From Shorpy.com: The Church of the Wild Wood, First Wesley Methodist Episcopal is seen in 1912 before the first coat of stucco is applied.
It’s May already! While we like the news items and the weird stories, if you know someone who is consistently doing good writing online, send me a link so we can feature them here. Meanwhile, sit back, enjoy the list, and try to forget last night’s primary results.
- Essay of the Week: Everything you’ve always wanted to ask — or perhaps ask God — about circumcision. Understanding “the drastic covenant.”
- A nightmarish fire breaks out destroying an historic New York City church, on what is, for Orthodox Christians, Easter Sunday.
- The secret is out! We learned this week who the force is behind Christian satire site The Babylon Bee. Turns out it’s someone we’ve met before online…
- …But not to be outdone…
- …To which The Bee bounces back with a spiritual gifts story of their own.
- Provocative Header of the Week (which in this case is ironic): How to Spot a Social Media Neo-Televangelist.
- Sweden’s liberal theologians have a work around for the exclusive claims of Jesus. Actually, they have 3 ways to explain it all away.
- You might see this as simply fitting your previously held stereotype, but this woman’s memories of being home-schooled are both real and depressingly sad.
- Churches are in the business of saving souls, but what about saving lives? This one got some practice, but does your church have a defibrillator? (Related: Does anyone know how to use it?)
- Preston Sprinkle posted this book synopsis back in March, but I only saw it this week. It’s about a touchy subject in the U.S. that remains a great mystery to those of us who live outside its borders. Check out the stats from America and Its Guns.
- Join us in praying for author and blogger Zach Hunt.
- Greg Boyd, Efrem Smith and Shane Claiborne are in a movie, but they aren’t playing the roles in which we’re accustomed to seeing them…
- …and here’s the homepage for the movie, Chasing the Rain.
- One of the strongest forces in the King James Only movement, Peter Ruckman died last month at 94…
- …But given the chance to say something nice about the man to a well-meaning reporter, members of his church stuck to their principle of non-engagement with the media. (Sigh!)
- There’s always something online that you haven’t seen and for us this week, it was the website Facts and Trends, which we suspect is related to a LifeWay magazine of the same name. Here are some samples:
- Parenting Place (1): Passing on our faith to our children.
- Parenting Place (2): In a mainstream press article in the Washington Post, a parent comes up with a new reason why he regrets giving his kids their own phones.
- Spiritual Sounding Board has posted three challenges to the interview Christianity Today did with Saeed Abedini. To read them, click the blog link and navigate to three May 3rd posts.
- Apologetics Alley: One question often leads to another and that’s exactly the approach the writer(s) of this piece did on dealing with the problem of pain.
- As you know, we ended up posting this video on the weekend, but here’s how I came across the Bono/Eugene Peterson dialog.
- For my Canadian readers: You may remember the series that Jeff Snow wrote for us on The Divorce Effect. (We ran it twice!) Jeff is now starting a student ministry on a university campus in Ontario and needs more support.
- Sleeping bags and tents all blew away at last year’s summer festival? Stay dry at Chris Tomlin’s Worship Night In America, coming to five major U.S. cities in July with Louie Giglio on drums, Max Lucado on bass and Matt Redman on guitar. (Plus other artists.) (Maybe Louie and Max will just be speaking.) …
- …On the other hand if you’re looking for an “in-tents” summer music experience, check out the 2016 Christian Music Festivals directory.
- Knowledge Morsel of the Week: “More than 560 of Charles Schulz’s nearly 17,800 Peanuts newspaper strips contain a religious, spiritual, or theological reference.” Jonathan Merritt in The Atlantic.
- Videos of the Week (1): This isn’t new, but PraiseCharts.com is reporting a lot of churches are using Grace That Won’t Let Go by Gateway Worship: Mark Harris version; Kari Jobe version.
- Video of the Week (2): Again, one posted six months ago that’s gaining traction is O Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship…
- …But on the other hand, here are five things that will make your worship time sound forced or fake.
- Most photographers do collections of classic cathedrals. But this one chose modern American megachurches, released in a format the creator calls ‘megazine.’
- ‘Twas Ever Thus Department: Church leaders don’t understand Millennials.
- Wheaton College is back in the headlines, and it’s not a good news story this time, either.
- Jesus is nice, but his Dad’s kinda mean.
- John Hull has resigned as CEO of Crossroads, creators of one of the longest running daily Christian TV shows in North America.
- Kidmin Korner: Hadn’t seen anything like this before; a children’s book about Pentecost.
- Why settle for basic ordination when, for $50, you can become a bishop at the same time. (Click the drop-down under “new products” price includes shipping.)
- This list of “15 Books Every Christian Millennial Has Owned” only has 12 books showing; but still brought back some memories.
- Veggie Tales made it through the David & Bathsheba story with help from little yellow ducks, but Shagmar killing 600 Philistines may an impossibility. (Warning: This may be a Babylon Bee story.)
We kick off with another insight from InterVarsity’s TwentyOneHundred Productions Facebook page. Click the image to see more.
If you know Mussorgsky, or if your tastes run more to Emerson, Lake & Palmer, you’ll get the reference in this title.
And now on to this week’s features. Remember, if it’s not on the link list, it didn’t happen!
- Revelation of the Week: When disaster strikes well-meaning Americans donate things which are absolutely useless. “People have donated prom gowns and wigs and tiger costumes and pumpkins, and frostbite cream to Rwanda, and used teabags…And then there were warm-hearted American women who wanted to send their breast milk to nursing mothers in Haiti…” With one such load, “local officials poured gasoline on it and set it on fire.”
- Analysis: Hillsong, “secular liturgies” and “the arena culture that has taken over the church.”
- Jordan’s King Abdullah II has made a second donation to preserve an historical site of interest to Christians. This time the Muslim king is paying for the restoration Jesus’ Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
- In case you missed it, while none of the kids in your youth group have sensed a calling to third world mission service, Barbie is now serving in Africa. (HT: Relevant Magazine, check out a few of the captions.) …
- …But on a more serious note, Barna Research asked pastors what they felt were the highest priority activities for youth groups. (Hint: Barbie had the right idea.)
- Testimony of the Week: “This past Sunday, my gorgeous wife – a white evangelical, like me — gave birth to our beautiful African-American triplet daughters whom we adopted as embryos.” Read the full story in The Washington Post.
- God won’t give you more than you can handle? Actually, he’ll just about kill you.
- The church had more than a thousand members, so how many do you think showed up for the weekly prayer meeting?
- Sundays would never be the same after they lost their three-year old son on a quiet afternoon.
- New Podcast Department: Brandon Smith and Trevin Wax have launched Word Matters devoted to difficult and challenging Bible passages.
- Apologetics Alley: Can you explain the gospel in under two minutes?
- Not sure what’s more surprising in this survey: That only a third of pastors agree with Left Behind theology, or that LifeWay and Charisma House teamed up to make it happen. (Research makes strange bedfellows?)
- Leadership Lessons: Thoughts on how very little pastors know about what’s going on in the lives of church members.
- Canada Corner: Brian Stiller shares his views on terrorism with Global News.
- When you think about it, a national ban on Bibles is always rather futile.
- “I love you pastor, but…” and 9 other phrases that make pastors cringe.
- So…does Wycliffe Bible Translators also translate the instructions on pill bottles? Workers in medical missions who issue meds have to worry about patient safety.
- The Payday Loan industry often does more harm than help. Springcreek Church, in the northeast suburbs of Dallas, drove the lenders out of Garland, TX.
- This week a reader took me back to one of the strangest topics covered on this blog, Christian Domestic Discipline; only to find out a recent article on the subject was noted in the Twitterverse. “When my husband whips me, I feel his love, his strength and his caring.” Note: This article is not safe for — maybe it’s just not safe.
- While the cultural context of the Sarcastic Lutheran’s sermon was foreign to many of us, this message on when Saul/Paul’s conversion actually happened is filled with insights.
- Oprah has an interesting relationship with all things religious. On her own network (pun noted) she plays a club owner in Greenleaf a series centered on a black megachurch.
- When the people you’re serving are giving back in unseen ways.
- Icon Review: The meaning behind seven Christian symbols; but the article’s headline implies they are common symbols. Does your church have a pelican?
- Two Christian publishing veterans have announced the formation of Gilead Publishing, with the 5-year goal of producing 100 fiction titles annually.
- Tye Tribbett will host Joyful Noise, a Sunday morning inspirational program on BET.
- This is what it sounds like, when artists die: Say what you will about the downside of it, social media works well for collective grief.
- No, the Noah’s Ark theme park under construction was not washed away in a flood, though the publicity probably didn’t hurt.
- Babylon Bee of the Week: Some realistic, honest Dove Awards categories. Or was it this new adult coloring book?
- The new open-air urinal in a San Francisco park is facing legal opposition from the San Francisco Chinese Christian Union and others.
- Finally, here are seven reasons why men should not be pastors.
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
Last night we finally got to watch the DVD of Ragamuffin, the story of Christian singer Rich Mullins. For two-hours and 15-minutes, we sat through the ups and downs of his life. The movie was, from beginning to end, saturated in the unique Rich Mullins sound. I said to my wife, “I’ve probably never listened to the sound of the hammered dulcimer this much ever.”
Her reaction to the music was to be totally impressed that the actor playing Rich did his own vocals for the movie, which added some authenticity.
Rather than replay the story line, let me say this instead: This is a movie for
- Anyone who has ever felt like a misfit; that their history or their calling is simply different from everyone else; that there’s nobody to talk to about what they do because nobody does it, or talk to about how they see the world because nobody else sees the world the same way.
- Someone who has struggled with their relationship, or lack of relationship with their father; with or without perhaps the added burden of thereby trying to comprehend a loving heavenly Father.
- A person who is constantly wrestling their own inner demons; be it some particular pain, or addictive behavior.
- Those who have been let down, disappointed, abandoned, or somehow severed from relationships due to circumstances or even death; whose history seems to be one of people constantly leaving.
- People who feel the core essence of Christ’s teachings isn’t so much about outward conformity to religious standards, but rather a security in the knowledge that God loves us.
- Fans of Christian music who want to see the realities of the industry, warts and all, and how God uses people in spite of their brokenness.
- Thinkers who want to press further into the idea of grace and how sinners can and do experience the grace of God.
And that is just to name a few things this movie touches.
Rich Mullins’ life intersected with other people you know, from Amy Grant to author Brennan Manning. His music, from “Sing Your Praise to the Lord” to “Awesome God” impacted a generation of Christians.
This is a tough movie to watch. Rich’s life is not an ideal; not really a role model we can hold up to today’s Christian youth. It’s a very dark story; not your typical Christian movie. There were also some continuity issues — the conflicting hair length of the actor has confused many reviewers — which interrupted the flow of what was otherwise a beautifully crafted piece of cinema.
But for us, last night, it was must-watching. Knowing a little about Rich Mullins’ life ahead of time, the movie did not disappoint.
You can read more about the movie, and watch a trailer, at an article I wrote in 2014 when Rich was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
This week WordPress messed around with their ‘classic’ editor in a way that made inserting the links a longer, two-step process. We try to link here so that stories open in a new tab so you can keep the list open at the same time. It’s hard to believe that they are now creating a system that defaults to move people away from the WordPress source blogs, but with some extra work we overrode this.
It’s hard to find any links this week that top Pope Francis bringing 12 refugees to The Vatican. (Pope to dining room manager: “You need to set some extra places for lunch.”) It was just another example of how this Pope is shaking things up. It was also a very Christ-like thing to do. If you missed it, I’ll let you find this one on your own.
- With 22 vessels, they could form their own Navy. A prayer-focused look at the ships of Youth With A Mission (YWAM).
- Essay of the Week: 5 key differences between serial church shoppers and the unchurched.
- 56,000 Charismatics showed up at the Los Angeles Coliseum in recognition of the 110th anniversary of the Azuza Street revival, but local and regional media ignored the event. (Maybe this a consequence of the megachurch; 56K could represent as few as fourteen 4,000-member churches.)
- You can debate their intention, but there’s no mistaking that CBS Television’s The Big Bang Theory affirmed the person-hood of unborn children. (And putting family over career.)
- I actually happened to be watching when Al Mohler, Jr. introduced C. J. Mahaney at T4G last week, despite protests outside the hall over abuse at his former church, and like the writer in this piece I was surprised. “The first message was…that these leaders do not care about either the protests or the victims they represent…The second message was … that Mahaney is one of our own and you will accept him as one of your leaders.”
- Pastafarianism suffered a defeat on April 12th when the U.S. District Court in Nebraska ruled it not a real religion, but “plainly a work of satire, meant to entertain while making a pointed political statement.” (A blow as well to my idea for a chain of Spaghetti Monster bookstores.)
- Pastor and Christian author Willliam J. Barber II explains why he was arrested Monday in Washington, DC.
- Leadership Lessons: Learning from the Darrin Patrick dismissal.
- Shopping List Department: Ancient requisitions for wine, flour and oil shed light on when the Bible was written.
- Part One of Two: “Southern evangelicals, steeped in Reformed theology and committed to the authority of Scripture, were totally convinced that the Bible endorsed both the practice and the institution of slavery.” That’s the setup for a challenge to complementarians.
- Pat Boone calls out NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live over a skit parody of the movie God’s Not Dead 2. “This skit was outright sacrilege. They know if they did this to Muslims they’d have to be put into the witness protection program.”
- The nuns prefer another offer, but singer Katy Perry is now one step closer to buying a California convent for $14.5 million.
- Life in a small town: A wrongly convicted man who served four years ends up working alongside the crooked cop who framed him.
- My wife and I were introduced to the BLESS acronym in a Michael Frost-inspired group we attended called The Sunday Suppers. Ten years later, the formula is gaining traction.
- Church Life (1): Being genuinely happy when someone leaves your church.
- Church Life (2): With Leadership Journal gone Christianity Today launches a new section, The Local Church. In this article, a look at the ministry of “the Outdoor Worship Team” aka the spiritually-minded people on the Parking Team.
- Roman Catholics aren’t thrilled with how they are being portrayed in The Real O’Neals and are asking Target to drop its sponsorship.
- Another victory for Amish, Anabaptists and Mennonites as a Vatican conference joins the ranks of those who reject just war theory.
- A year ago I filled in a form to volunteer in a very non-ministerial capacity for an organization and was asked if I had ever been a victim of abuse. I haven’t, but found the question shocking. Well, apparently on the basis of the axiom that “hurt people hurt people” it can disqualify you from employment at certain churches. And it’s not the only question ministry organizations are asking.
- “Felix Ngole, a 38-year-old in his second year of study for a master’s degree in social work at the University of Sheffield in [England] was told… his conservative Christian beliefs about marriage would negatively impact his ‘ability to carry out a role as a social worker’ and that his [Facebook] post ‘transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession.'” He was then expelled. …
- …Also from the UK: I’ve heard of people attending church so they can sell life insurance or promote their Amway business, but some Church of England attendance by parents is so they can get their kids into the right schools.
- Foreknowledge is not fore-ordination or fore-causation. (I knew spell-check wouldn’t like the last two without the hyphen!)
- Washington Post Religion (1): A tiny church in Long Island houses either three or four different faith groups, depending on how you’re counting.
- Washington Post Religion (2): One family, two daughters; one is Jewish, one is Presbyterian. Together they make a mixed-up religion relationship.
- I think I did the eye roll when The Phil Vischer Podcast guest was an art historian. How interesting can that be? But Matt Milliner was both informative and entertaining and used phrases like “occupying the optocracy” which I now have to use in everyday conversation. Check out Podcast # 197 (just 3 away from the big 200!)
- The latest on Saeed Abedini isn’t about marriage; it’s about plagiarism.
- Book Blurb of the Week: “Islamic State fighters (ISIS) have been brutalizing and annihilating Christians. How? Why? Where did the terrorists come from, and what can be done to stop them? For more than a decade, journalist Mindy Belz has reported on the ground from the Middle East, giving her unparalleled access to the story no one wants to believe. Check out the new Tyndale Momentum release, They Say We Are Infidels.
- Buried deeper in this story is that the “surge” of Mormon missionaries caused by a double-cohort (resulting from an age change) produced “reactivation in the southwestern US. That was good news, and in my opinion that’s a lot better development in the long run than just baptizing new members.” (Do Evangelicals ever aim for or track “reactivation?”)
- The latest Pew Research Center study compares the quality of life of the highly religious with their not so pious neighbors.
- The NLT Africa Study Bible is a Kickstarter project with a $100,000 goal.
- Not-some-peoples’-pic-of-the-week: Nadia Bolz-Weber poses with some of her church’s gaybies.
- Together for the Gospel (T4G) spinoff: The Calvinist crowd now have a new hymnbook, Hymns of Grace. (Some of you are asking, ‘What’s a hymnbook?’)
- Ultrasound Too Much Information? While it’s nothing compared to India, a look at sex-selective abortion in Canada.
- His parents were YWAM missionaries. He married the granddaughter of Uganda’s Idi Amin. Now 28, Ryan Gustafson faces counterfeiting charges.
- The problem with Evangelical, spontaneous praying: “When I hear people praying these prayers to God, I sometimes fantasize about being Episcopalian…”
- Cooking With Jesus: It’s true. He made the original fish tacos.
- Tweet of the Week.
- Finally, Lark News posted this as … a lark, but it does raise an important issue. Who gets custody of the sponsored child?
Special thanks this week to those of you who sent link suggestions! I think we used them all.
Once again this week we tried to balance the weird and wacky links with those having redeeming ministry and leadership value. Your clicks will tell us if we succeeded.
- Provocative Headline of the Week: Was Nebuchadnezzar a Werewolf? (Everything you wanted to know about “British Protestantism under threat from Catholics and Indians alike.”)
- When it’s Okay to Lie: The Jehovah’s Witness practice of spreading misinformation is branded as part of the doctrine of “theocratic warfare.”
- Essay of the Week (1): More on ageism in the church; this time in terms of church leadership. “The rather youthful, small (and homogeneous) Elder Board of the church I visited that weekend wasn’t a bad group of guys. It was simply a very narrow expression of its people…”
- Essay of the Week (2): Pastors claim to be “preaching the word,” but often 38 out of 40 minutes are the preacher’s own words.
- Bad Family Models of the Bible: An interview with David Lamb dealing with the sometimes bizarre marriage standards we encounter in the Old Testament. (Here’s the link for the infographic.)
- Sermon Crafting: The case for preachers learning how to write fiction.
- Why do pastor’s wives climb mountains? Willow Creek’s Lynne Hybels explains the why behind her group’s climb of Kilimanjaro.
- Yankee, Go Home: Rev David Robertson, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland said Creflo Dollar’s work was blasphemous and embarrassing, and told him he wasn’t welcome there. (Which leaves me wondering what happens if your private jet is airborne and no country will let you land?)
- Each year the American Library Association receives challenges to certain books being included in public libraries. In 2015, the Bible made the top ten list.
- Tweeting for the Gospel: You can follow the remaining hours of the annual Calvinist confab at hashtag #t4g2016.
- Civil Disobedience: Great topic and discussion this week on the Phil Vischer Podcast with CT Managing Editor Katelyn Beaty.
- We don’t normally link to publisher announcements, but I’ll make an exception when it’s an influential publisher like InterVarsity Press. “Jeff Crosby, the current associate publisher and director of sales and marketing for InterVarsity Press, will succeed Bob Fryling as publisher for IVP.”
- Church Tech (1): Some important considerations about streaming your services live, including the caveat that to secure enough bandwidth, your church might have to lock out all other activities on the building’s wifi network. (So much for fact-checking the sermon in real time!)
- Church Tech (2): Is audio mixing possibly more art than science? “Although both mindsets can independently exist, I’d challenge to you consider fostering the two side by side.”
- Screwed-up syllogism:
(a) Everybody hated Jesus,
(b) Jesus said his followers would be hated too,
(c) If everybody hates me I’m doing something right.
What’s wrong with this logic?
- A board member with the National Association of Evangelicals is organizing “Together 2016” an event he hopes will rival the 1997 Promise Keepers rally on the National Mall…
- …The July 16th event in Washington DC has posted a confirmed list of speakers and musicians.
- Architecture Alley: The remains of a 1,500-year-old church have been excavated in the Gaza Strip. [Deletes two “Gaza Strip” jokes he was going to insert.]
- The Ultimate Link List Item: The Hypertext Bible, where every single word is linked to all other occurrences of the same word.
- Analogy of the Week: Is your church like this gas station?
- Student Ministry: Does kissing lead to sex? In many places within youth culture, the two are actually done in the opposite order.
- Birthday of the Week: Jürgen Moltmann turns 90; his theology in videos.
- A photographer crashes a religious goods trade fair held every two years in Italy, and publishes a book of what he found at The World Fair for Church Supplies, Liturgical and Ecclesiastical Art.
- It’s not unusual that someone like Michael Hyatt would do another book on leadership; it was the bonus adult coloring book that surprised me!
- Canada Corner (1) Winnipeg’s Booth College and Toronto’s Tyndale Seminary have joined forces to offer the world’s only graduate theological program specializing in Salvation Army studies. (Band lessons optional.)
- Canada Corner (2): Missed this one in February, when a national TV network broadcast a story of abuse at an Anglican-affiliated residential school.
- Canada Corner (3): Concern continues for a Toronto-area pastor jailed in North Korea.
- Turning the Tables: Betty & James Robison, normally the television interviewers, become the interviewees as they celebrate their 53rd year of marriage talking to Sheila Walsh…
- …Which brings us to Marriage Matters: 4 pieces of good advice. Sample #1 – Try to be the biggest servant in your house.
- Facebook Tempest of the Week: The one about the abortion doctor strangling the fetus (in 1977). “This baby just won’t quit breathing.”
- Fred Clark is looking for help updating his list of Christian LGBT bloggers.
- Warning: Religion News Service has been infected by The Babylon Bee…
- …which prompted this from Get Religion.
- Finally: He was lifted to heaven by a beam of light and met the wife of Jesus, “a member of the African Xhosa people;” and even took a selfie while he was there. But now, the South African pastor’s mobile phone is missing. “One of his bodyguards claimed that it was stolen at a car wash.”
We’re back with another week of stories and opinion pieces to distract you from doing your income tax return. Want to send this link list to someone by email? Copy this link to them: http://wp.me/pfdhA-7PG
- Marriage in America is changing. The New York Post reports, “For whether they call it a ‘starter’ marriage, ‘beta’ marriage or ‘test’ marriage, the 25- to 35-year-old generation has a far more elastic definition of the concept of ‘forever.’ …With same-sex marriage now legal, has making marriage more inclusive eroded its traditional sense of exclusivity? Or are millennials merely early-adopting a future where marriage is unnecessary? Part of the problem is role models.” …
- …But as Kyle Idleman points out, often today people are “looking for an out before they get in” in this 90-second teaching clip.
- Question of the Week: Why didn’t the attack on Christians in Pakistan get the same coverage as Brussels or Paris?
- Charting unknown territory: Working from a novel by Anne Rice, who in turn was working with some non-canonical texts, The Young Messiah movie was certainly going where nobody had gone before. “At one point, Joseph asks Mary: ‘How do we explain God to his own Son?'” Director and co-writer Cyrus Nowrasteh explains the challenges.
- Satisfaction Guaranteed or Money Refunded: This isn’t about store policy at Sears, but a promise by Perry Noble that the church promises to return tithes if congregants aren’t blessed in 90 days.
- Considered the world’s largest African-American religious TV outlet, The Word Network recently fired Paul Crouch, Jr., the son of the founder of TBN.
- More than 100,000 people have signed a petition in the strange custody case involving 6-year old Lexi.
- Warning to Women: While they’re the biggest publishing phenomenon to come along in many years, spiritual overtones exist in seemingly innocent inspirational adult coloring books.
- Philip Yancey on Elijah: The “Superhero Prophet” is greatly revered by Jews for whom “Elijah represents a longing for a type of Messiah they never got.”
- You won’t find this listed among hiring best practices, but “After 32 years in prison, [Danny] Duchene was freed, partly in response to a letter sent by Pastor Rick Warren to the parole board asking that they do so in order to allow him to hire Duchene as a pastor at Saddleback Church. This weekend, Danny Duchene will be officially installed as pastor of Saddleback Church’s Prison Ministry.”
- It’s all in the asking: Why ask for donations when you can just get people to donate their entire estates to the Roman Catholic Church? Especially when you can raise $2 million to get people out of purgatory.
- Tweet of the Week: The premise is simple, but following this flowchart made me think.
- Your local, personal pastor is not your podcast pastor and preaching comparisons aren’t helpful. Here are seven things the former offers that the latter can’t give you.
- Essay of the Week: Alissa Wilkinson (no relation) of Christianity Today guests at an entertainment website to boldly proclaim, “I’m a Christian and I hate Christian movies.” …
- …Meanwhile, with the release of Miracles from Heaven, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard who is a medical doctor who also has an earned a master’s degree in divinity from Princeton, looks at ‘spontaneous remission’ and the nature of the miraculous in light of the things we don’t know yet.
- Facing a lawsuit for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding is probably preferable for this family to being threatened with having their house burned down and their son raped.
- February Flashback: We missed this one when published, but this in-depth analysis of Mark Driscoll’s teaching searches to find the fruit of a repentant spirit.
- Around the World: Countries in central Africa are “struggling to contain Islamist-backed insurgencies that have risked pitting Christians and Muslims against each other.”
- The National Association of Evangelicals has launched an extended study of the financial challenges facing people in vocational pastoral ministry.
- Parenting Place: “Eight mother-daughter tips from an experienced mom to those in the midst of the process.”
- Pastors Place: Four fears that pastors face that can undermine their ministry.
- Parenting Place meets Pastors Place: What a wrestling match and a haircut have to do with expectations on Sunday morning.
- Podcast of the Week: Hadn’t heard of Undone|Redone, but they’re up to episode 80, which deals with how seemingly innocent conversation can lead to an affair. (Serious audio issues, but good content.)
- Verse of the Week? Not usually. You don’t hear much about “Expel the wicked person from among you.” A blog post about excluding people from the church.
- Something different: Poem of the Week.
- The contemporary worship many churches are using to get younger people in the front doors isn’t preventing the numbers rapidly exiting by the back doors.
- The dark side of doing Christian news roundups: 12 reported cases in just one month of pastors molesting kids.
- This is both an article and a play script: Christian counselor Jay Adams on decision making in the absence of supernatural guidance.
- Church Culture: “When it comes to contemporary churches, what was once unique is now commonplace. What was innovative is now normal.” This among six reasons ministry is tougher than it formerly was.
- This is someone’s ministry calling: Every Canadian Member of Parliament has one of these.
- Economics Department: A Biblical argument against minimum wage laws.
- For your consideration: A new twist on an old story, The Prodigal Transgender Daughter.
- Most of you know this story, but if not, here’s the world’s all-time worst proofreading mistake.
- Provocative Headline of the Week: How Trump Alienated the Mormon Vote. (Wait; just the Mormons?)
- Church History Question: Did the early church ever hire a helicopter to drop Easter eggs in a field? Well churches do that today, except for the times it goes viral on social media, 10,000 people show up and they have to cancel.
- As I tweeted last week, when you’re looking at a Chrsitian humor/satire website, how would you know if they had done an April Fool’s post? Case in point: Lark News reviews Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries With God.
Raccoon Worship Service
The cartoon below appears because of a recent behind the scenes report from Christianity Today that this particular image “happened to receive more than 100,000 likes and reached more than 20 million people—the most, by far, of any post CT has ever shared.”
If you only show up here on Wednesdays, I hope you’ll take a minute to check out an article I did last Friday on how out of all the new technology’s benefits, probably blogging had the biggest influence on church life. (Yes, really.)
You did this at your church for Easter, right?
Nik Wallenda at an Easter service at Bayside Church in Bradenton, Florida. The connection to atonement and resurrection should be obvious.
Now on to the serious (!) stuff:
- After the martyrdom of four Bible translators, remaining staff of Wycliffe are determined to stay in the Middle East and continue with the project.
- 600,000 households in Chicago received an unsolicited copy of a Seventh Day Adventist 377-page book and the donors who footed the bill shelled out about the same number of dollars.
- A look at Religion in the UK: They’re leaving the church but they’re not leaving the faith.
- Lent 2016 took a terrible turn for this family. They’ve come through it, but now they need your help.
- Imagine being on the mission field and nearby is another missionary, but you can’t work together because of a Doctrine of Separation. “The belief that Christians cannot work together, worship together, or evangelize together to reach a common desired goal is crazy. There are areas that make Baptists (of which I am) different from other denominations, and rightfully so. These differences, however, are more often than not of little eternal significance.”
- It’s not that this Tennessee church plant got some press in the local newspaper on Easter Sunday. It’s that it more or less dominated the entire front page of The Tennessean…
- …and in the same newspaper: After 20 years with the band Jars of Clay, this guitarist is now doing haircuts in Nashville.
- Touching: A 6-year-old asks if his year-old sister will have Down’s Syndrome in heaven. The answer is ‘no,’ but so much more than just a simple ‘no.’
- Flashback: It was 40 years ago this month that Jesus ’76 Florida took place on property that is now part of Disney World…
- …Another one was weeks away from taking place in Mercer, PA.
- Video Curiosity of the Week: Broadcasting from their basement to the whole wide world, check out the 10-15 minute worship service videos for scattered people at Scattered and Small.
- Hey, Judas Isacriot wasn’t all bad, right? That’s the impression you get from a BBC-TV documentary, but two American pastors challenge its assumptions.
- Last week we brought you a link about the closing of a longstanding UK denomination. This week, the other side of the story, the growth of Pentecostalism in England.
- Violence in Christian fiction: Mike Nappa, Ted Dekker, Lynette Eason, and Vicki Crumpton in a 4-page interview on how far is too far. (Warning: May be too frightening for younger readers.) Dekker: “…To that end, my mission is simply to awaken to my own identity in the midst of the storms, and to help my readers awaken in the midst of the storm they face in this life.” (I was kidding about the warning.)
- Linking Outside the Box: The Jerusalem Post looks at similarities in the three denominations of Judaism. (Note: You might feel like you just walked into an alien conversation, but slow down; this is an interesting piece.)
- Warning of the Week: “Church leaders needs to recognize the huge responsibility they have to keep their kids safe and take the necessary steps to guard against child predators. We all think of church as a safe place, but the reality is abusers prey on the vulnerability of such environments.” 5 Ways to keep kids safe.
- Analogy of the Week: Growing cities and growing churches, aka “similarities between city revitalization and church revitalization.”
- Currently Reading: Evangelicals Around the World by Brian Stiller et al. 400 pages of stats, maps, graphs, photographs, quotes; and everything else you need to know about this sector of Protestant Christianity.
- Is your church on the spectrum? In this case, the spectrum runs from anti-attractional to attractional.
- A former prisoner in North Korea, and the subject of a May 2016 book releasing in the Christian market, Kenneth Bae responds to the recent 15-year hard labor sentence for an American college student.
- Alliteration is one way to stack a sermon sandwich. I don’t know what you call this homiletic form, but I enjoyed the sermon…
- …But I don’t know what to make of this message. At least it’s less than 2 minutes long. Check out the video.
- 80 % of Word Entertainment (the music label that’s home to King and Country and Francesca Battistelli) has been sold by Warner Music to Curb Records.
- GQ — your source for fashion and grooming trends — looks at TV networks trying to make the Bible cool.
- KidMin Korner: The last thing they want to do is listen to a speaker. So how do you speak to them?
- The only time I ever watched Mother Angelica was on hotel television, but she was a fixture on the Eternal Word Television Network. She passed away last week, but the broadcasts will keep airing.
- Things We Wish We Were Making Up Department: “A reproduction of the Temple of Baal is coming to New York’s Times Square next month as a tribute to the 2,000-year-old original structure that was destroyed by ISIS last year in Palmyra, Syria.”
- Not so sure about the website, but to this reader, the article speaks of the intricacies built into the natural world by an intelligent designer.
- Tweet of the Week: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his phone for his friends. ~ John 15:13
- Photo of the Week: A North Carolina policeman prays with his two young kids before each shift.
- Because He Lives: Bill Gaither turned 80 on Monday. (Yeah, I know, not what the song title means.)
- Weirdest Thing I Heard This Week: Louis Armstrong audio on YouTube of the song Cain and Abel.
- Finally, have you had The Babylon Bee experience yet? Here are some headlines to whet your appetite:
This is Wednesday Link List #300!
- In scientific terms, it’s still a frequency, but we’re now seeing a church culture where once a month equates with regular attendance.
- Essay of the Week:
- After a rough year in terms of public relations, Wheaton College has named its first female provost. (I looked it up. A provost is a senior academic advisor on all things connected to Utah.)
- There’s still time to add this: Including a response card in your Easter Sunday plans.
- World Magazine speaks to a pastor in Brussels: “Our city is in pain.”
- Older readers may remember a Christian rock band called Arkangel. Found out on the weekend that Kemper Crabb has a book with the Howard imprint of Simon & Schuster. Liberation Front releases this month.
- Are some people taking Twitter too seriously? It all starts when Beth Moore gets her hair done.
- Today (March 23rd) is the one day a year when Jehovah’s Witnesses have the equivalent of communion, and most don’t actually participate. Found that last night in the middle of this article about JW terminology and ideas not found in scripture.
- Not Making This Up Department: “Justin Bieber is building a church. The non-denominational mega church is to be built in Tallahassee, Florida in cooperation with pastors in the area. Justin is reported to have chosen Tallahassee because of the ‘incredible faith’ of its residents.”
- Moving in Mysterious Ways: Here’s another way an abortion clinic might be shut down.
- Known simply as The Jesus Film, the movie has just been translated into its 1,400th language.
- Testimony of the Week: A four year old decides his life would be better living on the streets in Kenya. Now 17, he tells his dramatic story. (8 minute video)
- Tim Challies explains his decision to keep his kids in the public school system at a time when the tide has shifted to homeschooling…
- …Meanwhile in England, “Several parents have vowed to withdraw their children [as young as four] from a Church of England primary school in Hartfield, East Sussex, during an upcoming ‘transgender day’…Children at St Mary the Virgin Primary School will attend classes designed to ‘empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people‘.
- 7 Reasons in 6 minutes: Why Christians shouldn’t wear expensive clothing to church (or elsewhere).
- Television (1): “Black people (at least the ones I know) do not watch Little House on the Prairie… I live in Southeast Washington, D.C., where the population is 94% black. Watching Little House in “the hood” is a bit of an anomaly.”
- Television (2): Picked up the 2013 autobiography from former Mary Tyler Moore Show and Love Boat actor Gavin MacLeod and while I don’t normally read this type of book, something compelled me to keep turning the pages of the appropriately titled, This is Your Captain Speaking.
- A Time magazine article says kids need to learn about religion earlier after an incident where “Last weekend during a basketball playoff game, roughly 50 to 75 fans of a Catholic high school in Boston chanted: ‘You Killed Jesus’ at the opposing side, a suburban school with many Jewish students…” recommending this teaching start in Kindergarten.
- Sadly, a chapter ends in the UK on a now small but historic denomination, the Mennonites.
- Drive-by Praying: Don’t just look out the window at the scenery as you journey; make everything you see become an instant prayer list.
- Church History Flashback: If you live in the Northeast you’ve seen them, or maybe your region has something similar. A look at Kember scripture verse prints.
- More on the memorial service for gospel singer Joey Feek.
- Above My Pay Grade Department: Five reasons why God allows atheism.
- Addicted to Church conferences? Now you can sign up for alerts so you never miss any.
- Know a student or recent graduate in engineering or architecture? Engineering Ministries International is looking for interns.
- Opting out: A writer explains why she’s had it with wedding culture obsession, where weddings are seen as performances.
- In Canada, a much larger percentage of political donations can be tax-deductable in comparison with charitable donations. An MP is working to level the playing field.
- It’s still over 3 months away, but I’m already looking forward to reading Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why it’s Killing Us by Shane Claiborne. Scroll down to check out the endorsements for this important book.
- I wish I’d written this: Eavesdropping on a megachurch planning meeting in the lead up to Easter Sunday.
- After watching Coldplay on The Today Show last Monday, I thought that a new generation of worship leaders might benefit from a reminder of the dangers involved when hardwired sound systems come in contact with water.
- Shaunti Feldhahn with four reasons why men don’t ask for directions.
Instagram of the Week: Maybe this will change your image of rich megachurch pastors. Sandra Stanley writes, “He’s preached his heart out all day. I love to make him something special on Sunday nights…” In the same meal she also scalded the tomato soup and had to start that over as well.
If this is WLL #299, that means next week is #300! For our lead graphic this week, check out 11 Christian Book Covers You’ll Never Be Able to Un-see.
- Greg Laurie sets a new record for the largest Evangelistic event: “…[I]n addition to the 82,000 individuals who packed to overflow AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, more than 180,000 attendees participated in one of the Harvest America remote venues in all 50 states.” …
- …with over 25,000 professions of faith reported.
- Coming June 15th to a remote control near you: TBN introduces The Hillsong Channel.
- Stephen Altrogge is betting your church didn’t spend all that money for a sign just so you could post pithy sayings. “Our memes and church signs strip away the glory and majesty of the Christian faith. We are part of the greatest, most breathtaking story known to man… The glorious mystery. What angels and prophets longed to know.”
- Justin Brierley’s weekly podcast is usually a point/counterpoint debate, but this week the subject is sex before marriage, and on one side is a woman who “claims that the purity culture of the American church she grew up in can be damaging for young people and that sexual relationships before marriage are permissible for Christians.”
- In C.S.Lewis’ symbolic world, Susan Pevensie was essentially a Narnian apostate. A look at pain in The Last Battle.
- Image of the Week: A church in Paradise, Texas serves the community by having a mobile blood donor clinic pull up to the front door on a Sunday morning.
- Monday morning on this blog, I posted an article that went untagged and untitled, mostly because I wanted my regulars to be aware, but didn’t want to feed the frenzy of suicide among gay Mormon teens.
- Jerry Bridges’ six most significant lessons God showed him.
- Quotation of the Week: “…Not so long ago, such a remark about any woman, let alone a woman of God, would have provoked outrage. But here we’re all cool, in the know. I begin to feel embarrassed, as though blasphemy were not as great an offense as the faux pas of pointing it out.” A Jewish writer looks at the Hipster movement.
- Local television in Alexandria, Indiana covered the Memorial Service for gospel singer Joey Feek with a brief report…
- …Also posted on YouTube is Rory Feek’s complete memorial tribute to his wife.
- Providing Christian Education programming for developmentally challenged or handicapped adults and children can be rewarding, but there are five reasons churches hesitate to jump in.
- There was a lot of angst in social media this week because three of the top ten Christian books for March were coloring books. Yes and no. The data used was the ECPA list, but on the more accurate CBA list, the highest ranking coloring book was #14. (link is to a .pdf of the list) Are the critics saying this is reflection on the Christian publishing industry or the book buyers?
- It’s offering time; will that be debit or credit? A look at e-tithing in the modern church.
- A Canadian dentist, serving in Rwanda asks, “What if I told you that in your circumstance, be it work or “ministry”, family and friends, that the efforts you were focused on could be robbed from you the next day? That someone could potentially murder the people you were witnessing to or mentoring? It would change your perspective pretty quickly.” …
- …And from the same author, same blog: Power vs. Fear, Honor vs. Shame, Truth vs. Lies. A look at worldviews.
- Billy Graham’s people say he signed a Bible for Donald Trump fairly typically. Paula White says it was a prophetic word.
- It’s only their 4th episode and The Deconstructionist Podcast scored a Rob Bell interview.
- A confession in the 2015 Vatican leaked documents case.
- Writer’s Workshop: Donald Miller says you won’t change the world only by becoming famous.
- Can’t get enough links here? Bookmark Timothy Archer’s blog. This installment from a Links To Go from last week contains some great articles.
- A few weeks ago, Selena Gomez dropped by the Hillsong Young & Free concert in Los Angeles to perform her song, “Nobody,” which she says is about her relationship with God: “It’s about a relationship that is greater than anything.”
- Last week we gave you a full-magazine sneak peek; this week we’re offering you a connection to the relaunch of Spirit Led Woman magazine, with a Stormie Omartian cover feature.
- Changing perspectives on all things LGBT-related means changing rules on Christian college campuses including dating and public displays of affection.
- I Know What You Did Last Sunday Department: CCLI’s list of the Top 50 worship songs from March 6th.
- New Blog of the Week: ChristianLeak.com which was recommended by DJChuang. Turns out it started last June. It was new to him. And us. And has good articles. …
- …Here’s a sample: An interview with a Bible college professor on the differences in faith and church experiences between the U.S. and Canada.
- The 2nd Amendment or the Sermon on the Mount? Zach Hunt’s American Jesus Bracket is back for 2016.
- Parenting Place: New York Times piece says your children don’t want you posting about them online without permission.
- If you’ve been at the church thing for awhile, here’s nine people who attended your church when you were a kid.
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently met young people who have benefited from a Christian youth mentoring project that sees 90% of at-risk 11-18 year olds return to school.
- The Naghmeh-Saeed story continues.
- Beth Moore joins the ranks of non-fiction Christian authors releasing a novel.
- “You have heard it said, ‘I’d like to punch him in the face. I really would.’” Pastor and author John Ortberg takes on “campaign issues” at Leadership Journal…
- …and did G. K. Chesterton predict the 2016 Donald Trump campaign back in 1904?
- Blog Stuff: Michael Hyatt brings back the comment section. (And gets 500 comments.) Will Tim Challies be next?
- Worship Workshop: I kid you not, the article explains three differences between the Holy Spirit and a keyboard synthesizer. (Don’t read if you work for Roland or Korg.)
- Tweet of the Week
- I Kissed Prentense Goodbye: For this week’s closer, we couldn’t resist the clickbait of Joshua Harris’ 10-minute video excursion to Vancouver’s famed nude beach.
If you’re Christian & Missionary Alliance, your kids already own this onesie:
The Wednesday List Lynx. This photogenic one is an Iberian Lynx.
I was going to begin by apologizing that we spent all our link list capital on the Weekend Link List four days ago, but then the lynx and I managed to find some great items for you:
- Anne Graham Lotz comes out as an Evangelical Feminist.
- Andy Stanley apologizes for a February 28th sermon remark, and then sits down with Christianity Today to express it the way he should have stated it…
- …While a blogger takes the opportunity to present the op-ed view on the megachurch in general.
- A sad week, as Christian authors Jerry Bridges and Gary Smalley both died on the weekend…
- …And a public memorial service is scheduled for Sunday to remember Joey Feek, half of the gospel duo Joey+Rory.
- Missed this last month; don’t you miss it now: A study of 157 Christian biographies from major Evangelical publishers reveals some disturbing racial stats.
- ♫ It’s the end of the sermon as we know it, and he feels fine. ♫ …
- …Meanwhile, this Swedish writer says that preaching to the already-converted is not the right way to do church. (4 min vid.)
- The translation of the Biblical phrase, “Son of God,” in some languages has been controversial before, but now it’s caused one organization to leave the network of translators.
- That was short. Are we seeing the return of Tullian Tchividjian to regular ministry?
- Podcast of the Week: The only daughter of a Focus on the Family exec tells of coming out to her family…
- …While at another podcast, Rob Bell guests at The Deconstructionists.
- Where U.S. gun culture overlaps American church culture: On pastors, ushers and church members carrying weapons to weekend worship.
- Math Question of the Week: Which is greater? Ten churches of 100 people or one church of a thousand people?
- Author Max Lucado spoke out against Donald Trump, but maybe some earlier intervention might have helped as well.
- Pick of the Week from Worship Links: The worship leader as curator. Four criteria for choosing weekly worship material…
- …Continuing with worship; here are four challenges churches face when trying to fill a worship leader position.
- Provoke not your children to wrath. But if you did, this is what that would look like.
- Church Leadership Department: Hope I’m allowed to do this… here’s a 30-page .pdf preview of Christianity Today’s new supplement that replaces Leadership Journal.
- Ben Carson is moving on to chair My Faith Votes, “an organization that is going to try to help the faith community know how important their vote is.”
- Essay of the Week: When this boy’s Bible study got too big, the group was divided in two, with the younger half being peer-led.
- Provocative Title of the Week: Why I Named My Daughter After an Executed Slave.
- They would never state it in a slogan, but many Christian organizations seem to exist to “plant churches among the world’s most reached people groups.” (Read it slowly if you missed it.)
- It is a tattoo consisting of the letter ‘G.’ Find out why about 70 people, including some you know, have ‘the G tat.’
- Men’s Ministry that works: I love the story that kicks off this devotional.
- I realized this week that Kathy Escobar has been one of the longest running writers in our blogroll here. She wrote recently about finding yourself in the faith desert.
- Church Office Stuff: See if you agree with this one. The idea is that while your church computers can do amazing things, this 5-min podcast argues that you should outsource five graphic design jobs you’re doing regularly.
- Quotation of the Week: “Evangelical churches usually tend to be good at many things: Youth groups, for example, and children’s programs, Vacation Bible School, small-group devotional Bible studies. Parking. But funerals are not our forté. The improvisational approach of most evangelical services doesn’t serve us well when it comes to funerals. Our anti-sacramental impulse isn’t well-suited to an occasion that calls for sacrament. This is an occasion that calls for liturgy and ritual, and those just aren’t things evangelicals are inclined or equipped to supply.”
- There’s lots of buzz this week about a new Christian news satire site, The Babylon Bee. (Couldn’t resist the pun.)
- “A Christian who was texting friends about prayer was removed from an easyJet flight because another passenger believed he was a terrorist… The prayer group was called “ISI men” a reference to the biblical proverb ‘iron sharpens iron.’
- Movie Trailer of the Week: Miracles from Heaven opens next week…
- …And if you can’t get enough of Christian cinema, the 2016 International Christian Film Festival happens April 28-30 in Florida.
- It’s not a thing Evangelicals do, but last summer we visited a Baha’i home which had a meditation corner off the living room. So I was intrigued by this article at Huffington about creating a sacred space in your home.
- When you call your blog “The Very Worst Missionary” and announce you are taking your entire family to Africa, people tend to assume it’s a missions trip, when in fact it’s a vacation. (Language in the article may offend some.)
- Turns out Tony Melendez was in my town three weeks ago, and I didn’t know. Born without arms, the singer plays guitar with his feet, and years ago performed before Pope John Paul II. Good to know he’s still touring.
- Put your hands together: A Christian and Missionary Alliance College is offering a degree in gospel music.
- Breaking News: The Bible on computer! …Well, it was breaking news in 1955 when the NRSV was loaded into a Univac machine. “Five women spent spent five months transcribing the Bible’s approximately 800,000 words into binary code on magnetic tape. A second set of tapes was produced separately to weed out typing mistakes. It took Univac five hours to compare the two sets and ensure the accuracy of the transcription.” (Several pictures, including the one below.)