Welcome to WLL#348. It’s also Ash Wednesday. We have an unusual number of mid-month pieces here today even though the list was prepared the day before. So not fresh off the press, but we thought worth including. Don’t forget to try to get your suggestions to me by 6:00 PM EST on Monday; but later ones do get considered.
- The sermon not heard around the world. Not streaming this week’s sermon probably brought it more attention. Here’s what Andy Stanley said. (Also a dozen quotes in the “likes” section of my Twitter feed.)
- Of course, the big news this week was Tim Keller stepping down from Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC, and the breaking up of the 8-location body into three smaller churches.
- Franklin Go Home: Signatories representing half of all Christians in Vancouver, Canada wish Franklin Graham wasn’t coming for a weekend crusade.
- Quotation of the Week: You have to listen this. If you’re in ministry full time, or even if you aren’t go this sermon and jump to 28:16 for a minute or two.
- Sincere congratulations to Julie Anne at Spiritual Sounding Board on five years of investigative blogging and championing the cause of people who have suffered spiritual abuse at the hands of authoritarian churches.
- Parenting Place: When your kids ask, “Is _________ a Christian?” Sometimes you don’t know where to begin. Take the awards show a few weeks back with Chance the Rapper: “On one hand Chance has numerous songs with profoundly Christian lyrics, and he talks openly about his faith journey as a black rapper. Some even say he ‘represents Millennial Christianity.’ But on the other hand, Chance doesn’t hesitate to drop F-bombs, or rap about drinking and smoking weed. He even collaborates with extremely profane rappers like Lil Wayne and 2Chainz.” This is an excellent article on how to respond to this and similar situations…
- …Here’s a 15-minute interview Chance did with Katy Couric.
- The Chain of Grace: You just never know what your influence might be, or where an evangelism effort might lead.
- The Small Screen: A special needs parent examines ABC-TV’s Speechless.
- The funniest stuff around lately has been Garrison Keillor’s explorations into the faith of Donald J. Trump. One three weeks ago was inspired by The National Prayer Breakfast…
- …while a more recent one has Trump simply lapsing into Biblical language. “…here I am with goodness and mercy following me every single day of my life, not just mercy but goodness too, and we’re making tremendous progress, great numbers getting bigger every day, multitudes gathering everywhere I go, touching the hem of my garment…”
- So very sad: “Congregants of the [Spindale, NC] Word of Faith Fellowship were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in a violent form of deliverance meant to “purify” sinners by beating out devils, 43 former members told The Associated Press in separate, exclusive interviews. Victims of the violence included pre-teens and toddlers — even crying babies, who were vigorously shaken, screamed at and sometimes smacked…”
- …Not related: A 21-year old Oklahoma missionary has been sentenced to 40 years in Nairobi for the sexual assault of 3 girls and a boy in a orphanage. The case has had “a chilling effect on the lives of dozens of foreign volunteers in Kenya and elsewhere who must now live under the cloud of suspicion.”
- History Lesson: As of this week, this video trailer had been on YouTube for 4 years with less than 1,000 views. Koinonia Farm was “a small Christian community in Southwest Georgia where whites and blacks chose to live and work together as equals… Possibly the most daring social experiment in the South during the last century.”
- Richard Rohr (pronounced RROARRR) believes we are at the precipice of a paradigm shift he terms “a Trinitarian Revolution.”
- From a few months back: “When life collapses it doesn’t always catch you off guard. Sometimes you can feel it coming from a long way off.”
- Dialing for Doctrine: What to tell your kids (and unchurched friends) what we believe about angels.
- Listicles (complete with annoying pop-ups) at BeliefNet:
- Repairing a holy site in Christendom, Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre: “So who do you choose for such a restoration, when the stakes are so high? Whom do you call when the site in question is the holiest site on the planet for millions of Christians?“
- While churches and charities ramp up donation appeals at year end, another time to consider increasing your own giving is tax refund season.
- Video of the Week: 10 minutes on The Shack book and movie. “Should you go see the movie The Shack? Why wouldn’t you.” I like the balance in this discussion. (Another Shack link below.)
- Bible Time: For those who think they’re too busy, reading times for each Biblical book.
- Parsing terminology: Neo liberals, liberals, centrists, conservatives and neo conservatives defined. Then a suggestion that moderates need to be heard over the voices of extreme ideology.
- If you only get one tattoo and love irony, this is the one to get.
- John Piper Encyclical of the Week: You need to get rid of your dog. Right now. It’s distracting you from your Christian life. Bye, Bye Bowser. (But the Pipester himself is keeping Dusty. She is an eight-year-old golden doodle.) …
- …And now, the official response to Piper from Dee Parsons at Wartburg Watch. Full disclosure: Dee is owner of Lily, Petunia and Tulip (double entendre intended, bless her heart).
- Media Month: “It was reported that the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated alone now generates more profit than all the other issues throughout the year combined.”
- This is why the Wednesday Link List doesn’t contain a “Where are they now?” feature.
- Finally, a review of The Shack by someone who didn’t read the book and hasn’t seen the movie and decides to simply guess what the film is about. #NoSpoilerAlertsNeeded
Our extro image is from the Twitter feed Unvirtuous Abbey:
Did you miss us last week? Subscribers will have one free week added to the end of their subscription.
- Essay of the Week: A must-read from a Millennial Generation writer on why 59% of his peers have dropped out of church. On each of 12 points, author Sam Eaton offers solutions.
- Dialog of the Week: Internet Monk’s Chaplain Mike talks to “a concerned Christian” about “allowing Gays” to attend the church.
- Media Watch: Who is reading Christian books? Watching Christian television? Attending Christian movies? The percentage of non-Christians is surprising.
- The bad news: Scot McKnight on signs of Evangelicalism’s demise.
- How much should the pastor get paid? “30 percent of pastors have student loan debt averaging $36,000.” Should that be a factor? …
- …On the same topic, this study of American and Canadian churches.
- An advocate for those who have suffered abuse in the church pleads with publisher David C. Cook to stop selling books by Tullian Tchividjian.
- A conference at Liberty U. next month is under fire because of two of the invited speakers. (A shorter summary at Christian Post.)
- Are they false teachers? Or just a bit confused? Or maybe just totally lacking in discernment? Perhaps we need the discernment before we use the false term too quickly.
- Godbey. Worsley. Sawyer. Worrell. Recognize any of them? They’re alternative versions of the New Testament that you won’t find elsewhere. (Check out the pull-down menu.)
- Speaking of different versions, let’s talk about wineskins. Why is that in each of the synoptic gospels, Jesus seems to be saying something quite different?
- Trending in education in the UK: “Muslim pupils outnumber Christian children in more than 30 church schools.” The reason? “Muslim parents are sending their children to Christian schools to prepare them for ‘life in modern Britain.'”
- ♫ New Release Today presents seven powerful worship songs on video… ♫
- ♫ …If you like that, you might also like NRT’s modern hymns video collection. ♫
- Bible Quiz! Well, actually it’s a New Testament Apocrypha Quiz. Ten questions. You should easily beat my score.
- Kari Jobe shares the story of what was going on her life as she recorded her new album, The Garden.
- You wanted to know: Why the Baptismal Font has eight sides.
- In yet another “gay wedding cake” case, a Washington state Christian florist who was ruled against by nine judges in that state’s Supreme Court now stands to lose her life savings. (Well, you know the saying…)
- Quotation of the Week: “American evangelicalism has invented pious fictions like “the Roman Road” and the Four Spiritual Laws and the “prosperity doctrine” because they promise everything and ask next to nothing in return. A nod of assent and an eternity in heaven is ours.” A Baptist News look at N. T. Wright.
- Women’s Words: Liz Curtis Higgs guests at Ann Voskamp’s site. On loss: “…we could not save him and arrived too late to say good-bye. Even now, years later, the missed opportunity and the tragic loss still weigh heavily on our hearts. It’s an ache that never goes away, a missing piece that can’t be replaced…” (Be sure to read the whole piece, there are many photos by Ann throughout the article.)
- This Episcopal church has no paid clergy, so lay people do some preaching. (1 min. video)
- Whatever it is that Andy Stanley’s planning to say to his congregation this Sunday, it won’t be streamed live or rebroadcast that day.
- I found this at an apologetics blog which was new to me, God from the Machine. This recent article looks at Askton Kutcher, Sex Trafficking and the common thinking that sex is morally neutral.
- Marriage Matters: One of the best articles on midlife crisis you’ll read, I promise.
- Preaching Place: Rehashing the sermon on the drive home often brings discouragement to clergy. Here’s 7 Things to remember if you think you just laid an egg.
- I thought this was a post-Christian period we’re in. This free, all-day Saturday symposium at Biola University is titled Art in a Post-Secular Age. (March 4th)
- The story continues: “On Monday [2/13], Saeed Abedini pleaded guilty in Ada County Magistrate Court to violation of a restraining order taken out by his estranged wife, Naghmeh.” The judge “sentenced Abedini, 36, to 180 days in jail but suspended all but five days.”
- Catholic Corner: A French priest with rather outspoken views on abuse now faces charges himself…
- …While in another part of France, a priest declares that God wanted him to live with a woman he had fallen in love with.
- No, not the south. Racism is alive and well in the northeast as well.
- Another great Phil Vischer Podcast, this time with former Christian radio personality Melinda Schmidt.
- Is Foy a common name? It took me awhile to track down what this new book is all about.
- ♫ Gospel Grammy winners this year included songs as performed by Tamela Mann, Hillary Scott, Kirk Franklin, and Joey + Rory. The full list, with nominees is at grammy.com …
- … Because it’s that first name, Tamela Mann, that readers here may be least familiar with, give a listen to Grammy winning song God Provides. (Kirk Franklin wrote this which means he won twice, as did Hillary Scott.) ♫
- Non-Music Video of the Week: The Gift of Cerebral Palsy. I encourage you to stay with all 6 minutes of this.
- Book Excerpt: Cosmopolitan offers the story of Joey + Rory’s proposal from the book This Life I Live.
- John Piper Nude Selfies! Oh wait… it’s an article by John Piper on why you shouldn’t send nude selfies.
- Provocative Headline of the Week: Elmo Goes to Church – What Sesame Street Can Teach Us About Worship.
- A North Carolina Baptist pastor is worked up over American Girl releasing a boy character doll. (Don’t tell him about G.I. Joe.)
- Finally, let’s face it. Some people go to church to meet people of the opposite sex. But in Nairobi, scantily dressed single ladies are targeting married men, and the wives are having to be extra vigilant.
The item in our top and bottom image was found in a candy store and originates with LaughRat.com (viewer discretion advised).
Welcome to Link List #346. Please shake off the snow and leave your hats and boots at the door.
Re the image ↑↑ Granted, it’s a promotional piece for a new product from Zondervan Bibles, but it makes you think, doesn’t it.
- Essay of the Week: Two Canadian Christian aid workers imprisoned in China — her for 6 months, him for 2 years — share the details of their ordeal.
- Caring for elderly parents: “…it would seem that a child’s highest financial priority should be caring for his parents instead of giving to his church. Ideally, he should do both. But if only one is possible, it would seem from the text in Mark that providing for parents would take priority.”
- The faith of Donald J. Trump: “Yes, he may have shown up in a church during the campaign (looking as comfortable as a cow in a slaughterhouse), and he may have given some lip service prayer to one of his preacher pals while golfing, and he may have bamboozled scores of Christians already dying to believe it so they could make peace with their vote—but he is not a man following Jesus.“
- Testimony: “I am a refugee living outside of Iran. My brother connected me to a house church when I first believed, and I attended there, learning the Bible and meeting Christians, until my pastor was arrested by Iranian authorities. It is no longer safe for me to be in my country.”
- Awaiting Christ’s return: If the original followers felt that Jesus’ return was immediately pending, they wouldn’t have been writing gospels. This might explain the later dating of many texts.
- Preacher Place: A reminder that the cross which purchased our redemption is prelude to the ascension and enthronement of Christ, often neglected in our sermons.
- After the Vice President broke the tie, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as U.S. education secretary. However her lack of experience with the public school system meant she was not supported by all fellow Evangelicals. 2,700 people from her own school, the Christian Reformed Church’s jewel, Calvin College in Grand Rapids signed a petition opposing her nomination.
- Architecture Alley: Rethinking the modern church worship space. “The black box is dead. Windows are in.”
- Mainstream Media Excerpt of the Week: “When children are born to couples who are cohabiting but not married, those children are more likely to experience what the report calls a ‘union transition’ before they’re 12 years old. A ‘union transition’ is when their parent switches sex partners, which creates relationship instability in the family. That, in turn, raises the likelihood of family woes such as emotional and behavior troubles in both parents and kids, higher rates of child abuse, and even higher risks for child mortality in the global south.”
- Interview of the Week: “In 2010, Barna Group released a poll indicating that four out of 10 non-church Americans claim they do not attend due to negative experiences with churches or congregants…” RNS talks to Carol Howard Merritt, author of Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting With a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church (HarperOne).
- The legal limits to church covenants: “However, just as the law gives a right to the church to expel a member, it also gives the member the right to leave the church at anytime, even while under discipline. If a church pursues a member who has resigned via emails, texts, visits, etc., or announces to the congregation their sins or encourages current church members to pursue the former member, they are risking a serious civil lawsuit for harassment.”
- Family Missions Trip: The case for taking the kids with you. “A baby or child is a sure way into the heart of most people groups. Kids reach across the barriers of almost any culture, offering a less-threatening way to engage.” Also, “Taking children along, whether they are 15 months or 15 years old, forces you to view the world through their eyes.”
- Buried Treasure: You can find some great podcasts by checking out the chapel service recordings of major seminaries and Bible Colleges. Here’s David Fitch at Tyndale College and Seminary in Toronto.
- Article Within an Article: In this piece of HI-DEF traits of spiritual leaders, don’t miss the “Then Towering Ts” of spiritual discipline.
- Again, once you get past the banter at the beginning, this is one of the best episodes of The Phil Vischer Podcast, as Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel talk about power in the Evangelical church and their book, The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb (Thomas Nelson) which released yesterday.
- KidMin: Finding the balance between discipline and grace in Children’s Ministry.
- Love, latitude and license: Just because we’re keeping the big New Testament to love doesn’t mean we can do anything within a range of options.
- Swimming against the Evangelical current: A call to make the church more like a family business.
- What one church is doing: A prom alternative for kids on the Autism spectrum. Also a good reminder for parents to tell your own high school kids to not ignore those who are “sitting in the dark.”
- Changing Times: In simple terms, Boy Scouts of America will now admit girls who identify as boys.
- The gay wedding cake issue returns, only this time it’s a Canadian videographer who films weddings…
- …Meanwhile in Australia, a big victory for free speech.
- Getting married this spring? Know someone who is? Some friends of ours design wedding graphics and signage full-time at Charming Endeavors on Etsy.
- Reba McEntire is on the March cover of Simple Grace, a Christian inspirational magazine sold at Barnes & Noble and Walmart. Read a sample of her story: Jesus heals every hurt.
- Food service after the worship service: “Somewhere between walking out of the church building and walking into the restaurant, we lose the intentionality of being witnesses for our great God.”
- Testimony of the Week: “As a young Christian, I believed that spreading myself thin indicated my passion for God. If an opportunity to serve arose, I took it without a second thought.” Learning to how and why to say no.
- ‘This is the church, and this is not the steeple.’ Church bell towers and steeples are becoming a thing of the past.
- Bee of the Week: Ken Ham stars in A Night at the Creation Museum.
- Many skeptics think that Mary wasn’t a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus. It’s different, however when you hear that from a nun.
Our closing item below is a bit different, I waited an extra week before including it. Found at Ben Witherington’s blog.
There won’t be a link list next week; we’ll see you back on February 22nd.
You’ll have to scroll down to find the link referencing the book cover here, but yes, the title means what you think it means. For our upper and lower images today we’re featuring the artwork of the UK’s Dave Walker from CartoonChurch.com which originally appeared in the Church Times and can be found in the book Heroes of the Coffee Rota, published by Canterbury Press.
- Essay of the Week: “I didn’t intend to create an IT policy for my spiritual life, but inadvertently I ended up doing so over the past few months… I didn’t think I had an issue–but since making these changes I am more relaxed, have far more free time, am more present at home, and even in times (like now) which would previously have been cripplingly busy at work are manageable–making me far more productive.”
- Norma McCorvey, was the “Jane Roe” in the classic court case Roe v. Wade. Here are seven things she wants you to know about that precedent-setting case.
- Must Reading: Do the rich get better discipleship? After shopping for a church with a solid youth program for four teenage boys, this family realizes they simply can’t afford it.
- Op-Ed: A challenge to the teaching of Francis Chan and the Family Integrated Church movement. Sample: “Chan has totally missed the mark of what it actually means to be a Christian family!“
- The fertility industry: It’s the year 2042 and the woman who is the product of a surrogate birth shares her story: “They bought my mother’s eggs—lots of them—so they could pick the best embryos. They rented another woman’s womb for 9 months. Well, 8 months: we were premature and underweight. My dad’s decided that each of them would get one genetic child—so I’m a half-sister with my own twin, which is strange.” An expert offers the other side of the story.
- Megachurch Life: Our messaging that it’s okay to come if you are broken and your life is messy right now is contrasted by the image we project with a polished, professional service.
- Pause for Thought: Humility and certainty can go hand-in-hand. “In other words, Christians are humble because their understanding of truth is not based on their own intelligence, their own research, their own acumen.”
- The son or daughter has informed his or her conservative Christian parents that they are gay. Should the parents disown them?
- I love what The Gospel Project is doing with their videos, but this one should also be made available at those sites where you buy clips for weekend church services. Every church needs to show this.
- January’s Essay of the Month: Philip Yancey on the election.
- The Joy of Sects: A look at The Panacea Society. “Joanna Southcott…had died a century earlier – and had left behind a sealed wooden box full of prophetical writings, stating that it should only be opened during a time of national crisis by all 24 Church of England bishops.” This group of women were “convinced they held the fate of the planet in their hands.”
- Leadership Lessons: It’s been a month now. How are you making out on your new year goals? “Sometimes we in the church are just not that serious or passionate… We trust that the Word will do its work and that we are stewards of the mysteries of God. But we don’t really want to rock the boat. We don’t want to take risks.”
- Current Events in the Rear View Mirror: Should Christian women march?
- Church Tech Talk: Is the tech team or communications team simply service providers or are they a ministry unit?
- Survey Says: Pollsters seem to reject the possibility that you can be African American and Evangelical at the same time. “… historically the word points to and names a theological-spiritual ethos, not a particular socio-political-class movement…”
- What are your idols? Find out what matters to you with this short 20 Questions to Expose Your Idolatry.
- Timely: Christian recording artist Audrey Assad tells of her father fleeing Syria and coming to the U.S. as a refugee. (6 minute video; watch full-screen.)
- Kids still deciding on a college? 25 Things to do or questions to ask before making the final choice…
- …Meanwhile, at the other end of the education spectrum, a Christian mom explains her choice to send the kids into the public school system.
- When your church, denomination or parachurch organization disagrees with the government: This author suggests there are but three courses of action you can choose.
- ‘You have just aborted Beethoven.’ That’s the punchline to a popular argument against abortion. However, “It assigns value based on (presumed) accomplishments. It is a utilitarian argument — assigning intrinsic value based on one’s “utility” (usefulness) — and it is utilitarian arguments that are best suited for pro-choice arguments, not for pro-life. In any event, those contemplating abortion are already employing utilitarianism in their thinking.”
- First there was The Bible Museum. Now the American Bible Society is launching the Faith and Liberty Center in downtown Philadelphia.
- Sadly, another high-profile Christian family processes divorce…
- …while the writers at one website consider that we are only hearing one side of the story.
- Forthcoming Film: The Resurrection of Gavin Stone “represents what modern Christian life actually looks like, with a sense of irreverence and a knowing point of view.”
- Parenting Place: 95% of our behavioral patterns are established by age 6. Authors Todd and Jackie Courtney have launched Inspirational Nursery Rhymes, with four titles releasing today. They’re available where you buy books; Christian bookstores can access them through Anchor Distributing. Info and an interactive game at the series website.
- Who remembers when Keith Green sold his music albums on a “pay what you can” basis? Now, author and pastor Craig Groeschel is working with his publisher on a “pay what it’s worth” system for his new book, Divine Direction. (With a base price of $5.)
- Martha Collison was the youngest ever contestant on the UK version of the show we know as The Great American Baking Show. She pays tribute to fellow Christian and bake off star 81-year-old Mary Berry.
- Faith With Benefits: “…students on Catholic campuses report being unhappy with casual sexual encounters, most studies have found no difference between Catholic colleges and their secular counterparts…” Oxford University Press, $29.95 hardcover.
- One way to get your books out there: HarperCollins is hosting GodLab, a 3-day faith-focused conference in Los Angeles in early June. (Cocktails will be served.)
- Christian comedian Chonda Pierce faced some backlash after appearing at the Presidential Inauguration. She noted that, “somebody asked me what I’m wearing and I said, ‘Whatever is washable because someone might throw eggs at me!'”
- Not enough links today? You can always try Religion Link.
- Provocative Headline of the Week: What to Do When You are Bored of God.
- Video of the Week: You’ve got to see it to believe it as parents in Tbilisi, Georgia lined up at Trinity Cathedral to have their children baptized.
- Finally, something a little different to end today; a poem by Brian Bilston found at this Twitter post.
Reproduction of the Wednesday Link List in whole in or in part would constitute a great waste of scarce resources.
Thanks for your suggestions this week. Don’t forget to share today’s link list URL on your blog and social media. Take a deep breath… here we go!
- Essay of the Week: The Church of Me, Myself and I.
- Persistent Teaching: I hadn’t heard this, but apparently it’s making the rounds for decades if not longer that the Antichrist will be gay.
- Gavin Ashenden, chaplain to the Queen has resigned — eight years early — over a decision allowing a Muslim to read the Koran during an Epiphany service at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow. (The larger issue: Secularism in the UK.)
- Leadership Lessons: The Church needs to stop enabling abusive men. (A must-read.)
- Nearly all 30 buildings at a Mississippi Christian university have been affected by a weekend tornado. The school could be shut down for up to a year.
- For your consideration: “We live in a day when pastors who have ravaged congregations, have lied and cheated publicly, who offer no sign of repentance and engage no real season of contrition, are simply allowed to move on to a new congregation or are given a new ministry platform. This happens repeatedly because we have accepted the lie of the anointed.“
- Great insights from an unlikely source: Cracked Magazine’s informed and detailed investigation of the religious life of President Donald Trump.
- Continuing Coverage: Compassion International is scheduled to shut down offices in India on March 15th; 145,000 kids to lose sponsorship. (Strangely, the Compassion Blog is silent on this developing story.)
- ‘God loves you. Zhe really does!’ Faculty at two divinity schools have been told to avoid using male pronouns for God. (Not sure what that does to The Lord’s Prayer…)
- …Further Pronoun Problems: When a Bible passage refers to God or Jesus, deciding whether that should that be lower case “he” or capitalized “He” is often complicated. “Scripture sometimes includes prophecies that have double fulfillment, the choice to capitalize a pronoun can have the unintended outcome of erasing the additional, non-divine meaning.” Differences between the HCSB and the new CSB…
- …Somewhat related: This gets covered often but this simple straightforward 4-minute video looks at the question, “What is the best Bible translation?”
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich Generation: Caring for your aging parents in eight difficult steps.
- Keeping Score: What if instead of counting heads and church revenue, we let joy be the barometer of success.
- Testimony: A woman continues to wrestle with the after-effects of growing up in the cult of patriarchy.
- New in Books: Ben Witherington looks at the November release, When in Romans: An Invitation to Linger with the Gospel According to Paul…
- …Also at Bible and Culture: Late night sermon prep, perhaps.
- At Q: Christine Caine teaches on our obsession with what’s next…
- …also at Q: Russell Moore on what it means to be a Prophetic Minority.
- In our family creative projects multiply like rabbits. On his first blog post for a new project, my son looks at Celtic Hymns.
- Moving On Department: Piper looks at living under an unqualified President. “Let us not exhaust ourselves bemoaning a Trump presidency. There are peoples whose privileges of prosperity and possibility are vastly inferior to ours.”
- Practical: Four ways to remember to pray for people you’ve promised to pray for.
- Canada Corner: The creator of a classy Christian coloring book shares his frustration at trying to get it to market.
- 55 weeks later, we’re correcting an error on a previous link list. Yes, we do get around to things eventually. From January, 2016, Jory Micha’s piece on Dismantling the Falsity that Complementarianism is Clearly Biblical.
- Author Jo Sexton grew up in London, has African heritage; now lives in Minnesota; and co-pastors a church in a coffee shop. Speaking about the value of female leadership in the world and in the church, Jo guests this week on Phil Vischer’s podcast. (This episode’s a keeper!)
- Greg Laurie explains his participation in the Inauguration Prayer Service.
- Devotional of the Week: Living according to the rules…
- …also in the devotional genre, Willow Creek teaching pastor Steve Carter is on Day 25 of a 40 day series based on his book This Invitational Life.
- Great Graphics: From BibleInPhotos.com some social-media-worthy images from the author of the devotional book Open in Case of Emergency, available as a free download.
- The prophet Isaiah on Alternative Facts: “Ah, those who call evil good, and good evil; who present darkness as light and light as darkness; who present bitter as sweet and sweet as bitter! Ah, those who are so wise—in their own opinion; so clever—in their own judgment!” – A Jewish perspective on the new administration.
- It takes a lot of nerve to correct someone while they’re praying for the food. (The article is about praying the Psalms, but this intro story astounded me.)
- Funny: The case for making reading a certified winter sport.
- Sometimes pastors get asked to do some unusual things…
- …But sadly, sometimes pastors do unusual things entirely on their own. (This version has a glaring spelling thing, but was the most detailed; provided you want to read details on a thing like this.)
- Tweet of the Week: You need to see it.
- Music Video of the Week: Okay, I don’t have one, but you can enjoy my son’s latest musical masterpiece: What Do Bunnies Do All Day? (You will be blessed.)
- First World Problems: Megachurch parking lot road rage.
I know you thought we were quite done with Christmas, but now we know why these guys (below) took so long to find the baby:
Welcome to the Link List. Beware of the Dog:
My wife took that picture while standing about five feet away. It never budged. As to the little home decor item at right, it’s an actual item made by Heartfelt, Inc. Can I put you down for a dozen of them?
This week a big shout-out to all the radio guys who check us out every Wednesday for program material. You can watch for our invoice in the mail.
- Shane Claiborne was among the 18 arrested in Tuesday’s protest against the death penalty at the Supreme Court according to a report in the Columbus Dispatch. More details appeared in the National Law Journal.
- Essay of the Week (with videos): A look at the youth worship phenomenon and its potential alternatives.
- Another Must-Read: Six things to consider to ensure we get evangelism right.
- According to Danielle Shroyer, author of Original Blessing: Putting Sin in its Rightful Place, Jesus didn’t believe in original sin and neither did the early church. An interview with the author.
- While many churches face declining numbers, Iglesia Ni Cristo is in a major growth spurt with their newest location, a former Calvary Chapel opening in Silicon Valley. (40 Local churches in Northern California alone.)
- Phil Vischer Podcast guest this week is Brandon O’Brien, author of Paul Behaving Badly. (Interview starts about halfway through, though the banter segment is enhanced by the live audience.)
- Quotation of the Week: “No Sunday School teacher ever explained that the young girl Esther was being trafficked for sex when she was rounded up with other young virgins for the king’s harem.” This is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
- A new law in Nigeria would require pastors to step down after 20 years or on reaching age 70. In Evangelicalism, 90% of pastors would be affected.
- Russell Moore kicks of Signposts, a new podcast. The 13-minute first episode explains the podcast name which is different than the “end-times almanac” you might be assuming.
- Past an awkward headline, this article challenges the local church to set priorities in 2017 while the world rapidly changes.
- Getting Church History Right: Reformation 500 isn’t necessarily the 500th anniversary of Protestantism.
- Doctrinal Article of the Week: Ten things you should know about sanctification.
- Theologian and author John Sailhamer has died. (He’s featured in tributes all this week at Internet Monk.)
- Bishop Eddie Long has died.
- “Some glad morning when this life is over…” How Christianity has shifted from what the early church believed about the afterlife.
- Why take the oath of office to be the President with a hand on one Bible when you can have your hands on two?
- Annual Report: Though I’m of a different tribe, it’s interesting to read the various issues The Catholic League tackled in 2016.
- Leadership Lessons: Shepherds need shepherding. A look at accountability.
- At age 82, this former priest is now a Spanish Bible translator.
- Worship Workshop (1): “I yearn for a model that resists the evolutionary cycles of culture. A model that doesn’t borrow music from any culture, but instead creates transcendent music suitable to the full range of more-or-less constant affections reflected in the worship liturgies of the whole Bible…”
- Worship Workshop (2): Balancing creativity and simplicity when it comes to starting a new year with new ideas and new songs.
- Mormon Leaks: Insights into the salaries of the group’s upper echelon. Do you think these numbers are high or low?
- Short Devotional: Based on the song Chain Breaker.
- They like Jesus, but not Paul.
- Christianity in Africa: A few weeks ago it was a pesticide spray. Now a pastor has his congregants drinking engine fluid.
- Well, that’s a first: Youth Pastor jokes on The Tonight Show. (The comedian is developing a related series for ABC.)
- I deferred to the better writer in the family to describe this one. He came up with, “An interesting look at the implications of the creation account presented as secular culture-critiquing parody.”
- Canada’s most listened-to and most controversial religious radio guy, Drew Marshall returns to the air on Saturday at 1:00 PM EST after nearly half a year.
- A new Young Influencers List is out. (Does Brad do a ‘Where are they now’ feature?)
- Facebook Page of the Week: Not sure what to make of Christian Horror Book Stores and Google Maps can’t trace the address.
- Keeping Score: James Emery White checks out 2016 predictions that didn’t come true.
…and yes it’s true. Skye Jethani was part of the cast of Puzzle Place. We offer a screenshot as proof.
Hey readers! I want to be honest; I put some extra hours into this one, both in seeking out some things you might not read elsewhere — I only check other aggregators after this is mostly wrapped up — and including some longer quotations so you get the main idea of each item. So please help spread the word by sharing this link to today’s list with your contacts. http://wp.me/pfdhA-8Fg
- From High Society to the Mission Field: Raised as a debutante in Toronto’s upscale Rosedale district she rejected that life to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Canada’s national newspaper, The National Post gives extensive space to Ruth Thompson’s story. “Fifty years ago they didn’t wear clothes. Now they call Thomson on their cellphones.”
- Essay of the Week: The above item. Hands down.
- Women’s ministry in perspective: “I shifted in my seat at the women’s ministry event; the speaker said it again. “You are a beautiful, chosen, special woman of God. There is no one in the world like you!” …Again, it’s not a bad message. But it’s theologically deficient, and if the goal of a women’s ministry is to encourage and equip female Christians, the message has to change…When you create a culture that uses Jesus for little more than a spiritual feel-good, it’s no wonder the women it produces can’t get victory…”
- Leadership Lessons: Don’t get caught saying, “I’m too busy.”
- Grieving: “The early days of grief are a hazy, dizzying, moment by moment response to a trauma that your mind simply can’t wrap itself around. You are, what I like to call a Grief Zombie; outwardly moving but barely there… Most people understand grief as an event, not as the permanent alteration to life that it is, and so they stay up until the funeral and imagine that when the service ends, that somehow you too can move ahead.”
- Next Tuesday (17th) morning Shane Claiborne and other Christian leaders will hold a 2-hour rally in front of the Supreme Court calling for the end of the death penalty.
- A 155-year old Baptist church in the heart of Washington, DC has appointed a gay couple as co-pastors. Both women have worked previously in chaplaincy, but buried deep in the article is the mention that one was an associate minister at Unitarian Universalist Church. The church — which bears the name Calvary Baptist — actually cut ties to the SBC in 2012.
- The faith of President Obama, compiled entirely in his own words.
- This just in: Theology students at the University of Glasgow are being given trigger warnings in the course ‘Creation to Apocalypse: Introduction to the Bible (Level 1)’and in order “to protect the mental of health of vulnerable students” it appears that “Theology students are being warned in advance that they may see distressing images while studying the crucifixion of Jesus, giving them a chance to leave if they fear being upset.”(They’re right of course; I think a man dies in that scene. We can’t have that.) …
- …Here’s a response to that nonsense.
- Things like this only serve to set back Christian-Jewish relations in Israel. Fortunately most key comments on this story aimed at peacemaking.
- An Italian security official warns that the potential for a terrorist attack on The Vatican is very real.
- America is suffering from a religious literacy problem starting with “media powerhouses” who “don’t quite get religion.” “Christians, in general, are ignorant about their own tradition. Half of Protestants can’t identify Martin Luther; half of Catholics don’t understand the doctrine of transubstantiation…Religious illiteracy is not a liberal problem. It is a function of two key factors: insularity and lack of education.”
- What if? (I thought I’d keep that teaser simple.)
- Suicide Prevention: The son of author Anne Lamott shares surviving another day in an article, the very title of which ought to arrest you in your tracks. “How I managed not to kill myself today.”
- A Theology of Sarcasm: The wife of a prominent Christian apologist provides a Biblical bibliography justifying the use of sarcasm. (Though some of the selections might be better described as hyperbole.)
- Astronomers at Calvin College have confirmed two stars that will collide and merge in 2022, forming a binary star and producing a red nova. No doubt as with the blood moon, this will produce a new crop of prophecy books.
- The Singles Section: Looks? Personality? Both? An incredibly honest reflection on the attraction factor when hoping to fall in love.
- Parenting Place: If your children get Highlights magazine and your values are conservative, you might want to check out the February issue before the kids do…
- …Somewhat related Devotional of the Week: An adult-portioned answer that begins with the kids asking what happens to their pet when it dies.
- Having Carrie Underwood sing on the first day of the Catalyst Conference probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but the backlash has been considerable.
- He moderated a County Quiz Bowl where “public school children did better on the religion, specifically Bible, questions than they did on the geologic time-table questions that had their basis in the theory of evolution. So much for many people’s claims that public schools are brain-washing our children against the Bible.” See how do you fare — without scrolling down — on 30 statements which may or may not be from the Bible.
- I’d love to live in a world where announcements like this did not exist.
- Canada Corner: The longest-running religion editor of The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper, Tom Harpur has died. His 2004 book, The Pagan Christ “digs deep into the origins of Christianity, and argues that there is no evidence that historical Jesus existed” and that “the story of Jesus was largely based on an Egyptian man-god and was simply an allegorical tale, meant to act as a guidepost for those striving to be better people.” The newspaper’s obituary quotes him as saying, “I’m not really a religious guy, you know.”
- ♫ Worship Songs: We’ve re-formatted a few things at Christianity 201 and if you’re wishing to discover or re-discover some worship songs with substance without wading through YouTube’s search system, click this link.
- The Family Squabbles of Jesus: Jesus and his mother didn’t always agree.
- Listicle of the Week: The top searched verse on You Version in 88 countries; or if you prefer, this format.
- Quotation of the Week: (a friend spotted this on Facebook) “We’re not here to fix this mess, nor to join it, or to befriend it. We’re here so if anyone gets tired of it, they can know there is an alternative to it.”
- ♫ Video of the Week: We couldn’t decide among several here from a band that I believe is set for greater recognition in North America in 2017. We’re talking about Rivers and Robots. (Yes, that’s the name.) Pick a song…
- …Unless we’re talking about the uniqueness of the video itself. Then this international production by Rivers and Robots wins. Watch Lift Up My Eyes. A couple of times…
- …or their most-watched Shepherd of My Soul.
- ♫ Music Memories: Thumbing through the 1996-97 Tooth and Nail Records catalog is like opening a time capsule according to one person whose band was on their roster. He describes it as a time when music mattered.
- I didn’t watch all 77 minutes of this, but street preaching is definitely one of the extreme sports of ministry.
- The world we live in: Two new spokespeople representing major makeup companies are not women.
- Time-waster you’ll probably click: 13 Cats Resting on the Promises of God.
- Finally, I’m happy that the editors at Baptist Press know what makes for a good religion news story.
Images: Hallmark store (upper); Baptist Memes (lower)
A new year brings a new list… Each one of these takes on a life of its own and differs from the week previous in terms of the type of links and the overall tone of the collection as a whole.
- Nailed it: “So why are Andy’s sermons being so quickly misunderstood? Because he’s speaking to an audience that most preachers never speak to.” Precisely.
- A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir breaks ranks following the choir’s decision to again perform at a Presidential inauguration. NPR transcript. Washington Post Article…
- …Also at WP, the founder of Facebook says he is no longer an atheist.
- Coordinating Your Calendar: A list of the Top 30 Christian Conferences in North America. (Ignore the URL, this list is current.)
- Bible Study/Devotional of the Week: A clear winner this week is this list by Zach Kincade of 10 instances where clothing (threads) is tied to the theme of deliverance. (A great idea; well written.)
- Despite the usual banter and the usual ukulele, this week’s 65-minute Phil Vischer Podcast offers at least 55 minutes of solid discussion with Joshua Ryan Butler on the doctrine of hell.
- Essay of the Week: As you hang that new planning calendar in the church office, reject the notion that this year has to look like last year. (Nine must-consider questions for church leaders and department heads.)
- Catholic Corner: “From the point of view of the evangelical church, Catholics can already take part in the Lord’s Supper, inviting all baptized Christians to participate. The Catholic Church, however, does not allow her faithful to take part in the Protestant Lord’s Supper…” There might now be a movement to change that. (Reminds me of this story link from a year ago.)
- Caleb Kaltenbach’s story about coming out as straight to his gay parents, Messy Grace is being released as a DVD curriculum.
- Get Religion takes stock of a New York Times interview with Bart Campolo.
- Pastor Place: One bestselling book on the nature of church ministry begat another; a long-awaited sequel to The Trellis and the Vine…
- …In other book news, how can you not buy this?
• A Widower Catholic priest tries to reconcile with his gay daughter.
• A Rabbi confronts his abusive son-in-law
• A Muslim professor tries to stop a young girl from joining ISIS and
• An Episcopalian minister encounters naked nuns and Lutheran-Rastafarians
The author of The Divinity School is Dr. Michael Bird.
- The end of Centuriøn. After 15 years Frank Turk, one of The Pyromaniacs team, resigns from and also repents of blogging.
- Word of the Week: “Spectatoritis.” A call for more participation in the life of the church.
- Opening Line of the Week: “Star Wars is—or should be—a religious franchise. The Jedi are a monastic order trained in contemplating and manipulating an omnipresent Force, and in fighting against those who use the Force for evil ends.” A look at The Force in the movie Rogue One.
- Do you know a Christian woman or a young girl pursuing a career in Engineering, Chemstry, Physics, etc.? Check out the Christian Women in Science Facebook page.
- Katelyn Beaty tops Relevant’s list of 7 [Women] Leaders to Follow in 2017.
- Listicle of the Week: A response to five popular misconceptions about the Seventh Day Adventists.
- I missed the Clayton Jennings story last month, but got curious why his book release had been canceled.
- One of four men, two of which were pastors, on trial for committing security crimes against Sudan has been released from prison for lack of evidence, but the other three face hanging.
- Leadership Lessons: Small churches need to stop being guilty of the sin of comparison. (And envy. And jealousy.)
- This is like those entertainment lists they run featuring all the actors, and musicians who died in 2016, except that this list is Christian scholars and academics.
- Parenting Place: From November, 3 things parents can do to keep their kids from sexting.
- “In early December, Pope Francis compared the ‘sin’ of spreading disinformation and scandal to coprophilia, or arousal from excrement, and the sin of consuming it to people’s tendency toward coprophagia, or eating excrement.” Here’s seven other weird things the Pope said in 2016.
- An ocean view home in Newport Beach, CA tied to the Trinity Broadcasting Network and listed back in September has now sold for $5.15 million. Another TBN-related property is still on sale for $4.6 million.
- Church attendance sagging? You can always market your place of worship as a camping destination.
- ♫ Song of the Week: One Christian band that charts high in the UK but never took hold in the U.S. to the same extent is Soul Survivor. Their latest, #13 on the Christian radio top 20 there is Never Gonna Stop Singin‘. ♫
- ♫ “Sorta CCM” Music Video of the Week: Changes by Mutemath. ♫
- Canada Corner: Recently re-launched website, Convivium describes itself as Canada’s premiere hub for faith in common life.
- Tweet of the Week: Friendly Public Service Announcement to students at the Passion Conference: If you spent more money on your ticket than you tithed to your church all year…that’s not a good thing…
- …In other Twitter news, if it’s not adult coloring books, apparently American Christians enjoy reading joke books with two titles in the 2016 top dozen.
- Doug Wilson kicks off the year with an exegesis of John Lennon’s Imagine. (Which is a great occasion to re-listen to this response.)
- Flashback Link (one year ago right here at Thinking Out Loud): The penchant of some churches to refer to the pastor’s wife as ‘The First Lady.’
- Finally, this Catholic priest seemed determined to outdo all other priest atrocities: He pimped out 15 women, took pornographic videos and took his female companions to a nudist/swingers resort. Events took place “at all hours” and often on church property.
I thought we’d end the year the way we did in 2013 with some 4th-Quarter highlights from everyone’s favorite (well, 93,000 people anyway*) anon account on Twitter, Church Curmudgeon:
- Between Pentecostal and Baptist worship styles, I prefer Baptist, hands down.
- If the complementarians are right, Santa’s wife is a subordinate Claus.
- The youth pastor just got back from 40 days in the wilderness.
By “days,” I mean minutes. By “wilderness,” not looking at his phone.
- Pastor’s on a prayer retreat this week. The secretary has been telling everyone, “He went to be with the Lord Monday.”
- Asked the worship leader if he knew any hymns more than 20 years old.
He started singing, “If you like to talk to tomatoes…”
- Our auctioneer, Mr. Long, perused the last known flannel-graph showing the cosmic effects of the fall as he ascertained its value. Long weighed the world, in sin and error pining, till he appraised what the sole felt was worth.
- Why did the worship leader cross the river alone?
He was the only one who knew the bridge.
- You can make anything sound grave and important by adding the phrase, “for such a time as this.”
- Looking back, Linus must have converted from pagan pumpkin worship after Halloween, and began spreading the gospel by Christmas.
- The worship leader was complaining about how our church hates change.
To help him understand, we changed worship leaders.
- The difference between the Holy Spirit and the church wifi is that everybody screams if the wifi is gone.
- Our pastor is now nearing his lifelong goal of alliterating his sermon points twice through the alphabet in one year.
- What do you call it when someone gets saved just before the end of a Baptist’s sermon?
A two-point conversion.
- Our church is split between antinomians and legalists. Today’s closing song was “Trust or Obey.”
- My Monday’s built on nothing less
Than coffee pouring from the press
- Made a Liszt.
Be Bach soon.
Hope you can Handel it.
- At the beginning of the year, pastor set a goal of funding one new church plant. If the Christmas tree counts, we did it.
- There was an ascetic named Arius
Whose view of the Son was precarious.
They met at Nicea
To mull this idea
duly pronounced it nefarious.
- Every head was bowed, and every eye was closed, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t see you at the prayer meeting.
* And now 41,000 on Facebook, too.
For our graphics this week, we pay a return visit to TwentyOneHundred Productions, the media division of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Know a young person with a flair for graphic art or video? Have them consider an internship at 2100.
- Essay of the Week: As the saying goes, “Your mileage may vary;” so while this article on avoiding potentially abusive churches finds us coming in on the middle of a much larger conversation with some people who have been badly hurt or have concerns about very specific types of churches, you can extrapolate some general principles here on doing some basic research before choosing a new church.
- Testimony of the Week: Seriously, read this. A former young earth creationist chronicles his journey to atheism and then to a decided belief in God the creator. (Note: This is the book to which he refers: God, The Evidence.)
- A black Southern Baptist pastors pleads with the SBC to halt the move to “lynch” ERLC head Dr. Russell Moore.
- ♫ Praise Charts’ Top 100 modern worship songs of 2016. (The one you think is #1 is actually #2.)
- Queen Elizabeth II was very forthright about her faith in this year’s Christmas message.
- Future News? If a certain President Elect goes ahead with his deportation plans, some churches may buck the system by serving as sanctuaries.
- In the wake of the Berlin attack on the Christmas Market: “Every church needs to have a security team and a security plan in place… for every Sunday and every public service. When I went to seminary 40 years ago, I never heard a word about church security. But times have changed. No church is too small to be attacked.”
- Apologetics Alley: Three major apologists converge in reaction to the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year, ‘Post-truth.’
- It continues…condemning a movie — The Shack — nobody has seen: “If the film is a faithful portrayal of the events and the theology of the book, then every Christian should be gravely alarmed at the further advance of beliefs that smear the evangelical understanding of the truth of the Bible.” (Or it might get people thinking, speaking with their Christian friends, and looking into what the Bible actually says.)
- Provocative Title of the Week: Eros and Dorthy Day. The founder of the Catholic Worker Movement once told someone “that there was no point in being a pacifist if his sex life was disordered.”
- Dialing for Doctrine: Was Jesus a Pacifist?
- One more time: Another look at churches which cancelled Christmas Day services this past Sunday.
- It amazes me how people can pick and choose and worse assume they know what Andy Stanley was saying and assume they understand his audience better than he does. All a video like this one does is cause further fracturing of the body of Christ…
- …Resulting in all the heat generated over this making the pages of the Washington Post. I watched the series. In its entirety. I stand with Andy. I understand his intention. I know who he is trying to reach. Nonetheless, conservatives and fundamentalists would rather paint a big target on his back. Enough already, people.
- Book Blurb of the Week: “Reformed Christians have inherited a vast mansion, but many of them only live in two rooms, reading John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards on repeat, while the rest of the house lies waiting for someone to discover its treasures.” Publisher marketing on IVP’s Saving Calvinism.
- Cliff Richard has received an apology from the BBC for distress suffered over reporting of alleged sex offenses after the case was dropped.
- Watching changes in the wider culture: “A 9-year-old boy who considers himself female is featured on the cover of the January 2017 National Geographic.” But the article goes on to say that the newsstand edition has a different cover. A spokesman from Focus on the Family is quoted: “Nearly all pre-adolescent kids who are ‘gender dysphoric’ or confused about their gender revert back to their biological sex by puberty…”
- Sermon Video Teaser: Greg Boyd flashes back to a Summer 2014 sermon with a teaser that undoes the bridge to “Blessed Be the Name.“
- I almost didn’t include this. I had high hopes for this Eric Metaxas Show reveal with the author of the Church Curmudgeon Twitter account. But after two segments I felt that what works in print doesn’t work on radio, and that Metaxas was more interested in promoting donations to his pet charity.
- Rather Ominous Quotation of the Week: “[T]he Church of England is currently in a position where it lacks the deep theological coherence to make a decision together on common terms or even with shared points of theological reference.” Better this one: “The idea that churches cannot do mission unless they align with the values of the culture around them on key issues does not have any theological, historical or practical foundation.”
- Buried Treasure: From May, 2014, John Walton at Asbury on reading Genesis through the lens of people in the ancient world. 90 minute lecture video.
- Charismatic Corner: Regarding the nine power gifts of I Corinthians, four wrong concepts are circulating about who gets what.
- Joyce Meyer’s study Bible is now named Battlefield of the Mind Bible and updates to the 2015 version of the Amplified Bible text while containing previously unpublished material.
- Video of the Week: I always enjoy watching street ministry encounters like this one, though sometimes they seem formulaic. (And the tag ending is waaaay too smug.)
- Reading Narnia in the right order: A call for returning to the order in which they were published.
- Canada is now weeks away from legalized marijuana but still lacks a comprehensive program for enforcing road safety vis a vis impaired drivers.
- Finally, ICYMI, start the new year off by sponsoring someone in need at Millennial International.