Thinking Out Loud

December 8, 2014

Mid-East Persecution Continues to Increase

Filed under: current events — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:25 am

I don’t always share the emails I get from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) but I think it’s important to raise awareness of what’s taking place, especially when bloggers are so focused on the American/Canadian church.

ACLJ Petition Dec 2014

It’s hard for me to even put this into words.

ISIS jihadists are now barbarically beheading Christian children.

The Christian Vicar of Baghdad is reporting that ISIS terrorists demanded that four children recant their faith and “say the words that you will follow Muhammad.”

These brave Christian children – all under 15 years old – refused, saying “No, we love Jesus.”

ISIS cut off their heads.

Evil.

There is no other word to describe the horror.

As people of faith, we must not allow this to continue. We must defend Christians from ISIS genocide.

Christian children are willing to face death for their faith in Christ.

We must defend them.

We demanded the Obama Administration take action, and it is, but not nearly enough.

Be heard for these persecuted Christian children.

Sign Our Petition: Stop the Genocide of Christians in Iraq.

Jay Sekulow
ACLJ Chief Counsel

November 20, 2014

What if…

Filed under: current events — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:45 am

Huffington Religion Nov 18 2014

What if instead of a Jewish prayer book, that was a Bible or a hymnbook that you recognized in the picture?

What if instead of happening half a world away this took place in a Christian church a few blocks from your house?

What if instead of the victims having foreign-sounding surnames, the names were people that you knew personally?

…Religious terrorism always happens somewhere else, but what if…?

October 29, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Orange Curriculum Parody Poster

Our graphic image theme this week is parody. The upper one is a supplement to the Orange Curriculum, a weekend service Christian education experience for children. You can click on the image and then surf the rest of the web page to learn more.

A bumper harvest this week; get coffee first.

The rest of the week Paul Wilkinson offers you a daily choice between trick at Thinking Out Loud, or treat at Christianity 201.

What a Mug I Have of Coffee

October 27, 2014

Religious Persecution in America: The Gay Wedding Trap

Filed under: current events — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:33 pm

Whether it involves a wedding cake, printed invitations, or floral arrangements, everyone has heard a story involving a principled store owner who refused to do work for a gay wedding. But this story has a few twists. First, the proprietor, Barronelle Stutzman, had in fact done work for the couple previously; she was simply uncomfortable with doing the flowers for the actual wedding. Second, the couple didn’t file the complaint; if I understand correctly the state’s Attorney General heard about the situation on social media and filed its own charges.*

This video was produced in March by ADV, Alliance Defending Freedom. It’s newsworthy today after being shown hours ago in Nashville at a conference of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, where the owner of the flower store then greeted attendees in person.


*I hope I got that right; as a Canadian I don’t always get the nuances of U.S. law, but clearly there wasn’t the normal “plaintiff” that you usually find in stories like this.

September 24, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Pope Clement Coffee

The links are on me!  Actually, the Religious Newswriters Association people were all at a convention last week, so mysteriously, there was no news.

Our closing graphic is from eScapegoat, which allows our Jewish friends to transfer their sins to a goat roaming the internet collecting sins for Yom Kippur.  (Note: No actual Halachic atonement implied.) Click the image below to visit.
eScapegoat

 

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.

 

April 22, 2013

Pray for Saeed Abedini

Filed under: prayer — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:01 am

This is an update of an appeal we ran here on March 26th.

Pray for Saeed AbediniWe need to pray.

And we need bloggers and people on social networks to mobilize their followers to pray.

The American Center for Law and Justice reports:

It began last week. American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is serving an eight-year prison term in Iran because of his Christian faith, has been suffering from internal bleeding for months – injuries received from the beatings in prison. In what could only be viewed as a cruel act of psychological abuse, prison officials took Pastor Saeed to a hospital last week – only to be turned away – and brought back to Evin prison without receiving medical treatment for his internal bleeding.

Now, comes word out of Iran, that the beatings and physical abuse are intensifying. Pastor Saeed reported today that last week he was severely beaten the same day the prison officials took him to the hospital. During the weekly prison visit today, Pastor Saeed’s family reported that his physical condition is worsening – seeing first-hand the marks and symptoms left by the recent beating. These beatings and the internal injuries are causing Pastor Saeed frequent fainting spells.  Iranian officials are telling Pastor Saeed it could be an additional two months before he will receive medical treatment. Such a delay is inhumane and a gross violation of Iran’s international obligations. 

In addition to refusing to give Pastor Saeed the medical care he needs, it now appears authorities are stepping up their physical abuse and psychological torture. Pastor Saeed reported that cellmates, who appear to have connections to the Iranian intelligence police, recently threatened they would suffocate Pastor Saeed in his sleep, making his death look like an accident.  The daily threat that his life could be taken by his internal injuries or by the hands of cellmates, weighs heavily on Pastor Saeed.  

Christianity Today reported Saeed was being pressured to renounce his faith.

Iranian officials have pressured imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini to renounce his faith in Jesus even as they have stepped up their physical abuse and psychological torture of him, including taking him to a hospital but denying him medical treatment, according to recent reports.

In a letter obtained by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Abedini—a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent—wrote that he was told by Iranian prison officials, “Deny your faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam or else you will not be released from prison. We will make sure you are kept here even after your 8 year sentence is finished.”

Abedini’s response, he wrote, is Romans 8:35-39, which says persecution and death cannot separate a believer from Christ.

“The reality of Christian living is that difficulties or problems do arise in our lives,” Abedini wrote. “Persecution and difficulties are not new occurrences, but are seen often in the Christian life. It is through the suffering and tribulations that we are to enter the Kingdom of God.”

I believe we need to pray for an absolute miracle here. We need this story to completely reverse course.  We need to see a miracle release like God did for Paul and Silas in the book of Acts.

But will you pray?

Often on this blog we’ll tell you about some amazing thing you need to see or read or browse and there will be a section that says click here. Out of maybe a thousand visitors here in the first day it’s posted how many do you think actually click? Often less than ten.  Many times just six.  (The link in this paragraph doesn’t exist, it’s an example.) That’s why it scares me to ask people to pray.

Or for my Canadian readers, we went on three different blogs a year and a half ago with the goal of raising $150 for the Salvation Army.  Now remember, Jon Acuff raised $60,000 to build a two kindergarten classrooms in Vietnam in a single day! So I figured we’d go way over our goal.  We raised $135.  That’s why it concerns me about asking people to pray.

You can’t assume it’s all okay, somebody else will cover this.

So today I’m asking you guys to pray, and to pray big; but as type this, I’m wondering how many will actually stop and maybe turn off your monitor right now and intercede — stand in the gap on behalf of Saeed — for God to do what only God can do?

Additional coverage at Assist News Service, Christian PostWorld Magazine

Please, link to this story on your Facebook page or Twitter feed copying this shortlink: http://wp.me/pfdhA-4nJ

If you’re new to this story, here’s a Wikipedia article with some history

January 2, 2013

Wednesday Link List

II Cor 10_13--15  Online Translation

And you thought I would take the day off, didn’t you? Well, the link list crew worked all New Year’s Day to bring this to you.

  • Russell D. Moore has a unique observation post from which to consider the decision by the Russian government to suspend adoptions of Russian children by Americans. I think his two Russian born children would agree with his summary.
  • Hi readers. Meet Matt Rawlings. Matt read 134 books last year. How did you do? 
  • And here’s another Matt. Matt Appling has put together an amazing essay on why the concept of shame is ripe for a comeback.
  • David Murrow has an interesting idea in which popular TV pastors are a brand that is a type of new denomination. He also has other ideas about what the church will look like in 50 years. (Or read the Todd Rhoades summary.)
  • Some readers here also blog, and if that’s you, perhaps you do the “top posts” thing. (I don’t.) But if you had a post-of-the-year, I can almost guarantee it weren’t nothin’ like this must-read one.
  • “This is the most egregious violation of religious liberty that I have ever seen.” Denny Burk on what is largely a U.S.-based story, but with justice issues anyone can appreciate: The case of Hobby Lobby.
  • Can some of you see yourself in this story? “It’s really hard for me to read God’s word without dissecting it. I like to have commentaries and cross references. I like to take notes. I like to circle, underline, rewrite. And then my time with God turns into another homework assignment.” I can. More at Reflect blog.
  • This one may be sobering for a few of you. David Fitch offers three signs that you are not a leader, at least where the Kingdom of God is concerned.
  • “We put people into leadership roles too early, on purpose. We operate under the assumption that adults learn on a need-to-know basis. The sooner they discover what they don’t know, the sooner they will be interested in learning what they need to know…At times, it creates problems. We like those kinds of problems…” Read a sample of Andy Stanley’s new book, Deep and Wide, at Catalyst blog.
  • So for some of you, 2013 represents getting back on the horse again, even though you feel you failed so many times last year. Jon Acuff seems to understand what you’re going through.
  • Dan Gilgoff leaves the editor’s desk at CNN Belief Blog after three years and notes five things he learned in the process.
  • More detail on the Westboro petition(s) at the blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars; along with our get well wishes to blog proprietor Ed Brayton, recovering from open heart surgery.
  • Rachel Held Evans mentioned this one yesterday: The How To Talk Evangelical Project.  Sample: “If Christianese was a language, evangelical was our own special dialect. A cadence. A rhythm…” Click the banner at the top for recent posts.
  • Not sure how long this has been available, but for all you Bible study types,  here’s the ultimate list for academically-inclined people who want to own the best Bible commentary for each Bible book. (And support your local bookstore if you still have one!)
  • Bob Kauflin salutes the average worship leader, working with the average team at the average church. Which despite what you see online is mostly people like us.
  • Flashback all the way to September for this one: Gary Molander notes that the primary work of a pastor is somewhat in direct conflict with the calling they feel they are to pursue. He calls it, Why is it So Stinkin’ Hard to Work for a Church?
  • Nearly three years ago, we linked to this one and it’s still running: CreationSwap.com where media shared for videos, photos, logos, church bulletins, is sold or given away by thousands of Christian artists.

Christian books I hope you never see

October 3, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Well they don’t build megachurches like this anymore… This is the First Church of Christ, Scientist (i.e. Christian Science) in Boston in a 1907 photo at Shorpy.com.

To begin this link list, you need a blank piece of paper.

  • Let’s start out with something completely different. Without clicking through… One of the best selling Christian books of the past 20 years has been The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Name the five languages without peeking.
  • How about another top five list? Again, without clicking, what’s your guess as to the top five churches in the United States by attendance. It’s about 3/4 of the way down the page.
  • Finally, before you click that link, what do you think are the top five Bible verses searched for at BibleGateway.com? Oh, and the one you think is number one, actually isn’t.  [More on that subject with our People’s Bible page sample.]

The regular links

  • If you lead a small group, here’s a YouTube channel you should know about while it lasts, because when it comes to small group discussion-starter videos, Zondervan is giving away the store.
  • Is the window on religious freedom in Russia about to close? Some people feel Christians could be adversely affected by a new law.
  • Borrowing material from the “public domain” Bible simply makes good economic sense for Hollywood.
  • He was an Independent Fundamentalist Pastor and now he’s an atheist and humanist.The blog Galatians Four looks at what can happen when your church is filled with abuses.
  • Russell D. Moore knows that the 2012 election has got more people talking to and about Mormonism. So he offers a few suggestions on confronting LDS theology.
  • Stephen Colbert gets serious at a Catholic university to profess his love for his Roman Catholic faith.
  • Being the worship leader in a church isn’t easy. That’s what Jonathan Sigmon’s pastor said one recent Sunday. But there are also some blessings that come with the job.
  • Not everyone will agree with one of the points on corporal punishment, but the rest of these seven tips for Christian parents should meet with approval.
  • For those of you who like to go deep, here’s an article about Augustine and the literal interpretation of Genesis 1.
  • You know it’s a slow news day at Christianity Today when the Facebook page, Awkward Couples of Liberty gets its own article. (My wife points out that in this instance, the university is not aptly named…)
  • Listen online to three sample songs from Matt Maher’s new album, The Love In Between.
  • This will cause a few people to say ‘I told you so.’  Brian McLaren led a same-sex commitment service in Maryland; one of the grooms being his son Trevor. The story has attracted over 120 comments so far at the CT Live blog.
  • Here are a dozen things that, thankfully, your pastor probably won’t hear in heaven.
  • The Big Picture pics of North Korea are obviously propaganda, but it’s the unanimous response of reader comments that seal the deal. 
  • Happy Birthday to the Compact Disc, which turns 30 this week.
  • Meanwhile, over at the daily comic strip Retail by Norm Feuti, the “Christmas” versus “holiday” semantics debate has already begun:

August 22, 2012

Wednesday Link List

  • He didn’t originate it, but the above graphic was found at Tony Jones’ blog who discusses the topic-we-haven’t-done-here involving a fast food restaurant we-haven’t-named-here.  Tony has another link here, too. 
  • Our top link today is to one of the blogs by Camille who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and writes on how to be a blessing to friends with chronic illnesses.
  • No link on this one, but there’s a guy who comments on several blogs I read under the name Eagle, who came down with a mystery illness a few weeks back. It was so good to see how the blog community came together to encourage him and pray for him and keep one another updated.
  • We took a week off from the link list last week only to have Clark Bunch encourage his readers to visit the link list that wasn’t here. So from our Returning-The-Favor Department, here’s a link to The Read and Share file at The Master’s Table.
  • My wife and I find so many church-based ‘friendships’ are really task-based and disappear when the project ends or people change churches. So I liked this quote: “People frequently think they have friends at work—or church or the tennis club or any location where like-minded people gather—when in fact what they have are ‘work neighbors.’” The rest of the article is more for women and those middle-aged, but I liked that ‘work neighbors’ concept.
  • Worship leaders not only articulate theology but in a real way they also shape theology. So they really need to know of what they sing. Zac Hicks explores this with advice for both musicians and pastors.
  • Jim Henderson talks about the thesis of his book The Resignation of Eve in the light of a new report from Barna Research about the role of women in ministry.
  • Bring your church bulletin to a restaurant on Sunday and get a discount. Seems like a fairly typical promotion, right? Well, a complaint has been filed with the Pennyslvania Human Rights Commission for just that special offer.
  • In other protest news, the man who symbolically burned a box of cereal on the front lawn of General Foods died a few days later.
  • The replacement for the “Touchdown Jesus” statue on Interstate 75 is just about ready to be put into place; and this time it’s fireproof.
  • Did I mention Phil Vischer’s podcast lately? Seriously, you need to listen to one of these; you’ll be hooked on the series. Here’s the one where his guest was his brother Rob Vischer though honestly, Episode 13 is much funnier. So you have a choice: serious or silly.
  • Cross Point’s Jenni Catron guests at Outreach Magazine suggesting that in church leadership, red tape was made to be cut.
  • How small is our God? Richard Beck counterpoints the ‘Your God is Too Small’ rhetoric with a piece about finding the small-ness of God.
  • There are definitely more than five things belonging to the realm of mystery in theology, but for C. Michael Patton, these are the major ones. (We might use this at C201 today, too!) 
  • Twenty years after his death, Christianity Today provides a lengthy tribute to the influence of Christian musician Mark Heard.
  • Meanwhile, at a venue quite familiar to Mark Heard, The Choir performs a final song on the final night of the Cornerstone Festival.
  • And here’s a 5-minute recap of the whole event
  • If you find yourself in remote parts of Africa, James Brett wants you to know how to build a rocket stove.
  • Oops!-I-Said-It-Again Department: Pat Robertson stands by guys who won’t date a woman with three adopted international children because in Pat’s view they might grow up weird or have brain damage. Russell D. Moore goes appropriately ballistic in response. “This is not just a statement we ought to disagree with. This is of the devil.” (I think his co-host would be wise to quit after this incident.)(Pat’s not Russell’s; Russel doesn’t have a co-host.)
  • The oft-cynical Naked Pastor, aka David Hayward pledges his new blog will be the up-side to his popular blog’s rants.  And the blog Pastor Jeff’s Ramblings announces that he is shutting down the blog, and then, a day later announces the start of Pastor Jeff’s Reviews.
  • Below, one of several new panels at Sacred Sandwich:

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