31 July, 2007

Pastor Puts Mistakes in Sermons to See if Anyone is Listening

HATTIESBURG, MS - Rev. Jason Gill, pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church, has decided on a new strategy to find out if anyone is listening to his sermons. Lately, the congregation has seemed bored and disinterested when Gill proclaims the Word of God. What is his plan? He has been inserting mistakes into each sermon to find out who is listening and who is not.

Pastor Gill explained his rationale to TBNN this way, "If no one is listening to me, then I have to do something to get their attention. Right now I am just trying to figure out what percentage of the members are bothering to pay attention. When I am up in the pulpit, I routinely see people whispering, passing notes, and just plain sleeping - and I'm not just talking about the youth."

Gill's "experiment" began about two months ago. At first, he just changed up names from O.T. passages. For example, he would switch "Ahab" for "Ahaz," or "Abishai" for "Asahel." No one noticed at all. Then, two weeks ago, when preaching from Romans 3:26, Gill told us that he referred to Christ as, "just but NOT the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Still no reaction from anyone.

Gill informed us that he took it to a new level last Sunday. When preaching from Acts 1:8, he told the Hope Presbyterian congregation that when Luke wrote "the ends of the earth," he really was just referring to Texas. No one in the church body even blinked.

We decided to ask around the church to see if anyone had noticed. Wilma Francis, a long-time member of Hope, was pleased to talk to us. We simply asked whether or not she had been hearing anything odd or different from the pastor during his sermons. She responded, "I often have trouble staying awake at that time of day. However, I did make it through last week's service without dozing off. When the pastor said the thing about the ends of the earth referring to Texas, it did seem a little strange. But, he is the pastor with the bible training, so he must be right."

We received much the same response from five other members of the congregation. We quickly went to Pastor Gill to tell him about this. He responded, "I never thought this would happen. I just assumed that if the people heard a mistake on my part, that they would tell me. I never assumed that they would just believe me because I am the pastor. Now I don't know what to do."

It seems that Pastor Gill is now addicted to making mistakes. Whenever he approaches the point in the sermon when his error is coming, his adrenaline starts to flow. "Quite honestly, it is the most exciting time of my week. I get such a rush. There is nothing like it."

Despite the problems, Gill is determined to find out if people are listening. We suggested that he try a different approach. Unfortunately, an addict has a very difficult time breaking a bad habit. As we were leaving, Gill told us, "This Sunday I will begin preaching through the book of Revelation. The people always like that one. I haven't decided yet what to do, but I'm thinking of naming the four horsemen of chapter six after Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Yoda, and Darth Vader."

At TBNN, we do have a little integrity. We felt like we had to tell someone about this. As we were leaving Hattiesburg, we were able to meet with Harold Simpson, who is a leading member of the church. When we told him about the problem, he responded, "Well, he is the pastor so he must be right. I always did like those Star Wars movies. Now I know why."

30 July, 2007

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28 July, 2007

"Freshen Up" Time added to Service

Meridian, MS – The new order of service at 2nd Calvary Baptist Church in Meridian Mississippi has been welcomed with open…. with open… well… with open mouths.

Problems with peppermints have always existed. "I'd try to open one during the sermon, but the wrapper seemed to send an echo through the entire sanctuary," said Gladys Barnes. "Everyone stared. Some even glared." Bart Edwin agreed, "I have repeatedly made futile attempts to quietly unwrap those peppermint disks with the noisy crinkly plastic."

Of course, TicTacs had no individual wrappers, but posed other problems. "Oh no! I don't even want to think about TicTacs in church, never ever again," cringed a slightly red Carlos Smith. "The noise, the clatter, and then the scatter. I was 5 years old. Mr. Woodrow turned and watched as I picked up every single piece. It took me 20 years to return to church."

Samuel Garland had to change pews. "I was embarrassed more than once when my wife would dig deep in her purse to retrieve some gum. She would unzip the purse loudly, scratch around, rattle a few things, play some gongs, and then hold her hand high so everyone would see her passing me the gum. We used to sit on the front row, but those experiences caused us to move to the back of the church."

"Those fears have now been removed from our services," explained Chandler Nash, Worship Coordinator. "Our services were stale. The new program has managed to swish away the bad 'breath freshening memories,' which by the way, tended to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Pun intended," said a proud Nash.

Here is 2nd Calvary's new worship schedule:
Listen Up! (Announcements)
Look It Up! (Scripture Reading)
Hands Up! (Praise and Worship time)
Stick 'Em Up! (Offeratory time)
Freshen Up! (Breath Mints, etc.)
Shake It Up! (Greet one another time)
Give It Up! (Soloist or Special Music)
Shut Up! (Sermon)
Wake Up! (Invitational)

Although everything appears to be rather traditional on the surface, look closely and you'll notice a segment of the worship service labeled as "Freshen Up". We are told that this time is set aside especially for applying a breath strip, squirting a shot of Binaca Blast, biting into a Trident Burst, rattling a Tic-Tac box, or performing any of a number of previously disruptive events (if not taboos.)

"Having a designated time for these activities eliminates awkward interruptions during other parts of the service," explained Pastor Donald Jackson. "This is truly a serious time of pleasant spiritual interpersonal reflection before greeting others face to face. It's common courtesy. We're not doing any holy kisses or anything weird like that."

Blake Daniels has grown spiritually because of the change, "I no longer feel like I have to sneak a Certs during prayer time. I can spend more time praying. The Freshen Up time has undeniably strengthened my prayer life."

TBNN representatives overheard the leadership receiving many complimints. "It’s been a life saver! There’s really no estimate to how many souls have been rescued as a result of this change." "In momints like these, I sing out a song." "Most people have taken the change in stride. "

The placement of the Freshen Up time was important. "We originially tried to incert the Freshen Up time just after the opening announcements and prior to praise worship. But we found this tended to eclipse the singing participation during the first song with mouths filled with chewing gum and remaining candy bits," said Nash.

The Freshen Up slot has changed many bad habits. According to Gary Falgar, "I previously used the cough method when opening breath mints. This covered me in two ways. If the coughing didn't hide the sound of retrieving the breath mints, people seemed to understand that I have the right to make noise since I have a cough."

Betty Milton, 16, seemed to be the only one who was not happy with the change. "It's no longer any fun to sneak gum or Altoids any more." Betty said she recently learned to wrap the gum around the Altoid in her mouth and keep both for the entire sermon. "Our pastor preaches long sermons, usually a whole 30 minutes." She perfected the art of keeping the Altoid in her mouth the entire time without it disintegrating. "It would impress my stupid little brother."

Those who don’t have acceptable mints (an official approved list exists) can exchange them. For convenience, several vender booths have been placed in the lobby. These venders are willing to exchange your non-approved mints, gum, etc. for those on the acceptable list. They will do so for a small fee. Credit cards accepted.

27 July, 2007

Church Focuses on Ephesians 4:26a

Mentone, AL - Since its founding almost a half a century ago St. Luke's Methodist Church in Mentone has been a church that by its own confession has "struggled to be happy." The members of the congregation of just over 100 people seem to consistently struggle with one another, arguing and holding grudges.

Over the years disputes have broken out over everything from building projects to who will run Vacation Bible School, to someone's casserole not being eaten at a church picnic.

"We have two ladies in this church that haven't spoken to one another in over twenty years" said deacon Charles Ainsworth. "I don't remember all of the details, but it had something to do with one of the ladies criticizing the flower arrangement that one of the other ladies had made. It's not that we don't love one another, we just don't seem to like one another. "We've all grown up together, and we just seem to get on each others nerves a lot."

The various pastors of the church over the years have tried to preach peace among the congregation, but to no avail. But the church's current pastor, Rev. Prentiss Carnes recently "discovered" a verse that may be the solution to all of the strife within the church.

"I was reading in Ephesians and came across 4:26a where it says 'Be angry and yet do not sin,'" said Carnes. "I started thinking and realized that there's a Biblical mandate here to be angry, that perhaps all these years we've been getting it all wrong. May God has called us to be an angry church. That seems to be where our gifts lie, in being angry."

And "angry" is just what they are fostering now at St. Luke's. The church has recently made Ephesians 4:26a its theme verse and has set out to make itself known as "the angriest church in America."

"It's a relief to know that we're okay" said Lillian Ainsworth, wife of Charles. "We stayed so blooming mad at one another all of the time I wasn't sure what our problem was, but I see now that we just have a different calling by God. The Lord calls some of us to be angry and that is our calling I suppose."

"I believe we can be angry at one another and not sin because we still love each other deep down" said Carnes. "But we need to foster this anger that we have and learn how to do it better. God commands it, and therefore we must do it."

26 July, 2007

Pastor in Danger After Risky Van Purchase

DAYTONA, FL - When you visit Orange Grove Baptist Church, the first thing you see is a lot of the number three. The number is on the cars, on the trucks, in the nursery, and even in the worship center. You may think, "Wow, they really like the Trinity here." They may, but that is not the reason for the ubiquitous 3. "We really like Dale Earnhardt, and we know he is part of 'Heaven's Racing Team,'" said deacon Frank Drake.

This type of obsession is probably harmless in most places, but not in Daytona, a hotbed of NASCAR. However, the dangers of Earnhardt-mania did not come to the surface until last week. That's when the church purchased a new van.

"The deacons gave me the go-ahead, so I checked out prices for a 15-passenger van," said pastor Steven Williams. "The best price I could find in the Daytona area was for a Ford. I thought the church members would be happy that we saved a little money. Good stewardship is usually important to most people. I had no way of anticipating the response."

Pastor Williams reportedly bought the Ford on a Thursday. By Saturday, word of the purchase had circulated through the church. Most of the members were not pleased.

Deacon Drake told TBNN, "The pastor has only been here about six months. He used to live in Vermont, so he doesn't understand how important this is. We are a Chevy church. When we watch NASCAR, we only root for the fellas driving Chevys. We only drive Chevys, or at least some other make of GM. Somehow that slipped through the cracks in the pastoral-search process. Now we have a mess on our hands."

On Sunday morning, most of the members gave Pastor Williams the cold shoulder. He preached from Isaiah chapter six and couldn't even get one "amen." After the service, as the pastor tried to greet his flock at the back of the church building, he was given many curt responses such as, "Remember that we love Dale," "Dale has been here a lot longer than you have," and "Chevy is the heartbeat of America."

Although we cannot confirm this, we have heard reports that a petition which calls for the pastor's resignation is making its way through the church. A special business meeting has been called for this coming Wednesday night.

A saddened Williams said, "I guess it is all in God's hands now. I am more than willing to try to take the Ford back and replace it with a Chevrolet. I'm not sure if the congregation will give me that chance. It appears that I have committed the unpardonable sin."

Fortunately for Pastor Williams, we at TBNN have learned that Providence Baptist Church, within ten minutes of Orange Grove, is in the process of looking for a pastor. Our sources tell us that they are a Ford church.

When we told Williams this, he simply said, "I guess I had better sell my family's old Toyota van."

25 July, 2007

Man Goes on Mission to "Save Satan"

Dearborn, Il - Aaron Plaster thinks he has the solution to all of the problems humanity has faced since the beginning. For years, Plaster has wrestled with the problem of evil in the world and the billions upon billions of people that are lost and will never be saved.

"I just can't get over the thought that out there in the world there are all these lost people who are never going to be saved" said Plaster. "I know Jesus died and all of that to save people, but not everyone accepts him and believes in him. I know this might sound blasphemous but if Jesus' death and resurrection was supposed to save the world it's not doing a very good job. What I mean is that it saves those few here and there that make a decision, but how can the rest of the billions of people out there be saved if Satan keeps tricking them?"

So Plaster set out about a year ago to find a solution for the problem of sin until this past week when the idea came to him.

"I read the Bible over and over again, and finally it hit me" he said. "The problem all began with Satan. Satan apparently fell long before Adam and Eve did, and he tempted Adam and Eve to sin. The Bible also depicts Satan as causing trouble throughout the earth. So it all goes back to him. If there were no Satan then there would be no sin. But Satan is a spirit, so I can't destroy him, but I shouldn't want to destroy him, because I'm supposed to love my enemies right? So if salvation is to ever come to all the earth then Satan must get saved."

Now Plaster has set out on a campaign to "convert Satan" spreading his idea on the internet and to every Christian he comes in contact with.

"We've got two main parts to this plan" stated Plaster. "First we're going to get people to pray for the old Devil. We need people praying for his salvation. Secondly, we need people to witness to him. We can't see him, but we know he's there, so the best way to do that is to just talk out loud and tell him the gospel. Like yesterday morning I was sitting in my kitchen witnessing to the Devil saying 'God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, if you would only ask him into your heart today Satan.' I know he's listening, and I hope that he gets the message."

So far people have been reluctant to join with Plaster in his "mission" citing passages of Scripture that show that Satan's fate is already sealed. Still Plaster is determined to spread his message of "hope" for the world.

"If Satan gets saved then it's all over" said Plaster. "There would be no more evil, no more pain, and everyone would go to heaven because there would be no more devil to trick people into not making a decision. Everyone needs to jump on board with this mission."

Plaster is currently raising money to pursue his "mission work" full time. Donations can be made in both U.S. Dollars or Euros.

23 July, 2007

Study Shows Average Age of Presbyterians Down to 83

Louisville, Ky - A recent study by the Barna Research Group published this past Friday was good news for the Presbyterian Church, USA. The denomination, which has found itself shrinking over the past decade, has also struggled to attract younger members. But the results of the Barna study revealed that the average age of members in the church is down from 91, in 1997 to 83 in 2006, showing that the church is almost 9% younger than they were ten years ago.

"This is tremendously encouraging news" stated Joan S. Gray, moderator of the 217 General Assembly of the PCUSA. "Our denomination has been striving for change over the past decade, opening new doors, welcoming in new people and promoting tolerance. We value and cherish our elderly, but at the same time the children are the future of our denomination, and new vibrant life is necessary if we are to continue to grow and develop."

But some state that the celebration might be premature. Further investigation into the statistics seems to reveal that the decrease may not be due to a substantial increase in younger members, but a decrease in older members.

"While it looks like progress on paper, what we have here is simply a reduction in the number of older members thus lowering our overall average" stated Rev. Jeff Coolidge, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Louisville. "If one examines the statistics, one will find that the reason that our average dropped is because almost 92% of members over the age of 85 have died in the past ten years."

A further examination of the statistics have also led some to believe that the decline in the number of older members may be theological.

"With the spiritual and theological decline of our denomination it's no wonder that so many of our older more traditional and conservative members have left" said Jack Miller of the PCUSA's Layman, a conservative voice within the denomination. "So many have just gotten fed up with the liberalism and left."

Still, many are hailing the new statistics as "progress" in the church.

"This is irrefutable evidence that we're headed in the right direction" said Gray. "We hope that by 2015 to bring that number down even further maybe even to 78 or 79."

21 July, 2007

So Easy A Calvinist Can Do It

Once again, it appears Calvinists will be the center of ridicule on a national scale. One of our TBNN investigators was somehow able to obtain preliminary ad campaign information from GEICO.

A source within GEICO, who wished to remain anonymous, did admit that Calvinists better fit the type of sapiens GEICO is targeting. "First of all, our research indicates that Calvinists are not very bright. One brilliant theologian and leader of a major university was recently quoted as saying 'Calvinists are Stupider than Cavemen.' Second, from our understanding, the Calvinist beliefs may be a better analogy of the way in which GEICO chooses customers. We are the selectors. The insured are the selected. Our insurance is not available to all. A Calvinist mascot helps us to better get this point across."

Sources also report if the preliminary ad campaign is successful, future anticipated campaigns include: "Don't Call GEICO, GEICO will Call You," "You Can Run, but You can't Hide from GEICO," and "Once Insured with GEICO, Always Insured with GEICO."

But, why the cavemen emblems and extra hair on John Piper? "We've kept most of the old Caveman symbolism and brands for ease of recognition," explained the anonymous GEICO rep. "We are confident the switch from Caveman to Calvinist will go unnoticed by most non-Calvinist."

We at TBNN can only imagine the potential negativism and rumors that may be propagated by the non-Reformed: "Will our small world be able to absorb the impending backlash of those vile Calvinists? Given the blog-blazing and overruns levied by Calvinists worldwide after the airline industry adopted a Calvinist-mocking trifold (by one "Tom S" who, for safety, has since fled the country with his family), Armenians everywhere should be on red alert."

Sunday July 22, 2007 2:30pm

Tom: Please rise and state your name?
Brother Slawson: um… Brother Slawson
Tom: You may be seated. Brother Slawson, are you aware of the nature of the charges against you?
Bro: I think so.
Tom: Brother Slawson, you are being charged with the crime of “going too far.” How do you plead?
Bro: Not guilty, sir.
::skipping other preliminaries::
Tom: Brother Slawson, you were entrusted with passwords and code so that you could personally post and edit information on TBNN, is that correct?
Bro: Yes, but…
Tom: Are you the sole author of the post, “So Easy a Calvinist Can Do It” published on July 21, 2007 at Tominthebox News Network?
Bro: Yes, but..
Tom: Brother Slawson, are you secretly an Arminian?
Bro: No sir. I am not an Armenian, um… Arminian. I am a Calvinist. My beliefs are reformed.
Tom: um… yes… Brother Slawson, will you please explain how you can call yourself “reformed” and post an edited photo of John Piper wearing caveman hair?
Bro: It was meant to be a play on Geico’s fictitious reliance on the consult of Ergun Caner, who, fictitiously had made the statement “Calvinists are stupider than cavemen.”

Tom: And that was supposed to be funny, why?
Bro: Well, Caner has been quoted in real life as saying “Calvinists are worse than Muslims.” It seemed funny on that Saturday night around midnight when I wrote the article, to imagine that Caner convinced Geico that they should have a theme consistent with “Calvinists are stupider than cavemen.”
Tom: And, you believed this to be funny?
Bro: Yes. My wife and I had a real good laugh at the thought.
Tom: What were your consumption habits on that evening?
Bro: All we had was stir fry with chicken. Oh, and for dessert I had corn flake peanut butter bars. Admittedly, it was a double helping. Also I guess, earlier in the day I consumed a 20-oz sugar-free “Rock Star” energy drink around 4 that afternoon on the way home from work.
Tom: “Rock Star” hmm? I see. Have you been experimenting with any Calvinix lately?
Bro: Absolutely not. I like and welcome reformed thought.
Tom: So, you say you attribute the statement “Calvinist are stupider than cavemen” to Caner. Why didn’t you put this citation in the article?
Bro: I did, but it was not explicit. There were imbedded links within the article. For example, the “secret” Geico source who supplied the preliminary ad to TBNN was really the Geico Gecko. If you clicked on “source,” it took you to a picture of the Gecko. Likewise, if you clicked on “brilliant theologian and leader” it took you to Ergun Caner’s website.
Tom: And you believe Caner to be a brilliant theologian and leader?
Bro: NO! It was a fictitious quote within the satire that the Gecko source had ratted out.
Tom: I see. But none of this explains how you could mutilate a picture of John Piper.
Bro: Ok. I admit I’ve had second thoughts about that particular picture. Piper is in the top 10 of my favorite teachers of all time. He is truly my favorite living human teacher. I’m sorry to those I offended.
Tom: So you admit the post was a mistake?
Bro: Well, Calvinists are traditionally studiers and readers and seekers of truth. I thought our Calvinist readers would read the article carefully and realize it was a slam on Caner. Besides, in my humble opinion, would anyone actually believe that an Arminian could develop a cartoon of that caliber?
Tom: So you are saying the cartoon was, in part, a slam on the inability of Arminians to write such cartoons?
Bro: Sure. It was also in the vein of the airline’s trifold explaining how to avoid Calvinists. It was in the vein of Calvinix, with the goal of avoiding Calvinist thoughts. It was playing on the how Arminians would like to make fun of Calvinists, though most don’t have the horsepower.
Tom: That clears things up some for me.
Bro: Thank you.
Tom: However, you are on probation and must put a disclaimer at the bottom of your posts until such a time that I deem it can be removed. Also, you must re-label the post in question as “Way Over the Top”
Bro: Yes Sir.

20 July, 2007

Phinney Pharmaceuticals Issues Recall on Calvinix

Phinney Pharmaceuticals issued a statement on Thursday that it will recall over 50,000 bottles of Calvinix due to what the company called "defects" in the product. The company's president, Quinton LeGrange commented on the reason for the recall.

"It has been discovered that a significant number of bottles of Calvinix are defective, and rather than inhibiting Calvinist and Reformed thoughts it actually strengthens them, causing one to become more open to the reformed faith."

The problem was first discovered back in March of this year, soon after Calvinix was first released when Terry and Lynn Bishop of Nashville, Tennessee first complained that the medicine was not working properly. The Bishops, formerly Episcopalians, left their church after becoming frustrated with liberal trends in their denomination. They were attracted at first to the Presbyterian church, and liked the conservative expository preaching, but not the Calvinism. So the decided that they would take Calvinix before visiting.

"We went to one sermon. One sermon!" said Terry. "After that one sermon Lynn and I were riding home and I said to her, 'You know, it really does make sense. I can really see God's sovereignty in salvation.' And she just agreed with me."

Since then over 35,000 people who have taken the drug have reported that their understanding and accepting of Calvinism has only increased.

"We plan to issue a full refund on the product" stated LeGrange. "We are also working on a remedy to reverse the effects of Calvinism once they've already taken hold."

19 July, 2007

TULIP VBS brings shocking response from parents

MACON, GA - When Phil Sanders graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in May of 2006, he was determined to teach children about the Doctrines of Grace. However, when he was hired to be Children's Pastor at the First Baptist Church of Macon in November of 2006, things did not look positive for his Reformed ideas. In fact, Sanders was told by the First Baptist search committee that they, "did not want any of that Calvinism in their church because they care about missions."

Well, Sanders was hired and generally kept the Doctrines of Grace "in check" while he taught the kids the basics of the gospel message. When time rolled around for the 2007 Vacation Bible School, Sanders could not keep his Reformed theology bottled up any longer. That's when he held the church's first "TULIP VBS." The real shocking part of this story is not that Sanders did it, but rather what the responses of the parents were.

According to Sanders, "I knew things could get a little rough around here after the first few days of VBS. I figured that Monday would be O.K. because most of the folks at our church believe in some form of total depravity. Honestly, it was Wednesday morning that scared me. You see, the kids would go home on Tuesday night and tell their parents about unconditional election. They also would take home their TULIP T-shirts that night. I figured that would really tick off at least half the parents, and I would hear about it Wednesday morning. And I just knew that even if Wednesday went all right, Thursday morning would be a disaster. Why? Because when kids go home and talk about limited atonement, well, parents usually go haywire."

Jean Sayers, mother of TULIP VBS students Kayla and Jacob, told us that she was initially surprised by what her kids were talking about. "I expected the kids to come home the first day and talk about recreation, crafts, puppets, and loud music. That has been the norm for VBS in the past at our church. This year was so different. On Monday evening, both Kayla and Jake kept talking about man's sinfulness. We have talked about this before at home some, but they have never been so focused on it."

When Wednesday morning arrived, Rev. Sanders was ready for the onslaught. Here is where this story takes its shocking twist. As the parents dropped off the kids in the morning, they were all positive toward pastor Sanders. Most parents were generally kind, several commented on how much their kids were talking about the bible, and a few moms even hugged him because their kids were interested in the things of God for the first time in their lives.

Rev. Sanders could not have been more pleased, saying, "I really thought that I might lose my job on Wednesday morning. I even had some empty cardboard boxes in my office just in case I had to pack up quickly and 'get out of Dodge.' After the positive reactions, I decided that I could forcefully teach limited atonement on Wednesday. And you know what? I got the same reaction Thursday morning. Wow!"

Our sources at First Baptist tell
TBNN that these unexpected positive reactions continued all week. Because of this, Rev. Sanders went on to teach the kids about irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints. The kids reportedly were more focused on God than ever before at a VBS.

At the Friday night VBS celebration the following scene unfolded: As the service was closing, Rev. Sanders left a microphone open at the front of the the sanctuary for kids to give testimonies from the week. Within about thirty seconds, fifteen children lined up behind the mike. One after one, they kept saying similar things, such as, "Now I really understand the gospel for the first time," "Grace has a brand new meaning for me," "I'm no longer afraid of losing my salvation," "Now I don't have to ignore Romans 8-11 and Ephesians 1-2," and "I've heard about and understand God's glory for the first time in my life."

The service closed with no dry eye in the place, and the parents and kids sang
Amazing Grace. To top it off, seven children going into the sixth grade committed to give their lives to full-time missions service overseas.

Rev. Sanders told us, "I could not have imagined that this could happen here. I shouldn't be surprised when we serve such an amazing, sovereign, gracious God."

ADDENDUM: During the Sunday morning service, Rev. Sanders was congratulated by Senior Pastor Lenny Franks in front of the entire church body. On Monday night, the church deacons fired Rev. Sanders.

18 July, 2007

Spiritryl: "When Being Filled Just Isn't Enough"

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16 July, 2007

U.C.C. Congregation Frustrated to Simply Be "Old, Rich and White"

San Francisco, CA - The United Church of Christ has for many years now touted itself as being an "opening" and "accepting" church. The theologically liberal denomination whose motto is "God is still speaking" openly accepts into full church membership gays, lesbians and transgendered persons. The church is also one of only a few to officially sanction and perform same-sex unions, and prides itself in being a "church for everyone," including the poor, minorities, social outcasts, etc. But one U.C.C. congregation in the San Francisco area has been struggling to find its place among the denomination, and recently they have set about on a campaign for diversity.

"The problem is simple" said Rev. Dale Pendergrast, pastor of Bayside United Church of Christ. "We're just a bunch of old, rich, white people. We have no minorities in our congregation. We have no gays or lesbians. We have no poor people. The youngest person in our congregation is 55, and there isn't a person here who drives a car that costs less that $25,000. We are pure vanilla ice cream here."

Pendergrast's frustration has been exacerbated further by the fact that the nearby, conservative, Southern Baptist is more diverse than his own church.

"It's very frustrating" said Pendergrast. "We're supposed to be the church of acceptance and diversity, and here this Baptist church down the street has a sizable African American membership and even a Spanish service!"

TBNN spoke with Elbert Raulston the pastor of the the Baptist Church in question, Trinity Baptist Church.

"We're very diverse here" said Raulston. "Anyone is welcome through our doors, no matter who they are or where they've come from. But we are honest with people though about sin and salvation. We welcome homosexuals to our services, but we tell them that they need to repent of that lifestyle and be saved. And we have some people in our congregation who have come out of that lifestyle. So we model Jesus in that we turn no one away, but we model him also in telling people to 'go and sin no more.'"

But Raulston's theological position only further causes Pendergrast to wonder why his church is not growing more.

"It just doesn't make sense" said Pendergrast. "If homosexuals go to that church they'll be told they have to repent, change, believe everything the Bible says and all that nonsense. If they come here, they can stay just the way they are and keep living however they want. It just doesn't make sense. We're the accepting church. We're the open-minded denomination. We should have more diversity, not some Baptist church."

In an effort to hopefully remedy the church's lack of diversity, Bayside has begun a number of campaigns to hopefully change the makeup of their congregation.

"We're excited about these new campaigns" said Ellen Turner, campaign coordinator. "Each month we have one Sunday we call Bring Someone Gay to the Bay, where we encourage our members to bring someone they know or suspect is homosexual to our service. We've also put up some posters around town inviting people to come, and assuring them that they'll be loved and accepted here. But the one I'm most excited about is our Hip Hop and Don't Stop service that we're holding monthly to attract younger crowds. The whole service is rapped, and Reverend Pendergrast can really break it down for the kids."

"The campaigns, thus far, have failed to yield the diversity that we hoped for" said Pendergrast. "But, to be fair, we've only been trying for two months now. We got really excited just last week because we were pretty sure this one guy who visited our service was gay. But unfortunately he just turned out to be really well dressed. The last I heard he visited Trinity Baptist."

14 July, 2007

The Broadman Message Remix Hymnal

Buckhead, GA – There's a new item on the shelves, the Broadman Message Remix Hymnal (Hymns in Contemporary Language). Broadman acknowledges that they have changed the original titles and most of the words. But they claim the lyrics still convey the message of each original song, all with no loss of true spiritual substance. "It's truly stealth, man. Like, dude, we're getting all the vibe with none of the useless rap," said 18 year old Jesse Iron. Jesse continued, "The songs in the old hymnal were, you know, so boring, and I was always left confused. This is, like, a great compromise. I know the old peoples will grow spiritually by using more modern language. Probably most important to them is they still get to hold a book. If that's what is important to them, I can put up with it."
Others like Jesse never understood the old hymns. "I gots a real craving for the Word, my brother. What's the dizzle in this hizzle? 'thithers' and 'bulwarks' ? I mean, 'Here I raise mine Ebenezer, Hither by thy help I'm come.' fo rizzle my brother!" said Jerome Patterns, 16.

"It a marvelous example of sociolinguistics at work," says Martha Whitting, co-editor and Lead Minister of Music at The True Way congregation in Buckhead, Georgia. "The Broadman Message Remix Hymnal has managed to capture the actual souls of the dead writers," said Whitting.

Armed with a review copy, the TBNN representatives were glad to see a dual table of contents. The first was an alphabetized list of the songs listed by the new title. The second was a list by the old title. It was also helpful that this Remix version contained actual page numbers. For example, on page 247, Be Thou My Vision had been altered from the original to I Need You to See for Me. Here is the reworded song:

I need you to see for me
See for me, see for me, see for me, see for me
Before I stub my toe in the dark, see for me

I need you to be my brain,
My brain, my brain, my brain, my brain,
You're no substitute teacher, pack my brain

I need you to watch my back
Watch my back, watch my back, watch my back, watch my back
You've got me covered, on the lookout, watch watch watch

I need only the heavenly bling
No man's rap just Heavenly bling, Heavenly bling
No Dollar Tree treasures, jut your bling, bling bling bling

From now on, you're the only true coach
Victory's certain, victory's certain, victory's certain
Despite the current scoreboard, see that I win

"The Broadman Message Remix Hymnal is much better than just a Bible," said Bailey Barnes. "We are supposed to worship in spirit and in truth. I've never gotten much spirit sitting around in a Bible study. Everyone's just acting like Pharisees, like they are really trying to gain some great truths. But the songs in the Message Remix are truth and spirit mixed all in one book."

More popular titles include:
We're Cross Inspecting (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Jesus is my Bodyguard (A Mighty Fortress is Our God)
Fill My Swimming Pool (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)
1-2-3, God Bless Me (Count Your Blessings) by Oatman, Excell, Osteen, and Elder’s Wife
Defibrillate My Soul (Revive Us Again) by Mackay, Husband, and Elder’s Wife
I’m Totally Cool with God (It Is Well With My Soul) by by Spafford, Bliss, and Alice C.
Get Those Hands Up (Lift High The Cross) by Nicholson, Kitchin, and Brian Hamrick
I’m Happy, Yo (Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee) by Beethoven, Dyke, and Brian Hamrick

13 July, 2007

Ergun Caner to Star in New Movie This Fall

Lynchburg, VA - Coming this fall to a theater near you. Ergun Caner is The Calvinator. From the makers of Free Will E. and An Arminian in Paris comes an epic film of eternal weight.

In a world of religious chaos, where doctrinal confusion reigns, one man is sent from the future to stop the madness before it destroys the efforts of the gospel. Traveling to the year 1643 with his stump of power, The Calvinator has one mission; to stop the Westminster Assembly of Divines and put an end to Calvinism forever!

Be sure not to miss The Calvinator: Judgment Day this fall from Dave Hunt Productions.

11 July, 2007

Christians Now Buy and Sell on "Eway"

Portland, OR - Old family Bibles, Veggie Tales VHS tapes, a spoon once used by Billy Sunday; these are all items that Christian bargain hunters and collectors can now find on a new website launched this past weekend known as Eway. Eway (pronounced "e-way") was founded by Mark Knickerbacher to be a "safe haven for Christians who want to buy and sell." Now, after a quick sign-up process, Christians can either be bidding on Christian items, or selling them to others.

"It was time that Christians had a safe place where they can do business on the internet" said Knickerbacher. "I've used Ebay for years to do my work, but just recently became convicted that it was wrong for me to do business on a website where other people are engaged in illicit deeds."
Some of the "illicit deeds" that concerned Knickerbacher were the sales of what he calls "questionable items" by others.

"Just recently I bought a some Thomas Kinkade prints from another seller, and I started looking at some of the other items he had for sale" he said. "It turned out that this guy was selling a set of beer glasses too! I was totally offended, so I canceled our transaction and never sent in payment. He got really upset with me and left me negative feedback, which I thought was uncalled for. So I left him negative feedback too warning people, 'Hey, watch out for this guy. Don't let the Thomas Kinkade stuff fool you!"

Eway automatically prohibits the buying or selling of any item deemed "inappropriate." But already Knickerbacher has received a number of complaints from people asking him why certain items are banned.
"We had to ban the iPhone" said Knickerbacher. "I know people really like them, and that they're cool gadgets, but I think that Apple's TV commercials are really smug and unchristian. So we won't be selling any Apple products at Eway including the iPhone."

In addition, the site also prohibits the sale of anything associated with Calvinism and Reformed theology.

"There was some guy selling a book of the collected sermons of George Whitfield" said Knickerbacher. "We're just not going to have that. Eway is going to be safe place. Calvinism is not Christianity, and nothin
g unchristian can be sold on the site."

Some other "unchristian" items include any and all Disney products, anything containing the words "Paris" or "Hilton," anything made in, sold from or produced in Canada, and anything remotely having to do with the Smurfs.

A quick survey of the Eway site by the TBNN staff revealed the following items currently being auctioned at the site,

* A set of ceramic doves from The Hour of Power - $0.99
* A complete set of Joyce Meyer books - $1.29
* An autographed Petra poster with record- $1.10
* 100 Lincoln cents blessed by Oral Roberts - $0.89
* An empty toothpaste tube once used by Joel Osteen - $39.00

While Eway has a long way to go before it reaches the same status of its secular likeness, the site appears to be doing well already having over 200 enrolled users.

"We're excited about the response so far" said Knickerbacher. "We hope things will pick up though. I've got plenty of stuff myself to sell, so I'll be heavily involved in the site too."

10 July, 2007

Episcopal Priest Claims to be Both Male and Female

SEATTLE, WA - Rev. Jamie Burns, priest at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, announced Sunday to his/her congregation that he/she is both a man and a woman.

Rev. Burns began his/her sermon this way, "Brothers and sisters, I have recently been inspired by the actions of Rev. Ann Holmes of our fair city. As you know, she announced last month that she is both a Christian and a Muslim. In fact Rev. Ann said, and I quote, 'I'm 100% both.' Well, the same is true for me, but in a different way. I am also 100% both - both male and female that is."

Kelvin Willis, a member at St. Paul's, told TBNN that he was shocked at first by Rev. Burns' statement. Mr. Willis said, "I think I gasped. I hope no one heard me. The last thing I would want is for anyone to think that I am intolerant of this sort of thing. We have been taught for a long time to be accepting of other people, so I think this must be an O.K. thing."

In the sermon, Rev. Burns went on to say, "I've been dealing with this issue for most of my life. As a child, other kids would ask me, 'Is Jamie a boy's name or a girl's name?' I would respond by saying, 'Exactly.'"

"Now that our society has become more tolerant of this sort of lifestyle, and after Rev. Holmes' announcement, this just seemed like the correct timing. Some may question how I can be a man and a woman. Well, I just know it to be the case. Sometimes I feel more one way or the other, but for the most part I'm right in the middle."

Soon after the sermon, members of different religious communities in the country responded. Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY, quickly had an answer for Rev. Burns. According to Mohler, "Some issues in our society are complicated, but this is not. What Rev. Burns is claiming is an impossibility. You can be male or female, but you cannot be both. There are physical differences that make it clear, but I'd rather not get into that right now."

Rev. Burns quickly responded to Dr. Mohler in this manner, "Like most Southern Baptists, Dr. Mohler sees most issues in black-and-white, and thinks he has all the answers. He does not know me at all. The reality is that I know how I feel, and I know that I am 100% man and 100% woman. I'm not 50-50, but 100-100."

We at TBNN were curious about Rev. Burns' future at St. Paul's. We, therefore, called Dr. Susan Green, who is Bishop of the Diocese of Washington state. Dr. Green told us, "We have not fully looked into the situation. However, it's not like Rev. Burns said he/she was also a member of another religion. Rev. Burns still lives for Jesus in all he/she does. He/she hasn't spoken out against the faith at all. Therefore, I believe Rev. Burns will remain where he/she is. We hope the St. Paul's congregation will be accepting of his/her announcement."

Dr. Green closed the phone call by reminding us of this, "Somewhere in the New Testament Jesus said, 'Treat others like you want to be treated.' You would want to be accepted by others. Please be kind to Rev. Burns. Please accept him/her. That would please Jesus."

The only question remaining: what did Rev. Burns say in the rest of his/her sermon? Our sources at St. Paul's tell us that the primary text was Genesis 1:27 which says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." According to Rev. Burns, "If God himself created them 'male and female,' then I must be O.K. because I'm 'male and female.'"

09 July, 2007

Cable Company Goes TBN 24/7 for Delinquent Customers

Knoxville, TN- Cable Pro of Knoxville has for years had to put man hours and money into the problem of cable company clients who were delinquent in their payments. The practice has traditionally been that cable customers who persisted in not paying their bills would, after three notices, have their cable service cut off until their account was settled. While this practice has been successful in rooting out non-paying customers, it still costs the company an estimated $60,000 per year in lost time, and man hours.

But recently Cable Pro president, Larry Maezell experimented with a new idea that has so far been very successful. Now, instead of canceling a person's service, or sending him or her repeated notices of delinquency, Cable Pro simply changes a customer's subscription preferences resulting in his or her service becoming 24 hours of the Trinity Broadcasting Network on every channel.

"It's worked beautifully" said Maezell. "In the past we'd have to try and try to get in touch with the people who weren't paying, try and get our man out there to cut off their service. It was just a big hassle. Now, they call us!"

Cable Pro customer Chris Kjos was one of the first to experience Cable Pro's new policy.

"All I wanted to do was watch a little golf on Sunday afternoon" said Kjos. "I turned on my set and all I saw was this lady with big poofy hair singing. I just thought the cable company had switched up all the channels again. So I changed the channel, and it was the same thing on every channel. When I called the cable company they said I hadn't paid up my bill in over a month."

Now, "like clockwork" customers who are behind on their payments for cable services usually call the company within 24 hours wondering what is wrong with their cable service, only to told that they must pay up if they wish to have any channels other that TBN.

"This is the greatest idea we've had in a long time" said Maezell. "We've literally saved thousands of dollars. And last week when TBN ran the non-stop Benny Hinn marathon people were calling in so fast we couldn't keep up."

While a number of cable customers have complained that Cable Pro's practice amounts to "cruel and unusual" measures, Maezell has no plans to change.

"The rule stands" he said. "Either pay your bill or all you'll be watching is TBN, twenty-four-seven."

07 July, 2007

Pastor Honus Johnson, Moderator

Daleside Baptist Church
July 1, 2007, 7:00 pm
Regular Business Meeting Minutes
Willis Owensby, Clerk

The congregation of approximately 22 men, women, and children 12 and older met in the sanctuary. Pastor Honus Johnson opened the meeting with prayer. We sang the 1st, 2nd, and 4th verses of Sweet Hour of Prayer, led by Brother Lane Steve, Song Leader. Motion presented by Brother Randall Miller, Fellowship Chairman.
  • “I move to postpone all business scheduled for tonight to a special called meeting on Wednesday, July 12, 2007 so we can begin setting up decorations for VBS.”
Pastor Honus Johnson called for the vote. Brother Dale Williams, Head Deacon, raised a point of order that the motion was not seconded, neither was it discussed. Pastor Honus Johnson asked for a second. Brother Randall Miller’s motion was seconded by Brother Dale Williams, Head Deacon.

Pastor Honus Johnson recognized Brother Jasper Gephard, Treasurer. Brother Gephard stood up to give the financial report and began by stating that the General Fund contained $4,198.38 as of June 30, 2007. Brother Randall Miller, Fellowship Chairman, raised a point of order that his motion had not been voted on. Pastor Honus Johnson asked that everyone who was in favor say “Amen.” After many “Amens,” Brother Lane Steve, Song Leader, questioned why the vote was taken on the Treasurer’s report before it was fully presented. Since it was unclear what had just been voted on, Brother Dale Williams, Head Deacon, suggested that we return to a discussion of Brother Randall Miller’s original motion.

Pastor Johnson recognized Sister Evelynn Gephard, Children’s Choir Director. Sister Evelynn raised the point that July 11, 2007 will be a Wednesday and July 12, 2007 will be a Thursday, but the motion states “Wednesday, July 12.” Pastor Johnson advised Brother Randall Miller to withdraw his original motion. Brother Randall Miller attempted to withdraw his motion, but Brother Dale Williams raised a point of order that the motion could not be withdrawn because he had already seconded the motion. Since it could not be withdrawn unless he also withdrew his second, Brother Dale Williams suggested that amendments be offered to the original motion.

Sister Evelynn Gephard motioned to amend Brother Randall Miller’s original motion by changing “Wednesday, July 12” to “Wednesday, July 11.” Pastor Honus Johnson called for the vote. Brother Dale Williams, raised a point of order that the amendment to the motion had not been seconded, neither was it discussed. Pastor Johnson asked for a second. Sister Evelynn’s motion to amend was seconded by Brother Dale Williams.

Pastor Johnson recognized Brother Jasper Gephard, Treasurer. Brother Gephard stood up to report that Tithes and Offerings for June were $3,117.91 while expenses were $2,993.47. Brother Randall Miller raised a point of order that his motion still needed a vote. Pastor Johnson called for the vote. Brother Dale Williams raised a point of order that Sister Evelynn’s amendment needed to be discussed and voted on before Brother Randall’s original motion could be voted on.

Pastor Johnson recognized Sister Dorris Lee Williams. Sister Dorris Lee suggested that we settle on a date to have the next business meeting and get on with setting up for VBS. Pastor Johnson recognized Sister Sarah Owensby. Sister Sarah agreed with Sister Dorris Lee that we hurry up and settle on a date for the business meeting. Brother Dale Williams explained to everyone that we were already in the process of deciding on the date. Brother Randall Miller, Jr. said that we should just have the meeting on Wednesday the 11th and get on with the VBS decorations.

Brother Lane Steve, Song Leader, said that Wednesday, July 11th would not be a good time because it would interfere with the organizational meeting for the Christmas Cantata. He said that Thursday, July 12th would fit the schedule much better. Sister Evelynn Gephard withdrew her motion to amend, and Brother Dale Williams withdrew his second on the motion to amend. Pastor Honus Johnson called for the vote. Brother Dale Williams raised a point of order and stated that the original motion, as currently written, still contained the impossible date of Wednesday, July 12th.

Brother Lane Steve, Song Leader, motioned to amend Brother Randall Miller’s original motion by changing “Wednesday, July 12” to “Thursday, July 12.” Pastor Honus Johnson called for the vote. Brother Dale Williams, raised a point of order that the amendment to the motion had not been seconded, neither was it discussed. Pastor Johnson asked for a second. Brother Lane’s motion to amend was seconded by Brother Dale Williams.

Brother Willis Owensby raised a Bylaws question. According to the current Bylaws, a special meeting cannot be called without at least 10 days notice and that notice must be given during a regular Sunday morning service. Brother Owensby explained that the earliest notice could be given would be during the Sunday morning service on July 8th. Therefore, the earliest the next meeting could be called would be July 18th. Brother Lane Steve withdrew his motion to amend. Brother Dale Williams withdrew his second on the motion to amend.

Brother Dale Williams motioned to amend Brother Randall Miller’s original motion by changing “Wednesday, July 12” to “Wednesday, July 18.” Brother Willis Owensby seconded the motion to amend. With no further discussion, the amendment passed without objection: 15 for, 0 against.

Pastor Johnson asked if someone would motion to adjourn. Brother Dale Williams raised a point of order that the original motion had not been voted on, only the amendment. After much discussion and many comments, Brother Dale Williams explained that we voted only to amend the motion, and now we needed to vote on the original motion as amended presented by Brother Randall Miller, Fellowship Chair. Brother Dale Williams explained that the motion as amended now reads:
  • "I move to postpone all business scheduled for tonight to a special called meeting on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 so we can begin setting up decorations for VBS.”
With no more discussion, Pastor Honus Johnson called for the vote. Motion passed unanimously: 7 for, 0 against. Brother Dale Williams motioned to adjourn. With no objections, Pastor Honus Johnson closed in prayer around 9:15 pm.

06 July, 2007

Big Churches Install "Moving Aisles"


Pastor Timothy Adams of New Hope Fellowship in Concord had an epiphany the last time he flew.

"I was at the Memphis airport making a connecting flight down to Houston for a conference" said Adams. "I was standing on one of those moving sidewalks and I suddenly realized that this is exactly what we needed at our church."

Adams' realization is rooted in a common problem being faced by a number of large evangelical protestant churches in America. Congregations, in some cases, have become so numerous, and church buildings so large that some people are not able to make it to the front of the church during the altar call immediately following the sermon.

"The altar call is very important" said Adams. "If someone doesn't make it down the aisle one week, they've got to wait a whole other week before they can get saved. Our building is very large, and on average we have about 6,000 people in Sunday morning worship. A walk from the very back of the church can take up to seven or eight minutes. We're usually long done with the invitational hymn by then."

So when Adams stood on the moving sidewalk at the Memphis airport he found the solution to his church's problems - moving aisles.

"What we plan to do is put these moving sidewalks right in our aisles at church" he stated. "At the end of the service the ushers will turn them on, that way people at the very back of the church can make it down to the front in time before the music ends, that is, if they walk on the moving sidewalk while it's running. It basically moves a person at running speed he or she having to actually run."

The project, though, is not cheap. The church estimates that the cost of the moving aisles will be around $1.1 million dollars.

"We know this is going to be a huge investment for us" stated Adams. "But we're talking about people's souls here. You can't put a price on someone's soul. We've already started a campaign to raise money for these aisles, and so far the response has been very good. But each Sunday we delay we risk another poor soul who just can't make it down in time."

05 July, 2007

"Jeopardy" bans bible category

LOS ANGELES, CA - In a surprise move this past Monday, the hit TV game show Jeopardy banned the "bible" category from any future programming.

TBNN was contacted on Tuesday by numerous elderly folks complaining about Jeopardy's decision. For example, Mabel Simmons of Tampa told us, "This just isn't right. I watch Jeopardy every weeknight, except Wednesdays of course, and I love the bible category. I usually know most of those answers. I have no idea about categories such as 'movies,' 'music,' or 'magazines,' but I know the bible. Can you nice young men at Tominthebox do something about this?"

We at TBNN felt like we had to respond.

Unfortunately, we had no success in speaking with Alex Trebek. We were told by his staff that he was simply too busy writing answers to talk with us. Despite four attempts at phone contact, we got nowhere.

Jeopardy staffer Davis Sikes told us that he could speak on behalf of the game show. We began by simply asking why Jeopardy was dropping the "bible" category.

Mr. Sikes responded, "The reasons are quite complicated, and it is difficult to get into all of that right now. We at Jeopardy try to serve all of our viewers and players with a nice variety of answers that will best meet their needs. We greatly appreciate everyone who watches our show."

We thought about that for a minute, and then realized that he had dodged the question. We said, "Thanks. But tell us why again the "bible" category in particular was dropped?"

Mr. Sikes clearly wanted this issue to go away. He finally simply responded, "We dropped it because no one knows the answers. We ran a statistical analysis of all of our different categories. 'Bible' consistently registers the lowest number of correct responses. In fact, only 22% of the 'bible' questions are answered correctly. The next lowest category, 'molecular thermodynamics', fell at 34%. We just had to get rid of the 'bible' category."

TBNN was not willing to buy into this simplistic answer. We, therefore, analyzed the last three years of Jeopardy and found some amazing results. The key finding was that different groups of people who participated on Jeopardy knew far different amounts of the bible. TBNN results show that Jeopardy participants who described themselves as Protestant answered "bible" questions with an accuracy rate of 77%. The other groups are as follows: Jews - 33%, Catholics - 18%, Muslims - 11%, Atheists - 9%, Agnostics - 7%, and Other - 6%.

After compiling these results, we quickly called Mr. Sikes with the results. At that point he came clean. Mr. Sikes admitted, "O.K., the reality is that some people know the answers to the 'bible' category. However, we kept receiving complaints from our Jewish and Catholic participants in particular. They told us that it was simply unfair for them to have to answer 'those bible questions.' They kept using words like 'intolerant' and 'biased.' One young lady even told us we were guilty of a 'hate crime' by making her think about the bible. Well, that got us pretty scared. So we dropped the category."

We thanked Mr. Sikes for his candor. As we were about to hang up, he told us one more interesting thing. "We ran those same statistics that you did," said Sikes, "but we broke down Protestants even farther than you did at TBNN. As far as denomination goes, Baptists and Presbyterians tied for the highest percentage of 'bible' questions correct with 86%. Episcopalians came out at the bottom with only 35% correct. Interestingly, one other group that crossed several denominations obtained the highest score - 98% correct. They call themselves 'Calvinists'."

We simply replied, "Thanks."

04 July, 2007

Church Nixes Fourth of July Celebration to Avoid Offending People Who Hate America


The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Clayton is taking a new approach to celebrating the fourth of July this year...they are not. The church decided over the course of the last year that, because of the number of people in the world that hate the United States, that they would forgo celebrating her independence for fear of offending anyone.

"We know that so many people in the world hate this country" said the Rev. Linda Thorton-Mitchell. "We don't want to offend people who hate America by celebrating Independence Day. When you think of all that this country has historically stood for, freedom, Christian principals, liberty, etc. it is obvious to see how many people could be offended if we took the time to rejoice in what we have here as a nation."

The first Unitarian Universalist Church is joined also by the first United Church of Christ in Clayton, under pastor Clark LaGrange.

"If we celebrate freedom, we will undoubtedly offend those around the world who hate freedom" said LaGrange. "If we celebrate liberty, then dictatorships will be offended. And let's not forget the British! Think of how many British died because of the Revolutionary War. If we celebrate American independence then we are basically saying to our British friends 'I'm glad you're dead.' We just can't bring ourselves to do that."

The two churches have traditionally had church cookouts and fireworks displays to celebrate Independence Day, but this year the congregations will combine for a new cause they call "Freedom From Intolerance Day."

"There's a new revolution out there today that must be fought" said
Thorton-Mitchell. "We must gain our freedom from close minds and intolerance. We must overcome the oppression of unenlightened thinking. Give me homosexual marriage rights or give me death!"

The celebration will include a vegetarian cookout, complete with all organic foods, a dunk Al Mohler booth, and a pin the mouth gag on the fundamentalist game. Instead of a fireworks display to end the evening's festivities revelers will be invited to walk through a meditative labyrinth.

03 July, 2007

Fire and Brimstone: Once a Month

ALBANY, NY - At Holy Redeemer United Methodist Church, the members can count on one certainty. Whether they want it or not, they get "fire and brimstone" preaching once a month.

Ray Gordon, a long-time member of Holy Redeemer, phoned TBNN to tell us about this somewhat unique situation. According to Mr. Gordon, "In the years past, we always had men preachers. They would last about 5 years here, as is normal in United Methodist churches. Anyway, most would preach from the bible; some would even try to preach through books. Every week we would get a little bit of that 'fire and brimstone' stuff for good measure. But it wasn't ever the whole sermon."

Things are different now at Holy Redeemer.

Donald Harris, who has attended the church since 1979, said that everything changed when Rev. Ann Hancock came to Holy Redeemer in last September. According to Mr. Harris, "Rev. Ann preaches from the bible - there is no doubt about that. We noticed early on that she would seem more animated and even angry during some of her sermons. It took us a couple of months to see a pattern to her messages. Just to be sure, we kept track starting in December. It came out like we thought. Once a month, without a doubt, Rev. Ann preaches a 'fire and brimstone' sermon."

Mr. Harris showed us what the men discovered. Below are the dates, scriptures, and topics:

December 3: Genesis 7 (The Flood)
January 7: Genesis 19 (Sodom and Gomorrah)
February 4: Exodus 12 (Death of the Firstborn)
March 4: Numbers 16 (Rebellion of Korah)
April 1 : Joshua 7 (Defeat at Ai)
May 6: II Kings 25 (Destruction of Jerusalem)
June 3: Luke 16 (Rich man and Lazarus)
July 1: Revelation 20 (Lake of Fire)

Both Mr. Harris and Mr. Gordon told TBNN that they like Rev. Hancock. They just cannot figure out the reasons behind the sermons being like they are. Mr. Gordon further explained the situation like this, "After we got past June 3rd, everything was great for a few weeks. Rev. Ann was kind to everyone as she preached from the Sermon on the Mount for three Sundays. We were all really enjoying it. She met us at the back of the church building after the services and was hugging everyone. However, just like clock-work, here came July 1st. I was hoping that she would continue with the Sermon on the Mount series, but she jumped into Revelation 20. She seemed irritable and angry all morning. Boy, she really let us have it in the service. By the end, I was afraid that I had lost my salvation, so I went up front and gave my life back to the Lord. It was scary. After the service, she didn't want anyone to touch her, and quickly disappeared into her office."

We at TBNN tried to contact Rev. Hancock about the situation. Unfortunately, her secretary told us that Rev. Ann was not feeling well. She asked us to call back toward the end of the week. Rev. Hancock will reportedly be happy to speak to us at that time.

While the men at Holy Redeemer have been very willing to talk with us about the odd sermon schedule, the women of the church have been quiet on the issue. Most have declined to discuss it with TBNN. One nice woman only said this, "We think we know what the problem is, and there is nothing any of us can do about it. We just need to be understanding of Rev. Ann. She might be dealing with some issues."

We told Mr. Gordon and Mr. Harris about this. They responded, "Look, we would understand it if Rev. Ann was dealing with some issue on a weekly basis. But what would she have to deal with only once a month? This seems silly to us."

So, what's coming at Holy Redeemer? For the remainder of July, the men of the church expect a return to the Sermon on the Mount. Many of the men we talked to are trying to schedule vacations for Sunday August 5th. The word is that Rev. Hancock will preach that Sunday from Revelation about the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments all at once.

Mr. Gordon summed it up this way, "We really do like Rev. Ann, but I'm not sure how much more of this we can take. She's about 40 years old. What's going to happen when she hits 45? I guess she'll be moved to a bigger church by then."

02 July, 2007

Foot Washing Baptist Say "We've Got to Draw the Line Somewhere"


Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Blytheville has for years practiced what its members call "the ordinance of foot washing." Believing Jesus' practice in John 13 is normative for the church today, baptized believers engage in the practice prior to taking the Lord's Supper. But recent complaints over the years have prompted a number of changes to take place in the church just recently.

The problem centers mainly around the large number of teenaged boys in the church, many of whom play sports for the local high school, and who often run barefoot on the weekends.

"It's absolutely disgusting" said Charles Pullen, one of Mt. Zion's deacons. "These boys sometimes come waltzing into church on Sunday night after shooting basketball all afternoon, then they go to taking their shoes off for foot washing and just about put half the church into a coma. A couple of weeks ago one boy came up in here in these sissy shoes that all them kids are wearing now called Crocs and looked like he had dirt baked into his feet. Nobody wanted to touch them nasty things, now that's the gospel truth."

Other members of Mt. Zion have expressed similar sentiments.

"One of them boys took off his shoes before we started and he looked like he'd walked barefoot through a coal mine" said Beatrice Villa, a member of Mt. Zion. "I would have needed a Brillo pad and some Comet to wash those things."

Finally enough members complained about the problem that the church's pastor, Billy Causey, and the deacons called a church meeting to address the problem. The church voted almost unanimously that any male member age 17 or under must first wash his own feet before coming to the foot washing ordinance.

"We've got to draw the line somewhere" said Causey. "I mean, I'm all for humility and service, but it's almost a health risk that we're talking about here."

While the majority of the church's members are pleased with the decision, some of the boys who prompted the action are not pleased.
"I think it's stupid" said Caleb Wynn. "I can't believe I have to wash my own feet first and only then can I go get my feet washed. Why even go?"

Causey did go on to further state that the resolution may only be temporary if the boys were to do their part. Until then the church has installed an extra sink for the boys to use before the service.