30 January, 2008
28 January, 2008
27 January, 2008
26 January, 2008
On Thursday, January 24, 2008, Mrs. Sessoms received a certified letter:
Dear Mrs. Sessoms,
Thank you for your recent willingness to volunteer for a position with Southdowns Community Bible Church. We have, with all due diligence, considered your application. Unfortunately, your request for a volunteer position has been denied.
Reason for denial: Overextended
Minimum acceptable SICO score: 740
SICO score (Sessoms, Winona M.): 642
Please be aware that a low SICO score does not mean that you are not a spiritual person. A low SICO score can be due to a number of non-spiritual issues, especially committee overload. If you feel there has been an error, please notify Lamar Novack, Committee on Committees Chairman, in writing within 10 business days.
Southdowns Committee on Committees
“All I remember at first is a bunch of screaming about some score being too low,” said Mel Sessoms, Winona’s husband. “Winona was coming back from the mailbox all loud and up in my ear a yellin’ about like she was ready to scratch something that didn’t itch, you know.”
During a phone call with TBNN’s intern, Novack explained that that Mrs. Sessoms SICO score was currently 642, well below the minimum 740 required by Southdowns Community Bible Church to be nominated for volunteer positions during 2008. “Southdowns used to accept SICO scores as low as 620, but with so many volunteers defaulting on their word and not showing up for their volunteer positions, we had to tighten our standardsin 2008,” said Novack.
A little confused, TBNN interns did some more investigating for Mrs. Sessoms and discovered that the Southern Baptist Convention along with smaller non-denominational churches started a network 2 years ago where Pastors and Church Clerks have been secretly working together to develop a Spirituality In Church Organizations (SICO) score for all members. Acceptable pronunciations are either “psycho” or “sicko”. The idea is modeled after the FICO score in consumer credit scoring. Most people know the FICO score as simply “my credit score.”
With scores ranging from about 450 - 850, your SICO level is a combination measure of (1) your spiritual availability, and (2) your actual spirituality. The SICO gives church leaders and decision makers a concise, objective measurement of your spirituality risk when considering you for a volunteer or even paid position.
All churches in the network receive the same information. Just like lenders are able to evaluate you objectively through your credit score, Church leaders can make quick decisions about your spirituality without having to observe you for months or even years.
SICO scores reduce a problem that has arisen for leadership in small churches because almost anyone (especially happy, bubbly church-hoppers) can fake church attendance and niceness for a few short months. Should a small church automatically place these pleasant new arrivals in Sunday School positions within 6 months? Sometimes they do.
SICO scores do help truly spiritual people who have moved for legitimate reasons settle into new churches more quickly. With a very high SICO score, say 800, a deacon who moves from one church to another in a different state for a job change, doesn’t have to spend years reestablishing a reputation of spirituality in the new city. In the past, such a person may have had to start all over building a higher spirituality level. Now, with the SICO spirituality score, he can begin deaconing as early as the very next week when the Pastor runs a SICO spirituality check.
Does a low SICO score mean a person is marked for life? Absolutely not. First of all, older blatant sins are much less of a negative than newer blatant sins. The SICO score completely removes any sin over 7 years old from the SICO calculation, with the exceptions of murderers and Mormons, of course.
What about spiritual identity theft? SICO representative Bill Walshman said, “It happens. I mean, how many small churches check driver’s licenses when new members join?” Individuals who are members of participating SICO congregations should check their SICO periodically to make sure no one else is attempting to use their spirituality. If you have spent years working to build your spirituality score by putting on that tie or makeup in the vehicle while woofing down a Smores Pop-Tart and running red lights (what policeman would stop you going to church?) to get to Sunday School on time, if you’ve held your hands high during praise and worship designated times, and if you’ve spent countless hours sitting through church committee meetings that ramble on and on, why let someone else ruin it overnight?
Call the 1-900-555-SICO hotline to check your own score for a small fee. If you feel there is an error on you SICO file, you can appeal it with the proper paperwork. You can also buy insurance against identity theft. With the insurance (costing only $69.95 per year for higher SICO score members), if it is discovered that there may be an error, SICO insurers will fly a specialist to your church business meeting (with as little as 3 days notice) to speak in your spiritual defense.
Since there is no “score cutoff” used by all churches, it’s hard to say what a good SICO score is outside the context of a particular church. For example, churches in rural areas may thrive with lower average SICO scores. In well-gossiped churches where everything gets reported, sins such as drunken fights (negative 15 in the SICO system) and out of wed-lock children (negative 25) may be common knowledge in the congregation and reported by the deacons or WMU. Such a church may have a vibrant congregation with a low average SICO score of 580.
In most cases, having very small duties without missing a meeting shows that you have managed your spirituality responsibly and may be slightly better than having many many duties. This is consistent with “he who is faithful in a little … will be given more.”
Note, even if you have spare time during you week, your score may show that you are overextended with volunteer work. The reporting churches are not able to report the amount of time you spend in personal prayer and Bible Study. You may have a lower score when you are involved in many activities, because, given the amount of hours in a week, the assumption is that you are not spending enough time in personal Bible Study and prayer.
Someone close to “maxing out” on many volunteer duties may have trouble “keeping pace” in the future. Sure, right now, praise team practice may not interfere with work day, but with two duties, the risk of missing at least one meeting is higher.
Such was the case with Mrs. Sessom’s SICO score. TBNN discovered the factors that led Mrs. Sessom’s overextension and SICO score of 642. We found a business meeting report from October which listed Mrs. Sessoms as having the following duties: Choir Member, Fellowship Committee, 3rd Grade Sunday School Teacher, Prayer Team, Visitation Team, Christmas Play, Welcoming Committee, Flower Committee, Nominating Committee, Palm Sunday Coordinator, and WMU Treasurer.
25 January, 2008
24 January, 2008
“We in the Episcopal Church have always put a strong emphasis upon the education of our children. We believe that without education, our children will not be able to keep up in our fast-changing, technological society.
Most of our children are excelling in either public schools or private schools in America. They are learning all they need to achieve great status in the careers of their choice. Episcopal kids have, over the years, routinely out-performed their non-Episcopal counterparts.
We are concerned, however, about the education of a very small sub-segment of our Episcopal body. This small group is our home-schooled children. We have discovered that our children who are ‘educated’ in their homes are not receiving the same curriculum as other children their age in public or private school.
For example, children taught at home are not learning enough about evolution (the process by which God brought about creation; all smart people know this). They are not being instructed in how to ‘say no to drugs.’ They are not being exposed to the various sexual options available to them in society.
Of great concern also is what these home-schooled kids are being taught. We have learned that they simply know too much of the bible. They understand not only the content of the bible, but also how to properly interpret it. Furthermore, they believe that the scriptures actually mean what they say, and do not change in meaning over time. An alarming number hold to Reformed Theology.
We, the leadership of the Episcopal Church, are greatly concerned by the threat that the home-schooled children could bring against the church in the upcoming years. If these children bring their fundamentalist ideas into the church, they will only cause division and stir up strife within the Episcopal body.
We, therefore, strongly encourage all home-schooling parents to cease their current practices. We encourage all parents (who can afford it) to place their children in Episcopal private schools. If this is not possible, please enroll your kids in any of our excellent public schools. This should take care of any threats to the security of the Episcopal Church in the future.”
TBNN attempted to contact Episcopal Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (pictured here), but she was unavailable for comment.
23 January, 2008
"It's bizarre" said Bill Christopher, an American who recently toured Europe with his wife. "I don't know where all of these artists down through the centuries got the idea that everyone ran around naked in the Bible."
Indeed famous works have depicted people going out to get baptized by John the Baptist, naked. There are paintings of the last judgment, and often the various subjects in the paintings are naked. Even, perhaps, one of the most famous of all, Michaelangelo's statue of "David" depicts the King of Israel in the nude.
"I just don't understand what the significance is" stated Elizabeth Harden, another recent visitor to Rome. "The only time the subject of naked appears in the Bible, it's often in a bad context."
But still, despite objections, cathedrals throughout the world are still adorned with nudity. And recently this inspired another modern "cathedral" to give it a try. Robert Schuller, founder of the "Hour of Power" and the ministry of the Crystal Cathedral, came to the realization that his "cathedral" was lacking something.
"We have a truly magnificent structure here" stated Schuller, "and we began to think that perhaps we were missing something. As we looked around, we noticed we had no statues and no magnificent works of art. So we began to investigate this further."
After several months of deliberation, Schuller decided the church should be adorned with artwork. The church enlisted the help of a team of five famous contemporary artists from around the world.
"We told them to make our cathedral glorious like those around the world" said Schuller. "We asked them to fill our church with artwork depicting the founding of this ministry and the work we have done here."
Thus, the work began. Statues were carved, paintings were painted, carvings were made and tapestries were woven. Then came the day of unveiling. The artists set up all of the works in the cathedral late one Saturday night to be revealed the next morning during a special commemoration service for the artwork.
The service was filled with much pomp and majesty. The choir sang a number of selections including portions of Handel's Messiah. One of the artist who designed many of the statues for the cathedral, Hiliuajana Rotherovraza, spoke during the service on the nature of the project. At last the moment to reveal all of the works of art came. The orchestra began to play as the lights dimmed. The drums rolled and the sheets were pulled away. In a matter of seconds the sanctuary filled with gasps and sounds of shock. Even Schuller himself stood aghast for a moment. There before the watching eyes of everyone in the congregation were works of art depicting the history of The Crystal Cathedral with every subject in the paintings completely unclothed.
"It was quite disturbing" said one congregation member, Ellis Hathaway. "There were pictures and statues everywhere of Dr. Schuller. In some he was preaching, in another he was shown breaking ground on the Cathedral when it was built. But in every last picture or statue he was as bare as the day he was born."
From that point on in the service Schuller tried to recover some sense of order. Many congregation members left. Others laughed, while still others became ill. Schuller hesitantly thanked the five proud artists who were present and quickly pronounced a benediction of sorts, exiting the stage before anyone could stop him for questioning. All of the works of art were removed later the same day.
"I think, looking back, it was a bad idea" said Schuller. "Perhaps we should have defined a little more clearly what we wanted or at least been more involved in the process."
Schuller went on to state that the Crystal Cathedral has no further plans to add any more artwork or statuary to their church.
21 January, 2008
19 January, 2008
I have continued the tradition of love for the Packers. It’s important to me that this demonstration of love is passed down to my kids and they come to love and appreciate the Packers as I do. I’ve gone with my kids to about 1 Packer game on average every year for the last 10 years. Although I don’t attend that many games, my kids know the Packers are important to me because I send them to the games. My wife and kids haven't missed a single regular season game in the last 4 years.
Why don’t I go to the games that often? You know how it is; things can get really hectic during the week, and Sunday is about the only day I have for myself. Now, I love the Packers. Don’t get me wrong. Just because I don’t attend doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. I'm really truly crazy about them. I don’t have to physically sit in a seat with other fans to be a fan. There are no laws stating that I need to attend a game to be a fan. Do I have to work for my “fanship” status? I know in my heart that I’m a fan, regardless of what all those hypocritical season ticket holders around me say when I do attend games. They don’t know my heart. Besides, I can watch the games on tv and it’s just as well.
How often do I watch them on tv? Well, I don’t have to watch the game “per se.” If I’m washing my car, I can listen to the game on the radio and it’s just as good. Besides, with my earpiece radio, I can even hear the game while I’m shoveling snow. Like last week during the Seattle game. If I had gone and sat in my season ticket seats, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the game thinking of the accumulation of snow on my driveway. By the time my boys were home with my Dad, I had the driveway cleared. That was a great game, huh?
As far as Sunday’s go, like I said, it’s really the only day I have for myself. I can go to nfl.com or watch SportsCenter to see what happened. As a true fan, I usually find out what happened during the games before I go into work because there is this one nut at work who can talk about nothing else. He brings up the topic of the Packers continually. Farve did this, another guy did that that, Brooks did this play and Green did that play. He knows all the players names and even how to spell them. It’s embarrassing.
Of course we all like the Packers. This is Green Bay, for crying out loud. We don’t have to talk about it all the time. I just don’t feel comfortable verbally sharing my fanship about the Packers with others. Yes, I bought my season tickets. Yes, I go to a game once a year. Yes, I’m training my kids to respect the Packers. But “No” I don’t really feel comfortable talking about it at work. People should be able to tell that I'm a Packers fan because I wear something with a little green on the Fridays before a big game. I don't have to wear a cheese hat for people to know I'm a fan. They should be able to see it by my pleasant smile.
The crazy nut Packers fan always goes straight up to this guy who transferred in from Chicago and tries to convert him. He talks about all the greatness of the Packers. You can tell the Chicago fan really doesn’t want to talk about it. I think it could even be considered harassment. It’s embarrassing. When the Chicago fan asks me, “Hey, aren’t you one of those Packers fans too?” I just shrug it off and try not to make a big deal about it by saying something like, “Yeah, my family has owned tickets a long time. It’s kind of a family tradition. And going to sporting events is good for the kids.”
The crazy Packers fan has all the statistics memorized. He even starts talking about how Farve gave special nods and how the offensive line performed a run block but Farve threw a pass anyway. Who cares about all of the strategy and details? The Packers won! What else do you need to know? We know they won, leave all the detailed analysis to the sports reporters. I don't need to know who nodded to enjoy the fact that we won. At work, let me work. That’s what my workplace is for.
The crazy nut fan put a little metal “G” symbol on the back of his car. How embarrassing. I could never get one of those “G” symbols because I may cut someone off and that would be embarrassing for all Packers fans. Besides, the symbol is very similar to another vile symbol… that of the University of Georgia. I wouldn’t want to confuse anyone into thinking I'm a Georgia fan. I would never want to be confused with a fan of a college team that plays a high school team and calls it a “bowl game.”
In any case, my love for the Packers is something that is really quite a personal matter. But that doesn't make me any less of a fan. You love your team, and I'll love my Packers. If I want to let my seats sit empty, that is my business and not yours. Yes, of course I'm a Packer's fan.
18 January, 2008
16 January, 2008
15 January, 2008
When you read the above list, you may be asking, “What is this?” If you have spent any time in evangelical America, you know that these are typical Sunday School/prayer meeting/cell group prayer requests. Most churches would be willing to pray for all of these. Most, that is, except Three Rivers United Methodist Church.
Rev. Harold Jacobs, senior pastor at Three Rivers, has decided that the church needs to be more biblical in the way it prays. The church body is generally in agreement with him. Because of this desire, they are now restricting their prayer ministry. Specifically, Three Rivers will no longer pray for anyone to be saved.
Pastor Jacobs explains, “I will be the first to admit that our denomination is in the toilet. That’s because we have turned away from the scriptures. Well, like John Wesley before us, we want to live according to God’s word. When we pray, we want to be consistent with the bible. We know that God is not willing that anyone perish (II Peter 3:9), has made atonement for everyone (I John 2:2), and has given man free will to choose him (John 3:16). We don’t want to get in the way of this, so we will no longer pray for anyone to be saved.”
Church council member Edith Miller told TBNN, “I’m just not sure how I feel about this. My neighbor, Suzy Murphy, is not saved and is in desperate need of Jesus. I want to pray for her salvation, but Pastor Jacobs told us that it wouldn’t be fair if we did. He said that God might violate her free will, and we certainly wouldn’t want that to happen.”
The new program, entitled “Praying by the Bible,” is being promoted heavily by the church staff. Assistant Pastor Betty Harris said, “Before this program, our folks weren’t praying for much of anything. Now they are lifting one another up on a daily basis. The only restriction we have given them is that they cannot pray, under any circumstances, for anyone to be saved. We know that God cherishes the free will of man, and is too much of a gentleman to violate this. We wouldn’t want to tempt God to do this by praying for him to do so.”
As TBNN was investigating this story, a church member who wishes to remain anonymous said to us, “Look, I want to obey the church leadership and all. But I just don’t feel right about this. I mean, God answers prayer. So what if it’s not totally fair? I want my lost brother Roy to get saved and I’m praying for it to happen. I hate to be unbiblical, but if that is what it takes for him to come to Christ, well, then I’m going to do it. I hope I don’t face church discipline for this. It’s a risk I’m willing to take for Roy.”
14 January, 2008
The trend began about five years ago when Lurch, best known for his portrayal of the character "Lurch" on the Addams Family TV show, emerged stating that he was "tired" of playing the traditional roll of a monster in today's postmodern and changing world.
"Traditional monsterdom has got to change" said Lurch. "We're tired of being told what a monster should be like. Maybe I don't want to walk around all stiff-necked, grunting all the time. Maybe I'm tired of scaring little kids to death, or creeping out the neighbors. I know that those have been the traditional views of what a monster should be, but I don't think it can be that black and white anymore. It's time to start challenging these views. Conversation needs to start in these areas."
When Lurch made his feelings public he had no idea the stir that they would cause. Soon, several hundred monsters came out in support of Lurch's movement, then several thousand. Now tens of thousands of monsters have joined what has become known as "The Emerging Lurch Movement."
"We meet wherever and whenever we can now" said Lockhart Schmidt, a zombie from Tennessee. "It used to be that we'd always have to meet out in the woods somewhere in the middle of the night with a full moon and fog and all that jazz. Now a group of us will get together on a Friday night at Starbucks or a local pub and have a beer or two...or five while we talk about what it means to be a follower of monsterdom."
"The whole point of this is that each of us must figure out for his or her or its self what it means to be a monster" said Lurch. "We don't try to give all of the answers. Each one must find his or her or its own path, and come to his or her or its own conclusions. Is that messy thinking? Absolutely, but we cherish the messiness. Doing monstrology is messy business. I don't think we can simply systematize a whole philosophy like some try to do."
As the movement spreads, groups plan to hold various activities to attract more participants from the monster world.
"We're trying to reach out to those who have been possibly hurt by traditional monster groups" said Lurch. "We want to help them break free of the mold. We want to setup meditation seminars, and possibly build some labyrinths for people to walk, or even bring in some Gurus to do Yoga or something. We are encouraging monsters everywhere to explore their own paths as followers of monsterdom."
12 January, 2008
Pundits suggest the results are due to a dramatic increase in pre-Christmas Sunday attendance, especially in the larger stadium churches. The Delighting in Jesus Interdenominational Average (DJIA), tracks Christian’s “Delight” in the Lord Jesus of the reporting protestant churches.
According to Brevv (pronounced “Brett”) McCarthy, DJIA surveyor from Lipt (pronounced “lype”), Mississippi, “We find that many individuals fall short of 1000. The DJIA is usually around 900 (equivalent to participants loving the Lord, on average, with 90% of their being). Until December 2007, it had remained in the range of 850 - 940 during its 4-year history.
11 January, 2008
"It's time to set the record straight about who I am and my faith. Yes, I am a Mormon, and proud to be. My faith to me is very important. It is the driving force in my life. But being a Mormon in American is difficult at times. We have suffered persecution and misunderstanding. Since announcing I would run for president I have had questions asked to me 'So Mitt, if elected would you wear your holy undies in the oval office?' and jokes like 'So, I guess there'll be no coffee or tea at the cabinet meetings' and my favorite 'So, are we going to change the name of Camp David to Camp Joseph Smith?' But I take all of these things in stride and with a grain of salt realizing that most people are just ignorant of what we really believe. And what do we really believe? We believe the same things you do. Mormonism is really no different from the Reformed Faith. We basically believe the same thing. And that's my encouragement to you. Don't let my Mormonism be a hindrance for you. Other than things like the Trinity, salvation by faith alone, baptism for the dead, etc. we really just believe the same things."
"Okay, I know what you're thinking. 'John McCain, what kind of Republican is he going to be? He's Episcopalian for crying out loud.' And believe me, I completely understand. Me and the other 17 Republicans in the Episcopal church often get together and discuss whether or not we should switch to another denomination or not, but it just always gets too complicated. But in all honesty, let me set your minds at ease. Although I'm an Episcopalian, I'm still a Republican and still a conservative. I don't know a lot about Reformed theology, but I've known a couple of Presbyterians in my life and they've all been really nice people on the whole, with the exception of this one old elder I knew who was always really grumpy. But that's beside the fact. The point is, um, well, I forgot the point. Just trust me. Vote for me. You won't regret it."
Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani:
"Dear Reformed People. I thank you for this opportunity to share with you my views on religion. I grew up Roman Catholic and almost, at one time, entered the priesthood. But, as you all know, that never materialized, and so law and politics became my pursuits. But I want you to know that despite the fact that I support abortion and gay marriage that Pat Robertson has endorsed me. That's right folks, Pat endorses me. So if you're questioning whether or not I should be your next President, just say to yourself, "Well, Pat supports him, he must be okay.'"
"As most of you already know, I'm a Baptist. I have pastored churches in the past, and have been a member of the Southern Baptist convention almost all my life. While I realize that The SBC is not the friendliest place in the world to Calvinists, I can assure you with all honesty that I will be a president for all peoples, for Calvinists and Arminians. Under my administration, Calvinists will be welcomed and affirmed. I even have hopes for putting some Calvinists on my staff once in office. So fear not to vote for old Mike. Who knows, if I'm predestined to win (ha, ha ha,) it's going to happen right?"
10 January, 2008
It all goes back to trying to have more authentic worship. Pastor Kevin Wells said, “More than anything else, we want to be a New Testament church. We are always inspired when we read Acts chapter two. Verses 2-4 say, ‘And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.’ We take these as our marching orders.”
A look at the last few months may explain what happened. Assistant Pastor Vernon Wallace told TBNN, “Every time we meet we speak in tongues. After all, this is a sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Despite this, our services seemed to be lacking something. We still had the sermon, singing, dancing, falling down, spasms, and scripture reading, but there was definitely something missing. That’s when Pastor Wells decided to do a sermon series on Acts chapter two.
Member Debbie Lawson said, “The pastor just kept hammering Acts two, especially the tongues of fire. He said that if we were a real New Testament church, tongues of fire would show up in our services. We all hoped and prayed that this would happen. However, week after week, despite all we did, there was no fire.”
TBNN has learned from the local police department that Pastor Wells decided to take things into his own hands. Although the details are not complete, it appears that Pastor Wells set up two small, portable fire places inside the New Life Assembly of God sanctuary. After he began preaching, the congregation began its weekly speaking in tongues. As this happened, the pastor lit two fires. The crowd was very pleased.
Unfortunately, sparks from the fires jumped onto the carpet. After smoldering for a few minutes, real flames began to spread around the worship center. At first, the congregation was excited because they thought God was moving amongst them. However, when the church’s sprinkler system failed to start, the entire sanctuary began to go up in flames.
After a few minutes, the people realized that these tongues of fire were not spiritual, but physical. Within fifteen minutes of their escape, the body watched as their entire church building fell to the ground.
“We learned a lesson today,” said Pastor Wells. “When you speak in tongues, you play with fire.”
09 January, 2008
It is no secret who the top to contenders are for the Democratic nomination. Since the beginning of the Presidential campaign, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama have dominated the news. For both candidates, a White House win would mean a history-making first for the United States, Clinton being the first woman president, Obama being the first African-American to hold the office. Current polls show both candidates running neck-in-neck with one another, and both candidates are realizing that in order to win the nomination they are going to have to "beef up" their campains.
We here at TBNN, in order to help our readers be more informed during this election campaign time have asked both Senators to make brief statements regarding their religious views. They are as follows,
"My fellow Calvinists, it was the great Puritan theologian John Owen who said 'Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.' How true those words are. How important it is for us to root out those things in our lives which so easily beset us that we may continue to fight the good fight.
I want you to know, especially this election season, that I stand for you, the Reformed community. Though I grew up in the Methodist tradition, I am proud to have known several Calvinists growing up. I'll never forget our neighbor down the street, a kind and gentle old lady every simply called 'Aunt Lola.' She went to a Presbyterian church, and she would always bring us chicken soup if she heard that one of us were sick. Though I never talked about theology with her, you could see her Calvinism pouring off of here, and though my theology might not necessarily be "Reformed" per se, I have always believed that I am a Calvinist in spirit.
With that in mind, I want to encourage you to "choose" me. I'll admit that I want to laugh a little bit when I say that because I know that Calvinists believe that everything has already been planned and ordained. So I then encourage you to simply participate in what has already been predestined to happen, that is my election as President of the United States. Thank you for your time, and support. By Grace, Hillary Clinton
"We live in an important time, at this juncture in our history. We find ourselves at the threshold looking outward to that which is greener and brighter. And so, it is imperative that we listen and function within that framework of livelihood and exuberance. Vitality is the key. Let us now grow weary, but labor on in the methods taught us. Let us fly forward to new heights of achievement and grace in our lives.
It was my grandmother who said to me, "Barak, there's no one who can say that." I remember those words. They were instilled in me at a young age, and I've tried to live by them every day. And I can tell you that with all honesty they have truly affected my life. I find comfort and peace daily. And we as Americans, as Christians, who hold dear that to which we have been holding find more than enough. Yes, more than enough that we should cherish those same ideals.
So I ask you, is not the choice clear? Seize that which is of essence and walk through the tunnel to its end. Sincerely, Barak Obama."
08 January, 2008
Mr. Burr is one of TBNN’s most faithful readers. Although he doesn’t comment, he informed us that he reads TBNN everyday, and especially looks forward to Brother Slawson’s Saturday posts.
A bit of background may explain Mr. Burr’s problem. According to Mr. Burr, “I grew up in a typical Baptist church here in Chattanooga. I love the folks and all, but I didn’t know much about the bible or Jesus. Well, a few years ago we got a new guy at work. He was so fired up for God. He kept talking about God’s glory, predestination, and the doctrines of grace. He also kept quoting Edwards and Spurgeon. I was annoyed for a while, but the guy seemed to really believe what he was saying. A few months after he came, he gave me Owen's book called Meditations on the Glory of Christ. After reading that, I’ve never been the same.”
Mr. Burr told TBNN that after reading Owen’s book, he just couldn’t get enough of Reformed Theology. He devoured texts by Calvin, Bunyan, Edwards, Spurgeon, Pink, and Lloyd-Jones. After reading these texts (and his bible from Genesis to Revelation for the first time), he went to his pastor to talk about it. This is when the trouble began.
Donald tells it best, “I was so excited to share with our pastor what I had learned. I have known him for fifteen years, so I thought he would be happy, too. The meeting was great until I told him who I had been reading. When he heard, he frowned and told me that I had to be careful about ‘The Dangers of Calvinism.’ I hadn’t even used the term ‘Calvinism,’ so I wasn’t sure why he even brought it up. I went on to try to talk about our glorious and merciful Lord, but he wouldn’t listen. He just kept telling me that Calvinism was dangerous. When I asked him what was dangerous about it, he told me that Calvinism hurts missions. At that point I gave up.”
After discussing this with Mr. Burr, we tried to contact his pastor by phone. The church secretary told us on five different occasions that the pastor was busy, but later that day we received a faxed statement that reads, “Dear TBNN, we at Bethel Baptist believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and his GREAT COMMISSION. We discourage any theological system that gets in the way of our GREAT COMMISSION. Thank You.”
Donald told us that he has been struggling a great deal over the last eighteen months at his church. He loves the people, but he has grown very tired of the “Arminian + Perseverance of the Saints” theology that fills the sermons and Sunday School lessons. Mr. Burr desperately felt a need for some sort of Reformed outlet in his life. This is where TBNN comes in.
Mr. Burr discovered TBNN last March through the Founders.org blog. Since that time he has been hooked. Apart from reading Reformed books, and listening to Piper sermons, TBNN is one of the only sources of Reformed Theology Mr. Burr gets. He was doing well until TBNN discontinued service from Christmas through the New Year.
Mr. Burr implored us, “Please don’t stop publishing new posts. I need my TBNN fix every day. It’s gotten to the point that if I don’t see a new post by 10 AM, I begin to worry. If it’s not there by noon, I begin to sweat. I just have to have it. I’m at the point now where Sunday is my least favorite day of the week. Not only do I have to go to my church (my wife loves it at Bethel), but there is no new TBNN that day. I guess I love Brother Slawson so much because I read his posts several times to get me to Monday morning.”
We are happy to report that Donald’s PTTBNNWD disappeared by last Friday, when TBNN had been back up and running for a couple of days. Our recommendation to all our readers is this: do not rely too heavily upon TBNN for your Reformed needs. If your church is stuck in Arminian thought, you may need to go elsewhere. It is not safe to make TBNN your primary source of Reformed (biblical) theology.
07 January, 2008
The prayer was first conceived about this time a year ago when a number of fundamentalist leaders got together to discuss the problem of soul-winning in America taking too long. Pastors from all over the country including Indiana, Texas and Florida met together in Missouri to come up with a solution of the problem.
"This whole soul-winning business it taking way to long" said Bro. Jimmy Burnside of Crossroads Baptist Church, Hurley, Indiana. "Some of our sister churches had soul-winning numbers as low as 3,500 last year. That's just downright pathetic. We're just not getting enough people saved and fast enough."
All of the pastors echoed Burnside's sentiments with similar comments.
"We're maxed out" said Bro. Jimmy Green of Shortview Baptist Church, Shortview, Texas. "We're running the buses every chance we get. We've got every preacher boy working shifts sometimes as long as 24 hours. Yet last year we only had 8,746 professions and baptisms."
Different possibilities were discussed as to how professions could be increased until finally one pastor pointed out a harsh but obvious truth.
"Some people just don't want to be saved" said Bro. Jimmy Everett, pastor of Sweet Beulah Land Baptist Church in Penallas Park, Florida. "It's these people who won't even talk to us that are standing in the way of our numbers. If we are to succeed in our mission we must find a way to get these people."
Everett went on to present his solution, the "Trick Sinner's Prayer."
The prayer is designed so that if anyone reads it unsuspectingly he or she will assume it is a senseless stream of short sentences, but in actually he or she will be saying a "sinner's prayer." The "prayer" is as follows,
"I know Imma. Send her. I can fuss. I need four. Give Ness. Irene Pent and Bea leave. Common tomb. I hurt."
"Brilliance, sheer brilliance" said Bro. Jimmy Liddle, another pastor who attended the conference. "All we got to do is figure out a way to get people to say this and, bang, we got them!"
Several of the churches have already begun using the prayer. Green's church, Shortview Baptist, rented out a local indoor pool just last week during the Christmas holidays and offered "free swimming" to the community for anyone who wanted to come. The only "catch" was that upon entry they had to "say this silly little paragraph" to "join the club."
"We had over 2500 people show up during the week" said Green. "It was the most soul-winningest week we have ever had. When they'd come in we'd get them saved with the prayer and then immediately get them baptized in the pool."
Several of the other churches used the same idea, and other churches have different ideas for the "prayer."
"We're going to try to get some hip boy band to make it into a song or something, that way all these young folks will be singing it and not even knowing that they're getting saved in the process" said Liddle. "There are other avenues like advertising and Starbucks Cups."
05 January, 2008
Dr. Melson stumbled on the idea of applying evolutionary ideas to the quinquarticular controversy after his assistant, Sally Wentroupe, was saved at the end of a Joel Osteen television broadcast while flipping channels one Saturday afternoon. “Her experience was much different than I remember my grandparents describing,” said Dr. Melson. “I decided to research this salvation phenomenon by examining parental traits.”
Most of Dr. Melson’s previous research has dealt with the differences in back vertebrate of women and men. He details how evolution has allowed women to develop a particular design which allows them to carry children instead of falling over with the huge burden. “Men would topple with the same load.” (For more information, see, Melson, D.E. 2004. “Men Aren’t Weebles.” The Journal to Find Differences in Males and Females 24:379-408.)
Dr. Melson gave a little history, “Between my epiphanies of realizing that that men and women are not entirely the same, I entertained the possibility that there may also be identifiable distinctions between the Paul’s of the first century and the Caner’s of today.”
“It doesn’t have to be either-or for all men and women through history,” said Wentroupe. “Our research shows a larger number of individuals in recent times are choosing to be saved as I did.”
Dr. Melson points out the similarities between Armenians and early earth dust particles, “The early earth dust particles chose their best by choosing to live and eventually move and reason.”
“Using this reasoning, there should also be evolutions in the way we think. Once men thought up the notion of gods, the initial impulse was to imagine that their gods were in total control. Those thoughts only exist in rare sects of a few religions today.”
Although there has been speculation that a Calvinist gene exists, follow-up studies have not been as promising in isolating a particular gene.
Dr. Melson believes he has proven that the Calvinist doctrine appears in those with a recessive trait that still exists today. “We know that we are the subject of our environment and our genes.” For Calvinists to exist, Dr. Melson argues that the environment must be conducive to cultivating ancient ideas. “There is no doubt in my mind that Calvinists result from placing in a unique environment a person with recessive traits that have been inheriticed from their religious progenitors.”
Dr. Melson reminded us of that 6th grade class in Jr. High where we discovered that breeding two pink tulips, sometimes results in a white tulip. “Sure, we understand how the odds work with recessive traits, but we often fail to remember that it’s the genes plus the environment that make this possible. Attempting to breed tulips in an oven doesn’t work. You still need proper light, water, and soil,” said Melson.
Dr. Melson explained further that it is very difficult to produce a Calvinists in a large auditorium or stadium, where professional soloists entertain, while occasionally singing repetitive word songs with very few words. “Yet, no matter how much we block certain frontal lobe activity in the membership of smaller churches where simple Bible reading takes place week after week on Wednesday nights, Sunday nights as well as in the home and work, in addition to Sunday mornings, Calvinists seem to thrive.”
TBNN agrees with Dr. Melson that the existence of certain visible physical traits are counter to modern evolutionary thought. “It’s almost laughable, from the looks of Calvinists. I often a wonder how such characters continue to procreate. The laws of physical nature are broken repeated. Scientists know that the female of almost all species look for symmetrical physical traits in a mate.” Dr. Melson finds only 2.4% of Calvinists men fall in the range (margin of error +/- 3%) to be considered physically symmetrical (i.e. attractive). “It’s almost as if they are truly predestined.”
04 January, 2008
Watch and listen in awe and wonder as The Amazing Air-Gun makes profound theological points and backs them up with the most amazing illustrations out there today! You'll not want to miss the amazing feats such as...
-Bungee jumping over a pit of live alligators (illustrating the virgin birth)
-Setting himself on fire (illustrating the perils of Calvinisim)
-Being sawed in half (illustrating the rapture)
-Being buried alive beneath an ant bed while covered in honey (illustrating the parable of the Sower and the Seed)
-Making himself float (illustrating the parting of the Red Sea)
Also watch in amazement as The Amazing Air-Gun makes the collected works of John Owen disappear live on stage!
And you want want to miss his grand finale when he offers an invitation by being fired out of a cannon through five rings of fire into a tank of piranhas.
Be sure not to miss the Biblical exposition of a lifetime. When "The Amazing Air-Gun and His Traveling Arminian Circus" comes to town!
03 January, 2008
According to its manufacturer, the Self-Taser can be set to tase based on a variety of behaviors. For example, if an alcoholic reaches for a bottle of beer, his pre-set taser will zap him. If a dieter tries to order a hot fudge sundae, the taser will spring into action. If a liar is determined to quit, but lets a falsehood slip out, his new tool will place a hefty charge right in his mid-section.
So why is the Self-Taser on sale now?
TBNN has discovered that many Christians were purchasing this device with one specific purpose in mind: reminding themselves to say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays." Apparently many of them were setting the control feature to automatically tase if they let loose a "Happy Holidays.”
Why would someone do this? Rachel Harris (pictured here), of Lexington, VA, told us, “I just felt like I had to do something. Every time I went into a store before Christmas, the workers would say, ‘Happy Holidays!’ Any time I turned on the TV, I heard, ‘Happy Holidays!’ Even my mail offered all sorts of ‘Holiday’ sales. After a while, I couldn’t help but respond with my own ‘Happy Holidays.’ I realized the problem I was in, and wanted to do something about it. I was just distraught and hit rock-bottom. That’s when I got a Self-Taser. It is the best purchase I ever made.”
Ralph Spencer, residing in Topeka, KS, informed TBNN, “Like Mrs. Harris, I started to fall prey to the ‘Happy Holidays’ slogan. However, I was convicted of it. I felt something like Peter after he denied our Lord. I refused to any longer bow to the ‘Happy Holidays’ machine. That’s why I bought a Self-Taser. It worked so well. After three or fours zaps, all I could remember to say was ‘Merry Christmas.’”
Now that Christmas is behind us, sales of the Self-Taser have dropped off by over 50%. Some churches are encouraging their congregations to buy the tasers while they are cheap. We have learned that several pastors are exhorting their congregations to now set their tasers to zap if they forget to tithe that month. Other health-conscious pastors have implored their people to tase themselves if they break their New Year’s Resolution/Diet plan.
Although this is rare, some churches have even purchased several tasers to use when church discipline is needed. On a related note, sales have actually jumped in the last month amongst Charismatics; apparently the charge causes people to jump and yell. Some even fall on the floor and writhe in pain.
Some churches have even started using a new slogan: “Tase me, Bro!”
Buy your Self-Taser now. Accountability is a wonderful thing