Thinking Out Loud

August 21, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Foxtrot Nov 11 2003Foxtrot circa 2003

Been away all summer? In July the Wednesday Link List was the victim of a corporate takeover…. to see the version of this containing the links, you have to click over to Out of Ur, a blog of Leadership Journal, a division of Christianity Today.

  • Why should the devil have all the good parties? An expert in block parties suggests that Christians should host the best street events.
  • It’s hard to find a place where fracking isn’t a hot environmental issue. What if your church could register claim to the mineral rights underneath the church building?
  • Duck Dynasty star Jase Robertson is kicked out of the Trump hotel when it’s assumed he is a homeless man, in another case of “facial profiling.”
  • Dara Maclean’s video for “Wanted” is powerful both musically and lyrically, but the critics think the glamor/fashion element is overplayed.
  • We’re not sure if it’s a King James Bible or just a generic Bible, but by 2015 you’ll be seeing .bible as an internet domain name.
  • Last year over 13,100 churches participated in a growing national movement and on average saw a 38% increase in their attendance on Back to Church Sunday.
  • Much of the week’s news focus was on Egypt, where the Defense Minister vows to rebuild damaged churches.
  • What if we saw the Bible less as a prison sentence and more like a permission slip? Check out a 2-minute sermon highlights video where Steven Furtick takes a fresh approach to financial giving.
  • When it comes to role of women in the early church, one author believes that part of the story has been “airbrushed from history.”
  • What’s a former Saddleback worship leader doing in a Canadian jail? It could have something to do with things allegedly found in his luggage.
  • Alise Wright drives nearly an hour to attend a church where, by her own admission, she doesn’t fit in.
  • With great regret, in the wake of the loss of his wife and publishing ministry partner on May 8th, Keith Brenton announces the shuttering of Wineskins Magazine.
  • Rick Warren is raising awareness, but one Canadian blogger thinks the church is generally skittish when it comes to mental health issues.
  • A popular devotional blog provides some background to the forthcoming book Dying Out Loud by Shawn Smucker, the story of missionaries Stan and Ann Steward.
  • When viewers phone in to respond to a Billy Graham television program, they don’t know where the calls are being answered. A call center might actually be a transformed Savannah, Georgia chiropractic clinic.
  • The former Crystal Cathedral, now Christ Cathedral — home of the world’s 4th largest church organ — begins $53 million in renovations to bring it up to Catholic standards, I’m guessing.
  • You may call them board members, or even, as one church in my area does “The Directorate.” But there’s still good application in this article about the ordination of elders.
  • On the other side of the pond, it’s not just Presbyterians, but Anglicans who have trouble with that verse in In Christ Alone. [Note: BCP = Book of Common Prayer]
  • The more the merrier: By the time you read this it’s already eight days old, but Phil Vischer Podcast #64 with Sara Groves and Todd Groves ranks as one my favorites.
  • Worship Department: First, we followed the CCLI Top 25 song charts by country; but now there’s also the Praise Charts chart. (Not a typo!)
  • A Chattanooga, Tennessee pastor offers five reasons why discipleship should take place in small groups.
  • Not sure how long this will be there, but the full 70-minutes of Nick Vujicic’s Life Without Limbs video is currently available to watch online.
  • Church History Department: Yes it was his real name. Pentecostal pioneer Smith Wigglesworth passed away in 1947, but like many classic authors his books still sell and he is still tweeting.   (C. S. Lewis tweets several times a day!)
  • Ask the Doctor: A flashback to last year, where Dr. Russell Moore answered, Should a Christian wedding photographer shoot a same-sex marriage ceremony?
  • Who needs videos of cute cats when you can join 600,000 people online and watch an Oklahoma pastor’s sermon where he takes a strip off some of his congregants by name.

Well, we could just keep on going, but we might lose some of you around link #50. The action stays here at Thinking Out Loud the rest of the week, or you can always join my rather anemic group of followers on Twitter.  And again, in case you missed it, the links are active at Out of Ur.  A final graphic — one of last week’s links — from Sacred Sandwich:

faith_mounties

December 3, 2012

What if the Biggest Billy Graham Event Ever Doesn’t Need a Stadium?

Filed under: evangelism, media — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:10 am

My Hope With Billy GrahamAlmost a year from now.

And they’re planning it now.

It’s that big.

This went out a few weeks ago:

Earlier this month, Billy Graham celebrated his 94th birthday. Next year at this time, together with our church partners, we will celebrate his 95th birthday by having thousands of specially trained Christian hosts open their homes to non-Christian friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers for a meal and a TV or DVD Gospel message from Billy Graham, plus special music and testimonies.

When the 30-minute program is over, the hosts will explain how Jesus Christ has made a difference in their lives, and invite their guests to commit their lives to Him.

This is the essence of My Hope With Billy Graham, and it’s been tested and proven—with more than 10 million decisions for Christ recorded in over 50 countries.

“As we moved into 2012, it just really moved in the hearts of Billy Graham and Franklin Graham and all of us supporting them in the work of the Gospel, a burden that now was the time to begin implementing this evangelism strategy in North America,” said Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Vice President Preston Parrish. “That’s what’s brought us to this moment.”

We are hosting luncheons in many communities… to explain My Hope With Billy Graham to pastors and church leaders—encouraging them to join us in the largest evangelistic ministry ever carried out in North America by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

In January, we will begin training coordinators… who will then recruit and train church leaders in thousands of congregations.

Billy Graham’s events in various cities were always labelled missions, and this living room strategy is the most missional of all.

March 7, 2012

Wednesday Link List

As Harpo Marx once said, “

  • A mother of four is yanked out of a Georgia church for breastfeeding. Meanwhile, Caryn at ThinkChristian wonders how Jesus handled this situation (if there was one) say, while giving the Sermon on the Mount.
  • Also at ThinkChristian, Karen says we shouldn’t sweat the new TV show, GCB, because it doesn’t have the right mix of ingredients to last.
  • I though we’d send some traffic to Reylo, the latest blog at Alltop Christian, and to get you there, he’s got the official trailer for the Blue Like Jazz movie.
  • “Ring by Spring or Your Money Back” — If you’re at a Christian college and not yet engaged, you just have a few weeks left.  Brittany Johnson guests at SCL.
  • 50 people, representing 10% of the head office staff, have been laid off at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, as the organization focuses more on online initiatives.
  • “I can do all things through Christ…” says the opening part of Phil. 4:13. But Bill Mounce points out that for Paul, it wasn’t true. “There are many things Paul could not do. He couldn’t fly. He couldn’t remove the thorn in his flesh. He couldn’t get released from his second Roman imprisonment…”  So in a departure from every other translation, check out what the NIV 2011 does with this text.
  • Kirk Cameron does his best to defend his beliefs as Piers Morgan relentlessly goes after Cameron’s views on gay marriage and homosexuality. Here’s a response to the show’s repsonse from Denny Burk: “Are we really at a place where a Christian who is pressed for his views on a matter can no longer state those views without being tarred and feathered?”
  • Worship Leaders: Carlos Whittaker offers you ten-plus-one ways to improve your worship leading. Of course, his title was a little more blunt.
  • Digging deeper into worship, Internet Monk has an article expressing the limitations modern worship has expressing lament.
  • At the above article, a reader offers this song as an example of worship in the wilderness. (click the mp3 link to play)
  • Catch the irony: A pastor loses his temper while preaching about God’s love. Or did he? The scene is one every church-goer would like to see happen at least once. The blog is A Brick in the Valley.
  • William Hamilton, the Oregon theologian who declared in the 1960s that God is dead, is dead. Another individual for whom, “The image of God as all knowing and all powerful couldn’t be reconciled with human suffering, especially after the Holocaust.”  Story at Oregon Live
  • An new Amish ‘fish out of water’ story, though not sure who is the fish and who is the water. An Amish woman decides to raise money by teaching quilting to a mix of people from the broader community. The new book by Wanda Brunstetter really should be made into a film.
  • In other publishing news, Justin Bieber’s mom, Pattie Mallette releases her own story Nowhere But Up, in September with Revell Books and a foreword by Justin…
  • …Meanwhile, basketball sensation Jeremy Lin has the book Linspired coming in May from Zondervan in both an adult edition and kids edition; though the latter is not even on the corporate website.
  • “You can’t get to heaven in a mini-skirt.” A good devotional post, but with a lead line like that, I just wanna see how many clicks it gets. The blog is called Moment of Selah.
  • Another edition of David Platt’s Secret Church happens on April 6th and you can simulcast the six-hour event where you live. Check the website or read more at Desiring God. In the book Radical, David admits that there’s nothing like seeing thousands of people quietly taking notes in church at 12:30 in the morning!
  • In Ontario, the most populous province in Canada, you can’t shop on holidays, which include New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The City of Toronto, the most populous municipality in Ontario is surveying residents to see if they want that to change.
  • The cartoons today are classic Rob Portlock, from Way Off the Church Wall (IVP, 1989)

December 7, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Hark how the links, sweet silver links, all seem to say, “Throw cares away!”

  • Gonna do something I’ve done here before and make the first link one from this very blog.  I’m getting a ton of hits for a piece I wrote here last year dealing with the burning question, Should Audiences Still Stand for the Hallelujah Chorus?  But with only eleven comments, there’s still room for yours, and it will get viewed many times over the next few days.
  • Just when think you’ve seen all the weird churches in the world, you discover this one, which has major parking problems, not to mention severe access issues.  Check out this mini photo essay from our old friend Abraham Piper at 22 Words.
  • It’s rare in the Christian blogosphere that you see someone give a Christian book a really bad review. Perhaps that’s what makes this review at the blog Supermoms Are Fake, in some ways, so refreshing.
  • Some of you remember Hermant Mehta at the blog, The Friendly Atheist, from his book I Sold My Soul on E-Bay.  Sometimes I check back to see how he’s doing, whereupon I found this one: Why Are This Many Atheist Scientists Taking Their Children To Church?
  • Leaders are readers. So begins a concise, 7-point piece by Dave Kraft at Leadership from the Heart, I Would Love to Read More, But…
  • Music video department: Enjoy a free taste of fourteen updated hymns at Indelible Grace III – For All The Saints.
  • …which got me poking around YouTube where I ended up listening to this updated version of Jesus I Come (which I know as Out of My Bondage) by the Shelly Moore Band.
  • Christianity Today music guy Mark Moring talks to Chris Tomlin aka the “worship song machine.” Tomlin just doesn’t see himself writing any other kind of music. Which I suppose suits us just fine.
  • Philanthropy meets good business sense as a Toronto group puts together winter survival kits for the homeless.
  • Canadian Charismatic Evangelist Todd Bentley is in the UK, but a Member of Parliament is telling Brits to beware the tattoo preacher.   The Sunday Express reports. (HT: Rick and Bene.)
  • The newest blog at Alltop Christian is called Slow Running Honey, another blog which seems to exist for the purpose of promoting a book. That’s fine, I guess, but the Christian blogosphere didn’t start out that way. (Though it got there quickly.)
  • Newest blog at Alltop Church is Nate Fietzer‘s which is a KidMin blog, meaning children’s ministry and leadership.  It’s him we also thank for the Life graphic below. Did you design that, Nate?

  • I think Justin and Tricia attend Pete Wilson’s church; I know Justin filled in for Pete once during the summer. Here’s an article that could revolutionize your marriage, and the concept is so simple, it revolves around one little three-letter word.
  • After a few days in Sick Bay, Rev. Billy Graham is now back home.
  • Okay, so you go to a church where women don’t teach, but they do scripture readings. But isn’t the public reading of scripture a type of teaching ministry? Or is it? What about soloists? Jesse Johnson wades into a thorny topic.
  • Sounds of the season: Drummer Sean Quigley is the latest to offer a fresh take on a classic, in this case The Little Drummer Boy.
  • Lots of videos this week, but you don’t want to miss this one: Bethlehemian Rhapsody, which was actually posted in 2009, but is still being discovered. (The sheep steal their scenes each time!)
  • Like all good link lists, we have another t-shirt for you. This is from Amanda at Faith in The Journey a tumblr blog packed with great graphic ideas. The shirt is from zazzle.com

November 9, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Something seriously messed up in our lynx picture file this week

Introductory paragraph so the links don’t just start cold…

  • Apparently some Christian bookstores are hesitant to stock a title like, When Will My Life Not Suck. Even the intro by Gary Chapman can’t convince them.  
  • Harold Camping is officially out of the end-of-the-world prediction business and will now focus on baseball predictions and NBA final four (assuming they get back to playing).
  • Sunday (Nov 13) is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Here are some verses from the Common English Bible that would fit your Sunday worship planning.
  • Ever wondered what it would be like to be part of a Bible translation committee?  Here’s a 4-minute video.  Wait a minute… they film these things?
  • Christian Week talks to street pastor and Close Enough To Hear God Breathe author Greg Paul.
  • Belated birthday wishes to Billy Graham who turned 93 on Monday and recently reflected at Huffington Post on Nearing Home which is both the title of his new book and the stage in life he considers himself to be in.
  • New research by the Barna Group finds young Christians leave churches they view as judgmental, overprotective, exclusive and unfriendly toward doubters.
  • Have you ever cheated death?  Check out an excellent essay by Tony Woodlief in which he has a meaningful talk with one of his kids.
  • There are Christian groups at secular colleges and universities, so it was just a matter of time before Atheist groups turned up at Christian colleges. But then why would you go there?
  • Last week, White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney made kind of a gutsy move from the podium.  He quoted a verse from the Bible. “God helps those who help themselves.”   If that really was a Bible verse, Matt at The Church of No People speculates on the exegesis.
  • KSZ posts the strangest piece of neo-classical music, or should that be meow-classical?  And how did the kids keep a straight face?
  • And then there’s Kevin Olusola, the guy who’s had 1,000,000 YouTube hits for his beat-box, hip-hop, cello playing video.  According to Brad, he’s also currently touring with Gungor.
  • Kids out at a downtown Halloween party in Loganville, GA received plastic dolls of a 12-week old fetus.
  • Blue Like Jazz – The Movie opens in theaters on April 13th.  I know that for sure because Matt and Ellen told me.
  • Vic the Vicar posts a warning for those who don’t follow e-mail instructions; I link to it partly because I accidentally trashed Vic’s Versatile Blogger nomination.  Sorry, Vic.
  • If you’re anywhere near Toronto, Canada on December 3rd, you won’t want to miss Steve Bell in concert with The Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
  • Sacred Sandwich: The Early Years –

April 9, 2011

Billy Graham: The Generation after the Next Generation

Oh yeah! People come up and say, “The years of mass evangelism are dead,” and I say, “I don’t believe in mass evangelism,” and they’re like, “That’s what you guys have always done.” I say, “No, we don’t. We do personal evangelism, but we do it on a massive scale.”

~Will Graham, son of Franklin Graham

Christianity Today sits down Will Graham, an associate evangelist with his grandfather’s BGEA and assistant director of The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.

It’s worth a look.  For example, here’s a change from everything you’ve been reading lately on hell:

I can’t speak for what Rob Bell talks about, but most people I come across still believe in hell. Now the idea of what hell is, that’s changing, but there are a few things we do know that the Bible says. One, that there is a place called hell. Just as heaven is real, so is hell. The whole reason God came to search out man was to save us from hell. The Bible says hell was never created for man. It was created for Satan and his angels that rebelled against God. Since man has decided to rebel against God, they were going to spend eternity in hell totally separate from God.

He also talks about other aspects to crusade evangelism, some new initiatives the organization has started, and comparisons to both is father and grandfather.

Read the whole piece at CT Online.

January 28, 2011

Friday Debrief

No this is isn’t a start of a supplement to the Wednesday Link List, it’s just a few things that deserved a larger space committment without creating several individual posts:

  • Darryl Dash highlighted a small section of the CT interview with Billy Graham on Tuesday; the section where Mr. Graham is asked if he would do anything different, and he replies that he would have spent more time family.  But tucked away inside that response is this revelation:
     

    I also would have steered clear of politics. I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.

  • I’ve been checking blogs to see what anticipation there is for the new Rob Bell book, Love Wins, which I mentioned briefly here last Friday; and in the process read (and left a comment at) this post at the UK (Ireland?) blog Supersimbo.  The blog writer views people under 40 as
     

    “Jumping from one book to another, switching from being a fan of Bell to Driscoll and back again as often as the wind changes, treating our faith and beliefs like an app for our iPhone or iPad…..liking his ‘theology’ because of how its packaged and advertised!”

    The conclusion is that readers will miss the importance of the message of Christian universalism that it contains. To clarify this a little further, he responded to me in the comments section with a link to a Margaret Feinberg interview with Scot McKnight, where McKnight describes Christian universalism as “the biggest challenge facing American Evangelicals.”  He goes on to define it:

    Christian universalism if the belief that everyone will eventually be saved because of what Christ has done. Christian universalism differs from raw pluralism. Pluralism is the belief that no religion offers superiority in the process of redemption. With pluralism, all religions lead us to the same god and the same ends. The distinction for Christian universalists is that what God did for humans in Christ will redeem all humans, whether they are Hindus, Muslims, or atheists, all will eventually be saved.

  • Another Bible translation?  Yep!  Steve Webb is single-handedly working on a project called the Lifespring Family One Year Bible which he is releasing in sections online and in a podcast. Who is Steve Webb? That’s a long story.   Here’s a sample from Genesis 9:
     

    9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Reproduce abundantly, and be fruitful and increase in number on the earth.
    9:2 All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the air, all that move on the earth, and all the fish in the sea will fear you. I have placed them in you hand.
    9:3 Every living thing that moves will be your food. As I gave you green plants, now I give you everything.

  • Finally, a court has upheld the right of World Vision to enforce its policy of hiring Christian employees.This story is from EWTN, a Catholic news agency.
     

    In a 2-1 ruling, a panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a petition to re-hear a case which charges that a religious charity illegally fired employees because they no longer agreed with its statement of faith……The organization said it terminated the three employees in 2007 because they “no longer agreed with World Vision U.S.’s statement of faith.” The organization discovered that the employees denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.

    One employee worked in technology and facility maintenance, one was an administrative assistant, and the third coordinated shipping and facilities needs.

    They later sued, claiming their termination was an act of illegal discrimination. A federal district judge had previously ruled against the plaintiffs, prompting the appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

    World Vision praised the decision to reject the appeal and pledged vigorous defense of its right to hire employees who share its faith. “Our Christian faith has been the foundation of our work since the organization was established in 1950, and our hiring policy is vital to the integrity of our mission to serve the poor as followers of Jesus Christ,” the organization said…

    Similar organizations in Canada have faced this issue before, such as, most recently, Christian Horizons.

January 5, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Here’s a new list to kick off a new year…

  • While some “Christian” pastors — one anyway — want to burn the Qu’ran, Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tennessee has “a more welcoming approach.” ” Steve Stone and his congregants put out a sign welcoming incoming neighbors at the Memphis Islamic Center. The church then allowed these Muslim neighbors to use their sanctuary as a makeshift mosque throughout Ramadan while the Islamic Center was under construction.”  Read more at Christianity Today.
  • As strange as that story may be, it’s also the basis for a Canadian situation comedy now in its 5th season.  The new season of Little Mosque on the Prairie kicked off on Monday night with an episode that makes the Imam look a lot more appealing — i.e. “nicer” — than the Anglican minister who is renting the Islamic congregation its space.   Watch past episodes at CBC-TV.
  • The girl who recorded “Wait for Me” in 2000 is done waiting.  News yesterday that Christian singer Rebecca St. James is engaged to marry Jacob Fink who has a background in missions, television production and music. Proposal: Christmas Day. Wedding date: TBA.
  • The number of abusive priest lawsuits in a Milwaukee diocese has forced it to declare bankruptcy.  But a victims’ lawyer says it’s only being done to protect identities, and will merely delay the process.
  • This item was the runner up on Perry Noble’s top 2010 posts:  Ten Questions That Unchurched People Are Not Asking (Sample: #8 – “Does your pastor teach exegetically through the Scriptures?” Hey, it’s a dealbreaker, right?)
  • Tucked away in a little corner of James MacDonald’s (Walk in the Word) website is this tidbit of news:  “And this is amazing…We received a donation of a 20-million-dollar television production facility. The studio and the technology it provides will enable Walk in the Word to produce greater resources to reach more people.”  Not the first time something like this (i.e. Harvest Bible Chapel’s land in Elgin, Illinois) has dropped into their laps!
  • Does God withhold blessings from me because of my sins (even sins that have been forgiven)?  That’s the question Dana asked at Upwrite.  “…it is about the possibility of freedom from beating myself up over the things I might have missed out on because of my sins.”  Anyone care to leave her an answer?
  • And then, this testimony: “My backstory isn’t a pretty one. In fact, I didn’t even begin life as an sweet little planned bundle of joy. My mom was raped and I was the result. I was adopted by two wonderful parents who loved me and raised me as their own. But from the age of 3 until about the age of 12 my concept of love became skewed and shattered as I was repeatedly molested and raped by two different people in my family.I was pregnant at 17.”  That’s Stephanie Shott’s story.  Read the rest at her guest post at Jenni Catron’s blog.
  • This week I checked out the website affiliated with a book that released in November:  Besides The Bible – 100 Books that Have, Should, or Will Create Christian Culture.  The publisher blurb promises, “Covering a wide array of subjects and authors, from Christian bookstore best sellers to classics of Christian history and more, you’ll find yourself agreeing with some titles, shaking your head at others, and even shocked by a few.”  Here’s the WordPress blog for Besides the Bible.
  • 265 Journal pages containing 214 entries later,  John Piper is back from his leave of absence, and condenses his report in a much, much shorter summary at Desiring God.
  • Bored during church or that expensive ministry conference?  Jim Lehmer is back with an entirely updated version of Christian Buzzwords Bingo.   Each refresh of the page gets you a new bingo card!
  • Want to send a shout out to long-time friend Al Clarkson for keeping me posted on things I might have missed.   (Like this and the next two entries.)  Here’s Alpha Course founder Nicky Gumbel speaking at the Lausanne Conference.
  • Canada’s popular Christian musician, Steve Bell — who we linked to last week — scored some major press here this week in the prestigious business insert to a national newspaper.  You can catch both items at once at this bookstore industry blog.
  • And at the same blog, at age 102, George Beverley Shea is to receive a Lifetime Achieve Award in conjunction with The Grammy Awards.
  • Last week we linked to Derek Webb’s piece at Huffington Post, and this week you can read Frank Turk’s very firm response, and the 250 comments it generated.
  • And at the blog, On The Fence (tagline: A Skeptical Screenwriter and a Christian Pastor Talk About Faith) Travis comments on reading Greg Boyd’s Myth of a Christian Nation over the holidays. Not sure if Frank Turk would approve of Boyd.
  • Our photo below is a flashback to a 2009 post at the now defunct blog, Cool Things in Random Places. It’s a picture of The Door to Hell. Really. The link gets you many more pictures and videos.

The Door to Hell, is situated near the small town of Darvaz in Turkmenistan.  Thirty-five years ago, geologists were drilling for gas when then encountered a very large cavern underground filled with a poisonous gas.  They ignited the gas expecting it to burn off in a few hours.  The gas is still burning to this day. Its 60 meters in diameter and 20 meters depth have not been caused by volcanic activity or a meteorite impact.This crater was created sometime in the 50’s when the Soviets were prospecting for natural gas in this area and it’s been burning since then.

December 16, 2009

Link Time!

Once again, free of charge, here are a few things you might not have known were just a link away…

  • Jeff Goins at the blog, Pilgrimage of the Heart, noted that his webzine Wrecked for the Ordinary, showed much interest last week on this topic, “Is The Cross The Wrong Symbol for Christianity?”     Before I even got to the article, I made the following observation at his blog:

    I remember years ago hearing people talk about recovering the towel and the basin as the symbol of Christianity; the idea was that the core concept of following Christ is to follow him as he washed his disciples’ feet.

    The discussion was still going on today here.

  • Did you hear the story this week about the eight-year old boy sent home from school for drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross?    Asked to draw something that reminded him of Christmas, the boy drew a simple crucifix — pictured at right — with an ‘X’ in place of each eye to show that the person on the cross had died.   The school sent him home citing concerns of violence and ordered a psychiatric evaluation.   You can read the original Taunton Gazette Dec. 14 report here, and the latest update on the story here from Fox News.
  • Here’s an internet archives classic:  A much younger looking 22-Words blogger Abraham Piper, pictured alongside his personal testimony — “When I was 19, I decided I’d be honest and stop saying I was a Christian…” — offers advice for the parents of prodigals in this 2007 article at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website.  (22-Words regulars might notice the resemblance between him and his son Orison)
  • Sadly the Alltop blog aggregator is rapidly losing its usefulness when overtly commercial sites like Best Travel Deals are accepted.  Currently however, if you’ve never checked out the site, you can scan the titles of the last five posts at top blogs in the Christianity, Church and Religion categories.
  • A few nights ago I ended up at a YouTube video containing the Casting Crowns song, Prayer for a Friend, when I was suddenly reminded of a CCM classic song by Debby Boone, Can You Reach My Friend? also on YouTube.  While both are homemade vids,  these are both great compositions.  How much time do we spend crying out for friends — both current and long lost — who have not yet crossed the line of faith?
  • While the Grand Cayman Islands may not be the place to picture Christmas done up with snowmen and sleighs, they really do the lights thing to the max.   Zach and Cory, who attend Thabiti Anyabwile’s church,  post a few pics  at the appropriately named blog, Life in Grand Cayman.  (See sample at the top of this blog post.)
  • Got more Christian books and Bibles lying around than you know what to do with?   In the United States, check out a program called Bare Your Bookshelf, where you can directly ship up to four pounds of books to someone in need.   In Canada, consider a program that gets large container loads of Christian resources to missionaries overseas at Christian Salvage Mission.    (Read the history and then click on “area coordinators” to find the closest contact to you.)
  • Our cartoon today is from Mike Waters at Joyful Toons:

HT – for the Taunton, Mass. student story to Tom Bauerle at WBEN radio in Buffalo, with additional links from David Mercier at the blog Redeem The Time.

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