Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Y'all!



While I had planned something more personal and original in the way of a Christmas greeting, there is no way I could ever top this.

For your holiday viewing pleasure, SWBTS presents "Pecan Manor Christmas 2009." Dr. Dorothy Patterson narrates this tour of Pecan Manor, home of the president of SWBTS.


video


Won't you sit back and joi-in Mizz Dorothy, the President, and Noche for a spot of delightful tea in the parlah?

Watch larger version here for now.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jerry Sutton Sues Accuser



Just goes to show you can take the $314,000 and run, but you can't escape your past.

The Tennessean > Two Rivers' ex-pastor sues accuser

As one commenter said, "The great thing about this lawsuit is that this Harris guy will now be able to demand detailed info from Sutton and the church and maybe the truth will finally come out. Of course, any incriminating evidence has probably been thrown in the church dumpster by now."

FBC Jax Watchdog > Liberty and SWBTS: You're on the clock! What will you do with Sutton?

The original "Two Rivers Info" site no longer exists, but their Facebook Group is still up.

Photo © Associated Press

Saturday, November 21, 2009

PRE zent... ALMS!



It's that time of year again -- time for Bellevue's annual Love Offering Sunday. What started in 1934 as a means for the church to pay off their building debt has turned into an all-out dog and pony show during which all present in the worship service on Love Offering Sunday march to the front of the auditorium and parade past large boxes into which they drop their offering envelopes. Last year envelopes were available near each seat, and guests were encouraged to get into line and drop empty envelopes into the boxes so people wouldn't be stepping over each other and no one would feel left out. Of course, if a guest felt led to put a little something inside the envelope, I'm sure no one would have objected.

It's difficult to believe it's been four years since
this simple one-page announcement was made regarding the 2005 Love Offering. The prayer chapel, a colossal waste of money when a portion of the existing facilities which sit unused 6 1/2 days a week could have simply been designated as a prayer room, was never built. Many who gave to the 2005 offering have been asking for the past four years what happened to those plans. (Remember the proposed labyrinth?) Now we're told that money, which was reportedly set aside in a separate account, will be plowed into the "Vision 2010" plan which includes... taa daa... designating a portion of the existing facilities as a prayer room.

This year they've been much less specific as to what the love offering is for. Steve Gaines writes:

"This year's Love Offering is the first step in a multi-year effort to develop our people, ministries, and programs, and, when necessary, to enhance our facilities for the purpose of fulfilling our mission. Will we do everything we've planned? Probably not, because situations and opportunities will likely change in the coming years and we will adjust our plans accordingly."

This way they can pretty much use the money however they wish.

Speaking of 2005, my, how things have changed since this photo was taken!



With giving down significantly in the past couple of years and according to one source, "the money pit is awfully shallow," this year they've pulled out all the stops. From reminders in the weekly bulletin for the past month to large postcards and a full-color, multi-page mailout printed on slick, heavyweight cardstock (what did it cost to design, print, and mail that to every family in the church?) to
a video to "Love Offering Reminders" e-mailed to people who haven't set foot in Bellevue in years to automated phone calls from Brother Steve -- it's been an all-out media blitz. Here is the full brochure. The whole "Vision 2010" thing will be discussed in a future article.

This quote is printed in this week's bulletin:

"Lines that Linger" by Rev. Don Miller

"The church needs faithful members who are regular attenders, faithful members who know how to pray and do it, faithful members who bring others with them, faithful members who love God more than the world, and faithful members who know the tithe is the Lord's and give it."


Subtle, huh?

And this from page 18 of the brochure:

The Love Offering is primarily a love and thank offering to our Lord Jesus Christ who gave the ultimate love gift -- Himself -- and who loves us with a priceless love. As Bro. Steve has said, our gifts to the Love Offering are not tithes, but are gifts above and beyond our tithe. As you determine how much to give, prayerfully consider the following:

1. God knows the need.
2. God knows how much of the need He wants to meet through you.
3. What God desires to do through you He will provide to you.
4. When we give obediently as God has guided and provided, He gets the glory and we get the blessing!

The need this year is truly God-sized and will require us to increase our faith to reach our goals. Please prayerfully consider what God wants you to give, and obediently and sacrificially give as God directs you.


Do people really need to be goaded like this to give? After all, the Bible says, "God loveth a cheerful giver," not an intimidated giver.

There have been good articles on the subject of "tithing" on the
FBC Jax Watchdog blog and The Wartburg Watch this week, and they and their readers have already covered the subject in much more depth than I ever could. So without further ado:

A Look at the Doctrine of Storehouse Tithing

Ronnie and Johnny: Doggone It, How Can We Spread the Gospel If the Sheep Don't Tithe?

Rethinking the Tithe: Part 1

Rethinking the Tithe: Part 2

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Happy Birthday, O Purveyor of Baloney!


With any blog come trolls. It's an inevitable fact of life. Often simply ignoring them will make them go away, but it's sometimes difficult to resist the temptation to respond and even more difficult persuading others not to respond. Give them a little attention, and they always return to the scene of the crime.

In the early days of this blog we were occasionally visited by "RM," aka Randy McDonald, who claimed to be a Ph.D. pastor from Texas (a graduate of SWBTS). It wasn't difficult to find Dr. McDonald. He advertised his little church (that he started) as well as his "Christian counseling" service.


RM's comments (a "collection" of the best is here should anyone be interested) were usually caustic and seemed to only be meant to taunt and hurl insults at me and others posting comments. After a while he seemed to grow tired of us and faded into the sunset.

Then we were joined by "Brady." "Brady" didn't claim to be anything. In fact, a pastor is about the last thing I would have expected this potty-mouthed character to be. (He sent an obviously fake photo of himself to someone once and claimed his name was "Brady Davis" while rebuking me and others for not revealing our "real" names.) Most of his early comments were published, but after a while they were so over the top I began rejecting them. However, as with all controversial comments, I directed them all to a special folder where I didn't have to see them. Here is a collection of "Brady's" rejected comments and some personal e-mails to me and others. (Where's that bar of Lifebuoy when you need it?) All I knew was the e-mails were coming from a suburb of Dallas, Texas and that we were getting frequent hits on the blog from someone in that same suburb. You never know when something that seems meaningless today might prove to be useful in the future, and so "the Brady collection" was stored away, largely forgotten, in the nether regions of my hard drive for all these months.

Back in the spring of this year, a new blog came on the scene. The Wartburg Watch, authored by "Dee" and "Deb," two women in North Carolina, deals with a variety of topics with the underlying theme being abuse in the church. A couple months ago a new commenter calling himself "Cooper" appeared on the WW (not to be confused with R.E. or Ralph Cooper, another occasional but friendly commenter on that blog). Immediately I knew I recognized "Cooper" from somewhere, and it didn't take me long to remember where.

"Brady" often resorted to certain unique phrases. One of his favorites for me was "o purveyor of filth" or "o purveyor of dirt." Not "oh," but "o". He harped on "why don't you request a meeting with Dr. Gaines?" and sarcastically called people "spiritual giants." RM used the same tired arguments, using much the same wording, not only with me but with Tom Rich of the FBC Jax Watchdog blog. Now, "Cooper" was using some of those same catch phrases on The Wartburg Watch. His "pet name" for them was "o glorious wenches." Again, not "oh," but "o". Here is a collection of some of "Cooper's" work. More than once he claimed he is living on welfare.

It was evident from all these men's writings that they were especially angry towards women. Perhaps they had issues with their mothers. Or perhaps there was an ugly divorce in one or more of their backgrounds. Whatever the reason(s), the venom just dripped from "Brady's" comments and e-mails to me. And I just smiled, knowing that eventually he'd slip up.

Well, folks, it took a while, but a few weeks ago he slipped up.

Randy McDonald's "church" seems to be no more. In fact, the phone number in the ads for the church turned out to be his personal cell phone number, and the address for the "church" changed several times.


Dr. McDonald's main occupation seems to be refereeing tennis matches for high schools and small colleges, and he has a blog. Perusing the front page recently I discovered this gem:


"In order to fully enjoy all our blessings, I am taking my two children (Brady on the left, and Phoebe on the right) to the lake today so they can chase ducks and swim all they want... "

"Brady," huh? Coincidence?

Recently an anonymous poster calling himself "Plano Man" showed up on Christa Brown's blog. Want to guess where RM lives now that he's single again? Here are some of his comments. Note his use of the phrase "o glorious Pharisees."


If there was any doubt at that point, the pieces all came together when McDonald posted this collection of articles on his blog. (Or here should those articles mysteriously disappear.)

I suppose you've figured out where I'm going with this. If it isn't obvious by now, "RM," "Brady," "Cooper," and "Plano man" (and I strongly suspect some others who've recently posted on the WW -- "Maude," "Jeff," and "Silly Boy") are one and the same. The same man who claims to be a Southern Baptist pastor and a personal friend of Dr. Rogers.

Many more interesting tidbits were learned about Dr. Randy McDonald by simply perusing the internet and further evidence of his multiple personalities was uncovered, but I think you've gotten a good idea of the heart of the man. It seems "truth in advertising" is an area Dr. McDonald stuggles with. In this 2001 letter to the Baptist Standard he claimed to have been the president of the SBTC (Southern Baptists of Texas Convention) board of directors for two years and a board member for five years. He was promptly called out by two people the following week, one being the man who actually was the first president of the then-three-year-old organization. Talk about having egg on your face! Not a pretty sight, is it? This kind of behavior was bad enough coming from A CErtain 20-year-old kid. Coming from a 62-year-old Ph.D.'d "pastor" it's beyond belief.

Today is Randy McDonald's birthday. Maybe it's time to "man up" and start acting your age, RM/Brady/Cooper/Plano Man/et al.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sister Pam's Homegoing



Today I learned of the passing of Sister Pam Gremillion who used to post comments on this blog under the name "woundedandbleeding." Our deepest sympathy to Charles, the girls, and their family. May the Lord bring you peace and comfort during this difficult time.

Pamela G. Lovelace Gremillion

Pamela G. Lovelace Gremillion, 54, of Memphis passed away at her home on October 25, 2009. She was a member of Bellevue Baptist Church, a board member of West African Children Support Network and a published song writer. Pamela was preceded in death by her father, Walter L. Lovelace and brother, Richard L. Lovelace. She leaves her husband of 30 years, Charles Gremillion, four daughters, Princess Noel, Mary Gracious, Naomi Faith and Blessing Joy Gremillion; her mother, Dorothy Lovelace and brother, Steven L. Lovelace. Pam was dearly loved by her family and friends and will be truly missed. Visitation will be 12 noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, October 28, with the service at 1 p.m., all being held at: Memorial Park Funeral Home (901)767-8930
http://www.memorialparkonline.com.

You may not have known that Sister Pam, as she always referred to herself, was nominated for a
Dove Award for Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year in 1999 for the song she wrote, The Old Love Letter. Here are the lyrics:

The Old Love Letter

I found an old love letter that was written just for me.
It told me how much I was loved so sweet and tenderly.
With a broken heart I read each line of God's love for me.
It was written by a nail-scarred hand at Calvary.

Oh how this old love letter spoke to my heart and soul.
I was captured by every word as I watched His love unfold.
With special care He wrote it down for all eternity.
It was written by a nail-scarred hand at Calvary.

I found an old love letter the pages stained with red.
I am yours eternally is what the post script said.
I treasure my letter that he nailed upon the tree
Like tears stained its pages every time I read.

Oh, how this old love letter spoke to my heart and soul.
I was captured by every word as I watched His love unfold.
With special care He wrote it down for all eternity.
It was written by a nail-scarred hand at Calvary.


Here is a video performance of The Old Love Letter by Larry Sparks.

Tributes:

A Hero's Welcome

Precious in the sight of the LORD are the death of HIS saints.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Just Stop Trying So Hard


A young woman named Sarah posted the following comment in the last thread. Here is a young person (I'm guessing maybe mid to late 20s) who reminds me of the dog who's always chasing cars and one day when he finally catches one can't figure out what to do with it. Here she calmly and logically states what others have been trying say ever since all the changes were announced, but coming from the viewpoint of a young person whose eyes appear to have been opened, I hope her words carry more weight than those of her elders who have been accused of just wanting to live in the past.

Sarah said...

I used to be one of those proponents that believed churches had to become more entertainment-oriented in order to reach people. The reasoning is that people are saturated by entertainment, that they would be numb to a traditional style of worship, or if churches did productions, they would have to be big in order to compete with companies like Disney for people's attention. You had to make the Gospel look cool if people are going to listen to it.

Now, Bellevue has shifted in that direction, and many other churches around the world as well. As I begin to see it firsthand, I'm no longer a proponent of an entertainment-oriented church. It's funny, because everything I'd wanted Bellevue to become over the years is now taking place, and I don't want it anymore.

It's one thing if an unattached Christian group wanted to use entertainment to reach people. They exist - creative arts groups, comedians, bands, etc. that aren't associated with a church and are able to reach people in fun, unique ways - out there in the real world where people are. I'm all for such groups, but I think that so-called "Christian entertainment" should not be associated with churches. Churches don't exist for that reason, and they were never meant to, if you want to go back to the founding of the New Testament church.

There are several reasons for this, the first of which is one that was completely unexpected for me. It just feels weird and awkward for a church to try and entertain people. Bellevue's 11:11 service seems to be nothing more than a superficial vanity. It's overtly trying to be "cool" and draw people in, and it just rubs me the wrong way. People aren't stupid - they can see through such things, and it's not just Bellevue, it's any church that employs similar psychological devices.

Did it ever occur to churches that people might want a refuge from the entertainment-saturated world and find a spiritual escape from it all? Why do you have to make a worship service compete with Disney or a rock concert? Why do you have to add a stage extension and put up rather pathetic looking decorations in an attempt to create a clearly orchestrated effort to dangle a big, fat worm in front of people's faces so that they'll bite.

I don't think any of it is done for money. Bellevue's not about money, even though it may appear otherwise. I just think they don't "get it." And yes, the contemporary service is WAY behind the times if that's what they're aiming for. I'm sorry, but you don't have someone like Steve Gaines preach at a contemporary service. He's about as anti-contemporary as you can get, even without the tie. Bellevue, if you want to update your service, lose the hokey 11:11 title, lose the preacher, lose the ridiculous sails in the background that try to hide the choir loft, forget the unecessary stage extension that attempts to bring the pastor closer to the people, and just stop trying so hard.


I must respectfully disagree with Sarah's next to last point -- that none of this is done for money. I think much of what's driving all this is money. I think they're pulling out all the stops to bring in more money, but they're shooting themselves in the foot with this plan. The demographic they're targeting is not the demographic with the money. Those are the very groups they're alienating. However, we'll cover that in a future article.

In the "Vision Twenty-Ten" plan we read this:

Corporate worship that is honoring to God will always be a part of Bellevue Baptist Church. The style of service and music will vary to enable the church to reach our culture and encourage corporate worship.


This was a joke going around a couple years ago. But is it really that far from reality?

Sarah's comment raises some interesting questions.

1. Why is it the church's mission to "reach our culture"? Implied in "reaching the culture" is that you become more like "the culture." Has anyone noticed "the culture" lately? Rarely does "the culture" rise to your standards. Rather your standards are more often than not compromised to conform to "the culture's" standards (or lack thereof). We've already seen this in the "dressing down" for church and what appears to be a loss of respect (of self and for others) in behavior. Watch a Bellevue service from a few years ago and compare that to services there today. They may be more relevant to "the culture" now, but in my opinion the quality has suffered.

2. Should "Christian entertainment" such as "Christian rock concerts" or "hunting extravaganzas" or public school teacher in-service days (which have involved some rather un-Christian "entertainment") be brought into the church? I'm talking about a church the size of Bellevue that has the facilities to host large concerts and other events that ordinarily would be held in a secular venue.

3. "It just feels weird and awkward for a church to try and entertain people." I think they call that a slippery slope. Stick around long enough and you'll get used to it.

4. "Did it ever occur to churches that people might want a refuge from the entertainment-saturated world and find a spiritual escape from it all?" You mean like someplace... reverent? What a novel concept! Which begs the question -- what is the "purpose" of church?

5. "I'm sorry, but you don't have someone like Steve Gaines preach at a contemporary service. He's about as anti-contemporary as you can get, even without the tie." Well, he's no Rick Warren, that's for sure, but it's not age. Rick is four years older than Steve Gaines, and a lot of people think Rick's "cool."

I will end with an open letter to the pastor...

Dear Brother Steve,

That was a good sermon you preached Sunday morning. While I'm not necessarily a proponent of "scaring the hell" out of people, I'm encouraged to hear you preach on the subject of heaven and hell. A lot of preachers don't do that today. However, I must tell you, performances like
this one during your sermon Sunday are not helping raise your "coolness score." Not to mention the theology of this particular song is not really biblical, but I digress. Please, pastor, just preach. Don't yell. Don't beat the sheep. Don't sing. Oh, please don't sing! Preach the Word (not your word, but THE Word) and people will respond. Or as Sarah so succinctly put it, "Just stop trying so hard."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Trouble Clef

video


"Trouble Clef," a video on Facebook by Jonathan Cordell starring Jim Whitmire. Duplicated here only because there are still people in the world who don't have Facebook pages.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The reviews are in... "Bellevue Combines Bad Fashion AND Bad Music"



For some inexplicable reason the much-hyped changes at BBC made the front page of the Commercial Appeal this morning (above the fold, no less). As someone said in the online comments section, "Front page news? Really? Memphis is indeed a backward little place, isn't it?"

A few select comments:


Hey Bellevue,

1997 called. It wants its contemporary service back. The Bellevue guy in the article says you are not embracing a fad. I would disgree, you have managed to adopt a fad from 15 years ago.

Come on guys, good preaching, discipleship, and targeted prolonged outreach go a long way towards the health of a church. And there is no doubt there are a lot good people and a lot of good things going on at Bellevue. So I suggest you just use those assets better to reach folks.

This whole 11:11 business seems a bit cheezy to me. If, as it appears to be the case, Steve Gaines is going to be around for a while, I recommend the follwing two changes instead.

1) Dr. Gaines, please stop referring to people of Far Eastern descent as "Orientals." I know you mean no harm but the proper term is Asian. Oriental=rug, Asian=People. Bless you, sir, but I've heard this several times from the pulpit. It just doesn't help your credibility to use outdated terms.

2) Let's get rid of all billboard ads, or if you don't want to do that, at least quit putting
huge pictures of your pastor's head with Bible verses below it but no scripture reference, just the pastor's name. (I've seen this, I-55 S, just south of Riverside drive.) I know you don't mean to do it, but it looks like you are attributing scripture to your pastor rather than to the Bible.

Just an outsider trying to give the outside perspective.



This is food for thought:

I am all for branching out... if that is what a church wants to do. But didn't Comm. Brooks try to hold a Kwanzaa event in a county-owned facility and there was an issue about that due to it being a religious program? I thought the county said no religious events in any county-owned property (or something like that). If you pay... you can play?!? Comm. Brooks should offer to rent a county-run school for her upcoming event.


Are you listening, President Obama?

Churches should be taxed and exposed for what they are...businesses.


Ouch.

So Fort God loosens its dress code so it can rake in more donations... er... I mean souls.


Yep...

If you want to know what it's all about, just follow the money!



Er... see above.

Wingo is Gaines' son-in-law. Nothing like nepotism to keep food on the table.


Certainly the prednisone is a contributing factor, but don't brag about always ordering the "dessert sampler plate" and obsess over food in nearly every sermon.

Gaines harboring of a pedophile is but one shameful thing he's done. For instance, he had the locks changed on the office to prevent Adrian Rogers (who was rapidly dying of cancer) from entering. He was offered the same amount of money Adrian Rogers made, but Gaines told them he couldn't live on it. Yes, he had the unmitigated gall to expect more money than a man who had been the faithful pastor for 30+ years (and Adrian Rogers used to refuse pay raises). Gaines is a narcissist par excellence. He is as the scribes and Pharisees described by our Lord in Matthew 23. He ties up heavy burdens for the people. He demands honor, and the uppermost seats. He does his deeds to be seen by others. He makes his phylacteries broad and his fringes long. And his rich enablers at Bellevue can't see it. I don't know how anyone who knows anything about him can sit under his preaching.

All that said, Gaines has a serious disease called myasthenia gravis which requires a heavy daily dose of prednisone, a steroid. He has now been on it for years and it has impacted his appearance. Criticize him for his actions, but leave his appearance alone, particularly when you don't know the facts
.


The impression...

JMO but when individual congregations get too big like BBC, the congregation itself becomes the focus of the church and not its religious message.

If I wanted to join an exclusive country club I would
.


I've wondered if this wasn't part of the reason behind "Bellevue Lo♥es Memphis" crews sprucing up county schools, (isn't that what we pay taxes for?), last year's taped message during a morning worship service from county mayor, A.C. Wharton, and appearances by various city and county politicians at church services. A little quid pro quo goin' on here?

For those that are concerned about Bellevue using a county school, it should be pointed out the the county schools have been using Bellevue free of charge for many years. Several schools hold their graduation services at Bellevue and some schools hold football camps at Bellevue as well. I also believed that city and county wide teachers meetings have been held at Bellevue at the beginning of school years in the past.

Also, Bellevue sends out volunteers to clean, repair and spruce up county and city schools once a quarter as part of their Bellevue Loves Memphis program
.



From the article:

"I was in the staff meeting when Adrian Rogers announced he was retiring (after 32 years in the pulpit)," said Jim Barnwell, director of communications. "He said it was time for a younger man to lead Bellevue Church, and I think music is one of the things implied in that."

Really, Jim? You think these extremes in "music" were what Dr. Rogers was "implying"? Personally, I think that whirring sound we've heard the past few years is coming from Memory Hill Gardens in Bartlett, but maybe I'm imagining things. I saw a clip from yesterday's "11:11" service, and all I could think was I'm glad Dr. Rogers isn't here to see this. Of course, if he were still here, we wouldn't be seeing this.

For all the hype leading up to this, from the clip I saw, it was all rather anti-climactic. Maybe they need to drag out the fog machines and funky lights from i2Memphis. Seeing Ryan Wingo dressed in a sloppy shirt and wrinkled khakis making goofy faces, strumming a guitar, and chewing on the mic is getting rather old.

Does anyone recognize the setting for
this? Is it a rock concert at FedEx Forum? A Saturday night fun fest at Autozone Park? No? Watch the whole video for the answer. You know, there is a good reason it's called "the sanctuary"!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Your Tax and Tithe Dollars at Work



For the second year (I suppose that establishes it as a "tradition" now) Bellevue has played host to at least two Shelby County and Memphis City School teacher in-service days in the church auditorium and fellowship hall. Last year's meetings were described here and in this comment from a teacher who attended:

I am a Shelby County teacher and former Bellevue member who attended our system-wide inservice at Bellevue on August 7. I was shocked that this inservice was allowed at Bellevue. A SCEA/TEA/NEA representative was allowed to speak and encourage membership from the pulpit! I never remember anyone from SCEA speaking at inservices in the past. But this year they were allowed and in a Baptist Church! I belong to the CEAI, Chrisian Educators Association International, and they are never allowed to openly encourage membership.

There was also a comic skit put on by a group of four (can't remember the group's name), paid for with our tax money. In the skit which lasted about 30 minutes, there was a joke about Chippendales, Sex Ed class, someone's rear end, and a slur against McCain, and all of this was from the pulpit!

And to top it off, there were merchants selling jewelry, clothing, purses, etc. in the lobby!

I can't believe this hasn't been discussed more, made the news, newspaper, etc. My heart was broken that Bellevue has veered so far from the conservative leadership of Dr. Rogers. Does anyone at Bellevue not remember the stance he took against the liberal NEA and what they stood for? This was just unbelievable!

August 16, 2008


More discussion followed
here beginning with the above, about the 12th comment down. (Sorry, permalinks don't appear to be working for that page.)

One would think after receiving criticism such as this that the church administration would either suggest the schools find another place to meet or at the very least set down some guidelines. However, that doesn't appear to be the case. After all, we wouldn't want to insult our guests by expecting them to adhere to certain standards, would we?

I received the following letter from the same Shelby County teacher last week with a request that I post it on the blog.

I am a Shelby County teacher and this is our second year to meet at Bellevue Baptist Church. I am ashamed to say I was ever a member of Bellevue. Today Phil Newberry welcomed the teachers and staff to Bellevue. Instead of having prayer for the 2010-2011 teachers and staff, he had a "moment of silence" as he stood under a banner that says, "My house shall be a house of prayer." I had a lot of respect for Phil Newberry but after today, I have lost it. Was he too embarrassed to have prayer or did he succumb to pressure from the school board that he only have a moment of silence?

Once again the SCEA president stood behind the pulpit to drum up support for the SCEA. And to think that some of the members' dues go to support the liberal NEA. On many occasions Dr. Rogers stood behind the same pulpit and told the congregation about the NEA's liberal agenda. They are in support of legalized abortions and homosexual rights, just to mention a few. They are one of the largest and most powerful lobbyist groups in Washington, D.C.

And then the speaker. I could not believe that he was allowed to speak in Bellevue's pulpit. He made a joke that some students were so bad that teachers might be tempted to smoke crack! He joked that teachers smoking crack probably had not been talked about in a Baptist church before! His talk was full of sexual innuendoes and other conversation that should not have been spoken from the pulpit.

As I was walking through the parking lot to my car, I heard 4 men talking about the speaker. I overheard one of them say to one of the other men that the speaker wasn't boring but he was close to forgetting that he was in a church and not in a nightclub. I don't know whether these men were Christians or not but they knew that this man should not be allowed behind the pulpit of the church.

I was embarrassed, angry, and hurt that Bellevue has strayed so far from the principles of God's word. The leadership of Bellevue will have to answer to God for compromising the Word of God.

August 29, 2009



Before someone trots out Matthew 18 as an example of how this situation should have been handled (which would not apply in this case anyway), the teacher stated she did write Phil Newberry but got no response.

Is this an indirect, if inadvertent, endorsement of the NEA by Bellevue Baptist Church?


The following resolution was passed at this year's NEA convention:

In implementation of the foregoing policies, the Representative Assembly adopts the following action plan with regard to same-sex couples:

1. NEA will support its affiliates seeking to enact state legislation that guarantees to same-sex couples the right to enter into a legally recognized relationship pursuant to which they have the same rights and benefits as similarly-situated heterosexual couples, including, without limitation, rights and benefits with regard to medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, and immigration.

2. NEA does not believe that a single term must be used to designate this legally recognized "equal treatment" relationship, and recommends that each state decide for itself whether "marriage," "civil union," "domestic partnership," or some other term is most appropriate based upon the cultural, social, and religious values of its citizenry.

3. NEA will support its affiliates in opposing state constitutional and/or statutory provisions that could have the effect of prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions from providing the same rights and benefits to same-sex couples as are provided to similarly-situated heterosexual couples.

4. NEA will take such actions as may be appropriate to support efforts to (a) repeal any federal legislation and/or regulations that discriminate against same-sex couples, and (b) enact federal legislation and/or regulations that treat same-sex couples and similarly-situated heterosexual couples equally with regard to social security, health care, taxation, and other federal rights and benefits.

5. NEA recognizes that the term "marriage" has religious connotations and that same-sex marriages may not be compatible with the beliefs, values, and/or practices of certain religions. Because of its support for the separation of church and state and the right to religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, NEA supports the right of religious institutions to refuse to perform or recognize same-sex marriages.


Sounds an awful lot like the original form of the Shelby County Commission ordinance that Steve Gaines was so vocal in protesting, doesn't it?

Here is a list of NEA resolutions from 2007-2008. Even a cursory reading of this document will give you an idea of some of the agendas promoted by this organization which are contrary to what most Baptists believe. Here are but three examples:


1. Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identification Discrimination

The National Education Association believes in the equality of all individuals. Discrimination and stereotyping based on such factors as race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, ethnicity, immigration status, occupation, and religion must be eliminated.

The Association also believes that these factors should not affect the legal rights and obligations of the partners in a legally recognized domestic partnership, civil union, or marriage in regard to matters involving the other partner, such as medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, and immigration.

The Association further believes that plans, activities, and programs for education employees, students, parents/guardians, and the community should be developed to identify and eliminate discrimination and stereotyping in all educational settings. Such plans, activities, and programs must:

a. Increase respect, understanding, acceptance, and sensitivity toward individuals and groups in a diverse society composed of such groups as American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered persons, and people with disabilities

b. Eliminate discrimination and stereotyping in curricula, textbooks, resource and instructional materials, activities, etc.

c. Foster the dissemination and use of nondiscriminatory and nonstereotypical language, resources, practices, and activities

d. Eliminate institutional discrimination

e. Integrate an accurate portrayal of the roles and contributions of all groups throughout history across curricula, particularly groups that have been underrepresented historically

f. Identify how prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination have limited the roles and contributions of individuals and groups, and how these limitations have challenged and continue to challenge our society

g. Eliminate subtle practices that favor the education of one student over another on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, ethnicity, or religion

h. Encourage all members of the educational community to examine assumptions and prejudices, including, but not limited to, racism, sexism, and homophobia, that might limit the opportunities and growth of students and education employees

i. Offer positive and diverse role models in our society, including the recruitment, hiring, and promotion of diverse education employees in our public schools

j. Coordinate with organizations and concerned agencies that promote the contributions, heritage, culture, history, and special health and care needs of diverse population groups

k. Promote a safe and inclusive environment for all.


2. Diversity

The National Education Association believes that a diverse society enriches all individuals.

Similarities and differences among race, ethnicity, color, national origin, language, geographic location, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, age, physical ability, size, occupation, and marital, parental, or economic status form the fabric of a society.

The Association also believes that education should foster the values of appreciation and acceptance of the various qualities that pertain to people as individuals and as members of diverse populations.

The Association further believes in the importance of observances, programs, and curricula that accurately portray and recognize the roles, contributions, cultures, and history of these diverse groups and individuals.

The Association encourages affiliates and members to become part of programs and observances that may include cultural and heritage celebrations and/or history months.


3. Home Schooling

The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.

The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools.

The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting.


I will leave it to the teacher above and others to show the NEA supports legalized abortion.

And I will ask the administration of Bellevue to prayerfully consider if this is the sort of program they think reflects favorably on the church and its mission.


Love God
Love People
Share Jesus
Make Disciples


Exactly how does lending your pulpit to a "nightclub act" accomplish that?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Troublemakers in the Church... or How to Throw a Tantrum!



Sunday night's sermon by Steve Gaines was yet another sheep beater. Why is this man so angry? He loudly and angrily implores people to be "peacemakers," but his definition of a "peacemaker" seems to be someone who'll never question "Pastor" or his agenda, no matter how innocently or politely, and never express any sort of disagreement with "God's anointed and appointed authority," namely Steve Gaines. And if you dare question him or hesitate to swallow and follow like a lemming off a cliff, you're automatically labeled a "troublemaker."
Watch him in action.

It seems at least some of the staff is carrying the torch, too. See the June 29th and July 6th "Morning Mullings" articles. As someone who read both articles said, it's amazing how some use (and misuse) the Old Testament to support an agenda. "They write to please their king and because they are taught to think like him, they probably really believe it." Sadly, that's the only explanation I can think of.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Changes, Part Deux



More staff shakeups were announced at BBC last night. Phil Newberry, current Student Minister, says Steve Gaines approached him six weeks ago yesterday (that would have been May 20th) about becoming the "campus pastor" for the Arlington satellite. He said, "Jeanne and I began to pray through that. It took several weeks to pray through that. And a few weeks ago we accepted." (Several weeks + a few weeks = 6?)

Watch the video of Phil Newberry addressing the adults
here.

See Phil addressing the students
here.

Phil answers questions about the "11:11" service.

Phil discusses the Arlington campus.

So Phil Newberry is resigning as "Minister, Students" August 1st to become "Campus Pastor" for the new Arlington campus. According to Phil, Steve and David Coombs "shared their vision" and said they "prayed through it" and felt Phil was "the one to lead it."



Gregg Hauss is resigning as "Minister, Senior High" August 1st to go to the Arlington campus as "Discipleship Pastor."

"Pastor and David" instructed Phil to begin a nationwide search for the next student and senior high pastors. (So Phil was instructed to find his own replacement?) Phil says, "In the same meeting within the same 60 seconds, I boldly... and... correctly... said... 'The search is over. Don't have to pray about it. Don't have to seek anyone. I believe the student pastor to lead us into the next generation... the next... he'll be here for 30 years... okay... is Jason Pyron.' Love this man, and I promise you this. Forty-three thousand Southern Baptist churches... no need to look beyond the gift that we have in Jason and Dorie."




So glad at least Phil appreciated Jason and saw the wisdom in promoting someone already on staff! (And seriously, who wants to have to conduct a nationwide search for his own successor unless he's being promoted to "senior pastor"?) Jason Pyron seems to be a worthy choice whom the kids already know and like. So he will be promoted from "Minister, Middle School" to "Minister, Students" on August 1st.

That leaves the middle school and high school positions open. Regarding that, Phil says, "Monday, Jason, Pastor, and David interviewed a young man, and today (Wednesday) Jason, Pastor, and David interviewed a second young man. We believe God is in it for these two to come in and join our staff."



Jeff Howard is reportedly staying put as "Director, Student Discipleship and 6th Grade."

Leslie (Hollowell) and Jennie (McKay) will also continue in their current positions.

Phil says, "Ben Cole will be on board with us." (This is NOT the Ben Cole of "SBC Outpost" fame.)

There are four others leaving the student ministry staff at the "main campus" to go to Arlington which will, according to Phil, leave four positions to be filled.

1. Part-time children's director at Arlington will be Lana Kimery.

2. Julie Jordan, who has worked with Phil for 7 years, will be going to Arlington to be a "coordinator/secretary."

3. Ryan Wingo will be leading the music at Arlington. (How's that going to work out with the "11:11" thing back at the "main campus"?)

4. The new "student pastor" for the Arlington campus will be Scott Griffin. You may recall Mr. Griffin from his co-starring role in the 2006 and 2007 Part 1 and 2007 Part 2 Bellevue Intern Christmas Videos.

And who can forget Playing Dodgeball aka "Slacking Off at Work and Making Fools of Ourselves." Phil plays a cameo role in this one. (Will he have to give up that cushy office with the private bath when he goes to Arlington?)

Phil says, "Because of the new church start, we did not feel financially justified to bring someone in full-time, but we thought let's bring someone in part-time to work because students... those students by the way... will be plugged in and they'll have their own student pastor (who has hopefully matured a lot in the past 1 1/2 years), but when it comes time for Disciple Now, they're plugged in here. When it comes time for going to Gatlinburg and winter camp, they go with this group, all right? We ARE Bellevue. And so we're still much a part of the whole, but we needed someone to be the face of the student ministry at Arlington. And once again, we didn't have to look far for this. So, Scott Griffin, would you stand? Brittany? {applause} Praise God. We are thrilled to death... uh... when I pulled Scott aside a couple of weeks ago and asked him for the two of them to consider this, uh... I... uh... it was an obvious fit."

On a side note, Grant Gaines has written a paper...

Exegetical Critique of Multi-Site: Disassembling the Church?

He concludes...

In view of the fact that multi-site churches are outside the bounds of Scripture, why not plant churches and maintain close cooperation with an associational type of model? This practice has the potential to preserve many of the "benefits" of the multi-site approach, while simultaneously respecting the biblical nature of the local church as assembly.

While I don't agree with all his reasoning or even that multi-site churches are necessarily unscriptural (what does "liberalism" or the "Conservative Resurgence" have to do with multi-site churches?), I agree with his conclusion. Surely this must make for some interesting conversations whenever the "Gaines boys" get together!

A summary of the changes previously announced can be read on pages 4 and 5
here.

Some of the areas the committee and staff are reviewing:

• Additional Bellevue campuses throughout the Mid-South area

• Evangelism opportunities and discipleship training

• Sunday worship and platform refurbishing and modernization

• Prayer Ministry/Center

• Student/College areas update and renovation

• West Foyer, Bookstore and Coffee Shop, with enhanced fellowship areas. (You forgot to mention the bistro.)

• Pastoral Care improvements for ministry and training

• Bellevue Woods’ alignment with the mission of the church

• Recreation/Fitness and enhanced senior adult activities. (Is this the water aerobics SG mentioned?)

• Enhanced use of the Appling Road campus by members and guests

• Student Building planning and development

And what, exactly, do they mean by "aligning" Bellevue Woods with the "ministry of the church"?

So for now, that's it. Who knows what the next phase will bring?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's with all the yelling and anger?



I saw this statement on another blog:

By the way, the theme for this year's Southern Baptist Convention: "Love Loud: Actions Speak Louder Than Words."

When I read that I laughed. "Loud" seems to be the operative word these days. Steve Gaines yells even when he doesn't seem to be emphasizing a point. He seems angry all the time now. Mac Brunson was
criticized for preaching on Christian civility and love while yelling. Wade Burleson sums it up here:

"I couldn't help but have two thoughts reverberate in my head as Mac preached on Christian civility and love - (1) Why is he yelling so loud? Usually, loud preaching is not bothersome [obviously he hasn't listened to SG lately], but there seemed to be a disconnect between a preacher talking about Christian civility and love while yelling at the people who he says (those of us in the congregation) aren't showing it, and (2) I wonder what Mac's church member - the one who criticized Mac on his blog and then was issued a trespass warning without ever being personally contacted by Mac - was thinking?"

I know what he was thinking. The same thing Wade was thinking.

For the past 2-3 years, Bellevue has been about a year ahead of FBC Jacksonville in this whole "transitioning" process. Remember transitioning? Looks like Jacksonville is catching up.

I found
this video of Mac Brunson addressing his congregation to be quite telling. At first one might think the comparisons to Robert Tilton and Benny Hinn to be comparing apples to oranges, but are they really? I mean, is there really any difference between the "prosperity gospel" preached by these charlatans and the preaching of Mac Brunson and Steve Gaines? And again we hear the yelling and arrogance dripping from his lips as he tells his congregants, in a word, "I told you so."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Changes


Update: Audio from the Wednesday night leadership meeting is now up!

This is a 90-minute audio-only file which begins with an introduction from Steve Gaines, followed by a mini concert by Ryan Wingo, and a 70-minute monologue by SG. The real "meat" begins at 19:10 if you want to FF past the pre-preview of the "less traditional, acoustic-led service with a praise band." I highly recommend you listen to at least the first few minutes and the last 70 minutes of this tape. It's tedious and painful in places, and you may have to listen to it in small segments and go back and listen to parts of it several times to get it all. (This is why I recommend downloading it. No doubt at several points you'll find yourself thinking, "Did he really say that?") There are a lot more changes in the works, and only by listening to the entire tape will you be fully informed (or at least as "fully informed" as the leadership will allow you to be at this time). This will also help dispel inaccurate rumors, several of which I've already heard.

Remember over a year ago we heard rumors of plans for such things as a coffee shop, an escalator replacing the big staircase in the west lobby, sofas filling the west lobby, and removal of the big crosses because some people found them "offensive"? The detractors came out of the woodwork and denied any of those things had ever been considered. After hearing nothing further until last night, I had decided those things had simply been pushed to the back burner, but because of the integrity of my sources I always believed there had been discussions of all these things. Granted, discussions don't always mean plans are in the works, but we now know that plans for at least two of those four things are moving forward. (You'll have to listen to the audio to learn which two!)

Go here to download and listen at your leisure (preferred). The file is almost 42MB and may take a few minutes to download.

Go here to listen if you can't download such a large file.

It was announced Sunday morning that beginning Sunday, September 13th, Bellevue is going to a new Sunday morning worship service format.

9:30 Announcement

11:00 Announcement

A "preview" is planned for both the 9:30 and 11:00 services next Sunday, June 21st. The new format will reportedly include a "traditional" service at 9:30 a.m. which will include the choir and orchestra. Whether "traditional" means traditional in the true sense of the word or if it just means the same "blended" service they already have is yet to be seen. I suspect the latter. It will be the same "blended" format currently in use.

The second service is moving to 11:11 a.m. and will feature a "less traditional, acoustic-led service with a praise band." The word "contemporary" was never uttered, nor was the name Ryan Wingo, but both were clear. Bye bye, Jamie Parker. Hello, Ryan Wingo! I've predicted for over a year that RW would eventually replace JP. It was never a question of if but when. RW doesn't seem to do "traditional," so I've no doubt this is being done primarily to accommodate him, a move which seems more than a bit disingenuous after all the times Steve Gaines has insisted that Bellevue will not have separate services based on style. How many times have we heard him strongly emphasize that Bellevue will have a "blended" service at 9:30 and 11:00 and that we will all worship together?

Here was the answer from the "Communications Committee" about the music:

Why did the music change?

For years, Dr. Adrian Rogers sought to have a blended style of worship. When Dr. Rogers retired in March 2005, Dr. Jim Whitmire led us to update our music while continuing to have a blended style of traditional and non-traditional songs. When Dr. Gaines came in September 2005, he encouraged this process to continue. Dr. Gaines has said he wants all of us to worship together and to not divide the congregation over music with separate traditional and non-traditional music services. The objective is to have a blend of approximately 50 percent hymns and 50 percent new songs in each service.


I can't help but wonder how this is going to work for people who attend Sunday School. If you go to an 8:00 class but want to attend a "less traditional, acoustic-led service with a praise band," you have nearly two hours to kill in between. If you attend a 9:30 class and want to attend the "traditional" service, I guess you're out of luck. If you attend an 11:00 class and want to attend the 11:11 service, again, you're out of luck. It seems with the declining attendance and shrinking budget receipts the most logical thing to do would be to go to one "blended" worship service at 9:30 and move all SS classes to 8:00 and 11:00 (or 8:00 OR 11:00). It would save on utilities and on a really good Sunday they might even come close to filling the auditorium. Have all Sunday School classes meet at 8:00, and Steve can keep his watch on and preach as long as he wants!

Germantown Baptist used this format for a while. The 9:30 traditional service would be packed while the 11:00 contemporary service would be sparsely attended. Eventually they eliminated the 11:00 service. It seems first-time visitors would come to the 11:00 service and be so turned off by the whole thing they would never return.

Other than to stroke Steve's new son-in-law, I can't possibly understand why they think this is going to be any more successful at BBC than it was at GBC. Will they be bringing in the funky lights, backdrops, and smoke machines to add ambience?

The idea for a contemporary service at 11:11 isn't original. Second Baptist in Houston, Texas has been doing the
same thing for some time. In searching for examples of other churches with 11:11 services, I came across thousands of hits for something called the "11:11 phenomenon." Here are but two:

The 11:11 Phenomenon

The Meaning of 11:11

I'd never heard of this, but apparently 11:11 has significant meanings in numerology. Whether the time 11:11 was chosen because it's easy to remember (easier than 11:00?), because it sounds cute, because Ed Young's megachurch does it, so SG will have time between services to change from a suit and tie to more casual attire, or for some other reason, considering the connotations which accompany "11:11," Bellevue might want to rethink this particular idea.

It wouldn't be the first time something appeared to be changed because of questionable associations. I'm sure anyone who's been inside Bellevue's auditorium or has seen TV or internet broadcasts of Bellevue's services has at one time or another noticed the large "JESUS" banner hung from the ceiling above the pulpit.

When that banner first went up (what year, anyone?) there was a large inverted triquetra symbol on the bottom of it.


Sometime in early 2006 the banner was removed, and the triquetra was replaced with a simple gold crown.


The question has always been why? Why go to the trouble of taking it down and having someone remove and replace the symbol and then rehang it? I'm willing to entertain the possibility there's an innocent explanation. Or perhaps the answer lies
here. It seems the triquetra, traditionally a symbol for the Trinity, is sometimes also associated with the occult, especially when inverted. A couple of years ago I talked with a lady whose adult child visited BBC after being away a while who said her child was shocked to see the inverted triquetra symbol on the banner. It was a short time later she noticed it was changed. So, did someone else notice it, too, and clue them in?

Trinity Baptist Church in Cordova has made liberal use of the triquetra (non-inverted) in their church. The church happens to be on Trinity Road, and the symbol appears on everything from their sign to their website to their publications to their choir bibs. Even their bimonthly newsletter is called The Triquetra. If one was offended by a single appearance of the triquetra on a banner at Bellevue, then one might be advised to wear a garlic necklace and carry a crucifix to enter Trinity!

Look, I am not offended by the triquetra or the use of 11:11. When I see the triquetra I understand it represents the Trinity -- although the inverted version doesn't make much sense. I think "11:11" is at worst a bit gimmicky, but to me it's not offensive. All I'm saying is if the triquetra was obliterated because of its inferred association with the occult, then by the same logic, shouldn't "11:11" be ditched because of its association with numerology? It would be a shame to print "11:11" on all those publications only to find out later that it has sinister connotations.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang



Christa Brown has written a new book entitled This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang. Since I haven't had a chance to read it, I can't yet offer a review; however, Christa introduces it here and here.

Associated Baptist Press > Book says SBC lacks system of preventing sexual abuse

Some of the responses have been interesting (albeit predictable) as illustrated in this subsequent
blog article.

I said this article would have little to do with BBC, and that's true. It seems the PW story was one of so many that it was mentioned only in a footnote on page 165.

Christa says, "I think I've finally figured out how this all works. It's pretty simple really: Once you say that you were sexually abused by a Baptist minister, it doesn't really matter WHAT you do because, if you've opened your mouth, there will be plenty of stone-throwing no matter what. (I wish Baptist leaders would just post a sign somewhere and say this up-front. That would be easier -- at least we would know what to expect. You know... sort of like a no trespass sign: 'WARNING: No talking clergy abuse survivors allowed in Baptist-land.')"

Congratulations on your new book, Christa, and thank you for all you do to keep the spotlight on the problem of clergy sexual abuse and your support of the victims.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows



This week the Shelby County Board of Commissioners considered an ordinance that would prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender employees. The same rules would apply to contractors who do work for the county as well as private businesses in unincorporated areas of Shelby County. Alliances of disparate groups formed quickly, and their protests were loud.

County ordinance targets discrimination against gay, transgender people

On Tuesday, May 26th, a group of local pastors and protestors on both sides met for a news conference in front of the Shelby County administrative building.

Memphis pastors, county commissioner speak against anti-discrimination measure

Video

In a vote the following day the proposed ordinance did not receive a deciding vote with the vote split 5-5 with two abstentions. The proposal will be read before the full commission on Monday where it must pass three readings to become law.

Anti-discrimination policy fails to gain majority support in Shelby committee

In a surprising classic example of politics making strange bedfellows, Steve Gaines was a guest on Thaddeus Matthews' radio program Tuesday afternoon. Thaddeus Matthews, for the uninformed, hosts a talk radio program on AM 990 KWAM in Memphis. No stranger to controversy, the foul-mouthed, seemingly sex-obsessed Matthews does not mind taking on many controversial subjects. To his credit he's exposed a lot of the corruption in Memphis and Shelby County government some of the local black churches.

Then he made headlines last year when he posted autopsy photos of one of the victims of the Lester Street murders on his
blog. (Warning: Content, particularly in the comment threads, is likely to be offensive!)

Postmortem photos draw ire

I had never listened to Matthews' radio show until reviewing Tuesday's broadcast. I listened to most of it live Wednesday. I can only describe the man as a cross between Rush Limbaugh, Mark Driscoll, Eddie Murphy, and Charles Barkley -- loud, obnoxious, opinionated, and, I have to admit, often right. He spent the better part of Wednesday's show talking with callers about rumors regarding the sexual orientation of a number of local black pastors and church musicians as well as a lively and graphic discussion of oral sex and homosexual acts. Then he preached a little in the last hour, actually making some good points -- interspersed with a few more expletives. That's why the guy is such a enigma. He's not stupid. He says what he thinks, and he sticks with his position and defends it well, but after listening to him you experience an overwhelming need to take a shower and wash your ears out with soap.

You can listen to Steve Gaines' interview with Thaddeus Matthews
here. (May take a while to load. The interview begins at 4:50 if you want to skip ahead.) There's a rather disgusting conversation between Matthews and a female caller at the beginning (which will give you a good idea of the caliber of his program and many of his callers), then the interview with Pastor Gaines in which Gaines defends his position thoughtfully and clearly, followed by some closing commentary by Matthews and a commercial that I think you'll find worth the wait.

I'm going to assume Steve Gaines has never listened to Matthews' radio program or read his blog.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We great leaders have our critics!



One would think after Sunday's "Joan Rivers' twin" blunder, Steve Gaines would be a little more careful to take a few minutes to research his sermon illustrations before stating them as fact. Yet just three days later we hear him attributing a quote to Abraham Lincoln that Abraham Lincoln didn't say.

In this
clip he talks about great leaders and how great leaders always have their critics. He seems to be lumping himself in with some high company here -- Jesus, Paul, Peter, Spurgeon....

Enough with the "poor me, I'm so persecuted" schtick! Leaders lead by example, not by empty words. Great leaders don't need to tell everyone what great leaders they are. People will naturally follow a great leader.

Here's a quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln for you, Brother Steve:

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Joan Rivers' Twin?



This morning Steve Gaines told a story, as factual, to illustrate a point about the worth of a woman's inner beauty versus her outer beauty. At least I think that was the point. Or maybe the point was attractive women can't cook. I wasn't entirely sure.

Here's
a clip from the 9:30 service.

And
a clip from the 11:00 service.

Note how emphatic he is in the second one. "Joan Rivers... has a twin sister! A twin... sister!"

A minimal amount of Googling would have revealed that Joan Rivers was born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York, on June 8, 1933 (or '35, '37, or '39, depending on the source). She has one older sister named Barbara Molinsky (update: Barbara Cushman Waxler obituary), not a twin... although
this person might understandably be mistaken for Joan's twin!

This is reminiscent of a
sermon he preached two years ago where he told about attending a marathon in Nashville the day before. Photos of the winners were flashed on the IMAG, and it was stated the wheelchair winner was a man from Germantown. Only problem with all that was those were the winners from the year before.

Here we are two years later, and you think he would have learned, but alas there still seems to be a serious case of...

Update (September 4, 2014):  Joan Rivers died today at the age of 81.  RIP, Joan.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Jamie Parker Gone Going Still Going Gone



Note: For those of you searching for information on Jamie Parker (and you are legion), Jamie was the minister of music at First Baptist Church, Dyersburg, TN for a little over a year after he left Bellevue. (Apparently they don't ever update their website as he was never listed.)

As of January 1, 2011 he's at Cross Church (Ronnie Floyd) in Springdale, Arkansas. Watch.

May 2012: Jamie Parker is now at Bayside Baptist Church in Harrison, TN (suburb of Chattanooga).

It was learned this week that Minister of Music Jamie Parker is among the latest casualties left in Steve Gaines' wake. Without going into great detail (because no one but the parties involved knows all the details and that is not the purpose of this post) Jamie was reportedly informed by Steve Gaines in late March that he needed to seek other employment, but apparently it was understood he would be allowed to remain for a while until he could find another position. It was thought Sunday would be his last day, but that apparently changed.

The only question I have is what happened to that "covenant relationship" that Steve has stated he has with Jamie... the assurance that wherever Steve is, Jamie will always have a place? Steve brought Jamie from Gardendale with the promise of a secure future here. Jamie and Dana bought a large, beautiful home on several acres of land in the country thinking Jamie would eventually retire from Bellevue. Now they're stuck during the worst economic times in decades with a big mortgage and an uncertain immediate future.

It's no secret a lot of people were disappointed at the way Jim Whitmire was forced to "retire" when Steve Gaines came. No doubt that situation could have been handled a lot differently and much better than it was. Some said Jim was tired and needed to take it easy. So tired, I suppose, that when he left Bellevue he spent several months flying back and forth to Dallas every weekend to serve as interim minister of music at FBC Dallas, then took the full-time minister of music position at GBC, and now serves as full-time minister of music at FBC Jax. But life goes on.

Jamie came in January 2006 amid much fanfare and immediately made some changes in the music program which were unpopular with some. However, he seemed to hit his stride after a while and seemed to hit a happy medium with most people. In my opinion, Jamie is now being thrown under the bus, just like many fine staff members before him.




I think a lot of people saw this coming when Mark Blair was brought on board to handle "special productions." Then Mark was given even more responsibilities as evidenced by
this letter sent to the choir. I take no satisfaction in the fact I predicted this outcome six months ago. Almost two years ago we learned Steve Gaines was trying to blame the declining attendance numbers on the music. Then Jamie and the music department took the fall for the infamous dance routine. Ryan Wingo and his trademark guitar have been increasingly "front and center" in worship services.

There is no doubt Jamie Parker loves the Lord, is very talented, and God has a better place for him. Dana, with her beautiful voice and sweet spirit has been an asset to the church and choir and will no doubt be a source of strength and support to Jamie during these uncertain days.

To Jamie and Dana, I wish you all the best and want you to always remember that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." It probably doesn't feel like it right now, but God has bigger things for you than Bellevue. Take your talent, that winning smile, and those big dimples and go... serve... Him! Remember that men will always disappoint you but God never will. Stay strong and always stay faithful. God has great things in store for you both!

Who can forget this?



The purpose of this post is not to criticize Jamie Parker or this blog. Please use the comments section to express your appreciation for Jamie's years of service at Bellevue and your fond or funny memories of Jamie and Dana Parker.