Spin Control: Sorry for the Hassle

In responding to the news article exposing his new mansion, Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC, apologized to his congregation for all the hassle they have gone through because of his taste for fine things.

It sounds like the congregation is completely behind their pastor and feel he deserves to live like one of the celebrity elite, because after hearing his speech they gave him a standing ovation.

I’m just wondering… what is the need for such a big house?  Would it be impossible to live comfortably in a house one-half that size?  Yes?  No?  Don’t care?  I dunno.

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Poor Little Rich Pastor

Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church, seems to like attention, however, he’s getting attention from a news organization that he may not be that fond of.

WCNC, out of Charlotte, NC, is investigating Furtick, and what they want to know is how a pastor, who began his church eight years ago with only 14 members, rose to such prominence in such a short time and managed to build a 16,000 sq. ft., $1.7 million home.  Wow!  A pastor’s salary is GREAT these days.

Aren’t you glad Mr. Furtick is following the model of Jesus and…. wait… Jesus didn’t have any place to lay His head and, as far as we know, owned no personal property.  Never mind.

In the article, Furtick is described as “…one part preacher, one part celebrity.”  So, let’s see what that “celebrity” status has bought him:

“Now, Steven Furtick is spending a lot of that money on a 16,000 square foot house in Weddington. It has 7 ½ bathrooms, according to building permits, which put the contract value of the house alone just shy of $1.4 million. The land cost another $325,000, for a total cost of more than $1.7 million.” (Online Source)

Whoa.  Seven and one-half bathrooms.  I have one and a half and can’t use more than one at a time!

Furtick claims the profits from his books built his house, but how can he get that much of a profit when his church was the ones who bought most of the books to begin with?


Of course, it’s a money racket anyway.  When asked about salaries, megachurch pastors are showing 0% transparency.  Why?  What’s to fear?  And then there’s this…

That means Furtick agrees to pay them to preach at Elevation, and they pay him to preach at their conferences or megachurches. “They attend each other’s conferences and are compensation for that regularly,” said Smith. When Furtick held his Code Orange Revival last year, three of the headliners, pastors Stovall Weems of Jacksonville, Fla., Perry Noble of Anderson, S.C., and Kevin Gerald of Seattle, were all board members at Elevation. Those are three of the five votes that set Furtick’s salary.

Executive pastor James “Chunks” Corbett told NBC Charlotte that pastors get paid for appearances at Elevation Church, but said the pay is “small in scope,” and he won’t disclose the amounts.  (Online Source)

It’s small, but won’t disclose the amount?  I’m not buying it.

Oh, and one more thing…

Elevation Church was founded by, got loans through, and gives missionary money through Southern Baptists. But unlike many Baptist churches, there are no elected deacons or elders here overseeing the church.

There is one man living in the Charlotte area who runs Elevation: Chunks Corbett.  If you want to understand Elevation you have to understand his role. As executive pastor, Corbett is at the center of Furtick’s organization. In 2005  he incorporated Elevation Church. In 2007, he incorporated Corban Properties Southeast – a for-profit company. In 2008, he signed on as trustee for the Jumper Drive Trust that owns the Furtick’s home. And in 2009, he incorporated Sun Stand Still Ministries – another non-profit. All four list the same principal address: 11416 East Independence, Suite N, the location of the Matthews church.  (Online Source)

Doesn’t sound much like a church, does it?  It sounds more like a racket.

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Hillsong Church NYC: Cult of Celebrity

In 1 Corinthians 2:2, the Apostle Paul stated:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

Paul was afraid that if he added his own wisdom or gimmicks to his message, he would detract from the central focus of the gospel, Jesus Christ and His substitutionary atonement.  It’s a shame our ministers today don’t have the same passion at heart.  I think if Paul were evangelizing today, he wouldn’t be hip enough to draw the young, entertainment loving, concert-going crowd.

In New York City, Hillsong Church’s NYC campus is pastored by Carl Lentz.  In an article on Yahoo, the first sentence reads, “Carl Lentz is not your typical pastor.”  (Online Source)  I knew it would only get worse from there.

The Hillsong campus in NYC is a megachurch, and their uncoventional pastor looks like every other culturally relevant, hip, expressive young upstart on the street.  He has his tattoos, and his really cool “half-shaved head and slicked-back mohawk.” (Source:  See link in paragraph above.)

When pastors and their sermons mirror the culture, the culture is what you see and hear in their churches.

People squeeze into whatever space they can find and take notes on iPhones as Lentz marches across the stage, peppering his sermon with Bible verses, jokes, pop music lines and street slang.

“If you’re new to our church, we love you,” said the 34-year-old Lentz. “Don’t be alarmed by the craziness you see. One time somebody said, ‘Y’all are crazy in your church,’ and I said, ‘You ever seen you dance drunk? Don’t be judging us up in church.'”

No, don’t judge – just hop aboard the crazy train and feel your way along!

Lentz is targeting the young, concert-going street crowd, which in and of itself is not a bad thing.  They need to hear the gospel!  Where the train jumps the tracks is where Lentz apes the culture in order to build a culturally relevant church that looks nothing like Christ.  How can it look like Christ when it looks JUST LIKE the world?   Put plainly, mirroring the culture will not produce godly converts, it will produce worldly, unrepentant sinners.

According to the article, most attribute the success of the church to its “young, unorthodox leader.”  In fact, the church claims to attract a crowd of approximately 5,500 to its Sunday services.  That is a lot of warm bodies in one place!  So, why all the attention?  What does this church offer that others don’t?  One simple thing:

Lentz has established himself as his own brand. He has more than 67,000 followers on Twitter and 59,000 on Instagram, where you can find pictures of him standing next to Jay-Z and NBA star Kevin Durant. Justin Bieber posted a picture of himself eating lunch with Lentz, “talking ’bout our savior Jesus Christ.”  (Emphasis mine.)

Hmmm… how important does one have to be to eat lunch with Justin Bieber!  (Not being mean, but unless you’re a 13 year old girl, no one will be much impressed with that.)  Should any pastor, who purports to be a minister of the gospel, exalt himself and establish himself as a “brand?”  Shouldn’t our desire be to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and bring glory to Him and Him alone?  We can make idols out of anything – even ourselves.

In closing, let’s take a look at one last point from the article that I believe reveals how Lentz holds up against the really relevant cultural question of the hour – gay marriage.

When asked his views on gay marriage, did Lentz take the straight and narrow path and stand on what God’s Word has to say about the issue?  No.  He declined to discuss the topic because he feels it is a polarizing issue that young evangelicals have said in repeated surveys that they do not want to be a focus of church.

What I read that to mean is that Lentz won’t stand up and be counted as standing for the truth of God’s Word because the issue would be polarizing to the point of repelling the culture he strives so hard to attract.  You can’t be a brand with no audience to sell it to.

But, is that really so surprising?

I leave you with this from Charles H. Spurgeon:

“An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.

From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, “and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.” No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.

Then again, “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt” (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy—something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, “Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow.” Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.

In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, “Come out, keep out, keep clean out!” Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.

After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray, “Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.” If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods.

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God’s link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.”

Christian Agent Man 007: Too Good to be True

When the evangelical church latches onto the latest poster woman or man to make a hero out of, I always wait patiently to watch them fall.  Remember Carrie Prejean?  Yeah, me too.

What happens when people make heroes out of themselves?  It never fails…they fall too; especially when their tales are taller than anything Hollywood could ever tell.

This is from a report on Crosswore.org:

Tony Anthony’s “Taming the Tiger”, distributed in the UK through the Christian publisher Authentic Media, has sold more than 1.5 million copies in 25 countries. On the back of it, Anthony travels the world preaching the gospel in prisons, schools and churches as far away as Asia, South Africa and South America.

In the book, Tony Anthony says he was taken to China by his grandfather, a Kung-Fu grand master, at the age of four. He was trained in the martial arts and became Kung Fu world champion three times. He then moved to Cyprus, becoming an elite bodyguard to businessmen, gangsters and diplomats before being jailed in Nicosia Central Prison for a series of thefts from hotels. It was in prison that Tony Anthony says he became a Christian.  (Online Source.)

The only problem is, Tony Anthony is not his real name, his grandfather was a laundry worker who died seven years before he was born, and it doesn’t look like anything in his book is true.

From this, we can safely assume Mr. Anthony’s “desire” to share the gospel was about as honest as his autobiography.  Taking that much aforethought and intent to weave outright lies about yourself… the priority here was not Christ Jesus, but Tony Anthony.  My how idols fall.

Too bad 1.25 million people were not discerning enough to be avoid being drawn in by his yarns.

Special Note: Blog post edited to add the following update from the main article.

Update (12 July 2013): The Evangelical Alliance and Avanti Ministries issued a joint statement late last night confirming that Tony Anthony’s story is false and that Avanti are withdrawing support for Taming the Tiger.  You can read it here.

Tolerance Schmolerance

Christians are indicted for their lack of tolerance for the homosexual lifestyle/agenda.  We are castigated, ostracized, and demonized for our unwillingness to throw God’s Word aside and assimilate into a culture of inclusivity and tolerance for what God has called sin.  While homosexual rights activists scream tolerance, they are beating down our ministers in the streets.  Too bad that tolerance doesn’t go both ways, right?

Christians are called homophobes and domestic terrorists because we have the gall to believe the Bible, which most public servants in this nation swear upon, by the way, is God’s Word, but when we preach and uphold the actual truth of His Word, we face being labeled as dissenters, having our phones tapped, having the IRS dissect our financial posterity, and run the risk of being beat down in the streets.

While the men in this video are facing assault charges, I think this shows just how quickly things are slipping away.   While the liberal sycophants call for us to show tolerance, their tolerance for God’s infallible truth is non-existent.  Either assimilate or face the consequences.

With a national climate like this, can God really bless America?

Take a look.

Oprah and Friends

Could you imagine the apostle Paul joining hands with the pagans in Rome to reach out to conquer such societal ills as fractured families and fatherless children?  It’s a noble cause, to be sure, but that wasn’t Paul’s mission.  His mission was to preach Christ and Him crucified.

Far too often, many make the mistake of believing that by cleaning up society, they can improve life.  Sadly, this never works because even if there were no divorce or fatherless children, man would still be lost in their sins.  You can clean up a pig, but it will still be a pig.  You can dress up a sinner in their Sunday best, but they will still be a sinner.  How sad our modern ministers don’t know this.

In an article on the Christian Post, Modalist and Prosperity minister T. D. Jakes stated:

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are in life, everyone is looking for answers, and MegaFest is the place to find them,” Jakes has said about the festival. “Whether you come on your own or with family and friends, one thing is for sure: people attending MegaFest will find joy, fun, great music, encouraging community and powerful messages of inspiration, hope and purpose.”  (Online Source.)

With such speakers as New Age Priestess Oprah Winfrey, who famously said when referring to Jesus, “There couldn’t possibly be just one way!” T. D. Jakes, and Joel Osteen, one thing people attending will not find is the gospel.

Rodney Howard-Browne is not Amused

Seems like Rodney Howard-Browne (RHB), the self-titled “Holy Ghost Bartender,” is not amused with John MacArthur’s upcoming “Strange Fire” conference.  In fact, he made note of it on his Facebook page and warned MacArthur and friends that should they continue, they are in danger of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

Phil Johnson, Executive Director of “Grace to You,” wasn’t amused and wasn’t pulling punches when he responded to RHB’s comment over at Grace to You’s blog on their website.

You can read that by clicking here.