Ecumenism and the National Day of Prayer in the Bartow Baptist Association.

The National Day of Prayer for 2019 in the United States is May 2nd. You should expect hear about participating in this event soon at your local Bartow Baptist church. I advise you not to participate in it and I encourage local churches to opt out of supporting this event. Given what is known about the event’s participants and leaders, both local and national, I do not believe God is pleased with the National Day of Prayer. Let’s examine the many reasons why.

The National Day of Prayer itself is not an exclusively Christian event. According to the National Day of Prayer Task Force, the National Day of prayer is “a government-proclaimed day (which) is offered to all Americans to ‘turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.’” Prayer is an act of worship. By encouraging non-Christian prayer, the US Government is encouraging at least some of its citizens (Muslims, Mormons, etc…) to engage in an idolatrous practice that God hates. As Americans we understand that the federal government is not in the position to endorse a particular religion. Given that it’s not, it would be wise for the government to get out of the “Day of Prayer” business altogether. Since the government can’t endorse a religion, it makes no sense to endorse a prayer event. To do so implies that all religions are equal. They are not. While the federal government provides equal protection to members of all religions, God hates all religion except biblical Christianity. Furthermore, Christians are not in need of any “offer” from the federal government for an occasion to pray.

The Bartow Baptist Association will be participating in National Day of Prayer Events in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is specifically organized to encourage Christian prayer. Unfortunately, participation in the National Day of prayer can place Christian focus on the wrong kind of nationalism. Christians are ultimately citizens of a Heavenly Kingdom and their greatest focus should be on advancing that Kingdom. At the same time Christians are certainly not proscribed from participation in civil affairs. Arguably, there is a biblical mandate for God’s people to pray for the welfare of their earthly home. It is written in the book of Jeremiah:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord.

There is nothing wrong with American Christians praying for the welfare of their earthly home, but should they make such a show of it? Bartow Baptist National Day of Prayer activities are scheduled to be done in public. The gospel of Matthew records Jesus’ condemnation of showy, public prayers. Furthermore, why should Bartow County’s Christians feel beholden to recognize the official prayer day of the federal government? Christians are supposed to be in prayer every day. There is no compelling biblical reason for Christians to participate in government prayer events. In fact, not showing up to them may provide a more powerful witness than participation.

Special attention should be given to Jerimiah’s warning, cited above, about false prophets. God clearly tells his people that he has not sent false prophets to them. The president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force is Ronnie Floyd. Ronnie Floyd is a proven false prophet.

In his 1997 book, The Power of Prayer and Fasting, Floyd made the following prophecy:

In my first forty-day fast, the Lord confirmed in my heart that He was going to bring a mighty spiritual revival in America that promises to transcend all denominational, cultural, racial, and ethnic lines.”

It is twenty years later and this prophesied revival is yet to come to pass, despite Ronnie Floyd claiming in the same book that “God is on the brink of ushering in a great spiritual awakening across this land through the mighty gateway to His supernatural power.” Ronnie Floyd, who is considered something of a prayer expert, among his denomination is exactly the kind of slick-talking dreamer that about God warned his people through Jeremiah. Why partner with him? He is to be rejected for claiming to speak for God when he does not. To make matters worse, the task force event being held in Washington, DC features celebrity Christians who are notorious for compromise, ecumenism, and controversy, including Nick Hall, Sammy Rodriguez, Jay Strack, and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

But what about local participants? To examine them, look no further than the crowd gathered together by Bartow Baptist Missionary David Franklin: James Griffin, Jacon King, Kevin Lobello.

Franklin himself is the Georgia state coordinator for the National Day of Prayer Task Force. He is in formal alignment with the false prophet Ronnie Floyd. Furthermore, Franklin has a history of bringing suspect preachers and their errant thought to Bartow County. He brought hokum historian David Barton to Bartow just last year. On local level, he continues to partner with unhinged charismatics.

Jacob King is the pastor of the Church at Liberty Square in Cartersville which is a part of the Church of God International. He has previously led prayer at the the Bartow Day of Prayer event. In the regular course of his ministry, he makes a mockery out of God the Holy Spirit. I have personally witnessed King “slay” young women “in the Spirit” at his church. For those who are unfamiliar with this unbiblical practice, it involves a preacher grabbing the head of a worshiper and shaking her while hollering in tongues until she falls down on the ground in a trance-like state. God hates false worship.

Kevin Lobello is the pastor of Sam Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in Cartersville. The United Methodist Church has been in the process of departing biblical orthodoxy for the better part of a century. Lobello counts as an associate pastor, a female, even though God’s word limits the office of pastor to men. United Methodist clergy in the United States are largely pro-LGBT. In fact Lobello’s alma mater, Candler School of Theology, runs a placement service to help LGBTQ students find a geographic region where United Methodist Church boards will ordain them. The United Methodist Church, from the top down, is frighteningly liberal while, at the same time, nominally Christian. I have been personally told by Bartow Baptist leadership that United Methodists are among the hardest people in our area to evangelize. So why partner with their so-called Shepherd?

James Griffin is actually a Baptist. The seeker-sensitive church which he pastors, CrossPoint City Church, is actually a member church of the Bartow Baptist Association. I have written elsewhere about various concerns with that church but frankly, Griffin is the least problematic of Franklin’s local partners.

I think I’ve made the case here that, locally and nationally, Christians should avoid involvement with the National Day of Prayer event. Considering that the intended purpose of event is to adjure God to bless America, does it make sense to partner with false prophets, ecumenists, wild charismatics, and liberals? Rather than joining arms with such men, shouldn’t we be praying to God to help us be witnessing to them against their false worship and unbiblical beliefs? I encourage you to pray about and research what I’ve written here.

At least consider this, our marquee prayer warriors and revivalists have been promoting these types of events for years. Baptisms are down and western culture is becoming ever more inhospitable to Christian values. Could it be that prayer leaders like David Frankin are all talk while God isn’t listening?

Take some time today to sincerely pray to God for guidance. Then take some time tomorrow and the day after that.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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One Sinner, One Body

Imagine that there is a fellow member of your local church named Clyde For the past four Friday nights you’ve seen Clyde drunkenly stumbling out of downtown bar. Concerned about the spiritual state of Clyde and the repudiation of your church, you approach Kyle and admonish him from the Scriptures about the sinfulness of his drunkenness.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;  and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”

Galatians 5:15-21

“Mind your business!” is his retort. The next week you once again see Clyde stumbling out of the bar. Again, you approach Kyle and ask him to repent but he sternly refuses. Considering your Christian obligation as explained by Jesus in Matthew 18, you seek out two brothers from your church, Karl and John, to approach Kyle with you about his drunkenness.


If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them,tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Matthew 18:15-17

“Who are you to throw stones?” Karl asks you upon being approached. “Yeah, none of us are without sin,” adds John. “Judge not lest you be judged. All of us have had a little too much to drink before. We don’t need to act like Pharisees. If we call Clyde out like this he might stop coming to church altogether.” Karl and John refuse to go with you to again call Clyde to repentance. You begin to think it was a mistake to even say anything with which to begin.

Karl and Clyde are right about one thing. There is no one in the church without sin (Romans 3:23). Surely God knows this, as much as in his word. Did Jesus therefore set Christians up to be hypocrites when he told them to show sinning brothers their faults? Did he contradict himself when he said “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged?? (Matthew 7:1)? Of course not. Karl and John don’t understand the Scriptures and the corporate nature of the church. While every individual in the church is a sinner, the church as a whole is a holy body, dedicated to the glory of God. When one brother falls into the sin, it is the body of Christ which is equipped and duty-bound to restore him. Consider the words of Paul to the Galatians:

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5For each one will bear his own load. “

Galatians 6:1-5

Approaching Clyde about his drunkenness is not “being a pharisee,” it is “fulfilling the law of Christ.” This actually the loving thing to do for the sake of your brother’s soul. Jesus did not teach in Matthew 7 never to judge but rather to judge righteously.

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:5

If you’ve looked to yourself and submitted yourself to the corporate accountability of the church, you are in a just and proper position to go your brother and hold him accountable for his sin, in the hopes that he will repent and be restored a right relationship with God and His church. It is the church to which Jesus gave the authority to judge:

“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

Matthew 18:19-20

Being a part of the body of Christ, a member of the local church, is essential to living a life that is pleasing to God. Not only does it put you in a position to be held accountable by other members of the family of God but it puts you in a position to love your neighbor by keeping him accountable for walking humbly and righteously before the Lord. If there is a Clyde in your life, don’t ignore him.

Don’t fall prey to the “judge not culture,” it’s a culture of self-centeredness. Instead, remember that Christianity is a religion, yes it’s a religion, that puts its members in covenant community with one another. You are personally and wholly responsible for your own sin, no one but you will bear the punishment for it. However, your sin is not merely between you and God. Always remember that and you will be more successful in following the two greatest commandments: love God and love your neighbor.

https://podomatic.com/embed/html5/episode/9060729?autoplay=false


*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Thomas Hammond and the Layoffs: Highlighting a Problem in Georgia Baptist Culture

Yesterday, Baptist Press and The Christian Index reported that the Georgia Baptist Mission Board had “laid off 20 staff members after a near-$1.2 million budget shortfall in 2018 Cooperative Program giving.”  I never like to hear of people losing their jobs but I could not help but be encouraged by the news that Cooperative Program giving was down in Georgia.  First, I’ve long contended that the Cooperative Program itself is an inefficient means of cooperative giving by which disengaged pew-sitters perpetuate an unaccountable and inefficient bureaucracy (see my book The Cooperative Program and the Road to Serfdom).  Second, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board (GBMB) itself is a reproach to the local church.

The GBMB is administered from an opulently sinful $45M headquarters in Duluth.  It is from that headquarters where its Executive Director, Thomas Hammond, issues statements like this one:

We’re committed to making the Georgia Baptist Mission Board the best resource our pastors could ask for.  Part of that will include streamlining some ministries and evaluating all of the activities of the Mission Board.”

Streamlining and evaluations is an every day part of good management.  This part of Hammond’s statement is commendable.  However, his comment about being a “resource for pastors” is trouble.  Is that truly the mission of the GBMB?  Mission boards do not exist to serve pastors but to serve local churches.  Through mission boards, local churches can leverage economies of scale to corporately engage in evangelism and other mission work.  Hammond’s language is telling.  The Georgia Baptist Mission Board is, at base, a good ole boy network that enriches and popularizes those pastors who can bring the resources of the local church, in the form of cooperative program money.  Through GBMB networking, pastors can move on to bigger jobs and bigger churches or lucrative administrative positions (like Hammond’s) at the denominational level.

Hammond himself has left a wake of failure in his previous employment at both NAMB and the First Baptist Church of Alpharetta.  A party with inside knowledge of both of those organizations had this to say of Hammond on the occasion of his appointment as the Executive Director of the GBMB:

FBC Alpharetta was down 30% year over year in attendance in February of this year…if good leadership is having over 25 staff members quit in a three year period then I don’t understand leadership…I’m happy for that church. They finally have a pilot who isn’t flying the church into the side of a mountain.”

The Christian Index (which is controlled by the GBMB) has this to say of Hammond’s tenure at FBC Alpharetta:

“At Alpharetta Hammond has increased the Cooperative Program giving of the church from one percent to six percent. The church budget has increased by 25 percent in the course of his pastorate and has been the top giving and top baptizing church in Roswell Baptist Association since his first year as pastor.”

Georgia Baptist should view the news of recent layoffs at the GBMB with optimism as well as skepticism, asking themselves “Why does the GBMB have so many employees in the first place?”  As a matter of stewardship, Georgia Baptists should question why their churches continue to support the Cooperative Program and the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.  They should also ask their pastors, “Why do you?”

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Pulpit Committee Q & A – Part 31

When their pastoral offices becomes vacant, many Baptist churches form what is know as a “pulpit is committee”. A pulpit committee typically consists of several church members whom the body has tasked with seeking, interviewing, and recommending pastoral candidates. Have you ever wondered what kinds of questions these churches ask pastoral candidates? How do you think potential pastors should answer these questions? In this on-going series, I will provide actual inquiries from a questionnaire sent to me by the pulpit committee of a Southern Baptist Church, along with my answers. Each part of this series will examine a different question and answer from the church’s questionnaire. Feel free to interact in the comment section with your own opinions of how the questions should have been asked and answered.

(Note: The identity and location of the church has been replaced with generic terms).

Question:

What is your worship music preference?

Answer:

Style is less important than substance.  A song has to be biblical.  I prefer hymns because I think people don’t have to be professional singers to sing them.  Corporate worship should be everyone singing, not a “concert” from the praise team.   As pastor, I would absolutely not allow any music from heretical groups such as Hillsong, Bethel Music, Elevation Music, or Matt Maher.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Pulpit Committee Q & A – Part 30

When their pastoral offices becomes vacant, many Baptist churches form what is know as a “pulpit is committee”. A pulpit committee typically consists of several church members whom the body has tasked with seeking, interviewing, and recommending pastoral candidates. Have you ever wondered what kinds of questions these churches ask pastoral candidates? How do you think potential pastors should answer these questions? In this on-going series, I will provide actual inquiries from a questionnaire sent to me by the pulpit committee of a Southern Baptist Church, along with my answers. Each part of this series will examine a different question and answer from the church’s questionnaire. Feel free to interact in the comment section with your own opinions of how the questions should have been asked and answered.

(Note: The identity and location of the church has been replaced with generic terms).

Question:

What is your position on spiritual health?

Answer:

Christians are accountable to other Christians.  I don’t subscribe to the all-too-common “we are all sinners so you can’t judge me” nonsense.  That’s not biblical at all.  I welcome judgement from other Christians.  Having others to keep you accountable improves the spiritual health of the individual and the local body.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Pulpit Committee Q & A – Part 29

When their pastoral offices becomes vacant, many Baptist churches form what is know as a “pulpit is committee”. A pulpit committee typically consists of several church members whom the body has tasked with seeking, interviewing, and recommending pastoral candidates. Have you ever wondered what kinds of questions these churches ask pastoral candidates? How do you think potential pastors should answer these questions? In this on-going series, I will provide actual inquiries from a questionnaire sent to me by the pulpit committee of a Southern Baptist Church, along with my answers. Each part of this series will examine a different question and answer from the church’s questionnaire. Feel free to interact in the comment section with your own opinions of how the questions should have been asked and answered.

(Note: The identity and location of the church has been replaced with generic terms).

Question:

How would you describe your leadership effectiveness?

Answer:

I’ve learned over the years that leadership involves listening.  When I listen, I’m successful.  When I don’t, I am not.  Leadership, I think, comes down to the conviction to lead.  In a church situation, I think biblical people will follow a biblical leader.  There are tares among the wheat.  A good pastor pastors the wheat and evangelizes the tares.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Pulpit Committee Q & A – Part 28

When their pastoral offices becomes vacant, many Baptist churches form what is know as a “pulpit is committee”. A pulpit committee typically consists of several church members whom the body has tasked with seeking, interviewing, and recommending pastoral candidates. Have you ever wondered what kinds of questions these churches ask pastoral candidates? How do you think potential pastors should answer these questions? In this on-going series, I will provide actual inquiries from a questionnaire sent to me by the pulpit committee of a Southern Baptist Church, along with my answers. Each part of this series will examine a different question and answer from the church’s questionnaire. Feel free to interact in the comment section with your own opinions of how the questions should have been asked and answered.

(Note: The identity and location of the church has been replaced with generic terms).

Question:

How would you rate your interpersonal skills?  What is your biggest strength?

Answer:

They are poor with strangers and great with people who have gotten to know me.

My resolve is my biggest strength.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.