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.
Our graphics this week are from The Babylon Bee’s Top 10 Christian Books of 2016. Click either image to read in full.
- Unthinkable: Because of a move toward Hindu nationalism, 145,000 Compassion sponsored kids in India could lose support in weeks.
- Visited: Diplomats from Canada this week paid a rare visit to Hyeon Soo Lim, who served at one of the largest churches in Canada, and was sentenced to hard labor for life in December 2015. He is the only Western citizen known to be held currently in North Korea.
- Most talked about: The New Yorker’s 14-minute video documentary on pastor and author Rob Bell.
- More on the four students who walked out of a chapel service where the guest speaker urged that Calvinism not be the default doctrine for the SBC.
- Culture, lifestyle and faith: An advertorial featuring highlights of the new 240-page Barna Trends 2017 report.
- A different approach: One of the options to click on this page is for those who are not remotely curious about Jesus. #realistic
- Personally, I think Russell Moore is one of the SBC’s best assets, but he wouldn’t toe the party line leading to the November election…
- …Other SBC-ers identify with and support Moore.
- Your Theological Term of the Week: Social trinitarianism “relational and social metaphors for understanding the Trinitarian life of God.”
- Essay of the Week: “The nation needs a moral compass. Non-Christians do not want the nation to have a moral compass. That is the real battle Christians must pray about.”
- Devotional of the Week: Aiming higher than Doobie Brothers theology.
- Inside the family life of Unchurched Harry or Unchurched Mary: Ten things you need to know about the very people you’re striving to reach.
- Worship Workshop: Obviously, your team rehearses the songs. But do they rehearse the transitions between pieces?
- Sometimes there are things we don’t want to include here, but we think readers deserve to know such as:
- One Sentence Stunner: “…in this passage men are called to model Christ by doing women’s work.” Or, “Paul is subverting male privilege in the home and church.”
- Catholic Corner: A disturbing increase in suicides among Irish priests.
- It’s called “Donor Illusion,” and this time it’s not K-LOVE, but WAY-FM claiming your donation will help feed a child who would have been fed anyway.
- Christian Cinema has again posted their Top 100 Christian DVDs for the year. To see the covers for all 100 movies, scroll down the page.
- Dear Christian Novelists and Publishers: A CT judge for Christian fiction sets out in 5 pages how you can write 2017’s Novel of the Year.
- Your church might already have a giant parking lot, so why not consider doing a car show (and making it the best)?
- Nadia Bolz-Weber kicked off Advent with a sermon appropriate for people who feel the world is on the brink. (Choose between 12-minute audio, text or both.)
- Reinventing the wooden wheel: Just in time for year-end, the King James Bible 2016.
- On our sister blog, Christianity 201 last week, a series of three original posts on three keywords in The Lord’s Prayer. (Scroll down to the bottom to read them in original order.)
- Video of the Week: He Came Down, the Christmas story performed by a group of children with Down Syndrome. (Click here to download the full script.)
- Evangelism Effort: A Charismatic church in the north of Sweden is planning to cooperate with an unnamed organization to drop thousands of electronic Bibles into Iraq by drones.
- ♫ Issac Watts “may have been among the first composers of contemporary Christian music—contemporary for the late 1600s, that is.” His descending C-major scale sounds bright and lively to us, but back then even more so, as it stood in contrast to “the chanted church music of the day [he found] uninspiring and ponderous.”
- According to a guest on The Jim Bakker Show, a group of rabbis “have revealed that Trump may be the messiah, or a harbinger to the arrival of the messiah akin to John the Baptist.”
- KidMin Korner: Are they not paying attention? 5 Ways to keep children focused… Also at Church Leaders…
- …Parenting Place: A popular Christian blogger offers 9 Things I Will Teach My Children About God…
- …Parenting Place (2): Your kids may not be a cold case detective like J. Warner Wallace, but they can join his growing group of cadets and learn apologetics in the process.
- As a public service, we bring you: How to Talk to a Trump Evangelical at Christmas. (It’s a serious article. It’s ridiculous that it’s needed.)
- After LifeWay sold its downtown Nashville property, the 17-foot Billy Graham statue has a new home in North Carolina.
- Finally, the five types of people you meet in a Christian high school.
The return of the Christmas List Lynx
So each week we track which links you liked the most. And then there was last week. I’d never seen stats like this, but our last 2 or 3 items, which were all from the same location — MichaelEPierce.com — drew a record amount of traffic. (There’s a new one this week.) How did we never hear of this site before? Anyway, the picture above is from his 2015 list of great Christmas gift ideas. Click the image. You may also click the image at the bottom which is from Arthur Sido.
- Emotional Energy Expended: The debate over whether or not to cancel services on Christmas Day this year (because it’s a Sunday) gets support from someone whose doors will be locked on December 25th.
- America’s first man in space, John Glenn died last week. He said, “To look up and out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible. It just strengthens my faith.”
- Charity: Is this true where you live? The Vancouver Sun notes that people donate canned goods to local food banks which are capable of buying them at much reduced prices than the donors paid.
- Scot McKnight shares Walter Brueggemann’s six theses on money, possessions and the economy.
- Dialing for Doctrine: A must-read look at the Evangelical penchant for adult baptism over infant baptism. “I think what’s really going on is a kind of alternative sacramentalism, where a dramatic conversion experience, rather than baptism, is the rite of Christian initiation… Infant baptism runs counter to this entire system.”
- There’s nothing you can do to ward off Alzheimer’s Disease if the assault is inevitable, but there is one thing Christians can do to prepare.
- Leadership Lessons: An NAE podcast on setting a firm foundation for your church pastor search process.
- Quotation of the Week: “Contemporary worship is pornographic, instead of symbolic.“
- Essay of the Week: A trip to the circus, a pondering on incarnation, and the difference one tiny letter makes between two words.
- Book Excerpt of the Week: Judah Smith’s How’s Your Soul? (Thomas Nelson) “That is why this is probably the scariest book I’ve written to date… Writing about inner health, emotional stability, and other soul-related topics is a vulnerable business… How can I speak and teach on the subject when my own soul is bent and flawed?”
- Sermon of the Week: There’s so much going on when A.J. Sherrill preaches at Mars Hill Grand Rapids that if this doesn’t get you thinking, your brain is broken.
- From my vantage point, it seemed like more was revealed about the personal faith of Hillary Clinton after the election than before. In an interview with Religion News Service, she spoke about starting the Methodist ordination process.
- Canada Corner: A 44-year old teacher at a posh private school in British Columbia was fired last month for expressing his disapproval of abortion to his Grade 12 law class. “For example, he told them, many people might roll through a stop sign on a deserted country road, deeming it morally acceptable, even if unlawful. In other words, he said, in a pluralistic democracy, there’s often ‘a difference between people’s private morality and the law. I find abortion to be wrong,’ he said, as another illustration of this gap, ‘but the law is often different from our personal opinions.’ That was it, the teacher said. ‘It was just a quick exemplar, nothing more. And we moved on.'” Earlier in the year teachers were trained that “no one is 100-per-cent male or female…” (Don’t miss the reader comments, either.)
- Worship Workshop: Former Mars Hill and Willow Creek worship pastor Aaron Niequist joins Phil Vischer, Skye Jethani and Christian Taylor to talk about seeking a bigger vision of what worship can be than just God, me and God and me…
- …Learn more about Aaron’s role in a Willow Creek-based community called The Practice.
- Academic Alley: The story of 12th Century’s Christina of Markyate nearly got lost in a London house fire in the 1730s, but her story gives us a window in the role of women in medieval society.
- Apologetics Avenue: Five reasons why you should give some time to formally studying apologetics. (You can even say the professor personally invited you!)
- Parenting Place (1): Walking your teen through a time when they think God seems far away. Resisting the urge to make it seem better or to make it go away.
- Parenting Place (2): While correlation is not causation, the kids who hold on to virginity until their wedding are likely to place well in a variety of other lifestyle categories which are indicators of risks to health.
- 30-Second Devo: Y’all gonna enjoy this one.
- ♫ Audio Song of the Week: Josh Garrels is back with a Christmas album, Then Light Came Down. Enjoy the song, Gloria.
- ♫ Christmas Novelty Tune of the Week: Brant Hansen’s You’re Doing Christmas Better Than Me, recorded live on The Brant Hansen Show.
- ♫ Christmas Song of the
Week Year: Christy Nockels’ Wrap This One Up which clocks in at 6 wonderful minutes!
- It’s The Gospel Coalition’s first ever Book Awards! (Reformers like to read and write books. Who knew?) Of the nine books selected, only three were published by Crossway. #shocking
- This just in: Donald Trump may be the Messiah who Israel has waited for. Or his forerunner. You heard it here first. Well, actually on The Jim Bakker Show.
- Is Santa Claus real? Nope. Should we go to the local shopping mall where kids are lining up to sit on Santa’s knee and tell them that their parents are lying to them?
- Finally, since you clicked ferociously when we introduced you to Matthew Pierce last week, here are some things singles can pray about their future spouse.
By the way, in case you’re wondering where it is, we’re still waiting with bated breath for the new list of the Worst Christian Book Covers of 2016 from Englewood Review of Books. Perhaps one of the following from their summer list (click the image) will win the prize.
Sidebar from Christianity Today. See first item in today’s link list.
Some extended quotes from this week’s linked articles because even if you don’t click, I didn’t want you to miss the substance; each one of which could have been a single blog focus here.
- Jen Wilkin, speaking to Christianity Today notes that “while most evangelical women know their Tim Kellers from their Rick Warrens, male pastors aren’t expected to parse female teachers. The bookshelves in their offices contain no books by contemporary female authors, and their sermons typically do not reference female voices, other than the usual suspects of Elisabeth Elliot or Corrie ten Boom—both dead, for the record.” The article concerns the popularity of Jen Hatmaker and other women speakers, see CT sidebar at right for her social media popularity.
- ♫ It was only later I noticed this was a 2014 article, but the songs were so interesting I have to share it. 20 alternative Christmas songs, many of which are covers of more familiar carols. Warning: Don’t try to copy/paste the titles into YouTube, this site has the most annoying pop-ups I’ve ever encountered.
- Playing Second Fiddle: “In nearly every great church, nonprofit, ministry, or business, there’s a vital #2 person working, and without them, those organizations would struggle.” What it takes to be #2.
- Now it’s no longer just gay wedding cakes, it’s wedding invitations. Two young Christian women in Pheonix face the prospect of prison.
- Quotation of the Week: Paige Patterson ends a chapel service at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, of which he is the President. “I know there are a fair number of you who think you are a Calvinist, but understand there is a denomination which represents that view, It’s called Presbyterian. …I honor their position, but if I held that position I would become a Presbyterian. I would not remain a Baptist, because the Baptist position from the time of the Anabaptists, really from the time of the New Testament, is very different… If we are not careful a myriad of related beliefs and practices will enter our camp, hidden within the Trojan Horse of Calvinism.”
- Planning Christmas Eve Statistic: “25% of all your visitors for the entire year will come (or not come) on Christmas Eve.” 3 things to consider when planning that service.
- Bye, Bye Bibles: “…While Marriott International supplies a Bible and Book of Mormon in every other hotel in their franchise, their millennial-geared Moxy and Edition hotels will be free of religious literature. ‘It’s because the religious books don’t fit the personality of the brands.'”
- Is God sovereign, even in the midst of the recent US elections? People looked to the Bible to find out. So this link is complicated. First, click on this one to get accustomed to how to read the 3-year comparison of searches at BibleGateway.com. (Give yourself a minute to figure out how the graphs work.) Second, click on this one and check out the first image to see the searches for sovereign skyrocket in November. (Yeah, they might have formatted that graph better, but who are we to say?) Scroll further down to see the top words searched in English and Spanish, and let your mouse hover over a word to compare the two languages’ rankings.
- ‘And then, when He had given thanks, He took the lamb and killed it.’ That verse isn’t in your Bible. He took bread, “because he wanted it to be clear to us that there was no more shedding of blood required… For all the symbolism of the lamb already established, there was a greater, more significant over-riding factor. And that had to be made clear: No more sacrifice, no more death for sins.”
- The “Cultural Commute” or “what it means to be an iPhone pastor in a typewriter church.”
- This article on reading older books begins with a quote from C.S. Lewis; “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.”
- Although it takes a restorative therapeutic approach that some may bristle at, it’s still relatively rare to see articles on ministering to transgenderism.
- Window into Another World: I felt like I was coming in on the middle of a movie reading this short article about ministering to the children of hillbilly families.
- Is Kellogg’s the target of the next major conservative Evangelical boycott? (What? No more Eggo? No more Pop Tarts?)
- We are not the enemy. Such is the spirit of this article aiming to show that Calvinists and Classical Arminians are more related than you think. “I like to say that they are theological first cousins, both residing under the ‘Reformed’ umbrella.”
- There’s a difference between giving your testimony and sharing your faith. The latter must begin with the resurrection.
- Preaching Place:
- It’s deja vu all over again: With the release of the movie in March, 2017, all the venom that was poured out over The Shack book is now being recycled as condemnation for the movie. This link is but one of many.
- Announcer: “And now, we bring you the first episode of Perry Noble, Church Growth Consultant.”
- He writes what many of us are feeling: The Christian liturgical calendar is growing on us.
- Christian giftware supplier Abbey Press is closing.
- ♫ The Voice is the name of a Bible version as well as a TV show. Relating to the latter, after Monday night I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from Christian Cuevas.
- Women in the Church: “I didn’t really believe I could exercise any other gift in my local church beyond nursery duty and craft projects. Teach? Lead? Those things weren’t on my radar screen at the time, and they certainly weren’t on the radar screen of my own church leaders. When I did find my way into a seminary classroom more than a decade later, this Methodist minister was one of the first people I contacted to thank…”
- ♫ Popular Christian songwriter Darlene Zschech (Shout to the Lord) has re-signed with Integrity Music.
- Phil Vischer and Christian Taylor talk to Josh Lindsay about movies which have redemptive themes or spiritual analogies.
- Your Word of the Week — Just in time for the holidays — Orthorexia…
- …Also, with December 25th close at hand: “Back in the days when I was a fire-breathing Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher, I encouraged church members to use the Christmas holiday as an opportunity to witness to their unsaved relatives. Hell is hot and death is certain, I told congregants. Dare we ignore their plight? Remember, the Bible says that if we fail to warn our wicked relatives of their wicked ways and they die and go to hell, their blood will be on our hands. Despite my attempts to guilt church members into evangelizing their relatives, not one member reported successfully doing so.” From there, the language gets stronger.
- Bee of the Week: A mandatory heresy warning before each TBN broadcast.
- Finally, Matthew Pierce on being a Church kid in 1997 …
- …or better yet, Michael’s investigation of bizarre Christian websites including — no really, we have to give this one its own link…
- …including Rebecca St. James Transvestigation, which is actually just a YouTube link. Michael describes it: “The intersection of trans issues and theology is a fascinating, fertile ground that is ripe for discussion. A topic that begs further scholarly debate. This is not that. This is an 8-minute rant that questions whether Christian singer Rebecca St. James is a man in disguise, sent from the Illuminati…The woman behind this video is the Apostle Laura Lee, AKA Laura Lee Dykstra…Exploring her channel is exhausting. I did, and I will summarize it for you: She claims that Kenneth Copeland might be Tom Hanks, and that Obama is both Stephen Colbert and also a woman.” (Underlining added. Just in case you doubted what you were reading.)
Canada Corner and Catholic Corner along with Leadership Lessons and Essay of the Week return next week. Maybe. There were several articles that crossed all these categories for your consideration. Have your suggestions to me by 9:00 PM Monday if at all possible.
We’re not part of the online echo chamber. You’ll find links here you won’t find elsewhere, plus a few we stole outright. The piece of wall decor above is from P. Graham Dunn; you can order it by clicking the image.
- Article of the Week: Seven ways we can rethink and repair the mess that takes place with short-term mission trips.
- A major shakeup is happening in the 1,700 Calvary Chapels involving who is in charge of the church network and who owns the name and logo. Check out the story and the comments.
- Perry Noble: “After much thought, prayer and seeking godly and wise counsel I believe The Lord has clearly shown me I am supposed to step into church and business consulting. …Some may argue the church is not a business – I would disagree.”
- Parenting Place: Over Thanksgiving turkey and potatoes the writer tells his kids, “when I was a child, it wasn’t a moral good to be famous. You could just grow up and get a good job and have a family and that was counted as a success.” They aren’t impressed because, “you had to live with that [annoying dial-up] sound to get an email.”
- Genesis 1:1 revisited: “For starters, God created the heavens and the earth.” Other than the fact the project was crowd sourced, there wasn’t more information earlier this week beyond a link to this rather unique Bible translation.
- Fundraising at K-LOVE and AIR-1: No, your donations are actually not directly helping a kid get a warm coat this winter.
- Analogy of the Week: “The next time you’re talking to someone with type 1 diabetes, just remember—it’s not the same thing as type 2 diabetes. Also, the next time you’re talking to a Calvinist, remember, Calvinism is not hyper-Calvinism.”
- Catholic Corner (1): Obviously, I couldn’t take the online survey, but I enjoyed reading the questions, which are designed to show if you’re more Western Catholic or Eastern Catholic. (Someone needs to do an Evangelical equivalent of this.)
- Catholic Corner (2): A look at the formal address to God as Thou and how this impacts efforts to evangelize our culture.
- Flashback to February — Ever heard this: “The Bible doesn’t teach church membership.” Matt Chandler digs in and finds that’s not exactly the case.
- Marriage Matters: The challenge of keeping old friends you had individually and developing new friendships together as a couple.
- Concerned that things are a mess politically? Consider these words from a profile/interview with Max Lucado: “Consider the world of Mary and Joseph—a state of political crisis is what brought them to the village of Bethlehem. Chaos and uncertainty delivered them to the very village where God began His greatest work.God himself came down into the world at what Mary and Joseph must have believed its most tumultuous point.” Priorities at a pre-election piece at Shattered Magazine.
- Tyndale University College in Toronto announced an undergraduate degree in Philosophy with a concentration in apologetics.
- A former SBC leader says that Russell Moore’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is completely out of step with the SBC mainstream.
- Your Spiritual Diet: When choosing your Christian literature, skip the junk-food section. (This article was short and sweet.)
- In-House Link: I know many of you simply show up here on Wednesdays, but yesterday I posted what I believe to be one of the most important articles to appear here in a long time. 22 Ways the internet has sexualized our children.
- Just in Time for Christmas: Both the NIV and The Message family of Bibles have joined the NLT in making available attractive, value-priced, leather-like bound Thinline Bibles in various colours. Like the NLT, the new NIV editions include large print editions like this one, or this one. (The new Message editions are actually really cool. Too bad the NavPress website is useless.)
- And speaking of Bibles, this year’s ESV controversy shows that Bible translation today is just as political as when the KJV first appeared.
- Our once-per-year, obligatory John Piper link. Actually, this is a fairly balanced article on prosperity doctrine, but the headline refers to a reader’s question, not the content of what Piper says.
- Erotic Romanticism: The conversion stories of Beth Moore, Sarah Young and Ann Voskamp have the similarity of being expressed in sensual terms. (aka “bridal mysticism”)
- From Christian college to same-sex union; one woman shares her story with the New York Times.
- Behind the Scenes in Christian Radio: From network to local, Christian stations are governed by the clock; but it’s not clock you’re familiar with. (This .pdf shows a typical hour at one of the major Christian networks.)
- Video-of-the-Week: Just to mix things up a bit, a little light EDM for you; Matthew Parker’s Adventure. (He’s considered a Christian artist, but don’t look too hard for that connection in this song.)
- Bee-of-the-Week: David Crowder found a way to pick up some extra cash. (We also liked the one below; click the image for the full text.)
- Finally, in our Truth is Stranger than Fiction Department: Believing that it would bring healing people in Limpopo (in the North of South Africa) allowed a pastor to spray Doom, a toxic pesticide on them. What wasn’t in the church bulletin: “South Africans who find themselves sprayed with pesticide are advised to wash their eyes and skin immediately with water and call the Poison Information Helpline.”
The above seasonally-appropriate treatment of a VanGogh classic is by Dan Reynolds who works in a variety of media. You can learn more about owning the original or a $25 print by clicking the image or this link.
A shorter list this week as my 74% American readership is preoccupied with travel, turkey, football and what one advertiser called “Thanksgathering.”
- Essay of the Week: Describing her self as “a modern woman,” she wants to make the case for male-dominated leadership in the church including male pastors.
- Worship Workshop: Good to hear Zac Hicks guesting on Janet Mefford Today. Enjoy all 53 minutes. (He said more in the first ten minutes than many worship leaders have heard in their lifetimes.) (If you only click one link this week, click this one.)
- Yesterday was the anniversary of something. Did you remember? …
- …This writer did.
- “Rock Princess” Lacey Sturm was part of Franklin Graham’s tours a few years back. She’s just released her second book. Don’t know her? This UK Christian magazine story fills in the gaps.
- Church Clothes: “I was so embarrassed for my friend. I finally got her to go with me to church. She had no idea what we mean by ‘Sunday dress.’ You should have seen the condescending looks she got wearing her jeans. She won’t be back. I’ll probably find another church too.”
- Dialing for Doctrine: Author Andrew Farley posts his 9.5 Theses.
- At Jesus Creed, a look at Timothy Keller’s recent book and the concept of true freedom.
- Phil Vischer repackaged eight minutes of a recent podcast where Christian Taylor asks if we should still use casting lots as a means of determining God’s will.
- The Dallas Morning News knew their story needed a correction, they just weren’t sure what it was.
- Transgender Day of Remembrance: In some Episcopal churches last Sunday the service honored “transgender people killed because of their gender identity.”
- Quotation of the Week: (Not a faith-based source this week, but I couldn’t resist this.) “In truth, Americans are wedded less to democracy than to familiarity. They accept those undemocratic features of the Electoral College, and of American government in general, to which they’re accustomed. They value things as they are.”
- New Publication of the Week: First issue print copies of Ekstasis sold out quickly. Subtitle: Art meets academia. (Loved the title for the piece on p. 22)
- Canada Corner 1: A provincial by-election in the country’s most populous province saw a young, home-schooled, ultra-conservative Calvinist elected in the Niagara Falls area riding at a time the Conservative party was trying to project a more moderate image…
- Canada Corner 2: The country’s national news magazine (equivalent to Time) reports on the growth of Evangelical churches versus Mainline Protestant…
- …But don’t mistake the above as a blanket declaration that all conservative churches are growing. This article makes a few important distinctions.
- Hands up everyone who believes in ‘Guardian Angels.’ There’s a lot of extra-Biblical reference to them but, “As you compare the claims of Scripture with the claims of early Christians, one thing is certain: God’s Word is much less emphatic and dogmatic about the[ir] existence.” (This article is >2 yrs. old but always relevant.)
- I wish the client for this advertisement was someone else, but there’s no denying the good intentions of this commercial involving “a Priest and his Muslim friend.” (I think Imam is the word they’re looking for.) …
- …A better execution of this theme would be found in the Twitter/Tumblr comic strip, Keep Calm and Muslim On.
- Bee of the Week: Expensive stage effects may be hindering the harvest.
- For only $129 US you could be the owner of the Hipster Nativity Set shown below. The owner of the manger was apparently an early adopter of solar power. Click the image or this link to learn more.