2 Samuel 16:9,11 - "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head...let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him."

Matthew 7:15 - “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11 - “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ark Encounter Announces "Eeyore the Talking Donkey" Exhibit

Williamstown, KY (WD) - The Ark Encounter evangelical Christian theme park has announced this week their plans for a new "Eeyore the Talking Donkey" exhibit - based after the historical Old Testament story of Balaam's talking donkey documented in Numbers 22:21-29.

"Eyore is one of the most beloved talking donkey characters in children folklore," said Alan Barnes of Ark Encounter, "So our exhibit design team determined that the truthfulness of Balaam's talking donkey in the Old Testament can best be shown to our younger visitors by tying it to the character of Eyore in A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh children's classic."

Barnes says the initial exhibit design will depict Balaam as Christopher Robin, who will be shown beating Eeyore. The angels that appeared in the road that caused Eeyore to stop and crush Christopher Robin's foot (as described in Numbers 22:25) will be shown as Piglet and little Roo, hanging by their tails from a tree branch.

"When smaller children see the Eeyore exhibit, they will be able to connect the idea of a talking donkey they have learned about in bedtime stories, to the historical, factual account of the Lord causing a donkey to talk to a man named Balaam thousands of years ago." said Barnes. "Additionally, the nail holding Eeyore's tail in place is a reminder to the boys and girls of the nails that held Jesus to the cross, and paid for the children's sins."

According to Barnes, other ideas for the exhibit include the Donkey character from the Shrek series, and Baba Looey, the fictional Mexican burro in the Quick Draw McGraw cartoon series from the 1970's.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Watchdog's Characteristics of a Religious "Fundamentalist"

On Facebook recently some of my friends were discussing the definition of "fundamentalism" and "legalism". I use the term "fundamentalist" quite frequently, mostly in terms of defining what I am no longer, but used to be some 10 years ago and earlier.

Rather than giving a definition of religious fundamentalism, I think I can better define it by listing what the characteristics are of a fundamentalist. Most of these characteristics I think are "all or none", but I suppose a religious fundamentalist may display a subset of these.

Keep in mind, most of these characteristics I could add a phrase at the end or beginning:  "Without any objective evidence whatsoever....", so I will refrain from repeating that.

So here I go:

1. A fundamentalist believes (claims) that the single most important aspect of their life IS their religion and the practice of their religion.

2. A fundamentalist believes (claims) that their relationship with an unknown and unseeable God is the single most important "relationship" - trumping relationships with their spouse, children, parents, etc. Thankfully, almost every fundamentalists only makes this claim, and their day-to-day activities and decisions prove that they truly do not believe this. But it is a duty of every good fundamentalist to at least state this claim in some form or fashion.

3. A fundamentalist believes - no, they KNOW -  their religion is the ONE religion that gives a pathway to heaven and hell, and those who are outside of their religious sect are headed to an eternity of damnation. And this they hold to with great fervor, without any doubt whatsoever, despite a lack of any objective evidence whatsoever.

4. A fundamentalist will believe their holy text, as written in English, is completely true, without any error whatsoever, and completely whole containing answers to all of life's issues  - AND, they believe that anyone who doesn't agree with this tenant is not a true member of their faith community, and is therefore lost and going on to eternal damnation. This was one of the key points of the Southern Baptist conservative resurgence - and many good men were destroyed over this tenant.

5. A corollary to #3: A fundamentalist will actually worry (i.e. spend time contemplating and losing some measure of their happiness) that their loved ones who don't believe the above are going to spend all of eternity burning in an unquenchable hell-fire, and never being consumed.

My fundamentalist friends will unashamedly say "Why, yes, numbers 1 through 5 ARE what I believe; you mean YOU don't???" And thus, there is no way I could be a "real" Christian and not agree with #1 through #5 above.

But, I am not an atheist. I am a Christian. And I maintain that my views on #1 through #5 are none of your business - maybe I do, maybe I don't believe some or all. But I am a Christian. Period. But sadly, to fundamentalists, that is not good enough. To not give assent to all five statements makes me not a true believer, and I'm headed to the lake of fire. Forever and ever, never to be consumed or extinguished. Crap.

The journey out of fundamentalism for me is one that would take many chapters to explain, so I won't do that here. I'll just say I thank God - yes, I thank God - that I am no longer a fundamentalist.

Oh, and what is legalism? I'm not sure, I would have to leave that up to the fundamentalists to determine.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Church Members: Watch Out for the Shakedown Artists Posing as "Men-of-God"

Hi Readers, here is another article from the archives. Church members, during this season of tithing sermons and capital campaigns, be on the lookout for shakedown artists in he pulpit. Maybe this article will help you spot the charlatans and their gimmicks.
--------------------------------

Leave it to Steve Gaines to once again preach a whopper of a tithing sermon in this season of tithing madness.

His sermon on November 3rd, 2013 really was a shake down. Merriam-Webseter defines "shake down" as:

"The act of taking something (such as money) from someone by using threats or deception."

Gaines uses both threats AND deception in this sermon to try to convince his members they must give more to the church, else bad things might happen to them for "robbing God".

Gaines uses Malachi 3 to tell Christians at his church that the thought of "robbing God" scares him - with the obvious implication that those who don't tithe should be scared not to give 10% to his church. Watch the video.


I sure wish more Christians would wake up and see how terrible this is for a supposed "Man of God" to try to deceive people who really do believe the Bible, who really do look at him as a man sent to help them understand the Bible. He infers something bad will happen if they don't tithe, that they can't be intimate with God, and they can't fully worship God - unless they begin giving 10%. These preachers want to tell us that God loves us, and God forgives and forgets our sins - but that he also will work with "the devourer" to hurt us if we don't give 10% to the preacher's church. Which is it? They want us to believe God is some sort of mafia boss that collects on what he is owed. They make the gospel into "bad news".

Gaines then goes into great detail to brag about how HE has tithed every bit of his income his entire life, since he was cutting yards in Dyersburg, Tennessee as a little boy. If only the people would be as holy as Steve, they too could be as blessed as he is. Show us the tax returns, Steve.

And so ironic really: that of ALL the people in the building that morning who might possibly be "robbing God", it would be Steve himself. I mean if the people are giving money to the church, because it is God's money to do God's will - who is the one in the building who is taking most of it for himself to spend as he wishes? It is Steve himself who is taking hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to live a rather lavish lifestyle.

Lastly, Steve throws out this humdinger:

"If you can't trust God with 10% of your money, are you really going to tell me that you can you trust him with your soul?"

So you might not even be capable of being a Christian, of trusting God for salvation, unless you give 10%. That is spiritual abuse. It is a shake down.

People of Bellevue Baptist Church, I'm sorry that this preacher does this to you in your own church. I know that for several decades you had Adrian Rogers as your preacher, and now you have to put up with this nonsense.

But let me ask this question to you folks at Bellevue:

"If you can't trust Steve Gaines to be truthful regarding your finances, how can you trust him regarding matters of your soul?"

Friday, June 30, 2017

Giving Money to Your Church is "Trusting God with Your Finances?" Come On!!!

Readers: I am going to be posting some previous Watchdog posts that might prove helpful during the coming days when pastors will be ramping up their fund raising tactics.

Enjoy!

“How can you trust God with your salvation, if you can’t trust him with your finances?”

Another tool of manipulation used by charlatans and their enablers is the rhetorical question above, or variations or implications of it. I’ve heard this question, or some form of it, so many times by so many pastors, that I’m not going to attribute it to anyone in particular. You have probably heard it too, or will soon, if not already.  Usually, the pastor will trot out this seemingly logical rhetorical question during his tithing sermon. Or when you are not doing what he wants. The implication is that you are indeed trusting Jesus for salvation (which we all certainly should do), but you are not trusting God with your finances (because you are not giving enough).  You should do both, right? WRONG.

Here are a few obvious problems with this type of question and this dangerous line of thinking.  First, and I mean number one, is that the pastor is not God. The 501(c)(3) that hired him and pays him is not God.  Therefore, how does writing your church a check equate to trusting God with your finances?  In other words, another way to say this is for the pastor to say: 

“You can’t trust me for your salvation, and you can’t trust this 501(c)(3) for your salvation, so why in the world would you trust your finances to us?”  

But they don’t want you to hear it that way.  They want you to be coerced into agreeing with a statement about trusting God with your salvation (which we all must do), with giving money to the church to pay its overhead, salaries, debt and a small percentage going to actual ministry to the lost, poor, hurting, orphan and widow.

Second, in answer to your question pastor and enablers, is that we should only be trusting in God for things God does, and not for things God does not do.  Only God can bring salvation.  The doctor can’t save us. The policeman can’t save us.  The auto mechanic can’t save us.  We don’t go to those people for salvation.  We go to God. We trust God with our salvation because He is the only one that can possibly save us. Does that answer your question brother pastor?    

Third, the reverse implications of this question are just as true as the one your pastor is trying to make.  Have you ever stopped to consider that you don’t trust God with your high blood pressure? Of course not.  If you have HBP, you take a pill every single day, day in and day out, for the rest of your life.  But your arrogant preacher isn’t asking you “If you don’t trust God with your HBP, how can you trust him with your salvation?” It makes no sense to do so does it?  What about your safety. Do you pray for God’s protection and then live in a gated community, hire a team of security officers, carry a concealed weapon, lock your doors at night, and stay out of dangerous places?   Do you call the police, or rely on your local police and Sheriff’s department to keep your city safe?  Then you are not trusting God for your protection are you?  But is your preacher asking you "How can you trust God with your finances if you don’t trust him with your security?"  The biggest slice of our city budget here in Jacksonville is for our brave and highly trained police force.  We are not trusting God with this vital area, we are trusting our police.  And what about your finances?  Are you getting up and going to work, working hard long hours day after day, month after month, year after year to earn money so you can have food, clothing, shelter and transportation?  Then you my friend, are trusting in your efforts, reaping what you are sowing, and not trusting in God (or your pastor, or your church) to put food on your table, support your family, and pay your taxes that pay those indispensable police men and women.

What about technology and transportation?  You love the advances that science and “the world” have made in technology, cell phones, computers, automobiles, river boats, cruise ships, airplanes, and medicine.  Yet, you criticize science and scientists who don’t believe the same facts you do about your religion.  You certainly trust them when you get in your car, get on that plane, and use that cell phone to call for help, or perform your job duties.  So has your pastor asked “How can you trust God with your salvation if you don’t trust him with your transportation needs, or technology needs, or physical needs?"  If your car breaks down, do you trust God to fix it?  Of course not. 

The question makes no sense except as one to try and manipulate people that love Jesus and want to serve God.

Do Christians go to the doctor when we are sick.  Do surgeons save our lives if we need surgery? Or do we “trust God” to heal us?  Does the Mayo clinic call pastors or faith healers to heal those in need of a heart bypass? Seen any faith healers over at Wolfson’s childrens hospital's cancer treatment center?  What about Autism and Alzheimer’s disease that afflicts our young and old?  Are you trusting in the church, or God, to heal those conditions? Or are you hoping science will find a cure through research and education and training? And are you elderly or disabled.  Guess what, your government is paying your disability and your social security and providing police and fire protection and paving your roads, and paying our military, and providing parks, and feeding the poor and on and on. But your pastor criticizes them while doing none of the above. But he does advertise the Holy Land trip he is leading and the cruise he will be taking.  Makes you sick doesn't it?  No?  Why not?

So, the better question then the one your pastor asks above, is why trust your pastor/church with your finances at all?  Why trust them to do anything that you actually rely on and need each day.  They don’t protect you, they don’t pay your bills, they don’t heal you, they don’t transport you, they don’t build roads, they don’t provide parks, they don’t support the poor or disabled, and they don't do anything for you at all.  So next time your pastor asks you “How can you trust God with your salvation if you can’t trust him with your finances?”, you can tell him to his face, or quietly reply in your heart: “That’s easy. I only trust God for what only He can do, which is my salvation. And you preacher, and this church, are not God.  So I agree, I don’t trust you with my finances, but I easily trust God with my salvation.”  Next question please.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

So Your Daughter Married a Man of Whom You Don't Approve

Well, it happened. As much as  you thought it couldn't happen, your beloved daughter married a man that you can't stand. She had dated another man for quite a long time, and you were sure, almost 100% positive she would pick THAT guy - the "right" guy, in your eyes.

Instead, she started dating a different guy. You didn't think too much of it, you thought it was kind of funny at first, because you knew this "loser" didn't have a chance at your daughter. You didn't object too loudly, as you just knew your daughter wouldn't marry the guy you didn't approve of. She is too smart, you thought. No way. He's dreaming if he ever thinks he can win your daughter over.

After all, this guy doesn't share your values. He doesn't work as hard as you. He's not well spoken, a bit of a bumbler and stumbler with his words, and there is just something about him that makes him untrustworthy in your eyes.

He has a bit of a checkered past. He was perhaps a womanizer in the past, although now he seems much more stable and is beyond that phase.

The guy you thought would be your wife's husband was just as surprised as you! He can't believe that his long-time girlfriend picked this loser. To this day, he still hasn't come to grips with his loss. He just can't see how this could happen. He realizes now there were some areas that he just didn't pay attention to; there were some warning signs that she felt a bit abandoned and forgotten by him, but he thought he already had her heart captured and locked up.

But he was wrong.

The wedding has happened. Your daughter picked the wrong guy, you think. Although he has pledged his love and has made many promises to your daughter, you don't believe him. You think he's a fake.

But it is too late now. He is now your daughter's husband.

He is now YOUR son-in-law. He is now part of the family, and has promised to care for and protect your daughter.

So now what do you do NOW?

Well, you could never let your daughter forget that she picked the wrong man. You could at every opportunity remind your daughter what a loser he really is. You can try to find more character flaws and bring them up at every family function. You can try to persuade the other family members, day after day, that this guy is not worthy to be in your extended family, or to be the husband of your daughter.

Yes, you could do that. And you know, you might very well be successful and break up the marriage. You might be able to convince your daughter to dump him after she sees the error of her ways. Just keep pushing. Find everything wrong with him. Don't rest. Time is short. Your daughter's future is at stake; so be relentless in your pursuit to get him out of the family.

Every flaw you find, every stupid thing he does as a young husband, bring it up to your daughter and family members - make THAT the last straw.  "See!  What an idiot! Why did you marry him!!"

But is that what you should do? Do you love your daughter? Do you love your family?

Or are you just interested in getting YOUR way? Are you incapable of seeing the good in him, the potential he has? Are you so intolerant that you can't see things from your daughter's viewpoint? Can't you bring yourself to see that there IS some good in him that your daughter sees?  Perhaps if you had more respect for your daughter, you COULD understand her.

Before you keep trying to break up the marriage, stop and think. Is that what you want? Do you want your daughter to go through the turmoil and pain and loss of a divorce when you and the other family members haven't even given the guy a chance? Doesn't he AT LEAST deserve a chance to show you that he can be the husband you want for your daughter? Doesn't your daughter - the one who chose to marry him and bring him into the family - deserve the chance to show you that she picked a good guy, the RIGHT guy?

Or maybe you just have no respect for your daughter and think she's too stupid and gullible to choose correctly whom she will marry. I hope you don't feel that way. She doesn't see things quite like you do, but that doesn't mean she is incapable of discernment to choose a mate.

And what if - just WHAT IF - he actually turns out to be a good husband. What if he turns out to be much better than you expected? You know, sometimes marriage has a way of changing a man. Don't let your hatred of the man himself, cloud your ability to see the good he can be for your daughter and family. Won't you feel, well, sort of stupid, if he ends up being one of the best men in the family after he perseveres your ridicule and score?

So please. If you love your family and your daughter, stop the obsession with breaking up your daughter's marriage. If you ARE successful, I have a feeling you will regret it. The pain it will bring everyone in your family - the split it will cause in the family - will be ever so painful. And besides, if you are successful, how do you know the next guy is going to be any better?

For the sake of your family, give the guy a chance.

Please.

If you love your family - if you love your daughter - give the guy a chance.

If you love your country and fellow citizens - if you truly want what's best for us all - accept the man for who he is, faults and warts and all. Let's hope for the best.

Just give the man a chance.

Thanks.