29 November, 2008

Sunday Morning Worship Rescheduled To Begin "About The 4th Hour"

Jasper, MS—First Baptist Church of Jasper will no longer be under pressure to begin morning worship at 10 am as they have been attempting to do for the past 62 years. In a bold announcement on Friday, Pastor Harlan Richardson formally announced the change of the official start time of Sunday morning worship to “about the 4th hour.”

Pastor Richardson explains, “After years of attempting to start the worship service at 10 am, I am ending this manmade pressure.”

For those of you not familiar with early New Testament clockworks, “about the 4th hour” would refer to approximately the time between 10 am and 11 am, the fourth hour of the day. Note that the Jewish day began at 6am.

Pastor Richardson places a lot of emphasis on the word “about” in Scripture. Plenty of Biblical precedent exists for beginning church activities at “about” a certain hour. “I have a real peace that we are in keeping with scriptures in the New Testament to start about the 4th hour. Such declarations regarding non-rigid time schedules are made 6 times in Matthew, twice in Luke, 3 times in John, and 4 times in Acts.” Pastor Richardson explained.

“We might as well change the time,” said Betsy Bibbs . “We’ve never started at 10 anyways. I get here every Sunday by 9:55, and I usually have to wait 15 to 20 minutes before we hear the first announcement.”

“It’s those musician people,” said Krissy Withmore, 13. “Like, you know, they always are late or whatever.”

“This is bad,” said Dan Bradford shaking his head. “At least we used to try to be on time. Now, who knows what time we’ll really begin? Sometime between 10 and 11 to start? I have to have a better schedule than this. How am I supposed to make plans around “about the 4th hour”? This is ridiculous.”

In defense, Pastor Richardson reiterates that there is nothing sacred or even scriptural about meeting at a set time. “We know Lord Jesus ascended to Heaven after His resurrection as recorded in Matthew at a time between 10 am and noon on a Sunday morning because it is very clear that the disciples worshipped Him. But nowhere in the Scripture does it say the exact time of this worship.”

In any case, those of you wishing to attend FBC Jasper this Sunday morning should be prepared to begin about the 4th hour. What should you do to pass the time? Pastor Richardson suggests, “The church does have wireless internet. So, perhaps attendees could bring their laptops to use during the wait.”

26 November, 2008

Pastor's Proposal of "7-Day Bible Reading Challenge" Met with Confusion

Kline, Texas - The members of First Baptist Church of Kline are uncertain what to think after this past Sunday's sermon. As the church's pastor Henry Waldrip addressed the congregation from the pulpit, he touched upon a subject that some say "went a little too far." Attempting to draw a contrast with a recent Dallas church's own 7-day challenge, Waldrip suggested that Christians ought to spend more time reading their Bibles. He then went on to challenge his congregation to "read their Bibles every day for a week."

"I read about this other church in Dallas doing their 7-day challenge to supposedly promote intimacy between married couples," said Waldrip. "While I'm all for deeper intimacy between a husband and a wife, but I think the root of marital problems lies not with a lack of intimacy with one another, but intimacy with God. When a husband and wife know and love God more they will love each other more. But even more so, our 7-day challenge doesn't exclude single people within our congregation. So I simply suggested my congregation read their Bibles every day for a week, apply it and see if their marriages and lives in general don't begin to naturally improve."

While many in the congregation seemed receptive to Waldrip's suggestion, many were also seemingly infuriated by the suggestion.

"I can't believe he went that far," said Patty Turnbull, a long-time member of FBC. "I just don't think Pastor Waldrip understands what I have to do every day. My schedule stays pretty full from the moment I wake up until the time I go to bed. Sure, I like to read my Bible when I can, but he can't seriously expect me to read it every day."

"Well, it certainly lacked the pizzaz of the other church's 7-day challenge," said Raymond Donaldson, another member, "I mean, when he challenged us to read our Bibles every day for a week I was like 'um...okay...whatever.' I think if he really wants to get people's attention he needs to challenge us with something a little bit more interesting."

The church's board of Deacons has called a meeting with Waldrip to address the issue this Thursday night. It remains to be seen whether or not Waldrip will continue to push his idea to the congregation.

25 November, 2008

EMTs Criticized for New Tactics

SAVANNAH, GA - Several Emergency Management Technicians (EMTs) were suspended without pay last week for new tactics that had not been approved by their supervisors. The three EMTs - two men and one woman - have appealed their suspensions and are awaiting a decision that should come as early as today.

When TBNN asked the EMT supervisory board what the problem was, the board responded in writing, saying, "The three EMTs in question are responsible, as are all EMTs, to do all they can to help the injured or ill remain alive until they arrive at the hospital. These three individuals failed to do that."

We at TBNN wanted to get both sides of the story. Two of the EMTs agreed to grant an interview.

Gary Karver (pictured above), an EMT for several years now, said, "It used to be that when we came upon a dead or dying (we often can't tell the difference at first) person, we would do all we could to resuscitate him and get him to the hospital alive. This was my goal every time. Well, that changed a few weeks ago. The reason for this is that I realized that this violated the person's free will. I mean, what if he doesn't want to be saved? It simply doesn't seem right or fair to take away his freedom like that."

Stephanie Tate, Karver's suspended partner, said, "I agree with Gary. Who are we to save people without asking them what they want? What we had been doing for the last several weeks, before the suspensions, was offering what we call PREVENIENT ASSISTANCE. When we arrived on a scene, we would offer enough help to the accident victim to bring him to the point where he could decide for himself whether or not he wanted to be saved. For example, in one case I gave a man mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but didn't stop his bleeding. He came to consciousness, but unfortunately bled out and died soon after. The point is that he decided."

Karver chimed back in, "Last week, we arrived at the scene of a minor explosion. I quickly gave a little bit of help to everyone involved. However, I refused to make the decision for them. A few died on the scene, but most survived. My supervisor said I should have done more to save them, but this just seemed to me to violate their person-hood. I couldn't do that."

We asked both EMTs if they would change back to their old practices in order to keep their jobs.

According to Tate, "This is a hill on which I have chosen, proverbially, to die. I refuse to violate anyone's free will even if it is for their good. They must choose. That is the most important thing."

22 November, 2008

Man Names, Then Claims Double Negative Proverbs 18:24

Baton Rouge, LA -- Bob Westbrook has shown himself friendly for many years. “It’s been too many years,” says Bob. “I have too many friends. I don’t want all these friends. I didn’t ask for all these friends. I don’t need all these friends.”

Bob apparently was born with the friendship trifecta. He’s good looking. He’s generally happy. And he has the #5 friendliest name—Bob, falling just after Ricky at #4. Sandy, Emily, and Barack make up the top 3.

“It’s really a curse more than a blessing,” Bob said jovially, which got a chuckle out of the TBNN crew. “I wasn’t trying to be funny,” Bob attempted to explain when the laughter died down, which lit up the crew once again.

When things calmed down, we learned that Bob plans to take a Name It and Claim It approach to Proverbs 18:24, but in the double negative. "I always heard my grandmother say, ‘If a man wants friends, he should show himself friendly,’ well that’s the trap I fell into. I started showing myself friendly at an early age. It’s a hard habit to break,” said Bob as he received several nods of compassionate understanding from the small crowd that began to gather.

Bob now hopes that by showing an attitude of unfriendliness, he can reduce the friendships. “I’m claiming Proverbs 18:24 in the double negative-- If a man doesn’t want friends, he should show himself unfriendly. Mathematically, two negatives make a positive. It just makes sense to me that if I don’t want so many friends, I can start being unfriendly.” TBNN intern Shelly thought the idea was brilliant. As she was expressing to Bob her admiration, she was interrupted by TBNN photographer Jewel who suggested we all go to Lone Star for lunch. Almost before Jewel had the idea out of her mouth, Bob was calling the local Lone Star manager and whispered “I’m buying” to the TBNN crew and the small crowd that was beginning to form around Bob.

TBNN copy editor Jim did question Bob’s translation of Proverbs 18:24, “You know Bob, some versions read ‘If a man has many friends, he may come to ruin.’" To which Bob replied, “Amen to that!" causing the crowd to erupt. "All these friends are ruining me. I’m definitely going to start showing myself unfriendly. I may even change my name to Fred."

15 November, 2008

From The Makers of UNO: I Prayed About It Cards

Have you ever been in the middle of a card game and found yourself 1 card short? Need a blue 2? A queen of hearts? A four of any suit? A wild draw 4? A Rook? Ever been told “go fish”? Ever draw the old maid?

Well, whatever your card game, if you are a Christian you are qualified to use the new I Prayed About It Cards from the makers of UNO.

I Prayed About It Cards are for use with any card game. It’s simple! At any time, in any place, during a card game of any kind, simply play an I Prayed About It Card while telling the other participants the current thoughts running through your mind.

You are a Christian, right? Well, if you are a true Christian who is currently prayed up and in the spirit, then your thoughts are coming directly from the Lord. You should feel confident to share your God-revealed thoughts with others, especially if your thoughts involve the actions or commitments of others. It’s really your duty to tell them. But rather than just using the phrase, “I prayed about it,” build your confidence by simultaneously playing an I Prayed About It Card.

In a game of Spades, for example, if you really feel like you should be playing the ace of spades, but you don’t have the actual ace of spades that came with the card deck, it’s okay. Relax. Dwell for a few minutes in the thought of what you’d like to do. Dwell on the goodness of winning the game. If this seems right to you, reach into your shirt pocket and play the I Prayed About It Card. Just say, “I prayed about it, and I’m playing this card as the ace of spades” as you play your I Prayed About It Card.

By playing an I Prayed About It Card, you have the power to ignore any rule or rules of the regular game. In fact, no one else should disrespectfully speak in dissent of your revelation. No one else should even be allowed to ask questions. Just make sure that you are fully prayed up and in the Spirit before you play the card. Remember, when you play an I Prayed About It Card, remain confident and never question yourself that your thoughts are truly direct messages and interpretations of life choices from the Lord.

Note: The cards have also been used outside of card games. For example, the cards can also be used in church meetings, especially if the answer to prayer involves the efforts and energies of others.

Have a direct message for your pastor? Walk up to him, hand him a card, and say “I prayed about it and I believe we should start [insert name of new program or ministry that has been directly revealed to you].”

So, don't forget yourself this Christmas. Place a little something in your own stocking. Get your very own I Prayed About It Cards, from the makers of UNO. Available soon in stores everywhere.

10 November, 2008

John 3:16 Conference Finally Proves that Calvinism is Unbiblical

ATLANTA, GA - The arguments have been made. The debate is finally settled. There is nothing left to discuss.

Calvinism is finished. The Doctrines of Grace have been de-bunked. Reformed theology is has once and for all time been banished to the trash bin of dead theologies.

On November 6-7, Jerry Vines ministries hosted the John 3:16 Conference. At this conference, which billed itself as "A biblical and theological assessment of and response to 5-point Calvinism," noted Southern Baptists took open shots at Calvinism.

Those in attendance were thrilled with the scholarship on display. For example, pastor Bubba Swift of Good Works Baptist Church, told TBNN, "Those speakers sure did a fine job. They just kept quotin' John 3:16 over and over again. No matter what objection was brought to them, they just kept sayin', 'Whosoever will...' It was awesome."

Pastor Wyatt Beasley said, "All I know is Jesus died for the whole world. That means everybody. When I got saved, I could just tell Jesus was cheerin' me on from heaven, just hopin' I'd give myself to Him. That's what I done."

Some of the more notable quotes to come out of the conference were the following:
"Humans are born with original sin but not original guilt."
"A move toward Calvinism is a move away from the gospel.”
"Repentance and faith precede regeneration."
"A 'hyper-Calvinist' is someone who is more Calvinistic than you are.”
"Romans 9-11 have nothing to do with eternal salvation."

The most amazing part of the conference was when one of the speakers reportedly said, "We're right. They're wrong. Who's wrong? A few guys named Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, John Owen, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, James Boyce, Arthur Pink, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, J. I. Packer, R. C. Sproul, John MacArthur, and especially John Piper."

It is worth noting that no one from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was asked to speak at the conference.

Despite the fact that Dr. Vines said the gathering was not intended to be a "bashing Calvinism" conference, this is exactly what it turned out to be. While those who bothered to attend liked what was said, the broader spectrum of thought within the blog-world has been far less favorable. For some sane thought on this topic, click here and here.

When the conference concluded, there was much ovation and back-slapping. The speakers informed the press that now that Calvinism had been demolished for all time, they would aim their vast intellect at the most important issue facing Protestantism today: alcohol.

08 November, 2008

Reverend Wright: "I Now Struggle With Shadow Dog"

Chicago, IL -- Reverend Jeremiah Wright, once a controversial figure in the Barack Obama campaign, has apparently come out of hiding now that the election is over.

Reverend Wright, who fell out of the spotlight when Obama unequivocally denounced statements Wright made from the pulpit, is now in a new line of work. He’s given up his Sunday morning job for a different day and time—Friday night stand-up comedy.

Reverend Wright jokingly calls himself Reverend Left as part of his free gig. Though the routine is free, Wright continues to have an offertory time. “The crowd loves the way I say 'pass the plate',” said Wright.

Wright had the crowd in tears and rolling in the aisles Friday night with his latest routine of “I can’t do the shadow dog anymore” [caught in the picture above]. Wright explains how the media’s faulty descriptions of his sermons as divisive have left him with eye twitches and hand deformities. As the crowd cheered for Wright and booed the media, Wright offered proof of his hand troubles by simulating a faulty shadow dog. “My Diet Coke shot right out of my left nostril at that point,” said crowd participant Meagan Wilson. “He’s a riot!”

05 November, 2008

I Pledge Allegiance

Given the election, I guess I am reminded of the term "allegiance" this early morning. I have grown up knowing three "Pledge of Allegiances" (or probably it's Pledges of Allegiance?? ::yawn... stretch... shiver::).

In Vacation Bible School, we would pledge allegiance to (1) the Flag of the United States of America, (2) the Christian Flag, (3) and the Bible. My kids are still freely permitted to recite these today in our church's school.

Regardless of what the future holds with respect to our ability to freely speak our beliefs, there is another pledge of allegiance that hangs on my bedroom wall that I walk by every day. It is one of my most valued earthly possessions. I felt like sharing this morning. I hope you enjoy.

I pledge allegiance to my husband, my leader;
My companion, my lover, my friend.
I will do my best to be the kind of wife I believe
God wants me to be.
To be loving and generous in my affection to him.
To be faithful in what I do and think.
To be respectful and supportive in all of his work,
Duties and his high calling of leading me and being
The father of our children. To be helpful in making
Our home a loving, happy home committed to each
Other and to God.
To: My Loving Husband [Dr. Brother Slawson]
From: Your Devoted Wife [Mrs. Dr. Brother Slawson]
October 31, 2000

I thank God for all the P31 women of this world [but especially my P31 woman :)]. I believe they (or the lack of them) are and have been the most important instruments of change. I pray for positive change.

03 November, 2008

Rector Daringly Introduces Jesus to Episcopal Church

TACOMA, WA - Dr. Stephen Daniel, Rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church of Tacoma, recently took a daring step that has since endangered his ministry. Against the advice of several other Episcopal rectors in his state, Daniel introduced Jesus Christ to his church. The response, to say the least, caused a great uproar in the church.

According to Daniel, "Our people have responded to the message of Jesus Christ in one of two ways. Some within the church body are extremely excited because they now see how they can be saved. These folks sensed that there was more to life and church than just the typical Anglican traditions. They knew they had sinned, and are now thrilled to find out that there is actually a Savior."

Marge Street, a twenty-year member of St. Andrew's, is one of the happy ones. Marge informed TBNN, "I have been in church ever since I was a teenager, but this is the first time I have ever heard about Jesus Christ and what He did for me on the cross so many years ago. I couldn't be happier!"

Rector Daniel mentioned, however, that there are others within the congregation who aren't too happy about all this "Jesus-talk." Daniel said, "Although some have given Jesus a positive reaction, the reality is that about 60-65% of the congregation has real concerns about how bringing Jesus into the life of the church will affect St. Andrew's. I personally believe that introducing Jesus to our church programs can only benefit what we are doing. Unfortunately, many are not in agreement."

Dr. Theresa Smith-Williams-Henderson, who teaches Sunday School at the church, said, "I believe Rector Daniel has good intentions. However, he simply cannot just push forth his own agenda in the church. He needs to be more reasonable. We as a church were doing well before all this began. We were reaching out to our community here in Tacoma and to those in need in several overseas countries. We were a united body. Now we have all sorts of strife and consternation within the church. Now all we seem to be talking about is Jesus and which 'side' we are on. It is all very sad."

This week's church newsletter, The St. Andrew's News, is reporting that the church body will be having a members-only meeting this coming Thursday night to discuss the situation. A few different un-named sources have told TBNN that while some people want the rector to resign, the majority just want a censure and a promise from him to cease all this talk about Jesus.

Rector Daniel, in response to hearing about the Thursday meeting, said, "At this point I'm not sure what is going to happen or what I'm going to do. I thought talking about Jesus would be good. If I can't talk about Him, I'm not sure what there is left to say."