Thinking Out Loud

August 9, 2013

Fall Ministry Season Focus

Full disclosure: This is the THIRD time I’ve reblogged this piece, which is actually a pre-Easter article that Pete Wilson wrote which I’ve adapted into a non-seasonal piece. Timing is everything with this, Pete’s own kids are already back to school this week. It seems fitting to remind ourselves of these priorities as the heat of summer gives way to regrouping our forces with a fresh intensity…

Like many of you I’m up to my eyeballs in the details and logistics … I’m distracted, maybe a little stressed and certainly carrying all kind of concerns. But I just want to issue this challenge to all of us…

Pastors, I pray you’ll preach the hope of Jesus Christ like never before. Preach as if you were there the day it happened and is if this were the last message you are ever going to give!

Worship Leaders, I pray you’ll lead worship with the same awe and amazement as if you just watched the stone roll away. Whether you have lights or no lights, production or no production, may they see the wonder and awe in your eyes and voice that you actually believe what it is you’re singing.

Kids’ Teachers, I pray you look your kids in the eyes and use every bit of passion, energy, and excitement you have to tell them a story that can and will impact their life forever.

Volunteers, I pray you’ll serve, sing, hand out programs, park cars, turn knobs, and make coffee as if eternities were on the line, because they are!

Worshipers, I pray you’ll open your heart and raise your voice and pour out all you have and all you are in honor of a God who has defeated death so you may have life.

I pray [each] weekend we’ll all drop our cynicism, egos, and agendas and will stand amazed and marvel at the wonder of a God who has set us free from the penalty and the power of sin

Pete Wilson; senior pastor of Cross Point; Nashville, TN

April 24, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Isolated rose

Our opening graphic is from the blog Abandoned to God

** Derek Webb, All Sons and Daughters, Robbie Seay Band, Charlie Hall, Shane & Shane and Shaun Groves are among the 45 artists on #SongsForWest, a fundraising album download for West, Texas with a suggested $10 donation.**

Here’s this weeks links:

  • Opening Link: A pastor and his wife in Watertown, MA are caught in the middle of a shootout in the wake of the Boston bombings. “We were trapped, with active gunfire on three sides of our home.”
  • Here’s another new movie to be aware of, opening in US theaters on Friday: King’s Faith
  • Watch (or listen to) a great sermon by Gary Burge preached midweek at Willow Creek a few weeks ago.  Check out Acts 11:1–18. Once you’re 5 minutes in, I guarantee you’ll want to finish.
  • An journalist who had originally interviewed Megan Phelps-Roper in 2011 before her departure from Westboro Baptist Church offered some additional detail and updates on her story.
  • This one is disturbing. Seems that people serving at Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church are being asked to sign some type of loyalty/confidentiality agreement, with legal consequences if you break the contract. Never criticize your pastor.
  • A Minneapolis preacher is still in the pulpit at age 105. “Noah Smith has no plans to retire — ever. He said he tried that once when he was 90 and it didn’t work out too well.”
  • Here’s how one church kid defines his faith. But if you’re in Christian Education or Youth Ministry, his response is somewhat disappointing
  • By contrast, here’s Greg Koukl at Stand To Reason with a 7-minute video describing an appropriate response to the question, What is Christianity? (He actually gets to it at the 2:40 mark.)
  • For those can’t enough of blogging, here’s the direct link to Faith Village’s Java Juice Blog House which we featured here a few days ago…
  • …And if you’ve got friends investigating Christianity or just starting out, here’s Faith Village’s Square One.
  • Pete Wilson’s Cross Point Church has a daughter church in India which he tries to visit as regularly as possible. Last week he suddenly learned his visa was denied, and he was summoned to India’s embassy in Washington, DC. Now he’s been granted a six-month visa, which isn’t quite the 5-year one he had…
  • …And here’s a 2-minute audio clip on YouTube of Pete discussing people who leave his church, or arrive from somewhere else because they weren’t being fed.
  • After ten years of keeping us aware on several social issue fronts, veteran Christian blogger La Shawn Barber moves on to other platforms. 
  • Your church needs to rethink tithing options in a world where nobody writes checks (or in some countries, cheques) anymore.
  • Our blog discovery of the week is Anabaptistly. Established in Spring 2011, recent activity includes a number of Eugene Peterson quotations like this one.
  • Another blogger notes audience reaction to the movie 42
  • The people who use GodTube sure like music reality show clips from X-Factor or [Name of Country]‘s Got Talent. Here Simon Cowell is led to believe a man is going to impersonate a whole choir.
  • If homeschoolers aren’t already over-represented on social media, now they have their own theme song.
  • Yea! We made another Top 200 Ministry blogs list!
  • More links all week on Twitter.
  • Finally, in our Truth is Stranger Than Fiction department, Jamie The Very Worst Missionary is breaking all her own rules and going on a women’s retreat. Say it isn’t so!

A closing word from Francis Chan:

Francis Chan Quotation

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.

April 16, 2012

Currently Reading

I saw something recently that disparaged people who had two books on the go at the same time. I’m not sure where that leaves me, seeing as how I’m currently reading four different books.

  • Evolving in Monkey Town – Rachel Held Evans — I think this came out more than a year ago, but since I’m good friends with the guy that owns the Christian bookstore, I didn’t think he’d mind if I took a peek, especially considering I’ve linked to RHE on this blog many times.  Next thing I knew, I’d read 100 page. She really is a talented writer, and I actually know more now about the “Scopes Monkey Trial” than ever before. It’s not a review copy though, so the next 100 pages may not be in the near future; and the other customers might not appreciate getting a used book.
  • Soul Detox – Craig Groeschel — This book is publishing in May and I was blessed to get an advance copy which I started reading to my boys out loud each night. I said we’d do just a chapter or two but they’re really enjoying it, considering that a few years back, they were grossed out when Craig spit in the middle of one of the Chazown videos, earning him the name ‘Pastor Hork.’ That aside, three chapters in I can report that this is an excellent resource, especially for men.
  • Empty Promises – Pete Wilson — I guess David Platt has lost his monopoly on bright orange book covers. I’m also three chapters in on this one, plus Pete preached from the book yesterday so I got a double dose. This book is going to strike a lot of nerves, as many of us look for ‘things’ to satisfy us in ways only God can.  This one published this week already, so I should work on finishing it first so the review will be timely.
  • Spirit Rising – Jim Cymbala — The pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle turns in another first class exhortation to prayer and Spirit-filled living; but you already know that since I’ve been quoting from it here and at the C201 blog, with a couple of other sections bookmarked for future quotation. I’d like to figure out how to do a trip to New York City where I could catch both Jim Cymbala and Timothy Keller in one Sunday.

September 21, 2011

Wednesday Link List

With so much to see in the Christian blogosphere, why would anyone want to spend time on Facebook?

  • There are always a significant number or “religion” stories at Huffington Post.  In this one, author Tim Suttle examines what he sees as the three failures of the megachurch movement.
  • I liked this article enough to make an e-mail forward out of it.  Trey Morgan lists seven things your children desperately need to hear you say.  Great for all parents, but I think especially for dads.
  • Okay, so about the t-shirt. I thought I’d tripped over an example of subtlety in evangelistic casual wear; a sort of, ‘our best efforts at holiness and righteousness are never enough,’ a la Andy Stanley’s How Good Is Good Enough?. Works for me. But alas, I had simply typed “Christian tees” and the designer is Andrew Christian. Still, if you’ve got the $38 US
  • There’s something about Mark Driscoll’s new website, PastorMark.tv, that has me wondering why this site seems to exist apart from the Mars Hill Seattle site.  Just wondering.
  • A link you may have missed in last week’s George Bush story, as it was added as an update on Monday:  A Tyndale University faculty member voices his opinions in a guest post to Christian Week.  However…
  • Surprise! The George W. Bush thing in Toronto happened after all.
  • Fifteen years in the making, but the final pages of the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned in 500 years is just about done. With more than 1,150 pages of text and 160 illuminations, The Saint John’s Bible now goes on tour.
  • The latest in a series of YouTube vids contrasting Christ-centered worship with me-centered worship parodies some of today’s most popular choruses.
  • Meanwhile, if your church has had enough of cell (mobile for my UK readers) phones going off during services, this one-minute YouTube video should make the point clear once and for all.
  • Let’s go three-for-three with videos: This downloadable youth ministry video clip contrasts storing up treasure on earth and storing up treasure in heaven. Actually you could use this Bluefish-TV clip on a Sunday morning, too.
  • Jenni Catron is Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville (Pete Wilson) and discusses her personal discipline in approaching Sunday morning services, and her recognition that not everyone can muster the same enthusiasm.
  • But if you can’t make it to the service physically, you can always be there virtually, especially at North Point Community in Atlanta, where they’ve added three more broadcast times for the ‘live’ stream which includes baptisms and worship songs. Check it out at 9:00 and 11:00 AM and 2:00, 6:00 and 10:00 PM at NorthpointOnline.tv
  • In a somewhat depressing piece, Washington Times editor Julia Duin says that Evangelical singles are living a promiscuous lifestyle. Interesting paragraph: “Have you ever noticed how singles never get touched? It’s living in this bubble of no hugs, no physical contact whatsoever. Small wonder so many revert to pets… and professional massages. I once suggested to my small group at church that we give each other back rubs. I was looked at as though I had suggested we all get undressed. “
  • Readers at Rachel Held Evans’ blog ask questions of Justin Lee, director of the Gay Christian Network. (You can also read the 255 comments containing questions that were submitted.)
  • Back in May, I introduced you to the band, The City Harmonic.  The band is nominated for five Covenant Awards — Canada’s equivalent of the Dove Awards — and the video is closing in on one million views.
  • Speak German?  Hirten Barometer is a site for evaluating the performance of priests and ministers.  Just like Trip Advisor, only church service instead of hotel service. The clergy rating site apparently has it sights set on sites in English for North America.
  • And just before we sign off, thanks to regular reader Brian for sending us an actual lynx news story, with a valuable lesson about what happens to people who cheat.
  • I chopped the seasonal summer reference off this panel of Mike Morgan’s For Heaven’s Sake, but wanted to share the concept.  I wonder how many others think this is what a certain website is about?

  • Very lastly — as opposed to just ‘lastly’ — here are the results of the CNN Religion poll taken in the wake of Pat Robertson’s remarks that it is okay for the spouse of someone with Alzheimer’s to divorce that person.  This was as of 9:00 PM last night, but as you look at the numbers, you’ll have to admit they’re somewhat inconclusive. ;)

September 29, 2010

Wednesday Link List


Another mid-week pause to look at some reading I did this week.

  • Our upper and lower comic selections this week are some Christian themes found at the daily newspaper comic, Pardon My Planet.  (Click the individual images…)
  • Here’s a controversial youth ministry concept:  Killing off the youth group as a separate entity within the larger church.   Links to video.
  • In the wake of the whole Glenn Beck thing, Parchment and Pen dusts off the classic question, Are Mormons Christians?
  • Even back in Augustine’s day, the church wrestled with the issue of celebrity conversions, and you may be surprised by his conclusion.
  • Here’s a trade review (for bookstore people) of a little 300-word title for kids and parents titled Our Home is Like a Little Church, a local-church publishing project that got picked up for national distribution.
  • If you found late-night TV Bible teacher Gene Scott quirky, you’re gonna see a similarity in these video clips from corporal punishment advocate Mike Pearl.
  • Another HT to Zach at Vitamin Z:  What constitutes “regular” church attendance?   This is a real issue both for families and for church leaders.    Here’s a comment from a pastor at one of Mark Driscoll’s satellite campuses.
  • Speaking of Mr. D., here’s a sometimes heated 12-minute discussion between him, Mark Dever and James MacDonald on the whole wisdom of multi-site churches.
  • Zac Hicks looks at the lack of spiritual warfare themes in modern worship in a piece on Why the Devil Hates “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”
  • Pete Wilson introduces Stephanie, who is willing to step out and share her story in a five-minute video, highlighting how so many of us have a need for approval.
  • On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of RZIM, Ravi Zacharias appoints Rick Pease as the new president of the apologetics ministry organization.   Link opens direct to an mp3 file of their radio broadcast.
  • Yes, as a matter of fact some people have updated Bishop Eddie Long’s Wikipedia page.
  • Was it atheists and agnostics or Evangelicals who scored the highest on the ABC News response to the Pew Forum religious knowledge test?  Watch the video or read the story.

August 31, 2010

Church Fall Season Kickoff

As another season of ministry begins in many of our local churches, I want to repeat a piece I ran here in April ’09; which is actually a pre-Easter article that Pete Wilson wrote which I’ve adapted into a non-seasonal piece.    It seems fitting to remind ourselves of these priorities as the heat of summer gives way to regrouping our forces with a fresh intensity…

Like many of you I’m up to my eyeballs in the details and logistics …  I’m distracted, maybe a little stressed and certainly carrying all kind of concerns. But I just want to issue this challenge to all of us…

Pastors, I pray you’ll preach the hope of Jesus Christ like never before. Preach as if you were there the day it happened and is if this were the last message you are ever going to give!

Worship Leaders, I pray you’ll lead worship with the same awe and amazement as if you just watched the stone roll away. Whether you have lights or no lights, production or no production, may they see the wonder and awe in your eyes and voice that you actually believe what it is you’re singing.

Kids’ Teachers,  I pray you look your kids in the eyes and use every bit of passion, energy, and excitement you have to tell them a story that can and will impact their life forever.

Volunteers, I pray you’ll serve, sing, hand out programs, park cars, turn knobs, and make coffee as if eternities were on the line, because they are!

Worshipers, I pray you’ll open your heart and raise your voice and pour out all you have and all you are in honor of a God who has defeated death so you may have life.

I pray [each] weekend we’ll all drop our cynicism, egos, and agendas and will stand amazed and marvel at the wonder of  a God who has set us free from the penalty and the power of sin

Pete Wilson; senior pastor of Cross Point; Nashville, TN

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