Thinking Out Loud

August 28, 2019

Wednesday Connect

A packed list this week with about 36 links to stories and opinion pieces carefully chosen. Many of these appeared earlier this week on my Twitter account, as I was attempting using my phone to compile links.

■ I really felt bad this got left off the list last week since it had just been posted. It’s a very candid, very intimate 22 minute interview where Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper talk about death and loss and grief.

■ Reading the Bible from a screen: “…Furthermore, despite findings that digital Bibles result in increased Bible reading by many users, challenges to memory and comprehension ‘persisted even when the frequency of reading actually increased.’ As one survey participant reported, “I probably read the Bible more (more often) but possibly less deeply…”

■ Going Deep: Without doubt the most detailed article I’ve read about the “Render unto Caeser” passage. Adapted from a 2010 lecture, so not new, but it was making the rounds 2 weeks ago.

■ The woman who, in her own words, “was armed only with ‘a library card and a blog,'” Rachel Held Evans is honored at Christian Century, where she receives this comparison: “She is the most influential mainline theologian of her generation, the C. S. Lewis of her time. Ask any seminary admissions officer who their applicants—especially women applicants—have been reading, and you’ll see that the claim is not overstated.”

■ A most transparent confession from Tullian Tchividjian originally posted in February in the context of the anniversary of the death of his grandfather (“Daddy Bill”) Billy Graham and re-posted on Twitter yesterday:

…[T]ears began to flow as I thought about how his hands which gripped so many pulpits also held me as a baby….

…I was in college many years ago…I got down on the floor—face down—and begged God to make me into a man like my granddad. I asked God to keep me humble like him, to make me a man of integrity like him, to develop the same kind of character in me that he developed in him. God’s call put my granddad’s feet on a path from which he never wavered. And he fulfilled that calling without ever being guilty of any sexual, financial, or other moral scandals. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up.

It was amazingly sweet for me to listen to and read all of the tributes that came in, but they were also a sour reminder of how NOT like Daddy Bill I had become. I failed to become like him when I grew up. Having myself been entrusted with a call to preach the good news of God’s boundless love to a broken world, I blew it. I had it all: the influence, the gifts, the charisma, the platform, and the audience. But what I apparently did not have was the character to handle it all

■ Transubstantiation? Okay, I’ll buy in, but how does it work? “…Still, we must admit that Jesus’ insistently realistic language is also very mysterious, too. That the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ is beyond dispute. But how they are so—this most Anglicans choose not to delineate.”

■ Leadership Lessons: For churches in transition, new data from Barna indicates that communication with parishioners is key

■ “[C]an you imagine joining a Christian institution that limits your constitutional right to free speech as an American citizen?” That’s the case at Louisana College, a Baptist school, with its “chilling” new social media policy.

■ More on the Preachers in Sneakers: “Almost half of people on earth live with a combined household income of £2 a day. I can complain about the super-rich all I like. But what would the world’s poor make of the fact I just spent £3 on a takeaway coffee this morning?

■ Over the years one of my most frequently ‘linked-to’ authors here has been J. Lee Grady. He travels widely and knows the state of the church globally. To North Americans he writes,

…Methods we used just 10 years ago have become embarrassingly ineffective. Our “box” may work for some people, but we need fresh strategies. In the United States, we’ve developed a church model that discourages authentic New Testament discipleship. We assume that just because we have cool stage lights, huge projection screens and contemporary worship music, we are on the cutting edge of what God is doing. But the truth is we are stuck in an old-fashioned rut.

We are building monolithic, top-down structures instead of spreading the gospel outwardly in multiple directions. We are afraid to empower people to branch out into their own ministries because we need everyone to stay in their padded seats to support a system that is expensive and underperforming

■ Provocative Headline of the Week: “Josh Harris & Sola Homeschoola” wherein the author says, “His apostacy wasn’t a result of slow rot from bad or weak doctrine, it was a matter of being convinced he was converted when he never was. The self-deception was so deep and took such a firm hold of him that he pursued vocational ministry…”

■ A bookseller in Iran has been sentenced to 3 months plus a day for selling a Bible.

■ After we’d posted last week, the story came out about the Mexican pastor shot and killed waiting in his car after a service had ended. (A quotation in the story says, “he was targeted while in the pulpit,” which has caused confusion.)…

■ …and this past weekend in South Carolina one man was shot when a robber entered the service demanding money before “his gun appeared to stop working.”

James MacDonald returning to ministry? …

■ …meanwhile Moody Radio cancelled an appearance by Vertical Worship on the MBI campus due to the worship ministry’s “financial ties” to MacDonald.

■ Analogy of the Week: Comparing the congregational singing to the kiss at the end of the date.

■ IVP has issued an anniversary edition of Philip Yancey’s Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, written with Dr. Paul Brand, now titled Fearfully and Wonderfully: The Marvel of Bearing God’s Image. Enjoy a sample Yancey’s transcript of Dr. Brand’s thoughts. (For you publishing trivia nerds, yes the original was Zondervan, and yes, this one is IVP.)

■ Quotation of the Week: This belongs to Danielle Strickland, “All hands raised in worship should have the dirt of service under their finger nails.” (Twitter)

■ In Real Life: The Pope meets an Autistic girl, but isn’t immediately aware of what her particular challenges include. This article is about dissecting his response.

■ No longer officially premillennial: The Evangelical Free Church of America revised statement of faith says, “We believe in the personal, bodily and glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christianity Today adds, “Whether or not Jesus will set up a literal kingdom on earth for a millennium is left to individual discretion.” (The Canadian counterpart made this decision eleven years earlier.)

■ Burning (or equivalent) Your Record Collection: Alan Noble is now over 360 responses, asking people “What’s the best album you threw away because you felt guilty owning secular music or for some other extra-biblical reason?”

■ At the Movies: CBN reports that “Overcomer surpassed all expectations during its opening weekend with an impressive $8.2 million from just 1,723 screens across the country.

■ Music artists and special guests at the 30th Anniversary of the Southern California Harvest Crusade included For King & Country, Passion, Lecrae, Graham Saber, Jeremy Camp, Phil Wickham, Dennis Agajanian, Chris Tomlin, and Darryl Strawberry. This makes it one of the longest-running evangelistic events in the nation.

■ Question of the Week: “If I’m a Christian, do I have to hate people?”

The Trump Prayer Coin referred to in the article can be referenced at this RNS story from May, 2019.

■ We’re on a Mission from God: The U.S. President did indeed proclaim himself as ‘the chosen one.’ “…You can see the problem. The president’s self-congratulatory moments resulted in real consternation for both atheists and believers alike.

■ On the consequences of sin: Somewhere shortly after the 13:00 mark in this video, Greg Boyd states, The seeds of the punishment of sin are built into the sin itself.”

■ And while we’re linking to sermon videos, I don’t preach often, but here’s the audio with the slides for a sermon on Philippians 2.

■ Charisma Magazine unearthed a 2014 by The Meeting House pastor Bruxy Cavey to remind us of the foolishness of trying to set rapture dates. (To clarify, Bruxy wasn’t setting dates either.)(Yes, that’s his dog in the corner of the screen, but that was a one-off, George doesn’t usually come to church.) 

■ Our Changing World: Remember, this is a Baptist Church.

Rob Bell’s ‘Introduction to Joy’ tour is now in the UK.

■ Uberevangelism: I guess once you’ve got them trapped in the back seat, you’ve got a captive audience with whom to share The Four Spiritual Laws.

■ New Music ♫ Leeland’s title song from the album Better Word.

■ Live Music ♫ The Late Show music director Jon Batiste and Tori Kelly perform Amazing Grace without any rehearsal. 

■ New Music ♫ Psalm 121 in Hebrew performed by Joshua Aaron in front of live audience at the Tower of David in Jerusalem, apparently with Aaron Shust on piano.

■ New Music ♫ Rapper Andy Mineo’s I Don’t Need You (in 8-bit visual).

■ New Music ♫ Or, if you’re looking for something at the other end of the musical spectrum from Andy, you’ll enjoy 6-year-old Claire Crosby’s Consider the Lilies. (Thanks to Kathi at SSB for pointing me to her video one year prior for Peace in Christ.)

William Ryan III, formerly with KLTY, is named the new host of “20.”

■ Music News ♫ Heard on radio stations everywhere, Jon Rivers, the host of 20 The Countdown Magazine is retiring after 35 years. On the short audio clip, he also announces his replacement.

■ If the U.S. tariffs against China proceed, Bibles and religious books are now exempt. (But all that kitschy giftware could get hit hard. No more Willow Tree for you.)

■ Usually I report things here, but now I’m looking for feedback. Has anyone been watching The Righteous Gemstones on HBO? Here’s what you’ve been missing.

■ Dumbest Excuse Ever: It’s the dog’s fault the black woman didn’t get the job at the church. Because the dog is racist. Right.

■ Finally, Church of the Holy Redeemer has decided it’s time for a re-brand. “After much effort I have solved this enormous enigma. Recently I commissioned a heterodox marketing firm with no understanding of what it means to be the church to help us become a more appealing church to the unchurched in our midst.” Video below (or if it’s not showing, here.) “We must choose a church name that is both meaningless and meaningful.”


Check out that cover!
Order your copy today!

3 Years ago, on Facebook, Jon Acuff had so many questions about this sign.
1. Do sheep die when you make a sweater? I thought they just got a haircut. I’ve been completely wrong about sweaters my whole life.
2. Vegans can’t wear wool? I’m just going to say right now that if the Vegan recruitment pamphlets said “Go vegan, wear more polyester!” signup numbers would drop.
3. Can I please meet the “daring one?” How amazing is that description of a sheep? I see an old farmer with his son leaning against a fence. “Careful with that sheep over there son. That’s Carl, the daring one.”
4. Can I post this without the Internet getting all offended? Am I like the daring sheep? I am!


  1. I really like Joshua Aaron. Thanks for making me want to dance

    Comment by Angie — August 29, 2019 @ 7:15 am

  2. Yes… love the music from the Tower of David… thank you…

    Comment by dgraceofgod — August 31, 2019 @ 7:32 pm

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