Thinking Out Loud

December 17, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Alien Mormons

The two Mormon missionaries in artist Brook Robertson’s piece “Zion / Rocky Mountain Alliance” look determined. The figures are both wearing crisp white shirts and ties, resolutely staring forward as their vehicle heads towards it destination. Such a statue normally wouldn’t be out of place in Salt Lake City — the worldwide headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Except for the fact that the vessel is a spaceship. And one of the missionaries has the bright blue skin of a sharply-dressed alien. CLICK the image to read the full story at Huffington Post.

 

Time to catch up what’s been happening in Linkland. First, the Friday PARSE column from last week:

  • Not Home for the Holidays – A woman in ministry writes her mom, “You didn’t sign up for this strange and wonderful life your daughter has chosen. You have not made any vows to the church. We young clergy women know that it isn’t always fair how our pastoral vocations impact our loved ones, from missing holidays with our extended families to spending too many evenings away from our kids to seldom being able to go away for the weekend with our spouses… Broadway stars have to work Friday and Saturday nights, tax preparers have to work long hours in March and April, pyrotechnicians have to work on Independence Day, and pastors have to work on Christmas and Easter.”
  • Churches Losing Career Women – We frequently encounter articles about the church losing the male demographic, or losing youth, but this one offers an entirely fresh perspective. Why are working women disconnecting? The article is a mix of stats, theory and practical concerns. “‘The existing programs for women don’t align with my work schedule or my needs.’ – We often hear professional women in the church say they would rather go to the men’s 6:30 a.m. group events because of scheduling and content, but can you imagine if they went strolling into one? …[T]he women’s events are scheduled during the workday or at other times that a busy working woman who is putting in 40+ hours at work plus running a home plus often mothering children and getting them to school, arts and athletics, etc. just can’t make it.” This makes a good discussion starter for church leaders.
  • Twenty for 2015  – Tony Morgan’s ideas and opinions do you make you think: “#6 Once a church gets beyond a few hundred people, it’s really dysfunctional for boards and committees to be involved in day-to-day decision-making around purchases, facility maintenance and staffing issues… #9 Every church should be actively planning to add a service, add a campus or plant a church…  #12 Shared leadership doesn’t work. When all the leaders are equal, no one is leading…#18 Every church should do a marriage series, a money series and a series on life purpose every year…” In total, twenty, some of which he admits are politically incorrect.
  • The Recognition and Function of Spiritual Gifts – A look at common misconceptions and questions raised by the topic of unique, individual talents: “A few believers have not fully appreciated, or embraced, their gifts because they were ones that did not appear to require some mysterious spin to its explanation. So they did not think very highly of those as spiritual gifts. So then, we tend to see how a vibrant biblical teacher could have a spiritual gift but not a skilled church administrator… So, what happens when we are outside of the walls of the church? … One who is blessed with wise counsel or sympathy does not automatically become unsympathetic or full of foolish advice when they are, say, with a colleague at workplace instead of at church.”  Responding to a variety of questions people will ask.
  • Crossing Theological Categories – Samuel James has been blogging on the Evangelical channel of Patheos for just a few days past one year. He’s been flooded with readers on a recent piece on Rob Bell, who he notes is a product of the Emergent movement but now espouses a teaching that is perhaps more in line with Pentecostalism, “which, of course, ends up making sense, since that’s exactly the kind of preaching that Oprah Winfrey seems partial to.” He observes, “Bell has now become the very thing he once decried;” and suggests something important regarding the people of Mars Hill Grand Rapids, Bell’s former church, “I feel a measure of sadness for those people; they have to feel a bit betrayed right now.” With all the attention given this, don’t miss James’ analysis in defending Dr. Russell Moore.
  • When the Translators Finish, Everyone Gets a Book, Right? – Growing up in a missions saturated church, I always thought that a printed Bible was the end product of every translation project. But orality, not literacy, is the norm in nearly half of the world. The problem is that traditionally, tech solutions involved moving parts that rusted quickly in many parts of the world, and batteries which wore out. Today, the face of Bible distribution involves unsung organizations such as Galcom and Megavoice using microchip content and solar powered devices to relay Bible content in dialects most of us have never heard of.  This video isn’t new, but gives the backstory.
  • Should Religious Scholars Be Tackling Climate Change? - Last week the New York Times reported that the American Academy of Religion (AAR) would be taking a sabbatical from its annual meeting every seventh year in the interest of saving the planet. One writer disagrees with this emphasis: “The real problem is that [AAR President] Zoloth has been drawn in by the challenge of her scientist colleagues at Northwestern, who apparently asked what the study of religion was doing about climate change… Must every discipline have some significant contribution to make to every social problem we face? Maybe, as an academic discipline we ought to show a little more humility. As much as we find it irresistible to pontificate, maybe there are times when a particular academic discipline needs to get out of the way and let those better placed get on with the work.”
  • Not Everyone Shares The Spirit of the Season – “As the spirit of generosity increases in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so do break-ins and thefts. Churches are not immune from the threat. In fact they may be easy targets during the holidays… ‘The major problem with a lot of churches is not that they do not recognize the need for security,’ [security expert Jerry] Turpen said. ‘They either procrastinate or they develop the attitude of ‘this won’t happen at our church.’ Churches must decide if it’s worth the risk not to take the threat seriously.'”
  • Bonus Link: Although the original story is two years old, making the rounds again is the marginal notes — complaints is a better word — that monks wrote in the margins of manuscripts they were copying.

Next, we have what’s appearing on PARSE today:

  • Having Church with Buffalo Wings - First it was movie theaters, now it’s restaurant chains. “When Riverchase United Methodist Church announced they would hold church services in a local Buffalo Wild Wings, they probably hoped to make a splash in the city of Hoover. I doubt they knew the move would inspire a top ten list on David Letterman…Christians need to abandon the idea of holy buildings and holy sites. Our church buildings are not the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament temple. Jesus is… We meet with God not in a physical building, but through Jesus who gave his life for us.”  A concise look at a breaking story.
  • Your Church’s Story, and the Surrounding Community Story – “From mega churches to house churches to traditional churches to community churches, the diversity in expression for the people of God in cities is vast. Yet amidst all the diversity, there is one commonality among North American urban churches: they all exist within a changing religious culture. Whether a church chooses to adapt, engage, withdraw or reject such change, they can’t deny that the church’s role in culture is in fact changing.” A short look at two churches in Vancouver, Canada that find the larger community around them undergoing dramatic shifts.
  • Redeeming ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ - Evangelicals generally disdain the popular carol for having no basis in scripture, however: “Worshipers of Jesus (like the magi) compel their neighbors (like the drummer boy) to consider Jesus — to come and see him, as it were. And when the neighbors do, if they would believe, a moment happens when they realize their bankruptcy is exposed. They see Jesus and comprehend his glory, and then they look at themselves: But I am broken. I am empty and poor. I’ve got nothing to bring this King that even comes close to representing the honor that is due him.” This Desiring God commentary helps us see the carol in a new light.  Which brings us to…
  • Why So Many Seasonal Songs are Written by Jewish Musicians – “In their music and lyrics, Jews captured Christmas not only as a wonderful, wintry time for family gatherings, but also as an American holiday. What they drew on, said Rabbi Kenneth Kanter, an expert on Jews and popular culture at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, was their background as the children of European-born Jews, or as immigrants themselves, in the case of Russian-born Berlin and others.” Why not Hanukkah songs? “Although celebrating the birth of Christ was not something these Jewish songwriters would want to do, they could feel comfortable composing more secular Christmas singles.”
  • Christianity without Christmas – “Some ‘conservative Quakers,’ said Chris Pifer, a spokesman for the Friends General Conference, one of several national Quaker groups, refuse to observe Christmas at all, under the “every day is a holy day” rubric. But not all of the nation’s 33,000 Quakers share that stance…Perhaps the most conspicuous of Christmas-shunners are Jehovah’s Witnesses, millennialists whose ranks include 1.9 million members in the United States. Although the group initially observed Dec. 25 as a holiday, church spokesman J.R. Brown said from the church’s Brooklyn, New York, headquarters, further study by one official in 1928 led them to drop the observance.” All this and more from a Mormon news website.
  • Why Teenagers aren’t Sharing their Faith – “[W]e have an almost irrepressible appetite for doing outreach events instead of mobilizing our teenagers to be the outreach event… Of course, outreach events are fine and good and needed from time to time. But if they are replacing, rather than enhancing, our teenagers’ personal evangelism efforts then they are limiting our true outreach effectiveness.” Seven points in total, but all of these could apply just as easily to adults. Which leads us to…
  • Christ Centered Youth Ministry - This article could also apply to Children’s ministry or various adult departments of your church. So imagine you’re a youth pastor, only a few weeks on the job, when a parent corners you in the office with this: “As a father, I take the role of instilling Christ into the lives of my children very seriously. Because of that responsibility I want to make sure that my kids are involved in a youth program that is Jesus-focused. So tell me, why I should trust you and the program you run?”
  • Slain in the Spirit - When I first saw this video I was sure it was faked. Think of Benny Hinn throwing his suit jacket at people, only ramped up exponentially. The pastor, Chris Oyakhilome, has his own page on Wikipedia which states that he is, “a Nigerian minister who is the founding president of Believers’ LoveWorld Incorporated also known as “Christ Embassy”, a Bible-based Christian ministry headquartered in Lagos… Pastor Chris’ ministry has expanded rapidly beyond coasts of Nigeria and South Africa, and he now holds large meetings in the United states and has Healing school sessions in Canada, and United Kingdom.” The one-minute video is entitled, “Watch as Pastor Uses Invisible Power to Knock Down Church Members.” (Hopefully, this isn’t the only Christianity people in that country see.)

During the week, I save links just for this part of the list. So don’t think of these as the cutting room floor from the PARSE links…

Christmas Mass at Saturday Night Live

If church is just an annual thing for you or your family, you might relate to this SNL skit. Click to watch at Relevant.

 

 

 

 

December 11, 2014

Thursday Link List

Filed under: links, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:26 am
Mary's Press Conference

Mary’s Press Conference

Sometimes I find myself collecting links for Wednesday and then I reach a point where I just can’t stop, like those perpetual motion machines, or those guys in Asia who kept fighting a war long after it had ended.

Christmas in the NavPress lobby

Christmas in the NavPress lobby: Most (but not all) of the ‘tree’ is various editions of The Message Bible

October 3, 2014

The Heart of a Discernment Blogger

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:44 am

Do Not Be Surprised

At least 24 hours after hearing of the death of Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries, it occurred to me that Erin Benz at the blog Do Not Be Surprised would probably have noted his passing, and I was correct. In a ten minute span that followed I clicked around her blog and gained some insight into what motivates her as a blogger.

While there are probably some theological things Erin and I would disagree on, I want to say that I am in total agreement with everything I’ve copied and pasted below. I don’t feel called to do a blog that has the same tenor perhaps, but I have waded in on certain breaking stories, but I’ve also waded out when the stories went mainstream. Similarly, Do Not Be Surprised doesn’t seem to belabor a particular issue.

But first, the name as explained in her very first post:

Strangely, it took me quite awhile to determine what I wanted to call this blog… But then it all just sort of came to me. Not Surprised actually has a dual purpose. Of course, it seemed a natural title considering everything that’s happening in the world. Yes, I’m frustrated and saddened by so much of it, but at the same time, we had ample warning that this was all coming, so why should I be surprised? Then as I was flipping through my Bible, two passages stuck out to me:

1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” and

1 John 3:13 “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”

The words “do not be surprised” really stood out to me as I was literally simply flipping through the Word and I thought, “duh, Erin, everyone thinks you’re crazy anyway, why are you surprised? God promised you they would!”

In what is probably a more-frequently read section of her blog, the “About” page, she writes:

As Christians, we are called to “contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This blog seeks to answer that call.

The truth is everything and God’s truth has been under attack from the beginning. Today, churches and Christian groups and organizations have readily and eagerly compromised the truth of the Gospel. They have done so in favor of gaining numbers, filling pews, and over-filling offering plates. Truth, even the truth of God’s unchanging Word, has become relative, and has become secondary to one’s personal experience or revelation. Those who see this compromise, this denigration of God’s Truth, must stand up and speak out against it. Even our proclamation of the true Gospel of Jesus may be marred if we choose to remain silent in the presence of “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1) because our silence betrays a subtle acceptance of these lies.

As we contend and stand firmly on Scripture, we will be called divisive, mean, unloving, and perhaps worse. Yet we stand strong nonetheless. And we remember the warnings of Jesus and Paul and others in Scripture:

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. (Matthew 24:4-5)

“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30)

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Remembering these warnings, and resting in the grace and strength of Jesus Christ, may every Christian have the courage to earnestly, boldly, unashamedly, contend for the saving faith and salvation in Christ that has been granted unto him.

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 3-4)

Part of the problem in the body of Christ is that we don’t really know each other. So when we disagree on doctrines or practices everything becomes very quickly polarized. Like I said at the outset, there are some areas where I am coming from a doctrinal position quite opposite Erin’s but there is no denying either her sincerity or her passion, as in this January 2010 post, Why I Do What I Do:

Discernment ministries, and less formal blogs of the same nature (like this one) oftentimes receive a lot of criticism for speaking the truth in love. Be it negative, even hateful comments on an article, or mean-spirited emails, discernment ministry is not for those who fear confrontation! Since these responses are rarely constructive, but are rather composed of name-calling and weak arguments, I suppose I am blessed to be part of a generation that simply unfriends me on Facebook when they are offended by one of my articles! But so many people ask “why.” Why do I and others choose to be so “mean” or “divisive” toward our Christian brothers and sisters? To be clear, discernment and the consequential boldness to speak the truth is not done in malice, but in love. The answer to why I maintain this blog (and to why I’ll “call a spade a spade” in any conversation) lies in Ezekiel 33:6

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

If I saw that your house was burning down, but you were in a far room and were as of yet unaware, would you like me to alert you of the impending danger? Or would you prefer that I stand back and watch the house burn with you inside of it? The same idea applies to what I am doing with this blog: I see a destructive, un-Biblical teaching in the church and instead of sitting back and watching you drown in a sea of apostasy, I am led to boldly speak up for the Truth and stand against the false teaching…

So the question of course that many would ask is, “Fine, but who are you to think that your view is correct?” Or “By what authority do you publish your blog?”

I think Erin partly answered that question this week when she noted the passing of Ken Silva:

On a personal note, having served at one time alongside Ken at Apprising’s sister site, Christian Research Network, I am thankful for the way in which the Lord used Ken in the life of Do Not Be Surprised.

So she brings some practical experience to her writing.

I should also say that as this blog’s Wednesday Link List approaches its Monday night deadline, I always check Erin’s This ‘n That column, a Saturday link list, to see what stories grabbed her attention that week.

So Erin, if you’re reading this and you decide to look around here, you might notice that I am passionate about some individuals and ministries that perhaps you disdain, and I want you to know that is probably matched by an equal amount eye-rolling when I read your blog. But when I read the posts I’ve linked to here, I can’t deny that your online work is born out a desire to see God’s word rightly divided and God’s truth setting people free.

To my readers, I would say that as you get to know the heart of someone, you can agree to disagree on things; and you can determine to celebrate the things that unite us.

June 4, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Arch Enemies

Clicking anything below will re-direct you to PARSE, the blog of Leadership Journal who snapped up the rights to this weekly aggregation of linkage before Salem Communications could even submit a bid. From PARSE, click again on the story you want to read.

So that’s this week’s list. We didn’t even steal anything from iMonk or Rachel H.E. Tune in next week; same bat time, same bat channel; or visit during the author during the week at Thinking Out Loud, C201, or Twitter.

Hitler's Pants after the assassination attempt. Some feel that surviving the event only empowered him more.

Hitler’s Pants after the assassination attempt. Some feel that surviving the event only empowered him more. Source: Rare Historical Photos

December 1, 2013

Great Christian Sitcom Idea

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:05 am
Jamie Wright

Jamie Wright

Jenna Elfman

Jenna Elfman

So…if anyone from Cornerstone Television, or even TBN is listening, I have a great idea for a Christian weekly half-hour sitcom, and the script ideas already exist online.  Here it is:

Jamie The Very Worst Missionary

Jamie Wright, now living in the U.S., has built a huge blog following on being inept at various things; and yet behind the self-deprecating humor, there is a great deal of both insight and heart. I was thinking we could get Jenna Elfman (Dharma and Greg; 1600 Penn) to play Jamie.  And Jamie Wright could have some kind of creative control, thus adding Jamie The Very Worst Scriptwriter to her list of ‘worsts.’  And how about a nice 1960’s style opening theme song, “She’s Jamie, the very worst miss-ion-aa-ree…”

September 18, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Glasbergen - preaching

My pappy said,”Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop readin’ that Wednesday Linkin'” *

With that* we begin another round. To read this week’s list with the actual links, you must click over to Out of Ur.

  • Where are the frogs?  For Glen Eyrie, a Christian conference center in Colorado operated by The Navigators, last year it was fire, this year it’s flooding.
  • The latest story of a child’s death alleging a connection to a controversial parenting book has international repercussions. (I’ve been tracking the book’s story for four years now.)
  • Sermon of the Week: Steve Carter at Willow finds a common thread between postsecrets.com and the life of Moses.
  • Testimony of the Week: Jessica Kelley shares an intense story of suffering and loss with the congregation at Greg Boyd’s church. 44 powerful minutes.
  • Essay of the Week: Andy Hall finds himself in the middle of the same type of story as Jessica, and connects what happened at Eden to the suffering we experience in a fallen world.
  • Saeed Abedini appeals to the new President of Iran to release him from prison; while his wife speaks at Liberty University.
  • Is there a difference between women preachers and women bloggers? Much depends on how the women bloggers view their role.
  • Jamie The Very Worst Photographer attempts to show us highlights of her trip to Guatemala.
  • At some point in 2014, Hillsong is planting a church in Southern California. Maybe some day Justin B. will visit that Hillsong church also.
  • Parents in Scotland want to be able to have a say in whether or not their children receive gay sex education.
  • Just weeks before classes started, Canada’s Trinity Western University canceled a filmmaking course because the teacher couldn’t sign on to TWU’s statement about the fate of unbelievers.
  • Got last minute company arriving tonight? Take the references for the top sixty most searched Bible verses at topverses.com and turn it into a trivia game.
  • While the Pope is suggesting the possibility of married priests, for some, the big story is his purchase of a 1984 Renault. (Bumper sticker: My other car is the Pope Mobile.)
  • Christena Cleveland is running a series of essays on the experience of African-American students at Christian universities.  Here’s  some  samples.
  • For I know the plans I have for who? A look at the context behind a much-quoted Bible promises.
  • Before he could burn nearly 3,000 copies of the Quran, Pastor Terry Jones and an associate are charged with firearms and vehicle registration issues. The story does raise the question of what happened to the kerosene-soaked copies of the Muslim holy book.
  • Equal Time Department: In a Reformed-theology-dominated blogosphere, someone dares to offer Ten Reasons Why I Am a Wesleyan. (Some Arminians may not be drawn to these particular reasons.)
  • Sigh! Another case of a church wanting to part company from their denomination, but wanting to keep the property.
  • In a world where unusual church names are the norm, it’s hard to distinguish yourself from the pack, which is why I like this one from the UK: Everyday Champions Church. (Do they have the breakfast cereal Wheaties there?)
  • If you’re going to read an apologetics book review, you want an apologetics website; hence this link to Apologetics 315’s review of God’s Not Dead, a primer on the subject by Rice Broocks.
  • If you’re planning your Christmas services and need design ideas, you can always hang Christmas trees upside down.
  • Len Wilson, who serves at an Atlanta church called Peachtree, has written an excellent series of articles about visual arts in the church.  (He ought to be easy to track down; how many things in Atlanta can possibly be named Peachtree?)
  • Jordan Michael Taylor gets downright preachy at a recent Blimey Cow video on the subject of loving your enemies. At the same time, only days in, his Kickstarter CD campaign has already doubled its goal.
  • For the Christian, when is a glass of wine, one glass of wine too many?
  • Double sigh! Another youth pastor crosses a line with teens. I won’t even include the summary for this one.
  • A pastor friend of mine said this article was guilty of stating the obvious, but here are ten reasons leading a church is tougher than running a business.
  • A Mormon dad goes to great lengths — or in this case, shorts — to show his daughter what immodesty looks like.
  • Unstoppable, Kirk Cameron’s lastest film will play one night only — next Tuesday — in selected U.S. theaters.
  • Not to be taken seriously, the blog Celebrity Pastor offers five essentials to look for in a worship leader.

*I want to be really clear that the Commander Cody intro this week was my wife’s idea.

What Happens in Vegas

 

http://www.outofur.com/archives/2013/09/wednesday_link_11.html

March 22, 2013

Name Changes: The Artist Formerly Known as Anne Jackson

The first time I can recall anyone within the Christian world changing their name mid career was when Leslie Phillips became Sam Phillips. A newer generation might cite Katy Hudson becoming Kate Perry. Both of those examples however were exiting the Christian marketplace.

I’m sure there are some Christian author stories out there as well, but I can’t think of any.

However, on Monday, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson author Anne Jackson announced to the world that hereafter she will be writing under the name Anne Marie Miller, in a blog post entitled Anne Jackson Is Gone.

I still have another book to write. Half of it is due a month from tomorrow. As Tim, myself, and my publishing team at Thomas Nelson sat down in December, we discussed the pros and cons of changing my name from what it has always been known as online and on books – Anne Jackson – to my new name…

…But what about those people who only know “Anne Jackson”? How will they find out? Is it a bad career move?

My heart and gut say to go with it. Though “Anne Jackson” is the name some people know, it is just a name. It is time for me to shed the skin that held much love and heartache and enjoy wearing this new one which is full of new life and adventure. I am a different person now…hopefully one who is a little more mature in her faith and loving in her heart…

Read her entire article — complete with a picture of her new hubby — at this link.

March 16, 2013

To My Fellow Bloggers: What Your Amazon Links Support

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought -  Gay marriage donations?

This week we were asked by a Christian bookstore manager, “How many people know that the founder of Amazon is the largest single donor to the cause of gay marriage?” Honestly, I didn’t know myself, and the amount, $2.5 M (US) is staggering. He told me, “Tell your local churches that are buying from Amazon just to type ‘Jeff Bezos’ and ‘gay marriage’ into a search engine for themselves.”  A week later, I did this myself. There were many, many articles, but this one describes a behind-the-scenes look at the donation:

Thank Lesbian Jennifer Cast for Jeff Bezos’ Huge Gay Marriage Support

Like most of us, Jennifer Cast said she figured her former boss, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, was well aware of the threat to gay marriage in Washington State by the upcoming the ballot iniative and wrote to him, “I figured that if you felt the desire to support marriage equality, you would do it.” But, unlike many of us, this time she spoke up with a direct ask, and for the first time in twelve years working on the issue, Cast, 50, partners of 20+ years with Liffy Franklin, 63, emailed Bezos, “I beg you not to sit on the sidelines and hope the vote goes our way. Help us make it so.” She wrote, “We need help from straight people. To be very frank, we need help from wealthy straight people who care about us and who want to help us win.” She asked the billionaire for a contribution of $100,000 to $200,000. Within thirty-six hours he replied, “Jen, this is right for so many reasons. We’re in for $2.5 million. Jeff & MacKenzie”

This is the largest ever donation in support of marriage equality and it only happened because a lesbian spoke up and asked for it. Learn from her. The announcement also inspired other gifts, according to the Seattle Times, which reports, “Cast said she has received hundreds of emails since news of Bezos’ gift broke early Friday from well-wishers and those who suddenly wanted to give. One donor pledged $25,000.”

Jeff Bezos is worth $18.4 billion. Although William Lynch, the CEO of Barnes & Noble, isn’t a billionaire, his compensation last year was $10 million, going up to $15.3 million this year. He doesn’t have a connection to Washington State, but some of the Amazon haters need to ask Lynch for a significant donation. He can give to Maryland’s or to Maine’s campaign…

A link for this and what follows is available if you wish. The perspective below was actually from a gay website. The first line really sums up what’s happening even as you’re reading this.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…gay marriage donations?: The founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos, and his wife, MacKenzie, just donated 2.5 million to help pass Washington state’s Referendum 74, which would legalize gay marriage. The donation from Bezos, the 15th wealthiest man in America, has been called a “game changer” by Washington gay marriage campaigners.

I do not see how any Christian blogger or media outlet possessing this information can continue to remain an Amazon affiliate or referrer. To everyone else, if you or your church purchases from Amazon, I think you need to take a long, prayerful second look at that situation.

January 19, 2013

Weekend Link List

Weekend List Lynx

Weekend List Lynx

Lots of stuff that can’t wait until Wednesday!

  • This one is must reading. Matthew Paul Turner asks former Mars Hill Bible Church pastor Shane Hipps all the questions I would have asked about the church, hell, Love Wins and the man he succeeded at MHBC, Rob Bell.

    “This is one of the biggest misunderstandings.  Rob doesn’t have a position or a concept of hell, he is an artist exploring possibilities and making unexpected connections, not a theologian plotting out a system.  In other words there is nothing to agree or disagree with.  It’s like saying I disagree with that song or that painting.”

    Read more at MPT’s blog.

  • CT’s story of the week concerns gay students at Christian colleges. That’s not a typo.

    “Leaders at Christian colleges and universities around the country told Christianity Today their schools are rethinking the way they address the needs of [same sex attracted] students on campus.”

    Read more at Christianity Today.

  • If you’ve been around the church for any length of time, you might remember “visitation” by pastors and church elders. These days, you’re more likely to get a house call from your doctor.  David Fitch’s guest author Ty Grigg thinks you might not have anybody drop in these days:

    “It is not a cultural norm to have neighbors or even friends over to our homes for dinner.  If we want to be with people, we go out.  The restaurant has replaced the space that home once occupied in society.  Typically, for younger generations (40’s and under), a visit will be at a coffee shop or to grab lunch.  In our suburban isolation, the home is too much of an intimate, sacred space for most non-family members to enter.”

    Read more at Reclaiming the Mission.

Other links:

  • Canadian readers will remember a national pre-Christmas story involving the theft of $2M worth of toys from a Salvation Army warehouse in Toronto. Here’s a follow-up on how the organization is working to protect itself by having a solid ‘whistle-blower’ policy
  • Want a taste of that theological educational experience you missed? RegentRadio.com, the internet broadcasting arm of Regent College, frequently offers free lectures by its professors. Currently it’s wrapping up a twelve-part series with Gordon Fee on the Holy Spirit in Pauline Theology with a new lecture available each day.
  • We linked to this about six months ago, but it’s worth a revisit. Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed links to a 9-minute video where an orthodox priest explains various theories of atonement.
  • Sarnia is a Canadian city across the river from Port Huron, MI.  Pastor Kevin Rodgers blogs at Orphan Age and reminds us how a shared meal is a great way to build community.
  • USA Today religion editor Cathy Lynn Grossman looks at the larger religious issues in Monday’s Presidential inauguration ceremony.
  • A New Jersey substitute teacher is fired for giving a student his personal Bible as a gift after the student kept asking where the saying, “the last shall be first” came from.
  • New blogs we’re watching this week — okay new to us:
  • Talk about California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day: Our closing shot this week is from a Facebook page dedicated to books. The picture combines two of my favorite passions: a day at the beach and reading.

Beach Library

January 14, 2013

What Motivates The Haters?

Watchdog ministries. Lighthouse ministries. Appraisal ministries. They go by many names. They are full-time Christian snipers. Let me back up. There are certain ministries that exist to find and expose false teaching. I have no problem with exposing false teaching. Indeed, it is part of what we are to do as teachers…correct false doctrine. However, it is very rare to find a ministry or a person who does this well. Most of the ministries and people who do this are arrogant, ungracious, and counter-productive and themselves need to be exposed. I have worked for one of these ministries (a long time ago). After a while, the ministry becomes obsessed, concerning itself with nothing else other than beating someone up in the name of the Lord. When there is no controversy, like a drug addict in withdrawals, they begin to create controversy ex nihilo or go back to dead horses and kick them. Their goal soon loses the priority of truth, learning, and understanding. I think that many people would have nothing to talk about if there was not someone to kick.  ~C. Michael Patton, Parchment and Pen.

I’m continuing the thread of posts here on Friday and yesterday.

After listening to the sermon of a popular pastor, speaker and author on the weekend, I decided to see what else by him YouTube had to offer.  I quickly noticed a dissenting one-hour piece by the proprietor of a self-styled “discernment ministry,” but decided to pass. I didn’t need that. But then curiosity got the better of me.

The upload was the audio-only of a podcast in which the perpetrator in question plays brief snippets of copied sermon or conference material and then frequently stops the playback in order to insert their criticisms.

There ought to be law.  Specifically: There ought to be a law preventing this kind of misuse, but in the U.S. it would never fly given free speech, etc. That constitution keeps coming back to bite us, doesn’t it?  In an ideal world, a pastor’s sermon audio would be treated with a bit more respect, if not out of respect for the man, out of respect for the office he holds.

Try this yourself. After church next Sunday, buy the CD of your pastor’s sermon, put it in the machine and each time he makes a significant point, pause it and say, “That’s a complete perversion of scripture.”  Do it enough times and you might even convince yourself. You’ll certainly sound like an authority as you interrupt the pastor each time.

Then again, don’t try that.

Browsing this podcaster’s blog, the thing that immediately strikes you is his hair-trigger reaction to anyone who feels that God spoke to them or that God has been impressing something on them. This type of extreme cessationist view has the effect of greatly elevating the printed, Biblical text, while at the same time ignoring some of what it teaches; not unlike the Biblical scholars in Jesus’ day who “searched the scriptures” diligently, but failed to see that they pointed to Him.  (Ref: John 5:39)

So I gave the guy nine minutes. Just as the Bible college address by the pastor in question had resonated with me so well, the podcaster’s critiques were slowly raising my blood pressure. I realized that this type of thing is toxic, and when I finally shut it off, my wife basically asked, “What took you so long?”

For the rest of the weekend, I contemplated the question, “What motivates a person to dedicate all their energies to tearing down the ministry of others?” I’m not talking here about ministry watch organizations that report items about clergy that appear in mainstream media. Somewhere, someplace, the family of faith needs to make notation of these moral failures or financial scandals. This is about self-styled watchdogs who feel it necessary to do their own doctrinal investigative reporting; who go looking for problems where there are none. 

Why would a person get up in the morning and start downloading the sermon content from major authors and megachurch pastors with the aim of looking for doctrinal nits to pick? Who does this?

The answer came last night when I was brushing my teeth. While the subjects of this essay would quickly dismiss this type of revelation, I have no problem putting forward the main motivational factor:

Jealousy.

This is ministry envy in its highest form. ‘I didn’t get my books published by a company with a major distributor, and I never got to be a pastor of a major church, therefore I will tear down those who did and those who do.’ Or, ‘I never had that measure of platform at that early an age, nor did we have that type of media proliferation.’

The question you can’t ask is, “Who called you to do this?” Or, “Who trained you to do this?” Or, “To whom are you accountable?” Because in each case the individual in question would have to concede that they felt that God was leading them into this type of ‘ministry’ and in so doing, they fall into the very pattern they accuse others of: Having received a call or revelation directly from God.

The thing I would fear the most would be waking up one morning and realizing you don’t know how to do anything else. And today, with the internet, the discernment crowd has access to a never-ending world of sermon audio and video.

They aren’t going away. But you can stay away. Keep your distance. This sort of thing is toxic. If you start to hear multiple reports about the ministry integrity of an individual or organization, that’s one thing; you should take that seriously.  But don’t let a discernment ministry undo the good that God is doing in your life through a particular Bible teacher.

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho, heave, ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a wall fell.

I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?
Like the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He laughed as he replied, “No, indeed,
Just common labor is all I need.

I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken years to do.”
I asked myself as I went away
Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by rule and square?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Oh Lord, let my life and labors be
That which build for eternity.

Older Posts »

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.