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Texas Megachurch to Give Out Cars, TVs at Easter Services
Christian Post ^ | 04/02/2010 | Lillian Kwon

Posted on 04/02/2010 7:56:21 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Easter at a megachurch in Corpus Christi, Texas, will look like the popular TV game show "The Price Is Right."

Sixteen cars, 15 flat-screen televisions, furniture sets and other prizes are lined up at Bay Area Fellowship Church and ready to be claimed by anyone who attends the church's Easter services on Sunday.

Though the church of some 7,000 weekly attendees has regularly flexed its creative muscles to draw the unchurched, the upcoming "Ultimate Giveaway" is like no other outreach it has ever attempted.

Pastor Bil Cornelius, who made the game show analogy, admits it's a bit "outrageous."

But he sees it as "an opportunity to share Christ with people who may never go to a church for any reason," he told The Christian Post.

The prizes are worth over $2 million and are all donated items or sponsored by members of the church. Pastor Cornelius asked the congregation to give and to get their businesses involved for the bold effort. Bay Area members signed up to give cars, bikes, laptops, gym memberships and other gifts.

"I'm very proud of our people for being so incredibly generous and willing to do whatever it takes to get spiritually lost people in the door to hear about the love of God," the lead pastor said.

Along with some of the bigger prizes, every individual or family attending one of the church's 30 worship services held across seven campuses this weekend will receive a "value pack" of gift certificates worth over $300 from local businesses. Additionally, more than 300 children attending the newest campus – located in a lower income neighborhood on the west side of Corpus Christi – will receive new bicycles.

The "ultimate" giveaway, however, will be the free gift of heaven and Christ.

"We hope to show people that while it is exciting to receive free stuff here on Earth, the greatest free gift of all time is something we haven’t yet seen, but can enjoy for all eternity," said Cornelius, who started the church 12 years ago with five people.

"The entire giveaway leads to the Grand Prize available to all, salvation through Christ, if simply received ... with no strings attached (Ephesians 2:8-9)," he added.

Cornelius acknowledges that the Easter giveaway has drawn some "pretty strong" criticism from other believers, some of whom accuse the pastor of turning Jesus into a product.

But the Texas megachurch pastor responded to the critics, saying: "[I]f just one of their children were lost and found Christ through this program (that they may not approve of), I bet they'd be glad we did it."

Bay Area Fellowship Church expects some 15,000-20,000 people this weekend. The giveaway is open to all members of the church and visitors but excludes staff and their families.

"They're coming for the loot and they're going to leave with Jesus," Cornelius said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: easter; megachurch; prices; texas
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Bay Area Fellowship Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, will give away more than $2 million worth of prizes, including cars and TVs, during its Easter services.
1 posted on 04/02/2010 7:56:21 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Sickening. “Corpus Christi”.


2 posted on 04/02/2010 7:58:03 AM PDT by ecomcon
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To: SeekAndFind

Why not? They pay kids for going to school in some places. I mean think about it. It is all about materialism right?


3 posted on 04/02/2010 7:58:23 AM PDT by mosaicwolf (Strength and Honor)
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To: SeekAndFind

If your church has an inspired message and a Pastor able to convey that message to the congregation, such cheesy promotions would not be necessary.


4 posted on 04/02/2010 7:58:28 AM PDT by reagan_fanatic (Entitlements will do to America what drugs eventually do to addicts)
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To: SeekAndFind

I hope it can help to reach those who are in need of the Easter message the most. I’ve never seen an outreach like this before. A lot of time and money seems to have gone into it. The Lord works in mysterious ways.


5 posted on 04/02/2010 7:59:10 AM PDT by JDW11235 (I think I got it now!)
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To: SeekAndFind

“Lord Jesus, we honor Your sacrifice for us and in remembrance of You on this holy day we offer.... A NEW CAR! Ticket number 1653, please come to the front to claim your prize!”


6 posted on 04/02/2010 7:59:22 AM PDT by shezza (God bless America, land that I love!)
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To: SeekAndFind
The megachurches leave me cold. It seems more like “feel good” religion rather than Christianity. But, I'm sure the pastors live well.
7 posted on 04/02/2010 8:00:24 AM PDT by bwc2221
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To: shezza

I have to admit, that made me laugh :)


8 posted on 04/02/2010 8:00:27 AM PDT by JDW11235 (I think I got it now!)
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To: reagan_fanatic
If your church has an inspired message and a Pastor able to convey that message to the congregation, such cheesy promotions would not be necessary.

The more curious thing is this -- where did they get all that money to give away these prices ? Not even the richest companies in Wall Street provide such gimmick.
9 posted on 04/02/2010 8:00:28 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

What’s next, money changers?

- JP


10 posted on 04/02/2010 8:00:46 AM PDT by Josh Painter ("We cannot spare this woman. She fights" - David Karki, regarding Sarah Palin)
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To: reagan_fanatic

I agree that may well be the case, but many of the disciples came for the bread, and not the BREAD. I hope it can serve some good.


11 posted on 04/02/2010 8:01:46 AM PDT by JDW11235 (I think I got it now!)
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To: shezza

Oh,Lord,give me a Mercedes Benz,my friends all drive Porsches,I must make amends!


12 posted on 04/02/2010 8:01:54 AM PDT by Dr. Ursus
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To: SeekAndFind
Good God...that's wrong! Sounds more like “Reverend Ike” than an actual Christian church.
13 posted on 04/02/2010 8:01:56 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Host The Beer Summit-->Win The Nobel Peace Prize!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Flee out of the midst of Babylon!


14 posted on 04/02/2010 8:03:44 AM PDT by orchestra
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To: SeekAndFind

Where in the New Testament did Jesus give away free donkeys and plows to selected lucky followers??


15 posted on 04/02/2010 8:03:44 AM PDT by DTogo (High time to bring back the Sons of Liberty !!)
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To: SeekAndFind
I'm a non-believer who has read both testaments, several works of Christian apologetics, and has a great deal of respect for Christianity.

May I ask the believers on this thread....

Wasn't Christ's message more along the lines of "come to Me and you will find that your "need" for a new car or a big screen will pass from you??"

16 posted on 04/02/2010 8:05:28 AM PDT by Notary Sojac (Mi Tio es infermo, pero la carretera es verde!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Most who attend won’t receive “salvation” but they will receive a hefty invoice from the IRS!

Bwahahahaha


17 posted on 04/02/2010 8:05:34 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (We were hoping for flying unicorns that crapped skittles. We got nationalized health care.)
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To: DTogo
Where in the New Testament did Jesus give away free donkeys and plows to selected lucky followers??

Brand new cars are their modern equivalent of 5 loaves and two fishes :)
18 posted on 04/02/2010 8:05:38 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

This is disgusting....I think of the following verse

Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves;

Mark 11:15


19 posted on 04/02/2010 8:05:52 AM PDT by Kimmers (Be the kind of person when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, Oh crap, she's awake)
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To: SeekAndFind

Fosterites ;)

Look it up.


20 posted on 04/02/2010 8:07:11 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: SeekAndFind

That’s what I was thinking, too.


21 posted on 04/02/2010 8:07:41 AM PDT by JDW11235 (I think I got it now!)
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To: SeekAndFind
You're right. I'm in marketing and administered a nationwide sweepstakes for General Motors a few years back. They gave away ten vehicles (their own product) and some smaller prizes, but their awards budget was under $500k.
22 posted on 04/02/2010 8:08:15 AM PDT by bwc2221
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To: SeekAndFind
More comments here:
 

Go to Church on Easter, Win Fabulous Prizes (Jesus meets Oprah)

Amazing that this church raised all this loot in just 2 weeks!

23 posted on 04/02/2010 8:08:36 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd
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To: SeekAndFind
Why not actually nail some church member to a cross?

That should bring in droves of unchurched people -- and is at least in keeping with the events preceding the resurrection of Jesus.

24 posted on 04/02/2010 8:08:52 AM PDT by Zakeet (Will Rogers never met the Wee Wee)
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To: All

Corpus Christi Caller Times
newspaper:

http://www.caller.com/news/2010/mar/27/the-million-dollar-giveaway/?partner=popular

CORPUS CHRISTI — You’ve never seen an Easter egg hunt like this before.

Bay Area Fellowship, the largest church in Corpus Christi, is giving away flat-screen televisions, skateboards, Fender guitars, furniture and 15 cars — yes, cars — at its Easter services next week.

And even those who don’t win big will walk away with something. The church has gathered donations for 15,000 gift bags, each with about $300 worth of free goods and services.

“We’re going to give some stuff away and say, ‘Imagine how great heaven is going to be if you feel that excited about a car,’ ” lead Pastor Bil Cornelius said. “It’s completely free — all you have to do is receive him.”

He hopes the prizes will help Bay Area lure some people who don’t normally go to church or those who have lapsed in their faith.

“A lot of people won’t come to Easter services because they think, ‘Well, I haven’t been good,’ ” Cornelius said. “Well, that’s not free. That’s not what it’s about. You don’t have to be ‘good’ to come to church.”

The prizes are meant as a metaphor for Cornelius’ Easter message of what he calls the ultimate giveaway. Just as the prizes are free for the winners, so is heaven. But someone first had to pay for all the cars and furniture and TVs, as Jesus paid for peoples’ sins.

“The ultimate giveaway is that Jesus gave his life for us,” Cornelius said. “When we think about the spirit of giving, we always think about Christmas. But really the ultimate spirit of giving is Easter.”

Cornelius, a laid-back pastor with spiky hair and bluejeans, has weathered criticism of his megachurch before. Some say its rock ’n’ roll band, flashy lights and large size stray too far from Jesus’ true message.

So he knows there’s bound to be criticism of the giveaway plan.

“We know it’s unconventional,” he said. “We know some people of faith aren’t going to agree with it.”

Michael Emerson, a sociology professor at Rice University and co-director of its Institute for Urban Research, said “Wow” several times as Bay Area’s giveaway was described to him. He said he had never heard of anything like it before.

“I never have, not to this extreme, not at all,” Emerson said. “This is something.”

He said some can criticize the plan for the same reasons they might megachurches in general.

“Another critique of the movement is they’re extremely comfortable with consumer society,” Emerson said, “whereas some believers would say, ‘This is not who Jesus was, this was not what he taught.’ ”

Cornelius also isn’t aware of a church giveaway before on such a large scale. A search of news reports shows that the giant Lakewood Church in Houston, led by Joel Osteen, gave away $57,000 worth of donated Left Behind video games to its children’s ministry last Easter. Another small church in Ohio plans to give away $500 to a member and to a guest this Easter.

Last week, Bay Area volunteers were busy detailing the cars and putting together bicycles. They had to cut a large space in the back of the chapel’s stage for the cars to fit through during Easter services.

Bay Area raised all these donations in two weeks.

The idea started in a staff meeting at The Crossing church in Elk River, Minn. Lead Pastor Eric Dykstra was planning a series he called “Joy Ride,” about the ultimate joy Jesus can bring. He wanted to use a car on stage to illustrate his point.

“As part of the series, we thought we should give away a car,” Dykstra said. “We were just sitting in a meeting and thought, “Why not?’ ”

The Crossing was able to secure one new car mostly donated by a dealership (with a little cash raised from members) and is working on another to give away.

Dykstra is part of a group of young pastors mentored by Cornelius. Dykstra mentioned the car to Cornelius during a meeting a few weeks ago.

“Then he calls me two days later and said, ‘Hey, I think we’re going to get several cars,’ ” Dykstra said. He’s been inspired to try to gather more prizes for his members, but he doesn’t expect to outdo Cornelius and Bay Area.

“He took our idea and he blew it up,” Dykstra said, laughing. “It’s not really a competition. It’s more like he’s going to win.”

Cornelius asked church members to donate during services two weeks ago. The response since has been overwhelming. The plan was promoted as a $1 million giveaway, but the actual value is going to be much higher. The 15,000 gift bags alone are worth $4.5 million if all the goods and services are cashed in. The coupons have no cash value.

“Our people have been incredibly generous,” Cornelius said. “We have people writing checks for cars for people they don’t even know.”

Among the 15 cars — all used but with low mileage — are an Audi A4, Jeep, Chevy Aveo, Mazda RX8, Volkswagen Jetta, two BMWs, Chevy Avalanche, Jaguar and two Mitsubishi Eclipses.

Cesar Torres, owner of LOFI Motors on Ayers Street, is a member of Bay Area and volunteers in the children’s ministry. He’s the Audi contributor.

“(Cornelius) didn’t say whether it had to be new or old,” Torres said. “I’m sure he thought it would be something I couldn’t sell off my lot.”

The A4 is an ’04. It’s turbocharged.

“It’s pretty wild they’re going to give $2 million worth of goodies away,” Torres said. “Can you imagine? Everything always works out for a reason. When God is behind something, all you have to do is believe.”

Some of the cars were donated by dealers like Torres, and the others were bought with cash donated by members. The cars were bought at dealer auctions to get the lowest prices, Cornelius said.

Wilcox Furniture also made a large donation of bedroom sets, recliners and other furniture. CEO George Moore estimates the total value between $12,000 and $16,000.

Moore and his family attend Bay Area, and he believes in the church’s mission to reach out to the unchurched.

“We hope that (the winner is) a person who has never been in a church before, or maybe a person who is suffering from some sort of addiction or who has some sort of troubles in their life. Maybe they’re going through a divorce. What we want to do is lift up those people.”

The church has received a donation of an iPod from a 12-year-old. Some donors are nonmembers.

“We’re kind of cashing in on the goodwill of the church for the last 12 years in the community,” Cornelius said. “And I don’t mean cashing in for the church. I mean giving it right back.”

Bay Area leaders expect more than double their normal weekly attendance — between 15,000 and 20,000 people — for Easter services. One car will be given away at each of the main campus services and one at each of the church’s satellite locations in Kingsville, Calallen, San Marcos and Alice.

A new satellite campus will open Easter Sunday at Cesar E. Chavez Academy on Corpus Christi’s Westside. That location will not have a car but will have between 200 and 300 bicycles for children.

The gift bags will include coupons for goods and services donated by local businesses, such as Corpus Christi Hooks tickets, a free night’s boarding at the Pooch Pad, a free chiropractic assessment and a free professional photography session and 8-by-10 print.

Cornelius wouldn’t allow discounts or coupons that require a purchase. Only purely free prizes.

“We really checked hearts on this,” he said.

The contest does have a few rules. Only attendees ages 16 and up will receive the gift bags and can put their names in a drawing for the big prizes. Those 18 and older are eligible for a car. The state requires insurance to accept a car prize, so the church will have an insurance agent on site in case the winner needs it.

The church’s children’s ministry will give away age-appropriate prizes for children.

Cornelius said he hopes the prizes go to those who need them.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if someone who wins turns around and gives it to someone who needs it more,” he said.

“A lot of people won’t come to Easter services because they think, ‘Well, I haven’t been good.’ ... That’s not what it’s about. You don’t have to be ‘good’ to come to church.”


25 posted on 04/02/2010 8:08:57 AM PDT by patriot08 (TEXAS GAL- born and bred and proud of it!)
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To: Gay State Conservative

At least they provide a place where people can get out of the rain. That might be all that they get.


26 posted on 04/02/2010 8:09:19 AM PDT by richardtavor
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To: DTogo

I think Jesus mentioned the free donkeys and plows right next to the verse that said deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.


27 posted on 04/02/2010 8:09:22 AM PDT by CFIIIMEIATP737
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To: All

.

Don’t see anything wrong with this.
Whatever gets people to return to God.


28 posted on 04/02/2010 8:10:22 AM PDT by patriot08 (TEXAS GAL- born and bred and proud of it!)
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To: reagan_fanatic

Do they teach the doctrine of sin, the reality of judgement, the divinity of Christ, the Atonement of His Sacrifice, His death and resurrection, and the exclusivity of salvation through His atonement?

These are the essentials. The “Emergent” churches avoid or even deny these essentials.


29 posted on 04/02/2010 8:10:59 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a humanist and a Satanist is that the latter knows who he's working for.)
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To: patriot08
Whatever gets people to return to God.

The question to ask is this, when they do go, are they interested in God, or the prices ?

Here's a test - would they go if there were NO PRICES ?
30 posted on 04/02/2010 8:13:02 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I go to church not just one Easter per decade but (almost) every Sunday. I’ve never won any loot that I can show off, but I would say that I did even better. People waiting to see if they got the car wouldn’t understand.


31 posted on 04/02/2010 8:13:10 AM PDT by Pollster1 (Natural born citizen of the USA, with the birth certificate to prove it)
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To: SeekAndFind

They could have fed and clothed a lot of the hungy and naked with that $2 Million plus.


32 posted on 04/02/2010 8:14:32 AM PDT by RatsDawg
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To: Kimmers

What this church is doing is making a business decision.

They are in effect taking on the “risk” that putting on these prices will attract more people to come, who will of course listen to their message of prosperity-for-you-when-you-give-your-money and give a rich donation.

They calculate that ON THE NET, they will come out FINANCIALLY positive.

*THAT* looks like their main goal.


33 posted on 04/02/2010 8:15:27 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I thought Jesus threw the moneychangers OUT of the temple?


34 posted on 04/02/2010 8:15:37 AM PDT by raybbr (I hate B(ig) H(ead) Obama)
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To: SeekAndFind

That is so sad. Absolutely shameful.


35 posted on 04/02/2010 8:16:46 AM PDT by kimmie7 (THE CROSS - Today, Tomorrow and Always!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Judging from the picture, the folks “winning” these cars, i.e, Jaguar, BMW, Audi, etc., will be driving much better than the original Disciples since “they were all in one Accord”.


36 posted on 04/02/2010 8:17:54 AM PDT by miele man
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To: bwc2221
The megachurches leave me cold. It seems more like “feel good” religion rather than Christianity. But, I'm sure the pastors live well.
EXACTLY! Its called the "Health and Wealth Ministries."
37 posted on 04/02/2010 8:18:32 AM PDT by wjcsux ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell)
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To: patriot08
"Don’t see anything wrong with this. Whatever gets people to return to God."

For those folks that are attending a church service anticipating a new car are usually those same folks that require hitting a major bottom in their lives to see the light.

38 posted on 04/02/2010 8:18:33 AM PDT by mosaicwolf (Strength and Honor)
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To: SeekAndFind

The notion is highly suspect in my estimation, but the usual, reflexive condemnations would not seem to apply, due to the obvious age of the vehicles in your photo. They are not new. I’d imagine they were donated by members of the congregation or by local businesses. The Jaguar sedan may look impressive, but resale on them is terrible. Same for the Mazda RX. Several old Beemers, too.

So, the “megachurch” (odd how that’s so evocative and negative for some, when many Catholic churches have larger congregations and are not similarly labeled) likely has donated merchandise to give away, to encourage attendance, and is getting a great deal of press coverage for it. Will this lead some to God, who would not have paid any attention otherwise? Hard to tell.

That’s the story, here, imho.


39 posted on 04/02/2010 8:19:15 AM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: SeekAndFind

Zero is going to be really pissed at these guys. They are cutting into his gig.


40 posted on 04/02/2010 8:19:15 AM PDT by wjcsux ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell)
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To: SeekAndFind

I am totally unimpressed with most of these mega churches. Preach the gospel and with working in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including signs and wonders, people will come.


41 posted on 04/02/2010 8:20:59 AM PDT by MsLady (If you died tonight, where would you go? Salvation, don't leave earth without it!)
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To: SeekAndFind

I know a missionary who is trying to raise $500 so their poor little church can give some of the women in their little congregation micro-loans so the women can add another $1,000 a year for their family’s income by sewing blankets.


42 posted on 04/02/2010 8:21:06 AM PDT by righttackle44 (Is Obama an Irish, Italian or Japanese name?)
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To: SeekAndFind

Praise the Lord!


43 posted on 04/02/2010 8:21:37 AM PDT by Dallas59 (President Robert Gibbs 2009-2013)
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To: Dallas59

The Ends Justifies The Means Church


44 posted on 04/02/2010 8:22:30 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Sixteen cars, 15 flat-screen televisions, furniture sets and other prizes are lined up at Bay Area Fellowship Church and ready to be claimed by anyone who attends the church's Easter services on Sunday.

I guess "Eternal Life" doesn't have quite the draw it used to anymore... hmmmm....

45 posted on 04/02/2010 8:23:12 AM PDT by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: SJSAMPLE

Excellent point.


46 posted on 04/02/2010 8:23:37 AM PDT by Fast Moving Angel (We'll remember in November!)
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To: Dallas59
Praise the Lord!

For this church and what they do ?
47 posted on 04/02/2010 8:25:12 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

This is disgusting..


48 posted on 04/02/2010 8:25:20 AM PDT by bahblahbah
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To: patriot08
You were saying ...

Don’t see anything wrong with this.
Whatever gets people to return to God.

If that's what they're going for, it won't do any good.

Having those people go bankrupt, lose everything they own, lose their jobs, be on the street -- that has a greater chance of success in turning them to God than anything else does... :-)

49 posted on 04/02/2010 8:25:59 AM PDT by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: SeekAndFind

Cornelius, a laid-back pastor with spiky hair and bluejeans,
has weathered criticism of his megachurch before. Some
say its rock ’n’ roll band, flashy lights and large size stray
too far from Jesus’ true message.

50 posted on 04/02/2010 8:26:01 AM PDT by deport
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