Thinking Out Loud

January 19, 2019

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker Revisited

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:01 am

Although known for some decent investigative journalism, ABC-TV’s 20/20 show went all tabloid last night, retracing the journey of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. I thought I’d quickly share some observations.

The big question for both my wife and I was: Why dredge this up now? There’s no breaking news, and really no new information. Given the fascination Americans had for the Bakkers as their life unravelled, I suppose there are some who are attached to the story, soap opera as it was and is. Tammy Faye is gone and Jessica Hahn is turning 60 this year, quite removed from the public eye.

Having been an avid follower of the program during the short time it was broadcast in my area, I just wanted to relive some memories. Having said that, the clips from the programs didn’t really resonate. I guess I’ve moved on.

I also realized how long it has been since I watched Charismatic television. I still believe in the infinite power of the Holy Spirit and am definitely a continuationist — often calling myself a “post-Charismatic” — but the scenes of people speaking in tongues on my television seemed so foreign to my current experience.

There were only fleeting scenes in one segment tracing Jim’s childhood and even less for Tammy Faye beyond a mention that the home had no indoor plumbing. The program mentioned that the couple got their start doing puppet ministry with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) but neither there nor in a scene where both men were pictured was there verbal mention of Pat Robertson.

There was also no mention at all of the Bakker’s two children, Jay and Tammy Sue. They appeared in a couple of still photographs and nothing else.

While Bakker is credited as having created the Tonight Show-styled talk show format for Christian TV — which still airs today as The 700 Club — viewers were given the impression that this happened first at his own network, PTL. There was also no mention of the role he played in founding the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) on the west coast with Paul Crouch.

Only those deeply imbedded in the story were mentioned by name, John Wesley Fletcher, Jerry Falwell and Tammy’s marriage to Roe Messner. Many times we heard the opening voice-over for various episodes of their flagship show, The PTL Club, but announcer Henry Harrison who played second fiddle — also the title of his book — to Bakker wasn’t mentioned.

Money and power tend to corrupt. That was really the point of this episode of 20/20, if there was any message at all. I think most of us knew that going in. Tammy Faye, at the end of her life seemed to have grown and resorted her priorities. Jim is very much still the same Jim, doing the same dog and pony show.

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December 15, 2017

Making Christian Television Great Again

test pattern

If your background is Anglican or Roman Catholic, you might think that the world of Christian television is dominated by Evangelical voices, but you’d only be partly right. In fact, Christian TV is dominated by a certain type of Evangelical, most of whom, if not Pentecostal or Charismatic, are definitely is leaning in that direction.

And that’s unfortunate because there is a wide swath of Evangelicals that simply aren’t represented in the broadcast medium:

Cerebral Christians – I’ve always wondered what a Christian television program would look like if it was created by InterVarsity. I know I’d watch. N. T. Wright is often a guest on various shows; if he were a host, I wonder who would he invite? This would be to present Christian television what PBS is to ABC.

America’s Best Sermons – There’s a ton of sermon media out there. Why should just internet-connected people get to enjoy it all? A show of best sermons would scan the internet for great material from churches that would never dream of purchasing broadcast airtime.

Christian Talk/Variety in a Live Context – In 2008, I wrote about His Place on Cornerstone Television which was set in a coffee shop but contained characters discussing pertinent issues and challenges, along with guest interviews and musicians. Truly a superior concept. You can read what I wrote at this link.

Socratic Dialog – Think about what people liked about The Shack, or Ian Morgan Cron’s Chasing Francis or the David Gregory Dinner With a Perfect Stranger series or a large number of Andy Andrews titles, and you get where I’m going with this. It would make for great television.

Bible Project – In May of last year we introduced you to two guys from the west coast with a very unique gift for explaining the Bible. Frankly, I think their work is too good to just be on YouTube. It deserves the cachet that goes with broadcast TV. You may read my description at this link.

Progressives – For all the Millennials out there, TV must seem a very old-school medium. Still, what would it take to capture the energy of those edgy podcasts and turn it loose in a more populist medium? 

Apologetics – The “extreme sport” of Christian theology and witness rarely makes it onto TV in its pure form.

Calvinists – I know this one flies in the face of some of my other writing about the dominance of Reformed theology on the internet and in Christian publishing, but the five-point crowd isn’t known for using the visual media. Anyone know a reason for that? 

Drama – Again, another question: Why should all the best examples modelling Christians in their neighborhoods, workplaces and extended families only be seen in movie theaters? Can’t Sherwood Pictures or PureFlix throw some shorter scripts together for broadcast?

Polar Opposites – Television is a great showcase for the dramatic. What if the TULIPs and the DAISYs had it out on a weekly basis? Or pit the egalitarians debating the complementarians. Or the Young Earth Creationists arguing with the Old Earth Creationists. Or the KJV-Only crowd throwing things at the NIV and NLT advocates. Or the watchdog bloggers against just about anyone. I know I’d tune in.

What Christian television that doesn’t exist would you like to see?

May 7, 2016

The K-LOVE Pledge Drive

K-LOVE

When Grove City College Psychology Professor Warren Throckmorton reports on Mark Driscoll’s troubles or Gospel for Asia’s financial situation we link to it. But when he talks about K-LOVE it gets personal; we listen to that station in our car on a regular basis. So I was surprised on Thursday night to discover I was arriving to this nearly a week late, though I got the payoff of being able to also read the 50+ comments that followed. (Click the title below to read at source.) What follows are the highlights. If you’ve heard the station but don’t know much about the parent organization, you might want to pause to check out this Wikipedia article on the Educational Media Foundation.

Warren ThrockmortonK-LOVE’s Pledge Drive: Money Behind the Music

The Christian radio empire K-LOVE (complete list of stations) is in the middle of their Spring Pledge Drive. To be blunt, the constant solicitations are annoying.

After hearing a claim recently that K-LOVE’s CEO Mike Novak’s salary is over half a million dollars, I decided to do some exploration of K-LOVE’s finances. K-LOVE is one of two radio enterprises run by Educational Media Foundation (Air One is the other). Because EMF is a non-profit, their finances are available via their 990 form. The organization is quite large and took in just over $152-million during 2014.

Concerning the salary claim, it is true that CEO Mike Novak got a hefty sum of $531,256 in 2014. Numerous employees, including one of the DJs got over $200k in compensation. K-LOVE pushes an “easy” giving level of $40/month on the air and their website. It takes 1,107 people making that monthly pledge just to pay Novak’s salary. By comparison, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders, Sophie Delaunay, got just over $160k for running an organization that took in twice what K-LOVE received in donations.

K-LOVE also spent $267,463 on “pledge drive coaching.” The return on investment was phenomenal in 2014 in that they raised over $32-million attributed to the effort.   [emphasis added]

Then follows some screenshots and a discussion of compensation of board members. On the subject of compensation he added in the comments:

Having said that, I am sure you can find non-profits CEOs who get more. My point in posting the info was to alert donors that K-LOVE won’t close down if some widow on a fixed income fails to give $40/month.

More transparency in the actual appeals would be refreshing. “We need your easy monthly $40 gift because we have a heap of debt and we are wanting to aggressively expand into areas which already have Christian radio stations. We need your contribution to help push local Christian stations out of the market.”

But it was this conclusion that really got to me:

K-LOVE’s net revenue over expenses for 2014 was over $64-million. At $40/month, that means 133,761 donors could have given their money elsewhere and K-LOVE would have covered operational expenses. While it clearly takes lots of money to run a high quality media operation, it may come as a surprise to donors who sacrificially give $40/month that K-LOVE is doing quite well financially.

I am not saying that K-LOVE is doing anything wrong (although I think they could make it more clear that staff board members are handsomely paid). My intent is simply to provide potential donors with information that is not provided by K-LOVE. It may be that your local church or food pantry needs that money more than this mega-station.  [emphasis added]

Again, in the comments he repeated:

…I just want people to know that if they are considering their local church or KLOVE, the church probably needs it more.

While I don’t want to get into the reader comments, this one from FormerCCMRadioPerson gets back to the heart of what Christian radio is all about.

The huge difference between EMF (KLOVE’s Parent Network) and other networks is that they [KLOVE] own tons of signals, but only have 3 different Formats.

EMF runs the nearly-same feed of KLOVE, Air1, and Radio Nueva Nida on their vast network of signals. So if you hear that a local long-time Christian radio station is selling their station [to] KLOVE, that means the local DJs (and other local workers) just dropped to zero. No local presence. No local weather, ads, connections with churches, outreaches, whatever. It costs precious little to keep those EMF stations on the air. If KLOVE starts up a signal in rural Montana it’s the exact same thing that they’re listening to in Chicago, Miami, and Fairbanks.

Also inflating EMF’s claims is the vast amounts of “translator” stations they run. These are tiny FM repeaters with a 5-15 mile radius that are far easier to license, and they take virtually nothing to maintain compared to their full-powered signals. Many of those KLOVE signals (and Air1) are translators — some of which are owned by IHeartRadio (aka “Clear Channel”) through an arrangement.

None of this is to say that a CEO deserves more or less, but it does mean that EMF/KLOVE’s uniformity makes it far different from comparable companies like Clear Channel or CBS.  [emphasis added]

Again, click the article’s title next to Warren’s picture to read this at source with all the comments.

 

April 1, 2016

A Radio Music Programmer Responds to Modern Worship

After my wife opened up a worship music can of worms yesterday, our good friend, veteran Canadian Christian broadcaster, and satellite music channel programmer Lorne Anderson wrote to weigh in with an article previously composed for MoreRadio, a radio trade journal. You can read more of his writing each and every day at Random Thoughts from Lorne.

Lorne Anderson headshotMORE OR LESS WORSHIP MUSIC?

The first Christian song I played on the radio, in 1979, was a worship tune. I didn’t think of it as a worship song, it just laid out what I wanted to do with this new radio show. The performer was Steve Camp, the song a cover version of Larry Norman’s “If I Were A Singer.”

The last song I announced when I left CHRI-FM in 2006 was also a worship song – Steve Taylor, “I Just Wanna Know.”

By strict definition both those songs could be classified as worship, in that they are prayers directed towards God. However they aren’t suited for congregational singing. They are worship, but from a personal perspective.

When MoreRadio Magazine asked Canadian radio programmers if we were still in the worship music trend, I got to thinking about worship music and radio. I had just finished leading an 18 week seminar on worship at my church, so the topic has been somewhat on my mind lately. I asked the publisher if there was room for more than the usual couple of lines, and he suggested I share these thoughts.

I am a fan of worship music. It can life up the spirits when you’re feeling down, it draws you closer to God and to his people when you group together to sing His praises.

But I’m not a big fan of worship music on the radio, even though I play a lot of it myself. These days we all do. It has been the trend in recent years. Take a look at a recent radio chart, whether it is CCRC, Billboard or whatever, worship artists and worship songs are a much larger percentage than even five years ago – up to 50% depending on the week. Some of it is very good. Some is quite mediocre (though we don’t like to admit that). But does any of it belong on the radio?

What is the purpose of Christian radio, especially in Canada? Back in the 1970s there were no Christian radio stations here (history lesson another time maybe). The very few contemporary Christian music programs were in hard fought for slots (usually Sunday mornings) on secular stations, which is how I started. The CRTC [our equivalent of the FCC] held hearings into religious broadcasting in 1982 and kept the status quo. It was another decade before they changed their policy, and it took longer for stations to appear.

Worship music on Christian radioThose of us who were around before the policy change were excited about Christian musicians who were expressing their faith in an accessible, contemporary form. As a radio disc jockey, my all-time favourite listener call came from someone looking for some Led Zeppelin to spice up his Sunday morning. I explained I couldn’t play them because they didn’t fit the format, I was only playing Christian music. The response (edited for obvious reasons): “Holy bleep, you mean this bleeping bleep is bleeping Jesus music? It’s bleeping fantastic.” You don’t get phone calls like that when you’re playing worship music. You just don’t reach that audience.

Christian music programming in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s, and when Christian stations first began being licensed, was aimed at much at non-believers as believers. When Bob Du Broy started CHRI-FM in Ottawa in 1997 he wanted at least one song an hour to be something recognizable, accessible to the non-Christian that would draw them in. (That was a nice idea in theory, in practice it meant a lot of bad cover songs and the practice was discontinued.)

The shift in musical emphasis to programming worship music says to me that we have abandoned our early desire to reach our communities with the gospel in musical form and instead are opting to feed the sheep. Admittedly the sheep do need to be fed, but are they the ones with the greatest need? What happened to our original calling?

And I won’t even go into the quality issue. In an interview with me more than 35 years ago, Bruce Cockburn, talking about what he liked and disliked about Christian music, said “most Christian music is crap, and crap for Christ’s sake is still crap.” Sadly little has changed.

To the non-Christian who accidentally finds a Christian radio station, worship music is a stumbling block. It’s not something they can relate to, not yet anyway. It’s a reason to change the channel, it just sounds too different. When radio programmers play a lot of worship music we’re narrowcasting. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what we’ve decided to do. But I don’t think we made a conscious decision to narrow our focus, it happened slowly, almost imperceptibly and many of us haven’t realized that we have abandoned our original vision to take Christ into our communities through radio.

So who do we want to reach, and how do we best reach them? What is the purpose and the vision for Christian radio in Canada (and the USA)? Is it worship music for the Church, or accessible artistic expressions of Christian faith and life?


Lorne Anderson is a veteran broadcaster and musicologist who programs “The Light” for Stingray Music. The channel is heard on cable television systems and satellite broadcast in Canada and the US.

 

December 27, 2014

What’s Missing on Christian Television

Filed under: media, Uncategorized — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:18 am

test pattern

If your background is Anglican or Roman Catholic, you might think that the world of Christian television is dominated by Evangelical voices, but you’d only be partly right. In fact, Christian TV is dominated by a certain type of Evangelical, which if not Pentecostal or Charismatic, definitely is leaning in that direction.

And that’s unfortunate because there is a wide swath of Evangelicals that simply aren’t represented in the broadcast medium:

Calvinists – I know this one flies in the face of some of my other writing about the dominance of Reformed theology on the internet and in Christian publishing, but the five-point crowd isn’t known for using the visual media.  Anyone know a reason for that?

Cerebral Christians – I’ve always wondered what a Christian television program would look like if it was created by InterVarsity. I know I’d watch.  N. T. Wright is often a guest on various shows; if he were a host, I wonder who would he invite?

Progressives – For all the Nadia’s and Matthew Paul’s out there, TV must seem a very old-school medium. Still, what would mean to capture the energy of those podcasts and turn it loose in a more populist medium?

Polar Opposites – Television is a great showcase for the dramatic. What if the TULIPs and the DAISYs had it out on a weekly basis? Or pit the egalitarians debating the complementarians. Or the watchdog bloggers against just about anyone.

What Christian television that doesn’t exist would you like to see?

 

 

January 11, 2014

Travel the World by Internet Radio

Filed under: media — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:38 am

Delicast sample page

I have nothing to write today. I am lost in the world of Internet radio and may not come up for air for several weeks.

I love radio. I’ve always loved the medium. I got to do some work briefly in radio a few times, and despite the slick, formatted medium it has become, I really miss it. The more “live” the better.

So you can imagine my surprise a few days ago when I discovered DeliCast.com, a well-maintained working portal to radio stations in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, as well as Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.  For each country, you can sort alphabetically, by popularity, by city of origin, and by format.

The format sorting is especially interesting: News, talk, electronic music, alternative rock, house music, classical, music of the ’70s (why?), and of course various stations tagged as religion, gospel, and Christian.  I’m currently listening to a worship stream — not true radio mind you since nobody’s introducing the songs — from Life in New Zealand. For each station listing there’s a link to their website which is how I got this one started. However, I listened to some ’60s music this week, there’s even a few religious stations that broadcast high church liturgical music.

And then there’s television. I can finally watch Cornerstone TV from Pennsylvania, and Thursday night I watched a concert at UCB Television in the UK, at what was for them the middle of the night. If you’ve got someone in your extended family who grew up where they speak a different language, this might offer them a well-appreciated taste of home. The world just got smaller.

The delivery is crisp and clear.  I live an hour from Toronto, but trying to watch the CBC National News without glitches, lags and crashes is impossible most nights. Yet I can listen to radio and watch television on DeliCast flawlessly.

If you find yourself stuck at home this weekend wishing you could be somewhere else, I can’t offer you airline tickets, but if you are willing to let your imagine run wild, you can let internet radio transport you around the world.

Do you listen to Christian radio online? Got a favorite station? Leave a comment.

December 16, 2013

Christian Radio Stations and the True Meaning of Christmas

Christmas Banner 2

Because I spend part of my week in a Christian retail environment, I hear a lot from customers about their frustration trying to buy Christmas cards that contain anything even remotely resembling the Biblical Christmas story, and as I mentioned here a few days ago, the birth narrative from Matthew or Luke is just the beginning of what we, as Christ-followers, would want to convey.  Fortunately, the Christian bookstores — and their online equivalents — are able to offer products that aren’t about Rudolph, or Frosty, or one-horse open sleighs.

So now that we’re into the final countdown to Christmas, I’m at a total loss to understand how it is that the customers who so decry the secularization of Christmas can handle what Christian radio is offering during the final weeks of December. Biblical narrative? Idea that Jesus came to save us? Concept of God incarnate? Some songs, yes; but in many others that are sucking up valuable Christian radio airtime, it’s just not there to be heard.

Now let me say at the outset there are two realities present here.

The first is that successful Christian music artists either feel compelled or are compelled contractually to make a Christmas album. This provides them with extra visibility, extra radio airplay and extra revenue. And I’m sure that these artists really do have deep personal memories of song of these songs from their own childhood years.

Secondly, I realize that for Christian radio stations, they are most likely to attract new listeners at this time of year with a playlist that is more recognizable to the average listener. Maybe some of those new listeners will stick around in January, and hear the Good News in a way they’ve never heard it before. One of my favorite radio ministries is 96five in Brisbane, Australia. They play a mix of Christian and secular family-friendly songs that has earned them top ratings in their market.

Despite both of these realities, I believe there is an expectancy on the part of regular listeners, who are also in many cases financial supporters that the station will take the opportunity to communicate the message of the Gospel at this time of year. Furthermore, I think the broader community feels that in many ways they own lyrics like “Joy to the world, the Lord is come” in a way that they don’t relate to “How great is our God,” and are therefore quite content to stop tuning across the radio spectrum and allow their car radios to stop at any station that’s playing the traditional carol.

I’ve deliberately avoided mentioning names of artists or song titles here, but the one which grates on me (and others) most this year is a recording of a new song called “Merry Christmas, Baby.” Sorry, but there are so many better uses for that three minutes. I realize the song goes into what we might call vertical ‘worship-inclined’ lyrics — lyrics that can be taken two ways — but that isn’t clear to listeners in the context — and title — of the larger song.

There is also an argument for the radio formula where only one song in three is a Christmas song, and listeners traveling to the mall or to family events get to hear the kind of Christian radio that is broadcast the rest of the year, instead of re-branded “Christmas” format that disappears on December 26th. That strategy, is something my Christmas card customers would support. Right now they’re just bewildered.

What’s your relationship to the whole Christian Christmas-album genre?

February 11, 2012

It Never Rains (Money) In Southern California

From VirtualGlobetrotting.com: The co-founder, chairman and president of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the world's largest Christian television network, lives here with his wife Jan. The network has grown to 47 satellite stations and 12,500 affiliates, reaching nearly 100,000,000 households globally. They also own the property next door that is also featured on this site.

Apparently when the Orange County Register isn’t following the Crystal Cathedral story, they’ve got to keep their eye on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, aka TBN.

Paul Crouch Sr., Founder of TBN

The granddaughter of Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Paul and Jan Crouch has accused the world’s largest Christian broadcaster of unlawfully distributing charitable assets worth more than $50 million to the company’s directors.

The charges are leveled in a federal lawsuit filed by Crouch granddaughter Brittany Koper (far left) last week against her former lawyers, who also do legal work for TBN.

“Observers have often wondered how the Crouches can afford multiple mansions on both coasts, a $50 million jet and chauffeurs,” said Tymothy MacLeod, Koper’s attorney. “And finally, with the CFO coming forward, we have answers to those questions.”

…continue reading at Orange County Register, or catch the Reader’s Digest condensed version at Bene Diction Blogs On.

Isaiah 56: 9b-11 (The Message)

For Israel’s watchmen are blind, the whole lot of them.
They have no idea what’s going on.
They’re dogs without sense enough to bark,
lazy dogs, dreaming in the sun—
But hungry dogs, they do know how to eat,
voracious dogs, with never enough.
And these are Israel’s shepherds!
They know nothing, understand nothing.
They all look after themselves,
grabbing whatever’s not nailed down.

December 15, 2010

Wednesday Link List

It’s a busy week for most so I’ll keep the list short(er) this week…

  • Yes, I do list the links in order of importance, so for this week, it’s got to be a Christianity Today story in celebration of 50 years of Youth With A Mission (YWAM).
  • “Does it really make sense that God is a loving, kind, compassionate God who wants to know people in a personal way, but if they reject this relationship with Jesus, they will be sent to hell where God will eternally punish them forever?”   That question, included in the online, advance-publication announcement for Rob Bell’s forthcoming Love Wins, may explain why the title is with HarperOne, and not with Zondervan.
  • The Amish are causing problems for building contractors in Philadelphia where they are underbidding local companies on jobs, and then leaving town without spending any money.
  • Lots of time to answer our poll question from yesterday — Should audiences still be expected to stand for the playing of the Hallelujah Chorus?
  • A look at Brad Lomenick’s “Young Influencers List” for December led to the discovery that he’s been doing this list for a few years now, with some names you might recognize.
  • If you own a business in Dallas, Texas, you’d better not be substituting “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas” or First Baptist Church will put you on their “Naughty or Nice” list.
  • It’s minus 12 degrees Celsius, or 10 degrees Fahrenheit in Fairbanks, Alaska.  What better time for an outdoor baptism service.
  • Because of remarks made by Canadian Pastor Charles McVety, the National Post reports that Crossroads Television System (CTS) has been found to be in violation of Canada’s strict “anti-hate” Canadian Broadcast Standards.
  • Cedric Miller, a New Jersey pastor “believes the forbidden fruit had a QWERTY keyboard and came with status updates.”  He’s ordered his church leaders to either quit Facebook or resign.
  • Canadian readers:  Don’t forget you have less than two weeks to help us fill our Salvation Army iKettle.  No matter where you live, donations stay with the S.A. Family Services branch closest to you.
  • Joel Spencer doesn’t blog frequently, but if you like your bloggers with tongues firmly planted in cheeks, you might enjoy his catalog of Jesus action figures for 2010.
  • Bonus link:  In the days before Weird Al, there was Ray Stevens (Guitarzan, The Streak, Bridget the Midget, etc.) filling the novelty music category.  He’s back with a commentary on U.S. immigration policy.
  • Today’s cartoon is a 2009 entry at ShoeBoxBlog, while today’s picture is none other than Shane Claiborne at the White House which appeared — National Enquirer style — at the blog OutOfUr.  BTW, you need to drop by your bookstore to actually see, touch and feel what Shane is doing with his new book, Common Prayer.

January 8, 2010

E-Mail Forwards and Theology

Filed under: internet — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:17 pm

Two unrelated things about e-mail forwards.

First, there are the ones that announce that the FCC is going to remove all religious broadcasting, referencing some petition (number 2493 actually) and urging me to sign and forward a counter-petition to as many people as exist in my computer address book.

While Snopes.com handily refutes this — 2493 having been resolved decades ago, and having nothing to do with taking James Dobson off the air — I’ve always regarded this discussion as being totally limited to my online world.  In other words, nobody in the “real world” has ever gotten even close to this subject.

But then, out of the blue, at a wedding reception last month, I was asked by someone how the removal of all the religious broadcasting from radio and television would affect interest in Christian books.    He was, I think, serious.  It was so very strange to encounter this subject without either my keyboard or monitor close at hand.   In a face-to-face conversation.

Someone had sent him the information and he had taken it at face value.   I assured him it was a hoax, something he was smart enough to accept.   (Accept at face value!    Doesn’t anybody check anything?)   Anyway, if that one reaches your in-box anytime soon, send them the link above.

My other observation on e-mail forwards concerns the ones that are sent containing philosophical platitudes combined with cute stories and breathtaking photography, and an encouragement to send it to everyone you know.

I got one of those today.   It was a PowerPoint presentation containing the aforementioned high resolution pictures which fill the whole screen.   But it also contained practical advice for living.   Frankly, I’d rather see the photograph.  I don’t need a shot of the Grand Canyon spoiled by graphics reminding me to brush my teeth after every meal.

(I don’t think any of them actually said that, but there were forty of them, and for the life of me, I did not remember a single one.    It was sincere, but it was drivel.   And it was wrecking the pictures.)

All of these are sent by Christian friends, and it occurred to me today that very, very rarely do any of them contain scripture.   Hey, I’d settle for a bad paraphrase.   It’s just empty, pop psychological advice splattered over shots of sunsets and oceans.    A Biblical quotation would be a refreshing change.

That got me wondering how much time Christian people spend mentally ingesting somewhat shallow online content that could be spent reading the Bible online.

The Bible comes with a guarantee that its words don’t just bounce off the walls.  If we believe in the inspiration (God-breathed origin) of scripture, then this is what the Bible is saying about itself in Isaiah 55:11 –

It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.   ( ~ NLT)

So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them  (  ~ Message)

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. ( ~ Amplified)

Thus it is of my word which leaves my mouth:  It does not return to me without effect;  without having carried out my will and achieving my intentions.   ( – Louis Segond, trans.)

If you really wanna ‘bless’ someone today, forward them a hand-picked Bible verse just for them. But do this quickly before all the Christian programs are taken off the air, and then they decide to remove all Bible portions from the internet.

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