Thinking Out Loud

December 28, 2013

Holiday Link List

edited Christmas cardr

With both Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on a Wednesday, we offer this mid-point link list today, with the regular schedule returning January 8th. (Actually, I think that’s supposed to say, “returning, Lord willing on January 8th…”)  If you’re new here, there was a corporate takeover of the link list in July, so all roads below lead to Out of Ur, the blog of Leadership Today magazine.

 

August 13, 2013

Keep the Story, Lose the Illustration

This is a rebroadcast of a piece from September 2011…

Having become previously acquainted with the addictive properties of the internet’s dark side, I can identify with the AA mantra that “one drink is too many and a thousand drinks are not enough.” I have experienced moments where one online image essentially gives you permission to then delve deeper into more of the same, a task easily undertaken when you have the road map memorized.

Of late, this has not been an issue. Facing job uncertainty, the loss of a friendship, or a medical challenge has a way of keeping you focused on things that matter, and making a renewed commitment to purity of thoughts and actions. For me, anyway. I know there are others for whom the same stresses are what drives them to find a way of escape. But lately I have been relatively detoxified and in fact, there are parts of the above-mentioned roadmap that start to fade over time.

But it can only take one idea, one article, or one photograph; and the process can start to unravel. I know this because, about a week ago it happened to me

On a Christian website.

The woman in question, who I believe has written some Christian books, had posted to her site/blog an article about a particularly disturbing trend taking place. I won’t name it, because I don’t want to drive anyone to find it. She posted a number of pictures including one that I don’t feel was absolutely necessary. Furthermore, in the limited internet exploration which did follow, I discovered she had posted a picture that many secular bloggers and media sites had shied away from.

And then, there was the temptation to go back and see how some hold friends are faring, if you get my drift. Heck, I had already started down the road, and I might as well see how the old neighborhood was doing.

But instead, I just sat at the computer, not once, not twice, but several times with my hands hovering over the keyboard, but unable to complete any actual keystrokes. Some would say there was a battle raging. If so, the battle probably stretched out over about three days. In the end, while I somewhat danced around the outskirts of what is for me, the internet’s forbidden zone, I did not actually revisit the old haunts.

But none of this — absolutely none of it — would have happened if a certain Christian internet writer had been content just to report on a problem without feeling the need to add pictures. It was just completely unnecessary. And it was, to at least one person, a huge potential stumbling block.

We all want more readers. We all want to think our particular blog or website is a relevant source of breaking trends and opinion on current issues. The stats provide that affirmation.

But not at any price.

May 5, 2013

Blog Post of the Week: Predestination and the Emotional Life

Every once in awhile you land on someone’s blog and an article just arrests you in your tracks.  Thanks to Wade Burleson for this, you’re encouraged to click this link to read at source. I’ve added some emphasis.

Paul Young

Paul Young

In the few days Paul Young was here in Enid we had some very interesting conversations. I have complimented Paul before, saying I have learned more about interaction with people through observing him than any other person I know. Paul believes everything in his life–every experience, every heart-ache, every blessing, every moment–have collectively led him to the moment in time he speaks with the one who is in front of him. He is not looking over the shoulder to the next person in line, he is not worried about being late for supper or his next appointment. Paul Young takes time to interact with people and connect with them on a level deeper than the superficial.

Paul Young and I share a very high view of the power of the atonement. We both believe the grace of God saves through the Person and work of Jesus the Anointed One. We are repelled by the notion that a loving God tries to save the world through His Son. We believe God actually delivers sinners from themselves through Christ. We also share a common view of hell. It is not a torture chamber dreamed up in the mind of the midieval poet Dante, but rather a solemn, holy place of judgment where a loving God sentences rebels to a just imprisonment for their crimes.

Where Paul and I disagree is on the extent of the atonement. Paul Young believes Christ died for every human being who has ever lived or ever will live, those who are in heaven and those who are in hell. I believe Christ died for the elect. We both believe Christ died for the world, but Paul defines the world as every human being, whereas I define it as a particular people (the Bride of Christ) from every nation, every tongue, every kindred, and every family on earth. Paul Young treats every human being as a child of God, and thus connects with them in a deep emotional and spiritual level. I desire to connect with every human being in a similar manner to Paul Young.

In discussing the extent of the atonement, Paul Young told me a story of a couple of Calvinists who approached him to debate the subject. Paul observed that Calvinists typically approach him in pairs, one tall and lean the other short and plump. The tall one argued with Paul about the extent of the atonement and Paul responded, “So let me ask you a question. You have two boys, both of whom are your flesh and blood. One boy is saved because God chose Him, Christ died for Him and the Spirit regenerated Him. The other boy, however, is chosen by God to be a “vessel of wrath” upon whom judgement will fall as a demonstration of God’s holiness and justice. My question for you is this: ‘Does it bother you that you have one son who will be in heaven and one son who will be in hell?’” The tall Calvinist responded: ‘It does not. God’s purposes are good, and if my boy is a vessel chosen for the demonstration of God’s wrath against sin, it will be fine with me.”

Paul Young’s next question was this: “How long have you struggled with pornography?”

I was shocked at Paul’s question to the man. Paul explained to me that any human being who is so emotionally disconnected from their children’s welfare that they can dispassionately speak of their eternal state without sorrow, tears or pleading with God for mercy, is a person who is disconnected from emotion in relationships. The tell-tale sign of a struggle with pornography, according to Paul, is an emotional disconnect from human relationships.

I may disagree with Paul Young about the extent of the atonement, but I can guarantee you I want to treat every person the way he does. I wish to believe like Charles Spurgeon  who once said “God, save the elect and elect some more” and I wish to live like Paul Young who treats every human being as a chosen recipient of God’s grace. My view on the atonement has not changed. I believe it is a particular atonement for those who believe. But I can tell you without hesitation I would rather be around people who believe in a powerful, universal atonement and treat everybody like a child of God than a limited atonement person who is emotionally disconnected from the human race. I’m not sure what camp that puts me in, but its one which I do not wish to leave.

December 29, 2012

Men and Pornography: Keeping the Discussion Going

In July, 2008, I posted a draft version of The Pornography Effect online, and spent a great deal of energy trying to increase awareness of this plague which has spread via technology and has had particularly damaging effects on men. A few months later, popular blogger and writer Jeff Goins interviewed me on the subject, and today I can’t honestly recall where the interview appeared; but after finding a copy of it yesterday, I thought it helpful to spread this message yet again. Besides, we need to keep this discussion going. This is the first time this material has appeared at Thinking Out Loud.

You can read The Pornography Effect here, it uses a blog format but reads like a book with the chapters in proper order and a ‘next page’ type of click necessary to get to the second of the two screens.  It takes about 55 minutes. There’s also a ‘Cliff Notes’ version of the key points here.

The Interview

What is your personal experience with pornography? What did your own struggle look like?

We owned a computer that was connected online for about ten years before anything remotely pornographic ever crossed the screen.   Up until that point, I would say I was probably in the “This could never happen to me” category.   One Saturday afternoon doing a relatively random search, I ended up in the middle of an erotic novel.   A few days later I decided to read the whole thing from the beginning.   When I finished the story, nearly two weeks later, a link took me a site which contained photographic porn.   At that point certain walls of resistance had already collapsed.   Like the proverbial “guy with a remote control” who “wants to know what else is on,” I was determined to explore this alternative universe.   The internet was more than willing to oblige.   Even though I was leading worship in my church on Sunday, I was on the way to becoming a hopeless slave to internet pornography addiction.   But I rationalized that I was balancing the two worlds quite capably and getting away with it.

After what I consider a wake-up call several months later, I was able to break free for several months.   And then I went back for several weeks.   And then broke free again.   Today, there is a short-term freedom in being able to honestly say I’ve forgotten the internet addresses of most of those sites.   But in the long-term, the fact remains I know the search criteria that got me there.   For anyone, the internet’s dark side is never more than a few clicks and keystrokes away.

When did you realize that this was a systemic problem in a lot of men’s lives?

After remaining free for a longer period, I decided to (a) go public, and (b) create a forum for women to know more about the mechanics of how the internet porn industry functions.   There are millions of pornographic web pages, but each has one thing in common:  They were all put there by someone.  That person had a reason, a motivation, and I thought it would be helpful to create more understanding of why the stuff is there in the first place.   Perhaps I’m wired to want to share and apply knowledge once it’s acquired.   Perhaps I was trying to redeem a bad personal experience.   I just figured there were already seminars for men who were dealing with a multitude of addictive behavior, but nothing for the women who were, as I termed it, the collateral damage in the sphere of internet addiction.

teen with computer I found out really fast that this is truly “the elephant in the room” both within and outside the church.   Tell people this is what you want to discuss, and the room gets really quiet.   Plus, I’m in Canada where there isn’t the same transparency about personal struggles.   We don’t talk about our spiritual lives here in the same way that people do in the U.S.  I have always know that this was a hot topic, but once I was trying to create open discussion, it was initially the silence that told me I had struck a nerve more than anyone’s particular admission or confession.

For a younger generation of internet sex addicts, though, this is a non-issue.   Images of naked people — even images of their classmates — have been available online all their lives.  An entire generation is being raised without a sense of shame.   It was once the case that humans distinguished themselves from the animals by our ability to blush, but slowly, an entire generation is losing that.   They would say there is no problem at all here.

How does pornography affect men’s relationships with their wives, family members, and God?

I don’t think anyone who has had exposure to pornography is ever the same.   Over an extended period, I think exposure rewrites the brain programs of our minds, to the point where, for guys, any female is just a body to be exploited.    I don’t think any man who is deeply hooked can look at his wife or girlfriend, his sister, his daughter or even his mother the same way.   Yes, I’m saying it changes all relationships that a man has with all females.  The girl serving at the fast food place.  The woman in line at the bank.   The kindergarten teacher at the elementary school.  All females. 

In terms of spousal relationships, the problem — and fortunately this wasn’t exactly the issue for me — is that men are intended to find sexual fulfillment in their wives. (And likewise, wives in their husbands.)   So immediately the relationship is encountering damage.   But where the internet habit is also a secret habit, there is an additional wall of separation building between the husband and wife.   Trying to get “alone time” on the family computer can also cause friction between other family members.

Spiritually, sin is sin.   While we can admit that God probably ain’t too happy, we can use all kinds of rationalization to justify that what we’re doing isn’t such a big deal.   After all, aren’t a lot of popular songs played on radio somewhat pornographic when you read the lyrics?    If a person is really tuned in to their own spirit, I think they’ll recognize that, like Adam in Eden, we’ve somewhat hidden ourselves, and hurt the relationship in the process.   There are other indicators of spiritual life and growth that will start to flash warning lights.

 Have you encountered women who have struggled with porn?

Once I went more public with my desire to speak to this subject, I had a number of women who came to talk me.   While at first discussing a husband’s or a son’s addiction, they eventually shared with me that they had struggled with this themselves.   Yielding to female stereotypes of soap operas and romance novels, I assumed they were speaking of text pornography, like the novel that had initially hooked me.   But they were saying no such thing.   They were into the pictures just like the guys were, and one woman in particular hinted at a very deep addition that had tied up hundreds and hundreds of online hours.

However, one of the main ideas I want to advance is the idea that text pornography is every bit as dangerous and harmful as drawn or photographic pornography.  It is able to convey ideas that either (a) cannot be expressed in a picture, or (b) would still be considered taboo graphically.  Text pornography, which includes but is not limited to erotic literature, puts forward ideas which in some cases are intended to change societal norms.  It ought to be the focus of more concern.

 What does it mean for a porn/sex addict to discover grace? What does that look like?

I think that the grace of God comes in the form of the strength that we don’t have within ourselves to walk away from the internet, either figuratively or literally.  Apart from Christ’s power working in us, there’s no compelling reason to break free, let alone the strength to do it.   But with Christ’s power, I believe that breaking free of this particular addiction can be a relatively painless process.   If we see our sin as being sin against God, we will strive for holy living.   The man who desires to do the will of God positionally does not sin.  

Grace can also appear in the form of a friend who has walked the same road, or a friend who is simply brave enough to wade into the topic with you.   Grace can be a pastor willing to devote a Sunday morning sermon to the topic; and grace can be a congregation that doesn’t judge when you walk towards the altar at the pastor’s invitation.  Grace can be an understanding spouse who desires to encourage you towards freedom from addiction.   Grace can even be a young daughter who catches a glance of an image on your computer screen and asks, “Daddy, how would you feel if that were me?”

Can you share at least one story of someone you know who was able to break out of a porn addiction?

It’s interesting to think about that question apart from the various things I’ve read in books and magazine articles that were all U.S.-based.  The Book Porn Nation by Michael Leahy, and the book I Surrender All:  Rebuilding a Marriage Broken by Pornography by Renee and Clay Cross share two stories that I believe to be representative of stories that are common to so many.  In my country, what I’ve experienced is hushed voices, speaking in low tones, whispering, “Been there.  Done that.   Free now.”  

I think the curiosity factor engages a great percentage of men at one time or another, particularly as the computer changes the way pornography is accessed.    The question is how long are you going to stay in Sin City?   Some stay a long time.   Some reading this are there right now.   No… make that many reading this are there right now.  Thankfully,  I think there are probably more stories of spiritual victory out there than we realize, but far too many men are afraid to admit the problem existed in the first place.   A person has to simply determine not to go back there. 

What resources are available for those who are struggling?

If a person has a trusted friend who can serve as an accountability partner, I think that accountability software like Covenant Eyes is probably the best resource we have right now.   I know pastors who serve as accountability watchdogs for each other.   If a person is really fighting the addicitive nature (which can be part of the human condition) then a program like Celebrate Recovery is also helpful.

October 3, 2008

December 1, 2012

Weekend Link List

Cast Your Cares on Him

Christmas LynxThe Christmas List Lynx is back; it must be December!

  • Personally, I think that underneath all the cool church stage design that is the trademark of the modern megachurch, there is an undercurrent of longing for more traditional icons. You get that when go to Church Stage Design Ideas and check out the Jesus Grid. Scroll down to see all the pix, and then click the banner to explore the rest of the blog which finds a way to post scenes from churches worldwide on a daily basis.
  • Periodically, I have to plug the blog of my local Salvation Army officer or I risk not getting my Christmas turkey this year. But seriously, here’s an excellent precis of a Bill Hybels message at the Leadership Summit which implies that when we plant seeds, we have to factor in the rejection ratio.
  • If you’ve ever felt that the decision-making processes of life leave you feeling like you’re running a maze, you’ll like this 2-minute video from the team at Elevation and posted on Steven Furtick’s blog.
  • They’ve only been back in the country a matter of weeks and suddenly they’re foster parents. Where’s the paperwork, and the interviews? Check out a beautiful story from Jamie, The Very Best…
  • Darrell Creswell is the source for the graphic above and you really should take the time to read the accompanying blog post about his walk through the valley of potentially having cancer.
  • If someone you know is definitely or potentially addicted to pornography, see if you can get them to watch this 2.5 minute video from Fight The New Drug.   — Sourced at Live and Laugh With Jesus.
  • This one’s a few weeks old, but how does a pacifist denomination deal with Remembrance Day, the Canadian equivalent of Veteran’s Day? Canada’s long-haired pastor, Bruxy Cavey, deals with that dilemma.
  • If you’re looking for a daily devotional time with a twist, you can’t do better than to go deep with Common Prayer by Shaine Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. We have a copy in our house that we use as a worship planning resource as well, and I reviewed the book here nearly two years ago. Now comes word there’s a Common Prayer Facebook group and a Common Prayer app.
  • Wow! I thought this was just a North American problem, but apparently that’s not the case. So what exactly does a young girl do when the cute guy on the worship team is really distracting.
  • If you’re reading this in December, 2012; the Salvation Army donate now button at the top of the page takes you to a set of links for the Sally Ann in the four countries representing where most readers here originate: Canada, United States, England and Australia. Give generously!

Because this is Mercy, come to life; that I offer my own hand to the weary.
Because this is Hope, believed; that I know one month of calm can change a lifetime.
Because this is Christ, in me; that I can raise my arms against a storm and say to the wind and the waves… “stop”.
And they will.

~~ Jamie Wright (see link #4)

October 18, 2012

Should You Marry a Porn User?

Writers like Kevin Leman are known for being somewhat explicit about marriage, and Mark Driscoll doesn’t mince words when he’s preaching or writing about sex. Rachel Held Evans came up against our collective appetite for earthier language in her A Year of Biblical Womanhood, but for the most part it’s the men who dominate the roundtable.

On Tuesday, the name Sheila Wray Gregoire came up in a conversation. Her newest book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex was somewhat foreshadowed by Honey, I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight, so she’s not a neophyte on this topic. But on her blog — which takes its name from yet another book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum — she asked the question this week, “Should you marry someone who uses porn?”

Stand on a principle on this one, and some say you could be eliminating up to 90% of your prospects. Sheila’s number might be 67%, or two-thirds. Either way, pornography is ubiquitous, even among Christian males (and females). The tobacco addict has yellow fingers; you can smell the liquor on the breath of an alcoholic; and when the gambling addict pulls out his MasterCard to pay for lunch, it’s stuffed full of lottery tickets. But the person addicted to online pornography — in all its many, various forms — often goes undetected.

So here, for those currently dating, those engaged, those in the early stages of a marriage, and anyone else touched by this topic, is a link to Sheila’s Should You Marry Someone Who Uses Porn? …Be sure to also look around the rest of her blog for resources on a host of related issues.


Since it’s been awhile, this is also a good time to mention my own attempt to speak to this issue is still hiding out in a remote corner of the internet where you can read it for free. The Pornography Effect: Understanding for the Wives, Daughters, Mothers, Sisters and Girlfriends, was written in 2007 as a crisis book — in other words it’s not lengthy — and can takes up two full screens in a modified blog page. (The chapters were posted in reverse order so the finished product would read normally; click Ctrl and the plus sign simultaneously if you find the type size hard to read.) Click this link to check it out. If you don’t have 45-50 minutes to read the book, a summary of each chapter’s key points is posted here.

August 8, 2012

Wednesday Link List

…witty introduction…okay we don’t have one…

  • Okay, I don’t get paid to do this and I don’t have endless hours to do the research, but according to one source, The Jesus Deck is a harmless Christian educational product from the ’70s, while according to another it’s tantamount to ‘Christian Tarot cards.’  Since you guys always correct/update me, I’ll leave it to you to comment on this.
  • Are we actually allowed to disagree with John Piper online? I thought there was a law about that. Anyway, Peter Enns did a few weeks back, the full title of his article is: John Piper on Why “It’s Right for God to Slaughter Women and Children Anytime He Pleases” and Why I Have Some Major Problems with That. That’s a long post title. Are we actually allowed to do that, too?
  • CNN reported Thursday that a bill restricting protests and pickets at military funerals is a just steps away from being signed into law by President Obama. This means a certain fringe group and its wacko leader would be in direct contravention of a law should they decide to continue their media-attention-getting ways. Since most of the group is family members, and many of those family members are trained as lawyers, they should understand the consequences of transgression. Or will they?
  • For those of you willing to step outside the comfort zone of the Christian blogosphere, here is a guide to reading the blogs of atheists, agnostics and just plain skeptics.
  • Sikh and ye shall find: If the weekend shooting at a Sikh temple left you wondering where this religion fits in, here’s a link to the Wikipedia page on Sikhism.
  • “So if you’re a wife reading this, ask your husband, point blank, this simple question: ‘When was the last time you viewed pornography?’ If communication is good in your marriage, as it should be, he’ll answer your question directly and honestly. If your marriage needs help, he may hem, haw, stall, look away, get defensive, or act offended.” More by Eric Guel at Thinklings
  • I’ve gotten behind with the Phil Vischer Show podcast; they’re up to episode #11. Phil, Skye and Christian talk about Chick-Fil-A and how our society has come to associate brands with personal identity. They talk about the Olympics and then Skye and Phil answer the twitter question, “If you could add any pavilion to the future world at Epcot, what would it’s theme be?” Guest Scott Olsen, CEO of International Teams, talks about the changing face of world missions and social justice. 
  • Website of the Week: Life After Ministry: Leading Mormons to the Real Jesus Christ. Michelle, Kirk, Kent and Melissa have chronicled over 300 ‘dilemmas’ with LDS theology and teaching.
  • On July 23, 2011, nine-year-old Rachel Beckwith was killed in a tragic car accident on highway I-90 near Seattle, Washington. After her death, thousands of people all around the world started donating to her mycharity: water fundraising page, and over the course of a month, raised over $1.2 million in Rachel’s honor. That money is now helping 60,000 people get access to clean water. It’s been a year since the accident. In honor of the anniversary, Rachel’s mom and her grandparents visit Ethiopia with charity: water and meet some of the people Rachel helped. 
  • Really into Christian book authors? CrossTweet at Christian Book Videos is an index of the Twitter feeds of authors both established and fairly new; fiction and non-fiction.
  • Dan Gouge wrote a short interesting post about similarities between sports institutions and religious institutions, and then, a few days later, came across this 8-minute video about the sports element in custom funerals.
  • The cartoon turned up in a cleanup I’ve been doing; it’s the comic Simple Beasts circa 1989… Have a great week and remember to get link suggestions in by Monday evening.

December 29, 2011

Mark Driscoll on Marriage and Sex: Candid as Usual

The man who doesn’t mince words, is not surprisingly equally candid when it comes to comes to marriage and intimacy in marriage.  In Real Marriage, Mark teams up with wife Grace and reveals much in the way of personal details of their own marriage, both in its early days and presumably as recent as yesterday.  It walks the fine line — without truly crossing it — of too much information; while at the same time making your marriage the focus of the book’s content.

The full title is Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together though a proper disclaimer would warn you that the book is divided into two parts, with sex being the theme of the second, and probably being the focus of much that will be written about the book both before and after publication.  The book does warn more conservative types — and less urban types — to sit down while reading the Q & A chapter on what types of sex are permissible within the bounds of Christian marriage.

First person narratives written by two authors can be as awkward to read as they are tricky to write, so there are sections of “… I (Mark)…” interspersed with sections of “… I (Grace) …” but beyond that the book flows well and Grace’s background in public relations means she was undoubtedly a gifted writer long before this.

Mark — no stranger to print with more than a dozen previous books and tons of online copy — is especially vulnerable here as he is brutally frank about everything from his own sex drive to various conflicts that have arisen in their married life.  As with so many pastors today, the availability of online audio and video means that you can almost literally hear Mark speaking as you read.

God does not give us a standard of beauty — God gives us spouses.  Unlike other standards of beauty, a spouse changes over time. This means if your spouse is tall you are into tall. If your spouse is skinny, you are into skinny. If your spouse is twenty, you are into twenty. When your spouse is sixty, you are no longer into twenty, but rather into sixty. And if your spouse used to be skinny, you were into skinny, but now you are into formerly skinny. We are to pour all our passion and pursuit of sexual pleasure into our spouses alone without comparing them to anyone else in a lustful way.   (p. 108-9)

Mark’s take on this subject is born not just out of theory and research, but from thousands of interactions with individuals and couples as a pastor and conference speaker.  Just a page past the above quotation is this anecdote:

He had a beautiful wife but was never sexually satisfied.  His mind was filled with sinful fantasies from pornography he had viewed, as well as sexually experiences he had enjoyed before marriage. Some would have been sinful to do even with his wife, others were not sinful but she was opposed to them because they violated her conscience. Over the course of some years in their marriage, rather than killing these sinful desires, he occasionally nurtured them by daydreaming about what it would be like to make his fantasies realities.  One day he did — with another woman.

He decided to never tell his wife because in his flawed mind, it was better for her not to know the truth and be devastated. He actually considered his lying somewhat loving but she could tell something was different and so she pressed him for answers. Eventually he confessed.  As we met during their counseling session, while his wife wept continually, he tried to downplay what had happened by saying it was only one day of their life, he did not love the other woman, and similar inane efforts to make his sin seem less sinful.

Nothing seemed to get through to him until I (Mark) simply told him he was not only an adulterer but had become an adulterer because he was first an idolator. The first commandments are that we are to worship God alone. If we obey, we then do not worship other people and things as functional gods. When we disobey we then continue to worship but do so as idolators treating people and things as gods. His sin was not just sleeping with a different woman, but sleeping with another woman as a worship act to another god. Sex was his god, a bed was his altar, their bodies were their living sacrifices, and he was a pagan priest committing idolatry.  (pp. 109-10)

Again, I don’t know of anyone else who is a forthright as Mark Driscoll and who delivers a message with such passion and authority. With sections dealing with oral sex and masturbation, Mark (and Grace) face no question too difficult to deal with.

While I probably disagree with Mark’s doctrinal position in other books dealing with other topics, I was intrigued by how he would handle this, and I was not disappointed. The book has value to engaged couples, newly marrieds, and people like my wife and I who are a few decades in.  Real Marriage releases January 3rd from Thomas Nelson.

An advance copy of   Real Marriage was provided by Graf-Martin Communications, a Kitchener, Ontario firm which works with North American publishers and author agencies to provide additional promotion and publicity for books and book-related products.

Looking for more details? Check out Aaron Armstrong’s review of the book at The Gospel Coalition.

December 17, 2011

Wednesday Link List on Saturday

List Lynx

I thought it was only fair to give you weekend lurkers a window into what happens here during the week. Maybe W.L.L. can also stand for Weekend Link List.

  • Given the season, we’ll kick off with a feel-good, flashmob video; Deck the Halls as it sounded at the Carlson School of Management.  Don ye now yer gay apparel.
  • Veteran Christian blogger Andrew Jones notes that 2011 was the year we talked about hell. “How can someone say that hell contains literal fire that scorches your butt while heaven contains metaphorical wine that you cannot enjoy? That’s not consistent. It’s also bad news for wine drinkers. And how can all the words for ‘hell’ in the Greek be interchangeable while the words for ‘love’ are highly nuanced?”
  • In response to the child abuse scandals that have rocked on particular denomination, a UK sculptor reminds us yet again in this pixelating piece titled Cardinal Sin.
  • Here’s a 2012 book title that looks interesting: Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. From the book blurb:Imagine Matt’s astonishment when he finds out that the guy he knows as Jesus . . . isn’t. He’s an Imaginary Jesus: a comfortable, convenient imitation Matt has created in his own image.” Here’s the video preview.
  • Pastors must love it when parishioners are literally ‘overflowing’ with the weekend message; saying that they “knocked it out of the park.”  Check out Free Will vs. Free Will.  The preacher in this case is Mark Vroegop of College Park Church IN INdianapolis INdiana, IN case you were wondering.
  • Move over Martha Stewart Department: What Christmas table wouldn’t be complete without some Christmas Eve Mice desserts?   Mine, apparently; until I read about them at Daily Encouragement where they’re known as Church Mouse Cookies. Bet the Church Mouse name came first and then it got P.C.-ed. Looks too good to eat, though.
  • While this video was posted to GodTube a few days ago, I think I’ve seen this one before; the one where the little girl either steals the show or ruins the show depending on whether or not you had kids in this particular Christmas production. Note: Earplugs recommended.
  • Christian Week profiles Luke Gilkerson of Covenant Eyes and his summary of Five Ways Porn Warps Minds.  Sample: “It taps into the neuro-circuitry of our brains, making us desire the rush of sexual energy from porn again and again.”
  • Some Evangelicals may not have liked Christopher Hitchens, but the renown atheist kept us on our toes. Hitchens passed away Thursday at age 62.  Doug Wilson offers a Christian reflection at Christianity Today.
  • At Christianity 201, I offer up two videos to try to contrast the difference between apologetics and evangelism, featuring two people who are very skilled at both. Longtime readers here will recognize the first vid.
  • At Stuff Fundies Like, it’s time to reveal the truth about Christmas — and Rudoph — in this classic sermon based on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
  • Lastly, Roger Morris is a Christian in Australia who confesses that his kids have done the whole Harry Potter thing, and then goes on to recommend doing so, “in a controlled and supervised fashion.”  Read his reasoning at Christian Today.

September 16, 2011

Think Before You Post

Having become previously acquainted with the addictive properties of the internet’s dark side, I can identify with the AA mantra that “one drink is too many and a thousand drinks are not enough.”  I have experienced moments where one online image essentially gives you permission to then delve deeper into more of the same, a task easily undertaken when you have the road map memorized.

Of late, this has not been an issue. Facing job uncertainty, the loss of a friendship, or a medical challenge has a way of keeping you focused on things that matter, and making a renewed commitment to purity of thoughts and actions. For me, anyway. I know there are others for whom the same stresses are what drives them to find a way of escape. But lately I have been relatively detoxified and in fact, there are parts of the above-mentioned roadmap that start to fade over time.

But it can only take one idea, one article, or one photograph; and the process can start to unravel.  I know this because, about a week ago it happened to me

On a Christian website.

The woman in question, who I believe has written some Christian books, had posted to her site/blog an article about a particularly disturbing trend taking place. I won’t name it, because I don’t want to drive anyone to find it. She posted a number of pictures including one that I don’t feel was absolutely necessary. Furthermore, in the limited internet exploration which did follow, I discovered she had posted a picture that many secular bloggers and media sites had shied away from.

And then, there was the temptation to go back and see how some hold friends are faring, if you get my drift. Heck, I had already started down the road, and I might as well see how the old neighborhood was doing.

But instead, I just sat at the computer, not once, not twice, but several times with my hands hovering over the keyboard, but unable to complete any actual keystrokes. Some would say there was a battle raging. If so, the battle probably stretched out over about three days. In the end, while I somewhat danced around the outskirts of what is for me, the internet’s forbidden zone, I did not actually revisit the old haunts.

But none of this — absolutely none of it — would have happened if a certain Christian internet writer had been content just to report on a problem without feeling the need to add pictures. It was just completely unnecessary. And it was, to at least one person, a huge potential stumbling block.

We all want more readers. We all want to think our particular blog or website is a relevant source of breaking trends and opinion on current issues. The stats provide that affirmation.

But not at any price.

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