Thinking Out Loud

April 15, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Hear See Post

Featured Stories

Churches Without Buildings – “Church attendance and construction boomed in North America during a time when having your own building was expected. For churches, businesses and families. In my parents’ era, owning real estate was a sign of success, status and stability. So churches that wanted to be seen as reliable and successful bought buildings. Often before there was a congregation to fill them. When someone started their own business, they would leave their house to sit in a building behind a desk all day long – even if every aspect of that business could have been done from their house. The brick-and-mortar building meant reliability and permanence… Brick-and-mortar may not be dead, but it is on life-support… The church should be leading the way in this idea… We already lose more churches every year from inability to pay the mortgage than from any other factor.”  Speaking of buildings…

The Ecology of Worship Gatherings – Every so often I find an article that is a few months old that should not have been missed. Such is the case here on the physical space we use for worship: “The very spatial mediums we use to communicate those messages shape and architect us in powerful ways. In fact, as a medium, the literal physical spaces we use may actually subvert the very messages we are preaching. What if the arrangement of spaces are actually speaking louder than what we are saying in our sermons? Ecology is the branch of biology that looks at how organisms relate to one another, and to their physical surroundings. If we apply this field of study to our worship gatherings… The premise of an Ecology of Gathering is that the non-living components dynamically interact and stimulate the living components (biotic), creating a living spiritual climate. This climate communicates a message, and over time, this climate controlled message trains us into a certain way of thinking and behaving.”

Pew Research on Religious Growth to 2050 – “In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion…” As to the world as a whole, “by 2050 there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30% of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31%), possibly for the first time in history.” The Nones continue to grow also: “At the same time, however, the unaffiliated are expected to continue to increase as a share of the population in much of Europe and North America. In the United States, for example, the unaffiliated are projected to grow from an estimated 16% of the total population (including children) in 2010 to 26% in 2050.” There is much more to the report, presented in text, graphs and tables.

Getting Your Hands Dirty – “I was speaking, learning, teaching, and advocating for mentoring without actually doing it. In anthropology, there are two types of field research: Etic and EmicEtic researchers make their observations from outside the culture. Emic researchers get up-close to local customs, traditions, and beliefs. Our temptation is to stay on the outside. To be Etic but not Emic. To attend endless conferences, read endless books, buy endless t-shirts. To dump cold water on our heads, take a selfie and hashtag it. To be about the latest ideas, like those on Mars Hill, to be waiting to see something new, like the newest post or picture online. Ideas, when used this way, can be very self-indulgent. All the while, we remain outside the issue, and quite possibly, outside of our own story. But the great ideas – love, justice, intimacy, reconciliation – require something of us.”

CBS Profile of Crossmaker Runs 22 Years Later – On Easter Sunday, CBS ran a profile of a man that was scheduled to appear in 1993. If you’ve driven the interstate highway system, you’ve seen Bernard Coffindaffer’s work: Crosses erected within sight of the freeway. “Coffindaffer has spent his own money on this project — close to $3 million … to buy the wooden poles, to hire road crews, to perform routine cross maintenance.” But the video never aired when he died of a sudden heart attack. Years later, his legacy continues: “There are 48,000 miles of interstate highway in America,” Sara Abraham of Crosses Across America said. “We will have crosses every 25 miles all across America.”

Editorial / Devotional on Christian Maturity– “Jason and I have often wondered what a foreigner or alien would think the church believed if they simply judged us on the books we buy and sell. As I walked through the aisles, I started to worry that they would perceive a church that is weak and powerless, so consumed with our own needs and self-esteem that we constantly battle the same issues, and never become effective agents of God’s mission in the world… Sadly, may of us in America are “grown up,” in that we’ve been serving Christ a long time, but we have not yet reached maturity. Like it says in Hebrews, we should be teachers, but we need someone to teach us the basics over and over again.”

Church History Lesson: The Non-Jurors – “[T]he new order was demanding that all clergy and office holders take oaths to the new king. Many clergy, including some of the church’s greatest spiritual and intellectual beacons, found that they simply could not accept. They refused to swear those oaths, and by dint of that, became non-swearers, “Non-Jurors.” They began a domestic schism from the established church, and ordained their own succession of bishops…They agonized over issues of ecclesiology, and at the same time sought new ways of leading a pure Christian life… you have very likely encountered portions of their writings or hymns. It was for instance Thomas Ken who wrote the famous Doxology.”

When Sharing Your Faith is Costly – The woman in the story works for the government-run National Health Service (NHS) in the UK: “Miss Wasteney had discussions about Christianity and Islam with a junior colleague, Enya Nawaz, and offered to pray with her when she became upset about health problems. She also invited her to church and gave her a book called I Dared to Call Him Father, about a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity. However, Miss Nawaz accused her of trying to convert her to Christianity and made a formal complaint. Miss Wasteney was suspended for nine months while the East London NHS Foundation Trust investigated.” In a story update, the Employment Appeals Tribunal ruled against her.

On My Own Blog – A look at what I call Spiritual Recidivism and a review of Did God Kill Jesus by Tony Jones.

Finally… – How younger leaders can gain credibility, from Brad Lomenick who tracks up-and-coming Christian leaders, 11 suggestions. Sample: “Become an expert NOW, even before you need to be. Set a standard of excellence way before you’re the leader in charge who is expected to. That way when it’s your turn to come off the bench you are ready.”

What Happens to Old Veggie Tales Characters
Short Takes

** Some viewers may be seeing a giant space here, we have no idea why, there’s nothing in the HTML code to account for it **

Wow! We’re trending on Twitter:
Trending on Twitter

April 8, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Fallon Easter

Featured Stories

Ten Secrets of Senior (Lead) Pastors – “Most pastors walk with a degree of uncertainty about our abilities to do the work we feel called to do. We intellectually know this is designed by God. It keeps us in prayer and walking by faith. But, we are human and the demands upon us and our insecurities in them can also make us question at times whether we have what it takes to do the work before us… A senior pastor’s insecurities can cause them to become overprotective of their reputation and position… The pastor too can experience loneliness…  some pastors have no true friends either inside the church or outside… Most senior pastors have been burned by someone they once trusted.”

Interacting with Your Mormon Friends – “We Christians seem to have taken our worldview for granted. We are apathetic residents of a state while Mormons are passionate citizens of a nation. Many of the Christians I’ve taken to Utah are amazed by how strongly Mormons seem to resist our efforts to share the truth. That’s because we, as Christians, mistakenly think Mormons are as loosely affiliated with their religious worldview as we are with ours. That’s simply not the case… Mormons don’t easily walk away from their faith, even when they’ve discovered it’s untrue.”

On The Religious Freedom Reformation Act – “One of the drawbacks of having friends on both sides of an issue is that they bombard you with articles and stories supporting their side of the issue and this is most likely to happen in our culture on LGBT matters.  My pastor sent me, and the rest of our church, link after link explaining ‘our’ side of the issue and making it clear that ‘their’ side was not only wrong but mean.  My progressive neighbor did the same from the other point of view.  I was tempted to just forward their e-mails to the other… This is life in America today, particularly on LGBT issues.  One side yells at the other that they are ignorant of the law, and that they hate America, Christians and religious freedom.  The other side yells that the RFRA is nothing more than a hidden attempt to legalize Christian discrimination of LGBT individuals.  Everyone is talking; nobody is listening, at least not to those who differ.”

Billy Graham Statue at the U.S. Capitol – “A move is afoot to replace a statue of a racist former governor with one of evangelist Billy Graham in the U.S. Capitol building. The change would mean North Carolina is represented by two Western North Carolina notables in the National Statuary Hall. The other leader honored is former governor and Buncombe County native Zebulon Vance. General Assembly lawmakers have proposed replacing the statue of Charles Brantley Aycock… Aycock was chief spokesman for the White Supremacy Campaign when the bloody riot resulted in the overthrow of the elected local government in the only documented coup d’etat in U.S. history.”

20 Minutes into the Future – It is said that if Americans want to see their religious future, they need only look at their neighbor to the north, Canada: “You don’t need to be a churchgoer to pray. That’s one of the findings of a sweeping new poll on faith from the Angus Reid Institute, conducted in partnership with Dr. Reginald Bibby of the University of Lethbridge. The recent survey of 3,041 Canadians showed that even as our affiliation with organized religion continues to decline we still believe — just in our own, often deeply personal, ways.” Results are presented in The National Post as a large infographic.

It’s Not Just The Marriage Part of Gay Marriage – This article dealt primarily with the impact of a shifting paradigm on homosexuality and its impact on “the Black Church.” But going beyond wedding ceremonies, invitations, cakes and flowers are a whole host of other issues which the author summarizes in a list at the end of the piece; the impact on facility rental, membership, funeral protocols, dedication of adopted children, and also the legal ramifications of any decisions on issues like these.

New App is a YouVersion Meets Instagram – “Parallel feels a lot like Instagram, but instead of filters, it has you tag your photos with biblical verses. In doing so, it attempts to make a universal text feel personal, and shareable, in the same way one might post a photo on any other social media…Unlike Instagram, Parallel seems to do away with geotagging and clear timestamps, so all the images live in a timeless and spaceless world of the biblical verses they represent—and instead of liking them, users can ‘crown’ them. The idea is that, in time, the app will populate the Bible with these photographic interpretations.”

What are Our Children Learning Spiritually? – “Far before a child can comprehend his purpose to worship God, the child learns how to worship. What happens with most parents, though, who see only the need to teach their child’s head, is that in order to teach such truths, they are willing to use almost whatever means necessary to do so. So they use puppets to teach Bible stories, never realizing that their children are learning to view biblical truth as something light and trivial. Or they use cartoons to teach moral lessons, never realizing that their children are learning to view morality as something silly or ‘adventurous.'”

The Pope Has Changed Rome Forever – The Wall Street Journal “In his two years in office, the pontiff has drawn attention for his unconventional gestures—such as personally welcoming homeless people to the Sistine Chapel last month—but those gestures matter most as signs of the radical new direction in which he seeks to lead the Catholic Church: toward his vision of the promise of Vatican II. Both the acclaim and the alarm that Francis has generated as pope have been responses to his role in the long struggle over the [Second Vatican Council]’s legacy. …Pope Francis, the first pontiff to have received holy orders after Vatican II, is very much a son of the council.”

Inside John Wesley’s Prayer Closet – From Jared Brock’s new book, A Year of Living Prayerfully: “…Wesley kept up his daily regimen by going to bed at nine o’clock and waking at four o’clock, insisting that everyone in his household do the same. He would begin his day by studying the Scriptures and praying. The room that would later become known as the “Power House of Methodism” is about the size of a modern walk-in closet, perhaps six by seven feet, with hardwood floors and a large window to let in plenty of light. When we entered Wesley’s study, I noticed a very odd, spring-mounted bouncy chair. ‘This was Wesley’s workout chair,’ the guide said. ‘For doing assisted squats.'”

Rhymes Jan 13 2014Rhymes With Orange – 1/13/14

Short Takes

Digging a Little Deeper

From the creator of Thinking Out Loud, check out Christianity 201. Guaranteed distraction-free faith blogging with fresh posts every day. www.Christianity201.wordpress.com

April 4, 2015

Weekend Link List

Pull up a chair and join us for some weekend links

Pull up a chair and join us for some weekend links

Featured Stories

David Cameron’s Easter Message – While both U.S. President Barak Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper both claim Christianity as their own, I haven’t heard of either one penning a faith-centered message for Easter. Was the British Prime Minister in over his depth? “I’m hardly a model church-going, God-fearing Christian. Like so many others, I’m a bit hazy on the finer points of our faith.” Theologically, I suppose this is a bit of train wreck, but full marks for trying. He ends, “I hope everyone can share in the belief of trying to lift people up rather than count people out… That after all is the heart of the Christian message. It’s the principle around which the Easter celebration is built. Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children. And today, that message matters more than ever.” The heart of Easter at your church may vary slightly.

Responding to a Spouse’s Sexual Sin – Part of a video series, The Mingling of Souls where Matt Chandler and Lauren Chandler answer questions. Lauren: “Although it feels intensely personal, it is not. It is an issue in her husband’s heart that’s rooted in sin, it is sin; it’s coveting; it’s rooted in choosing the creation over the creator; it’s against God, and though it feels very personal, it’s not personal… What a privilege, as painful as it is, that she gets to be a part of his reconciliation to the Lord and to her, and how she gets to be the hands and feet of Jesus; that she gets to be a minister of the gospel to her own husband. It’s hard, and it involves a pouring out, and it is very much like Jesus did for us… You will have to sustain something that feels very offensive, but Jesus did it first for you.”

The Wedding Cake Issue Just Got Exponentially More Complicated – Benjamin L. Corey thinks there’s more than just one reason for a Christian to refuse to do a wedding cake. He’s got ten, one of which is: “The Bible clearly states in Deuteronomy 24 that a man cannot serve in the military during his first year of marriage. If you sell a cake to that young military couple, you will be endorsing a lifestyle that is directly rebelling against God’s inerrant word. Don’t do it!” Plus, according to Ezekiel, you shouldn’t do the cake if one of them works at a bank.

Children’s Ministry Reveals Much About Adult Ministry – “I truly believe that you can get a sense about how your church feels about the Bible by looking no further than the children’s wing of the church. In a way, Sunday School is a great litmus test to see how important the Word of God is to the larger church… Do children have Bibles in their hands at church? Do they open those Bibles when they are in Sunday School? …Make sure to peer behind the aesthetics of children’s ministry. Take an interest in what is being taught and don’t let visual appearance fool you.”

Faith Focused Film Announcement of the Week – “Hugh Jackman will be playing the role of Paul, and he, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck will produce the film under their Pearl Street Films production company. The film is believed to cover Paul’s conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus, his ministry to the gentiles and his imprisonment. Jackman told Parade magazine in 2009 that he is a student of transcendental meditation … His father, however, became a born-again Christian after attending a Billy Graham crusade in Australia, which Jackman attended as a young boy.”

Childbirth Imagery in The Cross – “Early and medieval Christians were less reluctant than many of us to imagine God in motherly terms…Imagining Easter as a kind of childbirth offers us another way to understand Christ’s suffering on the cross. Birth is not passive, pointless, cruel suffering. It is active work—labor. Women who have given birth sometimes speak of the great sense of strength and triumph they feel when their baby finally emerges. These mothers suffered pain, perhaps even risked death, to bring forth someone new, to bring forth new life. And so when Jesus goes to the cross “for the joy set before him,” as the writer of Hebrews puts it, it’s not masochistic, nor is it passive. He puts forth strength and endurance; like childbirth, it is a commitment to struggle.”

Street Preacher Told Not to Use Certain Verses – “A street preacher has been told by a judge which Bible verse he should have used when discussing homosexuality, as he was convicted of a public order offense at Bristol Crown Court…In court Judge Shamim Qureshi told Overd that he should have used Leviticus 18 instead of Leviticus 20 to make a point about homosexuality, the Christian Legal Center said. Overd commented: ‘I am amazed that the Judge sees it as his role to dictate which parts of the Bible can and can’t be preached. This is not free speech but censorship. The Judge is redacting the Bible‘, he added.”

Bible Reading Blues – “I always felt like I was drinking from a shallow well in every single Bible Reading Plan I picked. I’d lose steam and feel guilty that I wasn’t checking off my daily reading, I’d forget where I was reading, or forget the narrative line. I found myself spending more time trying to piece together things than actually reading and ingesting what I was reading. I loved the Word of God, but I mostly loved it because I knew there was life in it, not because I actually felt life in my reading.” But then the scene changes, “I saw themes I hadn’t seen before, and I understood Paul as a person in a way I never had. It was as though my Bible reading went from watching a drama take place on a stage to actually being a part of the play.”

Churches Have Bullies, Too – Thom Rainer: “They wreak havoc and create dissension. They typically must have an “enemy” in the church, because they aren’t happy unless they are fighting a battle. They tend to maneuver to get an official leadership position in the church, such as chairman of the elders or deacons or treasurer. But they may have bully power without any official position. Church bullies have always been around. But they seem to be doing their work more furiously today than in recent history.”

Finally… – On Easter Sunday, if you’re doing Children’s ministry, you can offer to bring both the craft and the snack.

From Stuff Fundies Like: Gospel Baptist Church wants to make extra special sure that you don’t think women are in charge of anything more important than the nursery. They want to make so sure that they had an extra banner made just to point it out.

From Stuff Fundies Like:  Gospel Baptist Church wants to make extra special sure that you don’t think women are in charge of anything more important than the nursery. They want to make so sure that they had an extra banner made just to point it out.

Short Takes

  • That moment where your 21-year old son, who was in to Dubstep and Electronica writes you from college to say this is his favorite song right now.
  • New York City churches are allowed to rent schools, for now. The Mayor: “While we review and revise the rules, groups currently permitted to use schools for worship will continue to be able to worship on school premises.”
  • Tweens and porn in the UK: “Shocking new figures reveal that one in ten 12 to 13-year-olds believe they may be addicted to pornography, and 12 per cent admit to having made or taken part in a sexually explicit video.”
  • Passover like you’ve never seen it. A 2-minute video.
  • It’s a different type of small group, one that is a faction that forms against the pastor. “28 percent of pastors have been pushed out of their churches by attacks that originated from a relatively small group of people… Nearly half of those pastors who had left then seriously considered abandoning ministry altogether.”
  • It’s been out there for a while, but I just noticed that 3 of the Top Ten bloggers on this Top 100 Christian blogs list are Canadian, including the first two.
  • I get what Fred Clark’s doing with this series, but the series itself needs a better name.
  • Finally, from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s media division, TwentyOneHundred Productions, we finally know how the Apostle Paul drafted his letters:

Paul's Epistle Template

 

 

April 1, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Pete Wilson teaching on the birds and the bees. These are bees.

Pete Wilson teaching on the birds and the bees. These are bees. (Select week 3 at this link.)

Featured items:

As tempting as it was to come up with something in lieu of today’s date, I decided that the stories and articles here are often strange enough. Besides, I felt bad five years ago when some people went for this one.

A Different Type of Creation Debate – The UK’s top Christian podcast, Unbelievable?: “John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, Illinois, has authored the book The Lost World of Adam and Eve. He argues that Adam and Eve were intended as archetypes for humankind, and the story is not mean to be taken as an account of our material origins. Stephen Lloyd, who holds to Young Earth Creation, argues that Walton undermines Christian theology as a whole with his view of Genesis.” 80 minutes of agree to disagree. (John is also a guest on this week’s Phil Vischer Podcast.)

On Taking Notes During the Sermon – Jerad Wilson: “I first began thinking about note-taking in relation to what preaching is when I heard Tim Keller, echoing Lloyd-Jones, say in a sermon, ‘I don’t mind if you take notes at the beginning of a message, but if you’re still taking notes at the end, I feel like I haven’t brought it home.’… I began discouraging note-taking (not forbidding it) and relieving my church from the duty of note taking (meaning, saying they didn’t have to) because I want them to see preaching in the worship service not as a lecture or as primarily an educational transmission to their minds, but as prophetic proclamation and as primarily aimed at their hearts.”

Church Decor That Welcomes Men – David Murrow: “Men are intensely visual. The way a room is decorated tells guys whether they are welcome in that space… The typical church is decorated grandma-style: Quilted banners and silk flower arrangements adorn church lobbies. More quilts, banners, and ribbons cover the sanctuary walls, complemented with fresh flowers on the altar, a lace doily on the Communion table, and boxes of Kleenex under every pew… This femme décor sends a powerful subconscious message to men: you are out of place. The moment men set foot in the vestibule, they look around get the same uneasy feeling they experience in a fabric store, flower shop, or any other female-oriented locale.” Be sure to click the two photo galleries.

Welcome Gifts for Your Church Visitors – “You are inviting guests to come to your church and a great way to indicate to them that you expected them is to have a gift ready just for them…A gift for your guests gives you the opportunity to explain what makes your church tick … you can give them an inside look at what it means to be a part of you community.” A 9-minute podcast with notes, plus a look at what’s in all those church gift bags.

The Bible on Disabilities – A short teaser for a short article: A new look at who are the weaker members of the body in I Corinthians 12.

God with a Capital G – Terry Mattingly, who notices such things, thinks we may be seeing a subtle shift in style occurring in Associated Press news stories. As it stands right now at AP: “Capitalize God in references to the deity of all monotheistic religions. Capitalize all noun references to the deity: God the Father, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, Allah, etc. Lowercase personal pronouns: he, him, thee, thou. Lowercase gods and goddesses in references to the deities of polytheistic religions. Lowercase god, gods and goddesses in references to false gods: He made money his god.” But rules change. (I now find myself vacillating between ‘He’ and ‘he.’)

Proportional Giving Isn’t Always Sacrificial – “I knew a preacher who mentioned the challenge he and his wife had experienced, trying to increase their giving by 1 percent each year. And I wonder, Why am I satisfied to give only what I’m giving today? …Stewardship is about managing every dollar, every asset, every possession, every experience to please God and lift up his name. The fact that I give doesn’t make me a good steward.”

Down is Up – People with Down Syndrome often report the highest levels of happiness. “The lives of people with developmental disabilities speak sermons and image the great mysteries of life. How can we prepare ourselves to be taught discernment and wisdom in this way? People with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities are just people. I often hear others tell me that they couldn’t do my job. Most of the time, I quickly correct them: ‘Yes, you could. You can treat humans like they are human.’ We don’t do it perfectly, but we make sure to get involved.”

When Your Childhood Hobby is Satanic – On a new book about Dungeons and Dragons: “I think than fantasy role-playing games really can function like a religion, in the sense that players work together to construct an alternative world in which they can meaningfully dwell. As sociologists of religion know, when people can imagine an alternative world they tend to see the social order differently. Much like religion, these games create a new mental space from which players can look back on the world and their lives from a new perspective. The converse of this comparison is that a religious worldview can be compared to a fantasy role-playing game: As long as the adherents of the religion ‘play their roles,’ the world of the religion is ‘real’ and does not require empirical confirmation.”

One for the Road – You know you go to a cool church when Stevie Wonder drops in for a visit. And you know that means you’re gonna hear a song.

Short Takes:

Musician Cause of Death by Genre

 

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

Older Posts »

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