“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8 NIV
“What it means to be human, just the properties of human nature, is such that it is inevitable, not likely or probable, but inevitable, that people who wield political power and are permitted to do so in the dark and without lots of checks and accountability and transparency will abuse that power and abuse it severely. We’re all familiar with the phrase that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely; we usually invoke it when we’re talking about those bad tyrants in those other countries, but it actually is grounded in a recognition of what human nature is.”
-Glenn Greenwald: “Edward Snowden and the Secrets of the National Security State.” Speech at the University of Utah, April 7, 2015
YouTube – beginning @ 32:58
Who is Alex Himaya, and why is he jumping off a cliff?
Alex Himaya, a rising celebrity in the Southern Baptist Conference (SBC) is the senior pastor of BattleCreek Church located in Broken Arrow, OK. (Tulsa area.) He is currently leading his church in a giving campaign called “All In.” They are attempting to raise $50 million.
Himaya was the class president at Ouachita Baptist University, graduating in 1993.
“Ouachita Baptist University is a private, Baptist university in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The university’s name is taken from the Ouachita River, which forms the eastern campus boundary. It is affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.” –Wikipedia
After graduating from Ouachita Baptist University, Himaya headed south to Dallas, TX and obtained a M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
From 1996-2002 Himaya was the youth pastor at Ronnie Floyd’s mega-church located in Northwest Arkansas.
Here is a clip of Himaya speaking at Floyd’s church, thanking Floyd for all he has done for him.
Himaya is also friends with Johnny Hunt, likely facilitated by Hunt’s close ties Ronnie Floyd. Both Floyd and Hunt are past Presidents of the SBC.
Himaya is a gifted leader, motivator and organizer. He agreed to become pastor of a small, dying, debt-ridden church in Broken Arrow, OK in 2002 and eighteen years later has been instrumental in seeing that church grow into a mega-church with six campuses across the Tulsa area.
As far as I can tell the church has no board of elders or trustees that govern the church. Instead, I am told the church is guided by a secretive pastor’s council. There seems to a lack of accountability or transparency to the members. The leadership team below is not the same as the Council.
I have been able to discover two of the members of the Council. One is Mike Baab, a wealthy man who is the the Executive Director of the council, a job for which Baab takes no salary. Baab is a member of an exclusive golf club in Tulsa called “Southern Hills Country Club.” It is one of the top 25 golf courses in the USA and will be the site of the PGA Tournament next summer. Cost to join the club is $100,000 and the yearly dues are $30,000. Below is a photo of Himaya and Baab at the golf club.
Julie Bullock is another member of the Council. She is a very successful fund raiser and has worked for a company called Generis for 13 years.
Generis is a company that advises clients (church leaders) on how to increase giving through fund raisers as well as weekly giving.
I am guessing that Himaya is utilizing the services of Generis in the “All In” campaign currently in progress at BattleCreek church. I will have more on this in a follow-up article.
Of interest to me (and perhaps the Secret Service) is the statement made in the video below by Julie Bullock. She said that most churches did not need the PPP money and have, in fact, banked it.
Apparently she doesn’t realize banking the PPP money is an ethical breach and very possibly a fraudulent use of the PPP money. (See the partial loan application below. You must certify that you need the money to support the ongoing operation of your business. It is to go to retain workers, pay their salaries, make mortgage payments or pay utilities. )
By the way, BattleCreek Church received $1.28 million in PPP money. I would guess they likely banked the taxpayers handout.
I have much more information to share on Himaya and BatteCreek Church, but it will have to be in another post, stay tuned.
Meanwhile, here is a great excerpt from a great book. Perhaps it will restore some sanity to the radical, all in types.
“As I look around the landscape of evangelicalism, the world I find myself in, the mundane escapes notice. The ordinary is given lip-service, but overlooked like the garnish on a steak dinner. What the evangelical church really wants is something as large as God Himself, whether personality or performance, workers or windfalls.
The call is to do something big. I’ve sat on the edge of my front-row seat and heard the call thundered from pulpits. And I’ve been the one thundering:
“Change the world,” I can hear myself crying out. “Change your world. Change the world of someone. Anyone. Sell everything. Sell anything. Give it away. Do something crazy. Be radical. Make people stand up and notice. Take a risk. Jesus moved from heaven to earth and gave up his life and yet you — you just go about your daily life.”
All too easily I can hear myself burdening the room with words, phrases, and ideas I’ve heard elsewhere:
“Your days should be blood-earnestly marked by an urgent, nerve-twisting love for people you have never known,” I might say. “And if you truly loved them you would join the missions team’s trip at the expense of your vacation to know them. If you loved God, you would do it. And if you really believed-BELIEVED, you would go and stay. You should want to go. It should be hard to stay where you are in the comfort of where you are.”
My own voice, like a lance, slashes through the darkness in every soul before me:
“You worship,” I berate them. “And then what do you do? You rest. You huddle in your house with your spouse and kids. You eat. You drink. You make love. Go to your kid’s games. Go out with friends. You have clean sheets, clean stainless-steel refrigerators and clean water. You change nothing while millions die in poverty. Each week is a brick used to build the house of a wasted ordinary existence.”
I’ve heard all of it flail in my own head and lash against my ribs, leaving sourness in my stomach no medicine can aid. Worse: similar words, if not these very ones, I turned into whips with which to waken the consciences of those sitting before me. It never felt right but it preached well.
No lie. I used to preach and teach like this. And if I didn’t use the exact words and draw the precise conclusions, I let the listener fill them in like some twisted religious Mad-Lib.
But then I began to ask questions. The inconvenient ones.
Really? Is this the normal Christian life? Is God sitting around waiting for each and every believer to do something monumental? Is this the warp and woof of the New Testament? Are the lifestyles of the Apostles the standard for the persons in the pew? Are the first-century believers the standard?
Is this our God?
In the economy of God, do only the times when we are doing something life-changing have any spiritual cache with Him?
Does He look over the mundane work of the housewife only to see the missions trip she may go on?
So, I wondered. I wondered about the great majority I have known and know. The great majority living fairly ordinary lives.
Is there a God, for instance, for those who are not changing anything but diapers? Is there a God for those who simply love their spouse and pour out rarely-appreciated affection on their children day after day? Is there a God for the mom who spends what feels like God-forsaken days changing diapers and slicing up hot dogs? Is there a God for the men who hammer out a day’s work in obscurity for the love of his wife and kids? Is there a God for just and kind employers? Generous homemakers? Day-laborers who would look at a missions trip to Romania like it was an unimaginable vacation?
Is there a God for the middle-class mom staving off cancer, struggling to raise teenagers and simply hoping both Mom and Dad keep their job? Is there a God for the broken home with a full bank account but an empty bed? Is there a God for grown children tending to the health of their aged parents?
Is there a God, who delights in the ordinary existence of the unknown faithful doing unknown work? Is there a God of grace for those who live out their faith everywhere but do not want to move anywhere?
Is there a God for those who have bigger homes than me? More money than me? Nicer cars than me? Better health than me?
Is there a God for the mundane parts of life, the small moments? Is there a God of kind smiles, good tips and good mornings? Is there a God of goodbye hugs and parting kisses? What about firm, truthful handshakes and grasps of frail fingers in sanitized hospital rooms?
Does God care about the forgotten mundane moments between the sensational, those never remembered? Or are those spiritually vacuous moments for which there is no God?
Is there a God of the mundane?
Does this God I worship care about mundane people and moments?
I’m not crazy. I know there are others asking the same question. But it felt like the lonely question we ask into the night sky where no one will answer. And when we can finally ask it, the comfort is not in the answer so much as wishing we could hear others asking the same question. If misery loves company, a company of wondering would have been nice.
But I kept looking into that night sky. It began looking less empty with all its stars and planets and blank blackness. And the question, hanging there, caught in the beauty of the firmament, yearned for an answer echoing throughout the constellatory.”
“The God of the Mundane” by Matt Redding
Proof once again that all it takes to be a mega-pastor in America is a touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a bag of gimmicks. You can add cliff-jumping to the gimmicks list now. I’m so old that I remember when Southern Baptist pastors were Gospel preachers, not showmen. When we look back on this chapter in the history of the American church will we laugh or cry?
You called it. The above campaign appears to be in the gimmicks category, Max.
A Cliff Riff on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that raised $90M for ALS research to help those suffering with ALS.
The Cliff Riff Challenge by Pastor Pickpocket to “go all in and make your life uncomfortable” is $50M for what? (Needy orphans seeking a new life? Suffering widows barely scraping by, eating pet food on a fixed income long surpassed by inflation? Displaced people fleeing for their lives?)
In any case, when the Cliff Riff Challenge says “You’ll be uncomfortable,” it’s 100% true. The Cliff Riff Challenge is uncomfortable to one’s moral conscience:
” … inevitable, that people who wield political power and are permitted to do so in the dark and without lots of checks and accountability and transparency will abuse that power and abuse it severely.” from the Glenn Greenwald quote.
Here’s another to prove your point:
Pastor William Neil “Doc” Gallagher. Find via Google.
In the News, now with a public record.
So much wrong here–thank you for bringing this to our attention, Todd!
This is certainly not a critical piece of information, but if you read this man’s bio and wondered how in the world to pronounce the name of his college in Arkansas, Ouachita Baptist, it’s pronounced “wash’-uh-tah”. I didn’t attend that college, but I live in the state. Indian place names are scattered here and there. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my brain, I’ll read the rest of the article.
“Alex has been blessed with the unique ability to connect with individuals on a personal and spiritual level.”
Wow, that’s amazing! Alex is the one and only person on this planet who can connect with individuals on a personal and spiritual level! We all need to drop everything and rush to his church and give him money!
uhhhh … shouldn’t that be in the toolkit for ‘every’ pastor?!
As some have said, “Just give me Jesus,” Who is no money collector, and BTW, Jesus gave us Himself and gave us His Holy Spirit. Gave not sold. As in gifts. Spiritual fruit of the Holy Spirit, as well as gifts of the Holy Spirit to us, the church. Church is not a business enterprise.
The cost of discipleship is not a fee, unless you’re the rich young ruler, in which case, all his riches were to be donated to the poor and needy. Not to a pastor or church.
Churches don’t collect money for the poor and needy. They collect money for Pastor Pickpockets’ lavish lifestyle and private plane, etc. And for buildings and casino-worthy stage shows.
A lawsuit would take it all when the first pewsitter has an “uncomfortable” broken back on his/her jump. But, I figure they had to sign a release before the plunge, in addition to membership contracts, NDAs and assorted other paperwork required by Pastor Alex.
Quachita means “Good Hunting Grounds” … SBC and it’s affiliated colleges/seminaris has become just that for the New Calvinist movement.
When someone says “Go jump off a cliff!” in my neck of the woods, it’s not a good thing.
I think that quality is pretty widely distributed among the generality of humankind. I know lots of people who “engage on a personal and spiritual level.”
We used to vacation in the Ouachita part of the Ozarks when we lived in Natchitoches, Louisiana. We loved Petit Jean!
Now for a pronunciation guide to “Natchitoches” and “Petit Jean.” 😀
Yeah….. and every successful CEO, charlatan, Houdini, fortune teller, riverboat gambler, horse trader, prostitute, used car salesman, pyramid scheme creator, and snake oil salesman.
I probably missed more than a few types. But I think Alex leans more towards the sort of unique characters I mentioned. Some of our churches are more like casinos these days. And, some of our older SBC so-called leaders paved the way very well.
I bet this is just the tip of the Alex Himaya iceberg. Not to mention Julie Bullock. Geesh!! I can’t wait for the follow-up stories!
You had me at the first two videos. Loved the lemmings jumping!!! Back to reading.
Is Generis giving clients bad or illegal advice? Take the PPE and bank it? You’ve uncovered something here.
Also, the secret council of BattleCreek Church is bizarre. Such secrecy usually means some bad is going on and the “folks” would be upset if they knew about it.
BattleCreek is a member of the SBC. https://churches.sbc.net/church/battlecreek-church-broken-arrow/
I love these covert folks. They are obviously ashamed with the connection.
“Jumping off a Cliff for Jesus.”
Why does this remind me of Luke 4:9-11?
A Wannabe Dodeka?
Do they have secret handshakes and Degrees?
So did Adolf Hitler, at every speech at Nuremberg.
(Outside observers likened the Nuremberg Rallies to Revival Meetings.)
Headless Unicorn Guy,
I was thinking more of people who connect with others one-on-one and help to inspire others to be better people. I meet these people regularly.
Here I was thinking secretive pastor’s councils were a feature of ARC-related churches more than SBC-affiliated ones (Furtick/Elevation already straddles both fences). I guess it is becoming a feature of the CBN crowd who want to eschew Elder boards with all its pesky faux-accountability (genuine elder boards – i.e., non-SBC ones – tend to be more accountable to their congregations) that so typify the 9Marks crowd.
Also, let’s all pour one out for the homies: Himaya’s quality connections. While it is good to be the king, it is also good to be in thick with the king.
BTW, can we take a moment to acknowledge just how bad Himaya’s theology is in the first video? His statements on the Holy Spirit, much less his interpretation of the miracle at Cana, is not biblical (it’s decidedly heterodox) and does not live up with the orthodox teachings of the Church. However, it perfectly meshes with the American “it’s all about me” version of Christianity.
I was thinking Matthew 8:28-34
There are too many hidden secrets, wizards behind the curtain, dark corners, elephant rooms, etc. in the organized church these days. What happened to transparency?
So what’s the best way to communicate with Battlecreek’s “flock” to share this article? Somehow we must give them the opportunity to see this article. Especially those who have felt the pressure to give big bucks that don’t have it w/o Battlecreek having any transparency. COVID-19 has been horrible for may physically, mentally, and financially. And this dude is using lots of tricks to grab at their $$. These folks are trying to follow God. Praying for them!!
The plot thickens.
The Big Org is deliciously leering at the $50M catch, and will equally support every SBC copycat Cliff Grift $50M Challenge.
“The Big Org is deliciously leering at the $50M catch”
i’ll leap and say this means giving a pass to dishonest, corrupt, & abusive conduct.
Do they have deacons? Although Baptist isn’t in their name they are part of SBC. Traditionally, Baptist Churches have deacons that make church decisions. Since they are not mentioned I am guessing no.
Speaking of jumping off a cliff, another SBC development at one of its colleges (Southwest Baptist University) most likely has a New Calvinism undercurrent to it:
“SBU Placed on Probation by Accrediting Body”
No reference to either deacons or elders on their website. So is Pastor Alex accountable to anyone?
I distinctly remember in mid 1980’s while a graduate student, Campus Crusade for Christ writing on the sidewalks with caulk where students walk on my University, “Maximum Sex”… Friday, 8:00 pm, Rm Xxx
See, CCC was hosting a “big event”, guest speaker Josh McDowell..
His talk was about how the best sex is with your wife, etc…
I was remember asking the leadership of Campus Crusade “Isn’t this kind of dishonest”, and said, “Oh, No, these are “teasers”….
Big Org takes their cut. Then franchises the scheme, in the style of the Ice Bucket ALS Challenge, only not for charity, but for dynasty.
Kinda mafia-esque, vero?
Bill Bright had lots of gimmicks. The “Will you take my survey…?” leading to the Salvation Interrogation at the end. All dishonest.
The couple that wanted to “visit”. Turns out to be a 3-point presentation with a close that demanded $$$ support for their CCC ministry. Without warning. Under pretense of 3 cups of coffee. Lying deception for Jesus.
I ain’t jumpin’ off no cliff fer’ jeezus!
He doesn’t appear to be. The same model Mark Driscoll uses!
They want to manufacture more melodrama in our lives until we get hooked on melodrama.
This Himaya doesn’t tell anyone as far as I can see, how to count the good cost.
This ain’t about Jesus … they don’t need to drag Him into this scheme … it’s about Pastor Alex and the $50 million he wants.
I can think of a Groucho Marx-like reply to that, lol. Like, for example
Is there a big difference between All In and I Surrender All?
Fundagelicalism is as obsessed with sex as the secular world is, but in the opposite direction.
Obviously, my “reply and quote” needs work.
For whose pocket? Grifting for Jesus? Building His dynasty on Earth? Go ye into all the world and build, then entertain? Fly, with your family and friends on your personal jet for the Gospel? And/or sail and party on your yacht for Jesus?
The “theology” of doing anything to get “all” or “more” of the Holy Spirit was bad in the charismatic movement. It is just as awful in a mega Southern Baptist Church. Flee as quickly as possible! You are every bit as big a mark to take your money for his personal use as any other blab it and grab it preacher.
… usually means the pewsitters are going to have to dig deeper into their pockets … in this case, $50 million
Peter had some stern words for Simon who wanted to buy the Holy Spirit ““To hell with you and your money! How dare you think you could buy the gift of God! You can have no share or place in this ministry, for your heart is not honest before God” (Acts 8:18-25 Phillips).
Pastor needs a new private jet?
(Must keep up with the Furticks and Copelands…)
Since the latter is originally French, I’d think it’s “Petty Zhon” with the “n” fading out in that French silent word-ending.
Which is why Christians and Wartburgers never need to watch soap opera.
“BUT EVERYBODY’S DOING IT!!!!!
WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON – GOD‘S OR SATAN’S?????”
The word is FUEHRERPRINZIP.
But then how can you Get More Holy Spirit to rub in the other guy’s face?
Christianese One-Upmanship strikes again.
Missouri Baptists have been at odds with each other for quite some time. Some of it concerns the new Calvinists, but some of it concerns the good old boy power structure vs newby power structure. Some involves hyper fundies who want to run everything, and non fundies who feel the same.
A lot is just Missouri being Missouri. Everyone born and raised here thinks their “side” on any issue is the original one and only Missouri side, and everybody else is an outsider. And the battle can rage nasty over do you say “Missour-ee” or “Missour–uh.” As in are you CSA or USA by belief and heritage? There are other speech terms also that tell all. Do you say “you uns or ya’ll?” Big difference. Town place name pronunciations are key also.
As a transplant, for the most part I try to judge who I am talking to and speak “their” language to avoid shunning. And change the subject when some questions arise:)
You stole my shtick, Muff.
(Though my original did use a NSFW term instead of “obsessed”.)
The American church has jumped off a cliff and not hit bottom yet.
I don’t think so, but the group “Generis” carefully crafts their words and intentionally steers clear of what they consider outdated references from the past.
For example, here is a quote from their blog on giving:
“The giving moment (or offering time) is one of the best opportunities to enhance understanding of the theology and practicality of giving to the church, both for people who give in services and those who give outside services…
During the giving moment, use clear language and eliminate more traditional church terms that newer people do not understand (for example, “tithes and offerings”) wherever possible.”
Headless Unicorn Guy,
love your comments, HEADLESS! hyperbole at its best 🙂
Look at some of the Prophets.
A lot of them majored in Snark (including that Rabbi from Nazareth), Amos is full of awful puns, and Ezekiel had as dirty a mouth as anybody.
Yet Christians read their snark and hyperbole at face value as plain statements of FACT, FACT, FACT.
And I don’t think they’ll come up with a brilliant plan to save themselves before they hit.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
I have always like the battle of the “prophets” about starting a fire… and the Israeli prophet say, “Hey, where is your g$d, is he out taking a pee?”
Be careful. Some friends here oppose the use of German words with certain connotations.
And after that great triumph, Queen Jezebel orders a hit on him and he ends up hunkered down in Sinai with a serious Depression.
Campus Crusade (or whatever they call themselves these days) was always fond of that sort of Bait-and-Switch advertising. And my local chapter (Cal Poly Pomona, 1976-78) wasn’t even the worst of them.
In my case it waa a magic show by an “Andre Cole”, hyped up with a walking box marked with question marks and hinting at the Paranormal. What they delivered was a decent stage magic show that segued into End Time Prophecy/Global Thermonuclear War/Armageddon and ended with an Altar Call.
But the most “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?” moment was when the Billy Graham Crusade was coming to town (Anaheim Stadium, at the other end of Brea Canyon). The announcement went out to “Invite your Unsaved friends to the Crusade” (for obvious reasons) and…
INSTANT PANIC! “Oh No I Only Have Two Weeks to Make some HEATHEN Friends So I Can Take Them to the Crusade And Get Them SAVED! WHAT DO I DO? WHAT DO I DO?”
It was like something you’d see on South Park! For Real!
South Park. Back in the day.
Don’t forget the party yacht.
Planes, yachts, and imports … for the gospel. Galore.
Off the backs of the working class. For these individuals that report to no one. Cash cow churching.
Equipped with hoochie-coochie “praise and worship” teams on stage with fog machines and laser lights, in tight pants swaying to the beat of the drum.
Very typical of SBC churches planted (or taken over) by the new wave of young SBC preachers. Any SBC affiliation is quietly tucked away in a remote corner of their website. I doubt that most members know they are Southern Baptists. Seems that “covert” is modus operandi of many SBC “pastors” these days, particularly the New Calvinists.
I would say that is typical across SBC life throughout America. As I’ve said before, there was a lot wrong with SBC before the New Calvinists showed up to finish it off.
Complete with Rich White Trash Jerry Falwell Jr (the Cougar’s Cuck) cosplaying Poor White Trash?
Blogs like these are what’s wrong with modern evangelicalism. If you’d spend the time you spent in this blog sharing the Gospel perhaps some Kingdom work would’ve been accomplished! Shame on you
Sock Puppet Defender of the Faith Troll detected…
You mean the YRR Illuminati?
You appear to be assuming this blog represents modern evangelicalism. You must be new here.
Many of the commenters on The Wartburg Watch do just that! Some are pastors, Bible teachers and foreign missionaries; others are actively involved in various aspects of “Kingdom work” in their churches; while still others are done with organized religion and shout with a watchman’s call to help others avoid steering off the road. They post here to inform and warn the Body of Christ about counterfeit ministers and ministries who use and abuse the church, and who preach another gospel which is not the Gospel at all. Indeed, Kingdom work is being accomplished here.
Right you are Max. I’ve been out sharing the gospel with people far from God and making disciples in East Asia for 30 years now. So busy doing that in fact that I had no idea how the North American church was changing.
TWW has helped me understand and know how to respond to things like: the takeover of a supporting church by new Calvinistas, signs of spiritual abuse, how to counsel those pressured to sign membership covenants and how to spot sexual predators.
Sad stuff but necessary to know as I train disciples overseas and back home in America. Rock on Dee and all wartburgers who share your stories and post comments here.
Those who tune in to TWW who have ears to hear know that this is the mission. May God continue to bless your ministry in East Asia, Fisher.
Thanks for this link. It’s an intriguing story and I note the encouraging detail that intervention by concerned individuals with little or no power in the institution was instrumental in interrupting what would have been a radical change in the practical outworking of the governance of the institution.
I think it’s valid to adapt and repurpose a well-known saying of Paul,
“bad governance is a root of all kinds of evil”
(of course, it’s not hard to see an intimate connection with Paul’s original words)
This aphorism IMO has endless application to all forms of corporate organization.
It would be far more accurate to say that
‘blogs like these have come into being because so much is so wrong in modern evangelicalism’
For my part, while I grieve what has happened in the churches, I’m not comprehensively upset about my own experience, since that was eye-opening and helped me to come to what might in the long run be seen to be a clearer understanding of the New Testament and its relationship to the Old.
All useful skills, especially in these times.
You mean beat everyone over the head with a Bible screaming the Four Spiritual Laws at them? Anything to force them to Say the Words and get another notch on your Bible for brownie points at the Bema?