31 October, 2007

Martin Luther's Body Exhumed, Found "Rolled Over"

Wittenburg, Germany - In a shocking story that is now making headlines on only the most reputable of news sources, a recent exhumation of the body of Martin Luther showed that the Reformer has indeed "rolled over in is grave." Luther was buried beneath the pulpit of the Castle Church in Wittenburg after his death in 1546. As noted in the records of the burial ceremony, Luther was placed within the tomb laying on his back. When the work crew opened the tomb over the weekend to perform maintenance on it, they found the remains of Luther lying face down, indicating that at some point over the past 450 years something has caused Luther to roll over. Many theories and questions now abound.

"This is, in some ways, both funny and highly disturbing" stated Peter Lundenfestenaker, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin. "Various people within Lutheranism have joked over the years when this or that new policy was passed that 'Luther must be rolling over in his grave' and low and behold, we find that he has."

Indeed, there have been numerous complaints over the past 200 years that many Protestant churches in general have departed from the Biblical Christianity that was espoused by Luther and the other Reformers.

"It's no shock to me" said Michael Ingvestenknocken, pastor of Soli Deo Gloria Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. "We've gone in every direction except straight for well over the past one hundred years. I'm not the least bit surprised that this has happened."

In the past 500 years since the beginning of the Reformation, many have surmised that Protestantism no longer, on the whole, represents its original foundations. Some of those foundations which are seemingly no longer important include the doctrines of Sola Scriptura, Solus Christos, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia and Soli Deo Gloria.

"We gave up on all of that sola stuff a long time ago" said Rev. Patricia Hines, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (USA) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "While that kind of jargon worked in Luther's time, we feel the true spirit of the Reformation today lies in the questioning of what is believed to be true, and seeking out new paths of spiritual exploration. That's essentially what Luther did, he questioned the status quo. He wasn't going to be bound by a theocratic dictatorship that would tell him what to believe. I believe it was Luther who said 'My conscience is captive," and we must have the same attitude. Our consciences are free only with they become captive to our own free thinking."

While the religious world looks on in curiosity and waits for an explanation as to why Luther has done a one-eighty, many are dismissing it as merely coincidence. But the situation has brought to light the question as to whether the "Spirit of the Reformation" has indeed, by and large, been lost in Protestant Christendom.

When asked what continues to make Protestants distinct from the Roman Catholic Church one minister commented,

"I believe the 'Spirit of the Reformation' is still alive and well today. Protestants are still seeking independence from the shackles of Rome" said Rev. Brian Humphries, pastor of Little Hills Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee. "We won't be bound by outdated doctrines such as the virgin birth, or the literal resurrection story like Rome still teaches. Furthermore, Rome still has this idea of sin, which we enlightened Protestants gave up on a long time ago. And even more so today the Catholic church continues to hold a very close-minded view on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, which we too have become more enlightened about. So I think the Reformation continues today."

So on this Reformation Day, in light of these strange and unusual events, many Protestants may find themselves faced with the question "Is the true Spirit of the Reformation still at work in our lives and in our churches today?"

30 October, 2007

Caner Proposes "New and Improved" 95 Theses

LYNCHBURG, VA - Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Theological Seminary, stunned the evangelical world yesterday by proposing a "new and improved" version of Martin Luther's 95 Theses.

According to Caner, "On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther protested against the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe. In the spirit of Luther, I today protest against the abuses of Calvinism in America."

What are these "new and improved" theses? TBNN has read through Dr. Caner's list, and we have listed below those we think are the most significant:

1) When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent," He desired for the whole world to freely turn to Him.

5) John Piper, Al Mohler, and Mark Dever do not have the power to force Calvinism on evangelical churches in this country.

24) It must therefore be the case that the major part of the people (Calvinists) are deceived by those leaders proclaiming the sovereignty of God over salvation.

37) Any true Christian whatsoever has the right to reject God whenever he chooses.

53) Those are enemies of Christ who forbid the notion that God desires that all people everywhere be saved.

65) Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which are spread out everywhere for all men.

71) Let him be anathema and accursed who denies a general atonement of Christ.

92) Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ's people, "God's grace is irresistible."

Caner concluded by saying, "May these new and improved theses lead to a new Reformation in this country. May we gain a greater view of the love and mercy of God through a more biblical view of the grace of God."

After the speech, one rebellious Liberty student was overhead asking Dr. Caner why he thought Martin Luther wrote his famous work On the Bondage of the Will. Caner responded, "Nobody, not even me, is right about everything."

Later in the day, at a meeting of the Liberty Arminian Defense Club (LADC), Caner announced that on Wednesday, Reformation Day, he will sticky-tack his document to the front door of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. What does he hope to accomplish? "We need to confront this heresy at its front door!"

When told of Caner's plan, Mark Dever responded, "The Calvinator is one tough guy. We'll have to trust in the sovereignty of God to stop him."

29 October, 2007

Heckler at Benny Hinn Miracle Service: "Don't Slay Me Bro!"

Hampton, Virginia - At a recent Benny Hinn Crusade meeting in Hampton things did not go as smoothly as many would have hoped. Hinn's "Miracle Service" met at the Hampton Coliseum before a packed house, and while almost the entire audience was overjoyed by the opportunity to witness Hinn in action, one man came with a different agenda. Bailey Truden, a college student at Virginia Tech, showed up at the service with one thing in mind; to mock Hinn and disrupt his "Miracle Service."

Truden entered the service pretending to act like all of the other participants, with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. He filled out the visitors card given to him by the ushers as he entered and took his seat next to the excited worship participants. As the service began, he stood up clapped his hands with the rest of the people, and even managed to force out a few tears at emotionally appropriate moments. The music time went on for close to two hours, but Truden patiently waited for his moment. It was when things began to settled down and Hinn took the stage to "preach" that Truden seized upon the opportunity to strike.

"As brother Hinn stood up to speak, everyone one was quiet and focused, waiting expectantly for what was about to happen" said Ellen Pitts, who witnessed Sunday's events. "This loud voice broke the silence, and this man was screaming out something that I couldn't understand."

A tape of the program shows Hinn for a moment becoming confused, and then becoming angry. A transcript of the incident is as follows,

Hinn: "Hallelujah, what a wonderful moment of peace (sings the word peace several times), can't you feel..."
Truden: (Screaming somthing)
Hinn: "I'm sorry, sir, you're going to have to be quiet."
Truden: "You're a fake. You're a joke."
Hinn: "Get him out of here! He's a servant of Satan!"

The tape then shows the confrontation continuing for about a minute before Hinn finally screams "enough!"

Hinn himself jumped off of the stage and ran towards Truden. Truden tried to run but members of the security force grabbed him. Truden resisted violently, flailing his arms and legs and screaming at the security officers. But it was when Hinn arrived that things became even more chaotic. Hinn approached the restrained Truden with the microphone in his left hand and his right hand extended towards him, ready to lay hands on him. When Truden saw him coming he began to shout "Don't slay me bro! Don't slay me!" It was at that moment that Hinn reached down and touched Truden, immediately causing him to fall to the floor and shake violently. Everyone cheered and Hinn shouted "Hallelujah" and began singing the hymn "How Great Thou Art."

Truden remained unconscious for the remainder of the service and was escorted off the property only after all of the other worshipers had left. He was sternly warned not to come back again, or else Hinn would have to "slay him" again.

TBNN attempted to contact Hinn's office for comment, but calls were not returned. It was discovered that the University of Florida Security Office has contacted Hinn about helping out with security during an upcoming speak by Senator Jonathan Edwards.

27 October, 2007

Confessoins of a Former Druid

Beaver Dam, MS-- As a child, I thoroughly enjoyed dressing up in funny homemade costumes and running to my grandparent’s house to “trick-or-treat.” My grandmother would always be so surprised that batman or spiderman or a ghost or even frankenstien was at her door. She would shriek with fear until I threw off my mask to reveal that her worst nightmare was not upon her. (As I got older, I witnessed my little brother and sisters do the same thing, and I became suspicious that maybe I had not scared her as much as I had previously thought.)

She had the most amazing treats-- those giant orange peanuts. The first 4 or 5 were so delicious, but I think the exposure to air does something to them as the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th orange peanuts became increasingly horrid in taste.

It was always such a fun time… until I was about 12 or 13. That’s when Angela Martin informed me on the school bus that Halloween was a demon holiday. I was shocked. I had never participated in anything satanic as far as I knew. I just knew that the cornucopia of endless candy was available to me. My parents even let me stay up late and eat candy. We had fun making homemade costumes together, carving happy pumpkins together, and finding the perfect candy collection container. How could this be something bad? How could this be equated with demons? But it got me to thinking.

After I became aware of the shocking history of Halloween in the Encyclopedia Britannica (it used to be in books), I put a lot of thought into what the holiday really meant. I spent a lot of time thinking of my parents and how they seemed to have so much fun with the holiday. I began realizing it was probably all fake. It was then that my naïve celebrations of the holiday turned to more deeper spiritual questions. Why did my parents allow me to participate in this day? Since they were going along with what seemed to be innocent rituals, were they also secretly participating in the ancient not-so-innocent rituals of witchcraft? They had never given any indication of these awful things. However, I concluded that, because they were allowing me and my siblings to trick-or-treat and carve pumpkins it most definitely must also be the case that they were endorsing witchcraft.

Upon this realization, I immediately began questioning my Christian upbringing. Sure, those two “Christians” had brought me to church for 3 services a week for 13 years. Sure, they had read the Bible to me every night for, it seemed like, hours. Sure, every Sunday afternoon, I had to listen to an hour-long Calvinistic radio broadcast. But, since they allowed me to dress up as different characters (sometimes even a ghost) on Halloween once a year, I needed to know what these so called “Christians” were really all about behind the facade. So I began researching what was beneath this holiday of theirs.

I discovered all the terrible history of the day celebrated on October 31st. I discovered that the holiday, when celebrated 1000 years ago, was all about Baal. I discovered that, as part of the Druid festival, humans were sacrificed after being herded into thatched cages and set on fire. I discovered that the Druids 1000 years ago believed the dead would play tricks on mankind to cause destruction.

The more I thought about it, the more it became obvious to me that, since my parents allowed me to go door to door collecting candy and since I was allowed to carve pumpkins, then certainly they must also truly believe as the Druids of 1000 years ago. I therefore, upon discovering their real convictions, began practicing as a Druid. Despite the years of church services, family devotions, and extra home sermons on Sunday afternoons, I was wholly convinced that Druidism must be the true way. Year-round, I began all sorts of pagan rituals on my own. I began thinking deep, dark thoughts all the time. I found other Druids in my area and we would draw straws to see who would become the human sacrifice. I was certain that many destructive tricks played on Halloween night were the result of dead spirits.

It wasn’t until I was older, around the age of 16 or 17, when I stopped trick-or-treating and carving pumpkins, that I realized I had fallen for a Druid lie. When I stopped the trick-or-treating, when I stopped wearing the hard plastic Marvel Comic character masks with the rubber band stapled by each ear to stretch across the back of my head and get twisted in my hair… it wasn’t until I stopped trick or treating and costuming and all the other bad things that we do on Halloween, that I came to my senses and stopped participating in the Druid rituals. I realize now that it was the trick-or-treating door to door that caused me to slip into Druid forms of worship. When the trick-or-treating stopped, the desire to worship idols also ended. It was no coincidence.

So please allow this to be a warning to all of you parents who are considering carving pumpkins this Halloween. Don’t do it! It may confuse your children as it confused me. It may cause them to slip into idol worship and human sacrifice.

Instead, be consistent with your beliefs, take them to a “Fall Celebration” or a “Fall Festival” or a “Harvest Time”, but never refer to such activities as Halloween.

26 October, 2007

Jesse Jackson Calls for "Boycott of Heaven"

Chicago, Illinois - The Reverend Jesse Jackson released a public statement late on Thursday calling for a "boycott of Heaven." Jackson called for the boycott based upon "certain scriptures" that he had apparently "never read before" particularly 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 which reads, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, no adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

Jackson stated in the press release,

"I was shocked, dismayed, stunned and stupefied when I came across these words. I had never seen them before, and they had never come before my eyes. It is imperative, and highly important that we confront such a limiting, and immoral statement as this and take issue with it so that we may approach it and come before it with a spirit of disqualification, dissatisfaction, disappreciation and disassociation."

Jackson went on further to state,

"It is immoral, immaterial, immature and incomprehensible that any place, whether on earth or extraterrestrial or not on earth to make claims of exclusitivity against any people based on who they are or what they done. Heaven is no exception. I call upon all people of conscience to stand against Heaven until such policies of limitation are changed and made different."

In addition to calling for a boycott of Heaven, Jackson has also called for a march on the Mall in Washington D.C. on November 20th calling for "discrimination" to end. As Jackson further states,

"The policies of this administration have only furthered such opinions and caused them to grow. We will pressure Congress and the White House to come out and take a stand against Heaven."

In an interview with Jackson he explained what a boycott of Heaven entails.

"What we are trying to do is show that perhaps a mistake has been made here" said Jackson. "It is highly immoral and wrong for any place to put up barriers and not allow people to come in. Until these discriminatory policies are changed and altered we will not be going there."

A local conservative Anglican pastor in the Chicago area who wished to remain anonymous commented on that statement by saying "If Jackson keeps doing what he's doing then he's got nothing to worry about."

25 October, 2007

Arminian Pastor-Blogger in Hot Water

PORTLAND, ME - When Michael Saylor graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary in 2004, he knew that getting his first pastoral position would not be easy. Michael grew up in the PCA, and desperately wanted to remain in his home denomination. There was only one problem: Michael is a closet Arminian.

According to Rev. Saylor, "I love the PCA. That is where I was baptized, that is where I came to know the Lord, and that is where I was called to seminary. However, I just can't buy into all of the Calvinistic teachings. When I read the bible, I see a God who loves all of mankind and offers salvation to all people. God is not arbitrary or capricious. He would never override man's free will or destine anyone for Hell. All I need to look at is John 3:16 to tell me so."

Rev. Saylor was called to Lakeside PCA near Portland, Maine in early 2005. Things apparently went well for the first two years or so. TBNN has learned that during that time Rev. Saylor had the habit of preaching mostly topical sermons, pulling scripture from all over the bible. Trouble began in middle of this year when several members of the body asked Rev. Saylor if he would preach through some of Paul's writings.

"I knew I was in trouble when that happened," said Saylor. "What was I supposed to do? The people really wanted it. My difficulty is that Paul was so big on God's sovereignty in his writings. I tried to pick the least 'Reformed' Pauline epistle I could find."

The problem for Saylor is that he preached through Philemon in about one month. The church members liked it so much that they specifically requested that he next preach through Ephesians. That's when things really started to get interesting.

Lakeside member Wallace Daniels said, "We were all looking forward to Ephesians. Rev. Saylor had done such a mighty job with Philemon. But when he began preaching on Ephesians 1:1-6 it got weird in a hurry. The poor man seemed so nervous and hesitant. We were all anticipating a wonderful message about the sovereignty of God and His spiritual blessings for His adopted sons and daughters. That's not what we heard."

Several eye and ear witnesses have told TBNN the same thing. The pastor began the sermon by talking about the love of God for the whole world. Then he discussed the clause, "he chose us in him before the foundation of the world." Rev. Saylor talked for a few minutes about how the key to this clause is the words "in him." He said that what Paul was really saying was that anyone who chose God in Him (meaning in Christ), would then be elected by God to salvation. By that point in the sermon most of the church members were confused.

Wallace Daniels said, "We just couldn't follow his argument. The biblical text is so clear there that God chose us. When he said that we chose God it just didn't make any sense to us. Honestly, I don't know if we heard much more of what he preached because we were so lost."

Things went from bad to worse at Lakeside later that same week. Several members of the congregation stumbled upon Rev. Saylor's blog, entitled "Closet Arminian Pastor-Blogger." The posts mostly fell into three categories: why Arminianism is biblical, why Calvinism is not biblical, and why complete freedom of the will is so important.

Since this all occurred, in July of this year, Saylor has been "in hot water" at the church. He has apparently tried to explain to the body on repeated occasions why it doesn't really matter if he is an Arminian and they are Reformed. After all, he says, "it doesn't really affect the gospel at all."

Mrs. Francis Ralph, a Sunday School teacher at Lakeside, reported, "The pastor managed to make it through Ephesians. It was difficult for all of us. After that, he preached a few topical sermons - that was a bit of a relief. I'm not sure what will happen next. I've also heard that he shut down his blog altogether."

We have discovered a potential problem on the horizon: the body has asked Saylor to preach through Romans. No one knows what to expect next.

24 October, 2007

Man "Devastated" to Discover Krakozhia Not Real

Halifax, Nova Scotia - Three years ago Christopher Price saw a movie that deeply affected his life. Price went to see the move "The Terminal" with several of his friends one night, and what he saw in the movie touched him deeply. The setting of the movie is in the International Transit Terminal of JFK airport in New York. The story is about a man named Victor Navorski, a traveler from the country of Krakozhia, which, in the movie, is depicted as a former Soviet Republic. Due to a revolution that breaks out in Navorski's country while he is en route to the United States, his visa is revoked. He gets lost in the shuffle of bureaucracy for nine months, having to live in the airport terminal.

As amusing as the story line might be for most people, for Price it was anything but.

"When I saw the movie I had been interested in missions for a number of years" said Price. "While we watched this movie my friends all around me were laughing and enjoying it, but I was crying on the inside. I couldn't stop thinking about Krakozhia. I had never heard of the place and seriously wondered why. Why hadn't someone gone there with the gospel?"

Price further recalls that night. After the movie was over he went back to his apartment and spent the night searching maps for Krakozhia, only to come up empty-handed. By the next morning, Price had "surrendered to missions" and had dedicated his life to reaching the people of Krakozhia. Price then began to set about the task of raising support to serve on the "mission field."

"I had prayer cards made up" said Price. "I would talk to perfect strangers on planes and buses and tell them about my vision for the unreached people of Krakozhia. Most people, like me had never heard of the place. Some had, and some even had the audacity to laugh at me, sometimes hysterically, when I told them that I was going to be a missionary there."

Price's passion for the people of Krakozhia continued to grow and grow, until this past weekend when he finally came to grips with something sad but true...that Krakozhia is not a real place.

"I was at church this past Sunday and we had some new visitors that day" said Price. "I was talking to one of them after the service and gave him my prayer card, and the guy laughed. I thought 'Yep, here's another guy who just doesn't care.' Then this guy says to me, 'Hey, you know this place isn't real.'"

The conversation that followed was filled with shock and dismay for Price. Not only did he have to come to grips with the fact that the country did not exist, but that his friends and church members had never had the gall to tell him the truth.

"We just didn't want to hurt him" said friend Mindy Adams. "He was always so excited and pumped up, I just didn't have the heart to break it to him."

"I always thought it was just a joke" said Alvin Connely, Price's pastor. "I just assumed it was meant to be funny. Never once did I think that Chris was being serious."

Now, "devastated" by the shocking revelation, Price is seeking direction for his life.

"I have not the faintest idea what I'm going to do now" said Price. "Everything I've been pursuing for the last three years has been from the neighborhood of make believe."

Several of Price's friends have tried disparately to get him to look at other possibilities for mission work, but seemingly to no avail, as Price notes,

"Mindy was telling me the other day about these places called Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and I just told her 'Look, I'm not going to be made a fool of again!' I'm not about to look ignorant again, that's for sure. 'Tajikistan,' ha, where did she get that one from?"

23 October, 2007

Hebrew and Greek Services Lead to Confusion

TOLEDO, OH - Great Lakes Independent Bible Church (GLIBC) has been a KJV-only church since its founding in 1927. In fact, there have been two things that GLIBC has never compromised on: the gospel and the KJV - at least until July of this year.

While the gospel is still the central focus of the church, its stance on the KJV appears to have changed. Pastor Wayne Warren told TBNN, "The folks here at GLIBC really have a desire to be as biblical as possible. We were all under the assumption that the KJV was the perfectly written word of God. Then, last July, a new member of our church literally rocked our world."

That new member, Mark Stanton, reportedly told the leadership at GLIBC that the KJV was not the original word of God. Mr. Stanton's bombshell was that the scriptures were originally written in Hebrew and Greek.

"We quickly realized," stated Pastor Warren, "that if the KJV was just a translation, then it could not be absolutely perfect. We were stunned and greatly disappointed."

TBNN has learned that within one day of Mr. Stanton's announcement, the deacons of the church called an emergency meeting to decide what to do. After the meeting, the deacon body mailed a letter to the church that announced the following: "Since the bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek, and we want to be as biblical as possible, we realize that we need to switch to Hebrew and Greek in our services. This coming Sunday, our 8:30 service will be held in Hebrew, while the 11:00 service will be in Greek. We will be selling copies of the Biblia Sacra at the front door."

As you can imagine, things got off to a rocky start. For one thing, no one in the church speaks or reads either Hebrew or Greek. Also, no one knows any Hebrew or Greek songs. During the first Sunday after the change, the services were made up of quite a bit of humming. Few of the members seemed happy about all this. That was in July.

Now that October has rolled around, the church seems resigned to its fate. Pastor Warren indicted that the church has begun offering classes in both Hebrew and Greek. A local rabbi and a Greek Orthodox priest have been hired to teach. The progress is slow, but within about seven years, some of the members might be able to worship in at least one of the services.

For now, though, the main result appears to be confusion. For example, the people will now sing the songs, but they do not know what most of the words mean. When preaching occurs (right now by the same rabbi and Greek Orthodox priest), the members can catch a few words here and there such as "chesed," "adonai," "kurios," or "graphe." However, the main points of the messages are lost.

Not surprisingly, the church's overall membership has declined from 321 to 287 since July.

We did learn of one main benefit that has occurred through all of this. The GLIBC body is now enjoying some wonderful Jewish unleavened bread and Greek wine every time they celebrate the Lord's Supper.

According to a recent church newsletter, "It's not easy being biblical in this post-modern culture; but we're going to do our best. FYI: We will be adding classes in Aramaic beginning after the first of the year. Sign up now for a free book!"

22 October, 2007

More Churches Accepting and Affirming Calvinists in Their Midst

Austin, Texas - Pastor Micah Law is excited about the direction that his church is going these days.

"We've become more open and accepting of others" said Law, pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Austin during a recent interview with TBNN. "We know that our decision to become more open and accepting of Calvinists and Reformed people has caused a lot of trouble within our own denomination, but we feel it is the right thing to do."

Law's church is part of a growing number of churches within the Southern Baptist Convention that are declaring themselves to be Calvinist/Reformed/Sovereign Grace (CRSG)-friendly. While many SBC churches are currently struggling against Calvinistic tendencies within the denomination, some, like Riverside Baptist, are embracing the movement.

"While I myself am personally not a Calvinist, I don't think there's anything wrong with being one" claimed Law. "These people love the Lord and want to serve him too, and I don't think we should hinder them. There's no reason we should shun them or not let them become full members of our Southern Baptist churches."

But not everyone is so welcoming of the idea of a church that openly accepts Calvinists.

"I think it's absolutely terrible" said Rev. Danny Douglas, pastor of Longview Baptist Church in Onida, Arkansas. "It's one thing to say you welcome a Calvinist into your church. Of course we'd welcome one if he came, but we are going to be honest with him about his sin. For him to call himself a Christian and yet remain a Calvinist is just wrong. And these churches out there in our own denomination that are welcoming Calvinists, four and five-pointers and embracing them as brothers and sisters are in serious error."

Still others are even more infuriated by the whole tendency within the denomination.

"My son went off to college and became one of those blasted Calvinists!" shouted an angry Mark Tenderfoot, from Memphis, Tennessee. "I thought I had raised him right. We sent him off to school and a year later he comes to us and says 'Mom and dad, I'm a Calvinist.' It just broke our hearts. We still love him, but he's just not the same to us. Every time we see him we just can't get past it."

But despite objections CRSG-friendly churches continue to grow within the SBC.

"We have seen the good character of Calvinists within the SBC towards those of us who are not" stated Law. "We particularly respect Pastor Dever up at Capitol Hill Baptist, and Dr. Mohler. Both fine men of God. While I don't agree with all of their positions, they have been very gracious to those of us in the SBC with whom they differ and have done a lot for the cause of the conservative revival within our denomination."

When asked to what degree Riverside Baptist Church would allow a Calvinist to serve, Law commented,

"They are free to serve anywhere in our church. They can teach Sunday School, lead children's classes or even pursue pastoral ministry. We want Calvinists to know that they are welcome and accepted here, so that they may freely serve."

When asked if Law would marry a Calvinist couple in his church Law responded,

"Of course, if a Calvinist couple wants to marry, who am I to say that it's wrong."

20 October, 2007

Calgonville Evacuation Trial Successful

Calgonville, MO-- Only 27 minor injuries were reported in the most recent evacuation trial at First Calgonville Baptist Church in Missouri. The test was performed by The Evacuation Experts, LLC, a for-profit ministry that helps medium size churches (500-1000 attendees) develop exiting strategies. "A magnificent success," said Pastor James Rachele.

Put yourself in this situation-- It's finally over. The fat man has sung. Or, rather, he has said the last "Amen" to the last prayer of the day. Worship has ended, but you are still standing by your pew. Now, you are asking yourself: What is the best and most efficient way to get out of this building and get home? What are the potential delays? What are the pitfalls to taking one route vs. another?

We are not talking about your drive home. We are talking about which aisle or path to take to exit church the fastest. You see delays on the faces of the pastors, worship leaders, and ushers. You see delays on the faces of happy shiny people all around laughing and wanting to shake or hold your hand. You're cornered. You feel like losing your religion.

Since its inception, Evacuation Experts, LLC, referred to simply as EE, has been concerned about the efficient exiting of churches in the event of a lengthy service. EE testers help eliminate the pain of exiting the church after services. "We show you how to get people up and out quickly," said EE spokesperson Mattie Weems. EE testers help ensure that 500-1000 person assemblies at maximum capacity can evacuate the sanctuary in less than 120 seconds-- the time necessary for the average member to arrive home by 12:30, even if the service lasts as late at 12:13.

"There's really no reason for services to extend worship past morning anyway," said Wilma Gilfry, a charter member of Calgonville who has attended since members first met in her home in 1952. "In all my years, I've never seen anyone saved after 12 o'clock. But somehow, invitations and announcements sometimes manage to drag way over into the afternoon past 12:10."

The trials at FBC Calgonville took place on a Saturday morning with 850 volunteer "attendees" posed as members and visitors. All attendees must exit the building using only 1/2 of the available exits. "We want to simulate actual conditions where up to half of the exits may be guarded by pastors and worship leaders who want to hear how much you enjoyed the services," said Weems.

In addition to "pastors" staged at doors, EE testers also try to simulate real situations that can tempt an efficient exiter to pause while exiting:

(1) wheelchairs are placed in the aisles
(2) "old people" stand at the end of pews and attempt to start ailment or surgery conversations
(3) "All Night Bowling" and other fellowship flyers are placed on high-traffic bulletin boards
(4) testers randomly walk up to attendee volunteers and ask them "Where are you from?" "How are you doing?" "Are you new here?" or "I missed you last Sunday."

If you find the invitation dragging on and on week after week, forcing you to have to put your name on the waitlist at Shoney's rather than being seated immediately or if you find yourself missing the entire first quarter week after week, consider encouraging your pastor to contact the Evacuation Experts, LLC.

19 October, 2007

KJV "Typo" Nullifies Pastoral Calling, Perhaps More

Woodsville, Washington - Pastor William Herliksen is finding himself in a bit of a "faith crisis" these days. Herliksen, who has pastored Bible Believers Baptist Church for the past twelve years has made two things the primary focus of his ministry.

"We do two things here at BBBC" said Herliksen. "We lift up the King James Bible above all, and we follow only what Paul teaches."

Under Herliksen's leadership the church has adopted a KJV-only position that even some who advocate only using the King James Bible find "radical." Some of those views taken directly form BBBC's statement of faith include,

  • One cannot be saved with any other version of the Bible other than the King James
  • All translations into other languages must be made from the King James Bible
But lately Herliksen has had to come face-to-face with his own words. Last week, as Herliksen was on vacation with his wife he woke up one morning to read his Bible. Realizing he had left his Bible in his bedroom and not wanting to wake up his wife, he decided to pick up her Bible and read. He began reading in Romans chapter 13, and was only 10 verses into the chapter when he noticed something strange. The passage in his wife's Bible read, "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." The problem lay with the word "neighbour" which Herliksen immediately noticed was spelled differently than he had been used to in his Bible.

"I became instantly concerned" stated Herliksen. "I was almost certain that my Bible spelled the word 'neighbor.'"

Herliksen pondered the problem for some time and waited until his wife woke up to retrieve his Bible.

"As soon as I walked in the living room Bill just shot up off of the couch and tore into the bedroom" said wife Lillian. "No 'good morning' or anything."

Upon retrieving his Bible Herliksen's "worst fears" were confirmed. In his Bible, the Bible that he had used for over 30 years, it read "neighbor" and not "neighbour." Upon further investigation, Herliksen soon discovered that his own copy of the KJV was a misprint.

"I was devastated" said Herliksen. "That was the Bible I was reading when I supposedly got saved. That's the Bible I've preached from for over 30 years."

The crisis for Herliksen now is this; because of the typo his Bible cannot technically be called a real "King James Bible" thus nullifying all of his ministry including preaching, teaching and personal reading. But more frightening to Herliksen than anything else is the possibility that he has missed salvation altogether because of the mistake.

"This means that the Bible I was reading when I got saved was not really a King James Bible. I'm probably not even saved. This means that the Bible I have been preaching from to people all of these years has not really been a King James Bible, and that means all of those people who have walked the aisle are not really saved either. I've spent the past 30 years using a Satanic translation."

Since making the discovery Herliksen has resigned his position as pastor of BBBC.

"I don't know what I'm going to do now" stated Herliksen. "I'm still going to the church each week, but I just don't know if I can be forgiven of this sin. I've gotten another Bible, but I'm so scared that there might be another typo in it. My eternal destiny rests upon me actually reading the exactly right and perfect translation. How can I know that I have that? How can I be certain?"

18 October, 2007

Mega-Church Gets Back to the Basics

BALTIMORE, MD - At Franklin United Methodist Church, they are "getting back to the basics."

Three years ago, Franklin UMC was one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the state of Maryland. Multitudes were flowing through the doors each Sunday, with membership rising each week. Franklin actually led the state in (infant) baptisms for the year of 2004. Everything seemed to be headed in the right direction.

Pastor Evelyn Chervis, who has been at Franklin since 2003, told TBNN that things took a gradual turn for the worse in 2005. According to Chervis, "We started to plateau in numbers, fewer people were joining the church, and the excitement seemed to drop bit-by-bit each week. Some people even left for other churches. We had tried some new-fangled programs that just didn't pan out. I'm still not exactly certain what the problem was, but we decided to take action anyway."

The Franklin UMC leadership determined that something had to be done to "stop the bleeding." After fifteen minutes of prayer, they devised an action plan. The key to it all was getting back to the basics.

David Byerly, a long-time Sunday School teacher, told TBNN, "This church was founded in 1887 on the basics of the Christian faith. Preaching of the word, discipleship, prayer and fasting, and church discipline were keys back in the beginning. We knew that in today's modern society we couldn't return back to those things, but we were inspired by what our forefathers at Franklin were trying to do. Because of that, we have come up with our own ideas for for renewal. We believe God will bless this plan as He blessed this church back in the 1800's."

Byerly went on, "We have entitled our church renewal program, Getting Back to the Basics! (GBB!). We have been excited by the response so far."

The Franklin GBB! renewal program is 4-pronged in nature:

1. Worship - Franklin UMC is committed to bringing back the church band, which will be playing primarily praise choruses. An occasional Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, or Billy Joel song will be mixed in.

2. Teaching/Group Discussion - Franklin UMC is committed to re-instituting non-confrontational preaching and self-esteem based teaching. Only The Message or the TNIV will be used during these group discussion times.

3. Youth and Kids - Franklin UMC is committed to starting up both drama and puppet ministries. At least one of these programs will make an appearance in each worship service. This may cut into the length of the sermon, but Franklin is willing to make that sacrifice. Also, Children's "FUN" Church will be offered for all kids ages 12 and under (children will leave the worship service at the beginning of the sermon). Finally, we will soon begin construction on a separate youth building. This "Youth Refuge" will help our young people experience church in a way that is relevant to their difficult lifestyles.

4. Comfort - Franklin UMC is committed to being a welcoming place to all people. We will encourage our members to wear jeans and T-shirts. At the very least, suits and dresses will be discouraged. Additionally, a fresh cup of Starbucks coffee will be handed to each person ages 10 and up as they enter the front door. For ages 9 and under, we will serve Mountain Dew.

Pastor Chervis summed it all up, "We just want to be a New Testament church. We believe that by getting back to the basics, in a relevant way, we can do this."

17 October, 2007

Revival Ends Before Session Can Approve It

Larsonville, New Mexico - Over two years ago in the small town of Larsonville something happened that people still call "a special time." It all started one February Sunday morning during regular services at Trinity Presbyterian Church. The pastor, Rev. Colbert Dunnigan, preached the sermon that morning, and went significantly over time with no one seeming to mind.

"I remember it like it was yesterday" said member Patrick Larkin. "When Colbert was preaching that Sunday morning it was as if the floodgates of heaven had opened up. He just kept preaching and people weren't minding. We stayed close to three hours that day. After the service people were staying around and talking. People were getting convicted about sin and were repenting. It was a marvelous time."

In the weeks that followed more and more people began coming to the services at Trinity. Members began holding home Bible studies. Two deacons even claimed that they had just become Christians. In all, the church's attendance increased from an average Sunday morning crowd of 200 to over 600 persons. From that first Sunday in February until mid-July the church recorded over 90 adult baptisms.

All seemed to be going well until one Sunday morning when Dunnigan made a bold statement from the pulpit.

"That Sunday morning I said to the congregation 'we are having a true revival here' " said Dunnigan. "After the service I was approached by three of my elders who wanted to talk with me. One of them said to me 'Colbert, you were out of line with that statement. ' "

The elder went on to say that Dunnigan was premature in making such a remark as it had not been properly discerned as to whether a true revival was taking place or not. Dunnigan tried to persuade the elders but the conversation was postponed until the regular Session meeting on the third Tuesday of the month.

"I had made that statement in July, and after our conversation it was stated that the issue would be discussed at the next Session meeting" stated Dunnigan. "We had already had our meeting though for July so it had to be postponed until August. But the session normally doesn't meet in August with school starting back and vacations and everything. So we didn't meet until September."

The Session did finally meet in September and the issue was deferred to the Worship Committee.

"We decided that the issue of whether or not to say we were having a revival should be handled by the Worship Committee" said Elder Carl Gromlin. "So we would wait for their decision on the issue and then discuss it further."

Unfortunately though, the Worship Committee did not meet during the month of October, so the issue was still not settled by the time of the November Session meeting. The committee did however meet the last week of November.

"When the Worship Committee met we decided that this was too important of an issue for us alone to figure out, so we decided to form a Committee on Revival to study what was going on" said Elder Rodger Wheims, head of the Worship Committee. "We submitted the names of the people we thought would best work on the committee back to the Session."

As usual, the session did not meet for the month of December, so the issue was taken up during their regular meeting in January of 2006. During that meeting there were some questions concerning several people chosen to be on the Committee on Revival, so the issue was referred back to the Worship Committee with the proposed changes. In February the Worship Committee made the proposed changes and resubmitted them back to the session for approval in March. During the Session's March meeting the list was approved. The Committee on Revival met for the first time in April, and decided that the issue would be studied for a period of three months.

The Committee on Revival reconvened in July of 2006 and ratified a report stating that they believed that a "real revival was taking place." By this time though, the church's Sunday attendance had dropped to almost 350, and many of the Bible studies had stopped meeting. The report was sent to the Session for approval, but the Session, as usual, did not meet for the month of August. The issue was brought up during the September meeting but was tabled due to 'more pressing issues.' The Session then took up the issue again in October, but several of the elders questioned some of the research done by the Committee on Revival. The proposal was sent back for clarification. The Committee on Revival did not meet in November, and the Session, of course, did not meet in December, so the issue was not reevaluated by the Committee on Revival until January of 2007.

In January of 2007 the committee decided to restudy the issue for another three months. The group then met again in May of 2007 and "further clarified" the issues regarding the alleged revival. The proposal was sent to the Session for approval. During their June meeting the Session officially approved that the church was indeed "having a revival" and began discussing dates to make it public to the congregation.

"We didn't want to be to hasty about this" said Wheims. "We decided that we were going to have a 'Revival Sunday' to celebrate the events.

The Session decided to postpone the declaration of a date until their July meeting. During their July meeting they set a date of Sunday, September 30 as 'Revival Sunday.' It was then that Dunnigan could officially announce to the congregation that the church was in the midst of a revival.

And so, on Sunday, September 30 Dunnigan stood before his congregation of 125 and announced "Well, we're having a revival."

It is now October at Trinity Presbyterian and all but one or two of the home Bible studies have ended. The congregation groans when Dunnigan now goes past noon with his sermons, and attendance is at an all time low.

"We are really praying that a real revival will come some day" said Gromlin. "We're ready for it whenever it might come, and when it does we'll be there to support it and pray for its continuance."

16 October, 2007

Holy Kiss Leads to Unexpected Result

BISMARCK, ND - With so many churches giving up on the bible either partially or completely, at least one pastor has decided to take a stand. Rev. Harold Geeves, of Nazareth Bible Church, is determined to take the bible literally.

According to Geeves, "We want to live by the whole counsel of God's Word, and we interpret it literally. Because of this, we believe in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. We also believe that only men should be elders and teach within the church. As a church, we have decided that only believers should be baptized. Our women all wear head coverings."

Geeves continued, "We have taken some criticism for these beliefs. Several other local pastors have challenged us on our consistency. They kept asking us if we greeted one another with a "holy kiss," as Paul commanded in Romans 16:16, I Corinthians 16:20, II Corinthians 13:12, and I Thessalonians 5:26. They told us that if Paul commanded it four times, then we should be consistent and do it."

After several months of this, Rev. Geeves called a special meeting with the church deacons. TBNN has learned that the two-hour deacon meeting was animated as men on all sides of the issue spoke passionately about the ramifications of instituting the "holy kiss" at Nazareth.

Deacon Melvin Simmons said, "It got pretty heated in there. As the leaders of the church, we wanted to be united with what we presented to the church body. So after quite a bit of arguing, we decided that consistency was too important to not take a stand on this issue. We voted to begin the Holy Kiss Program at our church."

This simple program was designed to work like this: on Sunday mornings, when members first met other members, they were to greet one another with a small peck on the cheek. That was it. It was certainly not to go any farther than that.

For two weeks everything seemed to be going smoothly. There were a few embarrassing moments when men kissed other men for the first time. Also, the ladies were having to return repeatedly to the restroom to re-apply lipstick. The youth took to the program a little too enthusiastically. However, all-in-all, the Holy Kiss Program was a success.

Then it happened.

Deacon Simmons forgot that the program is for members only. On the first Sunday in August of this year, John and Shelly Winters, first-time visitors to Nazareth, walked in the front door of the church building. According to eye witnesses, Deacon Simmons strolled up to the couple, introduced himself, and then kissed Mr. Winters on the cheek. As Mr. Winters stood there shocked, Deacon Simmons leaned over and pecked the cheek of Mrs. Winters. That's when it got ugly.

Mr. Winters, thinking that Nazareth was some sort of weird cult, dropped Deacon Simmons to the floor with one punch. With Mrs. Winters visibly crying, the couple ran to their car. About 30 minutes later, during the middle of the morning service, the police arrived at the church. They reportedly handcuffed Deacon Simmons, who is now being charged with sexual assault, and escorted him out of the church.

What now for Nazareth? A few days after the arrest, Rev. Geeves told TBNN, "We realize that we have to do something about this program. We want to be as biblical as possible, but we also want to make sure this doesn't ever happen again. We are determined to be literal when we read the bible. Next week, maybe the members can all wear color-coded name tags to show who is willing to be kissed and who is not. I think we'll have red tags for the holy-kissers, and blue tags for the non-kissers."

15 October, 2007

New Study Reveals Good Looks = Bad Theology

St. Petersburg, Russia - A recent study conducted by the TBNN research group revealed a possible connection between looks and theology. The survey was conducted over the course of three months during which time 2,000 people were shown pictures of various religious and theological figures and were asked to rate the individuals' beauty on a scale of one to ten. In the end 80% of those who held to poor theological perspectives were considered to be on the "attractive" or "good looking" side while 76% of those who held to sound evangelical theology were considered "unattractive" or "not pleasing to the eye."

A total list of 100 theological/religious figures was used with 50 being from the "bad theology" camp and 50 from the "good theology" camp. S ome of the more popular figures in question from the "bad theology" camp included Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and Rod Parsley.

"Our research brought some very interesting results" said Brother Slawson who assisted in the research. "At the top of the list were Osteen and Parsley, with Osteen taking a slight advantage over Parsley. I think it was the teeth that won it for Osteen though. So many people would tell us, 'Oh, what a lovely smile!' For many people Parsley seems to have more of a Hollywood appeal, almost a suave 'tough guy' appearance. Amongst the older crowds, Robert Schuller and Bishop Spong won hearts."

In the end the top five rated persons for the "Bad Theology" group were as follows;

Joel Osteen - 9.87
Rod Parsley - 9.25
Creflo Dollar - 8.90
Gene Robinson - 8.25
Benny Hinn - 8.20

Under the category of "Good Theology" though, things looked significantly different.

"We were shocked when we began to show people photos and pictures of good theologians" stated Slawson. "Very few rated over five."

A sampling of the ratings from the "Good Theology" category clearly showed that with improved theology often comes less attractive looks.

George Whitfield - 4.97
C.H. Spurgeon - 4.23
Martin Luther - 4.15
John Owen - 3.99
Jonathan Edwards - 3.98

"When it was all said and done the evidence was pretty overwhelming" said Slawson. "The better one's looks the worse his or her theology will be, and the less attractive one is the better his or her theology will be. We are now trying to figure out a possible reason for this. One theory is that perhaps those with good theology are so occupied with studying God's Word that they don't have time to visit hair salons and beauty parlors and such."

There were exceptions on both sides. Under the "Bad Theology" category, Charles Finney scored only a 0.76, while under the "Good Theology" category J. Ligon Duncan III managed to score a 9.11.

"Of course there are exceptions, that's always the case" stated Slawson. "But the paradigm seems pretty consistent. If you're visiting churches out there, or are perhaps unhappy with your current church situation I'd take a look at your pastor. If he's a handsome guy, I'd be careful."

13 October, 2007

Knowing When God is Involved

TBNN has learned recently about a forthcoming book expected to top the religious charts in the coming months. We were able to obtain the review the publishers intend to use to promote the book:

***Review Begins Here***

Are you sick and tired of hearing lame cliches, feeling left out in the cold, knowing all along that failing to plan is planning to fail? Can't see the forest of your existence for the trees of daily grind? Well, you will never know any better if you don't try. There's no time like the present to learn. Get up off the couch, and learn the concepts of this book. It will stick to you like glue, and you'll sleep like a log.

Ten Steps to Knowing When God is Involved, written by Parker Rodley, is a powerful book. Yet it gently walks the reader through a 10-step plan of study. "Study" may not be the correct word. The book is not overrun with mind-wearying Bible verses, but is instead filled with easy to understand clarifications from Rodley's Biblical introspectiveness.

Designed to last for 10 weeks, Ten Steps to Knowing When God is Involved takes each spiritual cliche and explains it so that even the most spiritually immature person in your church can learn the correct time and the correct place to confidently speak truth.

The first 5 weeks are designed for the readers to realize the times that God has been involved in the lives of ordinary people-- their own lives. Readers memorize Step #1 and attempt to properly use the spiritual cliche at least one time per day for a full week. Regardless of how long it takes, readers should not proceed to Step #2 unless they have properly used the phrase from Step #1 at least seven times.


Step #1 "Those aren't goose bumps, those are God-bumps."

Step #2 "God carried me through that time."

Step #3 "God showed up today."

Step #4 "God works in mysterious ways."

Step #5 "It's a God thing."


Step #6 "Let go and let God."

Step #7 "Make Jesus the Lord of your life."

Step #8 "Wait on the Lord (Timing is Important)."

Step #9 "We just need to step out on faith and let God do it."

Step #10 "Receive God's best."

The second 5 weeks are designed to assist readers in helping others learn the truth. Once we learn to learn, we should learn to teach. Encourage others to get God involved.

Clarence Jones recently finished the book during a personal 10-week Bible Study at home on Wednesday nights. "As I grew up, I never felt comfortable attempting to state these deeply spiritual truths. I was lost when it came to knowing how to get God involved in my life. Parker Rodley explains it so clearly."

An expanded outline with brief explanations follows:

Week #1: Those aren't goose bumps, those are God bumps
  • When our skin tightens up, sometimes it's the work of God. This is the first step to recognizing God.
Week #2: God carried me through that time
  • When we notice times in our lives where we have exhausted all of our own strength, yet we still made it through, we must recognize that God helped us in that particular situation.
Week #3: God showed up today
  • Learn the type of days in which God shows up. If the worship center reached at least 85% capacity, and everyone truly came prepared for an emotional experience, there is a much higher chance that God was in the midst.
Week #4: God works in mysterious ways
  • Knowing when to use this statement is important. This statement should only be used after a series of circumstances sometimes "coincidences" by the world. As we grow more spiritually mature, we are able to discern whether the so-called "coincidences" were really random or were truly a God-Thing (see Step #5).
Week #5: It's a God thing
  • We have arrived at the highest level of personal spiritual maturity if we can learn to recognize when God purposefully controlled a situation vs. the times when things occurred without the need to involve God. After we learn to say "It's a God thing" at the proper time on a consistent basis, we are ready to begin teaching others.
Week #6: Let go and let God
  • We grow when we help others release their strong grip on God. When God is free to work in lives within the world, we will all experience joy. This is the first God-involving lesson we should teach to others.
Week #7: Make Jesus the Lord of your life
  • Learn to combine our votes for His Lordship with the votes of those around us. Learn to confidently ask others, "Why not give Him your vote of Lordship?" The best time to do this is when the spirit is as thick as pea soup during a revival service.
Week #8: Wait on the Lord
  • Timing is important. After exhausting all of our own energy, we often find ourselves having failed. After speaking with friends and family and exhausting their energy also, is there anything left? Yes! When all other resources are gone, it's time to wait on the Lord.
Week #9: We just need to step out in faith and let God do it
  • Learn the perfect time to make this statement during committee meetings or business meetings. When we are convincing enough, we can call for the vote, ending the meeting much more quickly despite any negative probing questions previously being discussed.
Week #10: Receive God's best
  • Once we master the ability of allowing God to be at His best in our lives, we can encourage others to look forward to the same earthly blessings we have if they also take this final step in getting God involved.

12 October, 2007

Split Personality Pastor Has "Emerging Conversation" with Himself

Newark, New Jersey - The "followers of Jesus" of "The Pub" are deeply concerned about their teacher, Peter Trout. Trout, affectionately known as "Trouty," founded "The Pub" seven years ago when he and a group of friends began meeting at Brantly's Pub in downtown Newark on Friday nights for discussions about life, love and the Bible. They were small at first, with just seven or eight people coming, but within a years time the group had grown to twenty, and then to fifty. Two years later Brantly's Pub closed, and the group took the initiative to buy the building. By that time, Trout had become the de facto leader of the group, having completed three years of college, studied Yoga for several years, and having backpacked Europe for two summers in a row. And so Trout and his group simply renamed the building "The Pub" and continued meeting on Friday nights for several hours, with the only difference being that now the meetings were B.Y.O.B. (bring your own beer).

All seemed to be going well for the group. The Pub's "followers of Jesus" had grown to almost 200, and the "family" had finally managed to acquire a liquor license so that they could serve first timers who didn't have anything to drink. But during the last Friday meeting in July, something happened that now has The Pub's "followers" worried that their favorite hangout spot along with their cherished leader is going to fall apart.

The trouble began the night of July 27th. The Pub had booked the group Allison Chains, a 90's grunge/alternative cover band to play for their evening "hang out time." The group played for almost two hours and then Trout stood up to speak. It was then that, "members" say, he just "lost it."

"I don't know what happened with the man" said one 'member' who simply calls himself 'The Parable.' "Trouty got up and started talking all this weird stuff about being obedient to the Bible and actually basing everything we believe on it. He then went into some tirade about our mouths reflecting what's in our heart. Everyone was just standing around really bummed out. I didn't know if I was hearing things right, I mean, I had had about 4 pints by that time, so maybe I just was confused, or maybe I just was confused, or confused or something, like something."

Trout spoke for almost a solid hour, during which time he cited numerous commentaries and quoted the Puritans. After he finished he stepped off of the stage for about thirty seconds only to return a with a completely different demeanor.

"When Trouty got done everyone was totally in shock" said Heather Lilly. "But then he got back on the stage and started going into this impassioned plea for people to keep an open mind and not to set fixed standards. He shouted, slamming on the Puritans and was cussing them out. That was the Trouty we all knew and loved."

When members of the congregation approached Trout after the service he responded totally dumbfounded to what they were talking about.

"I ask Trouty if everything he had said was some kind of joke or something and he said 'like what are you talking about man?' " Said The Parable. "It was like he didn't even know what had happened."

Ever since that fateful Friday night at The Pub, the "followers" have watched on a weekly basis as Trout has seemed to have developed a two-for-one personality, constantly having an "emerging conversation" with himself.

"We're all so worried about Trouty" said Lilly. "The other day I called him up and one minute he's cussing himself out, and the next minute he's preaching to himself about the need for sound Biblical doctrine. I just don't know what we're going to do. We all love Trouty so much, and we'd hate to see him turn orthodox or something."

Several of the "followers of Jesus" at The Pub have recently come together in an effort to approach Trout to help him. But the "followers" are uncertain of what lies ahead.

"When we go to talk to him, we don't know which Trouty we're going to get" said The Parable. "It's all going to depend on which one of him is talking during his inner conversation. Our hope is to interrupt that conversation at just the right time."

11 October, 2007

Osteen Books Flop in 10/40 Window

For "America's Pastor," everything seems to be going extremely well right now in the USA. Lakewood Church is bursting at the seams. Pastor Osteen continues to be invited to speak on TV shows such as Larry King Live. AIROST will soon be adding routes to five new cities. Your Best Life Now has set numerous sales records. And now his new book (Become a Better You) is ready to come into stores all over the USA.

One problem remains for Pastor Joel. His books are not selling well in a large part of the world: the "10/40 window."

The "10/40 window" is the part of the world in the eastern hemisphere that falls roughly between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north latitude. You can clearly see it on the map above. This is the section of the world A) where most of the unreached people groups live, and B) where most of the non-Christians live. For these two closely related reasons, this part of the world is a primary focus for international missions.

The 10/40 window is also the area of the world where Christians face the most persecution. The worst persecutors, such as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Sudan, all fall into this critical window of the world.

TBNN has learned that Christians who live in these countries just do not find Pastor Osteen's books relevant. For example, despite the fact that "Your Best Life Now" was translated into Korean, the North Korean Christians just do not want to read it.

North Korean Pastor Kim Sung-Wei (named changed for security reasons) told TBNN, "North Korean Christians face great difficulty each day. If the authorities find out that we serve Jesus, they will take away our homes and jobs. If they find us meeting together for worship, they will throw us in jail. As a pastor, I have been beaten three times already this year. This man, Osteen, writes about things that we do not understand."

"Your Best Life Now," while being a best-seller in the USA, sold five copies in Pyongyang, and three in the remainder of the country. We have heard of similar stories in much of the rest of the 10/40 window.

Although Lakewood Church denies it, TBNN has also learned that "Become a Better You" has had almost no advance orders from inside the 10/40 window.

TBNN recently made a trip to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia to meet with Christians there. We took an advance copy of "Become a Better You" with us to get a local pastor's thoughts on it (obviously, it had been translated into Arabic).

We told pastor Abdul al-Mansur (name changed for security reasons) that Lakewood Church's website said this about the new book: "Joel Osteen offers seven simple yet profound action steps that will help readers discover the better things they were born realize."

We then shared Osteen's 7 steps:
1. Keep pressing forward.
2. Be positive toward yourself.
3. Develop better relationships.
4. Form better habits.
5. Embrace the place where you are.
6. Develop your inner life.
7. Stay passionate about life.

Pastor al-Mansur's reaction was typical of what we have seen from Christians who face significant persecution. He told TBNN, "I feel sorry for this man Osteen. He writes all about making yourself better. This is not what the bible says. We know that only God is good, and that He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross. We know that if our sufferings bring glory to Him, then it is worth it. Only God sustains us. Pastor Osteen seems to be reading his own books more than he reads the bible."

TBNN has also found out that although the Osteen books have not done well in the 10/40 window, they have found surprising success in Western Europe. Paris, in particular, appears to be a hub of Osteen book clubs.

No word yet as to whether or not AIROST will be scheduling flights to Beijing, Damascus, or Tehran any time soon.

10 October, 2007

Try New "Up Yonder" Rolls Today!

Nothing completes a holiday meal with family and friends like fresh hot yeast rolls. For over 50 years now Up Yonder rolls have been a part of family holiday traditions everywhere. Only the finest ingredients go into our pre-made frozen yeast rolls. All you have to do is pop them in the oven and in just 20 minutes you'll enjoy that warm fresh homemade flavor like grandma used to make, but in just a fraction of the time.

And now, just in time for the holiday season, try our new flavors of Up Yonder rolls. There's Festive Pumkin, Apple Cinnamon Spice and Honey Butter.

Warm your family's appetite while you warm your hearts around the dinner table. Try Up Yonder rolls today and your family will be sure to say, "When the roll is called 'Up Yonder' I'll be there!"

09 October, 2007

"As We Serve Together"

OLEAN, NY - Every preacher has his own unique way of getting his message across. For some, the method of choice is yelling. For others, it is humor. For still others, it's movement around the stage.

For Rev. Joshua Driver, the key is repetition. According to Driver, "Most people need to hear something two or three times before they really understand it. Because of that, I restate most of my key points as I preach."

Rev. Driver has only been serving in his current church, Allegheny Lutheran, for about eight months. The congregation is excited about him and his young family, but one part of the repetition is beginning to annoy some of the members.

Peggy Tillis, a 17-year-member of Allegheny, told TBNN, "We really like our new pastor. He is just so kind and pleasant. When he preaches, I don't mind it when he repeats his main message. However, there is one problem - his pet phrase. He just can't resist saying 'As we serve together.' He says it over and over during every sermon. I can't figure out if he knows he's doing it or not."

According to several other Allegheny members who wished to remain anonymous, the typical church service begins something like this: After an opening hymn, Pastor Driver comes to the podium to make the announcements. In the span of four or five announcements, he will say, "As we serve together," at least five times.

Examples provided by the members include:
-"This week, the choir will practice on Thursday instead of Wednesday as we serve together."
-"On Tuesday, as we serve together, we will serve supper at the local homeless shelter."
-"Our youth group has much to be proud of. They have returned from a service trip to Pittsburgh. We'll be hearing from them tonight as we serve together."
-"As we serve together, let's all give toward our annual Christmas offering for missions."
-"The Ladies Quartet will be singing at the nursing home this Friday night. Try to be there to support them as we serve together."

Charles Simmons, who was part of the search committee for the new pastor, informed us, "I'm all for serving together, but this is getting out of hand. Not only does Pastor Driver use his phrase in the announcements, but he fills his sermons with it, too. Last week, during a thirty-five minute sermon, he said 'As we serve together,' twenty-eight times. It has become a massive distraction. We have godly members of this church who now, instead of listening to the sermon, just count how many times he says it. I've even heard of some folks who are having a secret weekly raffle based on how many times he uses it!"

This past Sunday, Driver preached from Romans 12. We have heard, through those anonymous sources, that the following were some of the sayings from the sermon:
-"We must strive to present our entire selves to God as living sacrifices as we serve together."
-"Refuse to be conformed to this world as we serve together, but be changed by the renewal of your thinking as we serve together."
-"If you have the gift of service, then serve one another as we serve together."
-"Despise what is evil, hold on strong, as we serve together, to all good things."
-"As we serve together, do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good as we serve together."

Three weeks ago, church member Victoria Fleming (pictured here) had a psychotic break toward the end of the sermon. Her husband, Phil, told TBNN that Victoria has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Repetitions of any type bother her if she is not in control of the situation. Throughout the sermon, Victoria became increasingly agitated. Finally, after Pastor Driver said, 'As we serve together,' for the 39th time, Victoria lost it. She reportedly got a crazed look on her face, screamed, and them fell flat on the floor. Two EMTs who happened to be at the service took care of her until an ambulance could arrive. The Flemings reportedly will be switching their membership to a nearby Presbyterian church because of the danger of the sermons at Allegheny.

TBNN has learned that several groups within the church want to tell the pastor about his pet phrase, but they do not know how to go about it. A few men want to tell Pastor Driver directly, but their wives won't let them. Some want to send him a note, but that has been called cowardly by others. One un-named member has posted about this on his blog in the hope that the pastor will see it, but so far this has not happened.

As of this writing, the church body was still divided on what to do. They have, however, at least all agreed that something has to be done.

Mr. Simmons summed up the situation this way, "We just have to do something. We're getting to the point of not even wanting to go to church. And this coming Sunday, Pastor Driver is going to be preaching on Mark 10:45. That verse tells us, 'the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.' I just don't know if I'll be able to make it through that sermon. The pastor's record number of times saying his phrase is 47 in one sermon, but I'm afraid he'll break 50 this Sunday."

08 October, 2007

Family Disheartened After Watching Baptism Film

Newport News, Virginia - Recently the Chalmers family of Newport News mourned the death of the man they all called "Papaw." Papaw, whose real name was Douglas Chalmers, died three months ago at the age of 82 after a year-long battle with cancer. While the family was saddened about losing Papaw, they were confident about Papaw's eternal destination, that is until a recent film made them question that confidence.

The trouble began over the weekend when the family gathered together to celebrate what would have been Papaw's 83rd birthday on Saturday. Richard Chalmers, Papaw's son had managed to obtain a copy of a film showing Papaw's baptism at the Newport News Church of Christ over 40 years ago. It was what the family saw in the film that now has them scarred that Papaw may not have made it to the Pearly Gates.

"I had found the film in Papaw's cedar chest after he passed away" said Richard Chalmers. "I was able to find a machine and watch it. I then paid a guy to have it transferred to DVD so that we could always have it. I naturally decided to bring it to the celebration this past weekend for everyone to see."

The family watched with smiles on their faces, until daughter Cortney Contrell noticed something strange.

"Courtney said 'Did y'all see that? His right big toe didn't go all the way under!'" said Richard Chalmers. "We ran the movie back several times and watched it over and over again, and we all saw the same thing. As Papaw was being dunked in the tub of water, his right foot came up and his big toe came out of the water about an inch, which means that he was never properly baptized."

While such an issue might seem insignificant to some, to the Chalmers family it's an matter of eternal importance.

"In our branch of the Church of Christ we believe that baptism saves you" said Thomas Chalmers, the eldest son. "If you're not properly baptized, if you don't get completely immersed then your not really saved. You've got to get all the way under that water or you just won't make it to heaven. We're all scared now, because as far as we know that's the only baptism that Papaw ever had."

The family is disparately searching records to find if Papaw was ever baptized again over the course of his life. But they they fear that all of their searches will turn up empty.

"We're bracing ourselves for the worst, but we're not giving up hope yet" said Thomas Chalmers. "Papaw really loved to fish, and on a number of occasions he went with his pastor buddies. Perhaps on one of those trips he may have been re-baptized and we just don't know about it. We're currently trying to track down all of our old ministers through the years to see if they know anything."

The incident has since prompted the entire family to get re-baptized over the weekend.

"We're not taking any chances" stated daughter Elizabeth. "How terrible it would be to have to suffer in hell for all eternity because of a toe."

06 October, 2007

SinWatchers: When Entire Sanctification Doesn't Seem to Work

LEFT: Before SinWatchers

RIGHT: After SinWatchers

Results not typical

Jericho, NY – “My SinWatchers support group is so awesome. I finally feel in control of my sin,” said Marge Knickers who claims she has tried all the fad sin-elimination plans. Most were just unrealistic for Marge, “Don’t sin this! Don’t sin that! Live a completely holy life here. Live a completely holy life there. After a decade of watching my sin levels bounce from sinlessness one week to blatant sins the next, I eventually became aware that it was going to be impossible to completely eliminate sin from my life,” admitted Marge.

Back in her high school days, Marge had tried to follow the sin-free plan of her Youth Minister at Fairwood Baptist Church—abstaining completely from the big three: alcohol, sex, and dancing. She was perfect almost all of high school until she ended up pregnant after getting drunk at the senior prom.

Four years later, as a single mom of 3 boys and working part-time at Walcot’s Fireworks Stand during season, Marge met William Bartley, pastor of the First Zion Chapel of Loving Attitudes Toward the Great Redeemer of Blessings Holiness Church. That Sunday she saw clearly her state and wanted to change. She walked the aisle and admitted to having a sin problem. Pastor Bartley baptized her. After she received the second blessing, Pastor Bartley urged her to eliminate sin from her life. She vowed to stop cutting her hair, only wear long dresses, quit watching movies, and never touch illegal drugs again. She attended church 7 weeks in a row until a new and improved job paying $6.85 at the Piggley Wiggley forced her to work on Sundays. It was not long before she was spotted sporting an orange mohawk and wearing shorts and handcuffs after being caught smoking weed in the Dollar Theatre.

After years of struggle with her sin, Marge felt so unfit, confessing that she could not last even one hour of the day without committing a major sin. She became addicted to cigarettes, make-up, and M.A.S.H reruns. “I could be so good for a time. I could be so pure for a while. I thought I could be as good as the other Holiness women, but it was impossible for me.” Every time Marge attempted to eliminate sin completely, she would eventually go on a sin-binge. “Trying not to sin at all just made things worse. ”

“What Marge needed was an intermediate step,” said 21st Century Reformed Holiness Pastor Jeremiah Gilferd, SinWatchers liason for 21st Century Reformed Holiness Churches. “You can’t just go from big sinner to sinless person overnight.”

The concept was taken from the popular WeightWatchers program. The entire idea behind WeightWatchers is NOT to stop eating. The purpose is not to do away with your weight completely. The purpose is to watch your weight. “We know, because we are human, we must have weight. It just needs to be controlled,” said Pastor Gilferd. SinWatchers is similar in that, a person must realize that we are all sinners. We are going to sin.”

As a reformed holiness pastor, Gilferd is adamant that, since we are not going to eliminate sin completely in the early years of the second blessing, we should watch it better, even planning to commit smaller sins. “Since you must sin and since you are going to sin, why not focus on the smaller sins and keep your total sins in check? Focusing on the smaller sins prevents a person from overindulging in something really detrimental. “

SinWatcher slogans include:

· Take control of your sin with SinWatchers. Choose the sin level that best fits you.

· Sin Watchers will assist you in planning a consistent reasonable amount of smaller daily sins.

· Eliminate sin-binging. Keep your sin in check with SinWatchers.

The amount of sin points an individual receives each day depends on the Watchers current spiritual maturity level. For example, Marge started out at 88 points per day based on her church attendance, two divorces, and the four TVs in her home. Now, she is able to make it through the day with 23 points on average. Each week, she meets with a support group to share breakthroughs. Recent helpful suggestions include:

· Divide your sin points over at least three periods during the day so they don’t stand out in your mind or the minds of others.

· Imagination: Imagining a sin rather than actually committing the sin reduces points by 75%.

· Combination: Combine minor sins for more effect. Watching one hour of Dukes of Hazzard while gossiping, cuts in half the hourly points assessed for each.

Specific “small” sins that may help you prevent bigger serious sins include:

· By scheduling a daily “light gossip session” for example, a middle-aged lady is able to able to release some of the desire to sin, and maybe avoid a much worse “slander” sin.

· Men of all ages, for example, may schedule to daily recall an improper visual image from childhood, and thus reduce a current pornography addiction.

· Someone prone to murder may choose to plan a punching bag session while imagining to smash the face of a co-worker, avoiding the actual murder.

There are some sins that just don’t fit into the program, period! No amount of points are tolerated for all the biggies: adultery, mormanism, murder, rape, hard rock music, and sermons by any of the 4 Johns (Piper, MacArthur, Calvin, or Edwards).