Thinking Out Loud

April 13, 2011

Wednesday Link List


  • Was going to link the above video, but decided it really needed to be here on its own.
  • Kathy Escobar gets invited to speak at a graduation by someone who wants to inspire the students by pushing the envelope; but then, when word is out that a woman pastor has been asked to speak, she gets un-invited.
  • It turns out Bethany Hamilton’s family had a tough fight with the film directors to keep the faith element visible in the movie Soul Surfer.  But the CNN article notes that removing the faith element would have killed the film entirely.
  • Rick Kirkpatrick launched a new site Worship Mythbusters which introduces an audio podcast — there are six so far — for worship leaders (and others) which runs about a half hour.  (We listened to episode three.)
  • “He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped…”  Most of us know this passage in Philippians well, and have assumed it to be an early church hymn, but Gordon Fee suggests it doesn’t fit an established pattern.
  • Mark Batterson figured the next phase for D.C.’s National Community Church would involve 3 to 4 years.  Then God said, “How about 3 to 4 weeks?”  The church is purchasing an existing church building on a Capitol Hill main street.
  • XXXChurch founder Craig Gross reminds us again what we’ve been hearing for a few years now: Addiction to adult content online is increasingly a problem for women.
  • Darrell at Stuff Fundies Like reviews last Friday night’s 20/20 program at ABC Television dealing with the IFB Church, or Independent Fundamentalist Baptists.  Speaking of which…
  • A young girl was allegedly removed from a Mennonite home where parents were following the book Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl, but because this child didn’t die, it didn’t get media attention.
  • David Fitch argues for a different type of church leader, with a half dozen descriptions of what that leader is, and what he or she isn’t.
  • My goodness!  There really is a typo in the climactic final line of Rob Bell’s Love Wins. Guess it happens to the best of them, right?
  • Bob Glenn acknowledges the WWJD type of thinking is harmful as it reduces Christian living to a slogan.
  • It’s time again for Kent Shaffer’s list of the top 200 Christian blogs.  And once again, I am quite sure, this blog was # 201!!
  • Rachel Held Evans quotes her own book with a disturbing suggestion that in advancing apologetics, we created a monster.
  • If you remember the humor and satire blog, Tom in the Box, you might want to know that it has somewhat resurfaced as The Heretic Mug Collection.
  • And Jason Boyett has mellowed out a little at his new home at Beliefnet. Check out his series of interviews on different types of “conversion” experiences.
  • On February 25th, Jim Lehmer decided that social media is about to collapse, and he hasn’t blogged since.  Obviously getting ready for what he calls, “the great un-friending.’
  • Is it just me or does pastor Steven Furtick’s blog render completely differently in Firefox than it does in Chrome?
  • To wrap up this week… If you’re the parent of a tween, you already know who Rebecca Black is, and the song that what follows below is a well-done parody of… (I think they actually improved the song!)
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December 21, 2010

Joyce Meyer/Beth Moore Piece is this Blog’s #1 Post for 2010

On that penultimate day in January when I posted an article about Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer, I had no idea that months later, people would still be seeking out the pictures of the house where Joyce lives, which appears to be the main reason “Who Exactly Is Teaching The Women in Your Church” is the #1 post at Thinking Out Loud for 2010.

I have no regrets posting those pictures.    I don’t know if readers in the Christian blogosphere would have uncovered the work of a local journalist, and I thought that the photos should be more public.   I believe that while all Christians are accountable to God, people in ministry enter a public life not unlike politicians, which demands greater accountability.

James 3: 1-2a, The Message Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths.

And then there was this comment, posted just today by Ryan, which brings much of this into focus:

Wow, I can’t believe people here are bashing the post.  It’s a simple concept that this is portraying.

Let me give you a scenario:  I’m asking YOU for your hard earned-limited money so I can promote the work of God say like, going to a third world country to help out some folks and buy food to take over there, plus to maintain the food supply to adequately feed them…and lets add to the cause of building an orphanage in Capetown, Africa.  I do that right? I do what’s promised and I can show proof.  However, if I’m living in a 20-million dollar mansion and/or driving around in a flashy expensive 7 digit car and/or flying around in my G6-I guess the real question is do I need your money which could go towards a more needing facilitator?

I’m going to be a dentist and all I can think about is what can I do more?  Not what can I get more of?  With me, the question is how many more mouths could I feed rather than living a lavish lifestyle on this temporary earth?

Which matters more to God? The acres I own or the acres I sacrificed to own? Doesn’t God say all these things will pass away? So why the need to own beyond what is necessary?

I’m not bashing anyone just stating facts and what posses a threat to what we are really called to do (be Gods hands and feet to the least of these)?   If I wasn’t a Christian I would dismiss all the good works that these people have done by the base of the $$$$ materialistic things they posses.

These things use to be important to me till I went on a mission trip. Changed my whole life and where I wanted a Lamborghini – big house – fancy car – maid service – everything that MY money could buy;  I would rather build a church and orphanage somewhere or do something that helps someone. You fill in the blank… They said this trip will mess up your life and it did, but in a GOOD way.

…I used to believe in the whole famous “Kingdom Prosperity” until God changed my heart.  Why are you giving?  To get something back?  So, on the pretenses of “if” – but only if I get something back I will give.  That’s the only reason why you give?  Your heart is in the wrong place.  Did Jesus die (give) his life in the expectancy of (getting) your life in return?  Nope, it was by choice.  He knew he would be denied by many, but still GAVE his life without the need to “GET”.  We are to be Christ “like” so that means to give without the expectancy of a return.

If you haven’t already, you can read the original post and comments here.   I’m going to close comments on this page so that additional responses may be added to the original piece.

January 30, 2010

Who Exactly Is Teaching The Women in Your Church?

Other bloggers can talk all they want about John Piper, Scot McKnight, Tim Keller, Francis Chan,  etc., but I work in a Christian bookstore and in that environment, only one name mattered this week: Beth Moore.    Her So Long Insecurity: You’ve Been a Bad Friend To Us (Tyndale, 2010) is out in hardcover at $24.99 US this month and has captured the top spot on a couple of the Spring Arbor overnight Top 100 charts this week.

Before going further, I have to ask:  What’s with the United States and all their hardcover releases?   I thought y’all were in the middle of an economic downturn?

Okay, the question is rhetorical.   When it comes to Beth Moore, money is no object.   Almost all her book titles have released in hardcover, a situation she shares with her slightly more charismatic friend, Joyce Meyer.   Neither one of these women have any problem sucking money out of the pockets of their fans.

In fairness though, while Meyer may not be able to control everything her publisher does with her hardcovers, she apparently does give away many of her teaching DVDs and CDs to ministry organization.

With Moore, the commercialism is more overt.   When Moore isn’t writing general book titles for publishers such as Tyndale, she’s producing another small group Bible study for Lifeway.    I gotta be honest here, I have a hard time even typing Lifeway into a sentence, and I just about retch saying it out loud.

Lifeway is the most ingenious money sucking device ever invented by Baptists, and trust me, they’ve invented several.    My anger knows no bounds in this, but fortunately it’s righteous anger, so I can rationalize it in large amounts.

Here’s how the scam works:   Lifeway, a producer of dated Sunday School curriculum decided long ago that there was far more money in delineating its non-dated adult small group material as curriculum also, and sells it to distributors at what is called a short-discount.    Your favorite Christian bookstore or online vendor is simply not making a lot of money on it.   So who is?

Often, such as in the case of church choral and orchestral product, or certain esoteric Bible translation materials, the discount is shortened to keep the price affordable.    But with many of Moore’s DVD teaching sets retailing at $250 US, that simply isn’t the case here.

Years ago, Serendipity House held back products from distribution — selling them only through their own system — to cover development costs.   That’s not the case here, either.   The retail prices of the study guides — almost always $19 US and coyly termed “member books” — usually cost participants twice the price of any other DVD-related participant guides and more than cover any possible development costs.

But the price is minor when you factor in the volume.   Moore and Lifeway together are selling thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of these things.   The Lifeway anchor store we visited in Nashville had a staff member assigned solely to this one aisle of product, and when he went to lunch someone else covered for him.   The appetite of Christian women’s groups for Beth Moore knows no bounds;  not denominationally and not geographically.    James MacDonald, who won’t let the wives of any of his staff members do anything other than be stay at home housewives, included her on his Downpour tour.    She’s ubiquitous; able to boldly go where no woman has gone before and command fees that no one has ever charged before.

And what qualifies this person who is teaching our mothers, daughters, wives, sisters and girlfriends?

She has a degree in political science.

Okay, let’s be fair,  she also has an honorary doctorate in humanities from Howard Payne University (no I haven’t heard of it, either) a Baptist (surprise) university located in Brownwood, Texas (surprise) whose basketball team won a national championship in 1957.   According to Wikipedia she went to a Biblical doctrine class (whoo hoo) and then started a women’s Bible study that grew to over 2,000.    But when it comes to earned education, their report stops with this:

She has a degree in political science.

Joyce Meyer?   She claims an earned degree from the non-accredited Life Christian University, and also has an honorary degree from ORU.   She doesn’t have $250 DVD teaching series, nor do her various publishers and DVD creators stiff Christian bookstores with a short discount.   And I’m willing to give her points for growing up in adversity and having attended the school of hard knocks.

But the private jet always comes up in conversation.   You gotta be careful here, however, since the counter argument is always to look at the places she travels in a year and then compare the cost (and time) involved in commercial flights.     I’m willing to let her have the thing.

I’m not so willing to concede on the luxury homes or the lifestyle that goes with them, regardless of how much money she gives away.   There are casinos which payout 94% of all they take in.   That’s nice.   It’s the 6% that bothers me.  Check out this estate plan:

Here’s the extended photo caption for this picture by Robert Cohen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Joyce Meyer Ministries bought these 5 homes for Meyer and her family. The Ministry pays all expenses, including landscaping and lawn care, property taxes and rehab work. Meyer, her husband and each of their four married children live in the homes, free of charge.”

  • (1) Principal Residence of David and Joyce Meyer
    Bought: April 27th, 1999
    Purchase Price: About $795,000
    Square Footage: 10,000
    Cost of Improvements: $1.1 Million
    Features: 6 Bedrooms, 5 Bathrooms, Gold Putting Green, Swimming pool, 8 Car Heated and Cooled Garage, Guest House with 2 more bedrooms, Gazebo.
  • (2) Residence of: Daughter, Sandra McCollom and her husband Steve
    Bought: February 12, 2002
    Purchase Price: $400,000
    Square Footage: About 5,000
    Cost of Improvements: About $250,000
    Features: 4 Bedrooms, 3 full and 2 half Bathrooms, All-Seasons room, Prayer Room, Media Center and a Home Office.
  • (3)Residence of: Son, David Meyer and his wife Joy Meyer.
    Bought: June 18, 2001Purchase Price: $725,000
    Square Footage: 4,000
    Cost of Improvements: Unknown
    Features: 2 Story Colonial, 4 Bedrooms, 2 1/2 Bathrooms, 2 Garages and a Utility Shed
  • (4) Residence of: Daughter, Laura Holtzmann and her husband Doug
    Bought: March 7, 2001
    Purchase Price: $350,000
    Square Footage: 2,358
    Cost of Improvements: $3,000
    Features: 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms with a Fireplace.
  • (5) Residence of: Son, Dan Meyer and his wife Charity
    Bought: Mar 13, 2000
    Purchase Price: About 200,000
    Square Footage: About 2,000
    Cost of Improvements: $33,000
    Features: Brick Ranch With Full Finished Basement
  • [Read more here] (Last updated 1.11.09)

    Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.   Here’s some alternatives for you to consider:  Donna Partow, Luci Swindoll, Elizabeth George, Thelma Wells, Lysa TerKeurst, Liz Curtis Higgs, Shaunti Feldhahn, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Stasi Eldredge, Lisa Bevere, Stormie Omartian, Jill Briscoe, and the list goes on and on.  (DVD and/or workbooks are available for study material for the majority of these authors; all at lower cost than the aforementioned Ms. Moore.)

    In conclusion, Moore and Meyer are teachers that lead and inspire the women in many, many churches; and many women either dream or consciously want to emulate Meyer or Moore.   In Moore’s case, a denomination holding solidly to the premise that women should not pastor (see link below) has no problem ceding the responsibility for much teaching to a woman whose only earned degree is in political science.   In Meyer’s case, it’s often both men and women who enjoy her teaching, while she herself enjoys a personal life of excess.

    Related article in this blog:  Lifeway Reveals Its Total Hypocrisy – 09/28/08

    UPDATE: April 4, 2011 — After more than a year of taking a lot of heat for this particular blog post, I’ve decided to close comments.  I appreciate the replies to this article, which is the closest thing I’ve ever done to anything investigative, but I really don’t have a vendetta here, and I carry both Joyce’s and Beth’s products in the two bookstores I do buying for.

    I’ve defended my reasons for running this and leaving it up in various responses to the comments. Please read them. I’ve tried to make it clear my goal was not to wound or hurt anyone.  Still, some writers have made it their goal to judge me for posting this. I’m sorry we don’t know each other better.

    I think the replies, 37 as of now, show the variety of opinions people have on this issue. Also, I need to suggest that for some, the “wrongness” or “excess” of any preacher’s housing, if any, will diminish as the U.S. climbs out of recession.

    I’d also invite you to read a follow up piece that appeared here several months later.

    Finally, I would want to remind you that a great many people found this because they were indeed searching for pictures of Joyce’s house.  I really don’t know why. And I also want to reiterate that the main issue concerning Beth had to do with the politics by which her products are sold.

    For the record, I am in favor of women as elders, women in ministry and women as pastors. But I would like to think there was a solid theological education underpinning that role. However again, I would also like to say that education isn’t everything, and that the main criteria noted with the disciples in Acts was that they were seen to have “spent time with Jesus.”


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