Thinking Out Loud

May 1, 2019

Wednesday Connect

So there was no way we were going to a story about leggings without shopping around to see if there was a Christian equivalent of the mainstream fashion item. We found this one at…

…and this one, too which at least doesn’t have a crotch print. Christian t-shirts? That’s so last year. More leggings here.

After a week’s absence, welcome back! I’m working on a borrowed computer for this edition, with my own still a shadow of its former self. Since there was no post last week, this might be longer. And remember, if we’re not here, there’s always Twitter. 

Also, since we last met #PrayForRHE has become a rallying cry for Christians around the world lifting up prayer for author and speaker Rachel Held Evans. On April 19th, husband Dan wrote, “During treatment for an infection Rachel began exhibiting unexpected symptoms. Doctors found that her brain was experiencing constant seizures. She is currently in the ICU. She is in a medically induced coma while the doctors work to determine the cause and solution.” She’s been in three facilities and is currently being weaned out of the coma as I write this. Updates from Dan at her blog.

Must reading: Things to think about before stopping a random disabled person in the street and offering to pray for their healing. (This BBC article is longer, but worth the time.) Were he physically incarnate again, would Jesus heal today in the same manner as he did in the Gospels?

■ Another one going off the rails? Highly respected for his work in founding anti-pornography ministry, Craig Gross has launched Christian Canabis and recommends weed as an aid to worship. No it’s not a month-late April Fool’s story; it appeared Monday in The Christian Post. The quote: “I’ve never lifted my hands in a worship service ever, ‘cause I was raised Baptist. … I’ve done that in my bathroom worshiping with marijuana by myself.”

■ Absent from the body: The British and Australian approach to dead bodies differs from the American penchant for embalming and displaying the body of the deceased. Michael Frost reflects on what this means, especially in this post-Lent season.

■ Important reading: Everything your church team — at all levels — needs to know about ministry to step-families (i.e. blended families). All the family life dynamics are unique.

■ Available for viewing: When Christianity Today published James MacDonald’s apologetic for suing other Christians, two people wrote well-considered op-eds — if you don’t know the term it’s like “equal time” for the opposing viewpoint — in response. Now you can read both of those pieces at Wartburg Watch.

■ This Ramadan, many Muslims are choosing to follow Christ. “It is one thing for a Muslim to begin the journey of faith in Christ, but another to keep pressing on in this journey, year after lonely year. If they are rejected by their birth community without really finding a new community in Christ, they are left isolated and vulnerable. They need Christ’s followers to be new ‘family’ to them.” 

Tribute: In one of his best articles yet, Carey Nieuwhof asks who will replace Eugene Peterson and others like him when that generation passes from the scene. Seven important things that people of Peterson’s ilk have in common.

■ World Watch: Updates on past killings/abductions in Kenya and Nigeria where despite the fact that half of the girls abducted were freed, 112 are still missing

■ More political than I like to get here: The National Review notes that cozying up to the President as Franklin Graham has done comes at a cost to Evangelicalism.

■ The new battleground for the church: …[wait for it]… Leggings! “The only thing people like more than wearing leggings is getting mad about leggings. In the sphere of public debate, leggings have become the symbol of slipping standards.”

■ Plagiarism of Sermons: A “time honored Baptist tradition.” (Even after the story illustrations have been proven to be hoaxes.) 

■ As one reader so eloquently commented, “This is classic Michael Spencer, where he dared to ask difficult questions of himself and dared to expose some of his own garbage. Indeed, what do we do with sins that we’ve been forgiven of by God, yet others not so much (and not so much maybe with good reason)?” Discover the transparency of the late founder of the blog Internet Monk

Worth Applauding: Pathway Church in Wichita, Kansas purchased the medical debt of 1,600 families in their area. Lead pastor Todd Carter told the church on Easter Sunday, “I want you to imagine for a moment what those 1,600 people felt like last week when they got that letter in the mail. What was going on in those houses when they got that letter in the mail and all of a sudden they realize that their debt, this debt that has been hanging over their head has been forgiven… that’s exactly what God in the person of Jesus Christ wants you to feel each and every day – that your debt has been forgiven.”

■ Thanks, but no thanks: “Eight teenagers, aged 13 and 14, who make up this year’s confirmation class at First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Neb., stood before the congregation on Confirmation Sunday (April 28) and read a letter saying they do not want to become members at this time. The teens said they took their stand on principle because they believed the denomination’s vote to uphold and strengthen its ban on LGBTQ ordination and marriage to be ‘immoral’ and ‘unjust.’

■ Ripple Effect: It is now being reported that child and teen suicides spiked after the airing of 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. The third season is about to begin.

■ Tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches: “Sadly, a lot of a church ministry strategy uses the tomato sandwich method. These strategies get people into programs, but the programs don’t bring lasting heart change.” This essay reminds me why J.D. Greear is such a good writer. Is your church using the wrong ministry strategy?

■ Opinion: Will your church be alive in ten years? “61 percent of American churches have fewer than 100 members. Many of these small churches are in a death spiral, but it is not the size of the congregation that creates the trajectory toward death.”

■ Homeschooling: Not for the benefit of the children as much for the benefit of the parent: “One of the primary means by which God works out the selfishness and carnality in our lives is by allowing crisis into our lives to show us what we are truly like. To accomplish this more effectively, God hand-crafted customized little button-pushers, who are strategically designed to bring out the worst in us.” There is a great principle here, even if you don’t homeschool, or don’t even have kids.

■ Under-reported: An attack on a [Protestant] church in Burkina Faso killed five people on Sunday, local media reported. At least two other people were missing, according to a security source cited by the AFP news agency.

■ The problem with online dating sites: The first thing you see is a picture. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting.” [Warning: Another example of a great article rendered in that washed out light gray font someone thought was cool. I guess nothing is black-and-white anymore.]

■ Jory Micah doesn’t like the idea of God as a man. And truly God is neither male nor female. However, there is that nagging thing where incarnate, “he” showed up as a man not a woman. A to-be-expected Reformed rant (their word, not mine) responding to Jory’s “If God is a Man, Count Me Out” campaign.

American Gospel is the title of a 1 hour, 20 minute film on how Christianity has changed in the United States. It’s available free online in a full version or a one hour version. (The short version linked is actually the first 40 minutes of the film followed by endorsements. May contain Calvinism.)

Essay of the Week: Even adults encounter bullies. If you’ve been in a situation like this, the article will resonate, but it might also raise your blood pressure. “Maybe you’ve had something similar happen to you. Maybe you’ve been angered by mean people and have wondered why they can get away with it. It’s easy to walk away from this situation and chalk people like her up to the bullies of the earth. But that’s too easy.”

■ No, not kidding: Canada, which just this week won the award for “Best Bank Note” for its new $10 bill, is releasing a gay $1 coin. (The coin itself has no sexual preference.) “The Royal Canadian Mint has released a commemorative one-dollar coin… to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of the LGBTQ community.”

■ New Music ♫ – Sarah Kroger – For Us

■ New Music ♫ – Matthew West – Unplanned (from the movie) 

■ New Music ♫ – How Great Thou Art – Caleb and Kelsey (from Anthem Lights)

■ New Music ♫ – Unspoken – Human Condition

■ You won’t get an actual schedule of speakers for the 2019 Wild Goose Festival until a few weeks before the event, but there are clues here and here and here. (Why promote when you can tease?)

■ A bake shop employing girls in Thailand is an alternative to working in the sex trade. “Baking is cutting edge in Thailand. Most people do not have ovens in their homes. But cafes are becoming trendy and baked goods are in high demand. A kitchen where the girls can learn to bake will open the doors for incredible job opportunities in the future.”

■ Most provocative headline of the week: “BYU speaker comes out during commencement speech.” (BYU, or Brigham Young University is a Mormon school.) He said he is “proud to be a gay son of God.”

■ Harvest Bible Chapel: Responding to the ECFA (financial oversight organization) in the pages of the Chicago Tribune. Is this sticking a finger into the dyke or are they on a path toward fixing things once and for all?

Veggie Tales is back in the hands of the original creative team. “Brand-new episodes of VeggieTales are on the way, courtesy of a partnership between Trinity Broadcasting Network and Big Idea Content Group. Each episode will remain true to the classic VeggieTales brand to deliver clever storytelling, Biblically-based lessons, and memorable songs.” 

■ Finally, a peek inside the minvan with this Family on the Way to Church:

■ Well, that was depressing. Let’s try a different “finally…”

■ Bonus Twitter item


  1. Hey, Don’t forget Focus of the Family will be in Time Square this Sat.

    Comment by Andie — May 1, 2019 @ 1:49 pm

  2. On the subject of plagiarism: at a private Christian boarding school (the one I met Michael Spencer at since he is mentioned in this week’s listing) I had the privilege of listening to one my sermons. We had a daily chapel service and as I listened to the text I thought “Oh, it’s only been a couple of weeks but this guy is going to preach on the same text again.” I thought maybe he had not been there that day and I looked forward to seeing if he handled the material any differently. It was not just the same passage of scripture, he went on to make the same points I had made just two weeks earlier. He had definitely been there that day. I casually asked him about at lunch. He remarked that it seemed very familiar but he didn’t know why.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — May 2, 2019 @ 10:51 am

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