Friday, December 26, 2008

Dr. Loney asks, "Why justa week?"

Our esteemed resident physician, Dr. Bill Loney, asks an interesting question about all the to doin's goin' on this time of year. In a new article on his blog, he opines not only about the true "reason for the season" but asks why it should necessitate a whole commercialized "season" for us to do what we should already be doing all year. Good questions, Dr. Loney, very good questions.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sex sells!

Ed Young, pastor of
Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, and son of Ed Young, longtime pastor of Second Baptist, Houston, caused quite a splash last week with his "Seven Days of Sex" errr... progr... uhhh... stud... errr... series. The younger Young is sometimes referred to as "Ed Young, Jr.," but technically he's not a junior (different middle name than dad's). Ed Young, the younger, is but one of a generation of young, hip, primarily non-denominational, megachurch (or megachurch wannabe) pastors. You may recall this strange video he posted of himself last year. And this one.

The Dallas Morning News

The first sermon in this series can be seen
here. It's entitled, strangely and appropriately enough, "Leaving Lust Vegas - Toilet Water." Instead of a pulpit, he had a real toilet in the middle of the stage upon which he plopped his open Bible.

The idea for this... series... didn't originate with Ed Young. A.R. Williams, pastor of World Overcomers Church in Memphis, the mostly black megachurch that built this monstrosity, delivered a similar... performance... almost a year ago. You can read the whole story here and here.

Here's the scene:

"Members of World Overcomers were shocked on last Sunday morning when they entered the place where they assemble to worship God. In the pulpit was a queen-sized bed draped in burgundy and gold.

"Members were wondering why the place that normally Pastor Alton R. Williams preaches the word of God from had turned into a large bedroom, when he entered wearing a robe and pajama pants with his Bible in hand. The lights are dimmed, mood music is playing. Williams at this point lies on the bed reading from the Songs of Solomon.

"While still reading the Bible his wife Sherrilyn enters the sanctuary wearing a long red-feathered, seductive-fitting gown. Mrs. Williams very seductively walks across the pulpit-turned-bedroom and sits on the bed next to her husband. She closes his Bible and begins to rub on him, and then lifts him from the bed and very passionately embraces and kisses him. Pastor Williams, whose Sunday morning freak session is designed to save marriages, tells the women in the congregation, 'This is how to keep your husband so the Hoe don't get him.'"

Kinda makes you wonder how low these "pastors" can go!

Ed Young's blog provides more interesting reading.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Is "The Big One" just around the corner?

There's been speculation for well over a year that Steve and/or Donna Gaines will be somehow involved in or the focus of some big "miracle" presumably calculated to draw in the masses. Along with the "name it and claim it" topic of late, we now have a "miracle" of sorts. True, this one doesn't involve either of the Gaineses, but hey, I guess it's close -- considering it's Steve's deacon chairman.

With giving down and staff layoffs on the horizon a reality, could this be the precursor to "The Big One"?


Quote from Steve: "God is an encouraging God, is he not? And God will do those... ummm... now listen. He... he may not turn electricity on for you. But he might do something else... if you'll just look around, God is encouraging you. Sometimes, though, you're just not receiving it... because you're not looking for it."

What's next? Huckstering anointing oil and prayer cloths at the end of BBC's Sunday morning broadcasts? "Faith nails" and "miracle coins" in the bookstore?

Joel, Oral, and Benny would be proud!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Jesus Delivers to Your Home!

In both September 21st morning services, Steve Gaines told this story about Donna wanting a new dining room set. He claimed they couldn't afford to go out and buy one, so he'd been setting aside "just a little" money every month.

The scene: Steve is at home on Saturday afternoon, grilling in the back yard with the family, when the doorbell rings. (Just wondering if you can hear your doorbell in your back yard? Maybe they've got a speaker back there.) He goes to the door, and there stand two men with a furniture truck behind them.

One of them exclaims, "Hey, you're the preacher on TV! We watch you on television on Sunday morning!"

Steve said, "Who are you? Heh heh heh heh."

He said the man laughed and said, "Uh, my name is so-and-so. We're from High Point, North Carolina."

Okay, time out for a second here. If these men are from North Carolina, how do they watch Steve Gaines on television? Bellevue's services are broadcast on two channels -- Channel 3 and Channel 50, both local Memphis stations.

Back to the story...

He [one of the men] said, "We got a truck out here with uhhh... furniture on it that is discontinued. We had already made a couple of deliveries in the neighborhood, but we just decided to randomly go up and down the street and knock on doors and see if anybody needed any furniture."

Now, at this point, would a prudent, intelligent person not ask himself why two guys in a tractor trailer rig (from High Point, NC) would be going door to door in his Cordova, TN neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon selling furniture off their truck? Basically, there are two possibilities. The stuff is either junk or it's hot, perhaps both. Apparently plenty of other people, when confronted with the same scenario, have asked themselves that same
question. Was this really "uncharted waters," too?

Here is a good
article from 2005 on this same scam.

And while the price may have been attractive, and assuming it wasn't stolen, what about the

9:30 Video

At the beginning of this version we hear Steve explaining why they can't afford a dining room set. "So we... you know... we didn't have... have... you know... we didn't... we... I'm not poormouthing... I'm just saying... you know... we got kids in college, 's with a wedding, and all that.... " Have you ever noticed when Steve Gaines is uhhh... "not embellishing"... he stumbles all over himself?

In this version he says, "We went out and looked at 'em [dining room sets]. Have you priced them lately? May... m... m... may I just say this to you? Sev... simply... five hundred dollars won't buy one."

Near the end he says, "I'm telling you, it was about a fourth [the price] of the stuff we'd been seeing out in these stores." (Compare these two statements to what he said at 11:00.)

He ends with, "And if you don't agree with that story, I don't want one letter about our dining room suit. Amen? Not one!" So much for talking with the pastor. He doesn't want to hear from anyone who doesn't agree with him about everything. And people have criticized former members for not going to the pastor? He's about as approachable as a rattlesnake. (Not calling him a snake at all.)

11:00 Video

In this version, Steve is again explaining why they can't afford a dining room set. He says, "And we've had a wedding lately. We have two kids in college, and we're buying cars and and things like that, you know... for... for kids and helping them with that and all that... so... so I said, 'Lord, you know, we just don't have it, Lord.'" I'm sorry, but Steve Gaines very conservatively has to be making at least $300K a year. He gets a housing allowance (tax free). The church gave him a new SUV. He certainly gets other perks. And he can't afford a dining room set?! Puhleaze!

Then he assures us (again) he's not lying. He says, "Now this is the truth. I'm not embellishing it. I... I... wish... you... you... could just see my heart to know that there's no embellishment in this whatsoever. This is not just a good preacher illustra.... This is the truth." Such Herculean efforts to convince us he's not "embellishing"!

Later he says, "Now you think I'm making this up. Am I making this up? She's [Donna] on the front row."

Then regarding shopping, "We don't have time to go look for that kind of stuff. We stay busy, and we don't have time to go shopping." Hmmm... at 9:30 he talked about shopping for and pricing dining room sets. Now they're so busy they don't have time to shop!

Moral of the story? "God delivered a dining room set to us with ten chairs and a hutch, and I paid $200 less than I'd set aside. God delivers when you seek him first. Amen? Amen!" {applause}

Or... there's a sucker born every minute.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Extravagant? Or embarrassing?

The past two Sundays have brought us some real gems. In the 9:30 service Steve Gaines referred to his version of something as the "Steve Gaines version." In the 11:00 service he said the "King Steve version," then quickly said, "Cut that."

From a sermon entitled "Extravagant Worship" we have these embarrassing (and admittedly embellished) moments:

About the Music

On Plagiarizing Sermons

On Leaving in a Hurry

Preaching to the Choir (and Orchestra)

From this Sunday night's sermon, entitled "Corrupt Priests, Crooked Politicians, and Courageous Preachers," we heard these:

this from the "King Steve version"?

This is just so wrong!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The "New" Bellevue

Update: The uncut, unedited version has resurfaced.

On Sunday morning, July 13th, both services at Bellevue opened with a rousing choir number with a stage full of young, barefoot, writhing, cavorting, "interpretive" dancers. Apparently several people in the congregation walked out then, and the church office received a number of complaints on Monday.

By the middle of the week, the video archive of this service had been edited, with the baptismal service and dance number cut out. However, we have now been provided with an uncut version. So here, for your viewing... uh... pleasure... is the mysterious, vanishing dance video.

Steve Gaines, who was not present for the performance, apologized to the congregation the following Sunday. He wasn't out of town or anything; he just attended another local church. Yet this Sunday night he stated, "You can't find anywhere in the Bible where a layman told an elder what to do." Sheep have no voice. Not as long as there are still the "elders we didn't know we had."


Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Legacy of Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler

There's an interesting thread going on the FBC Jacksonville blog regarding Dr. Sheri Klouda, the Hebrew professor at SWBTS who was fired by Paige Patterson because she happens to be female. While the article is written in the context of FBC Jax's Mac Brunson being less than truthful when he used Dr. Klouda's lawsuit as an illustration in a recent Sunday night sermon, it provides an opportunity for Dr. Klouda to respond to allegations that she was offered another position at SWBTS for the same pay and that it was somehow her fault that her family experienced financial difficulties.

Wade Burleson wrote a detailed article about the case

SBC Outpost has more relevant commentary

How did we get to this point?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What is "church"?

This Is Church

by Scott Wesley Brown, Dwight Liles and Niles Borop

Sunday morn, Africa, hear the children sing.
Before an altar in the bush they praise the King of Kings.
Pastor stands, prays a prayer, earth beneath his feet.
Thank You, Lord, for You are good; You bless us when we meet.

This is church when we gather round to praise the Lord above.
This is church when we walk in truth
And show each other love. Not of wood or bricks and stone, but of people first;
Anywhere God’s children are, brothers this is church.

Sunday morn, Siberia, deep within the wood.
Under blue cathedral skies they read the Holy Book.
Pastor kneels and prays a prayer, sun upon his face.
Thank You, Lord, for You are good to meet us in this place.

This is church when we gather round to praise the Lord above.
This is church when we walk in truth
And show each other love. Not of wood or bricks and stone, but of people first;
Anywhere God’s children are, brothers this is church.

Sunday morn, Jerusalem, many years ago,
the first believers gathered there and the Spirit flowed.
They broke the bread and prayed a prayer, met each others’ needs.
The Father saw that they were one
And His heart was pleased.

There has been some discussion lately about what the purpose of church is and I think would warrant a good discussion.


What is the purpose of church?

1) For sinners to be saved?
2) For believers to worship God?
3) For believers to learn about God?
4) For believers to fellowship?

How often should we be in church? Is "Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night" scriptural or a fairly new tradition?

How do the SBC and Cooperative Program line up with Scripture regarding a church's responsibilities?

Is there a "better way" to "do church" than we are seeing? What should change? What should stay the same?

Thanks to "concernedsbcer" for this topic idea.

Friday, April 04, 2008

"Love is patient, love is kind... er... "

This billboard recently appeared along the south side of I-40 between Whitten Road and Sycamore View. It faces east but doesn't stand very high and is partially buried in a stand of trees behind the Century Center Business Park, so a lot of people probably haven't noticed it.

One might mistakenly conclude from reading this sign that those are the words of Steve Gaines! There is no reference to Scripture at all. No mention of God or Jesus. In fact, the first time I caught a glimpse of it from the interstate, I didn't see the reference to "Bellevue Baptist Church" because "Steve Gaines" is in much larger type.

That "quote" is the first half of I Corinthians 13:4 and the first part of verse 8.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

This is only my opinion, but it just seems that plastering your photo on a billboard while plagiarizing the Apostle Paul tramples all over that "does not boast, is not proud" part. Maybe that's why we don't see the rest of the verse on the billboard. The irony would have been too much.

Notice it's not a regular billboard, rather it looks like a big tarp wrapped around a billboard. It appears it could be taken down and reused. Will it pop up somewhere else next month? Are there more of these around town?

Am I seeing things, or is that Thomas the Tank Engine peeking out from underneath the corner of Brother Steve's photo?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The 2008 "Annual" Bizness Meeting

It's hard to believe a whole year has passed since that fiasco on March 25, 2007 called a "church business meeting." This morning, March 30th, the 2008 "annual church business meeting" took place. Of course, the church bylaws, abbreviated as they are, call for monthly business meetings, but who cares? Bylaws, schmylaws... rules don't apply to us. They don't even care enough to try to change the bylaws which have remained unchanged since they were penned in 1929. They just ignore them or deny they exist.

For anyone who's interested, the minutes of last year's meeting have been posted here. I believe they may have left out a few minor details... such as when they cut off the microphones while members were calling on them to "divide the house" and how several people, namely CW, were left standing at the microphones... and how non-members were allowed to vote.

Last year's budget (2007-2008) is here. This year's budget hasn't been posted on Bellevue's site yet. Maybe we'll see that soon, especially since it's been approved now.

You can bet after last year that even more controls were in place to avoid a repeat performance, but I'm sure it wasn't nearly as big a concern this year as nearly all the recalcitrants are gone, so of those remaining, either no one cares or they are all in lockstep with the administration. Or maybe they're all in lockstep about not caring. No doubt a few stragglers do have concerns but know that realistically their voices don't count.

The movement toward an "annual" business meeting (in spite of the bylaws calling for monthly meetings) is straight out of the "Transitioning" playbook. But Bellevue isn't going PD. Oh, no.

While last year's "Celebration" was pretty well packed, today's was not. I would estimate the floor crowd at about 60-65% capacity, and the balcony was perhaps 20-25% full. But that was just for the service... the only service held this morning... which didn't end until around noon. (It started at 10:00.) Note to administration: Why not just have one service every Sunday and plow the savings in utilities, etc. back into the budget?

The service was typical for Bellevue today. There was music before the service started, and boy, was it rockin'! It almost scared me away before I even entered the sanctuary. The music during the service was very loud, mostly catchy 7-11 choruses, but I thought some of the music was inspiring, especially The Old Rugged Cross which should have had everyone in the mood to worship. Beautiful harmony, soaring instrumentals, some of the most inspirational lyrics in hymndom.... Then Steve Gaines had to do what he does nearly every week and make it about him. He jumped up and immediately broke into an "impromptu" a cappella solo and the congregation soon joined him. Please, pastor, I'm trying to give you some helpful advice here. It's not about you! (Nor is it about Jamie, but The Jamie Show has become a Bellevue staple.) These little spur-of-the-moment, pastoral solos, tacked onto the end of a congregational hymn or inserted into the middle of a sermon are not "impromptu," they unnecessarily and inappropriately call attention to yourself, and IMO they are not conducive to a positive worship experience.

There were so many ovations this morning, I lost count. There was applause for the pastor's bad jokes, applause for the music, applause several times during the sermon. I've noticed lately the choir even applauds for themselves following their special numbers! I've never seen a choir anywhere do that! Very strange.

I'm not a fan of ovations in church unless it's for a really good reason, and employed in excess, as we're seeing at Bellevue, it just cheapens the whole worship service. (So does the state of dress -- or undress -- of some of the congregants, but I digress.) Some of the things people applauded for this morning were ridiculous. A couple of times -- such as when the Iraq War veteran was introduced -- it was appropriate.

We were treated to a color graphic of the church parking lot on the IMAG, a painful attempt at a stand-up comedy routine about congregational parking habits, and informed that we were sinning if we parked in the wrong lot. Heh heh heh. I wonder if that applies to the people who've been parking in Mrs. Rogers' reserved parking space? News flash: Mrs. Rogers left Bellevue over six months ago! She doesn't need a reserved parking space there now. If one didn't know better, one might think the church is trying to give the impression that Mrs. Rogers is still faithfully attending Bellevue. I'm sure it was just an oversight that the sign wasn't removed.

The sermon seemed to go on forever. I thought at one point surely he was about finished, only to look down at my fill-in-the-blank outline and realize he wasn't even halfway through. Good thing the seats are comfortable! There were two very slick video presentations during the sermon. One on "giving" (what else?) contained some especially impressive (i.e. high-priced) special effects. He made some good points, at a considerably higher decibel level than necessary. (More advice, this to preachers in general: YOU DON'T HAVE TO YELL TO GET YOUR POINT ACROSS!!!) One of the best, I thought, was when he called out Barack Obama's pastor (though not by name) as "the church in Illinois that claims they're 'ethno-centric.' I think that's despicable!" Amen!

In his sermon, entitled "The House of the Lord," with special emphasis on "a house of __giving__," Steve Gaines still somehow managed to bring up the subject of alcohol. I knew the second he said, "Before I go on... I know I've brought this up before... " what was coming. I thought to myself, "Here we go again." I don't think I've heard him preach a sermon in months that something hasn't been worked in about the "eeeeeeevils of alcohol." It's as if he's obsessed with the subject. Keeping a confessed child molester and known sexual predator on staff and allowing him to freely roam the halls of the church for six months is only "a mistake of the mind" and "uncharted waters." Ho hum. But touching alcohol... verily, just having alcohol in your house (even for cooking purposes?) is one of the eight deadly sins. (And for the record, I do not drink alcohol.)

Finally, there was an invitation during which it appeared several people made decisions (and that's always good), some brief IMAG announcements, and the "business meeting" began immediately. Curiously, this year there was no announcement about people going to get their children out of the nursery or only members staying and voting in the meeting, although I seem to recall the pastor saying something along the lines of, "Let's get this over with so we can go to lunch." (So glad to know our pastor has his priorities straight!) As soon as the announcements began, people began streaming out in droves. By the time the meeting started a few minutes later, the floor capacity was probably 25% and the balcony about 10%.

Last year, Bryan Miller, 2007 deacon chairman, chaired the meeting. This year David Coombs performed the honors, there was no sign of a parliamentarian, and there was one microphone set up for people to ask questions. Only two would.

He opened by stating that, for the record, a quorum was present. (Hmmm... Since David Coombs has been ordained for over a year already, I wonder when he's going to take a turn preaching. Oops. Sorry. I digressed again.) Now, I remember last year there was some discussion here about the requirements for a quorum. I believe the number 10% was tossed out. Bryan Miller used that figure when he stated there were 3000 people present last year. Someone else said Robert's Rules of Order don't require a quorum unless one is specifically required by the organization's bylaws. (Bellevue's bylaws don't mention a quorum.) So I don't know if there was a quorum present today or not... or if one was required to be. I would guess there were maybe... I'm being generous here... 1800-2000 people present for the meeting today. If they're still insisting we have over 29,000 members (which is a joke), it wasn't close to 10%.

Each person who approached the microphone was asked to state his or her name and how long he or she had been a member of Bellevue. (Why should the latter matter?) The first person up was a man who prefaced his motion by stating how important benevolence is and that there's not a line-item amount for that in the budget. (I'm not sure I understood his name, so I won't state it until I can confirm it.) He then proposed Bellevue designate 1% of its receipts to be used for benevolence purposes. (Given this year's budget of $24 million, this would come to $240,000.)

Aubrey Earnheart, chairman of the Finance Committee and Budget Planning Committee member, presented a brief summary of the cash receipts on hand as of the end of March. He started to address the man's question when Ed Rollins, chairman of the Budget Planning Committee, interrupted and stated that there is indeed a line-item amount in the budget for benevolence, so I gathered that meant that was the end of the discussion.

Now, I have a copy of the proposed 2008-2009 budget. I could be missing something, and I'll readily admit it if I am, but I've gone through it several times and see only one line-item entry for "benevolence" (or anything close) in the 2008-2009 budget, and that's $36,000 under "Missions" for "Benevolence - Non-member." That comes to 0.15% of the total budget (the number for 2007-2008 was zero) and includes nothing for members. They've budgeted twice that much for "ball field maintenance" alone! The man didn't press the point and returned to his seat.

The cash receipts said to be on hand (rounded by yours truly) as of the end of March were:


Love Offering (2004-2007): $4.8 million

Other: $3.0 million


$10.0 million


$17.9 million (difference due to rounding)

I don't have the breakdown, but I remember they said the total on deposit this time last year was almost $19 million.

A woman named Carla then asked for clarification about whether any of the currently restricted cash deposits were going to be moved to the unrestricted category and freed up for other projects since the Love Offering projects like the prayer chapel and children's center have never materialized. The pastor interrupted and stepped to the microphone. He stated that when he first came he was asked to list some of the things he thought Bellevue should do with the Love Offering. "You know I love prayer, and I know you do, too," so he said he told them he thought we should build a prayer chapel. He said that under the direction of Carolyn Higginbothom, Minister of... er... Director of Prayer... uhhh now just "prayer coordinator," that project was turned over to the Long-Term Planning Committee for their consideration. I guess they're still "considering" because that's exactly where this project was one year ago.

Anyway, Mr. Earnheart explained that the restricted funds were not going to be reclassified and added he thought it was a good question.

Can someone tell me why a church would keep almost $18 million just sitting in the bank? Of course, there has to be a cushion, but just imagine how several million dollars could be used to further the Kingdom of Christ!

The first motion up for a vote was the Committee on Committees'... well... committees. Only Baptists could come up with a term like "Committee on Committees"! Reminds me of the age-old question... how many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: At least 15. One to change the light bulb and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad and fried chicken.

You can see a list of all the committee heads and members here. As far as I could tell, there were no opposing votes.

Next up was the vote on the proposed 2008-2009 budget. "All in favor, stand. All opposed, likewise." From what I could tell it was unanimous. Apparently the "I don't care" votes weren't counted.

The last order of business was the selection of... actually the rubber-stamping of... the 2008 Bellevue messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention. Who knows how they were selected? You'll no doubt recognize several of the names from last year's list of messengers.

2008 SBC Messengers:

Steve and Donna Gaines
David Coombs
Bart Berretta (Men's Ministry committee chairman)
Darrell Clarke (Minister, Biblical Guidance)
Michael Day
Joe Jernigan
David Perdue (ex BOD member for MABTS & LWF)
Bob Sorrell (brought Claude Thomas to GBC)
Bill Street (Gardendale transplant & son-in-law of the Caldwells - he of fence-jumping fame, she of the pastor search committee)

And with that, the 2008 annual Bellevue church business meeting was adjourned. My, what a difference a year makes! Church life is so much simpler without all those pesky troublemakers getting in the way! I would say the whole "mood" was different this year from last. Last year there was a sense of anticipation, mixed with cautious optimism because concerned members thought they were finally getting the opportunity to be heard and the chance to affect some positive changes. Of course, we know none of that happened.

This year was entirely different. I got the sense, mainly from the mass exodus before the meeting started, but also from the relaxed demeanor of the powers-that-be lined up on the dais, that they were confident there wasn't going to be any opposition (though I'm certain they were prepared for any potential scenario) and that, in general, the people really couldn't have cared less. They knew they were rubber-stamping whatever Steve & Co. wanted to do, and they were content with that. That's fine. More power to them. They got what they deserved. Unfortunately, several thousand of the rest of us didn't. Most of us have (or will) vote with our feet. I guess it's like they say... to the victor go the spoils. Now, will someone please tell me again... who was the victor? And what exactly were the spoils?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What Would Jesus Say?

NOTE: Blogger recently changed the comment page format so that when the number of comments exceeds 200, they are continued on a new page. Click on the little blue links that say "Newer" or "Newest" at the top or bottom of the comment page to be taken to the latest comments.

This article from the Nashville Scene by Elizabeth Ulrich takes a long, hard look at the problem of sexual abuse in the SBC and the SBC leadership's continuing refusal to deal with the problem.

It seemed likely last summer when the SBC voted to appoint a committee to "study" the problem that it was little more than a means of temporarily appeasing the critics while those in leadership continue to turn a blind eye to the problem. And now... it sounds as if that really is all there was to it.

SBCOutpost has a discussion of the article

February 18th: New article in the Nashville Scene.

Update: Paige Patterson is scheduled to preach at Bellevue Sunday morning, February 17th. Steve Gaines is scheduled to speak at the SWBTS chapel on April 17th. If it bothers you that these men, who have willfully ignored the problem of pedophile/sexual predator ministers in the SBC, are continuing to make the lucrative speaking circuit rounds, then let your voice be heard! Contact the media in Memphis and the SBC. This seems to be the SBC's answer to the problem -- a single page of links to outside agencies and resources.

Channel 3 (CBS)

Channel 3 Press Releases

Channel 5 (NBC)

Channel 13 (FOX)

Channel 24 (ABC)

Channel 24's Jeni DiPrizio who did the "Preacher Pads" report.

Commercial Appeal

James Dowd with the CA.

Wendi Thomas with the CA.

Submit a letter to the
editor of the CA.

The Baptist Press

And while you're at it, you may want to drop a line to the pastor and pastor of students of the church that PW now is reported to be attending and ask them just how certain they are that their women and children are safe!

Dr. Ken Culver

Wayne Craig

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Words Cannot Describe This!

"Gopher" posted a comment to the previous thread that was too important to bury in the comment section. This should stand alone -- and plainly illustrates just how far Bellevue Baptist Church has fallen. I watched these videos with a mixture of disbelief and sadness. Some questions that come to mind include:

1. Are Bellevue interns paid? If so, for what?

2. Am I the only one who is very uncomfortable with the sanctuary and our Lord being disrespected in the manner depicted in the first "kidnapping" video?

3. Were these videos produced while the interns and staff members were supposed to be working?

4. Can you imagine Dr. Rogers and Jim Whitmire participating in something like this?

5. Was this supposed to be funny?

Regarding the sign on Steve Gaines' desk... a picture's worth a thousand words.

And here are the videos...

Kidnapped Part 1

Kidnapped Part 2

There was a 2006 version, too. Kidnapping, this time at gunpoint, seems to be a theme of sorts.

Thanks to "gopher" for this topic idea.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Church Business Meetings Are Not Biblical!

Who knew? On Sunday night, January 20th, Steve Gaines, spending most of the time sitting in a chair, delivered a sermon that lasted over 51 (count 'em -- fifty-one) minutes. You may listen to the entire sermon by going to Bellevue's website and clicking on the "Bellevue Media -- Live On Demand On the Go" box. On the next page click on "Launch On Demand Player" and scroll about 1/3 of the way down the page to where it says "Audio on Demand." The title of the sermon is "The Curse of Legalism" with the January 20th date.

Several things struck me about it. For one thing, he stumbled over his words and lost his train of thought several times. I've noticed this the past few weeks. His sermons seem to ramble and deviate from his topic even more than usual lately. What's going on with that? His knees seem to be hurting him so badly he's barely been able to walk at times. (Hint: I wouldn't be bragging about always ordering the "sampler plate" of desserts whenever I dine out if my knees were collapsing under my own weight.)

But on to the sermon. The sermon notes are on the bottom half of
this page.

This is a clip from the opening of the sermon. (Audio clips are large files and may not load for those with slower internet connections.)

The transcript:

I want to continue in Acts 15, and we'll look at the first 31 verses in Acts 15, and the title of the message is "The Curse of Liberalism." I... kind of played off of a message that I heard W.A. Criswell preach one time on the curse of... of uhhh... liberalism... this is the curse of legalism... excuse me. The curse of legalism. Now what is the difference between legalism and liberalism? And I hope to share that with you tonight, and Jamie... I appreciate so much you... picking out songs tonight about grace because that is exactly what I'll be talking about tonight. The answer for legalism is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The legalist doesn't like that. He wants to be saved by works. He wants to s... be saved by Jesus plus something else. Well, I have news for you. All you need to be saved is the Lord Jesus Christ. Heh heh heh. Somebody has said, "Jesus is all you get when you get saved, then Jesus is all you need." And uhhh... I don't think we understand fully, perhaps... I'm sure we don't, none of us do, exactly how much we received when we received the Lord Jesus.

At 25 minutes in we hear

Follow along with me:

Well, let's look now at the discussion of legalism. They discussed it. Look at verse 4 and following... "When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church," the ecclesia, the called-out ones, "and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some of the sec... the Pharisees who had believed stood up and said, 'It's necessary to circumcise them and to bring... to direct them to observe the Law of Moses." (Acts 15:4-5 NASB) The leaven of the Pharisees. Notice they were Pharisees that had been saved. Did you catch that? Pharisees.

"The apostles and elders came together to look into this matter." (Acts 15:6 NASB) Now, you know, for some reason verse 6 is not in some people's Bibles. I've heard many times throughout my life... my Christian life... that this was a church business meeting. This was not a church business meeting. This was not a church business meeting! The whole church didn't come to this meeting. You say, "Yes it is. Look back up there. It says, 'They were received by the church and the apostles and the elders.'" They were received that... but when they started dealing with the problems, they called together church leadership... and they dealt with things behind closed doors, not to keep the people uninformed.

But these people that think you're supposed to vote on everything... I've been in some churches, they... they want to vote on the color of the carpet. They want to vote on any little thing in the world, and they say, "Oh, we're Baptists or whatever... and... and... we need to have these business meetings where people come together and they duke it out. That's the Baaaaaap... tist way! Well, it's not the Bible way! It's not God's way.

Why would you have a business meeting, and... and... bring out dirty laundry in front of young people and ruin their hearts and... and... and... and... and... hurt... damage their hearts, and they say, "If this is what Christianity is about, I don't want anything to do with it." Why would you have that kind of meeting... in front of new converts? And they're saying, "Is this the church?" Why would you have that around lost people? And they say, "I'll never darken the door of a church again." I know people that won't even go to church because they've been to a church that is a fighting church. Under God, let's don't have any of that! {applause} Just a thought.

That's why God gives leaders! Now, let me read verse 6 again. "The apostles and the elders... came together to look into this matter." The only ones dealing with the problem are the leaders... the shepherds. "And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to the brethren, 'Know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe it." (Acts 15:7 NASB) Now, what experiences... who had Peter gone to see? I'll give you a hint. It's back in Chapter 10. Whose house did he go to to share the gospel with the Gentiles? Who was it? Cornelius. That's what he's talking about. Look at verse 8....

There's just so much wrong with this! But I'll let the discussion begin before putting in my two cents worth.

Finally (but with another 17 minutes to go), at 34 minutes and 40 seconds in we hear

Read it for yourself:

Now let's look at the decision against legalism. Praise the Lord for the outcome. "After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, 'Brethren, listen to me.'" (Acts 15:13 NASB)

Now, I want you to see what happens. Now, I'm not saying this is... I'm... I'm doing this right out of the text. Not trying to say some self-serving thing. James is the senior pastor. Did they have plurality of elders? What is an elder? It's a pastor. It's not some "super deacon." It's not some elevated lay person. An elder is a pastor is a bishop is a pastor is an elder is a bishop -- all the same stuff. There's only two offices in the New Testament -- pastor, which is also an elder and a bishop and deacons.

That's it. I... I got all night. I really have nothing to do. {laughter} I've already preached three times. I'm on a roll. {laughter} By the grace of God, Donna will stay until midnight. Amen! I mean... I'll have one person to preach to if y'all leave. But if you... we'll get through a little quicker if you'll join in a little bit, all right? It's just us. I'm down on the floor with you. All right?

I forgot what I was even talking about. Amen? {long silence}

James.... I know what I was talking about. He's the senior pastor. They had plurality of deac... of uhhh... of elders. Plurality of pastors.... They had a staff! That's what they had. Do you hear what I say every Sunday? Our pastors will come. And our deacons. Why? Because you're one of the two... if you're ordained. These men are pastors. And then... the men are deacons. I'm the senior pastor. But now James has heard everybody speak. He's heard the missionaries. He's heard the apostles. But he is... the senior pastor. And notice what he says... "Brethren, listen to me!" He is a wise senior pastor. He has sat around. He has listened to everybody give their input. And now he is going to give his input, and they're all... in the leadership group... going to vote on it, if you will... agree or not... but he has waited, he has listened, he's wise, he's trying to give godly counsel, he's listened to Peter, he's listened to Paul, he's listened to Barnabas, he's listened to all the elders and all the apostles speak, and now... he's ready to throw out what he thinks needs to happen.

"Listen to me, brethren," verse 14, "Simeon," there's another word for Peter, "has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name." (Acts 15:14 NASB) Now this James, by the way, is the half brother of the Lord Jesus. You say, "What do you mean 'half brother'"? Had the same mother; not the same father. "With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, after these things I will return, (and) I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, (and) I will rebuild its ruins, (and) I will restore it, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,' says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago. Therefore," verse 19, "it is my judgment.... " Here's the senior pastor saying, "Guys, I've heard... I've heard all of you. Here's what the Word says, and here's what I think we ought to do." That's exactly what you have going on here.

Again, this is not a church-wide business meeting. This is leadership behind closed doors. I'm not saying there's never room for a church-wide business meeting. But I'm telling you this! You don't deal in front of the whole group... with difficult issues... for anybody... that... in anybody that wants to walk up to the microphone and say something. That is not in the Bible. I said, "It's not in the Bible!" Amen. You can say whatever you want to. Say, "Well, I like to fight." Well, go someplace else because we don't want fighters. Amen? You say, "Did he just say that?" I just said that. We don't want troublemakers. We want peacemakers. The Bible doesn't say, "Blessed are the troublemakers." The Bible says, "Blessed are the peacemakers." And we want people who will preserve the unity and the bond of peace. And let me tell you something. As a shepherd, sometimes you have to protect the sheep from the wolves! That's our job.

Now, who do you think he was referring to when he talked about "anybody that wants" walking up to the microphone and speaking at a church-wide business meeting? Hmmm... any guesses? He's talking about PW's son! That young man was approaching the microphone to speak in the March 25th "monkey business" meeting when Steve (or someone) gave the signal to "shut 'er down," and shut it down they did, leaving this young man standing there. Steve Gaines has been heard bragging publicly about "shutting down that meeting," so I don't know why this sermon comes as any surprise. I guess I thought that even Steve couldn't be this openly insensitive and yes, dare I say, cruel. I guess "protecting the sheep from the wolves" doesn't include protecting the lambs from a confessed pedophile and documented sexual predator for six months. Wonder what he did mean....

Friday, January 18, 2008

Is This Church Discipline or Shameless Abuse of Power?

Today's Wall Street Journal features an article entitled Banned From Church which details the story of Karolyn Caskey, a 71-year-old woman who'd been a member of Allen Baptist Church in the small town of Allen, Michigan for nearly 50 years. Mrs. Caskey was escorted out of a service and arrested for "trespassing." Several months earlier Mrs. Caskey was accused by the pastor, Jason Burrick, of spreading "a spirit of cancer and discord" when she questioned why the church wasn't following their bylaws which called for the election of deacons and quarterly business meetings. Burrick then expelled her from the church.

I was reminded of the many similarities to Bellevue's situation. While no one has been formally "disciplined," even though the pastor has the
means (if not the grounds or intestinal fortitude) to do so, several thousand people have left Bellevue in the past two years, and many of those would say they felt pressure to "preserve the unity" at all costs.

Should a pastor have this much power? Should a pastor be able to "excommunicate" someone from a congregation without a vote by the membership or at least the elders (if applicable) or the deacons? Should there be any controls in place for when a church administration willfully ignores or refuses to follow the church bylaws? Should there be the means for a congregation to "discipline" their leaders?

Thanks to "amazed" for this topic idea.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Darrell Gilyard Arrested While Patterson Attempts Damage Control

There's already been some discussion here about Darrell Gilyard, the pastor who recently resigned from his position as senior pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida over allegations of sending sexually explicit text messages to the teenage daughter of a member of his congregation.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Booking Photo

One of Gilyard's victims has started a blog...

Let's Stop Pastor Darrell Gilyard Together

The Jacksonville media is covering the story:

Channel 4

Channel 12/25 (NBC/ABC)

Channel 30/47 (FOX/CBS)

Florida Times-Union (newspaper)

FBC Jax Watchdog

Stop Baptist Predators

Fred Franklin, an attorney for Shiloh, issued this statement:

"The leaders of Shiloh Baptist Church take these matters seriously and are committed to a full and through review of all pertinent facts. Pastor Gilyard has decided and proposed that he voluntarily take an indefinite, paid, administration leave of absence pending such review. The church has agreed to his proposal. Once a review of all the facts is completed, the church will proceed accordingly."

Paige Patterson is now rushing to do damage control. In his own words...

(Observe his body language.)

PP now: "I never asked anybody... to... remain quiet about anything."

Really??? <---------- Click here.

Quote in the same 1991 article from The Dallas Morning News from one of Gilyard's victims regarding her meeting with PP:

"In 1989, she says she made an appointment with Paige Patterson, one of the most prominent figures in the Southern Baptist Convention. 'Darrell was there with his wife and an attorney,' the woman said. 'He confronted me and said I wore suggestive clothing. I don't even own suggestive clothing.'

"'Paige Patterson asked me to refrain from speaking to anybody about this. He said unless I came back with two witnesses or proof that something had happened, not to come back.'"

PP now: "Uhhh... Mr. Gilyard is... is... ahhh... is uhhh... uhhh... very convincing... , and uhhhhhh... he always denied them."

From the 1991 article:

"Mr. Gilyard admitted, Dr. Patterson said, to several sexual relationships with women."

PP now: "I told uhhh... uhhhhhh... Darrell... at the time, when it happened... that he was... now disqualified for the pastorate and should never go into the pastorate again."

From the same article:

"Dr. Patterson said he has withdrawn all support from Mr. Gilyard - and has asked that the pastor and his wife attend a two-week rehabilitation session. 'Mr. Gilyard is no longer qualified to pastor a church,' said Dr. Patterson. He also asked Mr. Gilyard not preach or pastor a church for two years -- and then only if he can prove he has been rehabilitated. 'In retrospect, Darrell should have been in counseling all along,' Dr. Patterson said."

It's been my observation when someone, especially an accomplished speaker like PP, "uhhhs and ahhhs" and stumbles on his words like this, he's dancing around the truth if not outright lying. Remember this and this?

Reporter now: "He [PP] said he warned Southern Baptists about Gilyard, but Shiloh is not Southern Baptist. Dr. Patterson says that didn't matter."

PP now (emphatically nodding head affirmatively): "The leadership of the church [Shiloh] was fully aware of the fact that all of this had gone down."

Question for Dr. Patterson: Did you personally make them aware that "all of this had gone down"?

Other memorable quotes from the article:

"First Baptist [Dallas] officials said they knew of the allegations of sexual misconduct, which began as long as four years ago [c. 1987] when Mr. Gilyard was removed as assistant pastor of Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Oak Cliff. But they said they did not believe those allegations, and continued to recommend him. 'We were dealing with a man of special gifts and talents,' Dr. Patterson said. 'I was unwilling to call anyone guilty until I had demonstratable evidence that these allegations were true.' Dr. Patterson said that according to Scriptures, action cannot be taken against a minister accused of adultery unless there are two or more witnesses. He also asked for any other proof, such as photographs, videotapes or laboratory tests."

Would someone please show me that Scripture?

"In the interim, the dynamic preacher became even more visible.

"In addition to frequent appearances on Old Time Gospel Hour, he maintained a heavy speaking schedule across the country, drawing huge crowds wherever he spoke. Most recently, he shared a platform with Iran-contra figure Oliver North at the Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta. 'Their greed eclipsed their vision of reality,' said the Rev. E.K. Bailey, pastor of Concord Missionary Baptist Church, where Mr. Gilyard had been removed in 1987 amid allegations of sexual improprieties. Others, such as Dr. Patterson, paint Mr. Gilyard as a victim. 'It's amazing,' Dr. Patterson said, 'how jealousy, frustration and racism can be motives for making accusations.'"

Jealousy? Frustration? Racism? Oh, why am I not surprised! Darrell Gilyard is the "victim." PW is the "victim." Tommy Gilmore was the "victim." Poor things! Those women and children forced themselves on these men!

"The Rev. Darrell Gilyard built Victory on conservative values, particularly when it came to women. He would not allow them to usher, serve on the finance committee, teach men or take classes with them.

"But outside the church, according to the women who claim to have been victimized by him, Mr. Gilyard spent most of his time with women."

Well, of course he would teach this twisted extra-Scriptural "theology." So do Paige Patterson and Steve Gaines. No surprise there.

Stay tuned.