Thinking Out Loud

December 3, 2014

Wednesday Link List

First King Sized Bed

Today we’re blending the new format detailed links that appeared on PARSE on Monday with the regular serving we offer here.

  • The Medium is Contradicting The Message – “I want to attend a conference one day about being small, authentic, and missional at a church that is small, authentic, and missional. I want to read a book about overcoming the success syndrome written by a pastor who, in the eyes of the world, looks like a failure. I want to hear from the pastor whose story didn’t have a happy ending, and yet who still clings to the fact that Jesus is enough.” The choices of locations, books and speakers are often subtracting from the message.
  • Fruitful and Multiplying – “In the Bible, one of the first things God says to humankind is to be fruitful and multiply. That command predates the Ten Commandments and just about every other commandment in the Bible. God wants us to have kids. But just how fruitful do we need to be? … I’ve been to thousands of church services and lots of Christian men’s events. I can’t ever recall the topic of vasectomies coming up.”
  • The Apostle Paul’s Cool Factor – We often look at the Acts 17 speech and think of Paul warming up the crowd like a late night talk show host’s opening monologue. “You see, in Paul’s world, the hottest commodity was honor or reputation. It wasn’t dying with the most toys that mattered—it was dying with the highest number of honors recognized by the most number of people, popularity through status and virtue.” On that score, Paul definitely bucked the trend.
  • Worship Leading for the Benefit of the Congregation – I know music-related articles are ubiquitous, but in many congregations, the worship time is more than half of the total service. This article by Carlos Whittaker was refreshing. “If you have a tendency to want to make out on the first date, keep it to your love life, not your song selection. Oceans is a great example. Our church introduced the bridge to that song mixed in with other choruses. We took it slowly. I know some friends that, although eventually catching on, that song was almost lost because they did it TOO MUCH TOO FAST …” Four overlooked steps in choosing songs.
  • When the Script Differs from the Scriptures – Not sure what it says about the forthcoming movie Exodus: God and Kings if the actor playing Moses finds him to be “likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life.” Matt Perman writes, “That is quite something to say about one of the greatest figures in at least two major world religions…” A quick look at the movie’s namesake sets the record straight.
  • The Gift of Discouragement – These days every kid gets a trophy. We still joke in our house about our oldest’s announcement that his team ‘won the soccer tournament.’ They did not. Not by a long-shot. But sometimes raw honesty can be a gift to your child. “[M]y mom told me I stunk as a pitcher. After that, I quit pitching. In today’s parenting culture, my mother would be raked over the coals for not being encouraging enough or supporting me or helping me dream big.” But discouragement is not disheartening.
  • When It’s Time to Leave Your ChurchEvery story plays out differently, and local and denominational policies may mean having to work within a fixed process. Much seems to depend on the attitude with which the task is approached. “It was both a matter of integrity and practicality to immediately inform a handful of the most obvious leaders of our church of my plans to transition out. Soon after, I invited them to my home and asked them to guide my decisions by becoming my personal ‘transition team.’ From that first monthly meeting, every decision would be a “we” decision, which paid off later for the church.”
  • Thanksgiving is More Religious Than Christmas – Last week I spoke with a woman whose family—and extended family—exchanges gifts the first week in December, in order that the focus on Christmas Day itself will be all about Christ. I thought of her when I read this article, though as the new car advertisement says, ‘Your mileage may vary;’ we each experience the holidays differently in our family, economic and cultural contexts. See if you agree with 7 Reasons Thanksgiving is Way Better Than Christmas.
  • Talking Tech – The next billion people to join the internet won’t be doing so on a Mac, PC or tablet. “Any mission agency, any national church, any ministry, especially in the Majority World, which does not have mobile at the top of its agenda, is failing to understand God’s plan for effective communication.” Hyperbole perhaps, but worth considering.

Then there’s today’s PARSE offerings (send them some stats love and read at source!)

  • A Convert to Short-Term Missions – It was the church choosing who would go that changed Jamie Wright’s mind: “Most of us don’t go to churches who let anybody who feels like it get up and preach on Sunday morning. We don’t let the first guy to jump on stage with a tambourine lead us in worship. We don’t let every volunteer who walks through the door feeling “called” hold our babies on their lap, or – God forbid – count our money! We are constantly making decisions about who should do what within the framework of the church, but we balk at the idea of choosing our missionaries.”
  • Where’s The Faith? – How is it that Downton Abbey, a show set in an era when religious faith was so much more central, seems to skirt the topic? “As a practicing Catholic, perhaps [the program’s writer Julian] Fellowes is suggesting that faith and material riches are incompatible. If that is his point, he’s in good company. Jesus frequently talks in terms that should frighten the wealthy: the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16) or the story of the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12), to whom he said: ‘life does not consist in an abundance of possessions’(Luke 12:15).” “What remains unclear is whether [God’s] omission is a strange oversight or if he’s actually been written out.”
  • Seeker Sensitive Hindsight is 20/20 – At the outset: “I believe that the Seeker Movement was (and still is) a movement of God. It was not a movement without flaws and excesses, but it was a movement that woke us up to the fact that the primary mission of the Church is to make disciples, and that that mission begins with connecting Jesus to those not yet connected to him. …[T]he Seeker Movement put mission back into the center of the life of the church.” On reflection however, there were some byproducts of that emphasis that the writer regrets.
  • One Last Thanksgiving Debrief – Remember that time your high school small group leader asked, ‘What’s the opposite of love?’ and everybody said ‘hate’ and then he explained it’s really fear?  So what’s the opposite of “thanksgiving?” This answer is both surprising and satisfying: “While this may be human nature, nothing good comes of it.  Mark Twain said, ‘Comparison is the death of joy.’  For when we look and see someone else’s blessings, we suddenly have no appreciation of our own.”
  • Getting Back on the Horse – After being airlifted back to the United States and then surviving Ebola, Dr. Rick Sacra wants to get back in the game. The soonest he can go back to Monrovia is January and that’s his intention, especially since he is now immune to the disease. He makes this observation: “I think this is going to have just as big of an impact [as the civil war]. When the Ebola epidemic is over there’s going to be a rebuilding of institutions.”
  • Essay of the Week – First kiss at 24. Married at 36. “I wanted nothing to do with marriage and children of my own because of what I experienced growing up. I was terrified of being bound in a marriage like my parents’ abusive relationship. And since I wasn’t going to have a life partner, I figured that I wouldn’t have children either. I wasn’t about to raise a child on my own. I had to nurture my career first and foremost, because my career had to be number one in my life. I had to devote most of my energy to supporting myself, since I didn’t trust a man to support me. Rely on a man, and he might trap you. Better to be self reliant and safe.” The honest confessions of a late bloomer.
  • The Best Christmas Music in Town – If your church aims for artistic excellence, it’s possible some paid, professional musicians are brought in to augment the church choir and orchestra. But this challenges the notion that God has given the people of that church all of the necessary spiritual gifts they need. Perhaps a lot depends on what exactly you mean by artistic excellence.
  • Canada’s Best Kept Television Secret – Lorna Dueck is host and executive producer of Context, a weekly half-hour documentary format with a live studio audience. Her journalistic skills combine with a good sense of trending topics. On this recent episode, on the rise of “the nones” Canadian pastor Bruxy Cavey meets up with two of the country’s best loved comedians for an interview and then she is joined by the two academic researchers at the heart of Regent University’s Reframe film project.   So… does God have a PR problem? (30 minute video)
  • A Great Script and An Incredible Story – This Kickstarter project is ambitious and involves people with solid experience in various aspects of the motion picture industry. How ambitious? They’re looking for $300,000 just to make the trailer. That would then pave the way for a distribution deal. The animated movie would release in Fall 2017 and show the origins of good and evil began before humanity existed.

Also…

Our graphic is from InterVarsity’s 2100 Productions (click image for more):

Recipe for a Praise and Worship Song from 2100 Productions

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