31 May, 2008

You Might Be A Calvinist

Atlanta, Georgia -- Note: TBNN is pleased to have Jeff Foxworthy as Saturday Morning's guest writer.

Jeff: I'm happy to fill in to today for Brother Slawson.

You know, between Lakewood and Lynchburg, there's over 30 million people who I'd call "my people." Many of these folks are Calvinists, they just don't know it. I've designed for today a few little test questions to help you determine if there is a large likelihood that you are a Calvinist. So, if sitting in a tub full of scissors sounds more appealing to you than listening to a Sunday School class share their personal gut feelings about a Bible verse, you are a good candidate.

If you have a Martin Luther Jell-O mold, you just might be a Calvinist.

If your child’s first word was “Westminster”, you just might be a Calvinist.

Or, if you send your mother tulips on Mother’s Day,

… you might be a Calvinist.

If you still remember the 8 speakers in order from the recent T4G conference, or

If a free Bible has ever arrived in the mail to you from John McArthur, or

If you have ever purchased 100 or more copies of the same John Piper book to hand out to random people you meet,

…you just might be a Calvinist.

If you purchased an MP3 player with the sole purpose of downloading sermons, or

If you were shocked to just discover that some people download MP3 files that are not sermons, or

If you have adjusted the default passage setting at www.biblegateway.org from “NIV” to “ESV”

… you might be a Calvinist.

If your preacher says to turn to Obadiah and you do not use the index, or

If you think a 50-minute sermon is too short, or

If you’ve ever heard a wave of groans sweep through Sunday School when you refer to Romans 9,

…you just might be a Calvinist.

If you find yourself talking to the Lord Jesus more than to your family, and

If you find yourself wanting to read your Bible instead of watching television, and

If quotes from Pink, Spurgeon, Luther, Piper, and McArthur pop into your head at random times during the day

…you might be a Calvinist.

If you are confused when someone uses the term “my Bible” as if they only have one, and

If your Bibles must be replaced in less than a year due to pages separating from the spine, and

If you smile, nod and hold your tongue with your teeth after a lively church service when someone says, “God showed up today”

…you might be a Calvinist.

If you’ve ever shouted “YES!” when the pastor says to turn to 1st Thessalonians, and

If you see 6:37 on a digital clock and think of the Lord Jesus’ words in John, and

If you’ve muted a Thanksgiving football game because it’s interfering with your family discussion of Ephesians 1

…you might be a Calvinist.

If you have bookmarked three or more preachers’ scripture index webpages, and

If you’ve ever been banned from a Sunday School class for quoting scripture, and

If you have ever purposefully sung a different word in a hymn to conform to scripture,

… you might be a Calvinist.

If your kids own more Bibles than televisions, and

If your children never ask you “Where are we going?” on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, and

If you’ve ever read parts of “The Bondage of the Will” to children under ten and prayed that it would change their lives

…you just might be a Calvinist.

If your child received detention at his Christian school after shouting, “But I am a Hedonist Pyromaniac!” or

If your children argue and you require them to listen to a Piper Sermon as punishment, or

If you visit pyromaniacs, tominthebox, spurgeon.org, desiringgod.org, and gty.org, more than once a day, yes…

You just might…. I say you just might…. Yes… you just might be a Calvinist

30 May, 2008

Pastors Complain About Low Interest Rates

Once again it's Sunday morning. Pastor Jack Hills of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Cincinnati stands before his congregation for another attempt to capture their hearts. He begins with a funny anecdote, attempts to tie it into the day's Scripture passage and weaves amusing or poignant illustrations throughout the sermon, but still his congregation sits before him, yawning, checking their watches or doodling on their church bulletins. Though the pews are full, the life of the congregation seems almost non-existent. Sadly this phenomenon at Fifth Avenue Baptist is not isolated, as fewer and fewer people are showing any interest in the gospel at all these days.

"We've been analyzing the problem of congregational interest for some time now," said Peter Deng, an analyst for the F.E.D.S (Faith Endurance Development Services). "Interests rates are at an all time low right now in American churches. We estimate that roughly 2.3% of people in the pews are actually interested in the sermons. That's down from 4.6% this time last year, and from 8.6% back in 2002. So we're seeing a disturbing trend happening in America."

Ask the reason for the drop in interests rates and one will get many different opinions. But the answers seem to fall into two basic categories, those who argue that the value of preaching is too low, and other's who say that it is inflated and too high. How one acts based upon these two opinions may make or break the future of Christianity in America.

"In my opinion the value of preaching is very inflated right now," said preaching analyst Mark Webinheimer. "We've got way to much invested in preaching out there, and churches are not diversifying enough, a kind of too many eggs in one basket kind of thing. In my opinion the value of preaching needs to drop by about 35-40% and then I think we'll see interest rates rise in our churches. So I think the time has come to invest in more youth programs, praise band equipment and carnivals. Those things are only going to take off more and more in the next 10 years."

But others disagree.

"I would say that preaching is undervalued right now," said Alvin Turnbull, another preaching analyst. "Let's look at the facts, for the last 25 years we've seen a dramatic drop in the value of preaching in America happening anyway. It's become so cheap that fewer and fewer people are taking it seriously so it's no wonder that interests rates have taken a dive. I would say that preaching is valued about 90-95% less in most churches than what it should be. My advice would be for churches to start taking preaching more seriously, investing more into it and then we'll see interest rates increase."

With opinions divided it's left to be seen how churches will deal with the problems of low interests rates in the coming months. But according to Hills the situation appears almost "beyond fixability."

"Every week we're seeing a drop," said Hills. "I think we're beginning to run out of options here, and if we keep going the way we're going we're looking at a possible recession in our membership. But no one's saying that definitely just yet. This is the kind of stuff though that can really make a pastor have depression."

29 May, 2008

Serious Post: The "Math Journey"

Okay, I had to break out of the box today for just a moment and comment on my own editorial from yesterday. I noticed that a real math website had linked to our post, apparently missing the theological implications I was trying to get at, which sparked my curiosity. I went back and re-read my own article and tried to take the perspective of one without any serious theological knowledge. I realized that by itself the article offers a great defense of the importance of math! A math teacher could potentially read this article to his or her students as an example of the importance of being mathematically precise and to show math's usefulness in all walks of life.

Math is a very precise subject, and being mathematically accurate is crucial to so many aspects of life. When a contractor builds a skyscraper he doesn't prop up the iron columns and say "that looks right to me." When a doctor gives a patient medicine he or she doesn't just "wing it." No one with any ounce of intelligence would knowingly fly on a commercial airline with a pilot who just "felt right" about whether or not the plane had enough fuel. Intelligent people (and even not so intelligent people) all over the world realize the very serious implications and consequences of mathematical calculations not being done correctly in critical situations. A person's life savings can be lost, people can get hurt, or even worse, die. And so, therefore, the vast majority of the human world follows the rules of math. These rules are fixed, precise, not subject to human interpretations and whims. When the Space Shuttle pilot is told to enter the earth's atmosphere at a certain angle of approach he doesn't gauge that angle according to some scale of his own fancy but rather he follows the rules. If he doesn't everyone on board dies.

Now God is very precise also, and it absolutely blows my mind that people who would never approach the mathematical accuracy of their bank accounts or the building of their houses or their doses of medicines with a flippant attitude will approach a "Consuming Fire" with one. When their earthly possessions are at stake they insist upon the utmost preciseness and accuracy; they insist that everyone "go by the book," yet when their eternal souls are at stake it's suddenly okay to "do what feels right." Well, there's a "book" to go by when it comes to God, and that book says very very precise things like John 14:6 "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." or Matthew 5:48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." God is a God of exactness, precision and accuracy. With God there is no "margin or error," he demands perfection. There's only one right way to do things and if not done correctly all will fall and collapse.

"But what about God's grace and love?" someone will say. Lest we forget, grace does not mean God becomes "loose" in his own standards or justice. God's love doesn't mean the rules change and we suddenly get a "margin or error" with God. God's grace means a way is provided to "fix" our errors so that we are then are acceptable in the sight of God. The rules don't change, rather the mistakes are "fixed." The grace of God to us comes through the only Way, Truth and Life, Christ Jesus. In and of ourselves we are not "perfect," we don't "add up" so to speak. But here is seen the great wonder of the mercy and grace of God that in Christ Jesus we are declared righteous, having Christ's righteousness counted to us and our sins placed upon him. Christ has dealt with the consequences of our impreciseness, and clothed us with his preciseness, and thus for those in Christ there is "therefore now no condemnation..." (Romans 8:1).

Now this message of theological preciseness is not just for liberals who worship a god of their own imagination. Even we in the Bible-believing Evangelical world are guilty of doing "sloppy theology." Perhaps we have been guilty too of "winging it" at times. How often have we misquoted Scripture, misinterpreted verses or taken them out of context? How many times have we been unwilling to study a doctrine because we didn't like it? Let us handle God's word with greater care than we handle our stock portfolios. Let us build our theology with the same care that we build our houses, upon rocks, not sand.

28 May, 2008

Editorial: My Math Journey

I've never done too well with numbers. Growing up as a young boy in school, math was always my worst subject. There would be some report cards that I would bring home where I would have good grades in all my subjects except math. This was in contrast to my older brother and father who could do complex calculations and formulas in their heads. I have distinct memories of them sitting around the table developing theorems of probability for mathematical riddles while I listened in confusion. But math just wasn't for me. It was convoluted, too many formulas, numbers, rules and absolutes.

For the longest time I tried to resist my math upbringing. My math teachers tried to convince me telling me things such as, "This is important stuff! What if you're building a bridge that millions of people will cross or if you're trying to fly the space shuttle into orbit. The math needs to be precise and exact or else people could die." I listened to what they said, but I couldn't conceive of a subject so rigid, so demanding that if I didn't follow its rules exactly that people would die. That's not the math I wanted to know. I would ask myself "What kind of cruel subject is this?"

After I graduated from high school I went my own way and departed from the math that I had been raised with. Only occasionally when taxes needed to be done or when I was trying to do a difficult job did I ever think about math. Sometimes at Christmas time when I was buying presents for people I'd think about math to add up how much I had spent. Or even at Easter time I'd think about math when I was trying to figure out how much water to add to the egg dye. But for most of the year I went about my daily life never really considering math. I considered those who relied upon math for their jobs as 'weak-minded.' I would see people like bankers, construction workers, doctors, etc. all using math every day to do their jobs claiming that if they didn't use math people's money would get lost, a building could collapse or someone could get the wrong amount of medicine. To me math was cruel, toying with humanity down through the ages.

After college something happened to me one day that began to make me think about math again. A friend of mine from college, Aaron, invited me out to coffee one Friday evening. We met and talked for a while, and during our conversation he told me about his job as a carpenter. "So you've off and joined up with those math-freaks," I immediately scoffed. For a moment he smiled, but then told me something that I had never heard before. "We do math a little differently where I work," he said. "At our company no one is forced to follow any specific math rules. Everyone is on his or her own math journey, seeking to know what is true about the world of math."

I listened, fascinated for almost 3 hours as Aaron told me about his own personal math journey. "For me, math is what I interpret it to be" he said. "When I go to build a house, I don't even follow plans or blueprints. I just kind of do what feels right, what I think is true. I use no tape measures, no chalk lines, rulers, survey machines, or any of that old stuff. I'm seeking to understand what math means to me."

When our conversation ended I went home that evening with a profound sense of curiosity. For the first time in my life I realized that math didn't have to be this rigid set of rules and regulations. I didn't have to go by the book. Math could be what I made it to be. The most important thing was not whether what added up was right or wrong, but whether I liked it and how it made me feel!

So now I find myself on my own math journey, seeking to discover what math means to me. This has affected almost everything about the way I live from the way I do my taxes, to how I balance my checkbook, pay my bills or even take my daily medicines. It's not so much now about which numbers are right but which numbers Ithink are right. So there are many paths to math, and this is the one I have chosen. It doesn't matter which path anyone else chooses because every path leads to the same place.

27 May, 2008

Church Sees Spike in Female Baptisms

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - Recent research (click here) within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) shows that its baptisms are on the decline. Since this is one of the prime statistics the SBC uses to analyze its own health, the numbers are very troubling. Many churches within the SBC don't baptize anyone at all. Most churches have either plateaued or are declining in membership.

Despite this bad news, there are a few churches that continue to grow. There are, in fact, several mega-churches that are adding new members left and right. They baptize numerous people, both male and female, each Sunday. TBNN has found one unique church that falls somewhere in the middle. At Free Grace Baptist Church of Corpus Christi (FGBCCC), the rate of male baptisms is down as in the rest of the SBC. However, female baptisms have seen a spike ever since late 2006. Since that time, FGBCCC has baptized 8 males and 247 females.

Senior Pastor Steve Kaman told TBNN, "We can't be certain of the reason for our skyrocketing baptisms among women. It might have something to do with our construction project that was completed in November of 2006, but we cannot be sure about that. Whatever the reason, we are thrilled that the Lord keeps blessing us in this way. Now if we could just figure out how to get more men to come to church."

TBNN has learned that in November of 2006, FGBCCC completed construction on a large addition to its main building. The addition was designed to both increase seating capacity and make the members feel more comfortable. In conjunction, FGBCCC launched a new program named Makeover and Baptism Combo. Visitors to the church are encouraged to get a free facial, manicure, and foot massage. These are all in preparation for their baptism in the new church spa (pictured above). TBNN has discovered that women are far more likely than men to take advantage of this offer.

Assistant Pastor Kenneth James lamented, "Our new program is certainly working well in that we have so many women getting baptized. However, we still have two big problems. First, most of the ladies who get the Makeover and Baptism Combo don't ever return here to attend church. Second, we still can't get men to come to FGBCCC. I'm not sure what we are going to do."

Youth Pastor Cade Varden has proposed an idea to the deacons for increasing male baptisms. So far it has not made it out of committee. Varden explains his idea this way, "When we have pool parties, our youth girls all wear bikinis. Why not have them do the same while helping with baptisms? I figured we would get a lot more male youth into the church that way. If its good enough for the pool party, why not have it the same way for baptisms?"

24 May, 2008

New Test Your Church Kits

New from the Discernment Experts is the patent-pending Test Your Church Kit.

Does your church care about you? No, not just with lip service. We do not mean with emails or newsletters; not in those superficial senses. We mean, does your church (including your pastor, your deacons, your church leaders, and the members of Sunday School) really truly care?

Do you get a peculiar feeling behind your right ear on occasion? You know, like a bad vibe when you try to greet your pastor? Does he get that certain look in his eyes as if he does not honestly want to see you right now? Do you sense coldness in his voice during phone conversations? Or worse, do you feel confident that the pastor is using his caller ID to avoid your calls?

Are you concerned that no one would visit if you were in the hospital? Would anyone care? Were the birthday cards from your deacon printed on high-quality paper or purchased in a pack? Did you enter the church with a sad look on your face last Sunday and end up leaving with no one having asked you what was wrong?

If these questions pop into your head often, it is probably no coincidence that you have been led to this ad today. Perhaps you have attempted to find honest answers to these questions. Perhaps you have even asked your pastor if anything is wrong only to hear him respond unemotionally with something like “everything’s fine.” Perhaps you know things are not fine, but you cannot prove it... well... not on your own that is. At least not until you order your very own Test Your Church Kit from Discernment Experts.

The folks at Discernment Experts have the discernment expertise that will enable you to answer these and many other questions. Why not let the folks at Discernment Experts help you find the answers?

We have the knowledge: All members of the Discernment Expert’s team have read the Bible through at least 6 times.

We have the expertise: All members of the Discernment Expert’s team have successfully removed at least one unbiblical pastor from their congregation.

We have the time: All members of the Discernment Expert’s team have a 1-900 number and are available to you 24/7.

The Test Your Church Kit includes:

· A DVD that explains everything in your Test Your Church Kit.

· A 30 page workbook for recording 1 month’s worth of raw test results.

· A pocket sized voice recorder so you can immediately record your thoughts on the way home after church.

· Scripted voice messages that you can leave on your Pastor’s or Deacon’s voicemail to test them.

· A stopwatch to see how quickly your Pastor or Deacon responds.

· Your personal logon and password for 24/7 access to the Discernment ExpertsTest Your Church website.

· Downloadable email messages for you to send to members of your Sunday School class directly from our website. We’ll track the response times for you.

· Step-by-Step instructions for how your relatives (visiting from out of town) can help with your testing by acting as if they are local visitors.

· A Quick-Start Guide of 10 things you can start doing today to get immediate answers, including (1) The Simulated Stranded Vehicle Test--let the air out of a tire on the interstate entrance ramp, and (2) The Simulated Emergency Room Visit—call your deacon and wait in the emergency room until you see someone from the church. Then act as if you were just leaving.

· For longer experiments, try the Skip Church for One Month and See Who Notices routine.

Look for Test Your Church Kits in Lifeway stores beginning in early June. Retail price $99.99.

If you enjoy the Test Your Church Kit, keep your eyes open for the Test Your Spouse Kite, Test Your Kids Kit, and the Test Your Parents Kit in time for Christmas. Look next summer for the early-detection Earnest Pastor Tests (EPT). Know the earliest possible moment if your pastor is lying.

BREAKING NEWS: PWD Sufferers Have New Hope

On Tuesday's TBNN, I wrote about PWD raging in certain parts of our country. However, the posting of this DG blog article has caused many PWD sufferers to have new hope. Please read if you are in any danger of contracting PWD.

23 May, 2008

Christians Dumping Mega Churches for More Efficient "Hybrid Churches"

Jackson, Tn - It's a Sunday morning in Jackson, Tennessee, and for David O'Rouke, on this particular Sunday, it's a day of uncertainty and possible change. O'Rouke, who has been a long time member of the popular Longview Baptist Church, which has over 15,000 members, has ventured out into the unknown, paying a visit to the much smaller but friendly congregation of Mt. Olive Baptist Church on the outskirts of town. With just over 300 active members and a 4 member praise band, Mt. Olive's worship service is a far cry from the massive production that occurs every Sunday at Longview. There are no video projectors, no high definition screens and only one drum set, yet there appears to be joy and life among the congregation. But lately mid-sized more compact congregations such as Mt. Olive are becoming more and more attractive to Christians, who, after years of flocking to mega churches have begun suffer from what some call "poor soul economy."

"I want to be careful what I say here. I don't want to leave the impression that there's something wrong with Longview," O'Rouke told TBNN. "Believe me, I've loved being there all these years, but I've come to the conclusion that perhaps I just don't need that much church in order to truly worship and know God. I mean at Longview there's always some program going on, some trip, Bible study, fellowship or meal. I like some of that stuff but not every night of my life. And if I miss one Sunday School event, I get all of these calls asking me where I've been. I need something in church that's smaller, more compact and efficient. I think a smaller church like Mt. Olive will help me go further in my Christian life but without having to waste and use up so much of my energy."

Lately churches like Mt. Olive have been given the title of a "hybrid church." A hybrid church is essentially a church that's large enough and vibrant enough to demonstrate good spiritual health, but yet still basically small and compact, not overusing the resources and times of its people. With so much going on in the world, hybrid churches are beginning to see growth in popularity all over the country.

"We've had 20 new people show up in the last month," said Rev. Albert Hoffman, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian in Eutah, Georgia. "For as long as I've been here, we've had about 100 people on Sunday mornings, and then all of a sudden people started showing up here and there, just out of nowhere. It's really an amazing thing."

Whether or not "hybrid churches" will catch on permanently remains to be seen. One thing appears to be clear though, and that is people seem convinced that now is the time to find new and better alternatives to traditional church, and that we should have less dependence on mega church evangelicalism.

21 May, 2008

Mysterious "Van of Glory" Sparks Small Town Revival

Percy, Tn - Patrick Treadwell remembers what happened like it was yesterday. That's perhaps because it was yesterday. According to Treadwell, who lives in the tiny town of Percy, Tennessee, all he wanted to do was drive to the store for a six pack of Budwiser, but along the way something happened that has changed his life.

"I was sitting there at the stoplight waiting for it to change when I glanced over and saw this vision of glory," said Treadwell during an interview. "There, before my eyes, was this thing of beauty covered all over with scripture verses, bumper stickers and stick-on lettering telling me to 'repent' and 'turn' from my wicked ways. Well, right then I was convinced by the majesty and wonder of God displayed on this glorious van. I turned around and went home. I never got my beer. Since 4:30PM yesterday, my life has been different."

And Treadwell is not the only one who can testify these days. As it turns out the "Van of Glory," as it has come to be known around the town of Percy, is stirring somewhat of a revival in the town. No one is quite certain who the owner of the van is, but its presence is changing the town of Percy one soul at a time.

"This is what did it for me," said Jill Coleman, a long-time resident of Percy. "I've been going to church all my life down there at the First Baptist Church. Brother Albert, our pastor has been trying to tell me for years how to get saved, but I just never really understood. Then the other day when I saw the Van of Glory parked outside the Sunflower grocery store, it was as if a lightening bolt from heaven just shot down on me. I felt this tingling feeling all over and like warm sun rays was basking my head. When I saw them words just covering that van I finally understood that old song when it says 'how beautiful heaven must be.' That van is preaching to this town."

Despite the waves of repentance that are hitting the small southern town and the fact that the van has been seen all over, its owner remains a mystery. Several churches have sought desperately to use the van for revival services but to no avail.

"We're trying to find out who this person is," said pastor Bobby Twine of Blessed Living Waters Pentecostal Holiness Redeeming Fire Church of the End Times. "This van is doing more preaching than any preacher in this town has ever done. We want to hold services and have this van out in the parking lot. It truly displays the glory of God when you see it!"

19 May, 2008

California Narcissist Plans to Marry Himself

San Francisco, Ca - A recent ruling by the California Supreme Court rejected the legal definition of marriage as "between a man and a woman." While this news has been overwhelmingly received by gay and lesbian communities, others are also finding reasons to celebrate, like Richard Potter, a self-proclaimed narcissist. Potter, who claims to have been in love with himself for over 10 years, was exuberant upon hearing the news.

"I'm still speechless," Potter told TBNN. "I've been wanting to marry myself for years now. This new decision to not limit marriage to just between a man and a woman finally opens up the door for me to plan that big day that I've waited for so long."

Potter has already started planning his "big day." The ceremony will take place at the Park Street Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, June 21st of this year. The sanctuary will be decorated with yellow and white roses. Potter, who will wear a dark grey tuxedo, will exchange vows with himself before a crowd of special friends and family. The wedding will be officiated by Park Street's pastor the Rev. Tricia Kirkwood-Hansen-Smyth.

"I'm so in love with myself it drives me crazy," said Potter. "Sometimes in the morning when I'm combing my hair I just stand there and look at my own face longingly in the mirror and just admire my own beauty. Or at other times I just like to snuggle up with myself on the couch on a rainy evening and watch a movie. Whether I'm cooking dinner, or just having a night out on the town, I'm so happy with me and want to make that known to the world out there by committing myself to myself."

"I think what Rich is doing is a beautiful expression of his love for himself," said Kirkwood-Hansen-Smyth. "We know that self-love is the purest form of love. The Bible says somewhere to 'love your neighbor as yourself' I think. Well, I think Rich, more than many, really gets it. He's making that first and foremost commitment to himself, to love himself for the rest of his life, and then, and only then will he truly be able to love others.

Potter also noted to TBNN that being married to himself will finally allow him to file for extra benefits for his spouse and to be able to file 'Married Filing Jointly' on his taxes each year.

17 May, 2008

Spirit-Filled Bible Study Reveals Pastor's Flaws

Tcheblufta, MS -- It all started innocently enough back in October when five ladies in the Wives Without Their Husbands Sunday School class felt the need to increase their group prayer life beyond that offered through the church. "Since that moment, the Spirit has really moved," said Ms. Eudora. On that day, Ms. Eudora had a prayer request about her niece's out-of-wedlock pregnancy and four other ladies stayed after Sunday School to let her get her feelings out and pray more with her.

"That day, Jesus showed up," said Ms. Rose. "It's what we needed." After discussing Ms. Eudora's niece, the ladies just talked and talked about their desire to be more spiritual. Before they knew it, they had talked straight through the church service until 11:45am. "But it's what we needed," said Ms. Froth. "We really got down to real business with our spiritual lives."

Somehow, the word got around quickly about the movement in that first meeting. Some people questioned why the group was skipping church, but they were quickly corrected and told that the five ladies just needed some time on their own without the rest of the church members.

Their time alone together was so special that they were led to begin having their very own midweek services. Instead of meeting on Wednesday nights with the congregation for prayer and Bible study, they met at the church on Tuesdays and Fridays. It apparently was a wonderful time of spiritual growth. They even made sure not to bring Bibles because they did not want doctrinal issues and earthly mindset thinking to interfere with the deeply spiritual moments.

"After chatting for about three hours during our own midweek services, we all felt much better," said Ms. Clement. "But no matter how long we talked, we always made time to pray. We were a real support to each other in a way that none of the rest of the church could understand. We were at a new level never achieved before. Actually, we discussed our desire for the rest of the church to experience revival as we were experiencing it. We suspected something was off. But we thought it might only be a feeling at the time."

The double mid-week services lasted about 4 weeks, but then dwindled to once a week with 2 or 3 ladies. Their families wanted them at home more, so they were forced to give up some of their God time for their families. Soon, they were only meeting every other week for lunch and not attending any church services with the congregation.

Close to Christmas, the meetings slowed down so much that they began to really talk about the true source of the slowdown. "We couldn't yet pinpoint the root of our slowdown," said Ms. Shornot. "Then, at one of the lunches, one of the ladies mentioned that Pastor Thirston did not seem to be as supportive as he could have been. A light bulb came on for everyone there. We knew we had heard the voice of God."

"We don't talk about other people, but when we simultaneously received the revelation, more investigation was warranted. When we began comparing notes, one thing that really stood out was our realization that Pastor Thirston did not always answer his phone very quickly," said Ms. Rose. "The pattern he displayed to all of us was shockingly similar. We elected Ms. Froth to visit Pastor Thirston and speak with him about his phone answering problem." That's when the ladies realized that Pastor Thirston had an office hours problem. When Ms. Shornot dropped in unexpectedly one Wednesday at 11:15 am, he was not in his office.

"But we were not overly judgmental without further evidence," said Ms. Clement . The ladies wanted to find out more. They divided up the church directory and each took names to call. They asked the membership what they thought of Pastor Thirston's phone habits and his office hours problem.

"It's a good thing that our personal spiritual growth is at a peak right now," said Ms. Eudora, chair of the pulpit committee.

15 May, 2008

Man at Work

We here at TBNN are working on a special musical presentation for you tomorrow. Please be patient with us and pardon our dust.


14 May, 2008

Man Wears Suit to Church

Santa Monica, Ca - Almost everyone at Shepherd of Hope Church is still talking about it. It happened this past Sunday morning when young church member Christopher Lowe showed up at SHC wearing what some are calling "radical attire." Lowe came to the church's regular 11AM Sunday worship service wearing a sports jacket and grey dress pants replete with tie, black dress shoes (including matching black socks with small grey stripes) and a black leather belt with a gold-colored buckle. In addition, Lowe's hair was neatly combed and he had removed all of his facial piercings, even shaving off his almost permanent five-o'clock shadow.

"I just wanted to express myself, to be my own person for a day," said Lowe. "I think a person should be able to wear whatever he wants to worship without fear of being judged for it or looked down upon."

But not everyone shares Lowe's sentiments. After the worship service several people expressed their displeasure to one another about Lowe's apparent attempt to "draw attention" by wearing such strange and unusual clothing.

"I don't know if he was trying to prove a point or something," said Marcus White, a long-time member of SHC who normally sports a pair of shorts, flip-flops and a Hawaiian shirt to church along with his prized crucifix lip ring . "To me it seemed rather pretentious, like he was trying to just get people's attention and make some kind of statement. I just don't think that's right."

But despite some of the comments of displeasure, Lowe does not seem dissuaded, stating that he's not out to make any kind of statement, but simply to wear what he likes and what feels comfortable.

"I'm not trying to rock any boats here," stated Lowe. "I'm just doing my own thing. I'm not saying that I'm going to start ditching my earrings and Birkenstocks every Sunday, but once in a while I just might feel like doing something different, something kind of crazy just to be different and not go with the flow. If people can't handle it that's not my problem."

13 May, 2008

CBD Introduces New "John 3:16 Bible"

CBD announced this week the exciting arrival of its newest product, the "John 3:16 Bible."

CBD Chairman Bill Moss, told TBNN, "This is usually a down time of year for our overall sales, so we are thrilled to be launching this new product at this time. During the summer months, with people so busy traveling, they don't have much time to read. Also, there are no holidays for giving gifts. CBD needs this new bible now to boost our stock offerings."

The "John 3:16 Bible" offers its buyers a quick and easy source for the only bible verse they usually know. It's easy to carry around because it only has twenty pages. Each page provides a different translation of the special verse. For example, page one has the Greek, page two the KJV, page three the NKJV, page four the NIV, page five the ESV, etc.

On the final page (20), you will find The Message version of John 3:16. Since The Message is the most popular bible version, it will be easy to find - just inside the back cover.

Below is a sampling of what the new bible looks like on the inside:

Page 2: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." KJV

Page 4: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." NIV

Page 6: "For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." HCSB

Page 10: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." NRSV

Page 15: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." NLT

Page 20: "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." The Message

United Methodist Pastor Jim Ulmer, after trying out the "John 3:16 Bible," said, "This is a gift I have been waiting for. What a relief. I find myself constantly turning to this verse. In fact, it is what I preach from just about every week. I have frequently wanted an easier way to get to John 3:16, and now I have it!"

Duke Divinity School President Dr. Mark Little is also excited. "Our students frequently engage in debates with those of the Calvinistic persuasion. The strategy we employ is simple. No matter what the Calvinist says, no matter what bible passage he brings up, no matter what historical document he references, no matter what he says about biblical context, we simply quote John 3:16. For us, that answers the question and wins the debate. We don't even have to put much thought or effort into it. We just quote John 3:16. This new bible will further enhance our debate skills."

CBD informed TBNN that if the "John 3:16 Bible" is a big seller, then next year they may release a sequel - the "II Peter 3:9 Bible."

12 May, 2008

Medical Miracle Backfires

The unwitting subject of Longview, Connecticut’s first documented medical miracle, Francis Paine is suing his youth pastor, Richard Finster for “inhumane betrayal of a spiritual trust”. It all began when Francis confided to Richard that he had fallen in love with Cassandra Sweet, lead vocalist in the youth praise band at their church, Beulah Land Assembly of God.

Richard said, “When Francis approached me, I saw this as an opportunity to both encourage a potentially lovely relationship and Francis’ faith. He just needed a little help, a little self-confidence to show her his heart.”

“Cassandra is so, like, sooooo hot, you know?” said Paine. “How do you get a really spiritual person with awesome looks to notice you? She’s so amazing, you know? I wanted her to see the real me but I just couldn’t talk to her.”

That’s when Rev. Finster took matters disastrously into his own hands. “My brother’s a pharmacist,” he said. “I sort of asked him for a milliliter of sodium pentothal. Then, just before our youth group meeting, Francis and I met for a season of prayer after which I mixed the truth serum with holy oil. I prayed Joshua 1:9 over Francis to be strong and courageous to show Cassandra his heart. Then Francis prayed for transparency and I anointed him.”

Accounts diverge over what happened next but all agree that Cassandra didn’t like what she saw...

“Now what am I ‘sposed to do?” Paine wailed. “She won’t even give me a chance, you know? I’m a really caring person but she has a really mistaken impression."

10 May, 2008

Ofiller Completes 6th Bible

Henderson, TN -- By all accounts, William Lesley, 37, has never been seen without a Bible in his hands or on his lap. His love for the words of the Bible may be unsurpassed in all of history. No matter where he goes, you will see him with a Bible and a pencil or pen.

William's pastor, Jonathan Davidson believes William may be the most read (Biblically speaking) member of the congregation. "We're so proud of the Lesley boy. He's the only one in the entire church who can claim every word in the Bible. And he can prove he's claimed them, every single word."

Though he's now 37, the congregation members all refer to him as "the Lesley boy," a name that has stuck with him since he was about 12, probably because he still lives at home. He grew up with no hobbies or skills that anyone knows. None other, that is, than spending time in the words of the Bible.

"I tell you what. Every time you see that Lesley boy, yesiree, he's in that Bible," said Deacon Mitch Whitefield. "There's no doubt in my mind about his knowledge of the Word. When I have a hard Bible question, I go to the Lesley boy for answers."

Ms. Janice Cross has known William all of his life and quite proud of him since she was his Sunday School teacher for about 2 decades. "If anyone rightly divides the words of this Bible, it's that Lesley boy," said Ms. Cross. "He's got nothing to be ashamed about if you asked me. I approve of everything he's done."

Some claim that he does not have a good understanding of what he is doing, but they probably have not spent time looking at his handywork in his Bibles. There appears to be no denying that William knows every jot and tittle of the Bible.

We sat down with William, and he explained. "The first time, I filled straight through from Genesis to Revelations as I went word by word. The second time, I filled in a little from the Old Testament and the New Testament each day to break up the words used. It was nice seeing the red some during the early months. The third time, I filled the entire Bible backwards from Revelation to Genesises. The fourth time, I filled straight through, but with the Bible upside down. The fifth time, I filled it upside down from Revelation to Genesises. The sixth time, I color coded the Bible with blue for o's, green for g's and d's, red for e's and a's, yellow for p's and q's, purple for b's and capital R's, and black for polygons within numerals."

William continued, "My sixth time through the Bible was the best. I felt that I grew so much spiritually during my sixth fill. All the different colors in the different letters really brought out the richness of the words."

We asked William about his future plans for a seventh Bible fill. "I'm glad you asked that," said William, "I've already begun my seventh fill, but this time, I'm completely shading in all white spaces on the page outside of the letters and numbers and leaving the spaces in the letters and numbers white."

07 May, 2008

Scientist Discover Atheist Gene; Now Caught in Paradox

London, UK - Scientists in the United Kingdom announced on Tuesday the accidental discovery of what some are calling the "atheist gene." While doing research on cloning, scientists with the European Biological Research Institute (EBRI) claimed to have come across a gene within the human DNA structure that renders one incapable of believing in a superior being of any kind.

"It's quite amazing really," said Dr. Chauncy Lemmington, head fellow of the research program. "In the data that we've analyzed thus far it seems that everyone who either claims to be an atheist or strong agnostic has this specific gene, thus rendering him or her incapable of believing in any sort of higher power."

The discovery has raised concerns around the world amongst the scientific community, especially among those scientists committed to obliterating any and all notions that God exists.

"The whole notion quite foolish," said Dr. Mertroid Dulphoon of the Yilvon Center for Sumapatric Development in New York. "There is no need to argue or even consider the possibility that God exists. As vast as the universe is, science does know enough to accurately prove the disexistence of any kind of god or all-powerful being. Science is not interested in myth and speculation but in facts, like the theory of evolution, and the theory of the big bang, and the theory of the extermination of the dinosaurs by Planet X."

While some dismiss the find completely, others are finding themselves in somewhat of a "paradox" because of the discovery.

"I'll admit it's presented a bit of a conundrum for me," said Dr. Halifax Nordstrum-Kopphlephther, research fellow with EBRI. "We've used science, which is intrinsically atheistic to prove that our atheism is intrinsic to our DNA, and therefore we may either be intrinsically wrong or intrinsically right. Therefore, it's like pi or the square root of 2, or the fact that any given number can be divided infinitely yet two points of distance can be intersected (which are infinitely divisible numbers) without breaking down the intrinsic structure of..."

Note: At this point the interview suddenly stopped due to the fact that Dr. Nordstrum-Kopphlephther suddenly vanished.

06 May, 2008

Second Blessing - Administration

ST. LOUIS, MO - Riverside Spirit-Filled Assembly is fairly typical as far as charismatic churches go. If you attend one of their services, you will experience lively worship, bible reading, testimonies, and a happy church family. You will see a choir, praise team, ushers, and several pastors. They even have Children's Church. Things will also be very well-organized.

There is one thing, according to the Apostle Daniel Morris, senior pastor at Riverside, that does make his church unique. Morris told TBNN, "As with most charismatic churches, we heartily believe in the second blessing of the Holy Spirit. However, at our church this does not take the form of speaking in tongues. At Riverside, our second blessing comes in the form of administration."

Fellow Apostle Samuel Baker informed us, "We take I Corinthians 12:28 very seriously. Paul writes, 'And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.' We believe the word of God is inspired and infallible. In our church, the Spirit always manifests Himself in administrative gifts."

When you first walk into the church, the leadership and organization stand out. From the moment you arrive on the scene in the parking lot, someone is there to assist you. You are immediately provided with a map, calculator, and pager. No questions are left unanswered. No detail is too small to be ignored. When we at TBNN attended Riverside for a service, we noticed that all aspects of the performance ran very smoothly. Even the puppet ministry and youth drama teams performed seamlessly.

According to Apostle Gregory Nixon, "When people first join our church, they appear a little confused and don't always know what is going on. However, after a few weeks they are filled with the Spirit and it is amazing to see what happens. They begin giving orders to people they hardly know. They begin scheduling meetings and forming committees. They begin organizing every little thing that they see. No matter what ministry they are a part of, all the details are taken care of. We may not be the most spontaneous church around, but we sure have a chain of command. No detail is too small for us. You should see our bulletins."

Apostle Morris admitted to one problem, "We do have a few people in our church who remain disorganized. We keep praying for them to get saved."

05 May, 2008

Book Review: “Music is Amoral” Myth Put To Death

While seriously committed Christians have long sensed the inherent evil lurking in Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), until now there has been no scholarly champion to flush out the demons hiding in the PowerPoint music all too often found in otherwise sound evangelical churches.

Until now. Mrs. Kimberly Smith, of Saint Charles, Missiouri has stepped forth as a gladiator defending pure Christian music and smiting the diabolical counterfeits wherever they may lurk.

In her book Music and Morals: Dispelling the Myth That Music is Amoral Mrs. Smith cogently enlightens her readers that music affects listeners, “putting to rest the myth that music is amoral. You will learn…Scientific evidence proving that music has positive and negative effects on the listener” according to the book’s blurb.

Said Shirley Staples of Little Rock, Arkansas, “I always suspected that music affected me. This book proves it! Now, when I listen to Johnny Cash, I recognize that I have good feelings stirred in me. I guess I’d never noticed that but Mrs. Smith really nailed it!”

“Duh,” was Ed Spanner’s comment, of Redondo Beach, California. “But listen to this: ‘Mrs. Smith rejects the anapestic (weak-strong) rhythmic foot out of hand as inherently evil (because of its =constant repetition=) is indeed sensual.’ I don’t get the ana-whatsit part, but rhythm is like waaay vital, you know what I mean? What’s wrong with sensual anyway? This lady is a missus, isn’t she?”

Paul Brinkley of Dallas, TX exploded, “Gadzooks! No wonder I'm such a hardened sinner! I listen to 5 minutes of music with anapestic rhythm each morning before breakfast!”
The Right Reverend David Walker of Sunshine Baptist Church, Cooper, Georgia thoughtfully enjoined, “I’m fascinated to finally understand the difference between moral and immoral music techniques. Apparently, there is an underlying meaning of certain types of rhythms and Mrs. Smith is showing me how to reevaluate how we come into the Lord’s presence. Her book even has a mini reference guide to different musical styles and their origins and a CD with example clips of moral and immoral music.”

Brinkley rejoiced, “Oh boy! Now I can actually hear for myself what type of music will cause me to sin! Oh wait, if I listen even to a 10-second clip, will that lead me into 10 seconds of sinning? The only safe thing to do, gloooory to God, is to listen to those examples with multiple Q-tips stuffed in my ears.”

Ethnomusicologist Dr. Robin Kink of Biola University mused, “I’m troubled that Mrs. Smith believes that “immoral music is more powerful than Christian lyrics." I don’t see anything in scripture that indicates that and I certainly don’t see inherently imbedded meanings in music when viewed trans-culturally. I’m afraid her potato salad’s a few pickles shy.”

When reinterviewed later in the day, Mr. Brinkley had apparently repented of his earlier rash views. “I don't care if the lyrics come from King David himself, that devil's rhythm just makes my body start to sway and bend and all of a sudden, my toe's a-tappin'. I better follow the advice of Christ that it's "better to cut off your [tappin'] toe and enter heaven than go to hell with all toes." Get thee behind me, you weak-strong weak-strong repetitive rhythm! My toes are dedicated to JE-sus! 'All music with a backbeat is sinful' - it's only the front beat from here on out for me, yessir! Only the front beat on the highway to holiness. I am so glad that Mrs. Kimberly Smith has had a word from the Lord to graciously guide our beats frontwards and backwards. Though I suppose if I listen to music with a backbeat going backwards, it becomes the front beat. Quick, let me spin my old LPs backwards...”
Book reviewer D. Wallace said, "She asserts that 'swaying to the music' is prima facie evidence for sensuality and immorality induced by the musical style, but fails to show how these are linked (except by her own assertion). I suppose that since I sway on the Metro as it moves down the track that the subway system is an "immoral" mode of transportation (wow, had I only known!)."
Book reviewer K. Nakaqawa remarked, "Now I know that rhythm you hear might hypnotize you - with or without you realizing it. Actually you can not avoid it. This is very scientific. Rhythm you hear will skip a frontal lobe which means your brain - decision making (right or wrong) function does not work during you hearing certain rhythm. Information you hear will go directly into your brain without filtering. I think this utilize as part of mind control technique."
Brinkley exclaimed, “Ooh, those sneaky weak-strong rhythms - they're a-gonna hypnotize me and control my braaaaiiiin!!!!  AAAgghh...Defeat the beat! Defeat the beat!”
Longtime Deaconess Gladys Hemmel of Cogdon, Alabama glowed, "Kimberly Smith, a church organist and classically trained pianist, can be likened to a modern-day Dr. Van Helsing in pursuit of the fiendish ‘undead.’ Armed with the Word of God, she triumphantly impales ‘Christian’ rock music, the most carnal and prevalent style of contemporary Christian music (CCM) today.”

Brinkley, now quite beside himself, proclaimed throughout Concourse B of the Dallas Airport, “Thank God this vampire killer has come among us to save us. "The truth shall set us free," GLO-ry halle-LU-jah!”
Mrs. Shirley explained, "Carnal music is music that appeals to us physically-it makes our bodies respond. Spiritual music makes our spirit respond. If you cannot tell the difference, you have a problem...  The spiritual person responds like Elijah on the mount. The carnal person reacts like the prophets of Baal. God responded to the spiritual plea of Elijah. He will not respond to jiving, dancing, or any other physical action music may motivate."

Dr. Kink rebutted, “That’s a isogetical scripture interpretation making a false analogy and then using it to drive truth. What about David dancing before the Lord?”
Jose Rodriguez, temporarily of Houston, Texas speaking through a translator mused, "I, too, have grave concerns about the musical offerings of the church. But not just rock and roll: Country and country-western music have deep roots in alcoholism and adultery. Bluegrass has roots in the moonshiners of Appalachia and in the Irish rebellion and gang wars of New York. Why even large portions of classical music were formed around the decadent lifestyles of royalty."
The third book Mrs. Smith has published within the past 10 years, Music and Morals
is receiving largely positive reviews.  Mrs. Smith rejoiced, “I have so much more work to do. Stay tuned. You’ll be hearing more!”

03 May, 2008

Adopt a Pew, KJV Control

The Adopt a Pew Volunteer Program is a national KJV awareness program where concerned citizens volunteer to pick up KJVs off of Pews and other church areas. Last year, more than 70 churches participated in removing the KJV litter in US Churches saving approximately 750 souls from exposure to KJVs.

The Adopt a Pew KJV Control Program started in 2006 with approximately 10 churches. In 2007, there was a 7 fold increase. We believe all churches in Rhode Island are now completely KJV free.

A wide variety of groups may participate, including children, youth, AWANA, Sunday Schools, the elderly, and even entire families.

Simply contact the district office in your area to become involved with the Adopt a Pew KJV Control Program. The office will provide you with a permit form to complete and submit to the appropriate district office. Be sure to retain a copy of the form for your records.

What We Provide for Volunteers
· Available pews and sections for volunteer groups based on safety considerations, including ladies with blue hair, the times “just” is used in a prayer on average, average speed of departure from church, length of pew, and number of communion cup holders.

· Fabricate and install brass plates on the end of the pews to identify the group responsible for KJV removal on the pew.

· Provide safety training for group coordinators, including APKJVC safety vests (which must returned).

What Volunteers Must Provide
· A one-year commitment to pick up any KJV in or along particular segments of the church, especially the sanctuary.

· A commitment to pick up the litter at least once a week or as designated by the district engineer.

· Complete a waiver form signed by each person participating in the KJV clean up event.

· Hold a safety briefing before each service.

· Maintain a working group of at least 1 person per 100 linear pew feet.

· Complete the Activity Report detailing the clean up activities. The report indicates the minutes worked, the number of participants, and the number of bags of trash removed.

Safety Procedures
Participants should assemble in the lobby of a church and use one garbage can or recycling container to reduce the number of cans at the liter pickup site.

Safety vests must be worn by all participants at all times during cleanup activities.
KJV pick up shall not be performed within arm’s length of any person who prays using old English words (such as “Thy” or “Thou”).

Litter pickup can be expanded to include the aisles and walkways, but only if the APKJVC permit specifically includes the aisles and walkways.

Remember, removing a very worn KJV can be dangerous. Pages may accidentally fall out and get into the hands of our precious children.

01 May, 2008

Try New Buffalo Bob's Man-Sized Texas-Style Communion Wafers!

Whether you've worked a hard week of cow-punching on the ranch, shoveling dirt on the job site or breaking bones on the gridiron, you need something more on Sundays than that tiny piece of bread they give you at church. Let's face it, by the time the end of the service rolls around you're hungry and need something to tide you over till you get home and have your fried chicken.

Well, if you're tired of puny little bits of communion bread tell your church to get Buffalo Bob's Man-Sized Texas-Style Communion Wafers today. Buffalo Bob's uses only the finest high-quality ingredients to produce the largest and most buttery flavored* communion wafers on the market today. Weighing in at just under a quarter of a pound each Buffalo Bob's Man-Sized Texas-Style Communion Wafer lets you get both spiritually and physically filled.

So what are you waiting for? Call a deacons meeting, talk to your pastor, threaten your elders to get Buffalo Bob's Man-Sized Texas-Style Communion Wafers before next Sunday.

*Also available in honey wheat and pesto.