Thinking Out Loud

March 21, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Probably not your grandmother’s idea of church: A series titled “Villains, Bad Guys and Minions” at Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, Florida. (Source: Museum of Idolatry)

You would have recognized St. Catherine without reading the caption if you owned a set of SaintCards trading cards. See the Kickstarter preview below.

Welcome to our first ever Springtime edition of Wednesday Connect, where all the cool get people get their Christian news and opinion pieces. (If you missed the first one last week, it’s here.) You can also stay in touch during the week here at the blog and @PaulW1lk1nson on Twitter. (Just remember the number one substitutes for the letter I.)

► We don’t usually lead off with a video, but this piece by Andrew Peterson, based on Revelation 5, is especially powerful. There’s also a story behind the song, Is He Worthy?

► Andy Savage announced yesterday his formal resignation from Highpoint Church following the revelation of his abuse of power with then youth-group-member Jules Woodson.

► Persecution Watch: “Over the last three years, the anti-Christian persecution in India has continued to increase.  Open Doors’ World Watch List ranked India as the planet’s 25th worst persecutor of Christians in 2015.  Yet in 2017 it was found to be the 15th biggest persecutor and, this year, it climbed to 11th place. An Open Doors spokesperson informs us that before Christians face overt physical violence—in 2016, 15 Christians were murdered in India and many more beaten and threatened—’there [is] often…a long process of re-converting them to Hinduism, during which they faced discrimination, social exclusion and other types of pressure.’ A chief cause of the oppression, according to Open Doors, is the resurrection of Hindu nationalism.  The Hindu nationalist holds that only Hinduism should be observed in India.”

► Word of the Week: Christaphobe.

► Box Office Surprise: “The third-biggest movie in America this weekend was I Can Only Imagine, a Christian movie that shares a title with a Christian song that first charted 17 years ago…The movie’s success was unexpected for some, with analysts calling it ‘the big surprise of the weekend,’ given that it didn’t screen for critics and wasn’t widely marketed.(Pushing A Wrinkle in Time to 4th place.)

► By the numbers: Comparing 2015 to 2018, a look at Roman Catholic approval ratings of Pope Francis in various categories.  (Some rather significant declines.)

► American History: “Senator [Theodore] Bilbo used that power to craft an amendment (to the 1938 work relief bill), which would have relocated 12 million American blacks to Africa. The amendment failed, but Bilbo would defend it for the rest of his life. And he would do so in the name of God. His ideas of white supremacy and racial separatism were both advanced by making extensive biblical references. He really seemed to think he had God on his side.” 

► Youth leaving the church? Peter Enns says, “They have lost interest in what amounts to a shallow, quasi-biblical expression of Christian faith, one that focuses far too much on the not yet.

► Conundrum: Jesus never told Caesar how to run the federal government, correct? But what about the Religious Right today? “Let’s put it this way: their entire purpose for existing is to tell Caesar what to do.” So it wasn’t something Jesus did, rather, as Jerry Falwell, Jr. puts it, “That’s our job.”

► Christian apologist John Lennox reflects on the life and writings of Stephen Hawking. (24 min. video.) 

► One of my favorite authors (Michael Frost) quotes one of my other favorite authors (Skye Jethani) and the concept of “Fear-vangelicals.” Frost sets it up uniquely, however: “In the conservative Australian state of Queensland it was recently decided to remove any reference to a person’s height or gender on their driver’s license. That’s actually no big deal to those of us from other states where height and gender hasn’t been included on our licenses. But among the ultra-conservative evangelicals in that state it was cause for moral outrage.

► Albert Mohler, Jr. writes that sometimes controversy is necessary. “The New Testament is not evasive, as it reveals serious and consequential controversies within the earliest congregations and even among Christian leaders. The Apostle Paul defended the gospel against compromise as he entered into a controversy with the Galatians. He inserted himself into a moral controversy as he wrote to the Corinthians. Paul faced down Peter over the issue of the Gentiles and circumcision. Jude warned of the perpetual challenge of defending the truth against its enemies. John warned of a church that was so lukewarm and uncommitted to the truth that it could not muster a controversy. The history of the church also reminds us of the necessity of controversy when the truth of the gospel is at stake.”

► Stating that, “It is my religious conviction that a male cannot have a husband,” the publisher of a local newspaper northwest of Lubbock, Texas scrubbed the name of a grieving son’s partner from his mother’s obituary. The story adds that, “The newspaper’s publisher, Phillip Hamilton, says he’s a bi-vocational Baptist pastor.” So believing that a same sex husband is somewhat of an impossibility, Hamilton leans on his conviction that, “A newspaper cannot knowingly or recklessly publish false information.”

► The Wheaton Thunder football player involved in a March, 2016 hazing incident is now suing Wheaton College for $50,000 in legal costs and damages.

► Notwithstanding everything we wrote about Christian radio here yesterday, here are few ‘new’ CCM songs: First, Freedom Hymn by Austin French (which was actually posted last September) and second, Christian rapper Zauntee’s God Taught Me (originally recorded last May and also available at YouTube in a Chipmunk version.)

► In your younger days did you ever want a major role in the class play only to be cast as a tree? Well, it could be worse: “‘Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus’.’ [John 12:20-21] I wish I knew more about these Greeks. They’re the bittest of bit parts, most extra of extras, to the story of Jesus. They wander into view, tell Philip they want to see Jesus… and then we never hear of them again.”

► Regular readers of Thinking Out Loud know that for years I championed the cause of Saeed Abedini when he was imprisoned in Iran for evangelism. Sadly, as this weekend headline reminds us, things have not worked out well for the pastor since his return to the U.S.

► Admittedly, it’s an advertisement, but for free you can read Barna Research’s top five American cities in three denominational categories: Catholic, Non-Mainline Protestant and Mainline Protestant.

► Not wanting to be outdone by conventional religious broadcasters, Scientology launched its own network last Monday. (At the same source, a rather cynical review of its programming.)

► Ever wonder what the choir director is doing when he’s waving his arms? This one doesn’t have a clue.  

► Kickstarter Preview: It’s actually launching at the crowdfunding site on Easter weekend. After years of distributing their baseball-card-type saint cards through Parish schools, SaintCards is getting ready to ramp things up a notch.

► Finally, you can breathe a sigh of relief: There’s been a major breakthrough in the manufacture of Mormon underwear for women.


The latest Twitter parody account had no problem approaching 1,000 followers. @DesiringDog echoes the name of John Piper’s website.


The question all our readers are asking; see if you agree with the answer!


“So where does all this Wednesday Connect stuff leave me? Do I still have a job?”

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March 14, 2018

Wednesday Connect

■ We’re back with a new name and a slightly different format which I hope will evolve and improve over the next few weeks. Your comments and suggestions are always helpful. Welcome to Wednesday Connect #001.

► The Liabilities of Christian Celebrity. This short piece was one of the most frequently mentioned article in the past few days. “This is a fickle expression of faith, one that is based not in the Gospel, but in humans who have limitations and will change. Christian celebrity culture creates in and out groups based on the collective belief in faith leaders, as opposed a universal belief in the teachings of Christ.”

► Ravi Zacharias Update: The apologist will not face any sanctions from the organization which holds his ministry credentials, The Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination and said that “available evidence does not provide a basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy.

► Question of the Week: “Here’s one way to test the teaching you’ve received and the lenses you’ve been given: were you taught that David’s sin with Bathsheba was primarily sexual? Or were you taught that his sin was the way he abused his power?” The writer goes on, “If you were taught to view David’s relationship with Bathsheba as a consensual, sexual liaison, I believe you’ve been taught to misread the story.”

Left Behind co-author Jerry Jenkins is signed up for a new series releasing this fall. “Dead Sea Rising features Nicole Berman leading an archeological dig in Jordan to search for the first concrete sign of the biblical patriarch Abraham. During the excavation, she discovers a 4,000-year-old complex that includes evidence of Abraham and his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael.” (New Testament scholar Dr. Craig Evans is “Biblical Consultant.”)

► They weren’t trying to be provocative, but…this headline: Is Déjà Vu Prophetic or Psychic Paranormal Witchcraft? “Déjà vu is mentioned nowhere in the Bible, but one thing is certain: It is not a spiritual gift. This is not the gift of prophecy. It’s not the word of knowledge…[It] does not belong in a prophetic person’s spiritual vocabulary of God expressions. At best, it’s likely a similar memory that’s buried in your subconscious. At worst, it’s witchcraft.”

► Essay of the Week: She plunged herself into an investigation of ‘prosperity gospel’ teaching. “I followed my interest in the prosperity gospel like a storm chaser, finding any megachurch within driving distance of a family vacation… I was traveling the country interviewing this movement’s celebrities for my doctoral research… I wrote the first history of the prosperity gospel from its roots in the late 19th century to its modern mix of TV preachers..” Objectivity went out the window: “No matter how many times I rolled my eyes at the creed’s outrageous certainties, I craved them just the same.” Then life intervened and it was time for a reconsideration.

► Two Men, Two Different Paths: A look at the divide in thought which occurred between Billy Graham and Charles Templeton (with whom my father worked back in the day). 

► A Sure Cure for Low Blood Pressure: Take this 20-question Bible Doctrine and Trivia (to make it an even 20) and provided you agree with the shameless bias of its creators, you’ll get 100%. One comment: “I got an 85 but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong Biblically, just means I didn’t answer all questions according to the question-posers’ doctrine.” (Me, too!) And they don’t even give you the ‘right’ answers or tell you which ones you missed. (The “About” page quotes MacArthur. That should tell you enough.)

► Parenting: That fear and dread when you find out your child is getting a ride home from someone who is not the one you had been told would be driving.

► Karl Vaters, the patron saint of small churches guests on the UnSeminary Podcast with Rich Birch. Don’t have 35 minutes? There’s also an executive summary at the link.

► Testimony Time (1): Her husband left her and then he left God.  An inside look at the pain that resulted.

► Testimony Time (2): Convinced he had the wrong god, he quit the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and built a new spiritual foundation on what the Bible teaches. “It was important because this church, with all it’s beautiful buildings and all it’s property, in the message that sounded so similar to Christianity and terminology, it taught me and continues to teach others another Christ. A Christ that cannot save. It’s a different Jesus. It’s a Jesus that doesn’t have any existence whatsoever. It’s a Christ that cannot save…” (An interesting sidebar to this article was the discovery of QuitMormon.com.)

► Trouble in Domain-land? The American Bible Society controls the domain “.bible” which means deciding who gets to use it and who is doesn’t.

► One More Time!  If your church participated in the Global Hymn Sing two weeks ago, or even if it didn’t, here’s another listen to the Getty’s arrangement of Jesus Shall Reign.

► One More Time!  If your church does modern worship, you’re probably aware of the song Reckless Love which has become very popular in a short time. A few days ago, Israel Houghton offered a fresh arrangement of the song.

► A new genre of Christian Music:  They call it Christian Ambient Music. (There’s a part two to this as well.)

► Practical: 3 Steps in spotting spiritual pride; 3 steps in undoing spiritual pride.

► At the Movies: We looked briefly at the film A Wrinkle in Time here on the weekend, inasmuch as there are similarities in the way its being received by conservative Christians and that of the movie The Shack. I never got around to linking to a review however. This one, from the National Catholic Register covers it well.

► A longtime reader here who spent 30+ in marriage and family counseling recently posted this list of seven things implicit in being defined as an emotionally healthy person.

► Sadly, stories of sexual assault involving a church staff member and a teenager are all too common. What makes this one different is that charges were laid against a father and son, both working at a Baptist Church in Texas.

► Connect to More Connections: We had a “My, how you’ve grown!” moment recently when we checked the index to all the Patheos Evangelical bloggers. But don’t stop there, you’ll find an equally large number of Patheos Progressive Christian writers. (There’s more as well: Catholic and Eastern Orthodox blogs.)

► Finally, it’s that time of year again. Take a look at the contenders in the American Jesus Madness 2018 Bracket. Jen Hatmaker versus Lifeway Stores; Eugene Peterson’s backtracking versus The National Statement; and of course, Jerry Falwell Jr. versus Shane Claiborne. Many other interesting face-offs in the first round.

Spotted this week: Stephen Colbert holding “‘Doing her best’ Barbie” in a classic Godspell T-shirt

Spotted earlier this Year: The Biebs reading his Bible sans shirt.

And so it begins. This week was a transition between what was and what this column will become. Your feedback is always welcomed. Special thanks to Martin Douglas of Flagrant Regard for three of this weeks suggested items. The graphic at the top is from the UK’s Dave Walker. Click to connect. Items below are from Sacred Sandwich and Post Secret.

 

March 7, 2018

Wednesday Link List

LINK LIST 001 — This isn’t the whole thing, but it was decidedly shorter than what would follow. The name “Wednesday Link List” wasn’t applied consistently, but the first one appeared in January, 2010. Also, to save you asking, the superhero site still works.

There are rumors that after today, the lynx is being retired to another zoo.

This is it! We made it to #400! As you can see from our retrospective screenshots, the road to the first one was paved with many different titles, not all of which are represented here.

  • Only Lasted One Day: “The Country Music Association Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the CMA, appointed former Arkansas governor and former Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee on the board of its foundation; an entity dedicated to growing and supporting music education programs across the country. Huckabee was a great choice for the position because of his love for country music and his vital contributions to music education.” 24 Hours later, powerful influencers in the CMA who happen to be pro-LGBT forced him to step down.
  • ⛪ As George Michael put it, “Ya gotta have faith.” That’s certainly true if you want to fit inside the nominally Christian United States of America. However, “[T]here can be real problems when a nation circumscribes who belongs and who doesn’t by whether they are people of faith. That type of social duress can be culturally and personally unhealthy. In fact, according to a recent study in the journal, Society and Mental Health, individuals who consider leaving a faith, but do not, tend to experience more depression than those who decide to leave.” (Also, I think Jesus said something about hypocrites.)
  • The biggest Post-Parkland Jerk Award goes to a former Utah congressman who said the survivors of the school shooting there need a belief in Jesus Christ. Okay. Except that Parkland, Florida is a dominantly Jewish community. Plus Jason Chaffetz should know better: “Chaffetz, you’re thinking … boy, that name sounds … Yup. Chaffetz’s father was Jewish. The elder Chaffetz’s first wife was Kitty Dukakis, who later married Gov. Michael Dukakis. Chaffetz’s mother had been a Christian Scientist, but became a Mormon. In college, Chaffetz himself became a Mormon.” Which is followed by this: “Chaffetz’s screed reminds us that throughout Jewish history, some of the Jews’ worst enemies have come from the ranks of apostates.
  • Best Headline: Why You Can’t Have Your Porn and #MeToo. (Sample: “The printed pornography of twenty years ago… seems very mild in comparison to mainstream porn today. The pornography industry itself has been quite forthright in explaining the way that “extreme” porn has become mainstream. And there are, for example, a variety of directors and performers on record raising concerns about the physically and psychologically punishing nature of U.S.-produced pornography.”)
  • Coincidence? Anne Graham Lotz on the date of Billy Graham’s (i.e. her father’s) death. “Feb. 21, 2018, is the day Jews focus on the Scripture reading that deals with the death of Moses.” She says, “Moses was the great liberator. He brought millions of people out of bondage, slavery, got them to the edge of the promised land, and God took him to heaven… My father was also a great liberator. He brought millions of people out of bondage to sin, and gets us to the edge of heaven, the edge of the promised land, and God has called him home.” …
  • …And thousands are petitioning for a national holiday to honor Billy Graham as is done with Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • ⚔️ Podcast of the Week: Jesus tells his disciples, “[T]he one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one.” A look at different interpretations of this passage with David Burnett on The Naked Bible podcast. 76 minutes.
  • 🎬 At the Movies: Mary Magdalene is releasing March 16th worldwide, but not in North America. The movie stars Joaquin Phoenix who I knew was brother to the late River Phoenix, but IMDb.com filled this in: “His parents, from the continental United States, were [when he was born] serving as Children of God missionaries.” Why no release here? According to Wikipedia: “It was originally scheduled to be released in the United States and Canada on November 24, 2017.In August 2017, the release was pushed back to March 30, 2018. In January 2018, it was pulled from the schedule.” Deadline.com reveals that decision was made by Harvey Weinstein’s company partly for corporate reasons and possibly to accommodate the release of another film. Here’s the most recent trailer. (For Christian moviegoers, it clears the slate for I Can Only Imagine on Mar. 16.)…
  • …In other film news, Christian Daily reports “Evangelist Billy Graham’s grandson, Will Graham, is going to play his grandfather on the big screen in the sequel to Unbroken. The follow-up movie, which is titled Unbroken: Path to Redemption, will pick up from where war hero Louis Zamperini discovered God.” The report adds that “Apparently, viewers became disappointed that the first movie did not highlight the impact of Graham’s evangelism in Zamperini’s life.”
  • 📺 Scandal on the Small Screen: Viewers of Coronation Street have voiced their disgust at a scene showing the resident vicar [i.e. Anglican priest] taking heroin in church.The character, Billy Mayhew, has been battling an addiction to painkillers. However, he fell to new lows after his drug dealer brother Lee sold him heroin.The pair ‘shot up’ in church, and as they were slumped against the pews Lee said: ‘This must be what heaven feels like.‘” (And to think some North Americans were upset about Living Biblically.)
  • ✝️ Dialing for Doctrine: When Jesus come back will he walk the streets as he did the first time? Five well-known Christian leaders share their views.
  • Leadership Lessons: Presbyterian (PCUSA) churches in Rochester, New York combine together on various initiatives and share leadership in order to stay strong in the face of overall declining numbers and church closings. The resulting church network is called Riverside Neighbors
  • Translation Troubles: You say teaching, I say tradition. The same word, paradosis, gets treated differently in different passages
  • 🇨🇦 Canada Corner: The waiting game continues in the Trinity Western University Law School case before the Supreme Court.
  • Women’s Workshop: “Many of the women in question have been interpreted based on the terminology used to describe them in our English translations. Oftentimes, terms like ‘prostitute’ or ‘adulteress’ conjure contemporary images that fail to capture the circumstances of biblical times.”
  • 🚸 KidMin: One of Canada’s largest churches is developing an original children’s curriculum, and making it available to other churches for free.
  • 📡 Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) continues its worldwide expansion and recently added “TBN Mzansi, a new African Christian channel that is available on Africa’s latest and second largest satellite service called Kwesé TV on channel 810.” TBN Africa also offers The Hillsong Channel. (For African viewers interested in religious/faith-based channels, the service already offers all these.)
  • 🎹 New Music: This is one of many I’ve discovered on Fresh Life Radio, a church-operated radio station from Fresh Life, where Levi Lusko is pastor. The artist is Rachel Jane and the song is The Mountain.
  • 🎹 New-to-Me Music: This is from the church where Perry Noble was the pastor. NewSpring; the song Love Me Like That.
  • 📖 New Books: This isn’t my normal reading, but I’m tempted. “How could this have happened? How could this sixteen-year-old, who less than a week earlier had left home on a typical Friday morning for school, now be flirting with death by overdose?” On Pins and Needles by Rick Van Warner released a few days ago from Baker Books. 
  • 🦋 New Books: A great gift for anyone who ever watched Touched by an Angel; Roma Downey, who along with her husband gave us the The Bible Series A.D. on television, has released a book about a creature she sees as a reminder of God’s presence. The book is titled Box of Butterflies.
  • Parenting Place: Eric Metaxas interviews Kirk Cameron on the occasion of Cameron’s new film, Connect, “helping parents better communicate with their children about social media and its relation to anxiety, depression and suicide.
  • 🚘 The Price is Right: Five lucky (blessed?) people at Destiny Church in Columbia, Maryland left worship services with the keys to a new car. “It was part marketing ploy — but also theology, [Pastor Stephen] Chandler said. Randomly giving away cars to people who show up to worship demonstrates God’s unbelievable, no-strings-attached goodness…”
  • Because we’re not running any graphics this week, we’ll give you this.
  • Finally, finally, finally…We end with a Matthew Pierce, but not a current one like you think we’re going to do but this one about Christian School Mascots from 2015. Or from the same year, this Brief History of Legalism. (Actually just read his whole blog.)

In the words of Ford Prefect, so long and thanks for all the fish.

February 28, 2018

Wednesday Link List

The nuns of All Hallows Convent in Ditchingham (Norfolk County, UK) are giving away their property and buildings, Dragon’s Den style, to the group making the best pitch for its use. See below


Evangelicals tend to get a bit skittish when something comes along that is unrecognizable, and The Prayer Wheel, from the 2018 book of the same name will be no exception. See below.


This is list #399. I think you know what that means. Next week, Lord willing, it’s the 400th. Will there be a 401? Will it be all financial links and be called 401k? Details to come!

  • Before you do anything else, watch this: I Can Only Imagine – A wonderfully produced six minute video tribute to Billy Graham.
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio is offering a limited time Billy Graham Tribute on channel 145 through March 4th.
  • Being a Megachurch in the 1800s: Spurgeon didn’t mess around. Despite the large numbers membership wasn’t easy to come by starting with an interview process wherein a church visitor would “‘enquire as to the moral character and repute of the candidate’ by meeting with the candidate and talking to their neighbors, co-workers, family members, former church, etc. The goal is to find out whether there’s evidence of a life consistent with their profession of faith.” (Talking to my neighbors would be interesting.) On membership lists: “Let us not keep names on our books when they are only names. Certain of the good old people like to keep them there, and cannot bear to have them removed; but when you do not know where individuals are, nor what they are, how can you count them? They are gone to America, or Australia, or to heaven, but as far as your roll is concerned they are with you still. Is this a right thing?” Read the article to learn how they kept track of who was there.
  • Who Says They Never Come Home? Perry Noble is returning to his old stomping grounds, Anderson, IN, for three live services on Easter Weekend at Bleckley Station, a newer venue seating 500 people. It’s a ticketed event and is probably sold out as you read this.
  • If you read this blog daily, you know I sometimes promote the works of people considered to be part of the Progressive Evangelical tribe. I do like what many of them are saying on certain issues. But this is a world filled with dangers! Roger Olson identifies nine signals that the Progressive Christianity being promoted is often Liberal Protestantism. It’s a checklist worth bookmarking for reference.
  • Benny Hinn tweaks his Prosperity Gospel teaching with a confession on Facebook: “We get attacked for preaching prosperity, well it’s in the Bible, but I think some have gone to the extreme with it sadly, and it’s not God’s word what is taught, and I think I’m as guilty as others. Sometimes you go a little farther than you really need to go and then God brings you back to normality and reality. When I was younger I was influenced by the preachers who taught whatever they taught. But as I’ve lived longer, I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute, you know this doesn’t fit totally with the Bible and it doesn’t fit with the reality.’ So what is prosperity? No lack. I’ve said this before.”  (‘No lack’ = ‘I shall not want.’)
  • That dream you’ve always had of starting a Christian community on the west coast of England is about to come true. A group of nuns are giving away their convent, Dragon’s Den style. You get “the buildings and the nine-acre grounds including gardens, a chapel, and a cluster of houses which they have occupied for more than 150 years.”
  • Does Beth Moore really carry that much weight with Donald Trump? Second only to Leith Anderson, head of the National Association of Evangelicals (NEA) Moore is the number two signatory to a NEA document concerning U.S. immigration policy. (She does have an undergraduate degree in Political Science, though. Theological degrees? Not so much.) 
  • Parenting Place: Children need to hear Godly eulogies. “[I]t’s not terribly uncommon for you to walk into the funeral service for a 90-year old church member and find the funeral home nearly empty. Where is the disconnect? Where are all of the young people from this person’s local church? Sure, school is in session and work is not stopping for the majority of the church—but what message are we sending to our children when we check them out of school for the funeral service of a 16-year old who died in a car accident but we miss the funeral service of a 90-year old man who finished his course well for the glory of God?
  • Archaeology Avenue: Do we now have solid evidence supporting the existence of the prophet Isaiah?
  • Essay of the Week: A must-read for anyone you know who followed the 2018 Olympics. Philip Yancey relays the story of a 6th Grade teach who invested his time in a young figure skater.
  • Updating the Take and Give / Covenant Life / Sovereign Grace etc. story, the church is re-branding as Christ Church Metro. (This article provides an excellent overview and history; I was aware of Take and Give back in the day.)
  • Global Ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, Brian Stiller has racked up more frequent flyer points than anyone I know. He describes his forthcoming book, From Jerusalem to Timbuktu; A Global Tour of the Spread of Christianity, releasing in a few weeks from InterVarsity Press.
  • Dialing for Doctrine: Your phrase of the week is “Divine concurrence.”
  • The burial of Billy Graham is used by a springboard to discuss our relationship with icons — though he uses the word in a very broad sense — and the danger of making things become idols. “We are animals with souls, never to be angels, but not merely beasts. As a result true religion will always be a mix of the  physical and the spiritual. The tabernacle worship God designed had bright colors, smells, bells, food, and drink. The rituals of the tabernacle pointed physically to the other realm. Ideas were given expression in art…The temptation is to destroy all icons. We will dispense with the visible signpost and merely memorize the route to God. Yet this fails. We can turn words into idols, forgetting their meaning, and lavishing love meant for the Beloved on His Words. God help us, but even in a plain room, stripped of all art, I have seen people come to sit in just this seat and become upset when that seat is taken. God met them there and now that place has become an idol.”
  • Leadership Lessons: Is wisdom the best teacher? “[S]simply seeking after years of experience overlooks one big thing that makes all the difference. That difference is what should come after the experience: reflection and adaptation or making the adjustments… [I]f one never pauses to reflect and if one never stops to debrief what happened then one will never fully benefit from the experience. It will often be a wasted lesson.”
  • Pastor Place: When the women’s group wants to study a book that’s doctrinally iffy…”Be willing to veto a book, a curriculum, or even a topic that the women’s Bible study wants to use, and be willing to have the leader lay the blame for the veto on you. I would much rather have someone say to me, ‘We wanted to use ________ book. Why did you say to use ________ instead?’ than have a bad book used, or quash the joy of the women’s Bible study leader if she became an object of scorn. And quite frankly (and this actually happened to me) I would rather have the women’s Bible study leader mad at me, than to have the women be taught something that is wrong.” A pastor offers seven tips to guard against error in your church’s women’s ministry.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to “dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133) when I’m the only one who’s right. This author gets that. “I always think I’m right. I think I’m the one with the answers and the insight no one else has. I believe that conflicts and problems result because of what someone else says or does. This is human sinful nature… Humility means admitting that my view of the world is flawed and that I very likely contributed to a problem as much as the other person.
  • Quotation of the Week: [On the subject of Billy Graham lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda] “If what Graham proclaimed was true, he has already received the highest reward — one he actually sought and one that is available to everyone.”
  • I’m taking the rare step of posting a book review here that was published back in October. The reason is that the book itself is finally releasing on March 20th, and some here might be interested given the title. Why Should the Devil Have All The Good Music: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock is by Gregory Thornbury, published by Convergent Books.
  • Bible Project Video of the Week: It’s not new (2 months) If you think you know everything about agape — the Bible’s unique contribution to the world of love — there’s more to discover in this 5-minute teaching. (Or choose from a full menu of Bible Project videos.)
  • The book of the same name is based on the discover of The Prayer Wheel, “a stunning medieval artifact that resurfaced in 2015 in a small gallery near New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The seven paths of the twelfth-century Liesborn Wheel, arranged in a circle around the word Deus (God), lead believers–now as in times past–to encounter and apply the transforming truths of the Christian faith.” Not mentioned in the blurg is that a look at the table of contents reveals the wheel follows the outline of The Lord’s Prayer
  • Harvard University administrators have placed religious group Harvard College Faith and Action [HCFA] on ‘administrative probation’ for a year after it allegedly pressured a female student leader to resign in December because she was dating a woman. The story also reveals that, “BGLTQ students have held leadership positions within HCFA in the past. Veronica S. Wickline [Class of 2016] and Tyler S. Parker [Class of 2017], both of whom said they identify as BGLTQ,  said they served in HCFA leadership positions during their time at the College. But both did not pursue same-sex relationships while in office. Parker said in an interview Wednesday that he remained ‘chaste’ during his tenure as an HCFA leader.”
  • ♫ On this week’s NoPro Worship Training video: Should your team do a song if there are questions about the personal life of the songwriter?
  • ♫ Closing in on half a million YouTube views, Bri (Briana Babineaux) performs an unplugged, mellow version of My Hands Are Lifted Up / Make Me Over.
  • ♫ New Worship Song: He’s touring with Rend Collective; check out Mack Brock’s Greater Things.
  • ♫ Addiction is the theme that gets your attention in the first verse of this music video, I Need You by Jaxon.
  • The Christian life as sitcom: A look at Living Biblically, which debuted on Monday night. (We also covered this yesterday here at Thinking Out Loud.)
  • Video of the Week: Your phone is, by design, meant to be addictive.
  • Where did this get started? And by ‘this’ I am referring to the idea that Jesus could not read or write.
  • Curiosity Headline of the Week: My Protestant Oscar Picks
  • 4+14=18 though I’m sure that’s not the reason, but Jamie Grace (the “gonna get my worship on” girl) chose 4.14.18 for her wedding to actor/model Aaron Collins.
  • Provocative UK News Story of the Week: “Praying for mothers and their unborn children is a form of ‘abuse and harassment’, a Labour MP has said, as he called for a crackdown on anyone who opposes abortion.” 
  • Finally, if you’re not into the greeting time at church, have we got a suggestion for you!
  • Bonus Finally: The Jewish Times has their satire as well. In this one, Jews For Jesus announces, “We’re Actually Christian Now.”

Pardon my Planet by Vic Lee 2.18.18


How’d she do that?


Hadn’t seen this edition before. Together we awaken to the life we really want. Also, this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

February 21, 2018

Wednesday Link List

This is a thing. See below for the Billboard story or click the image here for a video story.

Welcome to our 10th Anniversary Week Wednesday Link List! First off, if the pictures which usually accompany this list is your thing, be sure to check out all ten posted in our Sunday Microblogging feature. Let the games begin!

Remembering Billy Graham

  • UPDATE: This morning subscribers received a health update on Billy Graham in this space, but the story shifted and early this morning we learned of his passing at age 99. CT has a feature remembering his life
  • Tributes pour in on Twitter, Billy Graham was the #1 trending subject this morning. Follow the live feed.  Now on to the link list as it appeared earlier today…
  • Heaven’s Real Estate: So what’s the deal, do we each get a house or do we just get a room?
  • Liturgical Lament: “44% of Evangelicals have never heard of The Book of Common Prayer.” These and other stats on liturgical worship in the latest from Barna Research.
  • Religious Freedom Issue? You’d have to wait longer than eight days to circumcise a male in Iceland as their Parliament is debating banning the practice altogether.
  • After going it for several months as both a local church teaching pastor and the President of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, David Platt decided to go full out with the latter role. “I don’t believe I can choose between preaching and leading in the local church, and mobilizing and shepherding people in global missions. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that if I am going to serve in this way in the local church, then I need to serve in different ways for the cause of global missions.” …
  • …Also from the Biblical Recorder, three Evangelical council advisors to President Trump,  Ronnie Floyd, Jack Graham and Richard Land have just released a new book on The Faith of Donald Trump and here’s a shocker, “Floyd, Graham and Land say they don’t know whether Trump has trusted Christ as his Lord and Savior. But they’re certain he has heard the gospel. All three recounted a conference call on which Trump said, perhaps jokingly, that he hoped a specific policy initiative would help him get into heaven.”
  • Quotation of the Week: In which the author notes that popular blogger Tim Challies affirms Is Genesis History Director Thomas Purifoy’s attempt to make Young Earth Creationism a Reformed distinctive and then takes Martin Lloyd-Jones out of context, there’s this. “I would like to see us put our focus on what classical Christianity regarded as the central matters within the doctrine of creation: for example, creation ex nihilo, the goodness of creation, and the imago Dei. These issues distinguished Christianity from its rival alternatives, properly ordered the Creator/creation relation, and substantively contributed to Christian theology and worship.”
  • Late for Lent: Admittedly, that was so last week, but if you haven’t decided what you’re giving up, this article pulls no punches and offers you a serious agenda for the remaining 33 days.
  • Every week we watch a live stream church service where are constantly amazed at the “culture of applause” which permeates their church culture. They clap for music, for the announcements, for sermons. They applaud things that wouldn’t warrant it in other churches. So while the theme is somewhat different, I had to include this piece: Ministers and the Lust for Applause
  • Money Matters: Four ways in which some churches are guilty of poor stewardship.
  • …Also at Christian Post, the head of the Seventh Day Adventist Church tells local church pastors to steer clear of politics in the pulpit.
  • I believe in a God who heals and is able to do exceedingly above anything we could ask or expect; however, with mental health issues we also need to recognize the value of medical science. Problems with BCM, the Biblical Counseling Movement.
  • KidMin: The 2018 Children’s Ministry Conference runs April 30th to May 3rd in Brighton, Michigan
  • Movie Review: This guy saw the movie Samson rather like a bad haircut.
  • I have deliberately avoided anything related to guns and school shootings here, though to see the disillusionment and disappointment on the face of the students yesterday afternoon when Florida decided to table any debate on an assault rifle ban was one of the saddest things I’ve seen. Later in the evening, it got me thinking. Don’t believe it’s within the realm of possibilities for a U.S. government to break up the NRA? Check this out. They broke up Bell Telephone in 1982, an act described as, “the breakup of the biggest corporation in American history.” So yes, it’s definitely possible.
  • Leadership Lessons: Here are 7 ways local church pastors and associate pastors can do better at connecting with their church kids and teens.
  • The notion of “spiritual but not religious” under the microscope: “Those words are organized religion in themselves, a thought-structure of the vilest duplicity. Their pithiness shapes our thoughts, organizing our hearts to believe we can do Christianity alone. They say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’
  • Essay of the Week: Jasmine L. Holmes, the daughter of Voddie Baucham talks about growing up as a stay at home daughter. She also talks about her husband: “He equips me to make my own choices, even when I’m afraid. He deals with every growing pain that I should have had ten years ago and am just now having. He removes the shameful burdens that I’ve operated under for a good half of my life. He pushes me harder than anyone I’ve ever known, even when I fight back. He’s helping me grow up. Not for him, like I always thought I should, but for myself. For the pursuit of holiness and wholeness. He won’t let me stand quietly in his shadow, and he won’t let me take the easy way out.”
  • Youth Ministry/Church Life: Your game plan when a kid has been a victim of sexual abuse.  
  • Not the Canada Corner: Rather, for readers elsewhere, a full and complete explanation of the angst the ‘attestation’ on the Canada Summer Jobs application has unleashed for churches and Christian charities.
  • Lakewood Church (Joel Osteen) Associate Pastor John Gray defends the riches of wealthy pastors. ” [I]f they have saved their money and want to do something nice for their spouse or they want to live in a home, you’ve got one life.” So basically he’s saying: YOLO. (7 minute video.)
  • Going back to the well: The Charlotte Observer, as the hometown newspaper, hauls out the Jim Bakker/PTL Club story one more time, just in case anyone’s new to the neighborhood.
  • Read carefully because I’m only going to say this once: A Lutheran transgender pastor who has re-identified as ‘Peter’ is walked to the baptismal font by the area bishop for a renaming blessing. Got that? Church council member Daniel Stoll told the Huffington Post, “[Gay and trans individuals] have every right to be their authentic selves as anyone. God didn’t make a mistake.” 
  • ♫ New Music: This one should be to the liking of many of you – Seth & Nirva perform an unplugged version of We Won’t Back Down.
  • Tweet of the Week: A good news story.
  • Steps to Stardom: Justin Bieber’s early years are the subject of a museum exhibit in his hometown. (Or click the image above for a video coverage.)
  • Certain Evangelicals just shouldn’t do interviews with major news media. Like Joel Osteen, Jerry Falwell, Jr. falters in front of the camera, in this case trying to defend the indefensible (aka ’45’) with CNN’s Erin Burnett.
  • Finally, death is just around the corner: “A new app, We Croak, notifies you five times a day that you could die at any moment.” A writer at The Guardian tries it for seven days.

One of the favorites from my picture file from 2011: Adam and Eve at the Creation Museum win an award for the Best Placement of Lily Pads.

February 14, 2018

Wednesday Link List

I knew Redeemer University College in Canada was a smaller school than some, but didn’t expect to see it reflected in the way job functions like this one are integrated. Dutch frugality?

 

It’s a Valentine’s Day edition of the Wednesday Link List and even though we have absolutely nothing Valentine-related, we hope you will love this week’s list.


Is there a shot you can get to prevent this?


The Canadian in me loved this one.


Euphemisms for death based on obituaries by state, sourced by Mental Floss in 2016 based on 2015 obits. (Click image to link.) Of interest to us here was Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Arkansas. (Boy, talk about being led down the internet rabbit trail…)

February 7, 2018

Wednesday Link List

Stryper guitarist Michael Sweet said, “I can tell you this: if you kind of take the best of a handful of STRYPER albums and you kind of roll it up into a big, old fat burrito, that’s what you’re gonna get with this album.” God Damn Evil releases April 20th. More details at this link.

Here we are once again with Link List #396. Thanks to those of you who sent suggestions, and those of you who produce your own roundups from which we steal only the best… Many of these are double links, so if the topic is of interest, be sure to click both parts.

Mismatched billboard ads? Nope. It’s intentional, promoting a new sermon series at Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Georgia. Click here for details.

“Bring your children to Church. If you don’t hear crying, the church is dying.” Read more at this extended Facebook caption.

While other articles at Thinking Out Loud may be used on your blog, please respect the unique character of the Wednesday Link List; it is the exclusive property of paulwilkinson.wordpress.com

January 31, 2018

Wednesday Link List

“What’s great about the official Dave Ramsey card is that it always gets declined,” Ramsey said on his radio program. “Try to buy a new fishing reel? Declined. Try to book a family vacation you can’t afford? Declined. Replace a shredded tire you failed to budget for? Yup, you guessed it—declined.” Details at Babylon Bee.

The Wednesday List Lynx is now doing endorsements.

Welcome to our State of the Christian Union address #395. Still fighting whatever it is that hit me last week, so a shorter list this week. 2018 is one month down, eleven more to go!

Preoccupied with Optics: This ad from a church in Phoenix appeared on Craigslist. Full story at The Old Black Church blog.


You remember Hahhah in the Old Testament? That woman always makes me laugh! CBD is taking advance orders on a book about her from Jill Eileen Smith.

January 24, 2018

Wednesday Link List

Not usually accused of lying down on the job, Steven Furtick makes a point in a recent sermon at Elevation titled, ‘The Pillow and the Promise.’ Source: 3-minute YouTube highlights reel.

Canadian megachurch pastor Bruxy Cavey illustrates four different models of salvation as wife Nina looks on. Is preaching lying down the next big trend? Source: 10-minute video on YouTube, Understanding Salvation.

Lloyd the Llink Llist Llama crashes the party for the third time. And it’s always January.

Midweek already! Welcome to link list #394. This was the list which simply wouldn’t stop growing. It could have easily been double the size it is. There is some excellent content here, and until you eat everything on your plate, there’s no dessert.


The website Church Pop thinks the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has the best 404 page, given that St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things. Read more at churchpop.com


Bonus video! Just for those of you who continued this far!

January 17, 2018

Wednesday Link List

Panama Clerical Shirt: What pastors wear on vacation.

These lists are different each week, and this time around, the first few offer some brain-stretching opportunities to think about doctrine and theology. Plus as an extra exercise in equal time, many of these are from Reformed/Calvinists sources. See…we can play nice, sometimes.

Comics: Mary Worth, 2016 (upper), Bizarro, 2018 (lower)

Digging a Little Deeper

From the creator of Thinking Out Loud, check out Christianity 201. Guaranteed distraction-free faith blogging with fresh posts every day. www.Christianity201.wordpress.com

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