Thinking Out Loud

May 17, 2018

Thursday Link List

It’s a great weather day where I live, so for some of you, these are the only links that matter.

A few things seen the day after I would like to have included yesterday. Some of the items below are perhaps of greater interest to people in vocational ministry, but I chose things that I think all of us can connect with. If you missed the bigger list yesterday, click here.

  • Canada’s John Stackhouse guests at Lorna Dueck’s website and looks at the composition of the Willow Creek church board and how the choosing of board members can influence outcomes in situations like the one the church just faced. “From what I could read … the website indicates that the Board of Elders of this large, globally influential church features eight impressive people who are long-time members of Willow Creek and who bring a range of gifts and experiences to the Elder Board. All well and good. Collectively, however, they list not a single year of theological education. Nor do any of them have experience in pastoral ministry.”
  • Egalitarian in theory, but not in practice: Canada’s Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada — the country’s direct equivalent of the Assemblies of God — has been at the forefront of ordaining women and even having women as senior pastors. But it doesn’t always translate into actual positions being granted with what the denom would like to see. So, at this year’s annual conference in Victoria, BC, they affirmed their stance: “Two decades later, we recognize that although our accepted, official position is one of equality between men and women, that position has not translated to reality. Women continue to be vastly underrepresented both as vocational pastors and in governing roles at District and National levels, despite female students consistently attending our Bible Colleges in significant numbers. There is a gap between our official position and our lived reality.”
  • Following up on a link from yesterday, we listened to the most recent John Mark Comer sermon online. If nothing else, listen to the first 5-10 minutes. We also linked yesterday to a piece about “data dumping” where pastors simply unload a great volume of information in a non-academic, church environment. With that in mind, check out how this is done in Comer’s sermon. It’s a friendly, unthreatening approach with an admitted theology “nerd” sharing what he learned and recognizing some people may temporarily tune out. I think however, it’s also the degree of sermon prep which attracts people to his church.
  • Andy Stanley has been the most recent target of the label Marcionite, because of a sermon in the “Aftermath” series wherein he spoke of the first generation church ‘unhitching’ itself from the Old Testament way of doing things. Peter Enns addressed this a few months back, noting that God’s so-called “split personality” isn’t just apparent along the OT/NT divide: “Different portrayals of the one God are self-evident, not simply between the two Testaments but within each Testament. Israel’s Scripture does not present God in one way, but various ways—depending on who is writing, when, and for what reason. Same with the New. This is what keeps theologians so busy, trying to make that diversity fit into a system of some sort.”
  • Staying with the OT for a minute, what is the last book of the Old Testament? Did you say Malachi (the Italian prophet)? “The Bible that Jesus was familiar with, what we now refer to as the Old Testament, did not end with Malachi. In fact, it wasn’t even a single volume book. Rather, it was a collection of separate scrolls that were made to be read as a unified collection, and the book designed as the concluding crown jewel was 1st and 2nd Chronicles! Your favorite book of the Bible, I’m sure.” We don’t know how the change happened but we do know the “The general picture we get from the book is that the long years of Israel’s exile did not fundamentally change the hearts of the people. They’re still in rebellion against God, the temple is corrupted, and it leaves the reader waiting for some kind of resolution.”
  • An Arminian website offers “Five Biblical Texts that Calvinists Can’t Wiggle Out Of.” The outline parallels TULIP, and at the end, they admit their strongest case is made with “L” — an argument against limited atonement.
  • Still continuing with the number ‘5’ an article by a lawyer at Christianity Today offers five things your church should purchase before adding a coffee bar, or making another such purge. (This article may be pay-walled soon.)
  • Got an hour to think about comedy? We listened to this over two nights. Christian stand-up Jon Crist was the guest on The Wally Show (WAY-FM) and they left a camera running in the studio as they recorded the segments.

June 11, 2014

Wednesday Link List

calvinistsafety

With lots of people doing summer things this week, I thought we’d tinker with the format while nobody’s looking. ANYTHING YOU CLICK will take you to PARSE, the blog of Leadership Journal, the Link List’s owner.  But first, we take you to Monday’s edition of the comic Pearls Before Swine (click image to link).

Pearls Before Swine June 9th 2014

I usually bury the video links near the bottom, but this week uncovered two clips I wanted to give more prominence.

Church leadership stuff:

Essay(s)-of-the-Week:

The wider religious world:

Worth reading:

Be afraid; be very afraid:

So how do you like your links? Categorized or free-range? Leave a comment!

 

Happy Hour Church

January 16, 2013

Wednesday Link List

In the first link today, I want you to join me in a promotion project for a deserving songwriter and embed the video on your Facebook page, your blog, or whatever it takes to spread the word.

  • Our first link today is the above video. I’ve been corresponding with the creator of this for some time, but it couldn’t go public until now.  “An uplifting song that furnishes a concept of peace and oneness for humanity in deliberate contrast to John Lennon’s iconic anthem, ‘Imagine’.”  Here’s the story behind the song. I want to encourage you to share this with everyone you know! 
  • Here’s an article I wrote for C201, that I may yet reblog here. It’s about Jesus’ last words to his disciples, and they may not be the words you’re thinking of right now. 
  • And another C201 post that is both packed with scripture and introduces the new Chris Tomlin song, Whom Shall I Fear.
  • Essay of the week: Canadian Dave Carrol explains his faith, his faith journey, and his ‘conflicted’ Protestant and Catholic sides to a largely secular audience in his city’s newspaper.
  • The Harvard Theological Review is postponing publication of a major article on the papyrus fragment in which Jesus seems to refer to his wife, raising further doubts about a discovery that was set to turn Christian history on its head. More at Religion News
  • Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove critiques a PBS special on the abolitionists; noting what the producers missed and what he is pleased they included.
  • If you’ve been following the Jack Schaap story, you’ll want to know that First Baptist Church in Hammond (IN) has hired a new pastor, John Wilkerson. More also at the church website.
  • Meanwhile in another casting call, how about Brad Pitt as Pontius Pilate?
  • Would Brian McLaren be a good fit to replace Louis Giglio at the Presidential bash?
  • And what if a letter from Barack Obama to Louis Giglio looked something like this letter?  Plus, I couldn’t overlook a piece that Gabe Lyons wrote on how Louis was ‘bullied off the stage.’
  • Pushing past the controversy, Christianity Today reported on Louis Giglio’s signature event, The Passion Conference. Between Passion and Urbana, it’s easy to see what American Christian youth were up to over the holidays. So why does a search for Urbana at CT turn up nothing?
  • While it doesn’t have a Christian message, this 3-minute public service announcement from the Australian government should give you good reason to slow down in all areas of life.
  • As the countdown begins to the Big Game in the U.S. (February 3rd, if you’re wondering) poet Greg Asimakoupoulos: laments that these sports extravaganzas now routinely happen on Sundays. As game day approaches, you might want to copy and paste this to the American football fans you know.  [HT: David Fisher]
  • The issue of prayer at civic events switches this week to a debate about the subject at West Point Academy.
  • Mike Duran is closing in on 300 comments for a piece he wrote about websites that put evangelicalism under the microscope or simply put it to ridicule. Some of the language is edgy, but if you’re okay with that, check out, The Anti-Evangelical Hate Machine. Later, in an effort to better understand one of the bloggers, he interviews Darrel Dow of Stuff Fundies Like.  (SFL is also the source for today’s lower graphic.)
  • A few weeks ago we attended a New Year’s Eve-Eve night of ‘clean comedy’ with Timmy Boyle, and learned that a number of comedians in Canada are creating a family-friendly comedy circuit. Here’s a story of Matt Falk, a similar entertainer whose debut album topped the iTunes comedy category on its day of release. 
  • Also for my Canadian readers, next Monday night at 8:00 PM on CBC TV’s Mr. D., history teacher Gerry Duncan wades into religion with this line, “Jesus was Jewish and even he was Catholic.” Sigh.
  • Ending with a video since we opened with one: Cindy Jacobs tells an interviewer about the ‘miracle’ of her shoes not wearing out.

Christian Family Off For Vacation

June 13, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Did you catch the weekend link list? Lots of good stuff there, and here, too.

  • First link today is long — I didn’t get through all five pages — but it’s interesting: When we think of unreached people groups, we tend to think of groups that are marginalized, but Eric Metaxas says we should also consider reaching the elites. (Hey, that’s easy for him now that he’s preached the Presidential Prayer Breakfast…)
  • Brad Lomenick Skypes with worship songwriter Tim Hughes in London. Tim serves on staff at HTB, the birthplace of The Alpha Course.
  • Really enjoying the Phil Vischer podcast with Skye Jethani.  Episode two is now available to download or stream live.
  • Shai Linne is a Christian rap artist who, “eloquently explains the trinitarian nature of salvation with poetic clarity.”  Check out the video for Triune Praise.
  • Revell Publishing will issue a biography from Patty Mallette, aka Justin Bieber’s mom. “…a teen mom who had to overcome a drug and alcohol addiction; she now believes God gives second chances. The book is titled Nowhere But Up.
  • The SCL’s keep on coming: Here’s 12 Signs You Attend a Suburban Church.
  • When Jared Wilson left Nashville for rural Vermont, he was told the move was a real career killer.  But, reminded by Tim Keller, we need to jettison the mindset that small(er) town ministry is second rate.
  • InterVarsity Press’ Andy LePeau cites a study that shows enhanced (interactive) ebooks actually yield lower comprehension.
  • Truthinator posted a “parody of Emergent Church Planting” at Xtra Normal a few years too late, but we through it in here anyway.
  • Dan Gouge points out that for some people, the final takeaway from the tsunami in Japan is that Maru the cat survived.
  • Marriage Corner: Some people feel that patriarchy is based on pragmatics: “Somebody has to make the final decision. Somebody has to break the tie.” Richard Beck thinks there are not that many tie votes. (See all submissions — pun accidental — in this synchroblog series here.)
  • Should you date a non-Christian? I think you know where this is going. “Don’t misunderstand me here. You’re not looking for a saint, but you are looking for someone with a hungry heart for Jesus. If that’s present, Jesus will take care of the rest.”  The reasons are practical.
  • Looking for a smile today? Here’s a video and some analysis of what could be the worst eschatological song ever.
  • Gotta go…time for some food:

January 18, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Lloyd the Llink Llist Llama

In case you missed it, there was an epic link list here on Saturday, too.  Well, we thought it was epic. Or mega. Or just plain large.  And if you’re reading this on the actual Wednesday, between 00:00 and 23:99 EST, you’re reading it in an internet world without Wikipedia.

December 1, 2011

Keeping Discernment Ministry People Off The Streets

I’m a huge fan of discernment.  I believe that, moving forward, it’s the supernatural gift to be praying for.  But regular readers know I’m not a fan of those who feel that God specifically called them to a ministry of critiquing and nit-picking their fellow believers.  However, if they feel they must, here are some things to keep them busy; some term paper assignments I would hand out if I had the opportunity to keep them off the streets internet for awhile.  This first appeared here exactly two years plus a day here on November 30, 2009.

term paperWow! The first semester of college is ending sooner than it began, so it’s time to hand out the topics for your term paper assignments. You’ve proved yourself more than adept at finding fault with Rob Bell, The Shack, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, “New Monasticism,” Rick Warren, “Emergent Church,” anything Willow Creek-related, “spiritual formation,” Donald Miller, and hundreds of others. (But never Joyce Meyer… that’s odd… ) But the topics listed below are things which, strangely, you never cover, even though their impact on Christian culture is huge.

You guys at CRI did really good term work so you’re exempt from the final essay. For the rest of you…

You say you’re a discernment ministry so let’s see some discerning; only let’s give all your existing targets a rest. Choose your topic:

  1. Twenty years ago your equivalents would be railing against Christian rock music. So let’s take a run at it, 2011-style. Check out the latest stuff and the complete back catalog from Switchfoot, Skillet, Hawk Nelson, TobyMac, Tenth Avenue North and Kutless and apply the same critical faculties you use with modern preachers and authors to some in-depth analysis of the lyrics Christian youth are listening to. To avoid distraction, use headphones and turn the volume really, really loud so you don’t miss any backward masking. Bonus marks for dissecting the worship songs of Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and Hillsong United.
  2. You’re concerned about a whole new generation of authors and speakers who are speaking into the lives of Christians, but completely ignoring a huge genre. Pour yourself a chai and curl up on the divan with the complete works of Karen Kingsbury, Beverly Lewis, Randy Singer, Randy Alcorn (fiction only), Melody Carlson, Lynn Austin and of course, Ted Dekker. Don’t skip a single page. Bonus marks for a study of the Max Lucado Wemmicks series and all the Steeple Hill/Love Inspired pocket books released since 2006. Remember, it says ‘complete works.’ Let us know what you find.
  3. Every Evangelical will tell you that the deuterocanonical books don’t belong in the Bible, but how we do know this for sure? Without resorting to the historical decisions that led to their inclusion or exclusion from the Bibles of different faith groups, and relying entirely on the text and related commentaries, explore the Apocryphal books verse by verse highlighting such things as the possible inherent dangers in Methodists reading Bel and the Dragon. Be sure to spend at least a month on this, doing no other writing nor taking any phone calls during this period of intense study.
  4. What are we really teaching our children? Not one of the discernment ministries with any profile has noted any examination of what’s really being conveyed through the curriculum of Gospel Light, Scripture Press, David C. Cook, Standard Publishing, Regular Baptist Press, and Augsburg Fortress. Part one of this involves study of the publishers listed above; part two involves a more intense study of Group’s Hands-On Active Bible Curriculum by actually teaching a Sunday School class of elementary grade children for the next six weeks. After all, who better to teach kids than the head of a ministry that encourages kids to study God’s Word. (Note: With the kids, you must stick to the curriculum itself; your paper will be disqualified if you get into a rant with the Grade 3 class about Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen.) Bonus marks for all the theological errors you can uncover in the Veggie Tales series.
  5. The “study abroad” question: You’ll purchase airplane tickets to connect you with about fifty different venues between now and Christmas to study what’s really going on with Christian comedy. The comedians themselves are quite accustomed to having hecklers in the audience, so they won’t mind a few discernment ministry folk sitting in the front row shouting out, “I think that last joke was built on a flawed doctrinal premise.” A few of our Christian brothers do their comedy shtick in clubs with liquor licenses, so to not miss the ambiance of the whole show, be sure to order a drink or two before the first set. If you’re Baptist and haven’t touched alcohol before in your life, just give the bartender that information with the coded signal, “Make it a double.” Compare and contrast male and female comedians, and those working within the youth ministry paradigm. Just think Mr. Discernment Minister, you might be a redneck!

Your finished paper should be 650,000 words or more. That should keep you off the streets, and more importantly, off the airwaves and off the internet for at least 30 days. This is the kind of hard-hitting analysis you were born for.

November 10, 2009

Term Paper Topics for Discernment Ministries

term paperWow!  The first semester of college is ending sooner than it began, so it’s time to hand out the topics for your term paper assignments.   You’ve proved yourself more than adept at finding fault with Rob Bell, The Shack, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, “New Monasticism,” Rick Warren, “Emergent Church,” anything Willow Creek-related, “spiritual formation,” Donald Miller, and hundreds of others.   (But never Joyce Meyer… that’s odd… )

You guys at CRI did really good term work so you’re exempt from the final essay.   For the rest of you…

You say you’re a discernment ministry so let’s see some discerning; only let’s give all your existing targets a rest.  Choose your topic:

  1. Twenty years ago your equivalents would be railing against Christian rock music.   So let’s take a run at it, 2009-style.   Check out the latest stuff and the complete back catalog from Switchfoot, Skillet, Hawk Nelson, TobyMac, Tenth Avenue North and Kutless and apply the same critical faculties to some in-depth analysis of the lyrics Christian youth are listening to.   To avoid distraction, use headphones and turn the volume really, really loud so you don’t miss any backward masking.   Bonus marks for dissecting the worship songs of Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and Hillsong United.
  2. You’re concerned about a whole new generation of authors and speakers who are speaking into the lives of Christians, but completely ignoring a huge genre.   Pour yourself a chai and curl up on the divan with the complete works of Karen Kingsbury, Beverly Lewis, Randy Singer, Randy Alcorn (fiction only), Melody Carlson, Lynn Austin and of course, Ted Dekker.   Don’t skip a single page.  Bonus marks for a study of the Max Lucado Wemmicks series and all the Steeple Hill/Love Inspired pocket books released since 2006.     Let us know what you find.
  3. Every Evangelical will tell you that the deuterocanonical books don’t belong in the Bible, but how we do know this for sure?   Without resorting to the historical decisions that led to their inclusion or exclusion from the Bibles of different faith groups, and relying entirely on the text and related commentaries, explore the Apocryphal books verse by verse highlighting such things as the inherent dangers in Methodists reading Bel and the Dragon.   Be sure to spend at least a month on this, doing no other writing nor taking any phone calls during this period of intense study.
  4. What are we really teaching our children?   Not one of the discernment ministries with any profile has noted any examination of what’s really being conveyed through the curriculum of Gospel Light, Scripture Press, David C. Cook, Standard Publishing, Regular Baptist Press,  and Augsburg Fortress.   Part one of this involves study of the publishers listed above; part two involves a more intense study of Group’s Hands-On Active Bible Curriculum by actually teaching a Sunday School class of elementary grade children for the next six weeks.   After all, who better to teach kids than the head of a ministry that encourages kids to study God’s Word.   (Note:  With the kids, you must stick to the curriculum itself; your paper will be disqualified if you get into a rant with the Grade 3 class about Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen.)  Bonus marks for all the theological errors you can uncover in the Veggie Tales series.
  5. The “study abroad” question:   You’ll purchase airplane tickets to connect you with about fifty different venues between now and Christmas to study what’s really going on with Christian comedy.   The comedians themselves are quite accustomed to having hecklers in the audience, so they won’t mind a few discernment ministry folk sitting in the front row shouting out, “I think that last joke was built on a flawed doctrinal premise.”   A few of our Christian brothers do their comedy shtick in clubs with liquor licenses, so to not miss the ambiance of the whole show, be sure to order a drink or two before the first set.   If you’re Baptist and haven’t touched alcohol before in your life, just give the bartender that information with the coded signal, “Make it a double.”   Compare and contrast male and female comedians, and those working within the youth ministry paradigm.   Just think Mr. Discernment Minister, you might be a redneck!

Your finished paper should be 650,000 words or more.  That should keep you off the streets, and more importantly, off the airwaves and off the internet for at least 30 days.  This is the kind of hard-hitting analysis you were born for.

June 14, 2009

I Watched a Gaither Video and I Liked It

Filed under: Humor, music — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 3:20 pm

It’s my wife’s fault.   She brought it home with some items left over from a yard sale her ministry organization was running.

Mark Lowry4Last night, I watched a 2005, 2-hour DVD, Mark Lowry Goes to Hollywood.   It doesn’t have the “Gaither Gospel Series” banner across the top and doesn’t feature the Homecoming Friends, so technically speaking it’s not a Gaither video, though it was mostly music and no doubt follows the same formula.  I did enjoy it.  But if someone offered me a ticket for the next time the Homecoming tour passes through our part of the world, I’d probably suggest giving them to someone with a greater appreciation for the genre.   It’s still not entirely my scene.   Call it denial.

Lowry is a wonderful treasure belonging to the Christian community at large.    In one of the all-too-few spoken bits on this DVD, he reminded me of comedian Robin Williams.    Kinda guy you’d love to spend an hour with, but not over dinner, because you’d be spitting out your food from laughter.  He’s proof that you don’t need ADD to be in comedy, but it sure helps.

However, it also struck me that Mark is a man of spiritual depth.   He knows his Bible, yes; but its words have also traveled that distance from head to heart.   The concert also featured The Isaacs, Lordsong, Stan Whitmore, Michael English, Reggie Smith, Bill Gaither (of course) and the Remarkable Choir.    It did leave me wanting to hear more from each of them.

Nonetheless, I will still insist that I have yet to watch a Gaither gospel video.   One has one’s reputation to protect.    And don’t you tell anyone.

…Here’s a homemade clip someone put on YouTube from the DVD that’s one of my favorite parts, where Mark Lowry describes surviving a tornado in a houseboat.  “I would have had a lot more fun if I’d known I was going to live through it;” he quips.   It’s the first 3-4 minutes of this seven minute clip.


May 1, 2009

Adrian Plass: One of Britain’s Top Christian Writers

adrian-plassMaybe it has something to do with having greater access to British comedies (before PBS discovered them) but Canadians are a more likely audience for U.K. Christian author Adrian Plass. We share a rather dry sense of humour (or ‘humor’ as Americans spell it) and are able catch more of the references to things British.

Adrian Plass’ best known work, The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 1/4, is itself a tongue in cheek reference to a British children’s book.  Granted, the Church (capital ‘C’ that time) hasn’t traditionally gravitated toward comedic writing; and I’m sure that for some, reading Adrian Plass would be an exercise in bewilderment.   Others of us, would say Sacred Diary ought to be required reading for every Christian.   We who are part of the family of faith do some rather silly things sometimes.   Sometimes we don’t realize we’re doing them.   Seeing them in print however, is another matter entirely, and nobody captures us in print better than Plass.

Plass himself is an enigma.   Though a highly respected conference and church speaker, he is very open about entering periods of spiritual doubt and uncertainty.   Since many of his more popular books are personal and subjective it’s a theme that appears quite often.   His transparency on these subjects can be highly refreshing. To learn more about the man, check out this 2004 Wittenburg Door interview.

bacon-sandwichesI’ve just finished Bacon Sandwiches & Salvation – A Humourous Antidote for the Pharisee in All of Us (Authentic) available in North America through STL Distributors. This is an A-Z encylopedia of things Christian and Biblical interspersed with short anecdotal stories. After several attempts, his explanation of Christian choruses — how we often mouth lyrics that we can’t possibly understand — still brings me to where I can’t read his alternative lyrics aloud with breaking up.

Later this year, Zondervan U.K. is releasing three new titles, which we’ve been told we will be able to get here in the frozen north, but are not releasing through them in the U.S.

Hopefully, U.S. readers who are fans will be able to get their hands on them. They are releasing his full-length novel Ghosts again, under a different title to try to help it find a larger audience.

With the exception of a couple of German titles, here’s an Adrian Plass book list — of which I own more than half — courtesy of Wikipedia:

  • An Alien at St. Wilfred’s
  • And Jesus Will Be Born
  • Bacon Sandwiches and Salvation
  • Blind Spots in the Bible
  • Broken Windows, Broken Lives
  • Cabbages for the King
  • Clearing away the Rubbish
  • Colours of Survival
  • Father to the Man
  • The Final Boundary
  • Ghosts
  • The Growing-up Pains of Adrian Plass
  • Jesus – Safe, Tender and Extreme
  • The Heart of the Family
  • The Horizontal Epistles of Andromeda Veal
  • Never Mind the Reversing Ducks
  • Nothing But the Truth
  • Philip Illiot, Biography
  • Plass At Christmas
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 3/4
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Christian Speaker Aged 45 3/4
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, on Tour: Aged Far Too Much to Be Put on the Front Cover of a Book
  • A Smile on the Face of God
  • Stress Family Robinson
  • Stress Family Robinson 2
  • The Theatrical Tapes of Leonard Thynn
  • The Unlocking
  • View from a Bouncy Castle
  • The Visit
  • When You Walk
  • Why I follow Jesus
  • Words from the Cross
  • A Year at St. Yorick’s
  • You Say Tomato

April 1, 2009

Ain’t That The Truth: For Heaven’s Sake by Mike Morgan

Filed under: Christianity, Humor — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:59 pm

comic-for-heavens-sake

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