Thinking Out Loud

July 27, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Coffee With Jesus - True Peace

Coffee With Jesus bookOur graphics this week come from Coffee With Jesus, which is also available as a book from InterVarsity Press (IVP). (Two books now, actually.) Blogger Clark Bunch introduced me to the David Wilkie comic many years ago and he one of them weekly as part of his Happy Monday feature. You can get your own dose daily on the Radio Free Babylon Twitter feed. Also check out a 2014 interview Paul Pastor did with the creator.

This was one of those Weekend Link List weekends. Only 12 items, but it was a rather good list. Check it out. Yes, you. The one staring at the screen.

Coffee With Jesus - Talents

Since you were all good boys and girls today and clicked all your links, we’ll give you one more.

Coffee With Jesus - Closed to Dialog

July 20, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Evangelism - Moorland College promo image

The theme of the above picture is Evangelism, and was featured on Twitter in promotion of a September conference at Moorlands College in the UK.  The artist is Annaliese Stoney

I enjoyed putting this week’s list together and hope you enjoy it also. Please take some time to look over this week’s stories and opinion pieces.


July 14, 2016

Miracles Happen: A Review of Miracles From Heaven

Miracles from Heaven DVD

This review contains spoilers…

Miracles from Heaven is a movie based on the real life story of Kevin and Christy Beam, and in particular their daughter Anna who contracted a rare gastric disease in which her central nervous system stopped sending signals to her intestines, making it impossible for her to process food. Her pediatric specialist does not offer the family much in the way of hope.

But one afternoon while climbing a tree with her older sister, she suffers the equivalent of a three-story fall. Miraculously, she has little more than a concussion. There are no broken bones, no spinal injury.

Even more amazing is when it becomes apparent that the fall has caused a jump re-start of her nervous system and thereby kickstarted her intestinal tract. At the time of filming, the real-life Anna has not been sick in three years…

…DVD releases create a unique challenge for the reviewer. With the theater run played out, the basic plot line is already known, and I’m a little freer here with information than if it was the theatrical version we were considering. We have a general idea where the movie is going and simply mark the various steps toward its conclusion. This isn’t an intricate plot, and so the emotional level of the movie is somewhat steady throughout the first two-thirds of the film.

On this however, my wife and I had different reactions. At the beginning I noted to her that they seemed to be moving rather quickly, with some scenes rather abruptly jump-cutting to the next. But she felt the the movie dragged in places and could have moved faster.

It’s also difficult to watch as a parent. You empathize with the tremendous stress the entire family is experiencing. And as someone who isn’t a fan of medical drama, the hospital scenes are more documentary than entertainment.

But it’s hard not to be invested in the final third of the movie when Anna’s miracle happens. We long for happy endings, and this movie does not disappoint. There’s also an element at the end which is similar to the movie Heaven is For Real which released from the same production company; in fact there is an edition of the DVD available in which Heaven and Miracles are bundled into a single package.

The film’s purpose is not to discuss the validity of miracles in an age of science and skepticism, however there are some realistic moments where the possibility of facing this story with doubt and disbelief are brought to the surface. (On this I am reminded of the blind man in John 9:25 who is faced with people wanting to know the why and the how: “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!“)

Christy Beam’s faith is fragile, perhaps even non-existent at points in the journey. It’s understandable, given the situation the family faces, not only with the daughter’s illness, but also the financial stress. Some of the people in her church, like Job’s comforters, don’t exactly help either. While those people are southern stereotypes, the portrayal of her church seems realistic.

I did not see Heaven is for Real but I’m glad I got to see this one. The DVD released officially on Tuesday. Enjoy the preview below or learn more at .



Thanks to Sony Entertainment Canada and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. for providing a pre-release screening link to this movie.

July 13, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Ken Ham watches from the sidelines as kids take a selfie with Bill Nye the Science Guy at the Ark Encounter.

Ken Ham watches from the sidelines as kids take a selfie with Bill Nye the Science Guy at the Ark Encounter. Nye said,“On a hopeful note, the parking lots were largely empty, and the ark building is unfinished. We can hope it will close soon.” More on his visit at Religion News Service.

Welcome to link list #316. As in John 3:16.

They do things like this where we live.

They do things like this where we live.

July 9, 2016

Media to Fill Your Home

It’s been awhile, but this is the third time for this article here, this time with revisions…

I’ve previously written here about how we’re big fans of sermon audio when we travel, and as someone who works in a Christian bookstore environment, it’s a given that I’m a huge booster of Christian books and music.

But today I want to approach this from a slightly different perspective. Many times I’ve written about the battle that goes on for our thought life, and how this takes place on a moment by moment basis. Back in June, I posted a great analysis of the types of thoughts, that are going on in our heads at any given point in time.

I don’t spend a lot of time commuting, but I am increasingly aware of the contrast that exists between the mental processes that take place when I omit to turn on the radio — which is mostly presets for Christian stations — and drive in silence, versus the times I have worship songs playing. This is a giant contrast in my thoughts and attitude, not a mild difference.

Listening to Bible Teaching

I frequently listen to sermons from Willow Creek, The Meeting House, Woodland Hills and North Point, in addition to live sermons at church, and the occasional streaming of conferences.

Life was not always so.

I can remember asking my parents why they had to constantly listen to more preacher programs. Their media of choice was WDCX, an FM station in Buffalo, and WHLD, a Buffalo AM outlet. Of course, my choice would have been Top 40 rock station 1050 CHUM in Toronto. I think that was the real issue.

But today, although I hunger to learn and grow and discover more about Christ through what others have learned, I also am acutely aware of what happens in the absence of Christian media in the home.

Bible teaching can come in other forms besides radio and television. There are the aforementioned sermons-on-demand and live-streaming church services on the internet, plus many pastors often do a separate podcast. But there are still audio CDs of sermons kicking around, and of course books.

Reading Christian Books

One of my latest rants is that, in the average 21st Century family, I’m not sure the kids have ever seen dad sitting in a chair reading, and here I’m speaking of reading anything, a newspaper or magazine would suffice. How much more is it important to take time out and immerse yourself in the Bible, devotional material and study resources. If you missed it, I encourage you to read an article we did on Bill Hybels’ “Chair Time” concept.

Listening to Christian Music

For some Christ-followers, the dominant form of uplifting, inspirational and wholesome media is Christian music; which may consist of hymns, mass choirs, southern gospel, adult contemporary, Christian rock in all its various genres, and the current favorite, modern worship.

Again, these can be accessed in various forms. Some choose mp3 files which can be played back in the car and in the home. Many people are still buying music CDs. Christian music song videos abound on video sharing sites like YouTube. There is an abundance of Christian radio available online, and here in North America, most people live within range of a broadcast station that plays music, teaching or a mix of both.

But I have to say that as a worship leader, nothing compares to the songs what you experience in a worship environment with your faith family. Even today, I hear a song and I’ll remember which church I was in when I heard it and who was leading worship that day. Or I’ll be reading a scripture and I’ll recognize the verse as a line from a worship lyric. If you happen to be blessed with a gift that allows you to play in the worship band, a particular song can get stuck in your head for hours, and in a good way.

For a listing of some of my favorite songs with video, visit the sidebar in the right margin at Christianity 201.

Christian Movies

Our family was never a movie-culture family. We’ve been to the cineplex less than a dozen times, ever. But the production of Christian cinema has exploded over the last few years, and if you’re the type who enjoys gathering everyone around the home theater there are now some really decent films from which to choose, plus you’re supporting a genre that has tremendous outreach potential. You can purchase DVDs — great for loaning out after you’re done — or stream movies live.

Listening to God

These varied media I find to be a positive alternative to anything else, and in fact fulfill a direct instruction from scripture:

Phillips – Col. 3: 16-17 Let Christ’s teaching live in your hearts, making you rich in the true wisdom. Teach and help one another along the right road with your psalms and hymns and Christian songs, singing God’s praises with joyful hearts.

What will control your thought life this week?

July 6, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Taste and See t-shirt

Welcome to link list #315. I don’t know why I’ve been more conscious of the numbers lately. Perhaps it’s a case of, “Have I really been doing this that long?”

We also had a weekend link list on Saturday. Probably our best. If you missed it, click this link. I think the news-writing and blog-creating machinery in the U.S. wasn’t fully cranked up after the July 4th break, so the weekend list is really worth reading.

  • We’ve seen a variety of depictions of the life of Jesus in film, but this time around it’s coming to virtual reality. “The 90-minute film will be available on all major mobile and premium VR platforms including Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive, according to the companies. Pricing has not yet been set.” More info at Variety.
  • Not only were New Testament Christians never called to “execute” gays, but the actually were never told to kill anyone.
  • Here I Am To Lead Worship: So what happens when you really, really like the song but the ministry stream it flows from is considered a bit iffy by people in your congregation? This response appeared in May, but is worth studying. Priority one should be to minimize distractions.
  • After seeing the admission price, our family won’t be going to Ken Ham’s Noah’s Ark Experience anytime soon. A writer looks at some issues appearing in a Yahoo News story about the opening.
  • Leadership Lessons: The childhood notion that bigger is better can creep into our thinking when it comes to our ministry life.
  • Life Lessons: It’s important to deal with conflict as quickly as possible.
  • Have problems maintaining a Bible reading and study routine? Maybe you should blame neural plasticity.
  • Several months ago we wrote about the bizarre world of domestic discipline, which occurs in some Christian marriages.  It turns up again as a reader reaches out for advice.
  • Provocative Header of the Week: A UK Christian website asks, Can You Wear a Bikini to Church? It’s an illustrated article, too. (Have you got you yet?) And a metaphor breaks out.
  • Carnival Cruises looks to group sales — including church and religious groups — for its future growth. (I got an idea: A 1 Corinthians 13 themed cruise called The Love Boat.)
  • A seasonal ministry statement worth repeating: “Camp is holy ground. Camp is the church outside of the building. Camp is kids from different congregations and cities coming together to worship and serve, to learn and love. It should not be a peripheral ministry, but one central to who and what the church claims to be. Camp is the body of Christ.” …
  • …However; while the kids are at camp or at VBS, do you want them to learn a new sport, or do arts-and-crafts, or would you rather they learned about community organization and civil rights
  • If there’s a millennial in your house, they might be suffering from Obsessive Comparison Disease.
  • As part of proposed anti-terrorism measures, Russia wants to ban religious gatherings in homes.
  • I think there’s some typos in a key paragraph, but I did resonate with this article about the “cult of positivity” and you will, too if you know people who are positive all the time.
  • Five paragraphs is all that was needed: A writer asks, “Does my pastor’s education matter?
  • With British Prime Minister David Cameron stepping down in the wake of the Brexit fiasco, there’s one thing he wants to be remembered for (and readers here will likely not agree that it was a great accomplishment.)
  • We thought it might be good to have a link item about God. (Just for something radical.) “…[W]e don’t want to make the mistake of choosing God’s immanence over His transcendence. Both are a part of His revealed nature.” When God is too close or too far
  • Oh, my!
  • Gospel music superstar Shirley Caesar was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • Jumping on the Trend Wagon: Editors of Canada’s national Evangelical magazine, Faith Today, decided to go with a coloring-book themed cover this month.
  • Finally, Christian group infiltrated Toronto’s Gay Pride parade, but we’re not sure about the rather deceptive method they employed.

I Found Jesus t-shirt

June 29, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Attendance and Offering Register

Welcome to #314. If I’d named these consistently in the early years, I think we’d be well over 450 by now. I’m not sure, but I think the above image comes from an anon Twitter account; check out Lloyd Legalist

…Lots of Bible and parenting links this week…

Very tiny Wednesday List Lynx

Very tiny Wednesday List Lynx, but a very big list.

…As they say on Christian radio, if each one reading this clicks only six links, we can end this pledge drive a day early.

  • Church and Technology: Some churches have an online presence, but they’re not really present online.
  • Interview of the Week: A look at the relationship between form and content in our modern Bibles. Sample: “The danger of a cross reference system is that it becomes a kind of an out-of-context, distraction system that tells us this is serious study of the Bible when actually it can easily become a superficial kind of study of the Bible, unless I stop to do the due diligence making sure every reference that I am looking up is read in its own context, which, of course, is a time commitment.” IVP author Glenn Paauw on Bible clutter.
  • Essay of the Week: Perhaps related to the above, four modern ‘versions’ of the Bible that the author feels are destroying the Bible reading experience.
  • And sticking to our theme, a pastor explains why he’s returning to using a physical copy of the Bible.
  • A British education inspection agency appears to be backing away from a plan to expand its coverage to inspecting Sunday Schools, possibly because of the cost involve in training inspectors in the nuances of each religion
  • …but required attendance at chapel services or worship assemblies is still under the microscope.
  • Provocative Title of the Week: Christians Can No Longer Be Pharmacists. (But it might be prophetic.) 
  • Is America still the Christian nation it once was? Possibly the answer is yes, but non-Christians are more visible; more vocal.
  • Potential liabilities in homeschooling: The kids often have a limited anatomical knowledge or awareness of the facts of human reproduction.
  • With a local connection to the Windy City suburb of Hinsdale, Chicago Magazine unravels the story of — and lawsuit surrounding — Bill Gothard.
  • The church in Latin America provides a backdrop for seeing the nuanced differences between a heresy and a cult.
  • Apologetics apologetic: 5 reasons to learn how to defend your faith
  • …Related:
    6 reasons to reject miracle claims; and
    18 historical reasons to infer the miracle of the resurrection.
  • It’s a sad irony that regions of the U.S. which pride themselves on tolerance are actually the most intolerant of Christianity
  • Quotation of the Week: “The child… is a ‘viper in a diaper.'” More fully, “The image of the child as viper is intended to invoke the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity in relation to children. It is meant to transform the way we think about children’s so-called ‘innocence’ or ‘purity’ and consequently transform the way we think about raising and disciplining children.” A review of the teachings of Voddie Baucham.
  • The Trinity is useless. Yes. The article really says that. Scot McKnight looks at both viewpoints in a 2014 Zondervan book on the trinity. “The engrained idea is that the Eastern church fathers (Cappadocians) had a ‘good’ perspective on the Trinity because they began with a plurality of persons (Father, Son, Spirit) and only then attempted to think the unity of God.  But the Western church fathers (see Augustine, the supposed father of all modern theological ills) began with the unity of God’s being and then only thought about the plurality of persons at the end.” And then it gets more interesting.
  • Parenting Place (1): With our penchant for status updates involving our children, there’s a sense in which today every kid is a preacher’s kid.
  • Parenting Place (2): When a teen messes up “we immediately assume that the his parents must have failed him in some way. His parents must not have brought enough discipline into his life. His parents must not have prayed for him enough, read him the Bible enough, sent him to VBS enough. If his parents had done the right thing, the child wouldn’t be plunging headlong into sin.”
  • Parenting Place (3): In light of Orland, some little league coaches could use some editing when it comes to encouraging the girls to get a hit.
  • Know the warning signs: 12 indicators your church may be in trouble.
  • Perhaps it’s the writer in me, but I never tire of stories about Garrison Keillor, who claims the radio thing was a “42-year detour” in his journey. He says that this week he’s passing the torch
  • …Here’s an article by Keillor which I also bookmarked for this week. Living efficiently because life is short.
  • Roger Olson suspends writing at Patheos: “I have said all I have to say and am simply repeating myself or saying things that do not need to be said.”
  • Senior Master Sgt. Oscar Rodrigue, a 33-year military veteran was forcibly removed from a retirement ceremony because the commanding officer of the squadron,”did not want Mr. Rodriguez to participate as a speaker because, historically, Mr. Rodriguez’s flag-folding speeches make reference to ‘God.’” (Well, we can’t have that sort of thing, can we?)
  • Things I Didn’t Know: A former Mormon addresses LDS teaching that Christ’s atonement for sins occurred not on the cross, but in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • Hashtag of the Week: #IfTrumpWereEvangelical.
  • Not a positive book review: Warren Throckmorton looks at the latest from Eric Metaxas.
  • Better Book Review: RNS interview with David Dark on Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious.
  • Where the Treasure is Buried: A free download of 135 sample pages of the new NIV Lifehacks Bible
  • …Even better, 229 sample pages (including all of Genesis and Matthew) of the new NIV Cultural Backgrounds Bible.
  • Canada Corner: Christian broadcasting giant Crossroads Christian Communications has announced Context TV’s Lorna Dueck will replace John Hull as CEO. Not stated is whether she will keep her Context office in the CBC headquarters in Toronto. See also this announcement. Lorna is a former host of Crossroads’ 100 Huntley Street program from 1994 to 2002.
  • Related: A blogger gushes about all of Tim Challies’ accomplishments, but then criticizes TC’s rejection of dispensationalism. But buried in the introduction was this invective: “I have rarely met a Canadian pastor who has the necessary hermeneutical, exegetical and theological training to adequately sort through matters of theological systems.” Yikes! He just trashed them all!
  • Satisfaction guaranteed or money refunded: The 90 day tithing test of God’s faithfulness is up at Perry Noble’s Church. “About 440 Christians joined NewSpring’s most recent challenge. Of the more than 7,000 participants over the past four years, fewer than 20—that’s a fraction of 1 percent—have asked for their money back.”
  • Though two of the six men charged still face their day in court, four men were found not guilty on criminal charges after disrupting a Joel Osteen church service.
  • Christian music duo Leeland is now part of the Bethel Worship family, and is releasing its first album in five years
  • …and Housefires, the band that brought us the song “Good Good Father” is releasing their third album on August 12th.
  • So has anyone out there in link land watched Greenleaf?
  • Finally, we really hate it when you’re enjoying the concert, when unexpectedly, someone comes out to do a talk.


Everyone I Don't Like is Hitler


June 22, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Trump w Falwell Jr

Well, today’s magic word is “crop” which means what should have happened to this photo before it got circulated. But no, Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell, Jr. went ahead carelessly with this photo of himself next to Donald Trump who is standing nearby a Playboy magazine cover. (I’ve highlighted it in case you miss it.) Warren Throckmorton said, “One might think this was an Onion story…” No, sadly it was true. Skye Jethani noted, “Republicans and evangelical leaders don’t realize they’re losing an entire generation permanently by backing Trump;” adding, “We’re watching the realignment of political loyalties before our eyes. It’s an opportunity for Christians to rethink faith/politics.”

How about we clear our heads with some youth ministry nostalgia:

Paul Mickelson Album Cover

Apparently the organ music has a shrinking effect on the teens, not unlike Raquel Welch et al in the 1966 movie The Fantastic Voyage. Yes, this album is on the Word label, the same people who now bring you For King & Country, Francesca Battistelli, Big Daddy Weave, Point of Grace and Natalie Grant.

Welcome to Wednesday Link List #313. Fasten your seat belts.

Dated book covers

Elaine Moore’s book covers look rather dated don’t you think? Do a Google search and you’ll also find other gems by her published by Troll such as, Beware The Haunted Toilet, Substitute Teacher from Mars, and There’s a Mastodon in My Living Room. But there’s something eerily prophetic about the two we’ve chosen to show here, right? Maybe not. Maybe this equally dates the books. Increasingly, in light of today’s gender issues and bathroom wars, what’s pictured is probably becoming routine.

June 15, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Praying for Hearing

The Force Church

Door Knockers Please Note

Do not pet the list lynx.

Do not pet the list lynx.

Isaac the Intern was supposed to write the introduction this week, but spent the time hanging out behind the office petting the list lynx.

Larry the Cucumber Identity Crisis

So Glad I Grew Up

June 8, 2016

Wednesday Link List

When Theologians Go on Holiday

When Theologians Go on Holiday

Apparently Curious George is an equal opportunity monkey, having previously covered Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Hanukah, unlike those Berenstain Bears who I think are Baptist. More about the Ramadan book at this link.

Apparently Curious George is an equal opportunity monkey, having previously covered Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Hanukah, unlike those Berenstain Bears who I think are Baptist. More about the Ramadan book at this link.

The Wednesday List Lynx has some company this week. [Photo: National Geographic]

The Wednesday List Lynx has some company this week. [Photo: National Geographic]

Welcome to Link List #311.

Leonard Sweet wondered if perhaps this was the wrong place to situate the band?

Leonard Sweet wondered if perhaps this was the wrong place to situate the band?

I couldn't run the link to this lengthy look at Rob Bell's life and new book without including the accompanying picture

I couldn’t run the link to this lengthy look at Rob Bell’s life and new book without including the accompanying picture.

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