Thinking Out Loud

March 28, 2015

Weekend Link List

Filed under: links — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 am

animal grace dinner

Featured Stories and Articles

Adding a Millennial to Your Church Staff - “Very few churches have senior pastors age 35 or younger, and most pastors on staff at a church under 35 are probably going to be youth pastors, which is fine. That’s normal… There isn’t a problem with a church not having many Millennials on its staff, because most of them are still pretty young—even as young as 15. I’m in the middle of the Millennial generation and I’m only 24, which is pretty young for a pastor of any type. The problem arises, however, when churches are unwilling to hire Millennials and the demographic of church leadership isn’t reflective of the community. If your church is large enough to have more than just a senior and an executive pastor, you should really consider hiring someone born between 1980-2000.”

Bobby Schuller Talks Candidly About Ministry and Family Dynamics - “Everybody thinks the Crystal Cathedral is the greatest thing my grandparents built, but it wasn’t. It was the Hour of Power. The huge reach of that ministry is amazing. The fact that God kept it intact is such a great thing. I miss the Crystal Cathedral, but honestly, my message is so grassroots and people-oriented that the design of the Crystal Cathedral, as amazing as it was, was probably not a good fit for me as a person. I was used to preaching barefoot in an American Legion Hall with no pulpit, Calvary Chapel-style. With the Crystal Cathedral I actually felt, in the brief time I was there, like I was a curator of a work of art of something. At some point, it’s almost like it’s a double-edged sword. It draws people. It gives you gravitas as a pastor. It also can be a distraction, I think, for people, where the real value can be put in the building rather than in your faith.”

The Most Important Skill Church Leaders Need - “What is the most important leadership skill in a church? For a pastor of students, kids, worship or a lead pastor to have? The most important leadership skill in any church is recruiting. Who you surround yourself with, who you put on a team, who you hire, who you make an elder. Nothing else matters or makes more of an impact on the life of your church than this. You might wonder, isn’t it prayer? Prayer isn’t a leadership skill. Prayer is a Christian skill. Prayer and the Holy Spirit makes or breaks your ministry. What I’m talking about are the things you as the leader can control and do.” Three problems churches have with this, and three ways to find the right people.

Baby Gone with the Bathwater - “John Shuck is a Presbyterian pastor in good standing who doesn’t believe a single thing you learned in Sunday school… John likes church. He likes singing hymns, dressing up in vestments, and drawing upon the ‘practices and products of our cultural tradition to create meaning in the present.’ …Evangelical preachers have always warned that once you start questioning the Bible there is no logical stopping point, and John Shuck just became exhibit A.  Begin with questioning the virgin birth or the parting of the Red Sea and you will soon be giving the atheists practically nothing to disbelieve.  The baby Jesus goes out with the bathwater and you’re stuck with ‘belief-less Christianity‘.”

On Hating Yourself - “I will admit that I am constantly struggling with self worth. I hate my sin, and I often feel like the worst sinner and the biggest hypocrite who ever lived. I don’t feel qualified or capable to do many of the things God calls me to do. Often times I look in the mirror and hate the person looking back. I beat myself up over every mistake I make and imperfection I have, regardless of how big or small. Without even realizing it I succumb to the sin of pride by constantly focusing on myself and how much I don’t like me, instead of keeping my focus where it should be.”

Sing It Like You Mean It - “If the Holy Spirit’s work in the hearts of His people to stir them up to sing God’s praises is one of the sweetest of all His works then why do so many congregants fail to sing with all of their heart in worship? …In many performance-driven congregations worship teams overpower congregational singing and the singing that happens is akin to the drowned out admiration singing at a concert. …Additionally, too many in our churches are overly self-conscious about what others will think of them if they sing too loudly or, at times, out of key. The messiness of congregational singing is part of the beauty of God using weak and broken people.” The author follows with 5 reasons to sing your heart out.

Sex Ed in Public Schools - “Christian parents would do well to lead the way through the panic and champion the teaching of age-appropriate basics about sex and reproduction and contraception in schools. We should also discuss it openly – without shame or (too much) embarrassment – in the home. This way, our kids can develop a solid theology of sex for themselves, a theology that recognizes sex as a good thing – a gift from God – and a theology immersed in grace. Such a perspective would grasp that when we – or others – misappropriate or misunderstand the gift of sex, it doesn’t forever tarnish or ruin. Sex – and our understanding of it – is never beyond redemption.”

Reading Dallas Willard - “Dallas Willard (1936-2013) has been one of the key evangelical interpreters and provocateurs regarding the important doctrine of formation into Christlikeness… Sometimes due to Willard’s spearheading the importance of spiritual practices among Protestants, he is viewed as having said little else on the topic of Christian formation (Richard Foster claimed that Willard was his mentor on that particular subject, in the acknowledgement section of Foster’s classic book, Celebration of Discipline, HarperSan Francisco, 1978). But there is much more.” Four themes, with quotation from four books.

More Faith-Based Cinema Fare to Follow - Basically, it’s a review of Do You Believe? but Variety’s first paragraph is telling: “The massive profits earned by last spring’s surprise hit God’s Not Dead have emboldened Christian production outfit Pure Flix to finance an entire slate of faith-based fare coming soon to a theater near you.” The review itself wasn’t so great.

In Memory of the Potluck Supper - “For many churches, those days are gone. In those places, the potluck is a thing of the past, something of an embarrassment from our history that we’d like to sweep under the rug. And that’s pretty sad… Food anxiety runs high in this country, and we’ve brought that into our churches… The church needs to eat together. That needs to be a basic part of who we are. And even though it’s inconvenient and messy, I think we need to share our own food, not just go to a restaurant. We need to be involved in the preparation and the clean up. We need to learn what other families find appealing. We need to look one another in the eye and say, ‘God gave me this, and I want to share it with you.'”

Paul is sorry he couldn’t top Wednesday’s T-Shirt link, but promises to keep trying.

 short takes

  • A South Pacific teaching trip to an island nation became a relief effort after Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu
  • Sermon of the Week: Willow’s Steve Carter on The Theology of Social Media. 40 great minutes.
  • LifeWay has pulled 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper and other “heaven tourism” books after a 2014 SBC resolution that the scriptures are sufficient for what we need to know about the afterlife.  (Question: Will LifeWay stick to that resolution when the DVD is released?)…
  • …and a car crashed through the front window of a Family Christian store in Bartlett, TN when 10 customers, 2 staff and 2 children were inside. Remarkably, nobody was hurt.
  • We often speak of the number 666 as the “mark of the beast” but some early manuscripts say the number is 616.
  • Since when does Popular Mechanics cover Bible apps?
  • Astronaut Chris Hadfield was a recent guest on Context with Lorna Dueck.
  • With all the gay rights lawsuits against cake decorators, I’d like to go back in time and find the first person who ever used a cake piping tip to write something on food, and say, “Nooooooooooo!” Meanwhile, a suggested disclaimer: “Compliance with relevant statutory requirements does not necessarily constitute approval of the activities in question.”…
  • …and then there are Gaybies, the children of gay couples. In an Aussie documentary, told from the perspective of four kids, faith enters the trailer at the :48 mark, where one of the kids is reading The Big Picture Story Bible and the local priest saying that “Mom is sinning against God.”
  • If you have never heard Lacey Sturm’s story, she recently guested on Life Today.

March 25, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Today’s graphics are a couple of Cheezburger classics from 2009.

cat-can-part-snow

Is the Modern Offering the Same as Biblical Almsgiving? - “I have never heard an evangelical sermon on almsgiving. Despite countless texts in the Hebrew Bible about generosity toward the poor, the example of the first Christians, and a long tradition of the practice, especially during Lent, I have rarely heard the word mentioned in my adult life as a Christian. ‘Tithes and offerings,’ yes of course, and many are the sermons I have heard about the generic subject of ‘stewardship’ or ‘giving,’ but rarely has anyone explained to me what ‘almsgiving’ means and how it relates to other kinds of giving practices…’Bible-believing’ churches…have gotten the subject of Christian generosity and serving others with our resources all jumbled up… Almsgiving is not grounded in the need to support theocratic institutions, but on the specific call to “remember the poor.”

Fans Continue to Make(up) Pilgrimages to See Tammy Faye - From January in The Witchita Eagle: “Since her death on July 20, 2007, fans and friends of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner occasionally make pilgrimages to where the ashes of the Christian television celebrity were laid to rest. There, they leave the types of cosmetic items – lipstick, mascara – that helped give Tammy Faye her distinctive look. In a Harper County cemetery, remote and unmarked, Tammy Faye’s gravestone is far away from the glamor, controversy and cameras that followed the woman who helped build three Christian television networks…” Widower Ron Messner said, “She was the most common, down-to-earth person you ever saw. The press always made her out to be some nitwit type of person. She was totally different. Her IQ was 165.”

35 Years Later, Bob Jones Retracts Idea of Stoning Gays - The Washington Post quotes him: “I take personal ownership for this inflammatory rhetoric…This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago. It is antithetical to my theology and my 50 years of preaching a redeeming Christ Who came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved… Upon now reading these long-forgotten words, they seem to me as words belonging to a total stranger — were my name not attached.” The retraction came after a petition was begun demanding it.

The Divide Over Franklin Graham’s Facebook Comment - First Graham said, “Most police shootings can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience. If a police officer tells you to stop, you stop. If a police officer tells you to put your hands in the air, you put your hands in the air. If a police officer tells you to lay down face first with your hands behind your back, you lay down face first with your hands behind your back. It’s as simple as that.” Then Jim Wallis responded, “It is not that simple. As a leader in the church, you are called to be an ambassador of reconciliation. The fact that you identify a widely acknowledged social injustice as “simple” reveals your lack of empathy and understanding of the depth of sin that some in the body have suffered under the weight of our broken justice system. It also reveals a cavalier disregard for the enduring impacts and outcomes of the legal regimes that enslaved and oppressed people of color…” Other leaders signed on to his statement, while the discussion plays out in over 1,000 comments at Sojourners. (More coverage at CT Gleanings.)

Small Groups Based on the Sunday Sermon - This is an in-house link to a sister blog of PARSE that really struck a chord because we’ve had the discussion at our house many times over the past few years; and as it turned out, Ed Stetzer wasn’t just trying to sell more LifeWay curriculum: “Proponents of the sermon-based model love the synergy their people get; instead of bombarding them with different messages multiple times in a week, the church is able to hammer again and again the core truths of the week. It creates a greater sense of focus than you might otherwise have; that sense of focus is at least part of the reason for the growth in these types of groups. But with the benefits come a new set of challenges to effective disciple-making through sermon-based groups.”

USA Today Explores the Decline of Sunday School - “Instead of a day of rest, Sunday has become just another day for over-scheduled kids to be chauffeured from sports practice to music lessons or SAT tutoring. It doesn’t help that parents themselves, so overwhelmed by life, are skipping church. ‘You would go to church, and then an hour or hour 15 minutes of Sunday school. It takes up all your morning. It felt like more of a chore for them to go, when you’re giving up some of your weekend and attending school during the week,’ says [LeeAnn] MacNeil. ‘By the time they come home, it’s 12 noon, and when you have a weekend, you want to play with your friends outside and be a kid.'”

On Commercial Christian Publishing - Ed Cyzewski: “When I didn’t reach the sales goals I needed to meet, my future as an ‘author’ hung in the balance. I didn’t know how to survive without the approval of others for my work. Adding in the pressure to make at least some money from book publishing, I had created a toxic mixture of personal approval and financial pressure that poisoned my writing work… I never knew how tightly I was holding onto commercial publishing as the source of my identity until I let go of it.”

How Your Sponsored Child Picture is Taken - Some of the Compassion International children have never had their picture taken before and so it’s a pretty big deal.“They feel so excited to take the pictures that they come jumping and dancing to the project. At the time of their photo shoot, they become more serious, and we have to keep telling them to smile. Otherwise, they are enthusiastic.”

Men, Sinful Cravings, and Pornography - Two related articles; first, one by J.D. Greear when you wonder why God doesn’t simply remove the cravings: “[S]ometimes God allows us to struggle with a lesser sin to keep us from a greater one—pride. Because if you or I were immediately cured from certain sins, we’d become insufferably proud.” Second, Dave Jenkins with six essential ingredients necessary in repentance from porn: “The porn addict lives in a world where they go through a cycle of feeling sorry for what they did, but never coming to see the gospel seriousness of what they have done.”

Ten of the Worst Christian T-Shirts - and we’re sure there were plenty of runners up. “I’ve always found American Christian culture’s diminishment of the sacred to be extremely troubling. In a manner foreign to other faiths, evangelicalism often obscures the holy in a cloud of kitsch. Take, for instance, the Christian t-shirt. Now here’s a phenomenon that serves absolutely no purpose. Oh, I know that they’re sold as powerful tools for evangelism, but let’s be honest. Have you ever met someone who saw a ‘Lord’s Gym’ t-shirt and fell to the ground crying, ‘WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED!?‘”

Song of Solomon’s Ideal Woman - “At first glance, this might look like nudity. But I promise it’s just gazelles.” Okay, but it may not be safe for the church office. (And yes, we remember the Wittenburg Door version.)

A Refreshing Musical Voice - This time last week we had never heard of Heather Janssen who has been posting videos to YouTube for six years. Enjoy a minimalist acoustic guitar cover of Hillsong’s This I Believe, or the fuller grand piano sound of an original song.

I had enough material this week for two columns; be sure to check back on the weekend for more.

funny-dog-pictures-jesus-shepherd

March 21, 2015

Weekend Link List

Spring Retail Comic

Tony Campolo Speaks Candidly About Bart Campolo - “I really could have done a better job of nurturing my son in the ‘nurture and admonition of the Lord.’ I could have spent more time listening to him and answering his questions. Sadly, what is done in time is irrevocable.” But then there’s this: “He brings to that humanist community all the zeal, and then some, that I have tried to bring to the preaching of a holistic gospel all the many, many years of my life. He pointed out that the secular humanists on campus had very little in the way of community, and he hoped that something of the sense of community that he felt as a teenager in an evangelical youth group might be evident among these University of Southern California students. He unashamedly declares that he wants the secular humanists to have something of a sense of mission, which he sees as all too absent among them.”

The First Church of TED - New York Times: “I grew up among Christian evangelicals and I recognize the cadences of missionary zeal when I hear them. TED, with its airy promises, sounds a lot like a secular religion…A great TED talk is reminiscent of a tent revival sermon. There’s the gathering of the curious and the hungry. Then a persistent human problem is introduced, one that, as the speaker gently explains, has deeper roots and wider implications than most listeners are prepared to admit. Once everyone has been confronted with this evidence of entropy, contemplated life’s fragility and the elusiveness of inner peace, a decision is called for: Will you remain complacent, or change?

We Have More Contact with Social Media, But We’re More Lonely - “Mental health providers have noticed a significant uptick in ‘skin hunger.’ This is basically the adult version of failure to thrive and the core issue is that so many of us go all day without any meaningful physical or emotional contact with others… Once I started digging I found lonely women in every demographic… I identify several ‘modern day Trojan horses.’ These are things we think are a gift, so we wheel them into the gates of our lives, but eventually they turn and attack the things we most treasure, mainly our relationships. Technology is one of these Trojan horses, but certainly not the only one.”

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? We Do! - “Never mind the outspoken Christian leaders who reject the Big Bang and human evolution; nearly 70 percent of rank-and-file evangelicals in the United States say they don’t see religion and science as being totally at odds, a new survey found… Among evangelical Christians, about 48 percent said they see science and religion as complementary to one another, while 21 percent think science and religion refer to different aspects of reality and see them as entirely independent of one another, the survey found.”

Facebook Bans Christian Organization’s Ad - All the advertisement said was, “I Am A Christian – Join the movement at: http://www.YesIAmAChristian.com”.  But Facebook replied, “Your ad wasn’t approved because it doesn’t follow Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines for language that is profane, vulgar, threatening or generates high negative feedback. Ads can’t use language that insults, harasses or demeans people, or addresses their age, gender, name, race, physical condition or sexual preference.” Wait, what? Pressed for clarification a website official replied, “Your ad wasn’t approved because it doesn’t follow our language policies. We’ve found that people dislike ads that directly address them or their personal characteristics such as religion.”

Why The Dones are Done - Small church advocate Karl Vaters copies a list of reasons people are leaving their place of worship, then notes: “None of the things people usually leave the church over are things that actually define the church. The church is two simple things – neither of which almost anyone wants to be done with. The church is people loving Jesus and loving others. When former churchgoers say they’re done with church, they’re seldom actually done with loving Jesus or loving others. What they’re done with is the extras we’ve attached to Jesus and people – often at the expense of the two essentials.”

A Never Ending Supply of Made-Up Words - “Though I myself find most doctrinal disagreements to be a major snoozefest…I have managed to acquire over the years a small set of really interesting tidbits that for me represent the highlight of the Calvinism-Arminianism debate. It’s the Calminians and the Arvinists! If you take a close look at those two words—Calminian and Arvinist—you’ll see that they are basically the two halves of the words Calvinist and Arminian that have been chopped and glued back together with their rival halves. This right here is the kind of Christian slang that moves me to the edge of the proverbial seat and makes me literally push my glasses higher on the bridge of my nose. This is linguistic gold, ladies and gentlemen.” Then, the author at The Dictionary of Christianese, pursues this in a depth greater than many doctoral theses.

For Those Who Say They Don’t Want a Funeral - “I wanted no funeral. I didn’t want people standing up to testify to what a great guy Stan was. ‘He served Christ so faithfully, for so many years.’ ‘What an example of a godly man!’ If only they knew. If they saw the laziness and self-centeredness and waywardness and mixed motives and mean-spirited thoughts, their accolades would be silenced. I didn’t want hagiography. I didn’t want people testifying to a man they thought they knew, extolling virtues that would be dwarfed by vices. Not having a funeral would avoid a sideshow. But I have changed my mind—for two reasons. One, a friend died. The family decided not to have a funeral, nothing to acknowledge him or his death.  At first I took it in stride, but then it occurred to me that something was not right with that. In not acknowledging his death, they did not acknowledge his life.”

A Defense of Infant Baptism - Kevin DeYoung: “One, the burden of proof rests on those who would deny children a sign they had received for thousands of years. If children were suddenly outside the covenant, and were disallowed from receiving any “sacramental” sign, surely such a massive change, and the controversy that would have ensued, would been recorded in the New Testament… Two, the existence of household baptisms is evidence that God still deals with households as a unit… Three, children are told to obey their parents…Children in the church are not treated as little pagans to be evangelized, but members of the covenant who owe their allegiance to Christ. Four, within two centuries of the Apostles we have clear evidence that the church was practicing infant baptism.”

One for the Road - Last week, Julie Roys’ Up For Debate radio show looked at how Lent has spread beyond its mainline roots with this opener, “Protestants observing Lent is like the English celebrating the 4th of July.” Guests on the one hour program are Bryan Litfin and Carl Trueman.

Top Image: Retail a comic by Norm Feuti (click image to link)
Lower Image: Classic Archie Christian Comic by Al Hartley (click to link)

Archie Al Hartley

 

 

March 18, 2015

Wednesday Link List

I found this at the comics blog, Comic Curmudgeon with this caption: Hmm, Dennis’s teacher takes him aside after class, as if to gently correct him privately, but makes sure to do it while the other children are still in earshot, so that they can snicker at his ignorance! I’d say the menace has become the menaced, except that Dennis managed to get a Sunday School lesson to linger on nudity and shame, so maybe he’s playing a much deeper game here.

I found this at the comics blog, Comics Curmudgeon with this caption:
Hmm, Dennis’s teacher takes him aside after class, as if to gently correct him privately, but makes sure to do it while the other children are still in earshot, so that they can snicker at his ignorance! I’d say the menace has become the menaced, except that Dennis managed to get a Sunday School lesson to linger on nudity and shame, so maybe he’s playing a much deeper game here.

 

Featured Links

Your Church’s Management Culture – Thom Schultz looks at five models, the Family Run church, the Celebrity Centered church, the Deacon Possessed church (I loved that title), the Team Oriented church and the Democracy Weighted church. “Every congregation–and each ministry within it–takes on a style of governance that shapes its work and effectiveness…Sometimes a church’s structure becomes its very focus. People become devoted to the system, rather than to God.”

Navigating a Major Staff Departure – After 16 years of working together, Andy Stanley was so concerned with his friend Joel Thomas’ decision-making conundrum that Andy didn’t initially communicate that he didn’t want Joel to leave. And Joel broke all the rules of disclosure, bringing Andy into the discussion from day one. A 19-minute leadership podcast on what Andy calls Open-Handed staffing.

What Some Christians Think About Christians in Other Tribes - As listicles go, this collection of 10 Myths will make you think. Sample: “Interpretations differ because one party respects the Bible less… [T]his myth rests on the very shaky assumption that respect for Scripture always leads to correct interpretation and application of scripture. Too bad scripture itself doesn’t back this assumption! Apollos fervently respected the Old Testament and teachings of John the Baptist. But his own sermons were off-base enough for Priscilla and Aquila to pull him aside and give him a crash course in the gospel of Jesus.”

Preaching Christologically - Encouraged to “preach Christ in every sermon” hands go up at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with objections to the idealism of this approach because, “my sermon text is focused on a particular doctrinal truth” or “my sermon text is focused on a moral truth and not on Christ” or “my sermon text is focused on a moral truth” or “every sermon begins to sound the same.” The response to these situations is found in something published in 1801.

Confessional Accounts and the Women (and Men) Who Write Them - This precis of an article from The Hedgehog Review begins with Augustine’s Confessions and moves to modern times: “..But now …confessional literature is a consumer product and (usually) female writers are the commodifiers and the commodified… If their work has anything in common, it’s a mixture of self-consciousness and shamelessness… I too have seen Serious Literary Types raise an eyebrow at first-person narrative essays by women as though it was, by definition, evidence of vanity and triviality. When sold or produced as a genre, Women’s Confessional Literature can be a cynical enterprise that capitalizes on voyeurism.”

Parenting with Perspective - Baker Books author Emily Wierenga: “My friend tells me about a family from her neighborhood whose house burnt down in a fire – and they weren’t able to make it upstairs in time to reach their four oldest kids. Four boys. Now in heaven. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever heard. I just weep and weep. Some things are too much and this feels like one of them. No mother should have to outlive one of her children, let alone four … I want to cling to every single one of my children’s moments, good and bad, long and short, messy and smudged with kisses, because I’m never going to look back and miss that Mommy Time.”

Looking Further Down the Worship Road - Songwriter and producer Brenton Brown: “At least two significant challenges face us as worship leaders. The first is that often we become so engaged in the immediate worship needs that we delay beginning the process of developing the leaders around us. Saying ‘yes’ to developing leaders at certain points will mean saying ‘no’ to other ministry opportunities. There will always be need, but if we are to be effective in serving people in worship we need to break out of the survivalist mentality and plan for the long-haul. The second challenge that faces us, more often than not, is our artistic/perfectionist temperaments which seem to rear up at any hint of a possible drop in standards.”

Making Multi-Faith Mandatory in Medicine - Under new guidelines issued this month by the National Health Service in the UK, hospitals would be required to provide atheist chaplains. ““Chaplains already show no discrimination in dealing with patients whatever their background or belief. Providing atheist chaplains is an exercise in pointless political correctness. Taxpayers’ money should not be spent on this misguided attempt to comply with the perceived demands of equality laws, when they are already met by existing services.”

L’Arche Founder Wins Templeton Prize - Americans could be forgiven for not knowing Jean Vanier (or how to pronounce his French name) but are probably more aware of Henri Nouwen who joined L’Arche, the organization Vanier founded, after a career as a Catholic seminary professor. L’Arche, founded over 50 years ago became “an international network of communities for mentally disabled people” and last week it was announced that Vanier has “won the 2015 Templeton Prize worth $1.7 million for affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” Vanier has 22 books currently in print (in English) including the popular From Brokenness to Community and the 10th anniversary edition of Becoming Human and is known for affirming the dignity of developmentally challenged adults.

Rolling in the Deeps - Why anyone would go to the trouble of crafting a religious sculpture and then placing it out of sight underwater is anyone’s guess, though in this collection of five such placements we’re told that two of them were: “placed underwater by local officials to help discourage fishing techniques that use explosives. Since fisherman know the statues are down there, they don’t use dynamite.”

One for the Road - The artist currently known as Prince has covered a 2005 song by Christian artist Nicole Nordeman. Her reaction.

And-on-the-7th-day

Short Takes

We end with long-time favorite cartoonist John McPherson:

close-to-home-on-blogging1

March 11, 2015

Wednesday Link List

This isn't related to anything that follows, it's just here... because.

This isn’t related to anything that follows, it’s just here… because.

Featured Links

Passivity, Submission, Bullying and Christian Womanhood – “As I grew up, I watched my Christian mother take a lot of emotional and verbal abuse…from my father and my older siblings, from people at church, her own siblings (my aunts and uncles), and neighbors. My mother rarely stood up for herself when she was treated poorly… I was also being taught to bottle up all my anger and never speak up on my own behalf, if mistreated. I was taught that the bully’s feelings were more important than my own… After many decades of living like this, when I got to adulthood I had no clue how to deal with conflict…Sometimes it took weeks, months, or years before I even recognized that I was being used or being treated poorly by someone because my mother (and Christian literature, sermons, Christian books, magazine articles, etc) had taught me to never think about myself, my feelings, or my needs, but to be intently ‘outward-focused,’ always striving to meet other people’ s needs because to do anything less was supposedly ‘selfish.’…I also had no skills or practice at how to handle conflict. I was taught that conflict was to be avoided, Christian women ought not to debate or argue with anyone nor to be assertive for any reason. This left me vulnerable to being picked on in adulthood with adult predators, as well as being mistreated as a kid by other kids …Many well-meaning Christians and churches unfortunately encourage girls and women to be this way, to think it is pleasing to God, or that God commands all women to be this way…”

Crafting the Best Sermons – Two links here; first an experienced pastor explains his decision to go back to writing full manuscripts: “I’ve found that if I don’t manuscript, I’m not capable of producing the kind of sermon that will live up to the kind of church that we want to see planted.” And then, the practical: “In the old days, before church planting, I’d devote four mornings a week to sermon preparation. On Monday and Tuesday I’d work on exegesis; on Wednesday and Thursday I’d begin to craft a sermon from the exegesis. I now do the same thing, except on one day: Thursday.”

Engaging the Culture: An Open Letter to Hozier, composer of Take Me To Church - “I had to find out more about you to understand why someone would write such lyrics. According to interviews you seem to have animus toward the Catholic Church and definitely an issue with Russia’s laws against homosexuals. Still to indict all of Christianity seems quite harsh. It is worth noting you wrote this song when you were only 22-years-old. Your fellow Irish rocker Bono has arrived at a very different view of the Church and Christianity with a few more years of life experience. Maybe given some time and a few more interactions with Christ followers you might have a change of heart.”

The Weather Impacts Church Revenues - “‘You have this perfect storm of people not being able to go to worship and so not bringing in offerings, combined with much higher than usual costs,’ Cindy Kohlmann, who works with Presbyterian churches in Greater Boston and northern New England, told the Associated Press. She told the news service that the financial toll might force some of the 60 Presbyterian churches in the region to close. Other denominations and religions told the AP of similar predicaments.”

Dawkins: Your Devotional Time with the Kids is Child Abuse  - “Richard Dawkins has said that children need to be protected from ‘religious indoctrination’ by their parents. The prominent atheist claimed that being brought up in a religious household prevents young people from being ‘properly educated’. Professor Dawkins, a well known evolutionary biologist, has previously caused outrage by remarking that teaching a child orthodox Christian beliefs about life after death is tantamount to ‘child abuse’.”

And Now for Something Completely Different – You don’t have to know exactly what Biblical Philology is to appreciate the self-congratulatory nature of this academic’s knowledge of the original sacred texts.

Don’t Fund-Raise Your Missions Trip on Social Media Alone - “It won’t be enough to just promote your mission trip through social media platforms. Fundraising will cost you time, work, money, and personal comfort. Be careful not to go the path of least resistance. Social media is the easiest way to get the word out to lots of people at once, but easy doesn’t always mean effective. Don’t shy away from the hard work of communicating with individuals, organizing events, doing extra jobs, and all kinds of other creative ways people have come up with missionary support.”

Museum of the Bible - “When it opens in late 2017, just about every aspect of the planned Museum of the Bible – the building materials, doorways and common areas – is intended to bring to mind the Holy Land or stories from the Bible itself. Hobby Lobby president Steven Green, in search of a home for his museum, purchased the building for $50 million… in Washington, D.C., located a few blocks from the Capitol and the National Mall.”

A Crisis in Cosmology – A new film, The Principle is now showing in selected markets and available for presentation in your city. “Dark Energy as we call it is the greatest mystery in all of creation.” “Science has said you must stay over in this category here, you’re not to go over into the God category, because that’s going to destroy our science.” “You can go on websites…NASA has started to take down stuff that might hint to a geocentric universe.” “We find ourselves in a part of the universe that is perfectly tuned to life.”

Quest Church Purchases the former Mars Hill Ballard - Eugene Cho writes, “No one could have imagined the situation at Mars Hill turning out the way that it turned out. When we first heard that the building would be available on the market, we met with their team and they expressed their desire to sell to a church if possible. They received a total of 10 offers – 9 from developers with tenants in tow and one from Quest. We weren’t the highest offer but we offered flexible conditions. They were true to their word for which we are grateful.”

The Worst Book Ever Written About Jesus -  Sadly, books like this are far too common, and often appear shelved at Barnes & Noble next to works more worthy of respect. Customers lacking discernment don’t know the difference. “For example, the authors argue that a celibate man in first-century Galilee would have been shocking, so Jesus must have been married. While overstated, we can follow their intended logic. But they also maintain throughout the book that Jesus’ marriage was so scandalous that it had to be covered up. So which was it? Was Jesus’ sexuality scandalous to his first followers or not?”

Frank Viola, The Songwriter - Who knew? And the song is good, though the tune is borrowed. border

Short Takes

Chris Rice once asked, "What if cartoons got saved?" Now Dan Pagoda asks, "What if cartoons were pastors?" Click the image to see all five.

Chris Rice once asked, “What if cartoons got saved?” Now Dan Pegoda asks, “What if cartoons were pastors?” Click the image to see all five.

 

 

March 8, 2015

Weekend Link List

Filed under: links — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:42 am
The cover of Canada's national Evangelical magazine. Click the image to see more.

The cover of Canada’s national Evangelical magazine. Click the image to see more.

Featured links

The Two-Man Men’s Fellowship - “Some years ago I knew of a young man with what was, to all appearances, a fine and stable Christian walk. After leaving home, he fell badly, and unrepentedly. His parents were utterly heartbroken. Knowing this situation led me to reconsider what I was doing with my son Josiah, who was nearing his teen years. Proactive is my watchword, when I can help it. Nothing brews a more bitter cup than regrets, and my own mistakes and follies have served up quite enough of it as it is. Josiah was around twelve, and a professed Christian. I thought: ‘What better text than Proverbs?’ And so the Two-Man Men’s Fellowship was born.”

The Man Who Can’t, Speaks - Of all the interviews Martin Pistorius has done for his book Ghost Boy the one I had to catch was a 32-minute exchange with Canada’s most listened-to, and most controversial spiritual radio host, Drew Marshall. The interview aired on February 28th, but in a first for The Drew Marshall Show, was also recorded as a Skype call, with Martin’s responses to the pre-submitted questions supplemented by a few spontaneous additions. This week the video was posted on YouTube.

America’s Next Top Preacher? - “The national contest invited students interested in preaching and teaching to submit five-minute videos for review… The ultimate goal: to inspire more young Christians to devote their lives to sharing God’s word… No one was looking for a golden ticket to Hollywood, but 40 semifinalists were chosen to work with “mentor preachers” and fly to a recent two-day training event — either at Pepperdine or at Johnson University in Kissimmee, Fla. Contestants were evaluated based on content, creativity, clarity and passion. ‘You know, there are all these reality shows on TV,’ Jeff Walling said. ‘But instead of judges, we have coaches because we are trying to say, ‘No winners and losers here.'”

How Islamic is The Islamic State - “Writings by the group’s clerics and ideologues and its English-language online magazine, Dabiq, are full of citations from Quranic verses, the Hadith and centuries of interpreters, mostly hard-liners. But these are often taken far out of context, said Joas Wagemakers, an assistant professor of Islamic Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, who specializes in Islamic militant thought. Muslim scholars throughout history have used texts in a ‘decontextualized way’ to suit their purposes, Wagemakers said. But the Islamic State goes ‘further than any other scholars have done. They represent the extreme,’ he said. It would be a mistake to conclude the Islamic State group’s extremism is the ‘true Islam’ that emerges from the Quran and Hadith, he added.”

Do Not Do This - Lee Grady on ten of the biggest mistakes people make on the mission field. Sample: “Talking down to people – You are not going overseas to teach poor, ignorant foreigners what you know. If that’s your attitude, do everyone a favor and stay home! You are going to serve. Most of what I know about ministry I learned from humble people I met in other countries. Whether you are teaching, preaching, building orphanages or feeding the poor, get under the people and wash their feet. And expect to learn powerful lessons from the people you are visiting.”

The Presbyterian Exodus Continues - “Google ‘Presbyterian Church USA’ and on the first page there are links to stories about presbyteries around the country voting on whether to amend the denomination’s Book of Order ‘to change the language defining marriage as a contract between a man and a woman to a contract between ‘two persons.’ …Asked directly if the decision to allow gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual individuals to be ordained by the 2010-2011 vote of the presbyteries was the reason the session decided to pursue leaving the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., [New Providence Senior Pastor Jeff] Ebert said, ‘Personally, I don’t think that issue would be a reason to leave.’ What Ebert considers good reasons are theological divisions on ‘the authority of the Bible,’ and defining the work of Christ, which he called ‘essential beliefs.'”

Donald Miller Talks to Pete Wilson - “Shame… at some point all of us growing up something happens where we learn –whether true or not —  that we don’t belong; or there’s something wrong with us, there’s a fatal flaw, if people knew it they wouldn’t accept myself. It’s a loss of innocence… Then what happens is  you cover the shame with something that you’ve figured out could get you acceptance. For me it was humor and intelligence. If I could be funny and smart then I had a reason to be in the room… Intimacy is, cut the personality tricks, cut the shame and let somebody really get to know you.”

Tyndale House Book Coming to Big Screen - “Sony subsidiary Affirm Films and Mass Hysteria Entertainment are teaming on a movie based on the memoir The Devil in Pew Number Seven. The book, written by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo with Bob DeMoss, was published by Tyndale House Publishers in 2010. Alonzo recounts her story of losing her parents when they stood up against evil within their church — a man obsessed with controlling the congregation who was determined to get rid of anyone who stood in his way.”

A Short, Final Debrief of Ash Wednesday - “There are two ways Christians have looked at matters like this historically: (1) if it not expressly allowed in Scripture, it is forbidden; and (2) if it is not forbidden in Scripture, it is allowed.  Some Christian groups adopt (1) as their guiding principle; others adopt (2).  Both groups I think are interested in the right thing.  They want to step into the story of Scripture and make it their own.  They just do so in different ways.”

Holy Days are Holidays - Do your kids know they can get a day off school the first week in September for “Nativity of Mary” day? Or November 1st for All Saints Day? In New Jersey they can. “New Jersey’s Board of Education today reviewed the list of religious holidays for which schools must allow excused absences beginning next fall. The list, which is updated annually, includes more than 120 holidays for the 2015-16 school year. Students must present a written excuse signed by a parent or guardian.” Check out what religious pluralism hath wrought in the Garden State.

Short takes

March 4, 2015

Wednesday Link List

 

Read the screen carefully: The modern Evangelical religious establishment probably wish this is how the text read.

Read the screen carefully: Some who are part of the modern Evangelical religious establishment probably wish this is how the text read.

Don’t forget to read the short-takes following the featured links…

Sundays are Still the Worst - A year ago here we linked to a website dedicated to stories of servers in restaurants who are forced to deal with an influx of church-goers whose behavior is abominable. Sundays Are The Worst still gets submissions, but this recent one shows in great detail what all this looks like from the other side. ” I wasn’t expecting a tip, but I also didn’t expect any of the nasty notes (calling me a whore, slut, telling me I’m ugly and too stupid to do anything besides serving, that I was incompetent, that I was going to hell, etc.) from the women. Some of them even finished off their notes by stating that they’d “pray for me to better myself.” But the icing on the cake? The notes from the husbands of three of the women who left their phone numbers for me. This was the experience that ended it for me. In tears, I collected all of the notes, finished clearing up the table, went to my manger and showed him the notes, and told him that I quit, and that I wouldn’t be coming back.”

Essay of the Week: Tradition vs. Nostalgia - “Michael Spencer, having been rooted in Baptist traditions in the American South, used to write just as strongly about churches that were little more than memorials to the ‘good old days’ of the post-war era, when people wore suits and dresses to church, sang the ‘old hymns’ (actually, fairly recent revivalistic gospel hymns), filled age-graded Sunday School classes, heard ‘real preaching’ from the King James Version, and went forward for the invitation. Lots of good in all that, I’m sure. But Michael had seen how wistfulness for all that had killed churches dead. Real dead.”

You Should Feel Like a Room Without a Roof - “I am increasingly convinced that Christianity is an inherently optimistic – and even happy – faith. Now I get it, even as I make that assumption more than a few of you are objecting to it. Your objections are most likely rooted in your view of the depravity of humanity, or your eschatology that believes some level of impending doom is imminent. It also might be true that you know of human suffering – particularly the suffering of other believers who live under regimes and find themselves at the wrong end of the wrath of various non-believers. I won’t contest any of those realities, but I still contend that our faith ought to be optimistic.”

Well Remembered but not Remembered Well – The FBI released 250 pages of documents relating to Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church. On the one hand, “Multiple FBI bulletins describe Phelps as ‘keenly aware of what his rights and limitations are… He and his followers carry a video camera with them to film those who attempt to stop them from demonstrating.'” On the other hand, “The feds also suspected they were dealing with a mental case, according to a 1987 document that stated: ‘[Fred] Phelps was felt by office of origin to be in need of psychiatric care as a result of persons interviewed claimed Phelps to be irrational.'”

Creating Environments for Sex Abuse Recovery - Responding to past article here at Leadership Journal: “In more than a decade of research, almost every article I’ve come across addressing sex offenders in church communities reveals pastors and leaders focusing exclusively on the sex offenders—the theological grounds for their presence, the church’s obligation to care for them, how to support them, how to monitor them, how to protect ministries from potential lawsuits due to their presence, and so on… But offenders are not the only ones in need of a welcome in our churches. Too often when victims/survivors are considered, it is offender focused. Survivors are told they are required to forgive or reconcile with offenders… we must find true empathy for victims/survivors and how sexual abuse has affected them.”

Definitely Not a Midweek Service – A look at a church in Syracuse, NY which holds one of its weekend services on Thursday night: “I started our Early Weekend Service (Thursday, 6:30 p.m.) because I realized what a huge need there was for it.  A third of the American workforce works on the weekend. At least 60% of families with children between the ages of 6 – 17 participate in organized sports, with many of those having weekend events. We are located in an area where a large number of people have camps/vacation homes that affect their attendance during the summer. Throw in both parents working and chores to be done, lawns to be mowed and families just wanting to spend time together, and church on the weekend wasn’t always making it on the calendar.”

Religion and America’s Top Office - “There are arguments for and against our need to know what presidential aspirants believe… Not so long ago, it was enough for most Americans that our culture’s vibrant religious traditions fostered personal morality, civic virtue, public-spiritedness and a commitment to the common good. We expected our presidents to adhere to some faith, but few were obsessed with parsing out his views on specific doctrines…The trouble with making presidents’ religiosity just another weapon in our ongoing ideological war is that we may have ruined religion for presidents themselves.”

Kids, Death and Funerals - The author of this piece notes that, “the biggest segment of disenfranchised grievers are children. Children are disenfranchised for two reasons: their parents haven’t confronted death on a personal level and have become so frightened of it that their natural reaction is to shield their children from the perceived “monster of death.”  And two, parents simply repeat the evasive cliches and religious euphemisms they’ve been taught, leaving kids to believe that the deceased is just “sleeping” or “gone to be with the angels.” Cliches act as an unintentional defense mechanism that often keep the children from full death confrontation and thus grief.” He then offers ten ways to involve the children.

Does This Make Me Look Pious? - “Luma [Simms] opens saying that one of the reasons that she converted to Roman Catholicism was so she could wear a mantilla. She states, ‘The mantilla is a lace veil women have worn over their heads while worshipping God since the time of the New Testament Church.’ But was it? While women did wear head coverings in the New Testament Church, the mantilla is a more recent, fashionable custom that originated from Spain and seems to have made its way into the west around the 1960’s. Women in the New Testament church were not wearing lace.”

The Moral Neutrality of Mathematics - “Surely there’s one thing Christians and atheists can agree on—math. Like dirt and rocks, it’s not good or bad—it’s just a tool. 2 + 2 = 4 no matter what you believe. You don’t need the Bible to appreciate and use tools properly . . . right? I’ve often heard Christians, even Christian teachers, say that some aspects of our lives, such as math, are just tools, neither good nor bad. No “Christian perspective” is required to fully understand and use them…The argument that math is neutral like rocks ignores the fact that God called all creation, even the rocks, good when He created them on the third day…”

No, no, no! It's Omartian. No apostrophe. And pronounced Oh-MAR-Tee An, not like little green men from Ireland. Peoples' names matter.

No, no, no! It’s Omartian. No apostrophe. And pronounced Oh-MAR-Tee-In, not like little green men from Ireland. Peoples’ names matter.

If you’re reading this on its release day, Wednesday March 5th, don’t forget that tonight is the opening night of a very limited run for The Drop Box movie in major U.S. and Canadian cities.

Short Takes:

There is absolutely no reason for Mark "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" Gungor's picture to be here. But he does make you want to smile, doesn't he?

There is absolutely no reason for Mark “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” Gungor’s picture to be here. But he does make you want to smile, doesn’t he? Watch the podcast at markgungorshow.com

February 28, 2015

Weekend Link List

Filed under: links — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:15 am
...and CBD carries this why exactly? The tag "slightly imperfect" fits well, however.

…and CBD carries this why exactly? The tag “slightly imperfect” fits well, however.

Some great stories for your weekend reading:

The Benefits of Bad Preaching  – “My Evangelical friends just don’t get [liturgy], and so I’m always happy when they join me at Mass to experience it for themselves – although I know what the fallout will often be: Scrunched up faces and raised eyebrows as they suffer through seemingly mindless ritual, rote prayers, and the occasional lousy sermon…Indeed, there’s a benefit to mediocre preaching once in a while, and it’s this: The faithful will be all the more likely to focus on what’s most important in the Mass if they aren’t distracted by the brilliant homily. ‘A preacher may be able to hold the attention of his listeners for a whole hour,’ Pope Francis wrote in Evangelii Gaudium, ‘but in this case his words become more important than the celebration of faith.'”

Growing Up Global - A blog devoted to “communicating across boundaries” asked Third Culture Kids (TCKs) to share their experience, producing a number of responses. She writes, “Our shared history is like a puzzle with pieces scattered all over the globe and very few pieces right beside us. I remember a couple of years ago saying to my husband ‘We can’t keep friendships! There is no one we’ve known longer than x number of years.’ but then we thought about it and realize we have so many long term friends, just very few right around us.” She would like to hear from more TCKs about their experience.

The Problem with Religion – While not actually using the R-word a whole lot, Andy Stanley shifts the discussion to the problem with “the temple model” which he defines as one which “grants extraordinary power to sacred men in sacred places who determine the meaning of sacred texts…The heart of the temple model is this question: what must I do or believe to make things and keep things right between God and me? Because at the end of the day, my religion is all about me.” But if this seems demanding fear not, “In temple religion, you will always find a loophole..” Read a summary of the sermon series which wraps up this weekend, or watch the messages at this dedicated link.

The Christian Edition of #SNL40 - Reframe Media has assembled all of the best religious themed skits from Saturday Night Live in one place so you and Church Lady and Father Guido Sarducci can do your own 40th Anniversary show.

It’s All Greek to Me - While admittedly this article is promoting a particular piece of Bible software, it’s a computer program that doesn’t require you to know Greek or Hebrew, though it’s more helpful if you do. The unique feature of the Phrasing software is that you manipulate the text which “allows you to visually trace a passage’s argument: simply indent to subordinate.” A series of five videos explains the methodology with examples in Hebrew, Greek and (for me) English.

Balancing the Load – She and her husband lead an international orphan-care ministry, but she’s also a mother of nine. “Just the other day, I came home from a trip and I could tell the kids were not amused. They were feeling my two day absence. I sat them down and took the opportunity to tell them about an upcoming trip to another country we had just bought tickets for us to experience as a family. Their eyes lit up and I told them, this isn’t a bribe, I am not trying to get myself off the hook from where I have been, I am just telling you honestly that what mom does sometimes costs us as a family and sometimes benefits us. And that’s how most of life will be.”

Reviewing The NIV Proclamation Bible – “In the summer of 1981, 40 men engaged in a preaching ministry gathered at a center in Surrey for a conference on ‘expository preaching’…the “Proclamation Trust” was born and it is this group that is spearheading the release of this new Bible…Tim Keller calls this a “study Bible” and I suppose that term can be loosely applied to any volume, but for me, when I call something a study Bible it has passage notes. It has tools that allow me to “study” the text built into the Bible. This Bible – as far as the text goes – only has chain reference and textual footnotes. This Bible has no actual textual commentary.”

Teaching Memory Verses to Two-Year Olds – “Can we really expect a 4-year-old to recite the memory verse two hours after he heard it in your small group on Sunday morning? Can we expect a 2-year-old to properly pronounce all of those words so that Mom and Dad understand what she is saying? …We can also expect that parents will need to have the memory verse to take home to review, sing, and move along with the words. It is frustrating to a 3-year-old who is trying very hard to tell Grandma about her verse from church and Grandma just doesn’t quite get it. Some type of written version made available to take or send home solves that problem…”

Publishers Who Can’t Stand the Heat Should Get out of the Kitchen – In a scene eerily similar to last year’s God and the Gay Christian, a Christian publishing house has distanced itself from the gay-sympathetic author by canceling publication of a book that was designed to attract a new generation of readers. Brandan Robertson’s Nomad was scheduled for fall release, but Destiny Image’s Don Nori in a ‘nothing to see here’ response dismisses the idea that the cancellation was anything other than financial. It seems they want the revenues that progressive Christian book buyers can bring, but not the ideas associated with them.

Short takes:

Actual things on the internet:

February 25, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Family Circus 02-22-15

First, the PARSE links for Pastor People:

Carl Trueman on Evangelicals as Johnny-Come-Latelys to Lent - “I suspect that the reasons evangelicals are rediscovering Lent is as much to do with the poverty of their own liturgical tradition as anything. American evangelicals are past masters at appropriating anything that catches their fancy in church history and claiming it as their own… I also fear that it speaks of a certain carnality: The desire to do something which simply looks cool and which has a certain ostentatious spirituality about it…” Hmmm…

The Church and Beer Combo Meal - This time it was PBS’ turn to highlight the trend: “At Pub Theology in Washington, most believe that traditional churches are too rigid and confining… It’s estimated there are upwards of 130 church pubs in the US, many more in Europe, and that the number is growing.” But not all clergy interviewed for the story were supportive.

Debriefing the Sermon You Just Preached - Of the four points in this article, the second addresses the great vulnerability of a pastor right after speaking: “Any criticisms you hear need to be received, graciously acknowledged, and then honestly considered, but not one hour after your sermon.  Most of us who have just poured our hearts out in preaching are not at a good place to evaluate criticisms.  Always graciously receive all comments.  However, those comments that may be particularly hard or even harsh to hear are better evaluated after two good nights of sleep.  Write them down.  Leave them on your desk.  Try to forget about them until Tuesday…

New Church Construction at its Lowest Since 1967 - In a four minute audio segment, NPR looks at the house church movement. “The Bible says, ‘What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has has a hymn, a word of instruction, or an interpretation’ — all of this done for the strength of the church,” [Greg] Stultz says. “Where is that being done?” Furthermore, one of the groups would actually qualify as multi-site: “Three years later, Redemption now has three house churches that meet around Bristol. Once a month, they have a group service…”

Memo to Pastors: Knowing Your Audience when You Preach on Sex - “In your congregation are numerous people who have committed adultery. There are hundreds of porn addicts and fantasizers of both genders. We are not a sexually pure people. So please don’t preach like we’re riding on your high horse with you (whether or not you mean to be up there). The Bible is clear about sex and its place in marriage, and it is your job to preach it. But when you stand up there and preach like ‘we all know fornication is evil’ it shames us. When you lay low the adulterers with your scorn it shames them. And are you even thinking of those who became sexually active by force through rape or molestation? How low must they feel when you speak of the “loss of purity” like it’s a candle that was blown out?”

Revisiting the President’s Conversion Story – Within the church we call it a testimony. We call it a conversion. So when Get Religion — a website that reports on how religion is reported — looked at a recent statement by Governor Scott Walker, it also hauled out a 2007 transcript of Obama’s own description of the day he responded to the altar call: “…I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity [United Church of Christ] one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany…But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth and carrying out His works.”

Writing a Book for Limited Distribution - Every once in awhile, an article surfaces which is more than six months old, but would be new to many of you. So even though older things online aren’t as cool as things written yesterday, here are 5 Reasons to Write Books for Your Own Congregation.  Sample: “You know your audience. Few writers get to target so specific an audience because most mass market books are geared for the widest readership possible. But when you write for your own congregation, you can tailor your subject, approach, illustrations, and suggestions to your unique ministry setting.”

Poll Results - Not entirely scientific, but Thom Rainer asked his Twitter followers for reasons why churches today seem to be less evangelistic than in the past. Here’s some random samples: “Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.” “Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.” “Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.” “Some churches have theological systems that do not encourage evangelism.” “Our churches have too many activities…” He grouped the many responses into a list of 15 reasons.

Rob Bell on Gay Marriage - Excerpt: “One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness,” Rob Bell said. “Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.” That statement prompted a question from Oprah: “When is the church going to get that?” “We’re moments away,” Rob Bell said. “I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and co-workers and neighbors and they love each other and just want to go through life with someone.”

40 More Recommended Articles - If you’re a pastor trying to balance vocational ministry with marriage and parenting, David Murray, author of the just released book The Happy Christian has 40 online resources you don’t need to search for.

Counseling for Pastors - “The counselor assumed I was making a referral. He was surprised that I was scheduling myself. That first appointment was so healing, so fresh, so needed… In our next church board meeting I presented a proposal about the church both requiring and paying the cost of each staff member seeing a counselor at least twice that year. After a healthy discussion, they agreed.

Please remember that inclusion of items here or at PARSE does not imply endorsement.

Water into Wine Birthday Card

Short Takes

  • Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas is now a multiple award-winning movie, though these may not have been the type of awards they were going for
  • …In other movie news, the creators of Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Courageous have a new title in the works. Check out the preview for War Room, releasing in theaters August 28th…
  • …But when the history of Christian movies is written, the one story that won’t get left out involves the classic, The Jesus Film, which has now been translated into 1,300 languages.
  • In a more detailed look at Rob and Kristen Bell’s comments on gay marriage, a response from Line of Fire host Michael L. Brown: “So, according to Rob Bell, the Church of Jesus should follow worldly culture and deny the plain teaching of God’s Word in order to be ‘relevant…’ I guess what’s trending on Twitter trumps the timeless wisdom of the living Word of the living God, I guess an emotional appeal carries far more weight than transcendent Truth.”
  • I do not, for one minute, understand what people get from reading Chris Rosebrough, even though I might agree with him on a number of issues. He recently created these faux-billboards. Some of them are funny and also quite true, but what is gained here? Yet, as the author of the piece linked here points out, people do need more discernment. (But I wouldn’t want this to be the tenor of my discernment ministry.)
  • Twitter is reading our tweets. (It’s probably in the agreement when we signed up.) So based on your Twittering, an analysis of the top 100 things we gave up for Lent.
  • Jamie the Very Worst Book-Reviewer on that… that book… which became a movie.
  • A Detroit doctor refuses to treat a baby who has two moms.
  • What to do when you don’t know what to do: Setting personal parameters for the issues that aren’t black and white.
  • This summer, Pope Francis be a plush doll from the same company that does Yankees’ pitcher Derek Jeter and the Green Lantern, Bleacher Creatures, announced just as we’re hearing that a figurine from the Playmobil toy company of Martin Luther — aka “Little Luther” — is shattering sales records.
  • KidMin Korner: Ideas for sharing St. Patrick’s Day with children.
It was a funny joke, and now, apparently, also a product.

It was a funny joke, and now, apparently, it is also a product.

February 21, 2015

Weekend Link List

Pete Wilson is one committed pastor.  Here’s what he did this week to create a sermon illustration:

Now on to your weekend reading:

I don’t usually write an introduction to the news and opinion selections here, but I wanted to say that while it’s not represented in these pieces, it’s difficult to ignore what CNN called “Religion’s Week From Hell.” Our thoughts are with the brothers and sisters worldwide and their families who have experienced horrible atrocities committed against them simply for being Christians. It’s hard to find words.  “…We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us…” (Rom 8:26 NIV)

Must Read: Christian Moms of LGBT Kids Speak Out – “This week…took me to one of the most sacred spaces yet; a private online support group for a couple hundred Christian moms of LGBT children. Each day they gather virtually, to share a unique, incredibly difficult journey. I was there as a temporary guest, to be a resource for those present; to answer questions, and to encourage them in any way that I could. During my three days with these amazing women, I was incredibly moved by their honesty, their vulnerability, their thoughtfulness, their strength, and most of all, their deep and abiding faith. It was inspiring and humbling… Knowing they were safe to speak honestly in anonymity, I asked these moms of LGBT children one simple question: ‘What do you want Christians and church leaders to know about you, your kids, and your family?'”

Maximizing a Snow Day - I know, we should have had this at the start of the week. “My weeks are full and if I don’t go into the office on a day I had planned to be in the office, everything I had planned on that day backs up to a future day. I feel so trapped and unproductive.” Sample: “Special projects. What is a new project you’ve wanted to think about and haven’t had time?” Seven short suggestions to keep on file.

The Scriptures in Their Own Place and Time - Because of my interest in John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One, I was interested to see what reviewers said about his new release (co-authored with D. Brent Sandy), The Lost World of Scripture. (I guess this is a brand now!) One reviewer explains, “The primary emphasis in the book regards the distinction between literary production in a hearing-dominant world and literary production in a text-dominant world.” Another review quotes, “If we question the continued sufficiency of the term inerrancy, it is not that we now admit that the Bible has errors. It is rather that the term inerrancy may no longer be clear enough, strong enough or nuanced enough to carry the weight with which it has traditionally been encumbered…If the term inerrancy, however, has become diminished in rhetorical power and specificity, it no longer serves as adequately to define our convictions about the robust authority of Scripture.”

Leadership Library – Something completely different this weekend, a book list. “Churches can’t say they don’t have resources for effecting change. …33 books that help you do just that. All have something helpful, but I have bulleted ones that have stirred my passion for change.How many of these do you own?

The US Has Testamints, The UK Has The Real Easter Easter Egg – “When in 2010 a team of Christians decided to launch a chocolate egg that contained the authentic message of Easter – and which also used high-quality Fair Trade chocolate and gave away a hefty portion of their profits to charity – it was met with a complete lack of interest by mainstream retailers. The Meaningful Chocolate Company might have had great chocolate and a noble ethic, but their religious meaning didn’t sit too well alongside Lindt bunnies and Chocolate Krispie chicks. So the company turned directly to churches and church schools, and received an overwhelming response.” Now some of the region’s top retailers realize they made a mistake.

Giving Up Lent for Lent - “God has called me, and you, into ministry to serve God. Not to have a paying job, not to pay back our seminary loans, not to create the programs we’ve dreamed of. No. We’ve been called into ministry because God called us and we said yes. At least, that’s my story. I was thirteen years old, and I felt God’s call to ministry. Some days I lose sight of that. I am frustrated at a board meeting or sitting at a blank screen trying to type a sermon, or looking at the decreasing funds and wondering if they can afford to pay me in the next few months, but I need to go back and remember, I am in this because I said yes to God.”

They Sure Get a Lot of Press Coverage - A UK Christian magazine is the latest to devote a cover story to Christian rap music. “I loved the music and I loved the culture, but as I became more of a fanatic I realized that most of the content stood against everything that I stood for. The glorification of drugs, money and misogyny never sat well with me, not to mention the bad language. Back then, clean versions of records were few and far between, so I found myself rapping along but taking a deep breath of silence whenever a swear word appeared. That all changed one day while I was watching a Christian TV channel…”

Bobby Schuller’s Two Churches to Merge into One - I kept thinking I’d heard this story before; it’s reminiscent of the situation where Tullian Tchividjian assumed the pastorate of Coral Ridge and the church merged with New City Presbyterian, which he had founded. “Tree of Life Community church, founded by the Rev. Bobby Schuller, will merge into Shepherd’s Grove church, home of Crystal Cathedral Ministries and the Hour of Power with Bobby Schuller television program, on March 1. Members of both congregations approved the consolidation last month. Schuller had pastored the two churches since assuming leadership of Shepherd’s Grove in January 2014. ‘This move is a natural progression of what we feel God wants to do with our ministries,’ said Schuller. ‘The transition from Crystal Cathedral to where we are now was seamless, and the Hour of Power continues to grow and reach more people with the gospel.'”


This was from the Twitter feed of Unvirtuous Abbey:

Honestly, we have no idea what's going on in this picture, but they gave it the caption, "For cats who are compelled by the power of Christ, we pray. "

Honestly, we have no idea what’s going on in this picture, but they gave it the caption, “For cats who are compelled by the power of Christ, we pray. “

 

 

 

 

 

Older Posts »

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.