I’m giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming this is a metaphor for something…
Welcome to WLL # 309. Today marks seven months to Christmas. Started your shopping yet?
Please note we try to avoid articles which are pay-walled. If you find blocked content, let us know and in most cases we’ll remove the link.
- Dialing for Doctrine: On Calvinism and the Southern Baptist Convention, “We may not be able to settle each of the ‘five points’ to our satisfaction, but we do know that the Bible is clear in condemning a divisive and uncharitable spirit.” Where do SBC pastors stand?
- A local church which hands out free pizza to students at a nearby high school has run afoul of the trade union representing school cafeteria workers. The youth pastor in question had permission from the school, but has been forced to switch to an after-school program. A decade ago, the same union drove away food trucks.
- Oddity of the Week: A 2016 US presidential candidate for the Transhumanist Party writes in Salon on cultural relativism in Christianity.
- Third Culture Kids: Ten questions the kids of missionaries would love to have you ask them directly.
- Essay of the Week: This starts with a job description which, unless you live in NW Chicago, most of you won’t be applying for. But then it goes deeper: “I believe the record-setting run of the production church will come to an end, but not soon enough… When it comes down to it, we don’t need a Weekend Stage Manager, skilled in theatrical rigging and focused on customer service. An inventory of props only consisting of table, font, and pulpit doesn’t really demand that much organization, anyway.”
- Supporting women in leadership: Everything you need to know in 30 seconds.
- 5 things we hoped to gain by going seeker-sensitive, and 3 things we ended up with.
- Greg Boyd on parallels and differences between the U.S. Constitution and the Bible.
- Greg Boyd on so-called errors in the Bible which have nothing to do with faith and practice.
- And then, the NIrV begat The Minecrafter’s Bible. Your kids can “build their own Wall of Jericho.” That’s a good thing, right?
- Francis Chan on “How to Get to Heaven from Silicon Valley.” A talk given at go/Love, a private group at Google for people who want to integrate their beliefs with making a difference.
- Gospel for Asia: A major staff exodus signals that there is something wrong with the second largest mission group in the country.
- What’s in a name? Furthermore, what’s in a name about a name? In this case, the awkward word is ‘denomination.’
- A day in the life of a medical missionary dentist, and the country’s leading cause of facial disfiguration. (No pictures for this one.)
- I cannot tell a lie. John Ortberg’s sermon on lying is one of his best. Seriously, it really is.
- Don’t look for this book at LifeWay any time soon: Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus by Chester Brown.
- Media: The GloryReelz Christian film festival and writer’s lab happens Saturday, June 11 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
- Andrew Peterson responds to the Eugene Peterson / Bono interview…
- …Meanwhile the filmmaker who did the production talks to the Phil Vischer pod people.
- Probably not full immersion: The Church of Scotland is considering online baptisms. And communion.
- Evangelist Charles Finney blamed small children and dogs for destroying the effectiveness of his sermons… Wait! Dogs in church services?
- In an all-men’s gathering, it’s a sudden intrusion to hear a female voice as Siri asks for clarification on the sinner’s prayer.
- Rotten fruit in Christian publishing. We’ll get Jimmy to try it, he hates everything. (He does make some good points, but there’s nothing redemptive to see here.)
- Music Video of the Week: Ah yes, but what week? This was posted a year ago, but thanks to @newreleasetoday I got to hear Smoke by Plumb.
- The Target [department store] protests in the U.S. are working, and affecting the stock value and sales bottom line.
- Switchfoot’s new album is titled Where the Light Shines Through
Jason Gray’s new album is titled Where the Light Gets In
That outta keep the music department staff confused.
More at NRT’s summer preview of Christian music. ♫
- The movie version of The Shack has been bumped from November, to Ash Wednesday, 2017.
- Finally — because it was going on midnight — Kevin Max on the DCTalk reunion cruise: “I could understand where there’s a lot of people who feel that they’re left out or that they’ve missed the boat.”
Unlike our other book cover above, this one actually relates to something in the link list.
Before we begin, a reminder that Saturday we did a Weekend Link List. A big one. With links… The graphic at right was sourced in a 2013 blog post at Barenuckle Bible.
- Video(s) of the Week: Yes, we’re actually kicking off with VotW because we’re impressed with the three recently-posted episodes of Extra Credits that deal with Early Christian Schisms. So here are the links to Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.
- Tom Lin has been named the new President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the first President to have served as a student, and the first non-White President.
- Overly Open Minded Department: Why narrow it down to one religion when you can send the kids to an Interfaith Sunday School.
- Parable of the Week: What God thinks about our theology books.
- Dialing for Doctrine: Doing theology alongside people with whom you disagree. (In this case, writing a textbook together.)
- The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor, as well as several Baptist groups with respect to fines if they chose to opt out of provisions in the HHS Mandate that is part of Obamacare.
- A Tale of Two Cruise Ships: The Happy Rant Podcast contrasts the DC Talk Jesus Freak cruise with the “suffering” themed cruise sponsored by Ligoner Ministries. (Segment runs 18 minutes.)
- Move over Franklin Graham, your sister Anne would like to say a few words.
- A Tale of Two Lazaruses: Just in case you don’t know how to tell the two guys named Lazarus apart.
- Mark Strauss looks at the doctrine of hell in … wait for it … National Geographic. (Okay, now I get the connection.)(No, I don’t.)
- So who has the biggest church in Minnesota? Is it Greg Boyd’s? The one that John Piper pastored? Nope! It’s Eagle Brook Church, which just purchased a former K-mart which will be converted to become campus #6, for a mere $18 million…
- …But I will give them the award for Best Sermon Opening Graphics.
- Sermon of the Week: Steve Carter at Willow Creek incorporates a History of Theater lesson into a challenging lesson on mentoring from 2 Timothy.
- Counterpoint: Longtime reader (and sometimes link list partner-in-crime) Clark Bunch responds to an article that appeared in our Weekend Link List. Some Christian ‘clichés’ may have a good reason for existing.
- You’ve heard of churches leasing space to cell phone networks. In the UK, a project is underway to use rural church spires to broadcast broadband internet.
- My new word for the week: Interspirituality.
- Personal Development: Making wise and God-pleasing decisions when you are under enormous stress.
- Never noticed this before but Christianity Today has their own Alltop channel.
- I was reluctant to post another link on solving the worship wars, but felt this one offered some fresh insights. (Like, for example, what do we mean by contemporary?)
- She was a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child in Canada since 1998, but she was dismissed because she supports abortion and gay marriage.
- Worship Workshop: 5 Mistakes your worship team may be making. (I especially liked #5, not connecting with the rest of what the church is doing.)
- Leadership Essay of the Week: Connecting the dots between the “Community Church” naming of churches and keeping our doctrinal identities intact.
- Christian Education Essay of the Week: Chucking the curriculum in favor of simply presenting kids with the Bible narratives without comment or application.
- Devotional Essay of the Week: Part teaching, part honest confession; a look at four things that can shake the foundations of our faith.
- A worship leader at a Charlotte, NC megachurch was stabbed four times in a home invasion.
- “Attention Target shoppers… Are you gonna let the devil rape your children?” (Note to budding journalists: The location is not specified, the YouTube video isn’t linked, and 58,000 views his hardly ‘viral’ these days… Also, I might have mentioned that she is a mother of twelve, just to add something to the story.)
- That moment where your unsure if the writer is providing an anecdotal example, or just made something up; in this case, trying to make the case for air conditioning in churches. (And yes, I read it twice.)
- I’m not a Southern Gospel Music guy, but when someone recommended I check out The Talley’s new song, The People In The Line, curiosity got the better of me. There’s a live performance version, and a concept music video.
- You gotta admire a writer who can trash continuationists and leading Christian women authors in the same short blog post. (I think God whispered that it was okay to do this.)
- Illustration of the Week: Making your church a safe landing place.
- Book lists usually are released in December, but Barnabas Piper has six suggestions for summer reading at the lake.
- Christian singer Kirk Franklin is the latest victim of a fake news site’s content being misinterpreted as factual by his fans.
- What? Not enough links for you? Here’s five more. (You should bookmark this site.)
- …In fact, I’m feeling generous. Here’s TEN more. (Do I hear ‘fifteen?’)
It’s been a long time since we caught up with our friends at Mainline Memorial Church in the comic For Heaven’s Sake by Mike Morgan, so we’re going for doubles:
Sometimes in our quest for a weekly cartoon, we forget that David Hayward aka The Naked Pastor, has been faithfully producing them longer than some of you have owned computers. The ones that make you think are provided at no extra charge…
List Lynx: “Every once in awhile I have to work a Saturday.”
…Meanwhile, a mix of the sacred, the serious and the silly; this time in no particular order.
- First, there was Little Mosque on the Prairie. Now it’s Halal in the Family with a Muslim Archie Bunker character.
- Asked to name the members of Oxford’s most famous coffee klatch, most people will list Lewis or Tolkien. In a new book, you’re invited to get to know Charles Williams (published appropriately enough by Oxford University Press.)
- Pope Francis agrees to look into the idea of women as deacons, given a question about the role of Phoebe in Romans 16.
- 126 United Methodist Church clergy and candidates for ordained ministry have effectively outed themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer and now risk losing their ministry credentials.
- Churches should defend their pastors. There’s a sense in which that is quite true. But there’s also a sense in which it concerns me that this was spoken by C. J. Mahaney.
- Gay Wedding Cakes: A high profile case in Northern Ireland has reached the final day of the appeal hearing.
- Quotation of the Week: “Churches, by nature, are selfish. Because the church is made up of people, and people are fundamentally self-serving, the church ends up expending much of its time, money, and energy on those who are already part of the family of God.” – Ed Stetzer
- Two billboard companies have rejected an advertisement by atheists objecting to Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter theme attraction under construction in Kentucky.
- Phil Vischer is convinced that the entire Donald Trump thing is the fault of Dorritos.
- It doesn’t release until October, but there’s already momentum building for Sarah Young’s next title, Jesus Always: Embracing Joy In His Presence which will launch with a one-million copy first printing.
- Long-time fans of the band DCTalk were disappointed to learn that their “big announcement” was to announce a 4-day cruise from Miami to The Bahamas, with pricing in the $700 to $3,800 range.
- The positively best definitive and encyclopedic article on Christian clichés we’ve ever seen.
- Individual Line of the Week: “I’ve always thought a hardware store is a strange choice for a cross-dresser, but they have to make money and I applaud the work ethic.” More on the bathroom controversy and whether people squat or stand.
- Amy Grant is on tour with the daughter of the first person she ever sang with, who is also the daughter of her first producer, who was also her Sunday School teacher.
- No link for this one: YouTube has completely scrubbed its site of anything related to Hillsong Young and Free’s Youth Revival at the request of the record company. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. That’s how I discovered the band’s second album.
- Seven questions with Steven Furtick. Also, as it turns out, seven non-answers from Steven Furtick.
- No longer a “service” organization, the American Bible Society’s “new mission statement came with two significant changes. First, it eliminated the phrase ‘without doctrinal note or comment.’ Second, it added the clause ‘so that all may experience its life-changing message.'” The organization is now defined as a “Christian ministry.” Read how ABS went all Evangelical.
- Reach Records founder Lecrae has signed a contract with major label Columbia.
- KidMin: Need a last minute Sunday School lesson outline for Pentecost Sunday?
- Philanthropy: A look at Casa Elizabeth, a pregnancy center and home for teenage girls in Ecuador, where 16% of teens are pregnant.
- Deliberately Provocative Headline: How a Purple Bible Saved One Stripper. (Good thing my readers don’t fall for click-bait, right?)
- Video of the Weekend (but it’s not new): King’s Kaleidoscope’s take of Come Thou Fount.
- Finally, Relevant ranks your favorite classic Christian album covers.
Public Notice: “Will link for food.” If anyone out there with a major Christian website and a budget is interested in leasing the Wednesday Link List as Christianity Today & Leadership Journal did, contact me via Twitter.
Also, I have a birthday coming up. If anyone asks, I want large checks.
Jake Wilkerson, a disillusioned young pastor who is an expert at hiding his fears, takes on a new assignment in a small, rural church in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. His first day on the job, Jake is adopted by Petey, a cat of unknown origins and breed, but of great perception. Petey believes that he is on a mission from God to redeem Jake and bring him and his quirky friends back to the truth.
For those of you who only show up here on Wednesdays, don’t miss an article which ran here Monday on a strange conference which got more publicity by being cancelled than it had in advance. While organizers denied it was about child marriage or arranged marriage, it did have a lot in common with speed dating. Check out the bizarre world of the organization known as Let Them Marry.
Now on to today’s link list:
- Remember the movie The Drop Box? Well…the U.S. now has its first such drop box, located in Indiana where they’re called Safe Haven Baby Boxes.
- So…now that Mother’s Day has passed, was it helpful to the worship year of your church, or more of a distraction? Here are six reasons to skip it entirely in 2017…
- …On the other hand, if you’re going to do it, here’s a different approach for Mother’s Day, and a sermon that women might like to hear at any time throughout the year.
- Counterpoint: An alternative conclusion to that reached by Barna Research on the money needed to underwrite church plants.
- Analysis: On the firing of Darrin Patrick. “High visibility can also set pastors on a correction-course with humility that evangelical Christians call getting right with Jesus.” The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.
- Church Life: Your announcements can have a point of connection with your parishioners without having to talk about the weather.
- For the Director of Worship and Arts of a Canadian Anglican Church, the loss of his father is impacting the type of music he wants to sing, moving forward.
- Biography/Testimony of the Week: Remembering Mary Kay Baird — “As a notorious safecracker and bank robber, Mary was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list by the age of 27. On September 22, 1972, the law caught up with Mary and she was arrested. While awaiting trial from her Alabama jail cell, she noticed one of the Bibles placed there by Gideons…”
- Guest Speakers: What if the bio you send out to the church the week before you arrive was brutally honest and fully transparent?
- Preaching Place: This pastor found four benefits to having a select group in his church do a weekly evaluation of his sermons.
- When you close the browser window and the pornography is off the screen, here are seven things you can do in that moment of clarity.
- Jesus and Healthcare: A rewrite of two stories from Luke’s gospel.
- For 40 minutes, Bill Hybels of Willow Creek took questions from the people at his church. Each of the three services had different questions and yielded different answers. They called the session, “Grill Bill.” (Scot McKnight suggests fast-forwarding to 19:09 to see Bill’s response to a question about connecting with the LGBT community.)
- You may not have invested personally, but you’ve wondered whatever happened to that ambitious 4-volume, fine-binding edition of the Bible. Well, the timetable has been derailed a few times, but the project hasn’t. Printing is scheduled for this month.
- “We observe a kettle on the stove. Why is the water boiling?” There are two possible answers in this part of a series on science and the Bible.
- Author and speaker Skye Jethani reveals he was nine years old before he knew his legal name…
- …Also, congratulations to Skye, Christian and Phil on the 200th anniversary of The Phil Vischer Podcast…
- …Which apparently was a good time to announce some future plans and visions.
- Guests at a recent event organized to promote solidarity between Christians and Jews got to see the oldest known Jewish prayer book from the 9th Century, displayed in anticipation of the 430,000 sq. ft. Museum of the Bible opening late 2017 in Washington, DC.
- Provocative Title of the Week (1): “As a gay child of fundamentalist Christians, I was horrified by the new Jehovah’s Witnesses video.” Also wins for longest headline of the week.
- Provocative Title of the Week (2): “Seminary president says ‘sanctified testosterone’ antidote for anemic church.” Also included the quote, “…biblical men are like corks of testosterone bobbing in ponds of estrogen.”
- KidMin Korner (1): Well…it doesn’t say it was a sponsored post, so here’s 10 reasons your church should do VBS. (Assuming you can afford to.)
- KidMin Korner (2): Five warning signs your children’s ministry is losing its focus.
- Is America confused about which bathroom to use? For clarity, let’s ask the Duck Dynasty guy…
- …Actually, it’s not just bathrooms; this is but one small part of a larger history that Christians have with related issues…
- …Which includes a link to the video where the lone pro-trans speaker is drowned out by a chorus of Jesus Loves Me.
- Book News (1): In view of hurting sales for Christian fiction, second-guessing Beth Moore’s decision to release a novel. (Though the article says nothing about its content, despite the interesting title.)
- Book News (2): I realize this is probably more of an advertisement than anything… still Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger was a Christian bestseller, so here’s what to expect with his next release.
- Book News (3): The Pipester (aka John Piper) joins a number of his Calvinist cronies publishing through The Good Book Company. Having said that and guaranteed they’ll never send me a review copy (of anything) here’s a short review of Living in the Light of Money, Sex and Power.
- This isn’t a problem for Christians, but with legalization of weed become normative in several states — and all of Canada in 2017 — this begs the question for our Jewish friends, “Is that pot kosher?” (Are tobacco cigarettes kosher?)
- Ecumenical Moment of the Week: Finding common ground with Mormons.
- Video of the Week: This song parody about Millennials was shown at the recent Church Leader’s Conference. (Must for Beatles fans.)
- It took the GOP Primaries to do it, but Saturday Night Live brought back the classic character known as The Church Lady.
- First, the pastor diverted $250,000 from his church over ten years. Worse, he spent some of it at retailers like Victoria’s Secret.
- Finally, the Christian film genre summarized in one minute, 53 seconds.
Hidden away on Christian Taylor’s website is this early pic of an audio-only episode of the Phil Vischer Podcast.
From Shorpy.com: The Church of the Wild Wood, First Wesley Methodist Episcopal is seen in 1912 before the first coat of stucco is applied.
It’s May already! While we like the news items and the weird stories, if you know someone who is consistently doing good writing online, send me a link so we can feature them here. Meanwhile, sit back, enjoy the list, and try to forget last night’s primary results.
- Essay of the Week: Everything you’ve always wanted to ask — or perhaps ask God — about circumcision. Understanding “the drastic covenant.”
- A nightmarish fire breaks out destroying an historic New York City church, on what is, for Orthodox Christians, Easter Sunday.
- The secret is out! We learned this week who the force is behind Christian satire site The Babylon Bee. Turns out it’s someone we’ve met before online…
- …But not to be outdone…
- …To which The Bee bounces back with a spiritual gifts story of their own.
- Provocative Header of the Week (which in this case is ironic): How to Spot a Social Media Neo-Televangelist.
- Sweden’s liberal theologians have a work around for the exclusive claims of Jesus. Actually, they have 3 ways to explain it all away.
- You might see this as simply fitting your previously held stereotype, but this woman’s memories of being home-schooled are both real and depressingly sad.
- Churches are in the business of saving souls, but what about saving lives? This one got some practice, but does your church have a defibrillator? (Related: Does anyone know how to use it?)
- Preston Sprinkle posted this book synopsis back in March, but I only saw it this week. It’s about a touchy subject in the U.S. that remains a great mystery to those of us who live outside its borders. Check out the stats from America and Its Guns.
- Join us in praying for author and blogger Zach Hunt.
- Greg Boyd, Efrem Smith and Shane Claiborne are in a movie, but they aren’t playing the roles in which we’re accustomed to seeing them…
- …and here’s the homepage for the movie, Chasing the Rain.
- One of the strongest forces in the King James Only movement, Peter Ruckman died last month at 94…
- …But given the chance to say something nice about the man to a well-meaning reporter, members of his church stuck to their principle of non-engagement with the media. (Sigh!)
- There’s always something online that you haven’t seen and for us this week, it was the website Facts and Trends, which we suspect is related to a LifeWay magazine of the same name. Here are some samples:
- Parenting Place (1): Passing on our faith to our children.
- Parenting Place (2): In a mainstream press article in the Washington Post, a parent comes up with a new reason why he regrets giving his kids their own phones.
- Spiritual Sounding Board has posted three challenges to the interview Christianity Today did with Saeed Abedini. To read them, click the blog link and navigate to three May 3rd posts.
- Apologetics Alley: One question often leads to another and that’s exactly the approach the writer(s) of this piece did on dealing with the problem of pain.
- As you know, we ended up posting this video on the weekend, but here’s how I came across the Bono/Eugene Peterson dialog.
- For my Canadian readers: You may remember the series that Jeff Snow wrote for us on The Divorce Effect. (We ran it twice!) Jeff is now starting a student ministry on a university campus in Ontario and needs more support.
- Sleeping bags and tents all blew away at last year’s summer festival? Stay dry at Chris Tomlin’s Worship Night In America, coming to five major U.S. cities in July with Louie Giglio on drums, Max Lucado on bass and Matt Redman on guitar. (Plus other artists.) (Maybe Louie and Max will just be speaking.) …
- …On the other hand if you’re looking for an “in-tents” summer music experience, check out the 2016 Christian Music Festivals directory.
- Knowledge Morsel of the Week: “More than 560 of Charles Schulz’s nearly 17,800 Peanuts newspaper strips contain a religious, spiritual, or theological reference.” Jonathan Merritt in The Atlantic.
- Videos of the Week (1): This isn’t new, but PraiseCharts.com is reporting a lot of churches are using Grace That Won’t Let Go by Gateway Worship: Mark Harris version; Kari Jobe version.
- Video of the Week (2): Again, one posted six months ago that’s gaining traction is O Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship…
- …But on the other hand, here are five things that will make your worship time sound forced or fake.
- Most photographers do collections of classic cathedrals. But this one chose modern American megachurches, released in a format the creator calls ‘megazine.’
- ‘Twas Ever Thus Department: Church leaders don’t understand Millennials.
- Wheaton College is back in the headlines, and it’s not a good news story this time, either.
- Jesus is nice, but his Dad’s kinda mean.
- John Hull has resigned as CEO of Crossroads, creators of one of the longest running daily Christian TV shows in North America.
- Kidmin Korner: Hadn’t seen anything like this before; a children’s book about Pentecost.
- Why settle for basic ordination when, for $50, you can become a bishop at the same time. (Click the drop-down under “new products” price includes shipping.)
- This list of “15 Books Every Christian Millennial Has Owned” only has 12 books showing; but still brought back some memories.
- Veggie Tales made it through the David & Bathsheba story with help from little yellow ducks, but Shagmar killing 600 Philistines may an impossibility. (Warning: This may be a Babylon Bee story.)
We kick off with another insight from InterVarsity’s TwentyOneHundred Productions Facebook page. Click the image to see more.
If you know Mussorgsky, or if your tastes run more to Emerson, Lake & Palmer, you’ll get the reference in this title.
And now on to this week’s features. Remember, if it’s not on the link list, it didn’t happen!
- Revelation of the Week: When disaster strikes well-meaning Americans donate things which are absolutely useless. “People have donated prom gowns and wigs and tiger costumes and pumpkins, and frostbite cream to Rwanda, and used teabags…And then there were warm-hearted American women who wanted to send their breast milk to nursing mothers in Haiti…” With one such load, “local officials poured gasoline on it and set it on fire.”
- Analysis: Hillsong, “secular liturgies” and “the arena culture that has taken over the church.”
- Jordan’s King Abdullah II has made a second donation to preserve an historical site of interest to Christians. This time the Muslim king is paying for the restoration Jesus’ Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
- In case you missed it, while none of the kids in your youth group have sensed a calling to third world mission service, Barbie is now serving in Africa. (HT: Relevant Magazine, check out a few of the captions.) …
- …But on a more serious note, Barna Research asked pastors what they felt were the highest priority activities for youth groups. (Hint: Barbie had the right idea.)
- Testimony of the Week: “This past Sunday, my gorgeous wife – a white evangelical, like me — gave birth to our beautiful African-American triplet daughters whom we adopted as embryos.” Read the full story in The Washington Post.
- God won’t give you more than you can handle? Actually, he’ll just about kill you.
- The church had more than a thousand members, so how many do you think showed up for the weekly prayer meeting?
- Sundays would never be the same after they lost their three-year old son on a quiet afternoon.
- New Podcast Department: Brandon Smith and Trevin Wax have launched Word Matters devoted to difficult and challenging Bible passages.
- Apologetics Alley: Can you explain the gospel in under two minutes?
- Not sure what’s more surprising in this survey: That only a third of pastors agree with Left Behind theology, or that LifeWay and Charisma House teamed up to make it happen. (Research makes strange bedfellows?)
- Leadership Lessons: Thoughts on how very little pastors know about what’s going on in the lives of church members.
- Canada Corner: Brian Stiller shares his views on terrorism with Global News.
- When you think about it, a national ban on Bibles is always rather futile.
- “I love you pastor, but…” and 9 other phrases that make pastors cringe.
- So…does Wycliffe Bible Translators also translate the instructions on pill bottles? Workers in medical missions who issue meds have to worry about patient safety.
- The Payday Loan industry often does more harm than help. Springcreek Church, in the northeast suburbs of Dallas, drove the lenders out of Garland, TX.
- This week a reader took me back to one of the strangest topics covered on this blog, Christian Domestic Discipline; only to find out a recent article on the subject was noted in the Twitterverse. “When my husband whips me, I feel his love, his strength and his caring.” Note: This article is not safe for — maybe it’s just not safe.
- While the cultural context of the Sarcastic Lutheran’s sermon was foreign to many of us, this message on when Saul/Paul’s conversion actually happened is filled with insights.
- Oprah has an interesting relationship with all things religious. On her own network (pun noted) she plays a club owner in Greenleaf a series centered on a black megachurch.
- When the people you’re serving are giving back in unseen ways.
- Icon Review: The meaning behind seven Christian symbols; but the article’s headline implies they are common symbols. Does your church have a pelican?
- Two Christian publishing veterans have announced the formation of Gilead Publishing, with the 5-year goal of producing 100 fiction titles annually.
- Tye Tribbett will host Joyful Noise, a Sunday morning inspirational program on BET.
- This is what it sounds like, when artists die: Say what you will about the downside of it, social media works well for collective grief.
- No, the Noah’s Ark theme park under construction was not washed away in a flood, though the publicity probably didn’t hurt.
- Babylon Bee of the Week: Some realistic, honest Dove Awards categories. Or was it this new adult coloring book?
- The new open-air urinal in a San Francisco park is facing legal opposition from the San Francisco Chinese Christian Union and others.
- Finally, here are seven reasons why men should not be pastors.
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
This week WordPress messed around with their ‘classic’ editor in a way that made inserting the links a longer, two-step process. We try to link here so that stories open in a new tab so you can keep the list open at the same time. It’s hard to believe that they are now creating a system that defaults to move people away from the WordPress source blogs, but with some extra work we overrode this.
It’s hard to find any links this week that top Pope Francis bringing 12 refugees to The Vatican. (Pope to dining room manager: “You need to set some extra places for lunch.”) It was just another example of how this Pope is shaking things up. It was also a very Christ-like thing to do. If you missed it, I’ll let you find this one on your own.
- With 22 vessels, they could form their own Navy. A prayer-focused look at the ships of Youth With A Mission (YWAM).
- Essay of the Week: 5 key differences between serial church shoppers and the unchurched.
- 56,000 Charismatics showed up at the Los Angeles Coliseum in recognition of the 110th anniversary of the Azuza Street revival, but local and regional media ignored the event. (Maybe this a consequence of the megachurch; 56K could represent as few as fourteen 4,000-member churches.)
- You can debate their intention, but there’s no mistaking that CBS Television’s The Big Bang Theory affirmed the person-hood of unborn children. (And putting family over career.)
- I actually happened to be watching when Al Mohler, Jr. introduced C. J. Mahaney at T4G last week, despite protests outside the hall over abuse at his former church, and like the writer in this piece I was surprised. “The first message was…that these leaders do not care about either the protests or the victims they represent…The second message was … that Mahaney is one of our own and you will accept him as one of your leaders.”
- Pastafarianism suffered a defeat on April 12th when the U.S. District Court in Nebraska ruled it not a real religion, but “plainly a work of satire, meant to entertain while making a pointed political statement.” (A blow as well to my idea for a chain of Spaghetti Monster bookstores.)
- Pastor and Christian author Willliam J. Barber II explains why he was arrested Monday in Washington, DC.
- Leadership Lessons: Learning from the Darrin Patrick dismissal.
- Shopping List Department: Ancient requisitions for wine, flour and oil shed light on when the Bible was written.
- Part One of Two: “Southern evangelicals, steeped in Reformed theology and committed to the authority of Scripture, were totally convinced that the Bible endorsed both the practice and the institution of slavery.” That’s the setup for a challenge to complementarians.
- Pat Boone calls out NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live over a skit parody of the movie God’s Not Dead 2. “This skit was outright sacrilege. They know if they did this to Muslims they’d have to be put into the witness protection program.”
- The nuns prefer another offer, but singer Katy Perry is now one step closer to buying a California convent for $14.5 million.
- Life in a small town: A wrongly convicted man who served four years ends up working alongside the crooked cop who framed him.
- My wife and I were introduced to the BLESS acronym in a Michael Frost-inspired group we attended called The Sunday Suppers. Ten years later, the formula is gaining traction.
- Church Life (1): Being genuinely happy when someone leaves your church.
- Church Life (2): With Leadership Journal gone Christianity Today launches a new section, The Local Church. In this article, a look at the ministry of “the Outdoor Worship Team” aka the spiritually-minded people on the Parking Team.
- Roman Catholics aren’t thrilled with how they are being portrayed in The Real O’Neals and are asking Target to drop its sponsorship.
- Another victory for Amish, Anabaptists and Mennonites as a Vatican conference joins the ranks of those who reject just war theory.
- A year ago I filled in a form to volunteer in a very non-ministerial capacity for an organization and was asked if I had ever been a victim of abuse. I haven’t, but found the question shocking. Well, apparently on the basis of the axiom that “hurt people hurt people” it can disqualify you from employment at certain churches. And it’s not the only question ministry organizations are asking.
- “Felix Ngole, a 38-year-old in his second year of study for a master’s degree in social work at the University of Sheffield in [England] was told… his conservative Christian beliefs about marriage would negatively impact his ‘ability to carry out a role as a social worker’ and that his [Facebook] post ‘transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession.'” He was then expelled. …
- …Also from the UK: I’ve heard of people attending church so they can sell life insurance or promote their Amway business, but some Church of England attendance by parents is so they can get their kids into the right schools.
- Foreknowledge is not fore-ordination or fore-causation. (I knew spell-check wouldn’t like the last two without the hyphen!)
- Washington Post Religion (1): A tiny church in Long Island houses either three or four different faith groups, depending on how you’re counting.
- Washington Post Religion (2): One family, two daughters; one is Jewish, one is Presbyterian. Together they make a mixed-up religion relationship.
- I think I did the eye roll when The Phil Vischer Podcast guest was an art historian. How interesting can that be? But Matt Milliner was both informative and entertaining and used phrases like “occupying the optocracy” which I now have to use in everyday conversation. Check out Podcast # 197 (just 3 away from the big 200!)
- The latest on Saeed Abedini isn’t about marriage; it’s about plagiarism.
- Book Blurb of the Week: “Islamic State fighters (ISIS) have been brutalizing and annihilating Christians. How? Why? Where did the terrorists come from, and what can be done to stop them? For more than a decade, journalist Mindy Belz has reported on the ground from the Middle East, giving her unparalleled access to the story no one wants to believe. Check out the new Tyndale Momentum release, They Say We Are Infidels.
- Buried deeper in this story is that the “surge” of Mormon missionaries caused by a double-cohort (resulting from an age change) produced “reactivation in the southwestern US. That was good news, and in my opinion that’s a lot better development in the long run than just baptizing new members.” (Do Evangelicals ever aim for or track “reactivation?”)
- The latest Pew Research Center study compares the quality of life of the highly religious with their not so pious neighbors.
- The NLT Africa Study Bible is a Kickstarter project with a $100,000 goal.
- Not-some-peoples’-pic-of-the-week: Nadia Bolz-Weber poses with some of her church’s gaybies.
- Together for the Gospel (T4G) spinoff: The Calvinist crowd now have a new hymnbook, Hymns of Grace. (Some of you are asking, ‘What’s a hymnbook?’)
- Ultrasound Too Much Information? While it’s nothing compared to India, a look at sex-selective abortion in Canada.
- His parents were YWAM missionaries. He married the granddaughter of Uganda’s Idi Amin. Now 28, Ryan Gustafson faces counterfeiting charges.
- The problem with Evangelical, spontaneous praying: “When I hear people praying these prayers to God, I sometimes fantasize about being Episcopalian…”
- Cooking With Jesus: It’s true. He made the original fish tacos.
- Tweet of the Week.
- Finally, Lark News posted this as … a lark, but it does raise an important issue. Who gets custody of the sponsored child?
Special thanks this week to those of you who sent link suggestions! I think we used them all.
Once again this week we tried to balance the weird and wacky links with those having redeeming ministry and leadership value. Your clicks will tell us if we succeeded.
- Provocative Headline of the Week: Was Nebuchadnezzar a Werewolf? (Everything you wanted to know about “British Protestantism under threat from Catholics and Indians alike.”)
- When it’s Okay to Lie: The Jehovah’s Witness practice of spreading misinformation is branded as part of the doctrine of “theocratic warfare.”
- Essay of the Week (1): More on ageism in the church; this time in terms of church leadership. “The rather youthful, small (and homogeneous) Elder Board of the church I visited that weekend wasn’t a bad group of guys. It was simply a very narrow expression of its people…”
- Essay of the Week (2): Pastors claim to be “preaching the word,” but often 38 out of 40 minutes are the preacher’s own words.
- Bad Family Models of the Bible: An interview with David Lamb dealing with the sometimes bizarre marriage standards we encounter in the Old Testament. (Here’s the link for the infographic.)
- Sermon Crafting: The case for preachers learning how to write fiction.
- Why do pastor’s wives climb mountains? Willow Creek’s Lynne Hybels explains the why behind her group’s climb of Kilimanjaro.
- Yankee, Go Home: Rev David Robertson, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland said Creflo Dollar’s work was blasphemous and embarrassing, and told him he wasn’t welcome there. (Which leaves me wondering what happens if your private jet is airborne and no country will let you land?)
- Each year the American Library Association receives challenges to certain books being included in public libraries. In 2015, the Bible made the top ten list.
- Tweeting for the Gospel: You can follow the remaining hours of the annual Calvinist confab at hashtag #t4g2016.
- Civil Disobedience: Great topic and discussion this week on the Phil Vischer Podcast with CT Managing Editor Katelyn Beaty.
- We don’t normally link to publisher announcements, but I’ll make an exception when it’s an influential publisher like InterVarsity Press. “Jeff Crosby, the current associate publisher and director of sales and marketing for InterVarsity Press, will succeed Bob Fryling as publisher for IVP.”
- Church Tech (1): Some important considerations about streaming your services live, including the caveat that to secure enough bandwidth, your church might have to lock out all other activities on the building’s wifi network. (So much for fact-checking the sermon in real time!)
- Church Tech (2): Is audio mixing possibly more art than science? “Although both mindsets can independently exist, I’d challenge to you consider fostering the two side by side.”
- Screwed-up syllogism:
(a) Everybody hated Jesus,
(b) Jesus said his followers would be hated too,
(c) If everybody hates me I’m doing something right.
What’s wrong with this logic?
- A board member with the National Association of Evangelicals is organizing “Together 2016” an event he hopes will rival the 1997 Promise Keepers rally on the National Mall…
- …The July 16th event in Washington DC has posted a confirmed list of speakers and musicians.
- Architecture Alley: The remains of a 1,500-year-old church have been excavated in the Gaza Strip. [Deletes two “Gaza Strip” jokes he was going to insert.]
- The Ultimate Link List Item: The Hypertext Bible, where every single word is linked to all other occurrences of the same word.
- Analogy of the Week: Is your church like this gas station?
- Student Ministry: Does kissing lead to sex? In many places within youth culture, the two are actually done in the opposite order.
- Birthday of the Week: Jürgen Moltmann turns 90; his theology in videos.
- A photographer crashes a religious goods trade fair held every two years in Italy, and publishes a book of what he found at The World Fair for Church Supplies, Liturgical and Ecclesiastical Art.
- It’s not unusual that someone like Michael Hyatt would do another book on leadership; it was the bonus adult coloring book that surprised me!
- Canada Corner (1) Winnipeg’s Booth College and Toronto’s Tyndale Seminary have joined forces to offer the world’s only graduate theological program specializing in Salvation Army studies. (Band lessons optional.)
- Canada Corner (2): Missed this one in February, when a national TV network broadcast a story of abuse at an Anglican-affiliated residential school.
- Canada Corner (3): Concern continues for a Toronto-area pastor jailed in North Korea.
- Turning the Tables: Betty & James Robison, normally the television interviewers, become the interviewees as they celebrate their 53rd year of marriage talking to Sheila Walsh…
- …Which brings us to Marriage Matters: 4 pieces of good advice. Sample #1 – Try to be the biggest servant in your house.
- Facebook Tempest of the Week: The one about the abortion doctor strangling the fetus (in 1977). “This baby just won’t quit breathing.”
- Fred Clark is looking for help updating his list of Christian LGBT bloggers.
- Warning: Religion News Service has been infected by The Babylon Bee…
- …which prompted this from Get Religion.
- Finally: He was lifted to heaven by a beam of light and met the wife of Jesus, “a member of the African Xhosa people;” and even took a selfie while he was there. But now, the South African pastor’s mobile phone is missing. “One of his bodyguards claimed that it was stolen at a car wash.”
We’re back with another week of stories and opinion pieces to distract you from doing your income tax return. Want to send this link list to someone by email? Copy this link to them: http://wp.me/pfdhA-7PG
- Marriage in America is changing. The New York Post reports, “For whether they call it a ‘starter’ marriage, ‘beta’ marriage or ‘test’ marriage, the 25- to 35-year-old generation has a far more elastic definition of the concept of ‘forever.’ …With same-sex marriage now legal, has making marriage more inclusive eroded its traditional sense of exclusivity? Or are millennials merely early-adopting a future where marriage is unnecessary? Part of the problem is role models.” …
- …But as Kyle Idleman points out, often today people are “looking for an out before they get in” in this 90-second teaching clip.
- Question of the Week: Why didn’t the attack on Christians in Pakistan get the same coverage as Brussels or Paris?
- Charting unknown territory: Working from a novel by Anne Rice, who in turn was working with some non-canonical texts, The Young Messiah movie was certainly going where nobody had gone before. “At one point, Joseph asks Mary: ‘How do we explain God to his own Son?'” Director and co-writer Cyrus Nowrasteh explains the challenges.
- Satisfaction Guaranteed or Money Refunded: This isn’t about store policy at Sears, but a promise by Perry Noble that the church promises to return tithes if congregants aren’t blessed in 90 days.
- Considered the world’s largest African-American religious TV outlet, The Word Network recently fired Paul Crouch, Jr., the son of the founder of TBN.
- More than 100,000 people have signed a petition in the strange custody case involving 6-year old Lexi.
- Warning to Women: While they’re the biggest publishing phenomenon to come along in many years, spiritual overtones exist in seemingly innocent inspirational adult coloring books.
- Philip Yancey on Elijah: The “Superhero Prophet” is greatly revered by Jews for whom “Elijah represents a longing for a type of Messiah they never got.”
- You won’t find this listed among hiring best practices, but “After 32 years in prison, [Danny] Duchene was freed, partly in response to a letter sent by Pastor Rick Warren to the parole board asking that they do so in order to allow him to hire Duchene as a pastor at Saddleback Church. This weekend, Danny Duchene will be officially installed as pastor of Saddleback Church’s Prison Ministry.”
- It’s all in the asking: Why ask for donations when you can just get people to donate their entire estates to the Roman Catholic Church? Especially when you can raise $2 million to get people out of purgatory.
- Tweet of the Week: The premise is simple, but following this flowchart made me think.
- Your local, personal pastor is not your podcast pastor and preaching comparisons aren’t helpful. Here are seven things the former offers that the latter can’t give you.
- Essay of the Week: Alissa Wilkinson (no relation) of Christianity Today guests at an entertainment website to boldly proclaim, “I’m a Christian and I hate Christian movies.” …
- …Meanwhile, with the release of Miracles from Heaven, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard who is a medical doctor who also has an earned a master’s degree in divinity from Princeton, looks at ‘spontaneous remission’ and the nature of the miraculous in light of the things we don’t know yet.
- Facing a lawsuit for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding is probably preferable for this family to being threatened with having their house burned down and their son raped.
- February Flashback: We missed this one when published, but this in-depth analysis of Mark Driscoll’s teaching searches to find the fruit of a repentant spirit.
- Around the World: Countries in central Africa are “struggling to contain Islamist-backed insurgencies that have risked pitting Christians and Muslims against each other.”
- The National Association of Evangelicals has launched an extended study of the financial challenges facing people in vocational pastoral ministry.
- Parenting Place: “Eight mother-daughter tips from an experienced mom to those in the midst of the process.”
- Pastors Place: Four fears that pastors face that can undermine their ministry.
- Parenting Place meets Pastors Place: What a wrestling match and a haircut have to do with expectations on Sunday morning.
- Podcast of the Week: Hadn’t heard of Undone|Redone, but they’re up to episode 80, which deals with how seemingly innocent conversation can lead to an affair. (Serious audio issues, but good content.)
- Verse of the Week? Not usually. You don’t hear much about “Expel the wicked person from among you.” A blog post about excluding people from the church.
- Something different: Poem of the Week.
- The contemporary worship many churches are using to get younger people in the front doors isn’t preventing the numbers rapidly exiting by the back doors.
- The dark side of doing Christian news roundups: 12 reported cases in just one month of pastors molesting kids.
- This is both an article and a play script: Christian counselor Jay Adams on decision making in the absence of supernatural guidance.
- Church Culture: “When it comes to contemporary churches, what was once unique is now commonplace. What was innovative is now normal.” This among six reasons ministry is tougher than it formerly was.
- This is someone’s ministry calling: Every Canadian Member of Parliament has one of these.
- Economics Department: A Biblical argument against minimum wage laws.
- For your consideration: A new twist on an old story, The Prodigal Transgender Daughter.
- Most of you know this story, but if not, here’s the world’s all-time worst proofreading mistake.
- Provocative Headline of the Week: How Trump Alienated the Mormon Vote. (Wait; just the Mormons?)
- Church History Question: Did the early church ever hire a helicopter to drop Easter eggs in a field? Well churches do that today, except for the times it goes viral on social media, 10,000 people show up and they have to cancel.
- As I tweeted last week, when you’re looking at a Chrsitian humor/satire website, how would you know if they had done an April Fool’s post? Case in point: Lark News reviews Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries With God.
Raccoon Worship Service
The cartoon below appears because of a recent behind the scenes report from Christianity Today that this particular image “happened to receive more than 100,000 likes and reached more than 20 million people—the most, by far, of any post CT has ever shared.”
If you only show up here on Wednesdays, I hope you’ll take a minute to check out an article I did last Friday on how out of all the new technology’s benefits, probably blogging had the biggest influence on church life. (Yes, really.)
You did this at your church for Easter, right?
Nik Wallenda at an Easter service at Bayside Church in Bradenton, Florida. The connection to atonement and resurrection should be obvious.
Now on to the serious (!) stuff:
- After the martyrdom of four Bible translators, remaining staff of Wycliffe are determined to stay in the Middle East and continue with the project.
- 600,000 households in Chicago received an unsolicited copy of a Seventh Day Adventist 377-page book and the donors who footed the bill shelled out about the same number of dollars.
- A look at Religion in the UK: They’re leaving the church but they’re not leaving the faith.
- Lent 2016 took a terrible turn for this family. They’ve come through it, but now they need your help.
- Imagine being on the mission field and nearby is another missionary, but you can’t work together because of a Doctrine of Separation. “The belief that Christians cannot work together, worship together, or evangelize together to reach a common desired goal is crazy. There are areas that make Baptists (of which I am) different from other denominations, and rightfully so. These differences, however, are more often than not of little eternal significance.”
- It’s not that this Tennessee church plant got some press in the local newspaper on Easter Sunday. It’s that it more or less dominated the entire front page of The Tennessean…
- …and in the same newspaper: After 20 years with the band Jars of Clay, this guitarist is now doing haircuts in Nashville.
- Touching: A 6-year-old asks if his year-old sister will have Down’s Syndrome in heaven. The answer is ‘no,’ but so much more than just a simple ‘no.’
- Flashback: It was 40 years ago this month that Jesus ’76 Florida took place on property that is now part of Disney World…
- …Another one was weeks away from taking place in Mercer, PA.
- Video Curiosity of the Week: Broadcasting from their basement to the whole wide world, check out the 10-15 minute worship service videos for scattered people at Scattered and Small.
- Hey, Judas Isacriot wasn’t all bad, right? That’s the impression you get from a BBC-TV documentary, but two American pastors challenge its assumptions.
- Last week we brought you a link about the closing of a longstanding UK denomination. This week, the other side of the story, the growth of Pentecostalism in England.
- Violence in Christian fiction: Mike Nappa, Ted Dekker, Lynette Eason, and Vicki Crumpton in a 4-page interview on how far is too far. (Warning: May be too frightening for younger readers.) Dekker: “…To that end, my mission is simply to awaken to my own identity in the midst of the storms, and to help my readers awaken in the midst of the storm they face in this life.” (I was kidding about the warning.)
- Linking Outside the Box: The Jerusalem Post looks at similarities in the three denominations of Judaism. (Note: You might feel like you just walked into an alien conversation, but slow down; this is an interesting piece.)
- Warning of the Week: “Church leaders needs to recognize the huge responsibility they have to keep their kids safe and take the necessary steps to guard against child predators. We all think of church as a safe place, but the reality is abusers prey on the vulnerability of such environments.” 5 Ways to keep kids safe.
- Analogy of the Week: Growing cities and growing churches, aka “similarities between city revitalization and church revitalization.”
- Currently Reading: Evangelicals Around the World by Brian Stiller et al. 400 pages of stats, maps, graphs, photographs, quotes; and everything else you need to know about this sector of Protestant Christianity.
- Is your church on the spectrum? In this case, the spectrum runs from anti-attractional to attractional.
- A former prisoner in North Korea, and the subject of a May 2016 book releasing in the Christian market, Kenneth Bae responds to the recent 15-year hard labor sentence for an American college student.
- Alliteration is one way to stack a sermon sandwich. I don’t know what you call this homiletic form, but I enjoyed the sermon…
- …But I don’t know what to make of this message. At least it’s less than 2 minutes long. Check out the video.
- 80 % of Word Entertainment (the music label that’s home to King and Country and Francesca Battistelli) has been sold by Warner Music to Curb Records.
- GQ — your source for fashion and grooming trends — looks at TV networks trying to make the Bible cool.
- KidMin Korner: The last thing they want to do is listen to a speaker. So how do you speak to them?
- The only time I ever watched Mother Angelica was on hotel television, but she was a fixture on the Eternal Word Television Network. She passed away last week, but the broadcasts will keep airing.
- Things We Wish We Were Making Up Department: “A reproduction of the Temple of Baal is coming to New York’s Times Square next month as a tribute to the 2,000-year-old original structure that was destroyed by ISIS last year in Palmyra, Syria.”
- Not so sure about the website, but to this reader, the article speaks of the intricacies built into the natural world by an intelligent designer.
- Tweet of the Week: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his phone for his friends. ~ John 15:13
- Photo of the Week: A North Carolina policeman prays with his two young kids before each shift.
- Because He Lives: Bill Gaither turned 80 on Monday. (Yeah, I know, not what the song title means.)
- Weirdest Thing I Heard This Week: Louis Armstrong audio on YouTube of the song Cain and Abel.
- Finally, have you had The Babylon Bee experience yet? Here are some headlines to whet your appetite: