Thinking Out Loud

August 21, 2014

Sidebar to the Kent Brantly Story

Filed under: current events, missions — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:25 am

A part of the story you may not have heard…

Kent Brantley

Breaking Christian News adapted this story from Assist News Service, but made the headline something that Assist had buried in the final two paragraphs:

The website stated that The JPS Foundation is now accepting donations for Brantly and his family, who lost all of their earthly possessions when he contracted the Ebola virus and was returned to the United States for treatment. After his symptoms appeared, Brantly was isolated and was never able to return to their home. According to JPS, everything is considered contaminated by Ebola and will be destroyed.

“No date has been announced for his release from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, but when he is well enough to join his family, they will face the challenge of replacing everything from household items and clothing to computers and children’s toys,” said JPS in a statement Friday. “All funds will be held in a separate account within the JPS Foundation for the financial support of Dr. Brantly and his family during his recovery.

After all they’ve been through, they face the same loss as would a family whose home was destroyed by fire. But better to have Kent alive, right? 


Related:  

“I’m sorry I’ve got to take this call, it’s Kent Brantly.”

This article is a must-read. It puts Kent Brantly in perspective in a way that will challenge you to the core.  Click to read Scot McKnight’s article:
Kent Brantly: Every Now and Then a Disciple Breaks Out

May 29, 2014

Thursday Link List

Species rarely seen: The Thursday List Lynx

Species rarely seen: The Thursday List Lynx

A few things missed out this week by a few hours. We might repeat some of these on the PARSE list anyway, but I wanted to share them while they were still fresh.

  • Did someone in your church write a great modern worship song that’s only being sung by your own congregation? Enter it in the Sing It Sunday song contest, and it could be performed in front of 13,000 people at Catalyst Atlanta. Contest details here.
  • I debated whether or not to make this one the sole subject of today’s blog post… Do you know someone who labors in ministry and gets discouraged by what seems to be so little fruit? A pastor whose small church seems lost in a megachurch world? A youth worker who spends long hours working with kids who seem unresponsive? Send them this story.This is the recently uncovered story of a missionary who died thinking he was a failure. 84 years later a thriving church is found hidden in the Congo jungle.
  • In the wake of the death of Fred Phelps, there was a small mention that in the seemingly quiet months before he passed away he had been excommunicated from his church. I remember reading that, but not really focusing on it. It’s possible the reason is that he mellowed; that he softened his stance on some issues to a degree not acceptable to church hardliners.
  • Relevant Magazine did a list of six well-known church figures who, if judged by the standards of modern Evangelicalism, would simply never make the cut. The provocative headline calls them “6 Heretics Who Should Be Banned From Evangelicalism.” The last one will surprise you.
  • A piece that was in the link list yesterday sparked some follow up articles that appeared too late to meet the Wednesday list deadline. The topic was racial balance in the author mix at InterVarsity Press. I’ve often commented that the Christian publishing world is dominated by Reformed voices, which by implication means white and male. But we tend to think of IVP as having more of a global focus. At the blog, By Their Strange Fruit, here is part two of that article, as well as a more general piece which is less IVP-specific.
  • UPDATE: The son of the pastor of a snake-handling denomination who died in February was himself bit this week but refused to be hospitalized. Cody Coots replaced his father as pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro, Kentucky.
  • Finally, many Christian people feel that since ‘God hates divorce,’ they are obligated to stick with a marriage no matter what. As Lee Grady points out, there are at least four instances where it’s right to leave.

 

 

May 21, 2014

Wednesday Link List

John Wesley quotation

Out of several hundred potential links, these were some things that got my attention this week. Clicking anything below will take you to PARSE, the list’s owner, a blog of Leadership Journal in the Christianity Today family. From there, click the stories you want to see.

When not hunting down links for you, Paul Wilkinson blogs at Thinking Out Loud, Christianity 201, and Christian Book Shop Talk.

January 22, 2014

Wednesday Link List

link-list-basic

So, if you’re following the saga, sometime in late June we agreed to make the Wednesday Link List part of Out of Ur, which is part of Leadership Journal, which is part of Christianity Today, which was founded by Carl F. Henry, who was not related to Buck Henry. But then, last weekend, Leadership Journal officially rolled out PARSE which is where each of the links below takes you… you can click through from there.

To celebrate our first official PARSE column, we bring you both quality and quantity this week…

Link sleuth Paul Wilkinson is also available to DJ your next youth group meeting or help you herd your cats. He writes these little disclaimers at the end of the list for CT/PARSE readers and sometimes forgets to remove them here.

Trouble reading this? We’re experimenting with leaving out the “<big>” tag on each line for the first time; but if it’s small for ya, we’ll update midday. This classic blog theme has a default that’s somewhat miniscule.

Our closing graphic is from a collection of 30 mean letters written by kids.

Dear Uncle Bryan

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 23, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Christmas production at  First Baptist Church in Curitiba, Brazil as seen at Church Stage Design Blog.

Christmas production at First Baptist Church in Curitiba, Brazil as seen at Church Stage Design Ideas Blog. That’s one huge choir.

It all begins with a design template that looks like this.

It all begins with a design template that looks like this.

Lloyd the Llink Llist Llama Crashes the Party Exactly One Year After His First Visit Here

Lloyd the Llink Llist Llama crashes the party exactly one year after his first visit here

For the last couple of weeks there has been a weekend link list here. Some of the most interesting articles this month have been listed in those two editions.  So be sure to check them out.

  • I never know for sure when I check out new blogs if the writer is on our side or not, especially when the first post I see looks like this one at Loon Watchman.
  • Deans at other schools are fighting the possibility of accreditation for what would be Canada’s first Christian law school at Trinity Western. 
  • Why swear an oath on one Bible when you can swear an oath on two?  A writer at Think Christian notes: “What I like about these [Bible] selections is the way they point to public and private figures who influence or inspire President Obama, and whose faith probably all shape the way he approaches his faith and his work.”
  • You’ve heard of the dog who shows up for daily for a church service its late owner regularly attended. If not Fr. Z blogs the story, but notes that the dog’s appearance at the altar risks affecting the church’s ‘sacral character.’ 
  • Sometimes it’s hard to become a Christian knowing that, if you do, someone is going to starve to death. Here’s a dilemma for missiologists.
  • Don’t miss this one: J. R. Briggs gets an inspiring lesson on grace when he has to ask his 6-year-old son for forgiveness.
  • Tyler Braun notes that summing up the gospel as “Jesus Loves Me” is too me-centered, unless we include spreading that love as part of the gospel mandate. 
  • Zac Hicks has an interesting article about the role of Worship Pastor as Emotional Shepherd and the dangers of manipulating the congregation.
  • A central Pennsylvania Wesleyan church officially opens a $4M expansion including a fitness center, jungle gym, café restaurant and Christian bookstore.
  • So what exactly does it mean when you find a dead bird on the steps leading to your workplace?  Especially when you’re looking for more than, ““A dead bird on the step means either a cat loves you and has brought you an offering of food, or it means a bird flew into the window/door and killed itself…” 
  • By now you’ve probably had occasion to look up a favorite TV show, movie or actor at IBDb, but did you now there’s now a Christian Film Data Base (CFDb)? The site also has a blog that’s updated daily with reviews and interviews.
  • I’m writing this listening to an at least five year old song by Starfield – Reign In Us. Just clicked replay for the fourth time. 
  • And news last week that Jason Dunn from Hawk Nelson has a solo album releasing in May.
  • Meanwhile at American Idol auditions in Chicago Curtis Finch, Jr. impresses the judges with a brief gospel performance.
  • For church leaders and pastors, Dave Kraft’s website, Leadership from the Heart is must reading. Here’s a piece outlining three temptations that can undo you and your leadership
  • And here’s more good leadership advice from 9Marks on counseling people who haven’t crossed the line of faith.
  • Looking for a career in ministry? Check out ChurchJobs.tv
  • I suspect that Christian bands like Sidewalk Prophets love it when bloggers take one of their songs and use it as springboard for a devotional piece; like the writer at Journey of a God-Follower does with their song, He Loves Us Anyway.
  • Not So 31 is the name of a blog based on a reference to “the Proverbs 31 woman.” She does a lot of book reviews and book excerpts in particular, including some recent ones by Steven Furtick and Chris and Kerry Shook.
  • We linked to this picture — one of my favorite images of 2012 — late last year but never included it. Until today.  It was taken by Andreas Solaro for the Getty wire service and is captioned: Pope Benedict XVI caresses a lion cub as thousands of participants in the “Pilgrimage to Rome” festival – circus professionals, carnival people, street artists, pavement artists, bands and folk groups – gather at the Vatican on Dec. 1, 2012.  We think the Pope should have a few kittycats running around the Vatican the way the Queen has her Corgis at Buckingham.

Pope Benedict XVI - With Very Large Cat

January 7, 2013

What If? – The Ultimate Revelation Song

The idea expressed here is not something that I believe to be the case, but rather is simply a possibility I want to consider in the hope of enlarging your vision of what it means to speak of someday standing in God’s presence.

Urbana 2012

So I’ve been cruising the interwebs for the last couple of days hoping to run into some video footage of InterVarsity’s latest missions conference, Urbana 2012, which was held between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

I finally encountered this homemade video compilation at YouTube, though I could see evidence in it that a professional camera crew was probably documenting the event for something more formal to be released later.

The person who posted the video was obviously more interested in the music than the speakers, though there was an interesting excerpt of what appeared to be the opening of the event where someone was talking about the millions of kids who have passed through the Urbana events since their inception some 60 years ago. (Full disclosure, as a one-time InterVarsity Press employee, I am very biased towards anything InterVarsity does!)

Based on the scant bit of data I could gather from the video (and a second part posted by the same individual) the future of modern worship has a distinctively Latin flavor. But then, this was a conference with a world missions emphasis.  (Another aside: If your church doesn’t occasionally sing a familiar worship chorus in another language, you’re missing out. There is nothing more worshipful than to realize that we are part of a larger body doing what we do on weekends; and to free ourselves from the confines of our local church buildings.)

There’s a point in the video where the audience is singing Revelation Song (Worthy is the / Lamb who was slain / Holy, holy is He) in what I believe to be Spanish. (The video quality is good but not great.) I believe the words to the chorus are something like “Santo, santo, santo…”  (Corrections welcomed.)

But then there is a point — possibly due to the poor audio — where it appears there are several languages going on at once. At least, that’s what it sounded like on my bargain-basement speakers.

And it got me thinking.

What if?

What if the song sung by angels and resurrected followers of Jesus Christ is a song that had already been heard on earth. (Again, it’s probably something far greater; “…ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man…:” etc.). But what if?

What if the “Holy, Holy, Holy” of those falling on their faces before God in the book of Revelation had been already previewed for us. And what if, in the grandest of ironies, the song is known in English as “Revelation Song.”  (Rev. 4:8 attributes this to the Living Creatures, but the text doesn’t preclude others joining in the song.)

Again, this is pure conjecture. And I don’t want to embarrass the writer of the song by attaching a significance to it that exceeds all commonly held parameters.

But what if some of the songs we sing in heavenly places are songs that we now know, with each one singing in their own language? Think about it, we’ve increasingly seen some of today’s worship choruses transcend the broadest denominational spectrum. And the internet takes songs around the world instantly.

But what of the people who didn’t live in the 21st century?

What if the saints who have gone before us live out their role as a “great cloud of witnesses” are eavesdropping on our weekend services and learning our songs? Do they sing along on some (not all) of them? What if their greatest delight is to hear sincere praise emanating from our lips as we sing the songs which advance the purposes and power of God in our generation?

What if those people who said after a good worship time, “I believe we’ll be singing those songs in heaven” were partly right?  What if those who offered, “I believe that was a taste of heaven” weren’t completely off the mark?

What if there’s a way that people singing in different languages can be united by a melody, by harmonies, by chords; and that some day we will hear what it sounds like when an assembled multitude from across the spectra of time and locations join with a company of angels to produce a sound to honor God that is literally out of this world? 

What if we turn out thoughts toward dreaming of heaven?

October 12, 2012

Giving: Where We Left Off On Tuesday…

One of the greatest challenges in missions is getting the word out that you need funding. You could be the very, very best person for a position either domestically or overseas, but if you don’t have a collection of relatives and good friends that you can tap for monthly support, don’t expect to get the job.

I found this out firsthand many times while still a single person in my twenties. They didn’t want me, they wanted my network. When I said, “I will gladly bring my gifts and abilities to do an amazing job for you, but I can’t do deputation;” the interview ended and I was escorted to the lobby. Not once. Not twice…

So when something like LoveGlobal comes along, I applaud.

Love Global is a foundation dedicated to helping missionaries become fully-funded. We offer charitable status and an online platform to help missionaries (and their supporters) share their story through text, photos and videos. We also provide ongoing support for our missionaries through weekly e-letters and fundraising assistance.

We believe in the power of storytelling and seek to facilitate the sharing of stories through our missionary and Champion networks. As we share these raw, uncut stories our hope is to see the bonds between missionary and supporter strengthened and the work of the Church furthered.

The idea for Love Global was birthed from the idea that missions could be done differently. A few of us got together to form the Love Global Foundation board to provide the support needed to invest strategically into missions for a new day. We launched officially at Missions Fest Vancouver 2012 to let the world know we were available and working hard to support missions around the world.

This is a great idea; both for the ‘givers’ who want to see where their money is going, and missionaries who simply need to promote their work beyond their existing personal network.

Find out more about how the whole process works by watching the video at this page.

August 11, 2010

Wednesday Link List

This was such a busy week already on this blog, that the link list seems almost anti-climactic…

  • Our opening cartoon above is from Sacred Sandwich and is titled “Baptist Bestseller.”
  • I’m trying to decide whether to run this Christianity 201 post here at Thinking out Loud.  It’s titled I Belong to a Cult.    I think it’s important to know the bare minimum about your spiritual lineage.
  • Zach N. posted this video embed which I believe is from a series Matt Chandler does at YouTube called Sermon Jam.
  • Here’s a full-screen CBN News item about Christian painter Ron DiCianni, currently working on a 12′ x 30′ picture of Christ’s resurrection; a picture with many unexpected features.
  • Here’s a really courageous — though not recommended — piece about a robbery attempt that fails because the clerk doesn’t want to be held responsible for the loss of the money; though she does feel responsible for the robber’s soul.
  • In all the talk about Keith Green last week, probably nobody mentioned Gordon Aeschliman.   He gave up his seat on the ill-fated plane at the last minute so one of Keith’s other kids could board.   Read about him and his book, Cages of Pain.
  • After a nine year hiatus, the book Operation World, first published in 1974, is ready to hit the streets in October.    The writer, Jason Mandryk, explains why the print edition is still needed in a world where the balance of the info is available online.
  • Over a hundred people at iMonk respond to Chaplain Mike’s invitation to explain why they follow the teachings of Beth Moore.
  • For this link, I’m going to plant you in the middle of a multi-part blog series by Dean Lusk, and then let you do the navigating to find the rest of it.   This is part five — and a personal favorite — from Is The Church Signing The Wrong Words?
  • Looking for a longer read?   Try this piece where initial-guy N. T. Wright considers initial-guy C. S. Lewis.
  • Albert Mohler weighs in on the back and forth status of California’s Proposition 8.
  • If you’re reading this in the U.S. before 6:30 PM Wednesday local time; ABC News has an interview with author Anne Rice.
  • With his comment level now reaching up into the stratosphere, Jon Acuff scores over 300 reactions to his piece on trying to find a new church.
  • Check out some new and different worship songs available free at Worship Corner.
  • This week’s comic:  It’s been six months since we last visited Jeff Larson’s The Back Pew

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