we become idle, but active!"
After her sermon Clinton closed the service by leading the congregation in the singing of "Holy, Holy, Holy." She remained around after the service to talk to people answering their questions about doctrinal matters.
"If one wants to better understand the Bible one first must pray" she said. "But we also have wonderful resources out there to draw from in our understanding of Scripture. Some of my personal favorites are John Owen, Spurgeon and Calvin. But I also recommend reading biographies too. I was inspired by the life of George Muller in my early days."
Clinton went on to say that she was not overly concerned about the upcoming presidential election in 2008.
"If I win I win, and if I lose I lose. While I'm pressing on with hopes of winning I'm not going to let it consume my life. I've got other things lined up for next year, and at the top of that list is speaking at the Together for the Gospel conference. I'm really looking forward to meeting Al Mohler. I've been a great admirer of his for some time."
28 May, 2007
They are becoming increasingly more frequent. With each passing week more and more pastors across America are receiving requests from their church's members asking them to pray for people in need. While this in and of itself is not unusual, the people for whom the prayers are being requested and the needs they have are because of one simple reason...they are not real.
"Yesterday I got a call from one of my members asking me to pray for Johnston Green" said Milton Lowe, pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship in Denver. "I didn't know who this was so I asked him, and he told me that he was the former mayor of the little town of Jericho, Kansas. He then went on to explain how the guy had been struggling to keep his little town together ever since the nuclear bombs went off. I listened intently while over the next 20 minutes he told me the details of how the people of the town had seen the bomb go off destroying Denver and how they were now having to fight against other towns just to survive."
Lowe listened patiently but nonetheless confused. After the conversation ended he immediately did some internet research only to discover that Jericho, Kansas was not real, and neither was Johnston Green. Everything he had been told was from the fictional television show Jericho which airs on CBS.
"I get at least one call a week asking me to pray for either Jack or Kate or one of those people on Lost" said pastor Dean Harvey of Church of the Creator in Denver. "The most popular request I get is for Sawyer's salvation, but I also get requests to pray that Locke would come back to his senses and rejoin the survivors."
So frequent has the problem become that many pastors are becoming concerned that their members are "losing touch with reality."
"It seems that with the popularity of reality T.V. over the past few years that people are beginning to get fictional shows confused with reality shows" said Lowe. "As a result, they start praying for these people on these shows thinking that they're real. In just the past week alone I've been asked to pray for the President of the United States, but not George W. Bush. They ask me to pray for Wayne Palmer, the president on the television show 24."
In an effort to remedy the problem several pastors have banded together across denominational lines to sponsor "Turn Off The Tube Day" in which they will ask members of their congregations to turn off their televisions for one day, and spend that time doing something "constructive" like reading or spending time with their families. While the idea seems promising it is not being well-received by all members.
"I understand that there are positives to turning off the T.V." said Jeff Hollingsworth, a member of Lowe's congregation. "But those poor people in Jericho need us to know what they're going through. I keep their picture on my refrigerator and pray for them all they time. I sure hope they find out who destroyed all those cities with nuclear bombs."
27 May, 2007
1. Spurgeon's vice
4. "standing on a stump"
6. BJU's place to "connect"
9. setting the blogsphere "on fire"
11. reformed thought blocker
2. premier Authorized-Only "expert"
3. "My diddy"
5. "God hates _________"
7. emerging "church house"
8. book of the Bible that ends with 'atthew"
10. "that cursed Frenchman"
26 May, 2007
Google recently purchased publishing rights of all known Bible versions and will soon begin large-scale offerings of the Google Bible. The Google Bible has already been pre-Beta tested in several mid-sized churches across the United States.
“At first, I thought some kid had left a small Etch-a-Sketch in the pew rack,” said Cristy Heckle, long time member of First Hidden Valley Methodist Church located in central Virginia. Upon closer inspection, she was shocked to see “Google Bible” across the top.
Google hopes to dominate the electronic Bible business within the next 5 weeks. A simple e-book offered by Franklin (bought out by Google last October) makes it possible for Google to donate plain text e-book Bibles free to churches which already have wireless Internet. Yes, they are FREE! The major difference between these and other electronic Bibles is the constantly refreshing click ads (a.k.a. “sponsored links”) that appear in a column on the right side of the screen. The click ads are based upon key words in the passages retrieved by the user. For example, if the user retrieves Ephesians 1:14 containing the word “redemption,” then several unobtrusive ads for coupon books appear in the right column.
The user can just ignore these ads. Or, if something catches their eye, they simply tap “email me” within the ad with the stylus. Other than the titles and a brief description, no further information regarding the product is flashed in front of the user. Because users must log on to the Google Bible at the beginning, an email ad will automatically be sent to the user’s home email address. The user will access the full ad later. The sermon is not disturbed.
"We were missing almost 5% of our regular Christian Google searchers on Sunday morning, explained a Google executive. "We were brainstorming, 'how can we increase the Sunday morning Christian click ad rate?" That's when they realized the potential of the Google Bible.
Tom in the box News Network experimented with one of the Google Bibles by retrieving John chapter 4 where the disciples had gone to buy food and the Lord Jesus meets the woman from Samaria at the well to offer her living water. Almost immediately, the right column posted ads about well drilling companies, books about building personal wells, shopfoodonline, gomobo.com, water purification systems, a local water park, and available hotels in the northern West Bank of the Jordan River.
Google representatives do admit that there were some minor advertising glitches at first when the users retrieved passages containing the words ‘prostitute’ or ‘harlot.' "Regrettably there were some very awkward automatic sponsored links.” Fortunately, the membership requests for such subscriptions were very low. Regardless, “Google is 100% confident that those types of problems have been eliminated.” In the latest version of Google Bible, Churches can choose their own filter level. Users specify a sponsoring Church, and the filter for that Church is automatically applied to the user. Apparently, some of the Kentucky Baptist churches have chosen not to filter whiskey ads. Also some of Boston Episcopalian Churches have allowed ads from gay bars.
Google Bible does lead to greater participation in personal Bible reading. We know this for a fact because Google provides churches with statistics on who goes where in the Bible. For instance, if the pastor quotes James 1:17, Google is able to determine how many users actually retrieve that passage during a particular ½ hour. “I grew up hearing ‘turn to such and such passage’ but I would give up after a couple of minutes with one of those old paper Bibles. Google Bible has helped me. I’m there in less than 5 seconds after Pastor Ponson says ‘retrieve such and such passage,’” said Winnie Stubbs, 26.
The Google Bible can be used only for retrieving text. These plain text versions have a very low requirement for memory. Each Bible has a low cost embedded wireless modem module that operates at 1200 bps, which is just fine for text. Currently, the books of Genesis through Revelation are available in all versions of the Bible. Google hopes to add the final book of the Bible (The Book of Maps) in the near future if the Google ad clicks warrant the investment.
They can run for hours on 3 AAA batteries, though a charger is available for $19.95. “We have over 300 units charged up and ready prior to each service,” said custodian Everett Cassidy. “Just like when Moses brought the two tablets down from the mountain and they broke, God gave him two new ones. If you drop your tablet, Google will get you a new one if you purchase the insurance for 4.99 per month,” explained Cassidy.
To increase the chances that users will choose to receive emails from the sponsored links, users accumulate click ad points which are donated to their sponsoring church. The points will not accumulate unless the individual actually opens the email ad at home and clicks “I have read this ad” within the email.
Some were concerned that the word “Google” had replace the more traditional word “Holy”, but Google representatives were quick to point out that many versions of the Bible had made a similar change. “Even MacArthur replaced ‘Holy’ with ‘MacArthur Study’ in his latest NASB edition.”
What about privacy? “We aren’t worried,” said Pastor Ponson. Google has promised to never share or store our Bible reading habits. “We are quite confident that this would never lead to problems for Christians. Your privacy is protected.”
“Google Bible will no doubt lead to deeper spiritual relationships that would not be possible otherwise,” said Paston Ponson. Apparently this is the case for 17 year old Barbie Schmit. “I’ve grown up with Google. Ever since I can remember, my parents and family were using Google. I remember when I was 9, I told my mom I wanted to experience Google myself. She didn’t believe I was ready at first, but after my heartfelt, tearful pleas, she walked me through the steps. During that experience, I accepted Google as my personal search engine. It’s nice to know that Google can be there with me in church. I’m more willing to go to church. When I look up on the song screen and don’t see the Google toolbar, it’s nice to look down on the rack in front of me and see ‘Google Bible.’ Our church even lets us take the Google Bible home if we promise to keep it charged. I place the Google Bible on the charger on my dresser. It serves as a tiny nightlight. If I wake up during the night, it’s comforting to see that gentle blue glow of the big “G” watching over me.”
25 May, 2007
Thank you for your recent email expressing interest in our product "Net Finney." I found your personal testimony regarding how Calvinism and Reformed theology has negatively affected your family to be strangely touching. I am sorry to hear that it has brought a division between you and your wife, and I do sincerely hope that she will be free from the "spell of that cursed Frenchman" soon. Perhaps in time she will come to her senses.
I am thankful, though, that you have decided to stick by her side even though she has slid off into "rank heresy." I would suggest that you do all you can to understand what she's going through. You should definitely read whatever books she reads (so that you can gather polemical information against her position of course). I would also suggest listening to the very preachers she is listening to so that you also can understand what they are saying. Only with careful examination and study of her position will you be able to show the obvious unbiblicalness of the insane notion that God is sovereign in salvation.
Your enthusiasm over our product, though, only makes what I have to say all the more difficult. Unfortunately "Net Finney" is not real. The article which you read on our website is also merely a spoof or satire to show the great need out there for such a product to exist. Perhaps, one day soon, someone with some computer programming skills will pick up on this tremendous idea and finally develop it. Until such time it must merely remain a dream that perhaps one day might come true.
I am returning your check in the amount of $59.99. But with that money might I suggest several authors that will definitely help your wife understand things more clearly. Anything by Charles H. Spurgeon would be helpful, or John Murray. Others might include John Owen, Abraham Kuiper or Matthew Henry. I can promise you that writings by any of these men would certainly help to further put your wife on the "right path of thinking."
So please accept my apologies if our article raised your hopes. I will most certainly contact you if there are ever any further developments regarding "Net Finney."
"Calvinix" is also not real, though many of our readers have found that two Tylenol PM™ taken right before a Calvinistic sermon greatly decreases one's ability to absorb logical exposition.
24 May, 2007
The aim of Lawrence Temple Bible College is to "teach young men to be preachers." For the past fifteen years the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist school has sought to train the men who attend to be "well rounded preachers" by focusing on two main aspects in their teaching; a firm understanding of the King James Bible and soul winning. But in the world of accredited institutions LTBC struggled to gain respect in the field of higher eduction over the years. As a result they began a campaign to expand their curriculum and hire new more "qualified" faculty.
The college's first addition came with the hiring of Dr. Robert Green. Green, a noted fundamentalist, KJV-only pastor, came to the college with an impressive list of credentials including a high school diploma from Northshore High School in Riverwood, Indiana and four honorary doctorate degrees with three being from Hyles-Anderson College in Hammond, Indiana and one from Texas Bible College in Longview, Texas. Dr. Green's primary responsiblities would be to teach courses in preaching and Bible translations with a specific emphasis upon the merits of the King James Bible and the Textus Receptus. With Green's resume stating that he had "extensive training in and knowledge of Biblical Greek" excitement was high among the members of the LTBC faculty, with hopes that the school had finally found someone who could show the errors of the other "Satanic translations" of the Bible on a scholarly level.
For Green's first semester at the college all went well. Students seemed to enjoy his class on Bible translations, and more than ever students were convinced of the merits of the Authorized Version and the superiority of the Textus Receptus. But as the second semester rolled around and a new batch of students entered Green's class a problem began to emerge. One student's "real" knowledge of Greek would soon prove that Dr. Green not only did not know Greek at all, but he consistently invented "Greek-sounding" words that he presented to the class as authentic Koine Greek.
The problem was discovered by Jack Cartwright, a first-year student at LTBC. Cartwright had studied Greek for three years during high school, expecting to go into the medical field. Instead he enrolled at LTBC believing he was called into the ministry.
"I was sitting there in Dr. Green's class on the first day thinking everything was alright" said Cartwright. "Dr. Green seemed like a pretty nice guy and all that. He started talking about how the King James Version was translated from the Textus Receptus, what he called a 'superior Greek text' and how all of these other translations were taken from corrupt texts which made them inferior. Well, that all sounded fine to me. But then he started giving examples of what he called 'corruptions' in the Greek. He started talking about 'Greek' words that weren't really Greek words at all."
Cartwright sat dumbfounded for the next two hours while Green lectured on why "charity" is a better translation than "love" in 1 Corinthians 13.
"Dr. Green told us that the word for 'love' in the Greek is 'kaiposoluptis'" said Cartwright. "Well, at first I thought he was just joking, then I realized that this guy was serious! Not only is "kaiposoluptis" not a Greek word, but as far as I know it's not a word in any language."
As Green's lecture continued he presented more and more "Greek" examples to the class that Cartwright caught.
"I started writing them down" he said. "They were downright funny. He said that the verb for 'to run' was 'hapalomelama.' I almost lost it when he told the class that the Greek word for 'Lord' was 'elohim.'"
After class Cartwright talked to some of his classmates about the situation only to find himself rebuked for his questioning of authority.
"I talked to some of the other guys in the class and they were all like 'Man, who do you think you are?'" he said. "They all told me that I have no right questioning 'God's man."
The problems for Cartwright did not stop there though. He soon took his complaint to LTBC's Academic Dean only to be told to "cease his spirit of rebellion." Cartwright soon dropped all his classes and withdrew from LTBC.
"I'm done with that school" he said. "They're absolutely ignorant and almost proud of it. I don't know what I'm going to do exactly, but I know I won't go back there."
23 May, 2007
In recent years cooperation between conservative and reformed evangelicals of various denominations has grown. Annual gatherings such as The Shepherd's Conference and Together for the Gospel have brought together names like C.J. Mahaney, John MacArthur, Ligon Duncan and Al Mohler just to name a few. While theological differences do exist between the respective denominations of these contemporary church leaders, the focus of a common bond in the faith has brought a newfound sense of unity to reformed churches across America.
But others outside the realm of conservative reformed Christianity have taken notice of the popularity of such conferences. Recently leaders of various liberal Christian churches from the United States and Canada gathered to discuss holding a conference in 2009 to be called Together for a Bunch of Other Stuff.
Liberal churches, which have seen their memberships dwindle over the past decade, have long searched for ways to slow their decreasing size. The conference in 2009 is designed to be a show of unity between liberal churches in North America with hopes of bringing about a "revival of reconciliation."
"It's a shame that we haven't moved faster on this" said Rev. Mark Anthony Tallis, Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in San Diego. "For the past ten years I've watched parishioner after parishioner leave our church for these so-called evangelical churches. It's high time that we put aside our differences with these other denominations and start standing together for what's important, that is 'other things.'"
"Gospel, gospel, gospel, that's all we ever hear about from the other side" said Rev. Peter Hawkes of First United Church of Christ in Newport Beach, Florida. "What we need now in the world is love, not all this gospel business about sin and salvation."
The conference will be held in May of 2009 in San Diego and will feature the Rev Canon Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. Other noted speakers will include the Rev. Cecil Williams, pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, and the Dali Lama. Representatives from various other denominations will also be present.
"Our goal is to show that we are united for what's really important out there in the world" said Rev. Williams. "We liberal Christians are out to show love, and spread harmony and reconciliation with tolerance towards all."
The cost of the conference is yet to be determined. Entertainment and "worship" music for the conference will be provided by Alanis Morissette.
22 May, 2007
The question as to how there can be an all-powerful creator of all things and how there can still be suffering in the world has baffled countless people throughout the centuries. Some say that the cause of death, destruction and misery on the planet earth is caused by "sin." Others argue that man is inherently good, and that "sin" is really simply a lack of enlightenment in the human mind. But recently representatives of the Unitarian Church came up with their own explanation - trans-fats, greenhouse gases and the lack of homosexual relationships.
"As we examined history we came to some surprising conclusions" said Rev. Meredeth Causey-Hicks, of The First South Harbor Unitarian Church in St. Louis. "Throughout the centuries there were these common threads that revealed the causes of human misery and suffering. Humans have always been essentially good, but things have crept in that have caused them to do bad things to others."
According to Causey-Hicks the first cause of human misery has been trans-fats.
"The twentieth century was the deadliest century in history," said Causey-Hicks. "And it was also the century that we saw the advent of trans-fats in foods. The connections are indisputable."
The second cause that was discovered was greenhouse gases.
"Recent history has proven that emissions of greenhouse gases have caused more and more human misery over time. Before we started burning fossil fuels to run our machinery the world was a much happier place."
Causey-Hicks explained the final cause of world suffering, and it is probably the most controversial of all; the repression of homosexual relationships.
"The Roman Empire was one of the greatest empires in history," she said. "But it was also an empire that embraced the love between the sexes. When this kind of love is repressed misery and strife invade and intolerance reigns."
As a result of the "research" done by the church, the Unitarian Church now plans to start a campaign to spread the "good news" of ultimate happiness to the world.
"We're so excited now," said Causey-Hicks. "We now know the source of evil in the world, and if we can simply put an end to these three things then we can finally bring lasting peace to this world."
21 May, 2007
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19 May, 2007
What began as a search for a new music minister has resulted in a church attendance explosion. Starting with a dozen, only 4 remain. Who will be the first Church Idol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the next Minister of Music at Exciting University Park Baptist Church?
This is no “side-door” evangelism, it’s “rip-the-walls-down” evangelism. Everyone is coming and bringing their friends, Catholics, Methodists, and even non-practicing Lutherans. “In addition to the visitors, we’ve had over 27% of our church roll attend at least one service during the last month, a new Louisiana Baptist Convention record since the year 1992, when the survey began,” said church clerk Sandy Slaughter.
“Like, but what about calling, you know, these peoples idols? Isn’t that, like, against, like, a commandment or whatever?” Cattie Hoodson, 13, asked.
“Don’t’ be confused by the name. We aren’t breaking any commandments here,” said Betty Jeffries, organizer of the event. It’s a simple name play on the popular TV series ‘American Idol’, nothing about this is the slightest bit sacrilegious. Our candidate performers were specifically chosen because of their ability to demonstrate true worship.
The candidates are not simply judged on singing performance. “You know, as Baptist, we don't dance, but rhythmic interpretation of lyrics is encouraged as the Spirit leads,” said Jeffries. Perceived personal worship may be the biggest factor other than vocals. If it becomes obvious that a performer is not sincere when they close their eyes and raise their hands, the audience is quick to pick up on the hypocrisy and it appears to affect the vote, regardless of how well the singing.
"We welcome all, it’s a way to get the Word out," says Pastor Thomas Billingsly. “We wouldn’t have this many people showing up if the Lord wasn’t behind it. It’s a God thing.”
There have been some bumps in the road. Apparently some of the longtime middle-aged members complained when Church Idol replaced the entire praise and worship portion of the service. “We’ve only had minor issues,” says Pastor Billingsly. “We need to be willing to sacrifice in our love for each other. It is better to sacrifice than to be angry. The more spiritually mature audience members should be happy to join in the Church Idol worship time.”
But it also appears that some of the elderly are unhappy. A 1932 charter member (who requested to remain anonymous) hopes that Sunday AM preaching will one day return. Because the competition starts at 10:45am and already extends past noon, the preaching takes the hit. “Statistics show that not many people get saved after 12:30 anyway, no matter how emotional the preaching. Besides, I always quote at least 1 full verse during a closing prayer if I’m not able to preach,” said Pastor Billingsly.
Pastor Billingsly reminds everyone that Sunday and Wednesday night services are the best times to see actual Bible verses on the song screen and engage in traditional Bible reading, thinking, and other less spiritual forms of church activities. “Modern day Sunday morning is the time for real spiritual worship. That’s what Church Idol is all about. This may continue even after the Music Minister search is over.”
That's good news for Brittany Lockwell, 23, who is recognizing true feelings of spiritual growth for the first time. “It’s more thought provoking than simply reading the Bible or even singing myself. Last week I was faced with a temptation to lie. My uncle was clearly not the best performer. I couldn’t lie and support him. I did the right thing and he was voted off. It’s obvious to me Church Idol strengthens my spiritual life.”
When Tominthebox.net representatives attended, we noticed there were no church bulletins. Instead we were offered “Church Idol Programs” for $5. This factors into the competition somehow because there were 5 different covers for the programs. The purchase of a program with a contestant on the front is taken as support for that contestant. In the end, $2 of each purchase will go to the last standing Church Idol as a signing bonus when he or she becomes the new Minister of Music.
Contestant Crissie Mason narrowly escaped being voted off last week. She’s not worried though. "My grandmother has read the entire Bible through twice. And not only that, last summer, I was leading a youth camp Bible Study and the camp booklet was explaining a verse in Romans. I still remember it; ‘If we set our mind to a good purpose, everything will work out for us since we love God.’ I love God, so I’m confident I will win. "
18 May, 2007
"When you're having it rotten just put on a happy face, because, hey, even the bad stuff makes us stronger. And if you get stronger things will be really swell with you." - James 1:2-4
Just read what others are saying about The New Living Message:
"Now the most contemporary is even more contemporary." - Rick Warren
"I just love it. I can understand the Bible now." - Bono
"Finally, a fresh wind of much needed change!" - Tony Campolo
17 May, 2007
After fifty-seven years in existence Mt. Salus Baptist Church in Gainesville has decided to take things in a different direction. This moderately sized congregation of just over 400 has wrestled over the years with how the church ought to be run. Some have advocated a strong pastoral leadership, while others have pushed for more direction from the church's deacons, who have traditionally run the matters of the church. But recently, the majority of the members have become disappointed with the deacons' leadership, and now a new and "novel" approach is being taken to their roll within the church body.
"Formerly the deacons pretty much ran the church" said Alvin Turner, a life-long member of Mr. Salus. "But during our last congregational meeting we came up with some new and fresh ideas about what the deacons ministry ought to be like."
The "new" approach will be this; the deacons will now minister to the widows and the needy of the church so that the pastor can focus on the ministry of the word.
While many are excited about this "new" approach, some of the deacons are less enthusiastic about the change.
"I've been a deacon for 35 years" said Terry Cummings. "We were running things just fine around here. I'm not about to start serving food, or fixing someone's porch, I'll tell you that right now."
"I think its worth a try" said Chris Smith, who was elected to be a deacon just last year. "I don't think anything like this has ever been done before with deacons. I'll stick to it and see how it works."
16 May, 2007
Some call him a "genius." Others say he is a "revolutionary," while even some will say he is "out of his mind." His name is Dr. Linus Fisher, and he has caused quite a storm in the medical community over the years with his proposed controversial method to bring the dead back to life.
The story actually begins about twenty years ago when Dr. Fisher stood by the bedside of one of his patients who was passing away. At that moment, as the patient was dying, an idea came to him that he began developing further. Two years later he released his theory in the Journal of American Medicine.
"It is, therefore, my conclusion that the ability to overcome death itself is rooted in the willpower of the deceased" wrote Fisher in his article. "The phrase 'lost the will to live' is so commonly used in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, yet there is a profound truth held therein. One's 'will to live' is exactly that, a will. I thereby propose that death may be overcome in one who has died by simple and practical convincing and persuasion by those around him."
Since the first appearance of his article Fisher has experimented with approximately 300 deceased subjects to see if he can persuade them to live.
"We've tried a number of techniques" said Fisher. "When I first began my work I tried simply standing over the deceased subject and shouting 'Live! Live! Open your eyes and be alive!' That yielded no results. Soon after that we began to involve family members, getting them to also offer persuasive words to bring their loved one back to life. That also yielded no results. So far the work has failed to yield one reanimation, but I still have confidence yet."
More recently Fisher has begun experimenting with a number of new techniques that he hopes will work effectively.
"In my most recent attempt I have tried standing on the other side of the room from the deceased while playing some soft and gentle music" said Fisher. "But now, rather than give the deceased imperative commands to live I plead with them gently asking them, 'Don't you want to live my friend? Don't you want the grief of your family to stop? Come, please, and choose to live today. It's all up to you. It's your decision.' This has not yet worked, but we are still fine tuning the process."
Despite failure after failure, Dr. Fisher is convinced that the ability of the dead to come back to life is a matter of one's will to do so, and despite criticism he still plans to continue with his work.
"Some say it takes a miracle to raise the dead, but I say it takes simple desire" said Fisher. "All a dead person has to do is get up and start living again."
15 May, 2007
They "swing" for the gospel.
They "bat" for their beliefs.
They hit a "home run" always.
From Lower Deck Collectibles comes trading cards of your favorite whacked-out hyper-Calvinists from Westboro Baptist Church.
Collect cards for every member of the Phelps family. And as a special bonus look for only 500 limited edition"God Hates You" gold foil cards, personally signed by Fred Phelps!
Only $1.75 per pack!
14 May, 2007
Three years ago Paul Kerovian lost it all. He had invested heavily in the "dot com" boom around the turn of the century only to watch his investments crumble one by one. Finally, in 2004, his portfolio hit rock bottom leaving him $39.8 million dollars in debt, jobless, homeless and virtually friendless, that is until help came.
As it turns out Kerovian's older brother, Donald, had invested his own money elsewhere, focusing on more stable technology stocks. As a result Donald Kerovian had amassed a fortune of some $2.5 billion dollars in net worth. Taking pity on his younger brother's plight, Donald Kerovian paid off his debt in full. Paul Kerovian was then totally free of his obligations to his creditors, yet one problem remained - he did not believe that his older brother had paid his debt, and now, because of that, he faces prison time.
"When I heard about the trouble that Paul was in I immediately contacted his creditors and settled his accounts" said Donald Kerovian. "He's totally square with the banks now. He owes nothing."
But despite the evidence, Paul Kerovian still refuses to believe that his brother has freely paid for all his debts. And now the various financial institutions that he was once indebted to are pursuing legal action against him for not paying them back.
"On paper Mr. Kerovian has no debt with us" said William Purcell, President of Purcell Trust and Lending. "Mr. Kerovian's brother paid off all of his debts in full. So he owes us nothing. But we recently found out that Mr. Kerovian has not accepted this fact and therefore still lives under the belief that his debt is not paid. Therefore, because of his unbelief we intend to press full charges to have him punished for his criminal negligence in not paying us back."
Other creditors of Paul Kerovian have expressed similar sentiments regarding his situation indicating that since Mr. Kerovian has not accepted that his debt has been paid then he must still be punished for his debt.
"We've tried to tell Mr. Kerovian that his brother has paid for all his debts" said Purcell. "But he fails to freely accept this. So he must suffer the penalty of the law. Even though his brother has paid for everything it doesn't count unless he accepts it personally. Even though he has no debt he must be punished still."
12 May, 2007
"We've all done it. We've been singing a song with a group, or maybe especially when we are alone, and we simply cannot remember the words. We get stuck. That's what we want to avoid," explained McKinley Grant, Senior Music Minister for Internal Outreach at The Gathering Spot.
This former First Baptist Church of West Baines, Arkansas was once filled hymnals in the racks on the backs of pews. "These books were more commonly referred to as 'song books' or 'hymn books'," said Grant. "I always wondered what those funny racks were on the back of the pews," said 15 year old Iris Johnson standing nearby.
In the later 1990's the church was the first in West Baines to go completely to Power Point presentations. "It was revival," said 22 year old Haley Williams. "You could tell that the PowerPoint brought the Spirit to this very spot." Which may be, in part, why the church voted to change it's name to The Gathering Spot at the turn of the millennium. The name change brought excitement and attendance grew for a while. But, "soon it seemed that attendance became stagnant. That's when I came up with the idea of the repetitive one word song," said Grant. "Quiet simply, the song consists of repeating the same word over and over again to a common tune."
Grant continued, "It all started when we were singing 'Holy, Holy, Holy' off the song screen during one morning service. I noticed vastly different participation throughout the song. There was obviously greater participation during the repetitive 'Holy Holy Holy' parts. When we came to other words and phrases, there was a considerable drop off in the volume. Then it hit me. With less different words in the song, more people will be able to remember the words. It's a simple concept, and it works."
Noah Thornton, 17, testified, "With the new songs, I get it, I finally get it. Before, when the words were constantly whizzing by on the song screen, I couldn't keep up. I never knew how to say most of those bigger church words. But now, after singing 'Sanctification' over and over again, it's obvious to me that these types of songs have helped me grow spiritually. I can now pronounce the word 'sanctification' with confidence."
"Don't worry," said Grant, "it's not all churchy all the time. Most days we begin with a very comfortable ice breaker. For example, this week, we plan to sing the repetitive one word song 'Joy' to the theme of The Flintstones. Now who can't do that? Everyone will participate, and it's a lot of fun. Last week, we opened with 'Faith' to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. The week before that, it was 'Hope" to the theme from Welcome Back Kotter. Try it yourself. You'll see."
- KJV-only (Even more so than those liberals down in Pensecola)
- Over 50,000 hours or street preaching experience
- Ph.D, D.Min, M.Div (all from Hyles-Anderson College)
- Likes fried chicken
- Don't like Calvinists
- Hates Communists
11 May, 2007
With this year's hurricane season approaching forecasters are bracing for what could be a very active season. And with a new hurricane season comes a new batch of names that are picked for the storms by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). When hurricanes first began to receive names on an international scale, they were always given women's names until 1978 when men's names began to be used also. Traditionally the names of the hurricanes over the years have reflected the names found in the cultures of the participating members of the WMO, rendering names such as Camille, Georges, Dennis, etc. But if Dr. Bob Jones III, chancellor of Bob Jones University, had his way, that list of names would be expanded.
"If you take a look at the names of hurricanes over the past 50 years, there's something strikingly obvious," said Jones. "Sure, we see names like Camille, Katrina and Rita, all fine names, but I have yet to see a hurricane given a truly deep Biblical name, and I think it's time for that to change. America is a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles, and I think it only fair that the names we give major destructive forces reflect that."
Jones has recently voiced his opinion openly on a number of radio and television programs, but Thursday made a formal written appeal to the WMO encouraging its members to "not to forget the Christians" when they think of names for the violent storms. As Jones' letter states;
It is important for you members to not forget the Christians who founded this nation. I feel that what we stand for as believers has been grossly overlooked by your organization when naming hurricanes, and I encourage you wholeheartedly to consider us. Nothing would please me more than for people's hearts and minds to think of Christianity when a major storm strikes our country.
Jones went on to further suggest some possible names.
Names such as Abel, Seth or Cain would all be very appropriate. And below you will find some more names that I would suggest:
Abijam (which means father of the sea by the way)
Jones hopes that his letter will be considered and that by next year storms will be referred to in 'more Biblical terms.'
"It would please me greatly to turn on my TV next hurricane season and see a big category 5 storm named 'Hoglah' headed straight for our coasts," said Jones. "I can only hope that the WMO has the good sense to adopt my requests."
10 May, 2007
The Riverside Church in New York City has been no stranger to controversy over the years. Built in 1930, the church's first pastor, Harry Emerson Fosdick was noted for his liberal theology. Since the days of Fosdick's ministry, the church has continued to espouse and further many theologically liberal views.
Today the church, while considered interdenominational, is affiliated with both the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Church, and until recently was pastored by Dr. James Alexander Forbes, Jr. But Forbes' recent retirement in December of 2006 brought the need to search for a new pastor. Thus a search committee was formed to find just the right 'person' for the job.
"This church has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to spirituality" said Faye Myers, the head of the pastoral search committee. "We weren't just going to limit our search to white men, or even men for that fact. Whether or not the candidate was gay, lesbian or transgendered made no difference to us. Our search was not about us and our prejudice but about where the spirit would lead us."
Numerous resumes and applications were examined. A number of candidates were called and interviewed until finally the committee just found the right 'person' for the job - Koko the 'talking gorilla.'
Koko, the 36-year-old gorilla, is famous for supposedly being able to communicate with humans through the use of American sign language. Born in 1971, Koko has been taught by her trainer, Dr. Francine Patterson and other scientists to learn over 1000 signs. While some have questioned as to whether or not Koko has truly developed the ability to have independent cognitive thoughts, many herald her accomplishments as a major breakthrough in connecting humanity with its evolutionary past.
Koko's call to become the pastor of Riverside is the first time in history that a non-homosapien has ever been called to 'pastor' a Christian church of any kind.
"We realize that this is going to be considered by some to be unorthodox" said Myers. "But we view this as an opportunity to spread the love of all life. Koko will be able to teach us things about God that a human just couldn't achieve."
Koko glady accepted the call to pastor the church signing the phrase "I for kitten apple, apple, apple, in the sky, apple," which was interpreted by her translator to mean "I gladly and whole-heartedly accept this gracious opportunity to lead this congregation on the pathway of faith." She will preach her first 'sermon' on June 1, 2007. A translator will be present at every service to interpret Koko's sign language, and she will be rewarded with bananas after ever message.
09 May, 2007
It's all your decision. It's all up t' you, scurvy dogs! Choose Arrr-mini-ohs or you be soon walking the plank!"
Try new Arrr-mini-ohs freewill cereal today, the only cereal you must freely choose!
Arrr-mini-ohs is part of a balanced theological breakfast, complete with 12 Arminian points.
If you're looking for a cereal to satisfy your hunger for self destiny look no further than Arrr-mini-ohs!
08 May, 2007
"Church shopping," as it is called, has become a wide-spread phenomenon during the past century. Decades ago, when few communities even had churches, one often was born, raised and died having always attended the same church. Usually, only a marriage or a move to another location brought about a change in church membership. But as evangelicalism has literally "exploded" and the number of churches increased many regular church-goers have found themselves visiting numerous churches in their local communities trying to find a church that "fits." Thus, the devotion and commitment that many pastors once enjoyed from their members is rare to find, and the membership of many churches has begun to wane significantly. So great was the problem in the town of Terry, Idaho that one pastor came up with a solution that works.
"Church is really about giving people what they want," said Rev. Karen Hamilton of First Methodist Church in Terry. "We decided that, rather than simply place an ad in the local paper, to offer special 'coupons' to those who visited, raising the incentives if they would come to our church and join up with our work."
While the idea seemed bizarre at first to many, it worked tremendously for the church. During the first week First Methodist offered a coupon for a "Free Missions Trip to Canada" for first-time visitors. The following Sunday fifteen new families visited the church, and all presented the coupon for the trip.
The idea has worked so well, that other churches in the Terry community have started using it also. Now a quick glance at the "Local Area Churches" section of the newspaper reveals 10-15 coupons reading things such as "No Tithe for a Year, No Baptism Required!" or "Two Memberships for One Membership Class!"
"This is one of the best ideas we've tried in years to get our attendance up," said Rev. John Hodges of Grace Lutheran Church. "We started out offering free lunches at a local restaurant for all first-time visitors. We had 20 new families come that first Sunday."
"We're planning on building a health club on our church property," said Pastor David Chalmers of Southaven Baptist Church. "We plan to offer free membership to the club for a year for all new members, which we hope will really bring in some new faces. Let's face it, if we want people to come we've got to give them what they want and cater to their desires."
04 May, 2007
This past Sunday Jake Krenshaw celebrated the number "100." No, that is not his age, neither has he been a Christian for one-hundred years. The number also does not represent how many people he has "won to salvation." For Krenshaw, rather, the number "100" is significant because that is how many times he has "walked the aisle" at his home church, Chapel Hill Baptist Church, and gotten "saved."
"I think I've finally got it right this time," said a smiling Krenshaw. "This is the 100th time that I've responded to the invitation, and this time it's for real. I really got saved this time."
The journey of faith began for Krenshaw back in 1995 when he first "walked the aisle" at Chapel Hill Baptist. He was baptized for the first time the following Sunday. But it was within a couple of weeks that Krenshaw began to have serious doubts that he had been sincere, so he again "walked the aisle" and again was baptized the following week. From that point on any time Krenshaw has had the slightest doubt he has "walked the aisle" and received the invitation. As a result, he has been now been "saved" 100 times and has been baptized 93 times.
For Krenshaw the struggle with assurance of "genuine salvation" is rooted in his inability to see evidence of true faith.
"The reason I felt that I wasn't saved this time goes back to last week actually," he said. "I was flipping through the channels on Thursday evening when I came across an old rerun of Seinfeld. Well, they made dirty comment on the show, and I actually laughed at it. I knew that a saved person wouldn't laugh at such a thing. So I determined right then and there that I was going to get my soul right, that when the preacher offered the invitation on Sunday that I was going to truly accept it this time."
Since getting "saved" this past Sunday Krenshaw states that this week his life has been a virtual "bed of roses," free from all temptation and "big sins."
"Now that I've finally gotten saved," he said, "I don't have those old temptations to big sins anymore. I've been completely free from any desires to do what is wrong."
Many, though, in Krenshaw's congregation are skeptical as to whether this will be his last time to "walk the aisle."
"Every time Jake so much as blinks the wrong way he thinks he's not really saved," said a church member who wished to remain anonymous. "Several of us even have a pool going to see when he's going to walk the next time."
If all goes according to plan, Krenshaw will be baptized for the 94th time this weekend.
"I know the drill by now," said Krenshaw. "I know just when to hold my breath and how to lean back when I'm dunked. I'd say I'm pretty experienced at it."
When asked if he thought he would ever have to "walk the aisle" again he replied, "as long as they can play fourteen verses of Just As I Am I'll always have that option open to me."
03 May, 2007
The Reverend Steve Roman has been the pastor of First Baptist Church St. Petersburg for almost ten years. While loved by his congregation for his charm, whit and devotion to his people, Roman has begun to struggle over the past few years with an inability to come up with sermon illustrations that remotely make sense.
"It all began about four years ago." Said Roman. "I'm not sure what happened, but suddenly I just couldn't come up with a sermon illustration anymore that was clear. It was as if I used up all my good ones during my first six years of ministry and just ran out of stories to tell. It seems that no matter how hard I try anymore everyone is just baffled by the point I'm trying to make."
In a recent sermon delivered by Roman on Joshua 6 and the defeat of Jericho by Israel, he stated,
"The fall of the walls of Jericho was like when you're eating a bag of chips on your couch. You're relaxed and calm, you're looking for the remote, and you don't want to be disturbed, and suddenly the dog just jumps into your lap or the phone rings and you have to get up. It bothers you because it shakes up your relaxation. And when Jericho's walls fell it really shook the wicked people of that city off of their couches. We really need to be shaking people's couches."
"I just can't seem to get my illustration sense back." Said Roman. "When I'm up there in the pulpit what I'm saying seems to make sense, but then after I say it I can see the utter confusion on everyone's faces. When I go back and listen to the recordings I just ask myself 'What were you thinking?'"
Unfortunately, the problem has extended beyond Roman's illustrations to his analogies also. Some recent excerpts from his sermons revealed the following comparisons,
"The flood came upon the land like a bucket of bloated whale blubber."
"The wickedness of Ahab was worse than all the cars in China."
"David looked upon Bathsheba with lust, like a cat in a hail storm."
"Noah's Ark was huge, like a big boat."
"We so want to support him." Said member Amber Lee. "We love him, and we know he means well, but I honestly haven't understood a single one of his sermons for months now. I don't know if he can read some books or something to get better, but something needs to be done."
In an effort to hopefully remedy the situation Roman plans to take a three month sabbatical this summer to spend time coming up with some new illustrations.
"I've just lost my touch, and I need to get it back." Said Roman. "Hopefully this summer I'll be able to get some thoughts organized, possible have some funny things happen to me so that I'll be able to communicate with my people again. Being this way is like falling out of a tree while eating an apple."
02 May, 2007
Okay, not really.
But you knew it eventually had to happen...with all of the fame and fortune blogging has brought me (ahem), I find that I still must press for more. So here it is for you readers out there...the shameless plug.
In approximately 80 days our family will be moving to St. Petersburg, Russia for the long-haul. Don't worry all you satire fans, they have internet in Russia (and electricity too), so I have every intention of keeping Tominthebox up and running (I've got to, or my wife will go nuts with me telling her every nutty story that pops into my head). But, as with any endeavor such as this comes need.
The first thing we need is prayer. In God's providence this blog gets an average of about 3,200 hits per week (sometimes more if I pick on Ergun Caner or invent some new anti-Calvinism product). I'm not sure how may different people that is, but I do reckon that it's not just one guy who comes here 3,200 times. So that's a lot of people who can be praying for us. Sure folks, I want you to come here and laugh, choke on your lunch, email the stories to all your friends, and hopefully get the point, but when you get on your knees each day my family would love it if you'd lift us up before the Father. Our ministry website outlines what our vision is for Russia and our long-term goals that you can pray about. You can also visit our ministry blog where we keep regular updates on things that are going on that you can pray for. It's a tremendous thing to think that, through this little knee-slapping blog, God has brought into our lives some 500 people per day, most of whom we do not know, who can pray for us.
We also need further support. We have raised about 85% of our total goal, and while we can still go to Russia on that, the rest does need to come in eventually. Now I've never met most of you who regularly read here, but if you do happen to take a moment to visit our ministry website and find yourself burdened to help us out, then we'd love to have you on board. (Don't worry, I won't post a story about you if you don't give or something).
Finally, as a way to add some fun to all of this, any profits from the sale of TBNN products you purchase over at our blog store go directly to support our missions work in Russia. All products have been marked up an average of $5, and all of that will go to our work. So if you're looking for that perfect gift for a birthday, wedding, or bar-mitzva (or mitzwa if you like the 'waw' pronunciation of the Hebrew letter) then give the store an old look-see.
Thanks for taking a moment to read this post. We now return you to your regularly scheduled satire (tomorrow at least).
01 May, 2007
After the immense success of Net Finney, the software that filters out Calvinist and Reformed material on the internet, Liberty University recently unveiled its plans to release Net Finney 2.
"Net Finney was a refreshing breeze to the Christian community." Said Dr. Ergun Caner, President of Liberty Theological Seminary, in a statement released by the university. "It has helped put the brakes on this madness of Calvinism infecting our churches. But we have designed Net Finney 2 to be even more powerful and more accurate in filtering out Calvinist and Reformed materials. It will give its users more control over what they see and more freedom to choose where they want to go when they surf the web."
While the response to Net Finney, when it was originally released, was positive, a number of users had complained to the university about "glitches" in the program. One in particular was that Net Finney blocked the popular Bible search site, biblegateway.com, and even non-Calvinist sites such as Dave Hunt's The Berean Call due to books listed on his site that are against Calvinism.
"Overall I really liked the program." Said Liberty Student Thad Morrison. "I had really been struggling for months before Net Finney was released. I was reading Reformed websites sometimes two or three hours a day, but that's all stopped now. Me and some guys here at the school formed an accountability group to keep each other in check. Every Friday morning we have breakfast together and ask each other 'Have you been avoiding the Reformation?' I'm really excited about the second edition of Net Finney. It's helped me so much."
The second edition of Net Finney will feature advanced "TULIP Controls" where users can selectively allow certain pages to be viewed. But the program will selectively change the wording of websites if Calvinist and Reformed material is present. Thus the program effectively alters the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith, III.3, to read,
"Not by the decree of God, some men and angels will make it unto everlasting life; and others by their own free will and choice will make it to everlasting death."
In addition, the program now features "live updates" where it receives updated information from the University's servers regarding new Calvinist and Reformed websites on the internet.
Liberty plans to release Net Finney 2 later this summer. Those who already own Net Finney will be able to simply upgrade the program for a minimal cost.
"It just keeps getting better and better." Said Caner. "If this trend keeps up I may not have to stand up on that stump one day."