Thinking Out Loud

August 15, 2018

Wednesday Connect

When in Holland, be sure to pick up the latest copy of “Nun of the Month” magazine.

Welcome to Wednesday Connect.

I wonder, when you stage a Lethargy Festival, does anyone bother to show up?

Breaking: Trinity Western University in Vancouver announced yesterday that it has dropped its controversial mandatory student covenant prohibiting sex outside of heterosexual marriage, effective with the 2018/2019 school year. The covenant was the major issue in a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision which blocked the school from establishing a School of Law. The covenant remains in effect for staff and faculty. In June the court “ruled that provincial law societies have the power to refuse accreditation for the school, saying the covenant would deter LGBTQ students from attending.” At issue is the idea that students entering that profession with such a perspective cannot practice law unbiased. (Statement: From the University President.)

♦ The Pipester Strikes Again! This time around adding verses to the hymn Great Is They Faithfulness, “he may have undermined the original writer’s intention. Thomas Chisholm, who wrote the hymn, was Methodist, meaning he probably held Wesleyan-Arminian views. Piper, famously, adheres to the more Calvinistic brand of Reformed theology.”  (The article doesn’t mention that The Gospel Coalition’s music superstar, Bob Kauflin, is on record as being opposed to congregations making lyrical adaptations to existing material.)

♦ The Museum of the Bible will return a manuscript to Greece which was deemed to have been stolen, after already paying a $3M fine for illegal importation of items from Iraq.

♦ Something-to-Think-About Post of the Week: The Assumption (Catholic) or Dormition (Orthodox) of Mary beyond it’s primary purpose, serves to keep her eternally young. Is there a connection between this and today’s modern church emphasis on attracting youth? Several things going on at once in this article; worth reading.

♦ So what about the notion that “Everything happens for a reason?” Greg Boyd refutes that and notes a distinction in the Greek text of the story of the man born blind which translators seem to ignore.

♦ Congratulations to Rick Warren’s Saddleback Community Church in California which at some point this weekend crossed the 50,000 baptisms mark.

♦ Warning: Content may be graphic. (Actually, that’s a pun.) Sojourners looks at artists using the comic book or graphic novel format to tell the Christianity story.

♦ Canada Corner: When churches close society overall takes a hit. “…it’s just not religious people who benefit from churches and other places of worship. A lot of what we take for granted in Canada depends on them, too. Take charitable giving, for example…as church membership and attendance falls, fewer people will get those reminders—or not have an opportunity to put money in the offering plate…Nor will just charities feel the pain as churches and other places of worship close. The changes will also affect how people learn to be engaged citizens.

♦ The Summit Summarized: As he does each year, Joshua Reich offers 232 quotes from this year’s Global Leadership Summit.

♦ Should I stay or should I go? Stay home that is. Or go to church. Pew Research learns that 76% of Evangelicals identify the sermon as a key reason for going, while only 36% of Catholics share that view. This and many other stats on why people go and why others stay home.

♦ Is the canon of scripture open to new additions? Greg Koukl deals with this and two other topics in the 4-minutes-or-less Stand to Reason Ask podcast. (18 min. total)

♦ Worship Workshop 1: Have you ever sung a song containing a part where you’re expected to just go “Oooh…?” Can the “Ooohs” be considered worship? The worship perspective on songs which appear to missing some of the words.

♦ Worship Workshop 2: “A richness in the simplicity.” A keyboard technique which even some guitar players can perform on piano. “Hover Chording” is not to be confused with “Hover-boarding” which is a different extreme sport.

The Ark Encounter recently broke its previous attendance record, with over 8,500 guests.

♦ This beautiful song was posted back in April, but I heard it on the weekend for the first time. The title is Sails, performed by Pat Barrett featuring Steffany Gretzinger & Amanda Cook. ♫

♦ For the teenager in your house: We like to encourage young writers. She’s 13, calls herself Bible Blogger Girl and her site is titled Teen, Meet God

♦ At the Movies, One Year from Now: The Kendrick Brothers next feature is titled Overcomer, about a basketball coach. Scheduled for August 23, 2019.

♦ There’s never, ever, ever, ever been a show like Veggie Tales. It’s time for Veggie Tales: The Remix.

♦ Finally, God as Rust Remover: Kenneth Copeland lays hands on his airplane and its corrosion is healed.


The Newsboys (the originals, long before Michael Tait) appear in a story about journalism at a Catholic website. “Christopher Dawson once remarked that, had we read the Jerusalem Post or the Roman Daily News on the morning after the Crucifixion, we would find hardly any mention of it, other than perhaps a note that three bandits had been executed under Pontius Pilate. The ‘bad news’ of the Crucifixion turned out for the Christians to be a felix culpa, a happy fault – good news.” Click the image to read in full. (Library of Congress photo)


Follow Up: Many of you have wondered what happened to this documentary film; this update is from early last month. Click to bookmark their Facebook page.


Your Word of the Week

Advertisements

August 5, 2018

The K•LOVE We Never Knew

Filed under: Christianity, music — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:43 pm

If this graphic image doesn’t look familiar, click the links at the bottom of this piece for two recent rants about Christian music on radio, and modern worship in churches.

All this weekend, K-LOVE has been offering an online feed called “K-LOVE Classis: 80s, 90s and Early 2000s.” You can catch it at this link.

It’s in some respects, the K-LOVE that never was, though the station’s beginnings trace back to 1980.

There were a lot of people doing a lot of creative things in the earlier days of what we call CCM, but like K-LOVE itself, this is a rather safe, sanitized version of another generation’s Christian music. Perhaps what I’m longing to hear would be more of an Air1 classics station (Air1 is a sister station network to K-LOVE.) The first hour was interesting, but then everything started sounding the same.

Some of the trip down memory lane contained a few familiar songs — we played “Guess the Artist” while waiting for the ten second delay of the song ID onscreen — there were only a couple that really resonated where I turned the volume up high, and remember I was making my living full time from sales of this music in the 80s. (My wife handily won the artist guessing contest, however.)

We’ve discussed Christian music a few times here, so I don’t want to belabor this, you can read those articles at the following links.

Also, if you missed this 14-minute video,

 

August 1, 2018

Wednesday Connect

My wife told me the sign means, “Christian Citizen School for Ordinary and More Extensive Primary Education;” but to me it will always say, “Christlike Burger School.” I think “Christlike Burgers” would be a great name for a chain of fast food places.

My wife and I were on separate buses, heading for different tours, but we both caught the familiar logo of Calvary Chapel next to a river in Heidelberg, Germany.

“…And, we’re back!” While we were away I was collecting items for this Wednesday Connect with Twitter, clicking “like” for the items I wanted to include. As we arrived back at the hotel each night, my Tweets would upload, so I had no idea that all my likes — two weeks’ worth — were disappearing into the ether. Nonetheless, we compiled this list in a hurry last night.

► Bethel Church in Redding, California has been criticized for not being a sanctuary for people who needed to evacuate because of the rampant fires happening there. But there is an explanation.

► Persecution Watch: With a change in status from prison to house arrest, praying people around the world are hoping that American Andrew Brunson is one step closer to leaving Turkey.

► “Now the youth group is taking another week-long summer trip, and she’s coming too. And just like last year, at some point in the week, she gets emotional about Jesus. Also like last year, she asks to talk to her youth minister, and yet again like last year, she comes to realize that she wasn’t “really” a Christian after all. Through tears and hugs she announces her newfound authentic faith, and again brings her testimony home to the church. But like last time, summer doesn’t last forever.” It’s easier to have a re-conversion than repentance

► Mark Driscoll: It’s déjà vu all over again. A new book looks at the rise and fall of Mars Hill Seattle from an academic perspective.

► Essay of the Week: “When you find yourself (for whatever reason) standing between a parent and a child—you’ve chosen the wrong side.” When a nation stops caring about its children, it has stopped being human.

► “We are experiencing characters and a dramatic developments (sic) in the world, which indicate that we are increasingly approaching the end times and Jesus’ return.” That may be true, but it’s not exactly what people were expecting to appear spontaneously from Google Translate.

► Parenting in the wake of dramatic news events: “For many teenagers and children, responses to a traumatic event are normal reactions to abnormal events. But some reactions may point to the need for further help.” The Thai soccer team cave rescue is an example where sometimes greater emotional and spiritual support is needed for kids and teens.

► Are Worship services for seekers or disciples? The problem with attractional worship is discussed in this Seven Minute Seminary video.

► The man who brought us “Chrislam” (a purported forthcoming merger of Christianity and Islam) now declares himself to be God’s Final Prophet

► What shall we name the baby? “Religion has taken a backseat in many people’s lives, but that doesn’t mean people have lost interest in it entirely. In fact, a rising number of parents are turning to the Bible for name inspiration for their kids.” Ten trending Biblical baby names. (Even if the parents don’t know they’re in the scriptures.)

► Parenting — Alleviating Awkwardness Dept. Having “the talk” with your daughter is made easier when three funny “big sisters” are telling the story on video. For just $39.00 you can partially outsource this normally precious mother-daughter moment.

► Chick-Fil-A is coming to Toronto, Canada, and already the gay community is planning a boycott. (Note: Link is to a gay news website.) … 

► … In other Toronto news, local churches open their door along a stretch known as The Danforth which was the site of another act of mass violence in a city often called Toronto the Good.

► On what we do here (blogging): “All it takes is a cursory stroll through Instagram to see that comparison- and bragging-based platform building has grown rapidly while the more thoughtful daily-logging and think-piecing have fallen out of fashion.” Zach Hoag returns to long-form writing at the new “General Christian” channel at Patheos. 

► Stepping aside from a church he helped found: Shai Linne gives an insight into what circumstantial burnout looks like.

► From our “Finds” department: Living Waters Europe documents both one-on-one Evangelism situations and adventures in street preaching on their YouTube channel.

► A look at the changing definition of masculinity. “How does this new masculinity function better? In what sense has it improved on the original version? The old masculinity drove men to provide for their families, protect their loved ones, win wars, build civilizations, among many other accomplishments. New masculinity may make effeminate men more comfortable, but what are they achieving and doing that traditionally masculine men couldn’t do as effectively? I can’t think of anything, besides, perhaps, matching their blazers to their shoes…” 

► Provocative Headline of the Week: One in Eight Divorces Caused by Student Loan Debt.

Lead Small is a new resource from Reggie Joiner (Orange Curriculum, Rethink Group) to help people learn five basic principles in leading small groups in various sized churches with particular highlighting of material which can be adapted in children’s ministry as well.

► Worship Workshop: This week on NoPro Worship, David Wesley suggests several reasons for adapting hymns in a modern church environment

► Christianese: Relevant Magazine’s Twitter poll results lists 9 phrases which confuse new and veteran Christians alike.

► Reaction to last weekend’s Revoice Conference in St. Louis, “Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.” 

► Video of the Week: An atheist gets locked in a church. (9 minute standup comedy w/ mature language.)

► Finally: Is Satan uploading sin into your brain via wi-fi? This may be satire, but best be safe and avoid fast food restaurants with free wi-fi.


Click the image to read the article related to this image.

July 18, 2018

Wednesday Connect

A shorter list this week, as we’ll be taking our first ever break from the blog in a few days. The above image is from yet another Calvinist cartoonist, Reftoons. Click image to link. Them Reformers love them their comic panels.

► Essay of the Week: Given concerns about the role of patriarchy in Bible translation, which version of the scriptures is the best

► Provocative Headline of the Week: “Clergy Consider Handing Out Morning-After Pill in Church.” “The thing most of us have been talking about is to encourage the use of medical technology, the morning after pills and very good new drugs. We need to get some wise pharmaceutical company to make money off distributing them so people don’t need abortions, and/or smuggling the drugs in from Mexico and Canada. There are already very interesting groups of women my age feeling we could take the risk of loading up our vans to take road trips and give them out at churches.” 

► Misleading Headline of the Week: “UK refuses to accept any Syrian Christian refugees in latest statistics.” Yes, statistics can be spun. The article actually reads, “The newly obtained statistics revealed that the UNHCR (UN High Commission on Refugees) recommended 1,358 Syrian refugees for resettlement in the UK of which only 4 were Christians. The Home Office agreed to resettle 1,112 of these (82 per cent) all of which were Muslims and refused all recommendations of Christians.” So the headline is correct, but it simply means the 4 people weren’t part of the package.

► The revolt in the UK you didn’t hear about last week: “Bus ads promoting an upcoming evangelistic festival with Franklin Graham in England were pulled in response to outcry from LGBT communities.” A petition is circulating calling for him to be banned from the UK altogether.

► Clay Scroggins and John Crist. Together as they were meant to be… 

► …Okay, actually, the thing on the Zondervan YouTube channel I intended to feature was this 6-minute preview of the study curriculum based on The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

► From our own archives: My son, the engineer in training takes an analytical view on Calvinism and Arminianism, circa 2013.

► Parenting – The role of Fathers: Missed this on Father’s Day as Philip Yancey pays tribute to Frederick Buechner, followed by a short book excerpt on fatherhood

► Another Denominational Fracture: “Windsor Village United Methodist Church of Houston, which has approximately 18,000 members, …a predominantly African-American megachurch in Texas, says it might leave the United Methodist Church amid the denomination’s ongoing debate over issues like homosexuality and same-sex marriage.”

► It’s not exactly the latest fad to hit Christian culture because it’s been around too long for that; but there’s no denying that everyone is currently nuts about The Enneagram

► New Music ♫ Francesca Battistelli’s “The Breakup Song.”

► Chuck and Andy’s Boat Tour: Charles Stanley and Andy Stanley recently wrapped up another Alaska Cruise. (Twitter pic) 

► Finally, from the first sentence, you get an idea of the improbability: Fan Fiction: Pastor Justin Bieber and Homeschoolers in Space. (Of course it’s Matthew Pierce; who else?)  


Book and Music Highlights:


Last week’s top clicks:

.

July 16, 2018

Dying Breeds: Things Disappearing from Christian Bookstores (Not Including the Stores Themselves)

bible bookstore

As if Christian bookstores aren’t already under siege from technology competing for leisure time spending, eBooks themselves, the rise of online ordering, and the decline in reading; some product lines are being completely wiped out. Let’s take a trip down memory lane:

Lapel Pins: Seems silly to begin the list with what was generally a $2 – $3 item, but Christian bookstores sold a ton of the little pins. Evangelicals were the biggest customers who preferred pins that were witness items. But then everything went Casual Sunday. No suits for men = no lapels. Relaxed dress for women = no jewelry.

Bible Software: With so much available online, we don’t hear much about new software anymore. Furthermore, retailers got tired of being stuck with software that became obsolete with newer operating systems, or newer versions of the software itself.

Concordances: While it could be argued that the proliferation of online resources limits the need for all Bible reference products, once you’ve used Bible websites, using a print concordance is a real pain.

Choral Music: What’s a choir?

Praise & Worship Songbooks: Surprise! You thought we were going to say hymnbooks. But in some stores hymnbooks actually sell better than worship folios and chorus books. The reason? Modern worship leaders get everything they need from CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing Inc.) and in the trenches, the congregation doesn’t use print music at all, as everything is projected on a screen. So yes, Hymnbooks and the things which replaced them are vanishing.

Tracks: In many churches, a soloist can simply get the worship band to get charts for her/his song, and audiences prefer live music over canned music. But in many churches the “special” has gone the way of the dinosaur.

Tracts: The printing and distribution of gospel tracts was a cultural phenomenon that was an extension of a wider movement in which political broadsides were as common as religious ones on Main Street. Furthermore, current trends are moving away from conversion by argument. However, the cream always rises to the top, so tracts like Steps to Peace with God still sell well.

Bookmarks: If fewer books are selling, then that means fewer bookmarks, right? Well, not so fast. Sometimes the bookmark (minus the book) simply becomes the gift in the hope that the recipient is currently reading something that needs one.

Children’s Colouring Books: Older elementary kids can do amazing things on their Mac or PC, so you’re not going to impress them with a coloring book and a package of four crayons. Of course, as we learned in the last five years, for adults, it was a whole other store.

Pencils: This was once a huge industry with over a hundred available designs from a half-dozen suppliers. But you aren’t going to impress a kid today with a 29-cent pencil. (Unless maybe you throw in a colouring book.)

Sunday Bulletins: Churches large and small can create amazing color graphics on the church computer, and megachurches send all their weekend bulletin needs to a local print shop. Ditto brides planning their weddings or families constructing a print memorial to be given out at a funeral. So while Broadman, Warner, Cathedral Art and others can claim healthy sales, the handwriting is on the wall, or more accurately, on the laser printer. In Canada, funeral bulletins are about the safest inventory bet.

Sunday School Record Books: Attendance records still exist as parents use a swipe card to check their kids in and out of the Children’s Ministry Centre, but there’s no need for wall charts and stickers. Besides, what organized sports couldn’t do to disrupt church attendance, the demands of parents’ shift-work jobs did. Many kids can only make it every other week, so publicizing attendance almost shames the child who can’t make it each Sunday.

Christian Magazines: In days of yore, when the pastor came to visit, you demonstrated your spirituality by having Christian Life and Moody Monthly prominently displayed on the coffee table. Nothing needed to fill the gap here because increasingly, the pastor doesn’t come to visit.

Clip Art Books: In the days before copy-and-paste there was cut-and-paste, and any church secretary worth their salt knew how to integrate these in the weekly bulletin and inserts. Someday archeologists will find one of these and not know what its purpose.

Christian Breath Mints: It’s not that people don’t still need breath fresheners, it’s simply that Testamints became such an object of ridicule. Apologies to the company if they still manufacture.

♦ The upside? Christian bookstores can better focus their energies on books and Bibles.  Strengthen the things that remain.

So what did we leave off the list?

July 11, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Remembering: Psalm 91 was always one of Maggie’s favorites. Click image to link.

This was a week where we were consumed by concern for a boys soccer team in Thailand. At the same time as Christians were praying for the Wild Boars team, many were crediting their Buddhist meditation for keeping the boys calm in the middle of the storm. Does it matter which religion gets the credit? I’ll leave that for another blogger to take on! 

Here are this week’s articles which I chose just for you. Take the time to select a few and dive in!

Billboard magazine updates this chart regularly. It shows song titles, not albums; airplay, not sales.
Click the image to see all 50 of this week’s most active Christian songs.

► A much better TULIP: This is the article also referenced in Dee’s tweet below. It’s included twice here so nobody misses it. “…Sometimes it can seem like the safest thing to do with a new Calvinist is lock him in a cage for a few months (perhaps even a couple years), until his spiritual maturity can catch up to his newfound theology. The ‘doctrines of grace’ are explosive — first mind-boggling and then, if they truly take root, inevitably life-transforming. When they land on a young and restless person, they can make him a kind of liability for a season…Maybe we could use a second TULIP to pair with the first. What might it look like to encourage young Calvinists — and all of us — to the kind of spiritual virtues that should accompany the biblical theology…” You know Thinking Out Loud has come full circle when our first link today is to the Desiring God website.

► Essay of the Week: Scot McKnight’s second piece on the mess at Willow Creek is in many respects much better than the first. This time he looks at the management structure of churches like WCCC and why he feels it was absolutely necessary for the people involved to go to media such as The Chicago Tribune. “Willow’s process, however, lacked the wisdom of denominations or outside unbiased voices and its process was profoundly imperfect and corrupted.” Beyond the analysis, there is some implicit advice here that may apply to the place where you worship.

► A different type of church service: With Andy away, North Point campus pastor Clay Scroggins launched a 3-week series based on the movie Wonder. But this service is different, based on an entirely different paradigm which is more like a multi-media presentation. (Watch at least the first 15 minutes to get the idea.) 

► On an entirely different end of the video spectrum, “No Alcohol, No Musical Instruments, No Voting: Montana Mennonites Share Their Life.” After driving to Portland and passing through Montana, this documentary filmmaker spent some time with a Mennonite husband and wife and their four kids, leaving with hours of interview footage which was edited down to 22 minutes.

► With the first one now graduated from high school, blogger Tim Challies reviews (again) his (and his wife’s) decision to send their child to public school, when so many in their tribe prefer Christian schools or homeschooling.

► Apparently The Babylon Bee does NOT like satire, when it’s their own website being spoofed; as the folks at The Babylon Cee discovered when they were hit with a Cease and Desist Order.

► Michael Brown talks to Andy Stanley about the latter’s latest controversial message, on “un-hitching” Christianity from the Old Testament. (50-minute video podcast.)

► Inclusion here does not imply endorsement. Systematic theology guru Wayne Grudem offers a Biblical argument for the morality of building a border wall

► Church closings in Minnesota: “Church was a bedrock of daily life. Its absence leaves a large gap — spiritual, social, emotional — that for many seems almost impossible to fill.” And this quote: “It’s not uncommon for me to hear, ‘We had a funeral last week and the congregation had to revise its budget…’” An entire way of life disappears in this northern state.

► Illustration of the Week: A tale of two captains; a boat captain and an airplane captain who took two very different approaches to an emergency situation.

► This isn’t a faith-focused link, but I believe it’s helpful for those who want to know where the current technology is taking us. The CEO of search engine DuckDuckGo.com explains how his company remains profitable when not tracking individuals as does Google, which now has trackers on 76% of all websites.

► The Episcopal Church in the U.S. may end up spending as much as $8 million to update their prayer book with more inclusive language.

► A great writer and reporter, Jonathan Merritt has left Religion News Service, following a number of other departures. (Just me talking, but Merritt and Katelyn Beaty could spearhead an awesome news gathering organization.)

► CBS is burning off the remaining, never-seen episodes of Living Biblically on Saturday night (and one on the 21st) after canceling the series based on A.J. Jacobs’ bestseller.

► Getting to know your cousins: “In his classic book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis compares Christendom to a large hall in a house ‘out of which doors open to several rooms.’ These doors represent the traditions and branches of historic, orthodox Christianity; a follower of Christ may open a door and find behind it a chair and fire with which to make oneself comfortable… Curiosity is just generosity plus energy. Aren’t you a little curious who shares this “great hall” with you? What similarities and passions you might share with your neighbors in the faith? What distinctives and cultural quirks you might learn from? What new friends you might discover?” A new series is introduced at the blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  

► Interest groups in Canada caught in the crossfire of the “attestation clause” in their summer job grant applications are now taking action against the federal government. Example: “Sarnia Concrete makes concrete… The government is forcing them to take a position on something they don’t have a position on.”

► The Calvary Chapel Association conference started yesterday following a split in the organization created by Chuck Smith. Michael Newnham writes,”These are the true believers, the ones who preach chapter by chapter, verse by verse through Numbers and Leviticus, the ones who preach the pre tribulational rapture of the church, then have conferences about the pre tribulational rapture of the church… They will invoke the founders name and pray for his ailing widow because without wrapping themselves in his mantle they are mere mortals, simply power hungry schismatics who took their toys and went home.” But hey, Michael, tell us what you really think!

► Opinion Piece: Does the number of Christian denominations — 40,000 or so — grieve the heart of God? “I think you could mount a good case for a small set of core beliefs being important, but the diversity in the world and among people suggests God likes diversity.”

► Happy 10th Birthday to the YouVersion Bible app. “The app, which initially launched with 15 versions and two languages, has since partnered with publishers and Bible societies to offer more than 1,700 different versions of the Bible, including Bible text in more than 1,200 languages.”  ❿

► The Canadian Bible Society is reinventing the way we imagine Christian bookstores.

► LifeWay research claims that our loyalty to our local church has little to do with music or the preacher’s powerful rhetorical abilities. Rather, it’s all about the theology.

► A prankster with 2.2 million YouTube subscribers, and 361 million YouTube views. That’s Justin Stuart. But look closer and his “about” page says, “All the Glory goes to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Faith Today’s youth magazine Love Is Moving caught up with Justin.

► The investigative site, Spiritual Sounding Board takes a different tone on weekends, when Kathi presents “Sunday Gathering” which always includes scripture readings two music videos. In this week’s post, she introduced us to Urban Doxology performing Father, Let Your Kingdom Come.  ♫ 

Four Christian movies releasing in the second half of 2018.

► A classic: Nice to see this song by J. J. Heller reach a million views on YouTube. ♫ 

► The Biebs’ fiancée Hailey Baldwin speaks out on her faith. Well, at least she did in 2016, and Relevant Magazine had it on file. 

► Finally, it was satire, but many took it seriously.

To the tune of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” —

July 4, 2018

Wednesday Connect

July 4th: A day to gather round the red, white and blue.

F O U R T H  o f  J U L Y  E D I T I O N

► Should Christian churches observe Canada Day or the 4th of July? “[W]hen you add that patriotic song, display that flag, or invite that politician to offer a special word to your church gathering, you risk working against the Great Commission. Jesus commissioned us, ‘Go into all nations.’ That means he was establishing a people not bound or defined or constrained by this world’s national borders. He was building something multinational.”

► The more wealth a nation accumulates, the less it depends on prayer. I guess they don’t need God at that point. However, the United States is a glaring exception, with a huge GDP and high incidence of daily prayer. (Click the image to see full size. The link to Pew Research takes you to full 97-page .pdf of the full report.) 

► Essay of the Week: Recent events are nothing new. “We have a dark history – a sordid, sinful pattern even – of taking children OUT of their families.” The author then lists these:
African-American children
Native American children
The Stolen Generation
Orphaned Children
Refugee children
“…It is time to turn away from this pattern. It is time to repent.” 

► Illustration of the Week: “Las Vegas, the consummate sinner’s town… a deeply broken place where people get really messed up. But we can put aside our moral misgivings and choose to look at the gambling dens with more missional eyes. We might ask, what is the person who is sitting at the slot machines really searching for? Perhaps it is the search for redemption but in the wrong place. It is the belief that to win the jackpot means to be changed and transformed into a new life. This search might also be driven by a now pathological need to take risks because life has lost its sense of real adventure.” Author Alan Hirsch on how the Gospel addresses Las Vegas’ issues.

► Will a change at the U.S. Supreme Court trigger a new hearing on Roe v. Wade

► “Mary McAleese, former president of Ireland, believes that babies shouldn’t be baptized. To baptize an infant, she said, “imposes lifelong obligations of obedience to the Church’s Magisterium.”
In an interview with the Irish Times, McAleese expanded upon her objection, calling the children “infant conscripts.” There has to be a point, she said,
“…at which our young people, as adults who have been baptized into the church and raised in the faith, have the chance to say, ‘I validate this’ or ‘I repudiate this.'”
Is it just me or does this sound a lot like adult baptism or confirmation? 

► For the Mothers: That moment where you realize you’re becoming your mom aka The Mom Curse.

► Parents, kids and smart phones: “It’s difficult to say how many kids are pushing digital boundaries this way, not least because the whole point is to escape adult detection. Social media accounts are easy to establish and discard. Particular apps also rise and fall out of favor among teens with lightning speed, making them a moving target for researchers…Parents are clearly outmatched. Exposed to tablets and smartphones at an increasingly early age, kids are correspondingly savvier about using them and easily share tips with friends. Parents, by contrast, are both overwhelmed and often naive about what kids can do with sophisticated devices…”   

► In a black-and-white world, Chaplain Mike calls himself “a both/and person.

► He describes this 58-minute message as “the most compelling call to mission sermon I have ever heard.” Location: Sydney, Australia. Speaker: Michael Ramsden from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

► The Druids were out in New York again for Summer Solstice, but for a better NYC experience, there’s always Manhattenhenge on July 12 and 13. Here’s a unique Catholic perspective from a pastor whose church windows captures some of the effect.

► On the short list for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy is Amy Coney Barrett, a charismatic Catholic.

► Does your church have a philosophy of food? A statement-of-faith type of item on the importance of food? Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral spells out the connection between faith and food in no uncertain terms…  

► …which, although I wasn’t intending this is a great opportunity to link you to this sermon from a few weeks ago by John Mark Comer on the topic of Hospitality: Eating and Drinking Together. (Listening to parts of this one-hour sermon for the 2nd time!)

► Religion Dispatches, a news source from which we derive many items here, is now part of Rewire.News

► His book pulled from one publisher after a marital affair, Tullian Tchividjian’s book is now being published by Fortress Press.

► Hyperbole? This article from Fox News suggests that contemporary worship music — Bethel Music is mentioned — is leading us into the next Great Awakening… 

► … Or consider this rather tongue-in-cheek piece which also had Bethel Music in view. 

► On a more upbeat music subject, why had I never heard of AccuRadio before? The Christian music page offers 15 Christian music channels. Streaming playlists allow you to skip to the next song. Creating an account allows you to vote on songs. This could be the best thing online you discover this week. ♫♫♫

► Testimony Time: “While our daughter was in school, we still weren’t sure about [Grenville, SC’s Evangelical Institute] for our last child, because he wasn’t academically inclined… Heart-breakingly, this son also wasn’t a Christian and was willing to say so… [O]ur son decided he was willing to go. ‘This is God’s last chance to show up in my life,’ he said to me. We told him not to pretend to be a Christian when he applied, but to be honest with the dean of men. He was, and he was conditionally accepted…” 

► Canada Calling: A graduate of Trinity Western University in Canada offers her opinion on that country’s recent Supreme Court decision effectively denying that institution a law school.

► The 22-year old daughter of Lysa TerKeurst discusses the pain of her parent’s divorce.

► Chris Tomlin introduces his forthcoming album, Resurrection Power releasing late September.

► Finally, in an item I’m sure is totally unconnected to the previous link, we return to the blog Ponder Anew for A Prayer for Those Forced to Listen to Contemporary Christian Music in the Car.


Sadly, this adult-oriented animated TV show, What Would Jesus Do?, is probably coming to TV networks in Europe soon. Click the image to read the story at Variety.com


June 27, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Isn’t this the very thing every preacher said you would never see? From our friends at Happy Monday. Click to link.

A shorter list this time. This week we’re using a slightly different formula to come up with our featured stories and articles. Let me know what you think.

► Yesterday morning, a former member of David Berg’s Children of God cult — now known as The Family International — spoke at length on NBC-TV’s Megyn Kelly Today about her ordeal. Listen and watch Christina Babin’s story. (Contains explicit discussion.) 

► The science of life: This article on when life begins should be a real boost to pro-lifers. (The subject of the article, Dr. Tracey Wilkinson, is not related.)

► Things pastors deal with: “By the time you read this, I’ll know how the story turned out. I know the decision and the timing. A person has a brain that is dead. And people who love that person are wrestling. With God, with tests, with dreams.”

► Things children’s ministry workers deal with: “With the news of children taking their lives because of being bullied, I want to talk about how we in Children’s Ministry can take a stand against bullying.”

► Pastor to Pastor: “Nearly 800 New York Catholic priests received a message about how to maintain their moral integrity from Pastor Rick Warren, who used Scripture passages and his experiences from 40 years as an Evangelical Christian pastor, to speak personally to fellow pastors. His talk, “Maintaining the Moral Integrity of the Ministry to Which God Has Called Us,” was delivered… June 6-7… A report on the address said the temptations ministers face can be boiled down to passions, possessions and positions

► Update: I had to add this item mid-morning, as the title is rather captivating: Why Are the Religious More Fertile? (The answer is somewhat surprising.)

► Churches are stepping up to help communities deal with the affordable housing crisis. In Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Hughson Street Baptist learned that when you’re serving the broader community in this way, there are benefits to your local church congregation, but don’t expect a huge (or any) return on investment.

► Most provocative book title: The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock ‘n’ Roll. The author argues that Pentecostal worship gave birth to rock and roll, which of course provided the basis for today’s modern worship. Full circle we have come.

► A world away: “Scores of people died in central Nigeria during vicious weekend clashes between mostly Muslim herders and Christian farmers, with one report citing police saying 86 people were killed. By some accounts, the growing conflict over resources has become deadlier than Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremist insurgency.”

► A hymn for social justice: “When Jesus Went To Egypt.” Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, the writer of this new hymn (sung to the tune of “O Sacred Head Now Wounded”) has seen children screaming as they have been taken from the arms of those they love. The song is free to churches who are supporting immigrant families.
When Jesus went to Egypt,
Safe on his mother’s arm,
His parents stayed beside him
To keep him safe from harm.
And when they crossed the border,
They were allowed to be
Together – seeking refuge –
A Holy Family.
…Link here for print music.

► Worship Workshop: “Lament is a biblical way to process grief. It gives us the opportunity to face and name our pain and then to create space for future hope—all without glossing over tragedy. It allows us to cry and rage and even protest life’s difficulties to God and others without fear of judgment…That’s why we recently added a corporate prayer of lament to our public worship. It’s not a weekly dirge, but an honest, biblical cry we pray every few months to express our grief over the suffering in this world and in our lives. It’s been invaluable.  

► Finishing off our music trilogy here, I thought we’d give you something completely different this week: A choral group from West Coast Baptist College sings “The Cause of Christ.”

► The cake baker won his round with the Supreme Court, but the case of the florist in Washington state is going back to the state level. The florist is quoted: “I serve every customer that comes into my shop, but the government is trying to force me to create artistic expression that violates my beliefs.” The baker’s case was decided in such a way as to not set a precedent, so these things will continue to drag on.

► New blog of the week: Muddy Shoes. Tag line “Life Gets Messy – But There is More To It.” 

► This is not in the least a faith-related story, but it shows the mentality of people using the internet in general and social media in particular. When Sarah Huckabee Sanders was refused service at The Red Hen restaurant in Virginia, ten other completely unrelated Red Hen restaurants were the object of people flying off the handle and posting negative reviews and nasty comments. I’m not sure why people thought the White House Press Secretary was in Ontario, Canada or Muntinlupa City, Philippines. That’s a long way to go for dinner. (Let’s start a rumor she took Air Force One.) People need to check first. (“Quick to listen, slow to speak;” as Andy Stanley has been preaching for the past 4 weeks.) You really should have to pass an intelligence test to get on the internet.

► Creative: A 15-second visual illustration of God’s perfect timing

► Quite convinced I need new glasses after straining to read this, but this infographic on the influence and comparative size of world religions is worth a look.

► Catching up with Rob Bell in advance of his UK and Ireland tour.  

► Mentioning things here does not imply endorsement. I don’t know quite what to make of this long, long open letter to Vicky Beeching following the release of her coming-out story published by HarperCollins. Some of the comments are charitable. I just wonder if Vicky will ever see this, or if articles like this only serve the blogger’s immediate readership.

► The priest in this location-unconfirmed baby baptism definitely appears to slap the baby who won’t stop crying, despite being told by members of the audience that it was inappropriate. This is really disturbing to watch

► Finally, you’d think the one celebrated case of a fresco restoration would be a warning to art-restorers worldwide. Nope. This time it was a statue, also in Spain. “As news about what happened spread, Twitter users likened the St. George statue to Tintin or to a Lego character.”  (see below)

 

 

June 20, 2018

Wednesday Connect

A spinoff product for Brant Hansen’s Blessed Are the Misfits book, or just a coincidence?

Usually the pictures and graphic images we open and close with have an element of humor to them, but I wanted to share this because I think this pastor — who I happen to know — has touched on something that doesn’t get discussed enough.

I know this is a theme which resonates with so many. Over and over again I hear of sons and daughters who grew up in Sunday School, but are now far from the Church, with many also far from God. I like what Ewen’s church is doing here and I think more churches need to think of ways to mobilize prayer. Also, if that’s you and you know someone in a similar situation, offer to become prayer partners for this particular concern. 

Now we resume regular programming:

.► Canadian Christians are still reeling from the decision in the Trinity Western University Law School case, which we covered here extensively on the weekend. “A portion of Christian freedom of expression loses big time in this ruling, which implies that in Canada, sexual identity trumps religious identity.” 🇨🇦

► An American looks at Canada’s Supreme Court decision in the Trinity Western University law school case: “Here’s why we’ve been raising our voices for so many years and why we’ve said that those who came out the closet want to put us into the closet. It’s why we’ve said that LGBT activism was never simply about ‘tolerance’ – it was about the silencing of competing views.” 🇨🇦

► Just my opinion of course, but I think social justice advocate Danielle Strickland is the hottest news on the rack right now. Just a few weeks after her Sunday at Willow Creek, she was back there for a Wednesday night, speaking on Zephaniah. Watch the entire sermon as I did and enjoy.

► Essay of the Week: Arrested Development is “an illustration of what theologians call generational sin…Is sin passed from generation to generation, or are we each responsible for our own actions? The answer is “both and,” a painful truth illustrated by Arrested Development. We are shaped by our families. Every family, from the Cleavers to the Bluths, is dysfunctional to some degree. We all inherit sinful ways of seeing the world, relating to each other, and understanding God. This is why Jesus insists his Church is a spiritual family, one that even supersedes our biological families.” An essay in making the body of Christ a family for those whose own is stuck in Arrested Development

► Churches and Social Media: If your church is pursuing Millennials, having a Facebook account may not be helpful. But having one on YouTube, Snapchat or Instagram means you’re going to have to have the resources to maintain it and post frequently.

Winning the 2018 Generation Award at the MTV Movie and TV Awards, Chris Pratt had three faith-filled points, but also two or three which I felt took away some of the impact from those. Hear his 4-minute ‘sermon,’ in full

► Small Group 2011 Flashback: The writer of the majority of the piece wrote the words 7 years ago. The title earns our ‘provocative’ award: Why Churches Should Euthanize Small Groups. (Not new, but 2nd most popular post at Sermon Central.) 

► If you’re looking up your family tree and mailing your spit to Ancestory.com doesn’t do it for you, it’s a well-known fact that the best authority on who married or begat who in North America is the Mormon church. Now comes word that their genealogical database will begin recording same-sex marriages.

► There have been many recent discussions about the contagion associated with suicide. Roger Olson looks at the question, ‘Is Suicide Sin?’

J. D. Greear

► After being elected the 62nd President of the Southern Baptist Church, J.D. Greear writes at his personal blog that his prayer for the SBC is for greater humility and greater hope… 

► … However, did everyone at The Summit Church, where Greear is the pastor, realize they were attending a Southern Baptist church?*

► … In less stellar SBC news, an all-white church has been kicked out of the denom for incredibly strong racist attitudes toward a black church with which they were sharing facilities and partnering for the purpose of guaranteeing their long-term survival after having dwindled from 250+ members to only 20. Perhaps now we know why people weren’t attracted to that particular congregation.

► If you can’t get enough of Hobbits and Middle Earth, here’s a website dedicated to all things Tolkien: Check out Kaitlyn Facista’s Tea with Tolkien.

► Church membership covenants, a membership roll, or just showing up each week? Scot McKnight raises the point and even though this article becomes a book teaser, it’s worth considering.  

► “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” That’s the working title of an address I am giving next month, so you can imagine my reaction in seeing this article. Inevitably, when the story is told of how things went south in a person’s life, it often begins with the time they met _____________ .

► Decriminalizing blasphemy: In Ireland, “any utterance or the publication of indecent, blasphemous or indecent matter is regarded as an offense.” The country wants to remove this crime from its constitution

► Fixed Prayer Times: On a more serious note at Reddit (than the item we end today’s list with) someone asked if Muslims are the only religious group having fixed prayer times. These short answers are actually quite helpful, especially reading them altogether.

► If it’s true what people are saying, at this time you should probably read this. (Doesn’t sound very forceful, does it?) A look at three phrases which reflect weak leadership

► Don’t think we run enough Catholic items here? Last night I rediscovered Big Pulpit. (It’s like Real Clear Religion but with more items and each one having a Catholic connection.)

► The sister of gospel music singer Kirk Franklin has been sentenced to 30 years in a Texas prison.

► Worship Leading: “Have you ever had someone on your music or tech team that you hoped God would call to the mission field? Or Toledo? Or just anywhere but your church?” 5 Preventative measures to keeping what the author calls “the crazies” off your team.

► The number of LGBT employees at the BBC is four times the national average. Also, “Almost one in 50 of the corporation’s staff identifies as transgender, but in the general population, only one in every 14,000 people has legally changed sex. The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director Ciarán Kelly said the news was further evidence of the BBC’s ‘obsession with political correctness’.”  

► “Let my building go!” — It could be the only way to keep the church alive is to jettison the historic real estate that’s holding you back

► In the artist spotlight on Jon Rivers’ show is Pat Barrett, with the song, The Way (New Horizon) also available in a 7-minute version from Housefires. ♫

► Releasing June 29th, this new Hillsong Young and Free video from the album simply titled III, shows the musicians in a very digital environment. ♫

► Religion Problems – 2018 Style: When you partially identify as Pastafarian and you want to get your new drivers license picture taken with a colander on your head but (a) you can’t find one that fits, and (b) you have to first prove you’re Pastafarian. Assuming you can find one that fits for next time, how do you prove you’re part of the fringe religion?


It would be nice to think that a year from now, when people scroll by this, they will have forgotten what the panel below was all about. Others will say it’s already too late for that, what’s happened is now seared into history. Either way, I love what David Hayward, aka Naked Pastor has done with this news topic. Click here to link.


*J.D. Greear video: We take no responsibility for the speaker damage that may occur when auto-play sends you to the video which follows. (If you have a blog, don’t use whatever video embed thingy that is.) Auto-play is destroying families and lives and must be stopped. Join the campaign by sending your money to me, or calling 1-800-STOP-IT with your pledge.

June 13, 2018

Wednesday Connect

The Week That Was: Trump at the G7 meeting in Canada. To see who is featured in the picture, click this BBC News story.


Scripture Faith Christian Shirts


Several of this week’s links are from Canadian sources. Events at the G7 weren’t connected to my decision to include them, but it’s a good place to remember that we are all brothers and sisters on both sides of the border.

We try to avoid sending you to sites with annoying pop-ups. Excluded this week was Thom Rainer, whose page allows you to do nothing until the pop-ups are finished. Anyone old enough to remember the Christian blogosphere before all this nonsense started knows how frustrating it is today.

Here’s this week’s collection of stories you may not see elsewhere.

► Faced with a dying congregation, an ailing building and poor finances, this Montreal pastor shut down the church for 9 months and then reopened it as a multi-faith community center providing a home for five different churches and addressing the fact that the 20,000 sq. ft. of urban space was only being used less than 5% of the time. “When it reopened, the masses were pared down. New people started coming. Before Singh took over St. Jax, the congregation was about 30 people. Now, there are about 80 there every week.
And groups have begun to start renting the space. There have been salsa dancing, choral and tap-dancing events. Long-overdue repairs have begun.” This revolutionary approach is worth reading.

► Coming soon to a computer near you: Crowd-funding continues for what is planned to be a summer launch of what founder Steven Andrew calls an alternative to Facebook and Twitter, USA.Life

► …And on a rather similar-looking page (featuring the swearing in of President Trump in the background) an alternative to Google, 1776Free.com  (The vision for both sites obviously ends at the U.S. border. Sigh!)

► This will be outdated by the time you see it on Wednesday, but I was still rather amazed at this article — appearing in no less than Christianity Today — calling for the election of Beth Moore for President of the Southern Baptist Convention. (Aren’t these the same guys who turned their chairs when Anne Graham Lotz spoke not so long ago?) …

► For the record, at age 45, the SBC-ers elected J. D. Greear.

► Decided this week: “Printing ‘In God We Trust’ on US currency does not force a Satanist to spread Christianity, federal judges have ruled.”  (History: The first motto challenge took place in 1970.)

► Could you pass as a Christian refugee? Swedish “officials did not believe that [Aideen] Strandsson was a true Christian because her knowledge of Christianity was apparently insufficient;” and wanted her deported back to Iran. I wonder what their test was and if the average North American Christian could satisfy them.

► So…Are there fewer weddings booked at your church this year? “Clergy are solemnizing fewer and fewer marriages. Instead, couples are turning to civil magistrates or even loved ones who obtain credentials. In 2009, 29 percent of couples had a friend or family member solemnize their wedding. That number had increased to 43 percent by 2016.” …

► …The article was based on a May article at Facts and Trends. “In 2017, 15 percent of weddings were at barns, farms, or ranches. Fourteen percent were at historic homes. Seventeen percent were at a banquet hall. Hotels (12 percent) and country clubs (12 percent) were also popular.”

► Increasingly, the term vacation is coming to mean vacation from the internet and social media. “More and more travelers seem to want to unplug. Terms like slow tourism, off-the-grid trips and unplugged travel are popping up on tourism-related sites. Travel firms have even started offering trips that require clients to leave their phones at home (or at least tucked away in their suitcases)… Ironically, resorts that once used Wi-Fi access as a selling point are now touting features that allow guests to unplug. For example, the Four Seasons Costa Rica lets guests log off by offering a 24-hour tech detox program. The luxury resort locks your device in their safe, and they provide tech-free activities such as dancing classes and boating trips.”

► When Wednesday Connect is all finished, I check Eric’s list at Phoenix Preacher to see where we doubled up (if we did) or if there’s something vital I really should include. This time around he noted that Charisma Magazine just one day apart, had two different takes on the Jesse Duplantis jet story which he heralded with this pithy one-liner with two short hyperlinks: “Charisma rag mag divided on Duplantis jet… nay, yea

► An athiest Indiegogo campaign raised 130% of its goal to place the booklet, Disproving Christianity in hotels. “I will send a petition to some of the top hotels in Los Angeles, indicating that the Bible should be accompanied be a secular equivalent. I hope the hotel owners will see that having the Qur’an, the Book of Mormon, and the Bible in clients’ rooms is OK, but that we should have the opportunity to point out the discrepancies in those holy books, too.” Will the hotels be forced to give the book equal time?

► Is Junia the same person as Joanna, mentioned in Luke 8 and Luke 24? One thing’s for sure, she’s not Junius (a male name) as some would have it; in fact don’t even think of that if you ever meet this author. (For the record, she didn’t mention it either.)

► The Billy Graham era may have come and gone, but Greg Laurie is still packing in people at arenas for events such as this past weekend’s Harvest America crusade in Arlington, TX. (Link takes you to event’s Twitter feed.)  …

► …On the same day as the crusade, Greg Laurie posted his reflections on the sudden passing of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain. He compares Bourdain’s journey — raised, as he was, without religion — to his own.

► Moral failure warning signs: I’ve seen lists like this before but the five in this list contained some different indicators that are out there, such that afterwards people say, “Looking back, we see what was going on.”

► Cath Stats (Catholic Statistics): “With only 23% bothering to engage in the central tenet of that relationship, the Eucharist, it is easy to say the relationship is severely damaged. If more that 3/4 of the family doesn’t see being with the family as important, then something has gone wrong.” On the other hand, “with only 23% participation, the Catholic Church runs a vast array of schools, hospitals, and services for the poorest of the poor. We are able to do a great amount with just 23%. Imagine what could be done with 50%, or 75%, or even 100%.

► Never underestimate a young person’s desire and interest in God, the Bible and spiritual truths.The Ontario Director of the Canadian Bible Society reflects on 12 years of working with youth.

► An iconic church in Toronto has been offered the opportunity to do a land swap with a condominium developer that would also include sufficient funds to build an all new auditorium, offices and classrooms.

► Third Culture Kids (TCKs) are always discovering that Americans have an abysmal knowledge of world geography, as the opening illustration here so well illustrates.

► Poco (Good Feelin’ to Know)/Buffalo Springfield (For What It’s Worth) singer and guitarist Richie Furay pastored a Calvary Chapel in Colorado for 35 years. Retired now at 74, he’s still doing concerts.

► Parenting: “At least two new animated television shows about drag queens, one featuring children characters, are set to debut in America, drawing high concern from conservative commentators.” (Watch, if you can, a trailer for Drag Tots.)

► Christian Reggae band Christifari is back with a new music video. ♫

► Your deep theological questions answered: Seven reasons why Mennonites hold hands to pray.*

► Finally, not baking cakes for gay weddings? That’s just the start of the list this guy won’t bake cakes for, which includes just about everybody.*

*Mennonite satirical news site.

At age 91, J. I. Packer isn’t too old to cruise the J. I. Packer section in the Regent College bookstore this week, making sure his bestsellers are properly displayed. (Facebook – click to link)


Resurrected from 2013 at the Facebook page of twentyonehundred Productions, the media wing of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. (Facebook – Click to link)

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.