Thinking Out Loud

January 22, 2019

Rooted in Reality, Released as Fiction: Book Took 23 Years to be Published

Filed under: books, Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:28 am

Last week, Michael Bell, one of the contributors at Internet Monk shared the story behind the just-released book In His Majesty’s Secret Service written by his younger brother, Patrick. First here’s what Michael wrote at iMonk:

A little over thirty years ago my younger brother, Patrick Bell, left on an adventure. He joined Greg, his best friend from high school, on a clandestine team smuggling bibles behind the Iron Curtain. For two years they crisscrossed Eastern Europe bringing Bibles, medicines, and food to Christians who faced persecution and even death because of their faith.

They took ten trips into Romania, where Christians were having a particularly difficult time under President Nicolae Ceaușescu. It was also very stressful for the smuggling teams. “When you hear gunfire outside your hotel and there are bullet holes in the window and blood on the carpet, you know you’re in the thick of things.” A network of informers meant that they could never be sure who they could trust.

In his downtime he started writing about what he was experiencing. He wrote in the genre of a historical fiction, with himself and Greg being portrayed as two of the main characters in the book.

His letters from their Austrian base kept us up-to-date on what he was doing. Some of his stories made it into the manuscript he was writing. Others for security reasons did not. He wrote to our family about some of the ethical issues that a Bible Smuggler faces: What do you do when asked at the border if you have Bibles? How do you hold church services when they have been banned? These very real dilemmas were addressed in his manuscript in the context of a story of high risk, betrayal, faith, prison escapes, near misses, revolution, death, and even a little romance. All was skilfully woven together in a way that put the manuscript into the “can’t put down” category.

In the late fall of 1989 we received a letter from Pat. “I’m not very hopeful for the situation in Romania”, he wrote, “there are soldiers with sub-machine guns on every corner.” Six weeks later, the revolution had been successful and Ceaușescu was arrested.. “When Ceaușescu was shown on TV, soldiers became so angry at him, they wanted to shoot the TV.” On Christmas day, 1989, Ceaușescu and his wife were led before a firing squad and executed. They had been tried before a secret tribunal and found guilty of multiple crimes against the country.

A few days later I was watching the CBS evening news. The Romanian border had just been opened with the West and CBS had a reporter on the spot interviewing the first visitors to make the trip across. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw my brother Pat, and Holly (his future wife), smiling at the cameras from inside their vehicle? “Why are you headed into Romania”, the reporter asked? “We heard there was great skiing in Romania!”, came the response. The Bibles were, as usual, still carefully concealed. I learned later that they were given a tank escort into Bucharest and he was offered a ride!

So what happened to the manuscript? In 1995, Pat and Holly moved to Japan to teach English in order to pay down school debts. The manuscript went into a box. For the twelve years they were in Japan, another year in Kenya, and nine more years in Canada, the manuscript sat in the box unseen. About a year ago Pat happened upon the box and opened it. There was the manuscript. The floppy disks on which it had been written were long gone. “We really should do something with this,” Holly said. With the help of a friend, Pat had the book scanned and converted back into readable text. Holly found a publishing contest to enter, and so Pat spent a few more weeks editing the book to get it ready to submit.

They won the contest!

At his website, Patrick writes: “…I’m a Canadian, now living in Kelowna, BC. I’m a graduate of Wheaton College (MA, Inter-cultural Studies, 1995) and Regent University (MBA, International Business, 2007)…” He adds that he “is an ambassador for Open Doors, Canada. If you want to help your persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, there are so many opportunities to get involved.”

At Word Alive, here’s a summary of the book:

Jim, Nick, and Kirsten have always had a heart for their fellow believers behind the Iron Curtain. It’s one thing to pray for their brothers and sisters in Romania, though, and another thing entirely to face hostile border guards with illegal Bibles hidden in their van. Only God can blind the eyes of those searching the vehicle so the three of them will be allowed to pass through safely.

Someone in the underground Romanian church is an informer, and the three Bible smugglers want to know who. The brutal dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the watching eyes of the secret police, and a personal vendetta being carried out by a colonel with a forty-year grudge have put them and all the believers in danger. As rumours of revolution swirl around them, Jim, Nick, and Kirsten face an impossible dilemma. If they can’t trust those who call themselves Christians, who can they trust?

At Internet Monk there’s an excerpt from the book.

Finally, at Word Alive Press, you can read the official contest announcement with winners and runners-up.

U.S. customers can inform their local bookstore that the title may be ordered through Anchor Distributors.


ISBN: 9781486617548 | paperback | 224 pages | $19.99 US/CDN

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January 11, 2019

When Should Christian Bookstores Pull Authors from Shelves and Online Listings?

Some of you know that when I’m not writing this blog and editing Christianity 201; when I’m not leading or assisting in weekend worship at a local church; when I’m not occasionally speaking at a church; during the rest of the time I am making decisions for our local Christian bookstore.

One of the hardest decisions I made in 2018 was to remove books by Bill Hybels from our shelves. It isn’t that those books don’t contain much truth and that many of them have been personally beneficial to me. It was just that — with shelf space at a premium in our small town store — we didn’t need the distraction.

I didn’t just make the decision, but personally removed the books, title by title, and put them in a box where they remain today. There were more than a dozen titles. Bill was a big influence on me and I have to say doing this really, really hurt, but as long as there were new ongoing developments in the story, I felt we needed to do this.

Christian bookstores have pulled product many times in the past. I got into this business through the Christian music industry first as a broadcaster and then as a performer and later as a vendor of records and cassettes. I once sat in a restaurant in Newport Beach, California and was interviewed for the job of assistant editor of Contemporary Christian Music magazine. My friends called me a ‘walking encyclopedia’ on CCM, and I given about seven seconds of audio, could name just about any song and artist, including that obscure cut at the end of side two.

When Amy Grant and Sandy Patti went through divorce, many stores pulled product. Oddly enough, those divorces are still in their past, but their music is back on the shelves. Divorce became more widely accepted among Evangelicals. I would argue that the whole LGBT thing in the church is where divorce was a couple of generations back. And I expect that, as in the case of Ray Boltz or Jennifer Knapp, stores still actively pull product when an artist comes out.

Why all this today? Because I’m staring at the shelves under “M” for James MacDonald. Christian radio stations are rapidly dropping his program (see Wednesday’s column) and James is trying to control the situation by announcing the shutdown of Walk in the Word’s broadcast division. There are calls for him to resign. Unlike those who were divorced, or Hybels’ flirtatiousness, the issue with MacDonald seems to be money and the control of money. It’s definitely his Achilles Heel.

Once again, those books contain much truth. James MacDonald is a great communicator and his writing includes a constant, unabashed call to repentance. He has served many people well in that area of his life. But at this point, I wonder if those books are also going to prove to be a distraction.

This isn’t about judgment. It’s about a shortage of shelf space, and a host of new, upcoming, younger authors who deserve to be heard. Some of those will prove themselves as the leading Christian voices to their generation. The cream rises to the top. By their fruit they will be known. Some will disappear off the scene within five years. Again, it’s not about judgment.

It’s also too easy for stores just to keep ordering key names; somewhat akin to living in a county — as I do — where every time there’s an election, people simply vote for the incumbents. So Max Lucado, Tim Keller, Mark Batterson, Lee Strobel, Stormie Omartian, John Bevere, Joyce Meyer, Neil Anderson, etc.; are always assured their latest title will get picked up at the local store level.

And honestly, if the sales reps came around with new titles by Hybels and MacDonald there are store owners who simply aren’t investing time keeping up online and would simply order those titles unwittingly.

The best analogy I ever heard was when a local pastor called my wife and I “gatekeepers.” I never thought of our role that way, but it’s a responsibility that needs to be taken very seriously. Conversely, pastors need to guard who they quote in sermons. They can easily grant authority and credibility to an author whose life doesn’t line up with their teachings.

Chances are, at the end of today, James MacDonald will still be on our shelves, but we’ll monitor the situation closely before making a knee-jerk reaction. Prayer helps as well!

January 7, 2019

Blogroll Update #10

My last update was in May. Some of these are simply updates, and some were in my computer under other categories. I have more Christian blogs bookmarked in my computer than anyone else in a three blog radius. (Seriously, there a couple thousand.) The list which appears on the blogroll in the right margin of the blog is always being updated.

Blogs
Daily Devotional from Popular Christian Television & Video Ministries Online
PCPJ | Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice
Summit Life with J.D. Greear
Blog – Best Faith Based Movies
Thomas L Horrocks – Home
salternlite – The Gospel in All of Life
Best Faith Based Movies – Entertian Educate and Inspire
Salvage Unlimited – Because No Life Is Unsalvageable
Blog – Eric Geiger
Blog | Canadian Bible Society
Blog – Muddy Shoes
Having Two Legs – The blog of Toby J. Sumpter, Pastor at Christ Church in Moscow, ID
Out of the Ordinary
Becoming Less | “He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30
So What Faith — Greg Smith
Generation Next
Posts – the Way?
theburninglampdotcom | “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning” Psalm 18:28
Ramblings on the Way
Alastair’s Adversaria | flotsam, jetsam, messages in bottles
Blogs – Life, Hope & Truth
Before The Cross | Glorifying God by Sharing the Love of Christ
Laughing in Disbelief –
covered in His dust
JoshuaReich.org | inspiring people to be more than they are
John Wesley Reid
It’s About Christ and His People
Bible Gateway Blog – News and reflections from BibleGateway.com
Naked Emperor Blog | Musing on media, tech and culture
Beautiful Christian Life
Byron Spradlin – Artists In Ministry & Missions
Dr. Claude Mariottini – Professor of Old Testament
Another Red Letter Day
My Morning Meal | Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8)
Experimental Theology
jeffreyoungblood | Thoughts from a blessed man
Thir.st
Overthinking Christian
Don’t Ask The Fish
Warren Throckmorton – new address
Encouraging and Challenging Content for those In Ministry
Kurt Willems | Theology Curator
Death • Fathom Mag
Letter & Liturgy – Christian Reviews of Ideas and Culture
The Cripplegate | for a new generation of non-conformists
Christian Creative Writers’ Collective
The Beautiful Spirit – Encouragement Through God’s Word
Pastor Brad Russell – Musings of a Husband, Father and Pastor
Joshua’s Outpost – Be a warrior in your faith
Christian Blogs and Sermons – Delivered By Grace
Home – GoThereFor.com
More Than Cake

 

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)

 

December 27, 2018

By Their Libraries You Shall Judge Them

Filed under: books, Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:00 am


I just organized all of the books I’ve read and reviewed here in 10½ years, and some I re-read over the same time period.

They’re on five shelves in our living room. The same living room where people sit and talk and drink coffee and eat desserts when we have guests.

They’re all in alphabetical order.

And that’s the problem.

Alphabetical order is so patently unfair.

My bottom shelf contains A. W. Tozer. J. Warner Wallace. N. T. Wright. Philip Yancey.

These are people I would like to showcase. I’d like to have arrows pointing at these books or a flashing light that says, “Look at my library!” “These are the people I read.”

Instead, nobody can see the bottom shelf. It’s partly blocked by the end of the couch and rearranging that would be a major task.

It’s not that I care what people think of me; it’s just that as a book nerd, I want people to think that I read good authors.

Instead, they have a front row view to the top shelf.

My Rob Bell collection.


November 22, 2018

Christian Authors Who Go By Initials Only

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:32 am

Hint

“I’m not mentioning any names but their initials are…”

You’ve heard that before, I’m sure. So here are some of Christian publishing’s bestselling authors, people who go by two initials followed by a last name.

You have two assignments:

  • What is the missing surname?
  • What do the initials stand for?

Gather the family together and let’s play!

1.  C. S. __________

2.  A. W. __________

3.  A. B. __________

4.  R. T. __________

5.  R. C. __________

6.  J. I. __________

7.  N. T. __________

8.  D. A. __________

9.  G. K. __________

10.  E. M. __________

Bonus author:

J. R. R. __________

(Don’t forget the second part of the challenge: What do the initials stand for? Answers in the comment section in a couple of hours.)

October 6, 2018

Bestselling Christian Books (at Least Where I Live)

Filed under: books, Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:38 pm

It’s much later in the day and we didn’t have a blog post today. So I thought I’d post this newly-released chart from the local Christian bookstore! Feel free to express your opinions on any of them; that’s what the internet is for, right?

June 12, 2018

The PTSD Aftermath of a Painful Loss

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:30 am

Canada’s Andrea Calvert has just released Not Alone: How God Helped Me Battle Depression through Word Alive Press. She’s also the daughter-in-law of some close friends who shared some of her story with me. I’ve been following her on Twitter and also just became aware of her blog, Inspiring Life Chats, where she’s been writing for nearly a year.

I want to begin with the publisher’s synopsis of the book, and then share a short excerpt Andrea sent us just for readers here.

Publisher Info:

Angry and hurt, Andrea didn’t want to have anything to do with God. How could she when, one day shy of her eighteenth birthday, she had to watch her mother being wheeled into the operating room of Toronto General Hospital to receive a liver transplant? How could a God that “loved” His people allow them to suffer so badly? Why did she have to spend so much time in and out of hospitals, watching the strongest woman she knew endure test after test? Watching this happen, Andrea came to the conclusion that no god would do that.

Then, on April 27, 2011, it was time to say goodbye. After ten long months of waiting for a second organ donation, Andrea’s mother made the decision to let go-it was the hardest thing Andrea had ever dealt with up to that point. The loss of her mother led her into a downward spiral of depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Andrea lost years of her life and still battles to this day with keeping her depression under control.

Jesus reached down and opened Andrea’s eyes at the darkest point of her depression. Searching for a way to deal with her pain, she called out to Jesus, who answered her prayers and called her back into His loving arms. What He has done in her life is nothing short of amazing-Jesus gave her purpose again!

This is her story…

Book excerpt:

I saw a therapist and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. I’d never considered depression and anxiety as an “illness.” I always figured that if you were suffering from an illness, you had a problem with your physical health, not your mental health. Mental health related to things like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and I didn’t have either of those, so I was fine.

I absolutely hated myself. My feelings of failure returned, and I withdrew into myself. It was like taking five steps forward and ten steps back. I went back into the darkness. Depression is often like this; once you’ve dealt with some past hurt, you only have a few days before the next issue rears its ugly head. It’s a constant uphill battle. Even when you think things are going really well, someone can trigger an old memory and you’re right back where you started.

There I was, back where I’d started, after five months of counselling and six months of medication. I had to start over. In essence, I was “back on the couch” for more sleep. In actual fact, I’d been couch-bound for about six months. I’d never really freed myself from the lack of self-worth, anxiety attacks, and isolation. I thought no one wanted to be around me, because I certainly didn’t want to be around myself.

Even at rock bottom there was someone there with me. He had always been there. When I saw Mom under a mountain of hospital blankets, He was there. On the phone saying goodbye to her before she went to Toronto that rainy October night, He was there. Through the ten months of sickness and the “Liver That Never Was,” He was there. And now, when I needed a lifeline from the depths of darkness, He was standing up, dusting off His white robes, and getting ready to extend His hand. Jesus. He was with me, and He was sending someone to me. He was bringing me back to Him.

The 118-page paperback is just the right size for those who find themselves in the aftermath of a traumatic loss that is causing stress and depression. Priced at only 11.99 CDN it’s also affordable to give away to someone in the middle of such a situation.

ISBN 9781486616107 | 11.99 US / 11.99 CDN | Distributed to stores by Anchor Distributors and Spring Arbor (US), Word Alive (Canada) and available for customer purchase wherever you buy books.

May 28, 2018

Blogroll Update #9

Computer searchIf you’re new to this recurring feature, this has nothing to do with the featured blogs in the side-margin of this happily old-school blog, but rather represents updates to a master index of a few thousand in my computer. This time around we’re also updating the Christian News Sources for you, a list many Christian news outlets would love to get their hands on, but we’re getting you to promise not to tell them.

Blogs (new)
Worship Ministry Catalyst
Preacherpollard’s Blog – Have a taste of Pollard Greens
The Wild Frontier | The Truth will set you free.
bridginghope | Stories of Reconciliation and Hope
expressyourself4him | a writer’s journey with God
Hare Translation Journey
THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM – Responding to Critics, Seekers, and Doubters
War Diary | Lies of the Devil | The Front Line In Spiritual Warfare
The Morning Drive | Driving Thought
The Jagged Word – “What the Hell is going on!”
Curious Christian – Exploring the creative fringes of Christianity and beyond
Juicy Ecumenism
Relidicous.com | Never too serious!
Commissional
Phylicia Masonheimer –
Dan Reiland – The Pastor’s Coach – Developing Church Leaders
Core Christianity
Garrett Kell – All Things For Good
Vic the Vicar!
Front Porch with the Fitzes
Inspirational Writing | LetterPile
Vine and Branch
The Cross & The Cosmos
Through the Bible in 2018 – A Plan for Reading Scripture …
The Voice Of One Crying Out In Suburbia
By Their Strange Fruit – Race and Christianity in Today’s World
Echoes and Stars | “We got the sky to talk about and the world to lie upon.”
Josh Crain | Pastoral Leadership and Theology
The Green Room – The faith and work movement as you’ve never thought about it before
Blog – Brenna Lakeson
Rich Wollan | The Church, Worship & Making Disciples
Blog · EvanTell
Matt Tullos – writing, worship and contemplative living
Blog | r e F o c u s | a ministry for transition
Blogs | The American Conservative
Experimental Theology
Grow Christians – A community of disciples practicing faith at home
Real Christian Women – My Journey Unscripted – By Cindy Dawson
True Love Dates – Healthy people make healthy relationships.
Heaven Bound | Forgetting what is behind…
Christian News Sources
FaithWorld | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters.com
Christianity Today Gleanings
Christian News, The Christian Post
Christian News on Christian Today
Faith and Leadership | A learning resource for Christian leaders and their institutions from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity
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
World Religion News, Religious Views, Spirituality – HuffPost Religion
GetReligion
RELEVANT Magazine
Spiritual Sounding Board | Finding resolve amidst the dissonance of “churchianity”
CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com
On Faith: A forum for news and opinion on religion and politics – 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 from an uncompromising Biblical worldview
News & Events
WND – Faith
Breaking Christian News
ASSIST News Service
Holy Post | National Post
Daily Devotionals and Bible Devotions from Popular Christian Television & Video Ministries Online
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, religion and society
The remarkable faith of Mariano Rivera, the greatest ‘closer’ in baseball | 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 — conservative, orthodox evangelicals in the Reformed and Presbyterian churches
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
gatewaynews.co.za — 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
http://thesechristiantimes.com/
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
BRnow.org – Baptist News – Biblical Recorder
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
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
New Life, Australia’a Christian Newspaper
Religion | Commonweal Magazine
BCNN1: Black Christian News Network One
Mission trip fundraising ideas THAT WORK! Raise money for mission trips.
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
Acts of Faith – The Washington Post
Worthy Christian Forums
Christian Forums
Company News | HarperCollins Christian Publishing
(83) Hot 25 Countdown – Home
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
CHRISTIAN DAILY REPORTER
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!
Blogs – Some random “originals” which haven’t appeared since the first update
internetmonk.com
On Faith & Culture | Jonathan Merritt’s blog at Religion News Service
Blog – ReKnew
Red Letter Christians – What if Jesus Really Meant What He Said?
The Master’s Table
blog.worship.com
NewSmallChurch.com
The Wartburg Watch
FBC Jax Watchdog
Beliefs of the Heart – Uncovering and Discovering the True Beliefs of the Heart
Rachel Held Evans | Rachel’s Blog Articles
Lorna Dueck: Her thoughts on world issues from a Christian Perspective
Passionately His
ThinkChristian.net – Blogging about the intersection of faith and culture
Another Red Letter Day
ToddRhoades.com | Pastors and Church Leader News and Opinion
Reclaiming the Mission :: The Weblog of David Fitch
THE ORPHAN AGE
Philip Yancey | Author, Thinker, Climber
Soteriology101
Holy Spirit Activism « Salvation, Miracles, Peace and Justice
theologygrams | Theology explained in diagrams
Christian Crier — For Ye That Have Ears To Hear
Brad Lomenick
One Passion One Devotion
Eric Metaxas
Kouya Chronicle
rob bell
Red-Letter Believers
IVP – Andy Unedited
Lifestream Blog
The Heart Of The Matter
Donald Miller’s Blog — Best-Selling Author Of Books, And Stuff
Shaun Groves
Reformed Arminian Blog
Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace – Christian Apologetics
The Bible and Culture — A One-Stop Shop for All Things Biblical and Christian
Cain’s Wife Answer
LarkNews.com
The Catch – John Fischer
The Bible Hunter
Losing My Religion

 

 

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)

 

May 3, 2018

Danielle Strickland Communicates with Passion

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:44 am

Just a little over a week ago, I was not familiar with non-fiction author Danielle Strickland. I noticed that someone in a Facebook group was trying to raise awareness of the author, so I decided to do some basic research. I learned that this Canadian author has written for Monarch, NavPress and IVP (a rather impressive list) and in addition to 2014’s A Beautiful Mess had two books issued in 2017, The Zombie Gospel: The Walking Dead and What it Means to Be Human, and The Ultimate Exodus: Finding Freedom from What Enslaves You.

I wrote up something — some of which is intact in what you’re reading here — for a trade blog I edit and honestly thought Danielle’s name wouldn’t land on my computer screen in the near future, until I sat down on Saturday night for my usual routine of watching the service at Willow Creek. There I discovered that she would be bringing the weekend message for the final week of their Celebration Of Hope series.  

Well, let’s put it this way: She nailed it!

And then something else happened. After watching the sermon at the 5:30 Saturday service, I also watched the same sermon from the 11:00 Sunday service. Only a day later. One powerful, passionate storyteller/preacher.

On Twitter she calls herself an author, speaker and social justice advocate. According to the biography on her website,

Danielle Strickland is currently based in Toronto, Canada. Danielle loves Jesus and she loves people. Her aggressive compassion has loved people firsthand in countries all over the world where she has embraced, learned, cared, evangelized, taught, and exhorted individuals and crowds to surrender to the boundless love of Jesus.

Danielle is the author of 5 books… She is host of DJStrickland Podcast, ambassador for Compassion International and stop the traffik. Co-founder of Infinitum, Amplify Peace and The Brave Campaign. Danielle is a mom of 3, wife to @stephencourt and has been affectionately called the “ambassador of fun”.

Her denominational background is Salvation Army and her husband, Stephen Court, is also a writer who has done three books about the organization’s history.

In July of last year she released The Ultimate Exodus. A page at NavPress explains the title:

God didn’t just say to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” He also said to the Israelites—and He says to us—“Let go of what enslaves you, and follow me to freedom.”

The Ultimate Exodus opens our eyes to the things that enslave us, and it sets us on the path of our own exodus. Danielle Strickland revisits the story of the Exodus to see what we can learn from a people who were slaves and who learned from God what it means to be free. We discover as we go that deliverance goes much deeper than our circumstances. God uproots us from the things we have become slaves to, and He takes us on a long walk to the freedom He created us to enjoy. (ISBN 978-1-63146-647-2)

A page at IVP describers her unauthorized look at a hit television show, released in October:

What can zombies teach us about the gospel?

The hit show The Walking Dead is set in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by mindless zombies. The characters have one goal: survive at all costs. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be much the show can teach us about God or ourselves. Or is there?

Author and speaker Danielle Strickland didn’t expect to be drawn to a show about zombies, but she was surprised by the spiritual themes the show considers. In The Zombie Gospel she explores the ways that The Walking Dead can help us think about survival, community, consumerism, social justice, and the resurrection life of Jesus. After all, in the gospel God raises up a new humanity—a humanity resuscitated and reanimated by the new life of the Holy Spirit. (978-0-8308-4389-3)

I am so blessed to have been able to hear her Danielle speak, so I wanted to take some of what I wrote last week and share it here. Until Saturday, the weekend message at Willow will be the default service at willowcreek.tv.

March 10, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time vs. The Shack: Reactions from Evangelicals

Let’s face it, the church doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to art. Decades ago, I heard Larry Norman say that the church tends to be in an imitative mode, but not necessarily an innovative mode. We’ll copy the world — often many years later — when it’s doing something successful, but those who think outside the box are usually ostracized.

This goes double when it comes to the literary genre of fiction.

My day began early today, reading an article on my phone from the Salt Lake Tribune (written for The Washington Post) by Sarah Pulliam Bailey titled Publishers rejected her, Christians attacked her: The deep faith of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ author Madeleine L’Engle. There’s been renewed interest in the book because of the movie, which opened yesterday in most markets. I have neither read the book nor seen the movie, though now my curiosity level is high. 

The book along with other writing by the same author has been sold in many Christian bookstores for decades.

In the article — carefully researched — she doesn’t mention The Shack. That’s not her purpose. But to me the similarities were leaping off the page.

  • rejected by 26 publishers (Shack: 20)
  • greatest criticism from conservative Christians
  • immense popularity nonetheless
  • authors desire to express a deep faith through (L’Engle: “If I’ve ever written a book that says what I feel about God and the universe, this is it, This is my psalm of praise to life, my stand for life against death.”)
  • some of the greatest attacks came from people in the Reformed tradition
  • accused of univeralism
  • made into mainstream market movie enjoying greater acceptance by non-Christians

At the outset of the article one reads, “While L’Engle considered herself a devout Christian, and sprinkled the book with scriptural references, she was accused of promoting witchcraft.” 

I’m sure she found that as encouraging as Paul Young did when faced with similar charges over The Shack.

 

 

 

 

 

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