27 June, 2007

Creflo Dollar's Name Inflates

COLLEGE PARK, GEORGIA

Creflo Dollar, founder and director of Creflo Dollar Ministries announced on Tuesday his plans to change his last name 'Fiddy-Dollars' due to inflation.

"I knew it was time for a change" said Dollar. "Here I am telling people that God has wealth and riches for them if they just give and ask in faith, and I have a last name like Dollar. What in the world can a Dollar buy anymore? Hardly nothing. People don't want a dollar, but fifty dollars, now that's some dough to get things going. You tell someone 'Hey, I'll give you a dollar if you do this' and they'd call you crazy. But if someone says 'Hey, I'll give you fifty dollars if you do this" and they'd be all up for that."

Dollar went on to state that his ministry, which focuses on God's giving of material wealth and prosperity to those who give generously to his ministry and 'name it' had been dwindling over the past few years for various reasons.

"Fewer people had been coming, and the tithes were really down" said Dollar. "I'm not sure why they have stopped coming. There's a new pastor that has started up a work not too far from here named Charles Diamond Ministries. I don't know if that's got anything to do with it or not."

TBNN was able to catch up with Charles Diamond, the founder of Charles Diamond Ministries for his comments.

"Yes, we've been having a lot of folks come over from Creflo's church" said Diamond. "I started my work here fifteen years ago when my last name was Hughes. Last year, when I changed my name to Diamond, people started coming more and more. We are packed to the hilt every Sunday here now with people tearing the down down just about."

But the presence of other competing ministries does not seem to be Dollar's main motivation for changing his name.

"I don't care what everyone else is doing" said Dollar. "Creflo Dollars has got to look out for Creflo Dollar, and soon I'll be Creflo Fiddy-Dollars. It's just a reflection of the riches that are out there for people to have if they'd only give in faith. I want people to see my last name and say 'Yeah, that's some money there.'"

Dollar's name will officially be changed to "Fiddy-Dollars" in July when all of the paperwork is complete. When asked if he ever thought his name would inflate again Dollar stated, "There might come a time here in the next few years when we need to up it to a hundred, but for right now I think we're okay."

22 June, 2007

Priest is Both Roman Catholic and Reformed

You might want to read this article before reading today's post.
DALLAS, TEXAS

On Saturday night The Reverend Father John Mark Henley dons his priestly garb and presides over mass at St. Mary's Catholic Parish in Dallas, administering Eucharist to the parishioners and leading the congregation in the liturgy. On Sunday morning he is faithfully in the front pew Canal Street Presbyterian Church (PCA) intently taking notes as the church's pastor preaches the sermon.

The question as to whether one can be both a Roman Catholic and a conservative Presbyterian is difficult for some, "absurd" to others. But for Henley it is an easy question with an easy answer. He professes to be both, and for almost fifteen months now he has practiced both faiths.

Henley's "conversion" to the reformed faith occurred in March of 2006 when he attended a funeral at a Presbyterian Church for a college friend.

"I was moved by the service" said Henley. "The people were so devout and so pious. The extemporaneous prayers moved me deeply, and I felt a great sense of peace. The people seemed so certain about salvation and so confident that their friend was saved."

Since that time Henley faithfully attends Canal Street Presbyterian Church once a week and spends the rest of his time doing his Parish duties at St. Mary's Catholic Church.

"At their core they are the same" said Henley. "There's really no distinction. We both believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth, the death burial and resurrection, etc. Being a Presbyterian only deepens my faith."

But many see the two theological positions as mutually exclusive and incompatible.

"While it's true that there are some very basic tenants of the Christian faith that Roman Catholics and Presbyterians agree upon, the two systems of belief are very different" said Dr. Milton Hilliard, professor of New Testament at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. "For instance, Presbyterians do not believe that baptism washes away original sin. Then you've got the issues surrounding the Pope, Mary, prayers to saints and transubstantiation. Catholics also do not believe in the exclusive authority of Scripture alone, nor do they believe in God's sovereignty in salvation the way we do. And at the top of the list is justification by faith alone in Christ alone, the very issue that gnawed at Luther's heart. The two systems of belief are just not compatible."

But Henley sees no "real" contradiction between his two faiths.

"I really don't see a problem" said Henley. "Sometimes I pray to Mary. Presbyterians believe in Mary too. Yes, I might pray to saints, but Presbyterians also ask their friends to pray for them. I just think of saints as like close friends that can pray for me. The fact that they're dead is only a minor thing."

Tominthebox News Network talked with Jeff Wells, pastor of Canal Street Presbyterian Church about Henley's attendance.

"I'm glad he comes" said Wells. "I'm glad when anyone comes, but I hope he realizes that Presbyterianism and Catholicism are very different. They are not the same faith. Reformed churches hold to doctrines that are explicitly contrary to Roman Catholic teachings. The five solas of the Reformation, Scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone and glory to God alone, are very much contrary to Romanist dogma."

But these issues do not seem to bother Henley.

"I look at the Reformed faith and think that it's an idea about God that draws people closer to him" he said. "I want to be closer to him too. Even though the Westminster Confession of Faith calls the Pope the 'Antichrist' that doesn't bother me so much."

Despite criticism and questions Henley still plans to continue practicing both faiths.

"I am 100% Roman Catholic and 100% reformed" said Henley. "No one can change that."

While Henley sees no problems with his practices he soon might face trouble with the local archbishop of his Parish.

20 June, 2007

Minor League Softball for Mega Churches.

SOUTHAMPTON, COLORADO
Every year past as the church softball league started up at the Southampton Church of God the church faced a dilemma. The so-called "mega church" with a membership of just over 18,000 often found itself having to turn away literally hundreds of would-be participants.

"In the past we just didn't have space on the team" said head coach Eric DeVry. "Every year we had all of these people that wanted to play, but we would have to turn them away. And even if we could have put them all on the team, there's no way we could have let everyone play."

For years churches like Southampton with memberships over 5000 wrestled with the problem of what to do with those who so desperately wanted to participate but could not because of limited space. But as this year's softball season began history was made. Southampton and nine other churches in the state of Colorado with memberships over 8,000 began forming "minor league" church softball teams, and the idea has flourished.

The initial concept was conceived by DeVry last year while attending a triple-A Sky Sox game in Colorado Springs.

"I went to watch the Sky Sox play with my family" said DeVry. "And as I was watching the game it just hit me. If baseball has different leagues then why can't church softball?"

DeVry passed his idea along to the church board of directors last fall who immediately embraced the idea. He then passed on the idea to the coaches at a number of other large churches in the Colorado area, all of whom were thrilled at the prospect.

The process for forming the teams worked similarly to how major league baseball teams are formed. Four levels of teams were organized, beginning with A, and then moving up through AA, AAA and then on to what is called the "Mega League." Tryouts were held this past spring, and church members who desired to play came out to see if they would make the cut. After the tryouts the coaching staffs of each church "drafted" players beginning with the "Mega League" coaches.

The idea has been welcomed by the participants.

"I've wanted to play for Southampton for years, but just never was able to get on the team" said Alex Steed, pitcher for Southampton's AAA team. "It's really great to get out there and play now. On any given night we'll have six to seven thousand people out in the crowd, and it really gets exciting. I'm hoping that maybe next year I'll get called up to the Mega League."

Steed's wish could very well come true. The league system also has "scouts" that visit the different league games to watch for rising stars. Those players who perform well in the lower leagues can be called up over time.

"We were in Denver last week" said Gerald Barter, first baseman for the Southampton AA Salvation Sluggers. "Next week we'll be in Colorado Springs to take on the Parkview Prophets. They're really a tough team but I think we can take them. I'm really working hard to get my batting average up so I can get called up soon."

The formation of the various leagues has also generated a tremendous response from the various congregations. With more people from more large churches playing in the league, crowds have multiplied greatly. While the single-A games generally draw a modest crowd of 500-600 from the rival churches, some of the AA and AAA games have at times drawn crowds of almost 10,000 people, and several Mega League games have brought in crowds over 16,000.

"When Southampton played the Barrington Blessings we had 16,897 people there that night" said DeVry. "We had to rent out the Sky Sox stadium just to play."

While only in its first season, the future of minor league mega church softball looks bright.

"If all goes well we're going to add a rookie league next year prior to single-A" said DeVry. "That'll even get more people involved."

15 June, 2007

Child Named Judas "Not Iscariot" to Help Clarify

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

Josh and Cathy Swanson have a unique family. The couple just gave birth to their eleventh son. When they had their first son 15 years ago they decided to name him Simon Peter. When their second came along he was named Andrew. Then came James, John, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, etc. As the couple had son after son they continued to name them after the twelve disciples without a second thought, that is until number eleven came along.

"Well, as we went down the list we realized we were going to run into a problem if we had more than ten boys" said Josh Swanson. "We, of course, didn't want to name a child after Judas Iscariot. But remember that there was another disciple named Judas, so beyond ten names we weren't sure what to do exactly."

And sure enough when child number eleven came along it was a boy. The couple then came up with a unique idea to solve their problem.

"You know the name Judas has gotten such a bad rap because of Judas Iscariot" said Josh. "I'm sure there were lots of honorable people named Judas in Jesus' day, like the other Judas. So we wanted to find a way to redeem that name."

Drawing from Scripture the Swansons came up with a way to name their eleventh son Judas yet keep him distinct from Judas Iscariot by giving him the name "Judas Not Iscariot."

"We realize this is a little peculiar" said Cathy. "But we believe that people will get used to it over time. We're going to call him Jude for short as going around saying 'Judas Not Iscariot' could get tiring."

When asked if they planned to have another child Josh Swanson replied, "We definitely want to have at least one more child. If it turns out to be a boy we'll probably cast lots to figure out what to name him."

13 June, 2007

Secret Soul-Winning Gambling Practices Uncovered

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Larry O'Neal was shocked when he found out the news. For eleven years he has pastored Yellow Creek Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas and has never seen or heard anything like it before. The members of the independent Baptist church which focuses its energies primarily on "soul-winning," were also shocked when they found out. People had been placing bets on how many people would get "make decisions" at the church each week.

The church of just over 500 members boasts some "500,000 souls won" in the last ten years. Each weekend the church works hard at their "bus ministry," sending out large buses to the surrounding neighborhoods and towns, picking up kids, gathering kids on the buses, preaching to them and asking them to "make a decision." The results of the weekend's work are then posted on the church's website.

"Last week alone we had 2,702 make a decision" said O'Neal. "It was one of our best weeks yet."

But as it turned out those numbers were significant in more than just a "spiritual" way. A number of bars in Las Vegas, Nevada had begun allowing their patrons to place bets as to how many souls would be "won" each week by various churches around the country. Tominthebox spoke with Joe DiCarlo, the owner of Oasis Tavern in Las Vegas about his bar's participation.

"It was simple really. People would place their bets during the week and then we'd post the numbers on Monday when the various churches would put them up on their websites. Based upon how a church did the previous week we'd have different odds for different churches."

In addition to Yellow Creek Baptist, about ten other churches found themselves "victims" of the gambling ring.

"We're debating as to what we're going to do now" said Gray Yelverton, pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. "We're against gambling here, and we're against any activity that is tied to gambling. We can't stop the soul winning, but we might have to stop posting the numbers on our website each week. But that's hard too because it's all about those numbers. Those numbers are really the most important thing, to show people how many souls we're winning out there."

But O'Neal's church has made their own decision about what to do.

"We're not going to change anything" he said. "We've got to get those numbers posted up there for all the world to see. We're steadily on our way to a million, and no one is going to stop us. If people want to bet on it then there's nothing we can do to stop them."

11 June, 2007

Zondervan Plans Release of TNAIRSECCLKJMV Translation

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN

Zondervan Publishing announced on Monday that they plan to release yet another English translation of the Bible in 2008. The new translation known as Today's New American International Revised Standard English Christian Contemporary Living King James Message Version will feature, what Zondervan calls "the best of every English translation out there."

The TNAIRSECCLKJMV (called the 't-nair-seckle-k.j.m.-vee' for short) began five years ago as an effort to produce the "absolute best and perfect translation of the Bible in English."

"This is the culmination of many years of scholarship and study" said Kurt James, editor in charge of the translation. "When this comes out next year this will be the absolute best English translation that you can buy. I have no doubt that the t-nair-seckle-k.j.m.-vee will become the most popular and most widely read English translation in the world in just a few short years."

The TNAIRSECCLKJMV claims to be the first English translation that accurately "captures every nuance and subtlety of the original languages" making it "the last English translation that will ever need to be done." As a result Zondervan plans to also include a campaign to "trade in your old Bible."

"Once you have the t-nair-seckle-k.j.m.-vee you will never need any other translation of the Bible" said James. "You will also never here another pastor who uses this translation ever reference the Greek or Hebrew again because this translation perfectly captures every meaning of every Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic word."

Zondervan further claims that the TNAIRSECCLKJMV is also the first English translation in which all issues of translation that were once controversial in the past have been resolved.

"There were absolutely no disputes over any translations when we got done" said James. "We feel so confident in this translation that from now when we put the Bible into any other language we're going to translate it not from the originals but from the
t-nair-seckle-k.j.m.-vee. No other English translation can claim that."

The
TNAIRSECCLKJMV is set to be released in the last spring of 2008. The Bible will be available in bonded leather, genuine leather, calf skin, hardback, pew, wide-margin, extra large print, extra small print, and pocket sized in a variety of colors. Zondervan also plans to release multiple study versions of the Bible for teens, women, young men, old men, married men, single men, single women, married women, divorced men, divorced women, men contemplating marriage, women contemplating marriage, men contemplating divorce, women contemplating murder, teens contemplating dating, dating men, dating women, old people with pets, old people with teens, teens who live with old people, and people with lisps.


08 June, 2007

Church Divided Over Pronunciation of "Naked"

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

It is a controversy that has been brewing now for almost ten years at Piney Hills Baptist Church in Memphis. At various times during the year the subject comes up, and each time the division between the factions within the church only grows deeper. The whole issue surrounds the pronunciation of the word "naked."

On one side of the issue is the church's pastor, Paul Billingsley.

"The word is pronounced 'nay-ked' just like it's spelled" said Billingsley. "I have no idea why these people want to make such a big deal over how I say it."

But on the other side of the issue is the church's associate pastor, Jeff Cummings.

"I know that it's spelled 'n-a-k-e-d' but you say it like 'nekkid'" said Cummings. "That's just the way to say it. To say 'nay-ked' sounds so 'hoity-toity' and smarty."

While these two factions are the predominant ones within the church there exists another smaller group that insists on a totally different pronunciation.

"Look, 'b-a-k-e-d' is pronounced 'baked'" said deacon Arthur Gillian. "No one goes around saying 'bay-ked' so why should 'n-a-k-e-d' be 'nay-ked?' We should just say 'naked' just like in 'baked' or 'waked.'"

The issue was heightened this past Sunday when Cummings preached from Genesis chapter 3 and quoted God as asking Eve "who told you that you were nekkid?" which clearly caused stirring amongst the members of the congregation.

"I knew he was going to do that" said Billingsley. "I think he chose to preach on that passage just to bring up the issue."

The church has requested that a board of overseers made up of pastors from surrounding area churches intervene before the issue causes more division in the church. But many fear that hard feelings have already grown too deep for there to be a real reconciliation.

"I'm willing to talk" said Cummings." But I'm firm about my convictions. I'm not going to change the way I talk for anyone. I hope we can find a solution to this problem."

07 June, 2007

Finney Land Set to Open in 2009

LYNCHBURG, VIRGINA

Looking for a place to take the family for vacation? Now look no further than Finney Land! Finney Land will be a full service family fun park complete with rides, games and shows set to open in 2009.

-Ready for a scare? Then take ride on the Anxious Seat roller coaster.

-Want to practice your shooting skills? Head over to the Cock n' Aim at Calvin shooting range, and see if you can hit the mark.

-Is the weather getting you hot? Cool off by riding down Warren's Wave into the huge baptistery. Didn't get wet enough the first time? No problem. You can ride as many times as you like until you get it right!


And don't forget to take the time
to catch special appearances by our park characters, including Jacobus Arminius, and Charles Finney himself!

And, you won't want to miss Caner's Tree Stump show on the weekend with special appearances by Ergun Caner!

Be sure to look in specially marked boxes of Arrr-mini-ohs for your chance to win free tickets!

All the fun begins on May of 2009. Mark your calendar, and make plans now to visit Finney Land.

The park is open to anyone, but only you can choose to come. Make your decision today!



06 June, 2007

Extra Verses for "Invitational Hymns" Helps Greatly

McKENZIE, TENNESSEE

It has been a common practice for over a century in churches across the country. The preacher finishes his sermon and steps down from the pulpit to give people a chance to "make a decision" or "respond" to the sermon. Often this period at the end of the service known as the "invitation" can be a very emotionally charged time. It is during this time that people often come forward to either profess faith, ask for prayer or join with a particular congregation.

The invitation is almost always accompanied by the congregation singing a hymn, and over the years particular hymns have become tied to the invitation time. One of those hymns, Just As I Am has been one of the most popular choices. But the singing of this hymn has at times presented a some difficulties.
The problem arises when the invitation time goes long, often caused when a number of people decide to come forward for whatever reason. What results is that the congregation must sing not only the six verses of the hymn but they then must begin repeating the verses over again. At times it is possible for the hymn to be sung four or five times through until the invitation time has ended.

"We had one Sunday a couple of years back where we sang the song five times through" said Rev. Richard Bailey of Wildwood Baptist Church in McKenzie. "I'll admit the song gets kind of old after a while."


So to remedy the problem Wildwood's song leader, Wes Hatfield recently wrote an extra 25 verses to the hymn that can be sung in the case of an extended invitation time.


"The solution was very simple" said Hatfield. "We just needed more verses so that we don't have to repeat the song over and over again. So if it looks like the invitation time is going to run longer than the standard six verses we'll just project the words up on the screen for people to see."


The extra verses were recently used by the congregation during an extended invitation time to much acclaim.


"I really liked them a lot" said Todd Davis, a member of the congregation. "I could tell it was going to be a busy Sunday. A lot of people were coming forward with prayer requests and such, so as we got to the end of verse six the projector came on and we started in on the new verse seven. We made it to verse fifteen before we finished."


In addition to writing more verses for Just As I Am, Hatfield also has plans to write extra verses for Trust and Obey, Nearer Still Nearer, and I Need Thee Every Hour.

"All of these songs need extra verses" said Hatfield. "There's no need to put people in the position where they get bored during the invitation time. I'd like to put an extra twenty or thirty verses to Trust and Obey if I can."

05 June, 2007

Pastor's "Unfortunate" Name Makes Finding a Church Tough

KILN, MISSISSIPPI

Sharing the same name as a famous historical figure can be a positive or a negative thing depending on one's perspective. For example about five years ago a small church in Virginia was thrilled when they called their new pastor Robert Edward Lee. Around the same time a pastor by the name of William T. Sherman struggled to find a pastorate in state of Georgia. The same stands true for one Southern Baptist Pastor in Mississippi. After attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary he began looking for a pastoral call to a Southern Baptist Church, but with little success. Now, six years later he continues to search and pray for a call to the ministry. His name - John Calvin.

Calvin, who was brought up Presbyterian, joined the Southern Baptist Church during his college years. He also changed his theology to match the more pervading Arminian views held by most Southern Baptists. After college he felt called to attend seminary and enter the pastorate. While his years at seminary seemed to go well, Calvin has had "nothing but problems" ever since he finished his studies and began seeking a call.

"Growing up Presbyterian my name was never a big deal, but when I became a Baptist and stopped following Calvin's teachings a lot changed" said Calvin. "Some of my seminary professors even suggested that I start going by my middle name. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal, but I guess I was wrong."

Immediately out of seminary Calvin began searching for a call. While most of his friends quickly received calls, mostly to small rural churches, Calvin did not receive even so much as a phone call from the churches he contacted.

"I sent out resume after resume and no one would even call me back" said Calvin. "Finally one day a deacon from one church called me. I got really excited, and then he asked me 'Is your name really John Calvin son?' I told him yes and he just started laughing and said 'Well, we just wanted to see if this was a joke or not.' I never heard from them again after that."

Calvin currently resides in Kiln, Mississippi where he works for a concrete mixing company and attends Mt. Zion Baptist Church and helps with the church's youth ministry. But even at Mt. Zion Calvin, still struggles to be accepted by the congregation.

"They have yet to ask me to preach once or teach Sunday School" he said. "I suppose it might be time to change my name or start going by my middle name, Luther."


04 June, 2007

Formal Dress in Worship Causes Stir

TRENTON, NEW JERSEY
Trenton's The Church of the Living Waters is known as a "come as you are" kind of church, where worshipers can feel comfortable wearing whatever they want. Many members regularly show up on Sunday mornings in shorts, flip-flops and t-shirts. Even the church's pastor, Patrick Cox, often preaches in his bare feet wearing ripped jeans. The church's policy of very casual dress was supposed to make anyone feel at ease about attending worship, and that was the case until this past Sunday.

The stir began five minutes into the worship time when a new young couple entered the church's worship center. The man was wearing a suit and tie and the woman a very formal dress. After walking down the main aisle they sat on the second to front row of the church and proceeded to join in the worship with the rest of the congregation. But not everyone was excited to see them there.


"Part of me wondered what they were doing here" said Mary Joseph, a church member. "I thought they were just trying to make a point or cause trouble or something."

"I just don't think it's appropriate to get all dolled up like that for church" said Nathan Callaghan, another member. "It's like they made this point to get all dressed up just to come to church and show off their clothes to everybody. I was kind of embarrassed for them because everyone was staring at them and giving them weird looks."

While most of the members were upset or concerned to some degree about the "strange" visitors, some felt differently.


"I think it's a much needed change for our church" said John Michael Thompson, the church's worship leader. "If that's what they want to wear to church, then they should be able to without anyone else criticizing them."

After the service a few people greeted the couple, but most people kept their distance, suspicious of their "motives."


"If this is the direction that our church is going, with people dressing up in suits and ties to come and worship, then I don't want any part of it" stated Joseph. "They day people start showing up every Sunday dressed up like that is the day that I leave."

01 June, 2007

Lausanne Designates "The Smelly" as New People Group

SOUTH HAMILTON, MASSACHUSETTS

The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism (LCWE) announced on Thursday that it has designated as a new people group those who suffer from chronic body odor problems. The announcement came after several weeks of discussion by members of the committee around the world.

"We hail this as a major step towards evangelizing all peoples" said LCWE North American director Earl Robinson. "Throughout history those who smell bad have always been rejected and marginalized by society. It's now time to recognize that these people need the gospel."

In a report by LCWE entitled Christian Witness to the Smelly the committee published information regarding the problem of body odor around the world.

"Estimates of the total world smelly population vary. The most recent statistics number smelly and extremely pungent persons at 1.5 billion."

"In the United States alone just over 30% of the population stinks" said Robinson. "There are real needs here that we have to meet for these people to help them."

The report further described how the smelly might be helped.

"Generally one may describe the needs of the smelly as counter-repugnantness. Deodorants, soaps and antiperspirants are the most pressing needs. Concern about future olfactory offensiveness can be overwhelming for the smelly person. Those who work with the smelly will need to communicate good hygiene habits in addition to providing the necessary sanitary materials. Genuine concern for the well-being of the smelly person proves the gospel credible."

"All throughout Scripture the idea of something being a 'stench' is bad" said Robinson. "A billion and a half people in this world stink, and we have an opportunity as Christians to help them."

Already a number of churches have taken the vision. While some have decided to focus on domestic odors, a few churches have already looked to other nations to begin their work.

"We're looking to Eastern Europe" said pastor Clark Herring, of New Falls Baptist Church in New Falls, Nevada. "I was in Eastern Europe just last year and I know the great need that exists there. Our hope is to ship 10,000 cases of Old Spice to various former Soviet Bloc countries by the end of the year. Eventually we'd like to send mission teams over with supplies of Irish Spring"