Thinking Out Loud

June 30, 2012

Weekend Link List

Normally there are links here on Wednesday, when the week is half over; today there are links here on June 30th, when the year is half over. Profound, huh? So have you stuck to all those resolutions from January 1st?

  • Dr. Grant Mullen‘s appearances on the Drew Marshall Show always draw a lot of phone calls.  Last week’s — all 49 minutes — is now available on Drew’s site.
  • And over at SkyeBox, more episodes of The Phil Vischer podcast are available. Had a blast last night listening to # 4 — the interview with Eric Metaxas — all 49 minutes. (Or 53.)
  • Justin Davis gets transparent about how lack of intimacy, or worse, false intimacy can lead to behaviors which can destroy a marriage.
  • More than 60 New York City churches that were facing eviction from meeting in NYC schools caught a break this week, but the city is fully expected to appeal the decision.
  • Several dozen Mormons will resign en masse today (30th) in protest over LDS church doctrines and policies; but those who leave pay immense social and business consequences.
  • Click over to C201 for a dose of apologetics: Ravi Zacharias on good versus evil; and a reading of C. S. Lewis on free will that you might want to listen to twice.
  • I discovered another lost worship song — from two decades ago — this week. Enjoy “To Be Like You” from Calvary Chapel Downey with Pam Fadness.
  • Also of worship interest: Gospel-driven worship can become obligatory when in fact, songs can be used to drive various points and aspects of both God’s nature and Christian experience. Bob Kauflin reposts some great advice.
  • Earlier this month Tim Stevens listed five reasons why you shouldn’t do church online, but show up in person. But then he had four reasons why churches should provide online services.
  • Yes, I know I list lots of links on this topic, but there is much discussion going on and many people affected. This blog  is called Coming Out Christian: Conversations about being gay and Christian in America.
  • Local-Boy-Makes-Good Department: A Canadian, Lawrence Wilkes is currently the interim pastor at the famed — and troubled — Crystal Cathedral. [HT: Bene]
  • A two-day rally is planned for Sept 28 and 29 in Philadelphia under the banner, America For Jesus 2012. Organizers have been part of previous events in Washington.
  • Temptation Department:Author Steven James reflected on the storylines of his recent suspense novels and came up with a non-fiction title, Flirting With The Forbidden which features 15 first-person narratives from scripture.

June 29, 2012

A Dose of Humility

I haven’t done a lot of cross-posting with Christianity 201 lately, because that blog has taken on a life of its own. But it’s the start of a long holiday weekend here in Canada — Monday is the actual holiday — so I’m feeling a bit lazy.

While this blog follows topics, trends, and current issues; Christianity 201 — see the button in the sidebar — almost always begins with a scripture portion and Bible exposition or devotional thought by some of the best Bible study bloggers. It really provides a spiritual balance to this blog.

Anyway, for those of you who are new here, I want you to know I am capable of writing other types of material… and who knows? You might just decide you want to be a regular reader.

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. ~Romans 12:3b NIV

At 6’0″ I usually find myself in conversation with people not as tall as myself, but in the last few months I’ve noticed that I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable carrying on conversations with people taller than myself, probably because it happens so seldom. Yesterday we ran into Tim, the son of one of my mother’s best friends, and I again found myself registering the fact I had to keep looking up to make eye contact.

Perceptions about who’s the leader often depend on who is looking up to who

I can see how people like myself who are tall of stature might get confused and think that they are somehow ‘taller’ intellectually or emotionally; and there is always the danger of thinking oneself to be ‘taller’ spiritually. Of course, we all know our inward shortcomings and weaknesses, but when we’re out and about with members of the wider faith family, it’s easy to posture. In the key verse today, Paul says we should use ‘sober judgment’ of ourselves.

Another application of this principle is that we look up to God, who scripture tells us looks down on us. This is repeated in various passages; it’s important to remember who is where! One prayer pattern that I learned years ago contains the phrase, “You’re God and I’m not;” or “You’re God and we’re not.” When we come to Him in prayer, we need to remember who is ‘taller.’

Here’s a similar application of how we deal with our own estimation of ourselves from Luke 14. Jesus is teaching…

7 When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: 8 “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? 9 The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!

10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. 11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” ~NLT

A month ago we attended a family funeral. My wife’s uncle passed away and we didn’t realize that some seats were being held for nieces and nephews, so we took a seat toward the back. Her cousin saw us and immediately told us that special seats were reserved for us, and invited us to “come up higher” in the seating plan. We appreciated this, but I couldn’t help but think of this passage as we were walking to the front, and also of the potential embarrassment that could occur if the situation were reversed.

The brand of Christ-following that is portrayed on television is centered on people with very strong personalities and — dare I say it? — very large egos. I think some of this is given away by the very fact these people want to be on television, though I don’t preclude the use of media to share the gospel. But you and I, the average disciple, should be marked by humility; the type of humility that takes a back seat in a culture that wants to proclaim, “We’re number one.”

We serve the King of Kings. We have the hottest news on the rack. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places. But we approach this in a humble spirit, with gratitude that God chose to reach down and rescue us from our fallen state.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. ~ James 4:10 NKJV

How tall do you feel?

~PW

Christianity 201 is a repository of some of the best devotional and Bible Study material in the Christian blogosphere. Selections come from a variety of doctrinal and theological viewpoints. You’re encouraged to read articles at source, and if you like what you read, click that blog’s header to discover more about the writer and consider subscribing.

June 28, 2012

Wildfires Cancel Entire Summer at Navigator’s Camp

While it’s not the only worst-case scenario, this probably ranks high among every camp director’s nightmares:

Text cropped off this screenshot reads:

It is with heavy hearts we announce the cancellation of the Eagle Lake’s onsite camps for 2012. If you had a camper registered for an upcoming week, we will contact you to discuss refund or transfer options.

On Tuesday, Christianity Today reported:

Among the Colorado wildfires drawing national attention today, the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs poses an immediate threat to the Navigators’ Glen Eyrie Conference Center and Eagle Lake Camp properties. The blaze, which has spread over 5,000 acres in three days, was only at 5 percent containment today, reports ABC News Colorado.

Wednesday night the Glen Eyrie Conference Center had this on their website:

At the heart of the facility is the famous Glen Eyrie Castle, pictured here.

Campers who left Eagle Lake for a day of whitewater rafting on Saturday were not able to return which left parents with nowhere to call for information on their whereabouts, as reported by WFAA news.

The Navigators is a longstanding Evangelical Christian discipleship organization.  Their website defines the organization:

The Navigators® is an international, interdenominational Christian ministry established in 1933. Navigators are people who love Jesus Christ and desire to help others know and grow in Him as they “navigate” through life.

It is also known worldwide for its Bible study material, published through subsidiary NavPress.

The organization is headquartered not far from its camps, in the city of Colorado Springs, an area that has also been on standby for evacuation over the past few days with 32,000 people being evacuated as of Wednesday night.

June 27, 2012

Wednesday Link List

A different approach to links this week.

If we are speaking to cultural elites who despise us and our beliefs, we want to be bold and courageous.
If we are speaking to strugglers who fight against same sex attraction, we want to be patient and sympathetic.
If we are speaking to sufferers who have been mistreated by the church, we want to be apologetic and humble.
If we are speaking to shaky Christians who seem ready to compromise the faith for society’s approval, we want to be persuasive and persistent.
If we are speaking to liberal [or gay] Christians who have deviated from the truth once delivered for the saints, we want to be serious and hortatory.
If we are speaking to gays and lesbians who live as the Scriptures would not have them live, we want to be winsome and straightforward.
If we are speaking to beligerent Christians who hate or fear homosexuals, we want to be upset and disappointed.

  • Here’s a link all the way back to May, where N. T. Wright offers a different view of heaven. The heaven we understand he says would sound foreign to people in Jesus’ time. He also proposes we think more of heaven as overlapping or intersecting with the here and now.
  • Perry Noble joins the ranks of megachurch pastors with books released through major publishers. Unleash is, from what I can tell, largely the story of New Spring Church and about God helping you unleash your vision. Here’s a sample chapter.
  • Another Mars Hill (Seattle) horror story. This one describes an exorcism. There’s no happy ending:

Why do you think Mark [Driscoll] claimed that your “demons” were “sexual”?

It’s always his go-to topic. Ironically, my husband had more “demons” than one could imagine. But his demons were of no consequence and unimportant to the church. It was somehow my fault because “maybe I wasn’t the godly, providing wife” I was supposed to be.

That said, Mark was also aware that my husband and I had sexual troubles from day one. And regarding our sex life–because I was essentially grinning and bearing it most of the time–Mark concluded that I was a terrible wife to my husband. Even when my husband looked at porn, Mark blamed me because I wasn’t doing my “wifely duty”. I felt violated when sex was expected of me. I was intensely miserable and neglected throughout my marriage, but Mark deemed that irrelevant because I was the wife and my duty was to serve my husband sexually.

One night I had a wondrous dream,
 One set of footprints there was seen,
 The footprints of my precious Lord,
 But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
 And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
 Those prints are large and round and neat,
 “But Lord they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” He said in somber tones,
 “For miles I carried you alone.
 I challenged you to walk in faith,
 But you refused and made me wait.”

“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
 The walk of faith, you would not know.
 So I got tired, I got fed up,
 and there I dropped you on your butt.”

“Because in life, there comes a time,
 when one must fight, and one must climb.
 When one must rise and take a stand,
 or leave their butt prints in the sand.”

  • Daniel Jepsen goes to the movies: “I saw the SF movie Prometheus last week.  I won’t review it or summarize it here except to note that it featured a creature far rarer than aliens in Hollywood’s universe: a practicing Christian.  She is even portrayed in a positive light, and is, in fact, something of the heroine of the story.”
  • Darrell Dash notes that material benefits, combined with intangible benefits, added to future rewards equals the situation that pastors are well compensated, thank you.
  • Timothy Kurek has rewritten the playbook on incarnational, choosing to identify as gay even though he says he isn’t in order to understand their persecution.  His adventure could fill a book:

Facebook: Timothy Kurek is an aspiring writer, proficient drinker, laudable instigator, and recovering Pharisee. 

YouTube video description: From bigotry to empathy, this is the true story of a conservative Christian attempting to find the answers. And it all begins with two words. “I’m Gay.” (Jesus in Drag, The Book Trailer; linked above.)

MSNBC Interview: “I was pretty immersed in that experience.”

  • Author Karen Spears Zacharias debriefs the Jerry Sandusky trial: “When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is hurt denied. When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is responsibility deafened. When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is shame misplaced. When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is evil granted access.”
  • It’s 431 .pdf pages, but Bible aficionados — or perhaps people who have never read an interlinear Bible — might enjoy the Mechanical Translation of Genesis.
  • As CNN’s Belief Blog put it, “She went from atheist to Catholic in just over 1,000 words.” Leah Libresco announces her conversion on her blog:

Libresco says one of the most common questions she has received is how she’ll deal with atheists now.

“The great thing about a lot of the atheist and skeptic community is that people talk more critically about ideas and want to see proof provided,” Libresco said. “That kind of analytical thinking is completely useful and the Catholic Church doesn’t need to and should not be afraid of because if you’ve got the facts on your side, you hope they win.” 

  • When Benny Hinn remarries his former wife Suzanne, Jack Hayford will perform the re-nuptials. Hinn said, “We never broke the covenant. Our marriage has been restored. We just want to make sure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes.”
  • Pete Wilson confesses that there are three things he learned early on in ministry — about problems, conflict and giving up — that he later had to unlearn.
  • Not a Christian site/blog link, but you have to feel for these two kids who got sunburned when the school refused to apply sunscreen on field day.

June 26, 2012

Spirit of Rob Bell Alive at Mars Hill Grand Rapids

Another long car trip, another rush of sermon downloads to convert to disc.

Steve Argue
Mars Hill Bible Church

But this time we decided to drop by Mars Hill Bible Church (Grand Rapids) to see who has been preaching there when Shane Hipps is away.  I decided to take a chance on a sermon by Steve Argue, not entirely knowing who he was.  They’re doing a series on Acts, and it fell to him cover chapter 14, verse 19-28.

To share the experience, you want to go to their sermon page, and then select the message for April 29th, “A Church That Believes in ‘We’ and ‘Opts In.'”  (That’s the part where you click and start listening!)

There was something very familiar about the cadence.

To say the least.

And we knew that for sure…

…But he also had great content.  That helps somewhat, I think.

As my wife said so well, “He’s covered in the dust of his rabbi.”

So who is this guy?  Presently, he’s part of the youth ministry; a fact I found out only because he was interviewed earlier this year on Mike King’s blog.  I think youth ministry is vital to any healthy church, and in the interview Steve shows he has done a lot of study on the subject of spiritual formation. Deep study:

…We’re beginning to own what we believe; in some Christian circles it would be making our faith our own; and that’s done through the intersection of three things: the cognitive — is what I know; the intrapersonal — what I believe; and the interpersonal — which is how that’s expressed toward the other.

Mike also clarifies however that while he may pontificate on student ministry, his actual title is “Life Development Director at Mars Hill, serving as a member of the Leadership Team; giving oversight to kids, adolescent, emerging adults, and adults teams, and directing Mars Hill’s Internship and Residency Program.” That’s quite a leadership load for Steve to carry.

But after listening to the sermon, I wonder if he will be doing something else any time soon?  There’s a great potential there. Blessings, Steve.

Too Weird for the Link List

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:10 am

Deeply disturbing.

And that’s why we’re giving this one its very own post.

Time to introduce you to: Hey Christian Girl

Comments are open.

June 25, 2012

Another Critique of the Short Term Missions Movement

Filed under: ministry, missions — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:02 am

Holy Frequent Flyer Points, Batman, it’s another great article about a not-so-great phenomenon with Evangelicalism (and slowly spreading) that raises even more interesting concerns.  The author is Darren Carlson who teaches at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis and is president of Training Leaders International.  The article appeared at The Gospel Coalition under the title Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Mission Trips.

Here’s a sample or two — the parts not seen here have equal or better force — that will make you want to click through:

I have seen or know of teams of grandmothers who go to African countries and hold baby orphans for a week every year but don’t send a dime to help them otherwise; teams who build houses that never get used; teams that bring the best vacation Bible school material for evangelism when the national church can never bring people back to church unless they have the expensive Western material; teams that lead evangelistic crusades claiming commitments to Christ topping 5,000 every year in the same location with the same people attending.

and:

How does someone say no to Christians from the world’s most powerful country? It is very difficult to create authentic relationships between people with such disparate power. So if the most powerful Christians (in your mind) say they are coming to help you (even if you don’t want them to), how are you supposed to respond? Plenty of national leaders I know have been notified by U.S. churches that they are sending teams. The national leaders then have to scramble to create something for them to do. It’s normally a disaster.

and:

The Bahamas receives a short-term missionary for every 15 residents. Our generosity, sad to say, is often tied to a “cool” location and feeling good about what we do. The farther away from home we travel, the more spiritual-seeming the trip. We need to be the ones to paint the church, build the ditch, and put on vacation Bible school. We can’t just send money. We have to send people.

and toward the end, something to help you put this in true perspective:

Imagine a team from France calls your church and says they want to visit. They want to put on VBS (which you have done for years), but the material is in French. They have heard about how the U.S. church has struggled and want to help you fix it. They want to send 20 people, half of them youth. Only two of them speak English. They need a place to stay for free, with cheap food and warm showers if possible. During the trip half of the group’s energy will be spent on resolving tension between team members. Two people will get sick. They’d like you to arrange some sightseeing for them on their free day. Do you want them to come?

Again here is the link to Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Mission Trips.

Our previous recent article on this topic was the link to Jamie Wright’s excellent piece on April 17th. There was also a link listed devoted to this topic on November 27, 2008.

June 24, 2012

When Our Words and Our Words Contradict

Bruxy Cavey is the teaching pastor at The Meeting House, Canada’s largest multi-site church centered on a location in Oakville, just west of Toronto. The Meeting House has developed an affinity with Woodland Hills Community Church in Minneapolis, where Greg Boyd is the pastor, and there have been a couple of pulpit exchanges recently, including this one, where Bruxy was at Woodland Hills completing a two-part series that Greg started on the Anabaptist tradition that has influenced both churches.

In the Q&A time there was a question about church and state and the homosexual marriage issue. The question is on the video at the WH website, but the answer posted here was from a different service, and I found this audio transcript (there’s no video) more direct. Basically, Bruxy is saying that as Christ-followers, we bring a general response that leaves gay people feeling excluded from the church, but when the cameras are rolling, the sound bite on the evening news is an affirmation of God’s love for all mankind.

The disconnect between the sound bite and everything else we say is something Bruxy believes we have, at the very least, got backwards.

Sermons: Bruxy Cavey, The Meeting House, Oakville, Canada
Sermons: Greg Boyd, Woodland Hills

June 23, 2012

The Quest for Family Friendly Entertainment

While admittedly we had some fun earlier in the week with the Southern Baptist Convention resolution to ban the sale of a DVD from its denominational retail chain’s stores, the story raises the more serious issue of finding quality entertainment for the whole family that’s not too boring and not too ‘edgy.’

The Christian bookstore — in either its traditional form or its modern, online counterpart — is supposed to be the place where you can trust that the products carried have gone through appropriate filters. Similarly, Christian radio stations — especially a few years ago — regularly applied the word safe to their tag lines to describe the type of music they offered.

But with DVDs being the only real growth area for the Christian products industry, an opportunity was seized very quickly. Chain “A” will verify that Chain “B” is carrying a particular title, and include it in their catalog. But it is hard to know how many people were part of the wisdom to promote the title at Chain “A.” 

Furthermore:

  • There are retailers selling family-friendly DVDs that would never consider selling family-friendly fiction books; they would contend there is simply too much good product from Christian publishers
  • There are companies selling family friendly DVDs that would never consider the idea of family-friendly music; they would question the idea of anyone being qualified to make that decision and the wisdom of investing their inventory dollars in secular music
  • There are Christian stores selling family-friendly DVDs that would never consider selling family-friendly plaques and picture frames; they would (rightly, I think) argue that there should be something distinctive (Christian symbol, verse of scripture) that makes the product something a Christian store would want to include.

But the dramatic movies and children’s DVDs somehow break through the wall; which means you as a customer don’t know for sure what you’re buying until you’ve read online reviews and studied the product packaging for warnings; and the people who do make product specifically targeting the Christian consumer now have to compete with every other family-friendly video producer out there.

June 22, 2012

Granddaughter of Paul and Jan Crouch Reveals Domestic Secrets

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:46 am

TBN’s Paul Crouch

Update: If you were directed here by a search engine looking for information on the November 30, 2013 passing of Paul Crouch, click here.

While a website like Bene Diction Blogs On is more concerned with the hard news aspects of the financial allegations being made by Brittany Koper, the granddaughter of Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Paul and Jan Crouch; in this reader’s humble opinion, the soft news story — revelations as to the Crouch’s domestic life, or lack thereof — really trumps the part that’s catching the attention of BDBO readers. Read the story and decide for yourself.

As I said in a comment, I think BDBO buried the lede on this one. I can get financial impropriety anytime, it’s the celebration of family weirdness that is at the heart of the story.

In particular, BDBO embeds an interview that Koper did with Jackie Alnor of Apostasy Alert, on Rapture Ready Radio. Posted on YouTube, this audio clip had, as of Wednesday night when I listened, attracted only about 500 “views.” Perhaps it’s the 30-minute length. But it is certainly never boring. (The total was up to 700 on Thursday night; still extremely low given the content.)

The host, Alnor, summarizes what is at the heart of the interview:

* Paul and Jan have not lived together as a couple for decades
* Their relationship on air is a sham
* Matthew Crouch is the product of adultery and not Paul Crouch’s biological son
* Jan, still in her old age, is in an adulterous relationship
* Paul, Sr. is a drunk
* Jan and Paul are tyrants as bosses at TBN
* The U.S. Attorney General’s office is investigating potential criminal action…

(The host summarizes these things at the 24:17 to 25:07 mark.)

So very sad. And one hesitates to draw attention to such things. But maybe the problem with the needed accountability is that nobody wants to be the confessor.

Here again is the link to BDBO if you wish to read the article, the comments and watch the video.

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