Thinking Out Loud

November 15, 2019

Dammit Isn’t God’s Last Name

On the last Friday night of the month, Youth Pastor Wayne Wyatt would suspend the normal Youth Group format in order to have either a sports night or a music night. For the music nights, he would book a band that was known either locally or regionally, but this week was an exception.

“We don’t really have a name;” the guitar player told him.

Wayne preferred to use bands that had played other area churches so he could contact the youth pastors there and get recommendations, but these guys were friends of Brooke, and her dad was the church board Treasurer, so he figured he was on safe ground.

The kids mixed around the room. There were snacks at the back. Colored lights. It looked like a dance, except nobody was dancing. No one ever did. There were about 60 teens when the night started, but a few songs in there were closer to 80 in attendance.

The guys in the band were well-dressed and polite. They started with a Switchfoot song that Wayne knew, and then a cover of song by Skillet.

For the third song, the guitarist started out with, “We’d like to do one of our original songs for you now. My grandpa had a song he liked that went, ‘He’s more than just a swear word, more than just an I-don’t-care word,’ and I know that for many of us we hear people say God dammit all the time and–“

At this Wayne stopped what he was doing and wondered where they were going with this.

“–or we hear people say ‘Oh my God,’ and we forget to give respect to God’s name. So we’re gonna do a song called ‘Dammit isn’t God’s last name.'”

They cranked up the introduction,

You see in on your screens
and you hear it in the street.
They’re using God’s name
In a way I won’t repeat.

Wayne turned away from the stage. So far, so good. He spoke with a couple of the teens while the verse continued, but then the chorus got his attention.

‘Cause dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.
‘You know dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.

It wasn’t the type of lyric their guest bands would usually perform, but he figured the song was a one-off and he’d try to relax. A group of guys wanted to know the deadline to sign up for Snow Camp and two girls wanted to know if they were doing a car wash in the spring because they had some ideas. But then, moments later, there it was again.

‘Cause dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.
‘You know dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.

Some of the kids were singing along. When the chorus came around for a third time — he wondered if this song might ever end — he looked closely and they seemed to be enjoying saying ‘dammit’ all too much.

But then the band went into a bridge that consisted entirely of

Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit

On the third repeat, with all the kids in the group shouting the word back to the band, he decided enough was enough, and started walking swiftly and intentionally in a direct line to the stage.

But his path was blocked by a girl who seemed to appear out of nowhere.

“Pastor Wayne,” she said, “You have to come quick; Carly’s fallen in the restroom and she’s hurt really bad.”

Injuries are every youth pastor’s worst nightmare, so he changed his path and started walking toward the hallway. As he picked up his pace, several things occurred to him at once. First of all, he knew the kids really well, and he didn’t know anyone named Carly. For that matter, he didn’t know the girl who had summoned him. And how could he just walk into the women’s restroom?

The sound of the band was wafting from the youth multi-purpose room.

‘Cause dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.
‘You know dammit
Dammit isn’t God’s last name.

At least they were back to the verse. Or other chorus. Or whatever it was. His head was spinning. At that moment, Ted and Belinda, the official youth group sponsors appeared in the hallway. He quickly called out to them, “There’s a girl hurt in the restroom.”

They were on it. He could return to his other issue. The band was back to the bridge and the kids were shouting a frenzy.

Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit
Dammit, Dammit

In the hallway on his right was the electrical panel. He opened it and identified two breakers. One would cut the power to the stage and the other would cut the power to the wall receptacles, where the band’s mixing board was plugged in and all the colored lights. Some of the group’s electronics would need several seconds to reset. That would give him time to have some words with the band members.

At the same time as that happened, he looked down the hallway and saw Belinda emerging from the women’s restroom. She shrugged her shoulders. There was no one hurt inside.

Wayne switched the breakers and according to plan, the sound went quiet. Unexpectedly, the light in the hallway went out as well. He decided to give this ten seconds, and in that short span of time, while everything around him was physically void of light, the lights went on inside him.

He felt he’d been set up booking the band. He realized the girl who told him to book the group didn’t really like the job he was doing as Youth Pastor. He realized the other girl, who had told him that the fictional Carly needed rescue had been training her eyes on him, waiting for the moment he would try to shut down the performance of ‘Dammit’ so she could distract him.

Eight, nine, ten. Ten seconds. He threw the switches back on.

When he did and the lights in the hallway came back, there was Brooke and standing next to her was her dad, the church Treasurer and head of the hiring committee which had brought him to the church in the first place. Both were scowling.

He looked deep into Brooke’s eyes for something that would answer the question as to why he’d been set up. But instead, the mystery girl emerged and inadvertently brought with her a brief moment of comic relief.

“It’s too late, Pastor Wayne;” she said with a straight face; “Carly’s dead.”

 

November 13, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Ironically subtitled, “The Subtle Art of Appearing Better Than You Are;” this book won’t be appearing anytime soon. See stories below. [Image: Waterbrook]

An abandoned French chapel. “It’s on private property, meaning that the municipality doesn’t have to take care of it, like most churches in France. The owner, for a reason or another, couldn’t or wouldn’t maintain it.” Source: Reddit.


Often, when looking back at the previous week’s events, there is one story which sticks out and I wrestle with whether to mention it or if it’s best to assume that everyone has already seen it. This week, it was the revelation by Charisma Magazine of the indiscretions of John Crist, a Christian comedian.

So often, these are not happy stories. Each one however is a cautionary tale; and one that people — perhaps even one person reading this blog — needs to hear. But first…

Francis Chan is moving to Asia.

“I feel like I’ve been fishing in the same pond my whole life,” he said. “And now there’s like thousands of other fishermen at the same pond, and our lines are getting tangled and everyone’s fighting over stupid things, and one guy tries some new lure and we go, ‘Oh, he caught a fish, let’s all try his method!’ And it just feels like, what are we all doing here?”

■ …But there’s something in the way Francis Chan said it that has him mired in controversy. (Read the whole thread.)

■ James MacDonald responds to being considered “disqualified for ministry.” Spoiler alert: He disagrees.

■ Runs in the Family: Anne Graham Lotz on Donald Trump’s withdrawl from Syria as a fulfillment of Ezekiel 38. This is the sentence where the writer lost me: “…Lotz appeared on “The Jim Bakker Show” last Wednesday to promote her new best-selling book…” Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

■ Back when I was a regular listener, I got to ‘meet’ so many people through the Phil Vischer Podcast, now the Holy Post podcast. Two of these really stand out. One was John Walton, and the other was John Mark Comer. John Mark recently joined Skye Jethani to talk about his new book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. (Both are rabid Dallas Willard fans.)

■ Are you a fan of the CBS-TV show God Friended Me?

So, back to John Crist. Here’s what happened.

■ Our changing culture: A Columbia University theater professor resigns after being told the hiring committee he chaired could not hire the best person for the job, unless that person was either female, a minority, or gay; and then was pressured into casting a trangender student in the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. He said that America is heading toward the communism he left behind years later in Romania.

■ In another one of his visits to different types of churches, Matt at Ten Minute Bible Hour certainly found a colorful interviewee in Illinois with Lutheran Pastor William Weedon. (33 minutes; watch it all!) (Already watched it? Here’s the follow-up interview.)

Essay of the Week: The 1.3 million people of Estonia have over 700 choirs. “Much of their history is marked by occupation and oppression and they’ve rarely been a free people. As a result, they’re not known for their universities, for their innovation or their army. They aren’t known for great food, scientific exploits or their soccer team.
They are known for their voices.”

■ New Music ♫ — I don’t see a lot of clicks on these each week, but I do get encouraging comments, often by email. These three all originated in the same place. I went to confirm an event date on the website of Life100.3, a Christian ‘superstation’ (not ‘superstition,’ spellcheck) in central Ontario, Canada and found these three — none of whom I was familiar with — on their daytime Top 10 list.

♫ The band: We Are Leo; the song: Your Voice.

♫ The artist: Charlie Rey; the song: Undeniable Love.

♫ The artist: Joel Vaughn; the song: I Look to You.

■ What’s your theology of heaven like? What of this live will we carry forward into that life? Much of has to do with your views on the nature of God.

■ Irony: An Indonesian religious scholar, who helped draft one region’s very strict adultery laws was publicly flogged 28 times after being caught after being caught in a parked car with a married woman.

■ From our Anglican/Episcopal friends, “Songs for the Holy Other includes almost 50 ‘queer hymns’ by and for individuals who identify with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.” “…[I]t’s an amazing resource for music directors and for priests who are looking for hymns that are affirming for the LGBT community.” “There are songs about our created belovedness—how God created us, God loves us, and our sexuality, our gender doesn’t change that.” And yes, worship leader, they’re covered by your CCLI license.

■  A follow-up essay on the story of the mother and father arguing over the sex of their seven year old: “…our nation is so entangled with the diabolical concept of gender theory that, in this situation, the jury ruled exactly the wrong way: they negated the rightful authority of the parent who is striving to uphold nature and validated the authority of the parent who spurns nature. The reasoning is completely upside down.”

■ Did you ever laugh so hard you cried? That was the question posed to Brant Hansen recently. Click on Podcast #1023, and jump to 12:28 and listen to the end. (Had to listen to it twice.) (5 minutes total.)

■ Essay of the Week: “Let’s say your last meeting included five songs. Based on those five, would a new person be able to tell that you believed in the Trinity? In the cross? In the resurrection? In the return of Christ? … I have been in churches that seem never to sing about the cross; I was once in a church that (literally) never sang about anything else. The problem in each case was not the songs that were sung, but the ones that weren’t

■ Kayne is headed to Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church this weekend. Hardly surprising. It’s how TMZ reports this that makes it more interesting.

■ In Case I Missed It, Which I Did: This was published in RNS back in October in a report on the Evolving Faith Conference, co-founded by Rachel Held Evans. (Referenced in a comment on Saturday at Internet Monk.)

Dan Evans, Held Evans’ husband, also spoke during the opening session, reading an excerpt from a book she had been working on before her death… and which will be published posthumously in 2020.

In his remarks, Evans opened up about some of his own personal struggles with faith and Christianity… “I’m agnostic,” Evans said. “I haven’t been public with this.

“I wish I was certain we were all going to live forever,” he continued. “I wish I was certain we are all going to heaven. I wish I was certain I would see Rachel again. But it doesn’t seem very likely to me. I don’t know.

■ Names to Note: Addison Bevere is the son of well known authors John and Lisa Bevere, has a book coming in January with Revell, is the COO of Messenger International (his parents’ organization) and is the cofounder of Sons and Daughters.

■ Another pastor steps down because of a sexual abuse which was long in the past. “Charles W. Lyons, who led the 400-member congregation at Armitage Baptist Church for the last 45 years, resigned in July after telling church leaders two years earlier about his misconduct.” The events took place before he began his run leading the church. Why mention this here? Because this is yet another church in the Chicago area.

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers

■ Won’t you be my neighbor? The Mr. Rogers movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens US Thanksgiving weekend. (FYI: Fred Rogers was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963.)

■ Parenting Place: Using the new, third edition of the NIV Life Application Bible with your kids. “Overall, if someone knew nothing about the Bible’s background, this study Bible has more than enough information to get by while still not getting lost in the weeds with theology or historical information.” 

■ The 2019 Christy Awards for Christian fiction were announced last week. (See image below.) Patti Calahan’s Becoming Mrs. Lewis was Book of the Year.

■ Unusual Twitter Account: “No Context Chick Tracts.” Description: “The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Chick Publications as a hate group. There are many valid and effective responses to hate; we believe humor is one of them.

■ Hilarious. Not this tweet, but the 300+ comments. Captioning the Donald Trump/Paula White saga with a scripture verse.

November 11, 2019

When You’re Running Contrary to the Church Culture

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:02 am

Although Pastor Ted Reynolds had been six weeks at this new church, this was his first time teaching the adult Sunday School elective which met in a classroom setting.

After reading a chapter in Philippians, he said, “I think there are four things we can learn from this reading;” and as he said it he wrote “4 things” as a header on the whiteboard and underlined it.

As soon as he did he noticed a bit of a murmur and some shuffling. He turned around to face the group and there were a few people quietly coughing. Finally, there was a raised hand.

“Pastor,” he said, “Just so you know, in this church we write the number four with the top part closed.”

Reynolds, whose brain was focused on the doctrinal points he wanted to make, didn’t get it at first. “I’m sorry;” he said, “Can you repeat that?”

This time a woman spoke up, “You need to write the number so the upper part forms a triangle;” then after a one second pause, “That’s how we do it here.” She walked to another part of the whiteboard and illustrated the contrasting styles.

He looked at his header on the board and he had written it the way he had always written it, with the stems of the numeral either parallel or perpendicular. “That’s how I write it;” he replied, and he could feel himself digging in his heels on this bizarre issue.

Then Stan, an older member of the congregation who had served on the search committee which had interviewed him firmly said, “I guess you better get accustomed to how we do things here.”

Pastor Reynolds couldn’t believe this, but it wasn’t a hill worth dying on, and he resolved to conform. Problem was, habits die hard, especially when you’re looking at penmanship habits which had been formed long before Kindergarten.

So he simply, at every juncture where he could remember, wrote “four” instead of the number. In his mind, four was quickly becoming a four-letter word.

“It’s funny;” he said to his wife one night; “When I candidated here we talked about eschatology, women in ministry, Bible translations, worship styles; I tried to cover every topic which could possibly be controversial, but we never talked about calligraphy.”

It was then, and only then, that Bethany, his wife of 17 years turned to him and said, “Actually, I’ve always hated it when you write it open like that; I much prefer the way they way they do things here.”

Ted Reynolds was shattered. It was the controversy that wouldn’t go away. Ted did the only thing he could do. Fifteen months in, he resigned from the church, divorced Bethany, and now serves in a much more progressive church two states over, where they don’t judge you on how you write the number four.

 

November 8, 2019

Blogroll Update #11

Computer searchIt’s been almost a year since I did one of these. This is not the blogroll that appears here on the blog, but rather things I bookmark in my computer as I find them. If you read all of the various parts to this ongoing series of lists, it comes to several thousand. If you find something that’s a dead link let me know. Also, because the list is shorter this time, I’m including an updated list of the various sources I use to compose the weekly Wednesday list.

Blogs (new)
More Than Cake
Blog – Phylicia Masonheimer
Blog | Jennifer LeClaire Ministries International
Standing For God – In These Evil Times
Mark 12:30 – Worshiping with Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength
In the Fourth Nocturn
Ken’s Daily Bible Re
thinkingpastorally
SeanPaulMurphyVille
Out of the Depths
Jesustrek | Journey of a Lifetime by Tom Cox
BROKEN BELIEVERS
TXAB: The Christ Almighty Blog
The Apologista | Love, Life, and Logic with Lauren
BLOG – JimmyHinton.org
BLOG — Danielle Strickland
Faith and Leadership | Duke Divinity
Home Page | Vital Sermons
Brenton Collyer
Just A Thought
Home – Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy
In Pleasant Places
Gospel Taboo
ExpressYourself4Him | A writer’s journey with God
Rock Badger Christianity – YouTube
Peacehacks
Simply Shannon!
Generosity Monk – Meditations
Warhorn Media – Welcome to the reformation.
Church Militant – Serving Catholics
the Way? – Following Jesus in the 21st century
Spiritual Regurgitations |Rev. Dr. Robin J. Dugall
Nathan Hamm
CultureWatch – Bill Muehlenberg
Jen Pollock Michel
Todd Wilhelm: Thou Art The Man
Hare Translation Journey –  Bible translators in Cameroon
Practical Faith
Christian News Sources
FaithWorld | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters.com
Christianity Today Gleanings
Christian News, The Christian Post
Christian News on Christian Today
Faith and Leadership
Disrn – Brief, smart, faithful
Christian news, church news, **** – FaithfulNews
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
Religion News Service | Religion News in Photos, Articles & Video
Religion Dispatches
Christian News Headlines
RealClearReligion
News | The Christian Institute
Trending News – Positive Encouraging K-LOVE
OneNewsNow.com – Your News Right Now
HuffPost Religion
GetReligion
RELEVANT Magazine
Spiritual Sounding Board
CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com
On Faith:  The Washington Post
NRB :: LATEST NEWS
Persecution News of Churches Persecuted & Christian Sufferings
Forum 18 Latest News
WORLD Magazine | Today’s News, Christian Views
Religious News – SRN News
Christian News Network
News & Events
WND – Faith
Breaking Christian News
ASSIST News Service
Holy Post | National Post
Religion News Blog
Belief – CNN.com
News | LifeSiteNews.com
Premier Christianity
Mission Network News – Mission Network News
The Old Black Church
On Religion – The UK’s first magazine about faith and religion
God Reports
BuzzVine | The Christian Post
Converge MagazineConverge
Baptist News, Opinion, Resources, Inspiration | Baptist Standard
The Journal of Gospel Music –
Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project
Read the Spirit | Spiritual, Interfaith, Cross-Cultural Media
News | The Living Church
The Aquila Report —  Reformed and Presbyterian
Rush to Press, news from Christian publishing industry
Ecumenical News.com – Daily Christian, Ecumenical News Online
The Association of Religion Data Archives – U.S. and World Religion Statistics and Data – ARDA
TheBlaze – Breaking news and opinion
The College Fix
NEW ADVENT: Home
Now The End Begins: End Times Bible Prophecy
Gateway News — Christian News Portal, South Africa
ISSUU – Faith FEED
Parents As First Educators
Christian News on Christian Times
NEWSROOM – NRB.org
Religion Dispatches
Christian Daily
SBC Today | Southern Baptist News and Analysis
Christian News on Christian Today
Baptist Press
Jewish News & Israel News – JNS.org
ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
religion | The Africa Report
These Christian Times
Sports Spectrum – Christian Sports Magazine, Christian Athletes and Profiles, Faith-based Influences
Christian Examiner Newspapers | Christian News, Commentary, Events
Christian News, The Gospel Herald
News Archive – Mission Network News
News : BREATHEcast
Episcopal Cafe
365 Days Of Inspiring Media | Music and Entertainment Blogs with a Motivational and Moving Message For All Days Of The Year
BRnow.org – Baptist News – Biblical Recorder is the Official News Service and Baptist Press for the NC Baptist State Convention
All are welcome.
All Religion News and Press Releases from PR Newswire
Trunews. The Real News, Uncensored.
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
News & Ideas | Faith and Leadership
Christian Current Events – ChristForums
Good News, Inspiring, Positive Stories – Good News Network
Religion – Good News Network
ChurchPOP | Make holy all the things!
Christian Book Expo
Religion
Home Page – HAPPY SONSHIP
Religion | Commonweal Magazine
BCNN1: Black Christian News Network One
Catholic Stand – Living the Truth the Church Teaches : Catholic Stand
BREATHEcast
Christian Standard | Resourcing Christian Leaders
Home – EpicPew
Christian News on Christian Times
The Christian Mail | Christian News, Christian Mail for Christians Worldwide
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
The Christian Post,Christian News
Acts of Faith – The Washington Post
Worthy Christian Forums
Christian Forums
Company News | HarperCollins Christian Publishing
The Christian Sentinel – Where Faith Meets Investigative Reporting
Publishers Weekly Bestseller Lists
News : Hallels
PE News | News
Religion Books and Publishing News | Publishers Weekly
Church
Religious News – SRN News
Omni Articles | Quill and Quire
BRnow.org – Baptist News | Baptist Press Coverage by Biblical Recorder
Christian Daily
Religion | HuffPost
NEWSROOM – NRB.org
The Living Church – Serving the One Body of Christ
Christian News Archives – Christian Blog
Eternity News
Global Christian News – Christian News Across The World!
Articles Archives | ChurchPOP
World Religion News
Religion Dispatches – Rewire.News
Hallels
Latest News :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
Breaking Christian News – Religion Headlines
Religion & Politics
Religion Archives – The Federalist
Church Watch Central
Eternity News
News – Global Christian News
Religion Release Distribution by EIN Presswire and EIN News
Religious Forums
Reformation Charlotte
Homepage – Religion News Service
Home – Anglican Ink © 2019
Subject: Religion | The College Fix
News – Word&Way
Christian Film News™
After the Altar Call –
Home – The Christian Index
Bitter Winter | Religious liberty and human rights in China
Home | Step FWD UK Christian Chart

The link to part one. (October, 2014…six years worth of links to that point)

The link to part two. (St. Patrick’s Day, 2015)

The link to part three. (May, 2015, also included my news sources to that point)

The link to part four. (August, 2015, included blog aggregators and people who do things similar to the Wednesday Link List or Wednesday Connect)

The link to part five. (August, 2016, a full year later)

The link to a mini update. (Just five weeks after part five the file was getting full again)

The link to part six. (January 2017)

The link to part seven (June 2017) 

The link to part eight (October 2017)

The link to part nine (May, 2018; included an updated list of Christian news sources)

The link to part ten (January, 2019)

November 6, 2019

Wednesday Connect

See our Essay of the Week below for more on this theme.

God is getting into wearable tech. See story below. [Vatican News photo.]


Welcome to Wednesday Connect #78, hence the 78 RPM Records motif this week. The image is from Wikipedia who inform us that, “The literature does not disclose why 78 rpm was chosen for the phonograph industry, apparently this just happened to be the speed created by one of the early machines and, for no other reason continued to be used.”

■ Just as coastal regions put up beacons and lighthouses to warn passers-by of immanent danger, just to be clear, Harvest Bible Chapel has declared to the world that James MacDonald is presently unfit for ministry and “biblically disqualified.”

■ …and while a number of HBC churches have jettisoned the name, the same is happening with former Sovereign Grace Ministires churches.

■ Crusade of the Week: Kanye gave an altar call, and according to reports, 1,000 people responded out of a crowd of 6,000.

■ I found this gem of an article this week, and wanted to feature it even though it was posted at the end of August. Did missionaries really receive used tea bags from supporters back home? Did they really pack their supplies in coffins believing they would be buried on the mission field? In the article and the comments you can explore the myths and memes.

■ Transgender; gender-fluid; what’s a parent to do? Opinions vary. At Premier Magazine (part of the UK’s popular Christian media network) two articles appeared recently.

  • First, The Christian Institute’s Sharon James wrote an article on dealing with gender fluid kids. (We often quote the Institute’s news feed for articles here.) She offered 10 ways parents can respond.
  • But three days later, Katie Pope, the mother of a transgender 16-year old found the article disturbing and asked for equal time. She gives 10 alternative responses.

■ Persecution Watch: An American pastor has had his passport seized and is being detained in India.

■ Christian Education Department: J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity isn’t a fan of dumbing it down or trying to make it exciting and dynamic. He says we need to stop treating kids like kids because “this new generation is ripe to hear the word of God.”

■ Scot McKnight kicks of a series of looking closely at Introducing Evangelical Theology by Daniel J. Treier (Baker Academic), which is organized differently from other books of this type. “Here theology is not forced into one biblical author that mutes the voice of other biblical authors, but instead it is shaped by the fundamental categories of the great tradition that forms the Apostles’ Creed and the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.” Don’t miss this introductory article.

■ Parenting Place: This is a powerful article. 14 Things you can easily do to give your children a global perspective. “You might be raising a future missionary.”

Essay of the Week: They only show up a few times a month. So what? Attendance is not the same as faithfulness. Author Mimi Patrick asks us to “stop shaming busy parents” because it’s “not the way to minister to these families.” (Sample advice: Put teaching modules on YouTube and ask the student to leave a comment each week.)

Pachamama! What was he thinking? The Pope placing Incan fertility idols inside The Vatican? From studying pastoral issues in the Amazon region to bringing in a female shaman into The Vatican gardens and brought in two such statues, stunning people watching from around the world. The idols were later placed next to the altar of St. Peter’s. Then they were thrown into the river. (3½ video.) (Read further details at LifeSite News.)

■ Podcast 🔊 — Fostering another church. Not adopting. “There are neighboring churches in your community struggling and need your church’s love.”

■ Is giving down? 💵 — Also at Thom Rainer’s blog is this summary of five reasons why giving may drop.

Addition (8:55 AM) — Roger Olson lists (and laments) the many Christian leaders and authors who have landed on the Fundamentalists’ blacklist: “Tony Campolo (one of their first targets way back in the 1980s), Jim Wallis, Clark Pinnock, Stanley Grenz, Beth Moore, Rob Bell, John Sanders, Greg Boyd, Andy Stanley, Richard Foster, Carl F. H. Henry, Bernard Ramm; I could go on and on.” He wonders when “moderate evangelicals going to come out of hiding and condemn the vituperation of the neo-fundamentalists?”

■ Essential Reading about Essential Oils: Do you have people in your church who are into the Essential Oils movement? Or who recruit other people to sell the products through multi-level marketing? People may be led to expect more than just basic health benefits, and practitioners may find the love for the product all consuming.

■ Significant Music ♫ — “On June 1, 2019, 15 year-old Lily Kelly was tragically killed when the car she riding in was hit by a drunk driver. In the days that followed, a song emerged that Lily had written and recorded just six months before. Family and friends found comfort in Lily’s original song, ‘I AM,’ which tells of her close relationship with Jesus and her thorough understanding of His character.”  

Addition (8:48 AM): Josh Harris’ first public interview since renouncing his faith. It’s only 3 minutes, so there must be more somewhere.

■ Following the death of his 21-year old son, TobyMac has established a foundation to allow kids who can’t afford it to pursue music education. The Truett Foster Foundation is accepting single and monthly gifts.

■ Longtime Christian blogger Mark Altrogge offers 12 reasons we should belong to a local church.

■ Youth Ministry / Parenting: There’s been a significant spike in teen suicide since 2007.

■ Podcast 🔊 — Hey readers, why didn’t you share this one with me? The Mega podcast is the official podcast of Twin Hills, a non-existent mega church. (Note: This type of satire is not for everyone.) Read the story about the podcast itself. Or, listen to an episode.

■ Blowing Our Own Horn Department: Four days ago, our sister blog, Christianity 201 celebrated 3,500 consecutive daily posts. C201 is a melting-pot of devotional and Bible study content from across the widest range of Christian blogs and websites.

■ ICYMI: Adam Ford’s Christian Daily Reporter has resurfaced as Disrn

Addition (9:25 AM): There is finally a release date for home viewing of the Overcomer film, November 26th on digital but those looking for a physical DVD will have to wait until December 17th, giving them only a week to purchase it before Christmas.

■ New Music ♫ — We’re gonna kick off this week’s cluster of five new songs with an audio-only by Citizen Way, The Hope Song.

■ New Music ♫ — The Porter’s Gate with a song featuring Casey J. and Josh Garrels, Daughters of Zion. Actually, there are two  different versions of this just posted. This one features Urban Doxology with The Porter’s Gate performing the same song, Daughters of Zion. (This may not be a song for complementarians.) 

■ New Music ♫ — This is the #1 song on the UK’s Step FWD Christian music chart, One Voice Collective and their video of Strength to Go On. (Personally, I love the sound of mass choirs, so it’s #1 with me as well.)

■ New Music ♫ — Also from the UK, the folk/acoustic sound of Land and Salt and their video for Homeless Hearts (Amazing Grace)

■ New Music ♫ — Lastly, in this week’s music cluster, some fun with Matt Maher and Elle Limebear and a collection of Sunday School instruments Alive and Breathing.

■ Unforeseen Consequences: When we tell our female children and teens that “modest is hottest” we are inadvertently sending a rather contrary message. The author of this piece makes her two key points quite well.

■ It knows when teens are sleeping.
It knows when they’re awake.
Okay, maybe not literally, but nearly five million students are being monitored by schools “paying big money” for the online surveillance services of Gaggle. 

Addition (8:30 AM): This video collage of “The Best of Paula White” is one thing. But do not — do not — miss the 250+ comments as readers attempt to caption the video with a scripture verse.

■ Finally: Not an Onion story — The Vatican is behind a high-tech rosary. “However, unlike its traditional predecessor, the eRosary links to a ‘Click To Pray’ prayer app of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. The device is activated by making the sign of the cross.


[Source: Casual Christian Comedy 2]

November 4, 2019

Discovering Your Twice-Yearly Spiritual Gift

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:26 pm

Well over a year ago my wife was hired to look after the music in a small-town church where we live. I’ve been slowly transitioning from a much larger church to helping and supporting her and the pastor in whatever capacity I can. This mostly consists of either seeing a need and trying to meet it, or being asked to do something specific.

But yesterday I discovered my spiritual gift.

I have the gift of setting the clocks back to Standard Time.

I had actually done most of these clocks in the Spring, so it’s also the gift of setting the clocks to Daylight Saving Time.

One clock involves leaning over the balcony of this historic church to set the one at the back of the auditorium and hoping I don’t simply flip over. Some people in the church are averse to this particular chore. I can relate to that, as I have an eavestrough which I’m sure is full of leaves that I haven’t checked in ten years because it involves climbing on the roof and leaning over. That, I can no longer do.

I’m not sure if I also have the gift of changing clock batteries. That’s something I would probably need to pray about. This ministry life is full of challenges.

As it stands now, this is a gift I need only employ twice a year. And I did receive several verbal expressions of appreciation, one consisting of, “It’s nice when you’re tall.” She had apparently changed a clock herself in the church nursery, the existence of which I was unaware.

I will have to be more diligent when Spring rolls around.

November 2, 2019

Unpacking the Meaning of Brokenness

Later today, Christianity 201 will publish its 3,500th post. It’s based on a scripture medley I found on Twitter on the subject of humility, and as we often do when a post comes in under 500 words, I often link to previous articles we’ve done on the same subject.

I came across this from 2010. It was posted by Daniel Jepsen, who many of you know from Internet Monk. It’s a summary of previous work by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I’ll let him introduce this:

A year or two ago my friend Gina loaned me a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss titled, Brokenness. I found the whole book helpful, but especially the description of what brokenness is. I printed this out last week to distribute to the class I am teaching on the holiness of God, and thought I would reprint it here. Warning: it is very convicting.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Proud people focus on the failures of others.
Broken people
are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.

Proud people have a critical, fault-finding spirit; they look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope.
Broken people
are compassionate; they can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.

Proud people are self-righteous; they look down on others.
Broken people
esteem all others better than themselves.

Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit.
Broken people
have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for others.

Proud people have to prove that they are right.
Broken people
are willing to yield the right to be right.

Proud people claim rights; they have a demanding spirit.
Broken people
yield their rights; they have a meek spirit.

Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation.
Broken people
are self-denying.

Proud people desire to be served.
Broken people
are motivated to serve others.

Proud people desire to be a success.
Broken people
are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.

Proud people desire self-advancement.
Broken people
desire to promote others.

Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated.
Broken people
have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them at all.

Proud people are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked.
Broken people
are eager for others to get the credit; they rejoice when others are lifted up.

Proud people have a subconscious feeling, “This ministry/church is privileged to have me and my gifts”; they think of what they can do for God.
Broken people
’s heart attitude is, “I don’t deserve to have a part in any ministry”; they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.

Proud people feel confident in how much they know.
Broken people
are humbled by how very much they have to learn.

Proud people are self-conscious.
Broken people
are not concerned with self at all.

Proud people keep others at arms’ length.
Broken people
are willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving intimately.

Proud people are quick to blame others.
Broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they are wrong in a situation.

Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when criticized.
Broken people
receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.

Proud people are concerned with being respectable, with what others think; they work to protect their own image and reputation.
Broken people
are concerned with being real; what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows; they are willing to die to their own reputation.

Proud people find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others.
Broken people
are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs.

Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up.
Broken people
, once broken, don’t care who knows or who finds out; they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.

Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?”
Broken people
are quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.

Proud people tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin.
Broken people
are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin.

Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin.
Broken people
are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.

Proud people are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got found out or caught.
Broken people
are truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.

Proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in a relationship.
Broken people
take the initiative to be reconciled when there is misunderstanding or conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been.

Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor.
Broken people
compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.

Proud people are blind to their true heart condition.
Broken people
walk in the light.

Proud people don’t think they have anything to repent of.
Broken people
realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.

Proud people don’t think they need revival, but they are sure that everyone else does.
Broken people
continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.

~Nancy Leigh Demoss via Daniel Jepsen

 

 

October 30, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Brooklyn-based brand MSCHF released a limited-edition Nike Air Max 97 sneaker filled with water from the Jordan River in the soles at a cost of $3,000 per pair. The sneakers, called “Jesus Shoes,” sold out within minutes. Story link below.

Tomorrow is October 31st. It’s a special day for both children and lovers of candy, and people who like to pretend they are someone (or something) else. Jesus had a name for people who were pretending to be someone else. Can you name it? 

Also, all of this week’s New Music features are for artist names you’ll recognize.

■ In my opinion, the top Christian news story this week was the untimely death of TobyMac’s 21-year-old son, Truett Foster.

■ What’s new in funerals: Alkaline hydrolysis or what is sometimes called water cremation.

…[T]treatment with alkalies in water solution in a sealed container…converts proteins into simpler water-soluble compounds, which are harmless — and, indeed, can provide valuable plant nutrients. Disarticulated bones remain, softened but intact and easily crumbled to a pure white powder; again, an excellent phosphatic fertiliser. Alternatively, they can be dried and stabilised for burial in a small casket.”

Reducing the process, “to three to four hours has been possible using a pressurised stainless-steel cylinder in equipment that is like a large washing machine.” For some reason, I found the picture rather clinical.

■ Best opening paragraph:

A lot of evangelicals are swimming these days. They’re slipping on their metaphorical fins and masks and churning their way across bodies of water to emerge on the other shore as members of a different faith community. Those that move from evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism are said to swim the Tiber; those that become Orthodox swim the Bosporus.

The reader is invited to instead swim the Mississippi, and check out Lutheranism.

■ An avowed complementarian says that nonetheless, John MacArthur does not speak for him.

Neither his words nor his attitude towards Beth Moore displayed even a basic respect, let alone the kind of godly, honouring love that Christians are required to show even to their enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). He was not seeking to enable her to flourish, or “contributing extra features to her in such a way as to improve or emphasize her qualities”. He wasn’t defending a complementarian view of the Bible. He might have been speaking at a conference entitled ‘Truth Matters’ but he wasn’t defending truth, he was insulting a woman (and one who wasn’t even there to defend herself). In doing this, he betrayed the model of biblical leadership that he claims to believe in.

And in the conclusion, “He hasn’t won anyone over to his beliefs.”

■ Patterns in Peacemaking: Beth Moore tells her followers, “Let’s move on.”

■ Jesus had to die. But why such an extreme, or — pardon the etymological pun — excruciating death? At Good Question Blog, “I don’t feel that I can answer your question in terms of purpose, that is, why God would have wanted Jesus to die that way. I can’t imagine that this was something that God wanted, intended, or made happen, even though God did send Jesus into the world at a time when crucifixion was practiced, knowing that he would be ‘delivered into the hands of men.’

■ Parenting Place: The latest from Pew Research notes that, “The share of young adults who could be considered ‘financially independent’ from their parents by their early 20s – an assessment based on their annual income – has gone down somewhat in recent decades. A new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data finds that, in 2018, 24% of young adults were financially independent by age 22 or younger, compared with 32% in 1980.” And this consequence, “There’s a sense among a majority of Americans that parents are doing too much for their young adult children these days.”

■ Leadership Lessons: When pastors have a ton of education, it’s good to keep the perspective of this guy, “God did not give me a congregation so that I could have all of the benefits of being a Church History professor without having to grade papers or sit on the curriculum committee; God entrusted me with a flock so that I could feed them, love them, and point them toward the Chief Shepherd. They need to know Jesus Christ and the gospel.”

Essay of the Week: Does anyone need healing? When the question is asked, and you’ve been just been diagnosed, but you remain seated. “My body is in need of some divine intervention, no doubt. But I didn’t stand up. I didn’t even consider standing up…I didn’t let them pray over me and beseech God for bodily healing on my behalf because I don’t believe it’s going to happen…Was the bleeding woman physically healed? Was the blind man? They almost certainly were and that alone is worthy of exploration. But it’s actually the least interesting part of those stories.”

■ Since we last gathered, there has been great momentum for Kanye West’s Christian album, Jesus is King, available for download. As I prepared this on Monday night, the top song on YouTube was this title, Selah

■ …But it’s difficult to let this pass without sharing this People magazine headline: Kanye West Asked Jesus Is King Collaborators Not to Have Premarital Sex While Working on Album

■ …Meanwhile at New Wineskins, a reminder that the church has a 2,000 year history of being skeptical about high-profile converts

■ …Finally, a review of the Kanye IMAX film itself, Jesus is King. This contains many spoilers. (But it’s only a 35-minute film.)

■ Julie Roys looks at the situation at Willow Creek Crystal Lake, but not so buried in the story is a mention that Bill Hybels received a sweet retirement deal. “…Hybels’ retirement contract was ‘non-contestable’ and had no morals clause…”

■ Divine appointments can happen in small groups: “I have seen a group member dealing with an illness rare enough that only one person in the entire church should be experiencing it. But when the person opened up about it, two more people in the group said they had experienced or were experiencing the same thing. This phenomenon is not just reserved for health problems. I see the same thing over and over with things like dreams, passions, family issues, and work problems.”

■ If you find yourself reading this blog after the rapture and are wondering what to do next, there’s this book, pictured: Rapture 911: What To Do If You’re Left Behind — “Rapture 911 is your handbook for navigating the Apocalypse. If you like to-the-point information, actionable checklists, and helping save your loved ones’ souls, then get this sobering guide to humanity’s final days.” (The publisher link I hoped to provide is actually the author’s LinkedIn page.)

■ Provocative header of the week — Star Trek: 50 Years of Humanist Values.

■ After his speech was edited for the second time, Kirk Franklin is calling for a boycott of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the Dove Awards, and the Gospel Music Association. He raised social justice issues previously in 2016.

Most intriguing opening sentence: “In case you were wondering if we are living among complete reprobates with no concept of financial responsibility, a bunch of idiots are buying “Jesus shoes,” with holy water injected into the soles, for $3000 a pair, making some swindler very rich.”

Crux Ansata
(Ankh symbol)

■ Religious symbols and icons: Did Christians steal the Ankh symbol? (6 minute video.)

■ New Music ♫ — Remember Rachel Lampa? She’s back check out the audio for He’s Good.

■ New Music ♫ — New from Rend Collective, audio for Revival Anthem.

■ New Music ♫ — A song of testimony from Aaron Shust, lyrics and video for This I Know.

■ New Music ♫ — Just released from Matt Redman, official lyric video for The Same Jesus.

■ Sleeping in Church: “Eutychus probably had an excuse. He probably worked long hours, or walked a long ways to get there. I do think he moved to the window in an effort to keep awake. The spirit was willing, the flesh was exhausted.” Recommendation: Let them keep sleeping.

■ Not sure about this one: “Meme Monday: Calvinism is the Gospel Urinal.”

■ Finally, a church organist is working hard to learn Kanye’s Christian repertoire.



The Door to Hell
The Darvaza gas crater also known as the Door to Hell or Gates of Hell, is a natural gas field collapsed into a cavern located in Derweze, Turkmenistan. Click image for details.


Matchstick Church
If you click the image, you’ll discover that building matchstick churches is a popular pastime.

October 29, 2019

MacArthur: A Lesson for the Boys and Men

Filed under: Christianity, current events, theology, women — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:30 am

This is about the 8th or 9th time I’ve found a Twitter thread that I felt was worthy of a wider forum or a different media. This time around the author is Tish Warren Harrison, author of Liturgy of the Ordinary (InterVarsity). I know as I’m typing this that some of you are weary of this subject, but I believe she offers a fresh perspective.

When everyone was talking about John MacArthur and “Go home,” I was busy having a human being, so I haven’t been online. But do I care? Of course I care. I care because I’m a female priest and care about Beth Moore. And because I care about the church. And here’s what I thought:

I have often said that I keep having this conversation — not just about women’s ordination/roles but about women’s catechesis/discipleship, institutional empowerment and accountability, theological training, leadership, and depth — for my daughters, but this week, I had a son.

And I have realized that we need this conversation just as much for him and every boy of the next generation. Because it is hard to be a faithful, orthodox Christian in the world. I think it is getting harder.

If boys and men can’t learn from and value the gifts, insight, teaching, knowledge, writing, ministries, and works of God in 50%+ of the church, it will be all the harder for them to walk with Jesus.

Sexism is a sin. We don’t often speak of it in those terms, but it’s not just “problematic.” It’s a principality and power. It is idolatry. And like all sin, it diminishes us as a church, not just those sinned against, but those who are in sin.

(And note I’m not talking about complementarianism as a biblical conviction, which is not what any of this is about — Beth isn’t ordained even. This is about if women can speak about God.)

October 28, 2019

Three Models of the Chain of Grace

NLT.2Cor.5.20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

The Voice.1Cor. 1.17 The mission given to me by the Anointed One is not about baptism, but about preaching good news. The point is not to impress others by spinning an eloquent, intellectual argument; that type of rhetorical showboating would only nullify the cross of the Anointed.

CEB. 2Tim.4.5 But you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances. Endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the good news, and carry out your service fully.

On Saturday at C201 we looked at what I could call the vertical chain of grace; the idea of one generation passing its faith and faith-values on to the next.

There is also a horizontal chain of faith that happens when peers share their faith with friends, relatives and acquaintances (neighbours, workmates, fellow-students) who respond. One of the best stories I ever heard in church a youth service where a girl, got up and (I’m changing the names at this point, I am sure) said, “My name is Amanda…” and then went on to tell the story of how her life was changed because of a friend named Brittany. Then the next one stepped up and began, “My name is Brittany…” and told her story of coming to faith because of the influence of a girl named Crystal. Next — and you’re probably guessing the pattern already — a girl stepped to the microphone and started with “My name is Crystal…” and told her story which included being invited to an event by her friend Danielle.

You might think this all sounds too contrived to be true, but when the last girl got up and said, “Hi, I’m Danielle…” I swear there wasn’t a dry eye in the church. You could hear a pin drop.

My goodness, this works! This sharing your faith thing really, really works, and just last night we heard a very similar story involving three different peers…

…There is a third element to the chain of faith model, and as we thought in terms of horizontal (width) and vertical (length), we couldn’t think of a word to describe a depth of cooperation between various parties, so feel free to comment, but I’m calling this a trans-sectional chain of faith.

I took a picture of this page from The Message Bible to use in a presentation my wife and I shared Saturday morning. It’s from Romans 10:14.

NIrV.Rom.10.14 How can they call on him unless they believe in him? How can they believe in him unless they hear about him? How can they hear about him unless someone preaches to them?

What I believe sets this model apart is that it applies to a single conversion story and there may be different parties involved in the calling and sending of those who do the work of an evangelist. Different people responsible for the training and equipping. Different people responsible for the accountability and oversight. Different people who will look after the follow-up and discipleship of this one individual.

Perhaps the above verse doesn’t have this as finely tuned, but it talks about process. Believing follows an awareness of the Jesus redemption story, which follows a presentation of that same story.

Perhaps the one below is clearer, but I did want to include the above passage as well.

NLT.1Cor.3.7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

It’s similar to the horizontal chain, but each part is now serving a different purpose in a single story. Each participant is one part of a chain of grace leading a single person to faith.


Go Deeper: What’s involved in the decision making process? Refer back to this model we presented in January, 2018 at C201, The Steps to Decision.

 

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