Thinking Out Loud

January 8, 2020

Wednesday Connect

Is this what your church will look like in 2040? See article below.

It’s fiction, so it can choose to be or not be about Christianity. Nonetheless the program won’t be streamed in the country where it was filmed. See stories below.

With three weeks of catching up to do, this is a slightly longer list. I hope you’ll not rush through this, but take time to click on a half-dozen or more items.

■ Essay of the Week: I’m staring at a completely blank screen as I type this but this open letter to blogger Julie Roys is undoubtedly this week’s must-read piece. “[I]t can still be fairly observed that anyone who tried to pastor a church in the Chicago area in the past 30 years felt the influence of Willow Creek and Harvest like the manager of a Mom-and-Pop store feels the influence of Walmart and Amazon. Two near-orbiting energy-draining black holes.”

■ If you were following a Twitter account called C. S. Lewis Daily, what would you expect to see? I’m guessing quotations by C. S. Lewis, right? But on the weekend more people started noticing that the items have nothing to do with Lewis, there seems to be an agenda, and perhaps even the account has been hijacked. Check out the comments on this one, for example. (Update: Apparently we weren’t the first to notice this.)

■ UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson used his Christmas speech to remind everyone of the persecution faced by Christians worldwide. “As Prime Minister, that’s something I want to change. We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and we will defend your right to practice your faith.”  ­

■ If they didn’t like the message of Andy Stanley’s Irresistible, they might not be too happy with Greg Boyd’s take on a similar subject. Check out his weekend sermon introducing his book Inspired Imperfection.

■ An Australian reflects on the bush fires consuming such a large amount of acreage in his country:

  • Each year, there is a bushfire season in Australia, but this year it started weeks earlier and they are now the largest in living memory. The bottom line is that over 10 million hectares have been burned (that is an area the size of Scotland and Wales combined), hundreds of homes have been destroyed, at least 20 lives lost, and almost 500 million animals and birds destroyed (including an estimated third of the koalas in northern New South Wales).
  • These fires are not new. This afternoon I was reading about the impact of the 1851 Black Thursday bushfires that burnt a quarter of Victoria, killed 12 humans and over a million sheep.
  • The Indian Ocean Dipole is the main reason for both the extreme heat and drought in Australia. This is an effect where the western half of the ocean is warmer than that of the eastern. Added to this is the problem of the winds. Normally the strong southerlies blow several hundred kilometres to the south but for some unknown reason they are much closer to Australia.
  • If Australia were to destroy its own economy (and impoverish many poor people even more) and reduce its emissions from 1.3% to 1% of global emissions, the new power stations being planned in China would make up for that within a year.
  • 13% of bushfires are natural; 87% are human and of these at least 40% are believed to be arson. The situation is so serious that today it was reported that NSW police are to set up a taskforce to investigate how many of the fires were caused deliberately…

He then asks readers to pray for rain.

■ Memoir of the Week: Though he doesn’t pin any dates or locations to the article, Roger Olsen reminisces on growing up in a conservative Christian home along with the many services attended and behavioral codes adhered to. He wonders aloud what happened to that lifestyle.

■ Not everyone has a Damascus Road experience. “A study done among a group of 500 churchgoers in England who had come to faith in the previous twelve months found that almost seventy percent of them described their conversions as a gradual experience that took an average of four years. Only twenty percent described their salvation experience as dramatic or radical.” 

■ In one of his latest messages, Francis Chan bends slightly Roman Catholic. Or not so slightly. “500 hundred years ago, someone put a pulpit at the front of the gathering. This is when we shifted from communion as both the physical center and most important element of the service to ‘one guy and his pulpit.'”

■ Quotation of the Week: How to Stay in Church, A Field Guide

Maybe I’m not the best person to talk about this; after all, I’ve left. I don’t go to church these days. I’m an outsider. Maybe that disqualifies me from talking about how to remain. But I will tell you this: I still love the church. I’m always captivated by the idea of community and togetherness. And I believe in the mission of the church as I understand it. I believe the church was called to be a place where people come together to follow Jesus by loving their neighbors. For all my cynicism, I still believe in the power of the Holy Ghost flowing through the local church.

Even though I love the church, I’m by no means blind to the hurt it causes. And if you’re going to stay, you are going to get hurt. You must prepare to triage yourself and other people because the church is going to hurt you. There are going to be people who wound you, some doctrine that crushes, and unwillingness to change that is going to be like smashing your face against a brick wall. Theology will be wielded as a weapon and the pulpit will give up its authority for the sake of political power. It’s going to hurt to stay. If you want to stay, you must brace yourself for the hurt.”

■ Another denomination, the United Methodist Church, is splitting later this year over the gay marriage issue.

■ Significant Archeological News: “The Israel Antiquities Authority believes it may have found a 2,000-year-old market next to the recently discovered Pilgrimage Road in Jerusalem that Jesus and other Jews once walked on to get to the Second Temple.”

■ Having to do funerals for people he’d never met convinced this pastor of these five tips the dead can teach the living for 2020.

■ Decade in Review: Religion News Service on those whose influence rose and those whose stature fell.

■ Christmas, one more time: The 41-minute series kick off sermon from December 1 by Andy Stanley to his congregation makes good back-tracking for anyone in your sphere of influence unclear as to what the last month was all about.

■ Seven local church concerns. Thom Rainer reports on feedback from church consultants noting seven trends. Sample: #5 – “The issue of deferred maintenance is a crisis in many churches. Our consultants are reporting a number of churches that simply don’t have the funds to maintain their deteriorating facilities.”

■ A really, really good article from October, 2017 we wish we’d seen. The Bible’s world provides us with so many natural and agrarian metaphors. But we live in cities. Is there a way our worship songs can better reflect this?

■ White Supremacy: Publisher’s Weekly reports, “In this trenchant analysis of the roots of white supremacy in American culture, blogger and preacher [Mark] Charles (Reflections from the Hogan) and religion professor [Soong-Chan] Rah (The Prophetic Lament) team up to examine the insidious legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, a set of 15th-century legal principles based on Catholic papal decrees.” This title released in November from IVP.

■ Thousands attended as “Reinhard Bonnke, the German evangelist known as ‘The Billy Graham of Africa,’ was lauded at a Saturday (Jan. 4) memorial service as ‘a giant and a general in the army of God.'”

■ New website(s) to know about with resources for the whole family: Minno Life (for adults) and Minno Kids (which is also the new home for Jelly Telly.)

■ To bolster attendance at their Kentucky attractions, Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter and Creation Museum will both offer free admission to children 10 and under in 2020.

A season of predictions. The holographic worship leader pictured above is one of several items on a list of ways the church will look different in 2040.

■ Provocative (but not exactly inaccurate) Headline of the Week: “Actress Michelle William Celebrates Abortion During Golden Globes, ‘Thank God’ We Can Kill Babies.

■ Opinion: The CT article by Mark Galli in reference to President Trump was nothing more than journalists doing what journalists do. ” Journalists serve the public… Journalism shares a lot of the same values as Christianity. They both privilege truth. They both are concerned with the interests of others.”

Messiah: Will he convert you or con you? That’s the question asked in a new series on Netflix. Like the CBS series God Friended Me, the brush strokes painted are wider than Christianity, but in much of that network series, Christianity seems to be most dominantly in view. Messiah offers “an ambiguous Christ-like man claiming to be sent by God.” “Packed with several solid teachings and the resounding message that sin brings punishment, season 1 of Messiah ends with the implication that Al-Masih might be either a hoaxer, a magician or a radical terrorist.” (Note: “The series is rated TV-MA (for mature audiences only), because it contains foul language and graphic sex scenes.”)  …

 … However, “The Royal Film Commission [in late December] officially asked Netflix not to stream the TV series Messiah in Jordan after supporting its shoot in the country… ‘The story is purely fictional and so are the characters,’ the commission said. ‘Yet, the RFC deems that the content of the series could be largely perceived or interpreted as infringing on the sanctity of religion, thus possibly contravening the laws in the country.'”

■ A single brand: Discovery House Publishing is now Our Daily Bread Publishing. (The organization has been moving toward a single brand identification dating back to it’s ‘Radio Bible Class’ days.)

■ Russell Moore begins by telling his 2009 self that “Donald Trump is president, Twitter is still around, Kanye West is a Christian, and Joshua Harris is not” and then goes on to name his Top Books of the Decade.

■ Old Music: The Getty’s have just covered a hymn belonging to a writer born in 1894: Thou Who Was Rich Beyond All Splendor.

■ New Music: Mandisa has covered one of our favorite songs: Way Maker

■ Mainstream Music (article): “Coldplay gives us a vision of everyday life in which people acknowledge each other’s hurt, individuals dissolve as drops into the same sea, and we all sing a mournful, joyful hallelujah together.” This analysis leaves me wishing the author had written a few songs of his own.

■ ICYMI: Our summary of the top Canadian-interest faith-related stories of 2019 which appeared here at Wednesday Connect.

■ Babylon Bee articles look like the real thing. And they’re quite funny. So they get shared. A lot. And people read them who don’t know it’s satire. Why that’s a problem for them, for the people referenced in their stories, and for all of us.  

■ Just east of Syracuse, New York, three of the four town councilors decided they’d rather swear on a book of town codes than on a Bible.

■ An article about a movie about the making of faith-based movies got 10,000 comments; all from people who haven’t yet seen the film. Watch the teaser trailer for Faith Based. (Film festival opening January 18th.)

Best sermon series teaser ever.

■ Finally, a Lent course based on Mary Poppins. (see image below) “Where The Lost Things Go is a ‘practically perfect’ Lent course for small group study – or for reading on one’s own – based on the popular film Mary Poppins Returns. Poet and minister Lucy Berry skilfully (sic) draws out some of the themes of the Oscar-nominated movie (which stars Emily Blunt, Ben Whishaw and Lin-Manuel Miranda) and shows how we can consider them more deeply alongside passages from the Bible.”


If you missed the Holy Post Podcast where Phil Vischer and Skye Jethani (and Christian Taylor) responded to the CT article by Mark Galli, it contained a history lesson on the differences between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. Josh Alves illustrated this on Twitter.

■ Postscript: If you already heard the Holy Post Podcast referred to in the above graphic, this article by Roger Olson is a good fit.

December 18, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Here we go again…


…and speaking of front pages, this is what the blog Internet Monk thinks the front page of Time should have looked like.

 

Just hours after last week’s Connect, the hottest thing making the rounds was a picture of a gathering of modern worship composers and musicians in the Oval Office of The White House. This brought out a variety of responses from across the spectrum of emotions concerning the man sitting at the desk in the center of the picture, a topic I try to avoid here. It’s posted everywhere, but if you missed it, try this link

Next Wednesday is Christmas Day, and the following one is New Year’s Day, so it looks like I have a few weeks off! But check back here anyway, there’s more to Thinking Out Loud than the weekly list.

■ Ignoring the sex abuse scandals dogging so many churches right now, The Gospel Coalition chooses the conversion of Kanye West as its Theology Story of the Year.

■ Get to know this term: Extinction Religion. It’s not exactly about religion, but it’s about people coalescing around a cause that could prove to be an activisim-oriented model for movements in Christianity, including missions. 

■ When Charismatic belief in a God without limits comes face-to-face with the reality of death. “The daughter of worship leader Kalley Heiligenthal passed away… and she and the church [were] praying that God [would] raise the child from the dead.” [Update]

Feature Article of the Week: 50 years of CCM: Why the glory days of Christian music are over. The article from our friends across the pond references artists such as Bryn Haworth and After The Fire, but you’ll also see some names you recognize in this British analysis of the movement which germinated in the early ’70s.

■ Catholic veneration of Mary on steroids involves declaring her co-redemptrix. (The word means what you think it does.) Does this place her in a quadrinity? “The formula ‘co-redemptrix’ departs to too great an extent from the language of Scripture and of the Fathers, and therefore gives rise to misunderstandings.”

■ Most provocative opening sentence: “Being known as a nice person has been considered by some to be detrimental to effective leadership.” (I wonder if Jesus was consulted for this article.)

■ The money isn’t going where the donors think it’s going: “The investigation found that most of Pope Francis’s Peter’s Pence collection went to Vatican budget deficit.” CBC interview with Wall Street Journal reporter:

…So you found that only 10 per cent is being used to support charitable works. Where’s the rest going? 

Well that’s true at least of the last five years. Two thirds has been going to plug the deficit in the Holy See. This is a deficit in the operations of the central administration of the Catholic Church and the Pope’s diplomatic network around the world, which has been running an increasing deficit in recent years due to rising wage costs and unsuccessful investments and inefficiencies…

■ … and it’s not just the Roman Catholic Church. In a Washington Post report, a whistle-blower alleges that the Mormon Church (or whatever it’s called now) has misled members on $100 billion tax-exempt investment fund. “The complaint was filed by David A. Nielsen, a 41-year-old Mormon who worked until September as a senior portfolio manager at the church’s investment division, a company named Ensign Peak Advisors that is based near the church’s headquarters.” [Optional discussion question: What’s your church’s investment division called? We’ll go around the circle.] 

■ Boz Tchividjian announced that in the Spring he will step down both from the sexual abuse advocacy organization he founded, and his teaching position at Liberty University in order to return to practicing law.

■ When a family loses a child. This is both painful to read and must-reading at the same time.

■ Future Heir? If you go to the videos page for the YouTube channel of Joel Osteen Ministries, you’ll see that son Jonathan Osteen has built a back-catalog of sermons over the past year.

■ The aging of the church. For mainline Protestant denominations, the modal (most recurring) age is now 67. Check out this graphic.

■ Noteworthy Conversion: “An internationally renowned Anglican bishop and former chaplain to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is leaving the Anglican Church to become a Catholic.”

The Top Books of 2019 at Jesus Creed (Scot McKnight’s blog).

■ ICYMI: The Hallmark Channel gay kiss tempest.

■ Resources Roster: Kidology, everything you need for Children’s ministry…

■ … also on the subject of KidMin, if you upload anything to YouTube that either you or the online platform deems as being content made for the consumption of children, you need to know that COPPA takes effect January 1st.

■ Parents in New Jersey won’t be able to use religion as a reason for not getting their children vaccinated.

Yet another writer leaving Patheos.

■ New Music: ♫ We introduced you a few months ago to these four Dutch guys mixing South American and Irish folk with African beats. This one is more ballad-like. Trinity – Songs of Life.

■ New Music: ♫ Six months ago we introduced you to Bethany (not Bethel) Music. Like many ministries they have a youth component. Check out – BOLD YTH – Only Wanna Sing. “This is no performance / Lord I pray it’s worship / Empty words I can’t afford.”

■ New Music: ♫ A band referenced in our feature article (above), Wildwood Kin was also covered in a separate article at Premier Magazine. Check out their recent release, Wildwood Kin – Headed for the Water.

♪ Watch for a special-edition of New Christmas Music later this week ♪

■ Meanwhile, on Netflix: “The First Temptation of Christ is a 46-minute film depicting Our Lord and Savior as a homosexual involved in a same-sex relationship with a man named Orlando. It also portrays Mary, Jesus’ mother, as a pot-smoking adulterer.” (But I’m sure that other than that it follows the Biblical narrative, right?)

■ In deference to the people for whom Jesus is not Lord, a London school substituted the word baby for Lord in the carol, Away in a Manger.

■ They were first-time visitors to the church, but they were asked to bring their payroll stubs from work so the church would know that they would actually be tithing 10%.

■ Finally, and also from the collection at Not Always Right, their Dad, the pastor, on showing respect for ‘The Good Book.’


Jesus Shaves: It’s a temperature-sensitive, reactive mug miracle. Some people really do have too much time on their hands.


It was the subtitle that got me: Abstinence, Drugs, Satanism, and Other Thing That Threaten Their Nine Lives… The book “How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety answers crucial questions such as, ‘What is the right age to talk to my cat about the proper use of firearms?’ and ‘What are the benefits of my cat living a lifestyle of abstinence?’ and especially ‘Why does my cat need to use the internet? Can’t he just play with yarn like cats used to do?'”

 

 

December 11, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Is she playing a Roland or a Yamaha?

Welcome back to another week. This is #83 in this Wednesday Connect series. My goal is to complete 17 more of these, which would bring the total to 100, which when added to the 400 Wednesday Link Lists would mean 500 news and opinion roundups. But there might be weeks we miss, or weeks that are smaller, like this one.

I’ve also noticed there are fewer and fewer people clicking the New Music links. I’ve had some direct email from people who enjoy this feature and I certainly enjoy discovering the songs, but moving forward I’ll try to limit it to a few unique selections.

Again, anytime you’re hungry for more, check out Michael Newnham’s Tuesday Linkathons at Phoenix Preacher, Internet Monk’s Saturday Brunch and Clark Bunch’s Satur-deja-vu; along with the various news sources linked in the sidebar if you’re reading this on a PC or laptop.

Also, on a personal level, I would appreciate prayer for an unusual health condition which reappeared yesterday.

A Methodist church in California has posed a controversial nativity scene and raised an interesting question: “Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center.” In a statement from the minister, Karen Clark Ristine, the church said that after fleeing a tyrant king, Jesus, Mary and Joseph became “the most well-known refugee family in the world.” Source and video report.

The Atlantic profiles Timothy Keller.

■ Essay of the Week: Christians grow best in the manure of criticism.

■ Radical! “A children’s author and poet has written a new book helping young children [in the UK] to accept the body they were born with. Rachel Rooney, who is also a trained special needs teacher, wrote My Body is Me! to counteract the recent “explosion” of books promoting radical gender ideology. She says, ‘It’s impossible to have the ‘wrong’ body. It’s a very worrying message we’re sending to children.'”

■ Eric Metaxas seems unsure whether his latest book is for children, or if it’s for adults.

Q: Why is King David’s “grocery list” in the Bible?
A: It ties in with a verse you know well, and besides, nothing in the Bible is trivia.

■ Who ya gonna call? “Dee Parsons is the sole Wartburg Watcher these days and is in my view the most thorough and indefatigable advocate for those who have been abused in churches or by clergy or church staff.”

■ One promotion; is another to follow? “Cardinal Tagle, 62, the charismatic Archbishop of Manila, a sprawling archdiocese in the Philippines, will take over the 400-year-old Roman Curial office which has responsibility for much of the Church’s work in Africa, Asia and Oceania…it cements Cardinal Tagle as “papabile”, a strong contender to succeed a Pope who turns 83 later this month.

■ I ran this as a separate post on the weekend, but if you missed it, acapella worship artist David Wesley has just released his 4th Virtual Choir project. 176 singers from 34 countries perform A Mighty Fortress is Our God.

■ Chick-fil-A’s new corporate donation policy: “What does all this mean for youth looking to work their first job for a company that truly follows Chick-fil-A’s purpose statement? If the third-largest fast-food restaurant chain in America can’t hold on, is it possible for a business to operate by biblical principles?

Lessons in replacing toilet seals and the Corinthian church.

■ The Harvest Bible Chapel saga: There are major penalties for what is termed ‘excessive compensation.’ Can a person become a millionaire on a pastor’s salary? Living in a world where “tax laws were too lenient on non-profit leadership that permitted excessive compensation.”

■ Sheila Wray Gregoire guests at Spiritual Sounding Board, asking women to help with a survey. “I’m embarking on what I hope will be the largest survey of Christian women’s marital and sexual satisfaction. We’re looking at marriage and sex from a whole lot of angles (if you’ll excuse the pun) to uncover what makes great sex–and what wrecks women’s sex lives.”

■ A federal court in Canada has decided that the Church of Atheism doesn’t qualify as a church, nor qualify for tax exempt status.

■ Though I might not agree doctrinally with all he writes, sometimes compassion compels me. This note by Tim Challies on the death of his father is a reminder how our lives are short and sometimes endings are unexpected.

■ Remembering a powerful evangelist: “Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke is the only person who could walk out into an open field, and a million people would show up time after time.” 

■ New Music: Heartbeat by Elevation Rhythm

■ A lighthearted sermon outline on the comparisons between Santa and Jesus. Who do you think comes out on top?

■ Finally, this rant, in the style of Greta Thunberg:

 

 

December 4, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Nativity Calendar Enhanced 2

This week our lead item and our Essay of the Week are one and the same. Some of its content isn’t new to readers here, but as a curator of various sources, the author exceeds the article’s mandate in a good way.

As to the above image, if your Advent calendar has a nativity scene that looks like this one, something is seriously wrong.

Apparently, as part of its two-year severance deal, we’re still paying the Wednesday List Lynx. Might as well get our money’s worth.

Essay of the Week: Ostensibly, Alex Morris’ piece in Rolling Stone is about the ascendancy of Donald Trump to near God-like status among Evangelicals. It does this, but better serves as a history of Evangelicalism in the U.S. as a dominant political faction that Washington ignores at its peril. Depending on your speed it’s a 10-15 minute read, well-researched, but also personal.

■ What if you couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving, not because you couldn’t get a flight, or because of the driving conditions, but because your family has rejected you for being LGBTQ? First Congregational Church in Beloit, Wisconsin opened their doors to allow a Thanksgiving dinner to take place.

■ Why do kids always seem to follow the religious identity of their parents? And why do some leave? The answer has to do with something called creds. (7-minute video.)

■ Joseph Prince’s church in Singapore recently purchased the shopping mall complex which surrounds their own sanctuary. The price was $296M and the church “has the money on hand.

■ Persecution of Christians in China — The Story Continues: It’s not just Evangelicals, Catholic churches are frequent targets, too.

In late September, local officials ordered the congregation to paint over the sign with the name of the church, replace it with “Follow the Party, Obey the Party, and Be Grateful to the Party,” and display the national flag at the entrance. What has hurt the congregations the most was the removal of a painting of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child, later discarded into a dark corner of the church. Instead, a portrait of president Xi Jinping was hung in the center of one of the walls, surrounded by propaganda slogans on both sides. A few days later, officials confiscated the keys to the church and locked all its doors and windows. The congregation lost their place of worship.

■ While in Japan last week, Pope Francis “denounced possession of nuclear weapons even for deterrence as ‘immoral.’ He moved beyond the stance of previous popes, and the U.S. bishops in their pastoral letter on nukes in the 1980s, who grudgingly accepted nukes for deterrence as a step towards disarmament. The Pope’s move on nukes resembles his action on capital punishment, which the church previously accepted in theory, but which it now rejects in total. His political theology seems to be an absolutization of idealism. Moral aspirations must now become policy without explanation of implantation or any recognition of consequences. Critics might say it’s one more example of immanentizing the eschaton…” (Immanentizing the eschaton?)

■ Latest Barna: What young adults say is missing from the church. For one thing, their friends aren’t there.

■ A long time ago, in a musical galaxy far away: Before there was O Come, O Come Emmanuel, there was O Radix Iesse.

■ Have you discovered The Accessible Faith Project videos on YouTube? This recent one aims to de-mystify the Pharisees.

■ If you’ve tracked the journey of Anne Marie Miller, you know it’s been eventful. Recently, The Tennesseean told the story of her freak accident which did major facial damage after a Nerf baseball bat slipped out of someone’s hands

■ Centuries before there was The Bible Project, the best visual aids to learning the story of the Bible was either stained glass windows, or what we today call fine art. This week I discovered the masterpieces of Biblical paintings at ArtBible.org

■ Parenting Place: Becoming emotionally dependent on your kids; using your children as an emotional outlet.

■ New Music: ♫ We actually posted a link to a rough version of this a year ago suggesting it could be titled “Away From the Manger.” Refugee King by Liz Vice is all about Jesus and Mary and Joseph and the flight to Egypt.

■ New Music: ♫ Again, the song itself isn’t new, but there’s now a video for Kanye’s Closed on Sunday. As Relevant points out, “no actual fast food makes an appearance.”

■ New Music ♫ Getting closer to new, this one is from May. Actually I recently found Jaisua’s remix of this, and couldn’t remember sharing the original. Gallery – Wind and Waves.

■ New Music: ♫ Living Room Worship – Let Nothing Separate Us. (Technically speaking, this video is Dining Room Worship.)

■ New Music: ♫ The Young Escape – So Alive (lyric video).

■ New Music for Christmas: With her first independent release, this well-known Christian singer rocketed to the top of the iTunes chart on Monday. Nicole Nordeman – What Child Is This/Fragile.

■ New Music for Christmas: The sister of Rachel Held Evans shares a new version of a classic; Amanda Opelt – Joy to the World. (Read the background on this recording.)

■ The people at Our Daily Bread are now offering daily devotional videos. Click here to watch a sample. (Thanks, Clark.)

■ Mary, did you know? As a matter of fact she did. The angel told her. Suggested similar songs that would never fly:
Abraham, did you know, that you would be the father of a nation?…
David, did you know, that someday you, would rule over all of Israel?…
Mary, did you know; or were you just, another clueless female?…
[I didn’t exactly make those up, they’re more or less in the article.]

■ Many are cold but few are frozen: In Antarctica, “It just so happens that the southernmost chapel (of any religion) is a Catholic chapel at the Argentinian Belgrano II Base (still over 800 miles from the south pole). And it has a unique attribute: it is carved out of pure ice

■ There are a number of “favorite books of the year” lists I won’t link to, but Russell Moore’s is always colorful.

■ It’s one of the shortest Ten Minute Bible Hour videos, but Matt uncovers a chapel in Wall Drugs in Wall, South Dakota. (See image below.)

■ Liberty University students were visiting Denmark to try to learn why the country is so happy. (I don’t make these up; honestly.)

■ And then, there’s the Christian college student who came out as gay during a lip-sync contest. The school, George Fox College, “holds that God intended sexual relations to be reserved for a marriage relationship between a man and a woman.” But student Reid Arthur won the contest, and is giving the $500 prize to an LGBTQ organization.

■ Donations wanted: Humanists UK is looking for crowdfunding donations so they keep a campaign going to shut down faith-based schools. (Where do I find these things? It was this article.)

■ Advent Calendars: The Associated Press reports, “Among rituals associated with the Advent is keeping an Advent calendar. Some reusable versions begin on Dec. 1, and many include windows, doors or pockets to reveal a poem, portion of the Christmas story or a small gift. It’s the latter aspect of Advent calendars that has gone completely bonkers in recent years, offering dog treats, bath bombs, socks, booze and even a limited-edition behemoth stuffed with pricey treasures from Tiffany & Co.” Check out what’s on offer this year.

■ Finally, I hate when this happens: “Mrs. Martens of Saskatoon has been checked in a rehab facility this week after it was discovered that she has been doing nothing but eating popcorn and watching terribly-acted predictable Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel for the past couple weeks.”

The Chapel at Wall Drug. See video link above.


■ In case you missed it: Brant Hansen’s song for Black Friday.

 


■ Bonus item from our archives, on how to configure your worship team on stage:

The Last Word on Modern Worship

 

 

November 27, 2019

Wednesday Connect



Biblical Disaster

So yes, last week I forgot to write this introduction, which is the part that’s visible on Facebook and Twitter, so… here we are! This week I mined our own archives for some graphic images. I’m not sure I was as diligent about attribution back then, but you can play click-the-pix and see if it takes you anywhere.

■ A pastor of a church respected for their charity and community involvement didn’t realize the impact some comments related to gender would have last month.

Normally, such a sermon would not only be expected in an evangelical church, but would be accepted as consistent with Scripture and biology. Nothing unusual so far… But they crossed a trip wire. The current culture rejects civil discourse, rational discussions, and honest evaluations of biological and scientific evidence accepted by many doctors which state that gender tampering can be harmful for children and, for that matter, adults…But this is the reality that many churches will likely be facing in the coming years. As this issue begins to divide families, communities, and churches, some will begin to separate themselves from organized religion and reject Christianity as a whole.

■ C. S. Lewis’ last words: “In his last published piece, an essay for the Saturday Evening Post entitled ‘We Have No Right to Happiness,’ Lewis combats the then-growing, now-prevalent notion that personal happiness, and particular sexual happiness, should be allowed to govern our moral standards…” And unpublished, “As was his practice, the accomplished scholar and famous author took the time, even while literally on his deathbed, to graciously and warmly encourage a child he had never met.”

■ It’s not just Evangelicals: “The former head administrator of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America was arrested Monday on charges he embezzled over half a million dollars from the organization even as the church ran out of money trying to build a shrine to replace a church crushed in the Sept. 11 attacks.”

■ The future of weekend worship:

In January, Hillsong released what’s believed to be the first 360-degree virtual reality (VR) worship music video…Now imagine watching this video in 3D, wearing a VR headset. The musicians appear to be right in front of you – so close you can reach out and almost touch them. As you move your head you are surrounded by a vast army of three dimensional worshippers – hands uplifted, swaying in time with the music… And with that, church is now available as a completely autonomous experience. Christians can have the world’s best preaching and worship piped directly into their eyes and ears without ever having to interact with another human being. Technology allows us to create the illusion of Christian community without the challenges it presents.

■ Pastors who go down the rabbit trails of telling intimate details about their marriages are probably the reason why the conservatives say you should just exegete the text. In this example, the pastor may not have been sensitive to the people hearing the sermon and the variety of home situations from which they come and, an hour later, to which they return. “So, to cap it up, pastors and church leaders, please preach as if one in three women have or will experience domestic violence.”

■ Best headline this week: “Mr. Rogers Was a Televangelist to Toddlers.” Sample: “He probably would have cringed away from that kind of title, but that is totally what he was doing. He was telling people that they are loved and I am confident that that was at the heart of his theology, that God loves us just the way we are. So if you look at the true meaning of evangelism, sharing the good news of the Gospel, he was trying to offer the good news all the time.”  Also…

■ …In this 9-minute podcast, Joanne Rogers, the widow of Fred Rogers, discusses the movie Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.His thing was reconciliation.”

■ We’re really quite different, aren’t we? “I joined a homegroup (Bible Study or life group) two years ago and as time passes, more and more of each member’s character is coming forward. It dawned on me the other day that we honestly do not have anything in common. No one does the same job or has the same friends or enjoys the same hobbies. No one would have met if it wasn’t for the homegroup. The only thing in common is our love for Jesus.

■ Declining Denominations: Yes, the Anglican Church of Canada is hurting. It’s the second fastest decline of any groups in the worldwide Anglican communion. What’s the worst? Buried in the story, one discovers it’s The Episcopal Church in the U.S.

■ Persecution, U.K. style: He was arrested for praying outside an abortion clinic. It violates “a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) that prevents people committing ‘any act of approval/disapproval’ outside the clinic, including ‘prayer’.”

■ Persecution, U.S. style: He was actually speaking rather softly but for that he got attacked in the head with high heels. “…No one did anything to help but look at this old man bleed.”

■ Also at Premiere Christianity, a response to the Catholic columnist in The Daily Telegraph who thinks it’s Christians who should boycott Christmas.

■ Ministry Occupation Options: Chaplaincy. “Each ‘call out’ is another walk with someone through their worst day…Those situations leave us realizing our inability to comfort at a depth that only God can reach. Christians have the promise of supernatural comfort from the Holy Spirit (John 14:26-27), but seldom do we know the spiritual condition of anyone on scene. Standing over a body is no time to make assuming statements about someone’s life, character or destiny…”

■ Going Deeper: A long-form essay exposing the literary brilliance of the creation account. “The biblical narrative is absolutely brilliant literature. However, it is more than that. Amazingly, it presents the basics of a complete worldview. It provides the nature and source of existence.”

■ I guess I hadn’t listened closely enough to the Eric Metaxas Podcast to realize that he was very much inside the Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham, pro-Trump camp. On the November 21st broadcast, both Metaxas and Graham affirmed that anyone opposed to Trump is demonic.

■ A statement from TobyMac and wife Amanda following the funeral of their son: “…We’ve been encouraging ourselves to stand on this….the place of death is actually where all that we believe is most significant. That God has the power to do what he promised, defeat death and give life to anyone who believes. So from the valley of the shadow of death we pray a flood of thankfulness will rise this week…”

■ Things she’d like to hear: Six questions to ask your pastor’s spouse.

■ Parenting Place: When his 13-year old daughter left a list of doctrinal and theological questions on his pillow, he realized that apologetics begins at home.

■ Remember that 5-year-old who got tossed over the railing from the third floor of Mall of America? He’s back in school. He still faces some challenges, but he’s got a testimony: “He tells people all the time when they get hurt, ‘don’t worry, I fell off a cliff, but Angels caught me and Jesus loves me, so I’m ok and you will be too!‘”

■ Our changing culture: It’s not just washroom/restrooms; now it’s the fitting rooms where you try on clothing. Two of the iconic clothing and department stores in the U.K. now say, “As an inclusive business, our policy states that customers are welcome to use whichever fitting room makes them feel the most comfortable.”

■ Finally, song parody band Apologetix has found a way to worm their way into your Sunday morning (or Saturday night) church service with their very own service time countdown videos of which this is one:



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

November 20, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Consider this your personal, engraved invitation from Kanye. For details, see story below.

■ Breaking/Ongoing: Churches and Chaplains are jumping in to help as brush fires ravage the north coast of New South Wales, Australia. 

“The sort of thing they do is mainly about comfort. They have an enormous amount of conversations with people who have gone home and found that there is no home, that they’ve lost their property.

“They’ll go out with people as they go back to their homes and talk to them about the reality of what they have just witnessed or help them to comprehend it and work out what’s next – being part of the process.”

■ Worth Noting: Michael Frost observes that the Evangelical establishment is quick to commend Francis Chan and condemn Jory Micah. “…Holding a different view to Jory doesn’t justify the cruel, hurtful, belittling things people were writing to her.”

■ The pope institutes a new sin category: Ecological sins.

■ Yikes !! Buried in the second-to-last paragraph article of this article on Mormonism, “Mormon missionaries… have publicly praised Wycliffe Bible Translators for opening their translation courses to them, thus assisting in their own translating of the Book of Mormon.” Really? Well, that was worth the price of admission. (Any WBT-supporters out there want to reconsider?)

■ Is Chick-fil-A softening its policy or making an exception? Todd Starnes recently tweeted that the company will be supporting this charity

■ …but you’re probably more aware of the story this week that the fast food chicken outlet will stop its support to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Salvation Army.

■ Even as a friend of ours is traveling India and Nepal and sending back some amazing photographs, it’s easy to forget that this is a region quite hostile to Christianity; at least until I’m reminded of detained Tennessee pastor Bryan Nerren who has “always known the danger” of ministry there. CT reports, “The danger of Nerren’s mission work stems from the fact proselytizing has been illegal in Nepal since 2017.” Despite the challenges, the area is experiencing spiritual revival.

■ Bible translation is no big deal, right? Not exactly; consider trying to translate the word for sin

…In Cameroon, the Bible was originally translated in a few languages, one of them being Ewondo. Different churches/denominations adopted these languages, and so I have been told that in the Catholic church they used (and some still use) Ewondo as a “church language.” My experience is that most people do not understand Ewondo well, so it is sort of like Latin mass. Since the word nsɛm has been used in the churches, people have gotten used to it and many now associate it as the Kwakum word for ‘sin’.

As we have talked about the issue, several people (though not the majority) have said that we are supposed to be translating into Kwakum, not Ewondo. And if they have a perfectly good word for ‘sin’ in Kwakum, why would you use a borrowed Ewondo word? But of course, that raises the question: Is sɛmbu really a Kwakum word for ‘sin’?

So, I went out and did a survey with two men (one who says nsɛm and one who says sɛmbu). We went to a total of 10 villages and talked to 48 people…This is how we spent two hours of our translation time last Friday. On top of that I spent probably around 10 hours surveying. This is all for one word!

■ MacArthur on MacArthur: Did he make nice, offer a clarification, or dig the hole deeper? You decide: “If women are in charge, we’re in trouble. And if you look carefully at our nation, you would have to agree that it’s childish, young, inexperienced, ignorant women who are ascending into power. When you overthrow the divine order, the results are always disastrous.”

■ Transgender Issues (1): On the issue of kids wanting to transition, a specialist says, “I’m of the opinion that this is a psychiatric problem and it should be approached psychiatrically rather than physically…”

■ Transgender Issues (2): …but this young person, after making the full transition, is left with nothing but regret. “I surrounded myself in an echo chamber that supported and validated my poor decisions, because the others were also, unfortunately, stuck in that pit, too.”

■ What if? Dealing with the fears churches have of inter-generational worship. “Just a willingness to be a little uncomfortable in order to grow, to learn, to experience something that may seem new to us, but is actually the way things were for centuries.” 

■ Canada Corner 🇨🇦 : Facing extinction, “‘Projections from our data indicate that there will be no members, attenders or givers in the Anglican Church of Canada by approximately 2040,’ said the Rev. Neil Elliot…” The historic denomination is a counterpart to the Episcopal church in the U.S. “Membership in the Anglican Church fell from a high of 1.3 million in 1961 in membership to 357,123 in 2017.” (But wait, didn’t we hear this before, ten years ago?)

Christmas Music: Joshua Aaron sings “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” in English & Hebrew Live at the Tower of David. 

■  Christmas Music: The group Switch performs Joy (as in the carol you know that starts with that word.) Love this version.

■ Church Leadership: Spotting arrogance in younger leaders with these seven signs. Sample: “All of the influencers in your life are your peers.

■ More Leadership Lessons: Dealing with ‘The 7-year itch,” in Missions and Ministry which actually happens in the 5-10-year window. Here are five steps when you are approaching ‘rusting out.’

■ Unreached People Group? — Recognizing the ministry needs of those dealing with sexual brokenness.

■ All I Want for Christmas: The Hallmark Channel is tapping into the longings of the human heart. “If you’ve seen one of these movies, you’ve seen them all…Still, what these movies lack in Emmy Awards, they make up for in something that those creating and distributing edgier flicks would kill for: millions and millions of viewers.

■ Back to Website Basics: Forget trying to be cool. You’ve only got 15 seconds. Where the heck is your church and what time does it start?

■ It’s a science test, and for your church-raised children, the right answers go against everything they believe. If they’re in Ohio, not to worry. They can go against the science on the basis of religious beliefs.

■ New Bible translation: PEV aka Plain English Version, “designed for Indigenous Australians whose mother tongue is an Aboriginal language.”

Mark 9:5-6
NIV: ‘Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)’
PEV: ’Peter, James and John were very frightened and they didn’t know what to say, but Peter talked anyway. He said to Jesus, ”Teacher, this is great! We must put up special bush shades; one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!“’
Eph. 2:8a
NIV: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God’
PEV: ‘God is really good to you. You believed in Jesus and God saved you. You did not do anything good but God saved you anyway. It did not cost you anything ’
2 Thes.2:12
NIV: ‘we had … been insulted in Philippi’
PEV: ‘Philippi people got really cheeky to us’

■ Provocative Headline of the Week: Dave Ramsey Pulled Out a Gun in a Staff Meeting. Well at least that was heard in a deposition in a recent court case. It references a 2014 incident which is fleshed out more in this story.

■ Provocative Devotional Title of the Week: I Am Done Praying With You.

“At one worship service of another church, the worship leader who wrapped his music set said a prayer, then the next person to go up to give announcements closed with a prayer so the next person could lead us in the confessional prayer, then the pastor opened and closed his sermon with a prayer, and the final guy “prayed us out.” While I am all for prayer, I am not for perfunctory prayer that is really just a socially acceptable way to wrap things up (or move musicians around on a stage).”

■ Shopping List (1): Got young grandchildren? Paul Tautges has four picture books you need to know about… or…

■ Shopping List (2): …If they’re just slightly older, these Bible story books and Bibles from a director of NextGen ministries.

■ Confused about the whole gender pronoun thing? The Quakers worked some of this out a few centuries ago.

■ And then this story: “Kanye West revealed his first ever opera, Nebuchadnezzar, will be performed at the Hollywood Bowl next week.” Out of all the people in the Bible, why this one? “Self-described as a recent convert and not a theologian, West understands that Nebuchadnezzar suffered from bipolar. West has the same illness and the artist explained how others have used it as a reason to cut him down and de-platform him.” 

■ New Music ♫ (rap): Dillon Chase – Paradise. “I’m heading for paradise / I’m ready for the afterlife / Tell me is this over yet / ‘Cause I know what happens next;” fun, escapist theology! 

■ New Music ♫ (acoustic): Okay, this is a coincidence. This (different) song has the same title. Coby James – Paradise

■ New Music ♫ (contemporary): If I’m reading this right, it was recorded in a cave. Matthew West – The God Who Stays.

■ Creative Sermonizing : “Brian Zahnd is a pastor and preacher in Missouri, and a very big music fan. He has done sermons using a song’s poetry as a springboard to a message of hope for years now. Recently, he did a sermon like this using Jimi Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower… I had never heard any connection to the language in the Book of Isaiah. Zahnd does an awesome job with it. (Link includes both the song and the sermon.)

■ Finally, with a previous ruling overturned, a Kentucky man will now be able to go ahead with his vanity license plates proclaiming himself to be God. (Pictured below)

 

 

 

November 13, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Ironically subtitled, “The Subtle Art of Appearing Better Than You Are;” this book won’t be appearing anytime soon. See stories below. [Image: Waterbrook]

An abandoned French chapel. “It’s on private property, meaning that the municipality doesn’t have to take care of it, like most churches in France. The owner, for a reason or another, couldn’t or wouldn’t maintain it.” Source: Reddit.


Often, when looking back at the previous week’s events, there is one story which sticks out and I wrestle with whether to mention it or if it’s best to assume that everyone has already seen it. This week, it was the revelation by Charisma Magazine of the indiscretions of John Crist, a Christian comedian.

So often, these are not happy stories. Each one however is a cautionary tale; and one that people — perhaps even one person reading this blog — needs to hear. But first…

Francis Chan is moving to Asia.

“I feel like I’ve been fishing in the same pond my whole life,” he said. “And now there’s like thousands of other fishermen at the same pond, and our lines are getting tangled and everyone’s fighting over stupid things, and one guy tries some new lure and we go, ‘Oh, he caught a fish, let’s all try his method!’ And it just feels like, what are we all doing here?”

■ …But there’s something in the way Francis Chan said it that has him mired in controversy. (Read the whole thread.)

■ James MacDonald responds to being considered “disqualified for ministry.” Spoiler alert: He disagrees.

■ Runs in the Family: Anne Graham Lotz on Donald Trump’s withdrawl from Syria as a fulfillment of Ezekiel 38. This is the sentence where the writer lost me: “…Lotz appeared on “The Jim Bakker Show” last Wednesday to promote her new best-selling book…” Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

■ Back when I was a regular listener, I got to ‘meet’ so many people through the Phil Vischer Podcast, now the Holy Post podcast. Two of these really stand out. One was John Walton, and the other was John Mark Comer. John Mark recently joined Skye Jethani to talk about his new book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. (Both are rabid Dallas Willard fans.)

■ Are you a fan of the CBS-TV show God Friended Me?

So, back to John Crist. Here’s what happened.

■ Our changing culture: A Columbia University theater professor resigns after being told the hiring committee he chaired could not hire the best person for the job, unless that person was either female, a minority, or gay; and then was pressured into casting a trangender student in the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. He said that America is heading toward the communism he left behind years later in Romania.

■ In another one of his visits to different types of churches, Matt at Ten Minute Bible Hour certainly found a colorful interviewee in Illinois with Lutheran Pastor William Weedon. (33 minutes; watch it all!) (Already watched it? Here’s the follow-up interview.)

Essay of the Week: The 1.3 million people of Estonia have over 700 choirs. “Much of their history is marked by occupation and oppression and they’ve rarely been a free people. As a result, they’re not known for their universities, for their innovation or their army. They aren’t known for great food, scientific exploits or their soccer team.
They are known for their voices.”

■ New Music ♫ — I don’t see a lot of clicks on these each week, but I do get encouraging comments, often by email. These three all originated in the same place. I went to confirm an event date on the website of Life100.3, a Christian ‘superstation’ (not ‘superstition,’ spellcheck) in central Ontario, Canada and found these three — none of whom I was familiar with — on their daytime Top 10 list.

♫ The band: We Are Leo; the song: Your Voice.

♫ The artist: Charlie Rey; the song: Undeniable Love.

♫ The artist: Joel Vaughn; the song: I Look to You.

■ What’s your theology of heaven like? What of this live will we carry forward into that life? Much of has to do with your views on the nature of God.

■ Irony: An Indonesian religious scholar, who helped draft one region’s very strict adultery laws was publicly flogged 28 times after being caught after being caught in a parked car with a married woman.

■ From our Anglican/Episcopal friends, “Songs for the Holy Other includes almost 50 ‘queer hymns’ by and for individuals who identify with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.” “…[I]t’s an amazing resource for music directors and for priests who are looking for hymns that are affirming for the LGBT community.” “There are songs about our created belovedness—how God created us, God loves us, and our sexuality, our gender doesn’t change that.” And yes, worship leader, they’re covered by your CCLI license.

■  A follow-up essay on the story of the mother and father arguing over the sex of their seven year old: “…our nation is so entangled with the diabolical concept of gender theory that, in this situation, the jury ruled exactly the wrong way: they negated the rightful authority of the parent who is striving to uphold nature and validated the authority of the parent who spurns nature. The reasoning is completely upside down.”

■ Did you ever laugh so hard you cried? That was the question posed to Brant Hansen recently. Click on Podcast #1023, and jump to 12:28 and listen to the end. (Had to listen to it twice.) (5 minutes total.)

■ Essay of the Week: “Let’s say your last meeting included five songs. Based on those five, would a new person be able to tell that you believed in the Trinity? In the cross? In the resurrection? In the return of Christ? … I have been in churches that seem never to sing about the cross; I was once in a church that (literally) never sang about anything else. The problem in each case was not the songs that were sung, but the ones that weren’t

■ Kayne is headed to Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church this weekend. Hardly surprising. It’s how TMZ reports this that makes it more interesting.

■ In Case I Missed It, Which I Did: This was published in RNS back in October in a report on the Evolving Faith Conference, co-founded by Rachel Held Evans. (Referenced in a comment on Saturday at Internet Monk.)

Dan Evans, Held Evans’ husband, also spoke during the opening session, reading an excerpt from a book she had been working on before her death… and which will be published posthumously in 2020.

In his remarks, Evans opened up about some of his own personal struggles with faith and Christianity… “I’m agnostic,” Evans said. “I haven’t been public with this.

“I wish I was certain we were all going to live forever,” he continued. “I wish I was certain we are all going to heaven. I wish I was certain I would see Rachel again. But it doesn’t seem very likely to me. I don’t know.

■ Names to Note: Addison Bevere is the son of well known authors John and Lisa Bevere, has a book coming in January with Revell, is the COO of Messenger International (his parents’ organization) and is the cofounder of Sons and Daughters.

■ Another pastor steps down because of a sexual abuse which was long in the past. “Charles W. Lyons, who led the 400-member congregation at Armitage Baptist Church for the last 45 years, resigned in July after telling church leaders two years earlier about his misconduct.” The events took place before he began his run leading the church. Why mention this here? Because this is yet another church in the Chicago area.

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers

■ Won’t you be my neighbor? The Mr. Rogers movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens US Thanksgiving weekend. (FYI: Fred Rogers was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963.)

■ Parenting Place: Using the new, third edition of the NIV Life Application Bible with your kids. “Overall, if someone knew nothing about the Bible’s background, this study Bible has more than enough information to get by while still not getting lost in the weeds with theology or historical information.” 

■ The 2019 Christy Awards for Christian fiction were announced last week. (See image below.) Patti Calahan’s Becoming Mrs. Lewis was Book of the Year.

■ Unusual Twitter Account: “No Context Chick Tracts.” Description: “The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Chick Publications as a hate group. There are many valid and effective responses to hate; we believe humor is one of them.

■ Hilarious. Not this tweet, but the 300+ comments. Captioning the Donald Trump/Paula White saga with a scripture verse.

November 8, 2019

Blogroll Update #11

Computer searchIt’s been almost a year since I did one of these. This is not the blogroll that appears here on the blog, but rather things I bookmark in my computer as I find them. If you read all of the various parts to this ongoing series of lists, it comes to several thousand. If you find something that’s a dead link let me know. Also, because the list is shorter this time, I’m including an updated list of the various sources I use to compose the weekly Wednesday list.

Blogs (new)
More Than Cake
Blog – Phylicia Masonheimer
Blog | Jennifer LeClaire Ministries International
Standing For God – In These Evil Times
Mark 12:30 – Worshiping with Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength
In the Fourth Nocturn
Ken’s Daily Bible Re
thinkingpastorally
SeanPaulMurphyVille
Out of the Depths
Jesustrek | Journey of a Lifetime by Tom Cox
BROKEN BELIEVERS
TXAB: The Christ Almighty Blog
The Apologista | Love, Life, and Logic with Lauren
BLOG – JimmyHinton.org
BLOG — Danielle Strickland
Faith and Leadership | Duke Divinity
Home Page | Vital Sermons
Brenton Collyer
Just A Thought
Home – Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy
In Pleasant Places
Gospel Taboo
ExpressYourself4Him | A writer’s journey with God
Rock Badger Christianity – YouTube
Peacehacks
Simply Shannon!
Generosity Monk – Meditations
Warhorn Media – Welcome to the reformation.
Church Militant – Serving Catholics
the Way? – Following Jesus in the 21st century
Spiritual Regurgitations |Rev. Dr. Robin J. Dugall
Nathan Hamm
CultureWatch – Bill Muehlenberg
Jen Pollock Michel
Todd Wilhelm: Thou Art The Man
Hare Translation Journey –  Bible translators in Cameroon
Practical Faith
Christian News Sources
FaithWorld | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters.com
Christianity Today Gleanings
Christian News, The Christian Post
Christian News on Christian Today
Faith and Leadership
Disrn – Brief, smart, faithful
Christian news, church news, **** – FaithfulNews
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
Religion News Service | Religion News in Photos, Articles & Video
Religion Dispatches
Christian News Headlines
RealClearReligion
News | The Christian Institute
Trending News – Positive Encouraging K-LOVE
OneNewsNow.com – Your News Right Now
HuffPost Religion
GetReligion
RELEVANT Magazine
Spiritual Sounding Board
CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com
On Faith:  The Washington Post
NRB :: LATEST NEWS
Persecution News of Churches Persecuted & Christian Sufferings
Forum 18 Latest News
WORLD Magazine | Today’s News, Christian Views
Religious News – SRN News
Christian News Network
News & Events
WND – Faith
Breaking Christian News
ASSIST News Service
Holy Post | National Post
Religion News Blog
Belief – CNN.com
News | LifeSiteNews.com
Premier Christianity
Mission Network News – Mission Network News
The Old Black Church
On Religion – The UK’s first magazine about faith and religion
God Reports
BuzzVine | The Christian Post
Converge MagazineConverge
Baptist News, Opinion, Resources, Inspiration | Baptist Standard
The Journal of Gospel Music –
Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project
Read the Spirit | Spiritual, Interfaith, Cross-Cultural Media
News | The Living Church
The Aquila Report —  Reformed and Presbyterian
Rush to Press, news from Christian publishing industry
Ecumenical News.com – Daily Christian, Ecumenical News Online
The Association of Religion Data Archives – U.S. and World Religion Statistics and Data – ARDA
TheBlaze – Breaking news and opinion
The College Fix
NEW ADVENT: Home
Now The End Begins: End Times Bible Prophecy
Gateway News — Christian News Portal, South Africa
ISSUU – Faith FEED
Parents As First Educators
Christian News on Christian Times
NEWSROOM – NRB.org
Religion Dispatches
Christian Daily
SBC Today | Southern Baptist News and Analysis
Christian News on Christian Today
Baptist Press
Jewish News & Israel News – JNS.org
ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
religion | The Africa Report
These Christian Times
Sports Spectrum – Christian Sports Magazine, Christian Athletes and Profiles, Faith-based Influences
Christian Examiner Newspapers | Christian News, Commentary, Events
Christian News, The Gospel Herald
News Archive – Mission Network News
News : BREATHEcast
Episcopal Cafe
365 Days Of Inspiring Media | Music and Entertainment Blogs with a Motivational and Moving Message For All Days Of The Year
BRnow.org – Baptist News – Biblical Recorder is the Official News Service and Baptist Press for the NC Baptist State Convention
All are welcome.
All Religion News and Press Releases from PR Newswire
Trunews. The Real News, Uncensored.
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
News & Ideas | Faith and Leadership
Christian Current Events – ChristForums
Good News, Inspiring, Positive Stories – Good News Network
Religion – Good News Network
ChurchPOP | Make holy all the things!
Christian Book Expo
Religion
Home Page – HAPPY SONSHIP
Religion | Commonweal Magazine
BCNN1: Black Christian News Network One
Catholic Stand – Living the Truth the Church Teaches : Catholic Stand
BREATHEcast
Christian Standard | Resourcing Christian Leaders
Home – EpicPew
Christian News on Christian Times
The Christian Mail | Christian News, Christian Mail for Christians Worldwide
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
The Christian Post,Christian News
Acts of Faith – The Washington Post
Worthy Christian Forums
Christian Forums
Company News | HarperCollins Christian Publishing
The Christian Sentinel – Where Faith Meets Investigative Reporting
Publishers Weekly Bestseller Lists
News : Hallels
PE News | News
Religion Books and Publishing News | Publishers Weekly
Church
Religious News – SRN News
Omni Articles | Quill and Quire
BRnow.org – Baptist News | Baptist Press Coverage by Biblical Recorder
Christian Daily
Religion | HuffPost
NEWSROOM – NRB.org
The Living Church – Serving the One Body of Christ
Christian News Archives – Christian Blog
Eternity News
Global Christian News – Christian News Across The World!
Articles Archives | ChurchPOP
World Religion News
Religion Dispatches – Rewire.News
Hallels
Latest News :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
Breaking Christian News – Religion Headlines
Religion & Politics
Religion Archives – The Federalist
Church Watch Central
Eternity News
News – Global Christian News
Religion Release Distribution by EIN Presswire and EIN News
Religious Forums
Reformation Charlotte
Homepage – Religion News Service
Home – Anglican Ink © 2019
Subject: Religion | The College Fix
News – Word&Way
Christian Film News™
After the Altar Call –
Home – The Christian Index
Bitter Winter | Religious liberty and human rights in China
Home | Step FWD UK Christian Chart

The link to part one. (October, 2014…six years worth of links to that point)

The link to part two. (St. Patrick’s Day, 2015)

The link to part three. (May, 2015, also included my news sources to that point)

The link to part four. (August, 2015, included blog aggregators and people who do things similar to the Wednesday Link List or Wednesday Connect)

The link to part five. (August, 2016, a full year later)

The link to a mini update. (Just five weeks after part five the file was getting full again)

The link to part six. (January 2017)

The link to part seven (June 2017) 

The link to part eight (October 2017)

The link to part nine (May, 2018; included an updated list of Christian news sources)

The link to part ten (January, 2019)

November 6, 2019

Wednesday Connect

See our Essay of the Week below for more on this theme.

God is getting into wearable tech. See story below. [Vatican News photo.]


Welcome to Wednesday Connect #78, hence the 78 RPM Records motif this week. The image is from Wikipedia who inform us that, “The literature does not disclose why 78 rpm was chosen for the phonograph industry, apparently this just happened to be the speed created by one of the early machines and, for no other reason continued to be used.”

■ Just as coastal regions put up beacons and lighthouses to warn passers-by of immanent danger, just to be clear, Harvest Bible Chapel has declared to the world that James MacDonald is presently unfit for ministry and “biblically disqualified.”

■ …and while a number of HBC churches have jettisoned the name, the same is happening with former Sovereign Grace Ministires churches.

■ Crusade of the Week: Kanye gave an altar call, and according to reports, 1,000 people responded out of a crowd of 6,000.

■ I found this gem of an article this week, and wanted to feature it even though it was posted at the end of August. Did missionaries really receive used tea bags from supporters back home? Did they really pack their supplies in coffins believing they would be buried on the mission field? In the article and the comments you can explore the myths and memes.

■ Transgender; gender-fluid; what’s a parent to do? Opinions vary. At Premier Magazine (part of the UK’s popular Christian media network) two articles appeared recently.

  • First, The Christian Institute’s Sharon James wrote an article on dealing with gender fluid kids. (We often quote the Institute’s news feed for articles here.) She offered 10 ways parents can respond.
  • But three days later, Katie Pope, the mother of a transgender 16-year old found the article disturbing and asked for equal time. She gives 10 alternative responses.

■ Persecution Watch: An American pastor has had his passport seized and is being detained in India.

■ Christian Education Department: J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity isn’t a fan of dumbing it down or trying to make it exciting and dynamic. He says we need to stop treating kids like kids because “this new generation is ripe to hear the word of God.”

■ Scot McKnight kicks of a series of looking closely at Introducing Evangelical Theology by Daniel J. Treier (Baker Academic), which is organized differently from other books of this type. “Here theology is not forced into one biblical author that mutes the voice of other biblical authors, but instead it is shaped by the fundamental categories of the great tradition that forms the Apostles’ Creed and the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.” Don’t miss this introductory article.

■ Parenting Place: This is a powerful article. 14 Things you can easily do to give your children a global perspective. “You might be raising a future missionary.”

Essay of the Week: They only show up a few times a month. So what? Attendance is not the same as faithfulness. Author Mimi Patrick asks us to “stop shaming busy parents” because it’s “not the way to minister to these families.” (Sample advice: Put teaching modules on YouTube and ask the student to leave a comment each week.)

Pachamama! What was he thinking? The Pope placing Incan fertility idols inside The Vatican? From studying pastoral issues in the Amazon region to bringing in a female shaman into The Vatican gardens and brought in two such statues, stunning people watching from around the world. The idols were later placed next to the altar of St. Peter’s. Then they were thrown into the river. (3½ video.) (Read further details at LifeSite News.)

■ Podcast 🔊 — Fostering another church. Not adopting. “There are neighboring churches in your community struggling and need your church’s love.”

■ Is giving down? 💵 — Also at Thom Rainer’s blog is this summary of five reasons why giving may drop.

Addition (8:55 AM) — Roger Olson lists (and laments) the many Christian leaders and authors who have landed on the Fundamentalists’ blacklist: “Tony Campolo (one of their first targets way back in the 1980s), Jim Wallis, Clark Pinnock, Stanley Grenz, Beth Moore, Rob Bell, John Sanders, Greg Boyd, Andy Stanley, Richard Foster, Carl F. H. Henry, Bernard Ramm; I could go on and on.” He wonders when “moderate evangelicals going to come out of hiding and condemn the vituperation of the neo-fundamentalists?”

■ Essential Reading about Essential Oils: Do you have people in your church who are into the Essential Oils movement? Or who recruit other people to sell the products through multi-level marketing? People may be led to expect more than just basic health benefits, and practitioners may find the love for the product all consuming.

■ Significant Music ♫ — “On June 1, 2019, 15 year-old Lily Kelly was tragically killed when the car she riding in was hit by a drunk driver. In the days that followed, a song emerged that Lily had written and recorded just six months before. Family and friends found comfort in Lily’s original song, ‘I AM,’ which tells of her close relationship with Jesus and her thorough understanding of His character.”  

Addition (8:48 AM): Josh Harris’ first public interview since renouncing his faith. It’s only 3 minutes, so there must be more somewhere.

■ Following the death of his 21-year old son, TobyMac has established a foundation to allow kids who can’t afford it to pursue music education. The Truett Foster Foundation is accepting single and monthly gifts.

■ Longtime Christian blogger Mark Altrogge offers 12 reasons we should belong to a local church.

■ Youth Ministry / Parenting: There’s been a significant spike in teen suicide since 2007.

■ Podcast 🔊 — Hey readers, why didn’t you share this one with me? The Mega podcast is the official podcast of Twin Hills, a non-existent mega church. (Note: This type of satire is not for everyone.) Read the story about the podcast itself. Or, listen to an episode.

■ Blowing Our Own Horn Department: Four days ago, our sister blog, Christianity 201 celebrated 3,500 consecutive daily posts. C201 is a melting-pot of devotional and Bible study content from across the widest range of Christian blogs and websites.

■ ICYMI: Adam Ford’s Christian Daily Reporter has resurfaced as Disrn

Addition (9:25 AM): There is finally a release date for home viewing of the Overcomer film, November 26th on digital but those looking for a physical DVD will have to wait until December 17th, giving them only a week to purchase it before Christmas.

■ New Music ♫ — We’re gonna kick off this week’s cluster of five new songs with an audio-only by Citizen Way, The Hope Song.

■ New Music ♫ — The Porter’s Gate with a song featuring Casey J. and Josh Garrels, Daughters of Zion. Actually, there are two  different versions of this just posted. This one features Urban Doxology with The Porter’s Gate performing the same song, Daughters of Zion. (This may not be a song for complementarians.) 

■ New Music ♫ — This is the #1 song on the UK’s Step FWD Christian music chart, One Voice Collective and their video of Strength to Go On. (Personally, I love the sound of mass choirs, so it’s #1 with me as well.)

■ New Music ♫ — Also from the UK, the folk/acoustic sound of Land and Salt and their video for Homeless Hearts (Amazing Grace)

■ New Music ♫ — Lastly, in this week’s music cluster, some fun with Matt Maher and Elle Limebear and a collection of Sunday School instruments Alive and Breathing.

■ Unforeseen Consequences: When we tell our female children and teens that “modest is hottest” we are inadvertently sending a rather contrary message. The author of this piece makes her two key points quite well.

■ It knows when teens are sleeping.
It knows when they’re awake.
Okay, maybe not literally, but nearly five million students are being monitored by schools “paying big money” for the online surveillance services of Gaggle. 

Addition (8:30 AM): This video collage of “The Best of Paula White” is one thing. But do not — do not — miss the 250+ comments as readers attempt to caption the video with a scripture verse.

■ Finally: Not an Onion story — The Vatican is behind a high-tech rosary. “However, unlike its traditional predecessor, the eRosary links to a ‘Click To Pray’ prayer app of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. The device is activated by making the sign of the cross.


[Source: Casual Christian Comedy 2]

October 30, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Brooklyn-based brand MSCHF released a limited-edition Nike Air Max 97 sneaker filled with water from the Jordan River in the soles at a cost of $3,000 per pair. The sneakers, called “Jesus Shoes,” sold out within minutes. Story link below.

Tomorrow is October 31st. It’s a special day for both children and lovers of candy, and people who like to pretend they are someone (or something) else. Jesus had a name for people who were pretending to be someone else. Can you name it? 

Also, all of this week’s New Music features are for artist names you’ll recognize.

■ In my opinion, the top Christian news story this week was the untimely death of TobyMac’s 21-year-old son, Truett Foster.

■ What’s new in funerals: Alkaline hydrolysis or what is sometimes called water cremation.

…[T]treatment with alkalies in water solution in a sealed container…converts proteins into simpler water-soluble compounds, which are harmless — and, indeed, can provide valuable plant nutrients. Disarticulated bones remain, softened but intact and easily crumbled to a pure white powder; again, an excellent phosphatic fertiliser. Alternatively, they can be dried and stabilised for burial in a small casket.”

Reducing the process, “to three to four hours has been possible using a pressurised stainless-steel cylinder in equipment that is like a large washing machine.” For some reason, I found the picture rather clinical.

■ Best opening paragraph:

A lot of evangelicals are swimming these days. They’re slipping on their metaphorical fins and masks and churning their way across bodies of water to emerge on the other shore as members of a different faith community. Those that move from evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism are said to swim the Tiber; those that become Orthodox swim the Bosporus.

The reader is invited to instead swim the Mississippi, and check out Lutheranism.

■ An avowed complementarian says that nonetheless, John MacArthur does not speak for him.

Neither his words nor his attitude towards Beth Moore displayed even a basic respect, let alone the kind of godly, honouring love that Christians are required to show even to their enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). He was not seeking to enable her to flourish, or “contributing extra features to her in such a way as to improve or emphasize her qualities”. He wasn’t defending a complementarian view of the Bible. He might have been speaking at a conference entitled ‘Truth Matters’ but he wasn’t defending truth, he was insulting a woman (and one who wasn’t even there to defend herself). In doing this, he betrayed the model of biblical leadership that he claims to believe in.

And in the conclusion, “He hasn’t won anyone over to his beliefs.”

■ Patterns in Peacemaking: Beth Moore tells her followers, “Let’s move on.”

■ Jesus had to die. But why such an extreme, or — pardon the etymological pun — excruciating death? At Good Question Blog, “I don’t feel that I can answer your question in terms of purpose, that is, why God would have wanted Jesus to die that way. I can’t imagine that this was something that God wanted, intended, or made happen, even though God did send Jesus into the world at a time when crucifixion was practiced, knowing that he would be ‘delivered into the hands of men.’

■ Parenting Place: The latest from Pew Research notes that, “The share of young adults who could be considered ‘financially independent’ from their parents by their early 20s – an assessment based on their annual income – has gone down somewhat in recent decades. A new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data finds that, in 2018, 24% of young adults were financially independent by age 22 or younger, compared with 32% in 1980.” And this consequence, “There’s a sense among a majority of Americans that parents are doing too much for their young adult children these days.”

■ Leadership Lessons: When pastors have a ton of education, it’s good to keep the perspective of this guy, “God did not give me a congregation so that I could have all of the benefits of being a Church History professor without having to grade papers or sit on the curriculum committee; God entrusted me with a flock so that I could feed them, love them, and point them toward the Chief Shepherd. They need to know Jesus Christ and the gospel.”

Essay of the Week: Does anyone need healing? When the question is asked, and you’ve been just been diagnosed, but you remain seated. “My body is in need of some divine intervention, no doubt. But I didn’t stand up. I didn’t even consider standing up…I didn’t let them pray over me and beseech God for bodily healing on my behalf because I don’t believe it’s going to happen…Was the bleeding woman physically healed? Was the blind man? They almost certainly were and that alone is worthy of exploration. But it’s actually the least interesting part of those stories.”

■ Since we last gathered, there has been great momentum for Kanye West’s Christian album, Jesus is King, available for download. As I prepared this on Monday night, the top song on YouTube was this title, Selah

■ …But it’s difficult to let this pass without sharing this People magazine headline: Kanye West Asked Jesus Is King Collaborators Not to Have Premarital Sex While Working on Album

■ …Meanwhile at New Wineskins, a reminder that the church has a 2,000 year history of being skeptical about high-profile converts

■ …Finally, a review of the Kanye IMAX film itself, Jesus is King. This contains many spoilers. (But it’s only a 35-minute film.)

■ Julie Roys looks at the situation at Willow Creek Crystal Lake, but not so buried in the story is a mention that Bill Hybels received a sweet retirement deal. “…Hybels’ retirement contract was ‘non-contestable’ and had no morals clause…”

■ Divine appointments can happen in small groups: “I have seen a group member dealing with an illness rare enough that only one person in the entire church should be experiencing it. But when the person opened up about it, two more people in the group said they had experienced or were experiencing the same thing. This phenomenon is not just reserved for health problems. I see the same thing over and over with things like dreams, passions, family issues, and work problems.”

■ If you find yourself reading this blog after the rapture and are wondering what to do next, there’s this book, pictured: Rapture 911: What To Do If You’re Left Behind — “Rapture 911 is your handbook for navigating the Apocalypse. If you like to-the-point information, actionable checklists, and helping save your loved ones’ souls, then get this sobering guide to humanity’s final days.” (The publisher link I hoped to provide is actually the author’s LinkedIn page.)

■ Provocative header of the week — Star Trek: 50 Years of Humanist Values.

■ After his speech was edited for the second time, Kirk Franklin is calling for a boycott of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the Dove Awards, and the Gospel Music Association. He raised social justice issues previously in 2016.

Most intriguing opening sentence: “In case you were wondering if we are living among complete reprobates with no concept of financial responsibility, a bunch of idiots are buying “Jesus shoes,” with holy water injected into the soles, for $3000 a pair, making some swindler very rich.”

Crux Ansata
(Ankh symbol)

■ Religious symbols and icons: Did Christians steal the Ankh symbol? (6 minute video.)

■ New Music ♫ — Remember Rachel Lampa? She’s back check out the audio for He’s Good.

■ New Music ♫ — New from Rend Collective, audio for Revival Anthem.

■ New Music ♫ — A song of testimony from Aaron Shust, lyrics and video for This I Know.

■ New Music ♫ — Just released from Matt Redman, official lyric video for The Same Jesus.

■ Sleeping in Church: “Eutychus probably had an excuse. He probably worked long hours, or walked a long ways to get there. I do think he moved to the window in an effort to keep awake. The spirit was willing, the flesh was exhausted.” Recommendation: Let them keep sleeping.

■ Not sure about this one: “Meme Monday: Calvinism is the Gospel Urinal.”

■ Finally, a church organist is working hard to learn Kanye’s Christian repertoire.



The Door to Hell
The Darvaza gas crater also known as the Door to Hell or Gates of Hell, is a natural gas field collapsed into a cavern located in Derweze, Turkmenistan. Click image for details.


Matchstick Church
If you click the image, you’ll discover that building matchstick churches is a popular pastime.

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