Thinking Out Loud

September 20, 2017

Wednesday Link List

This picture of Czemna Chapel in Poland is featured in an article at a Gothic website titled “Bone Churches of the World” where we’re instructed that “Pelvic bones become a chandelier.”

This is theme to Wednesday’s list, the opening theme to Wednesday’s list. Paul called me up and asked me, ‘Would you write a theme song?’ This is the theme to Wednesday’s list. (I think we’re past the part now that shows up as a preview on Twitter…Did anyone get the reference?)

  • She was a victim once, and then the Christian college where she was a student made her a victim again, several times over. “To me it feels like a David and Goliath situation, only this time Goliath wins. I just want to forget all this and go back to…when I was happy and safe and optimistic.” Furthermore, she had been studying to be a rape counselor.
  • Podcast of the Week (1): You’ll never hear scripture quoted more frequently or as helpfully on a difficult issue than in this podcast, “The Bible and Intersex Believers”  with Megan DeFranza, researcher and lecturer. (49 minutes)
  • Podcast of the Week (2): John Mark Comer sits down with Gerry Breshears to look at situations involving self defense, home invasion, Christians as police officers, and even pepper spray from an Anabaptist mindset of non-violence. (43 minutes)
  • Hazing happens at Christian colleges, too. Chicago Tribune: “Five Wheaton College football players face felony charges after being accused of a 2016 hazing incident in which a freshman teammate was restrained with duct tape, beaten and left half-naked with two torn shoulders on a baseball field.DuPage County Judge Joseph Bugos signed arrest warrants and set $50,000 bonds against the players…They are expected to turn themselves in to authorities this week.” 
  • More tributes and articles remembering Nabeel Qureshi:
    • Sadness – Nick Peters: “There is a picture going around Facebook of Nabeel after his baptism. He has his arms raised in his air in victory. In the past, it brought joy, but today it brings me sadness. I know it should bring me joy, but it doesn’t because I want to see the happy and healthy Nabeel again, and I don’t.”
    • Apologetics Associate – Justin Brierley: “Firstly with his friend David Wood, and then latterly as a speaker with RZIM he went on to speak to thousands of Christians, Muslims and skeptics and saw many come to faith as a result. His books, which married his intellectual pursuit with his own testimony, were widely read. In person he was robust in his exchanges but gracious in his demeanor. He was endlessly patient with his critics, who were vociferous especially within parts of the Muslim community.
    • The Question – Frank Turek: “Nevertheless, while it seems insensitive to ask this while we grieve, people are wondering why didn’t God heal Nabeel. After all, he was a brilliant and charismatic young man taken away from his wife Michelle and daughter Ayah, and the rest of us, far too early. Nabeel had so much more to give to his family and the Kingdom of God that his death seems senseless. So why didn’t God heal Nabeel?
  • Attending a Christian University & College Fair can be the first step for many students when searching for the right college or university. There are over 120 fairs throughout the U.S. and Canada each year…
  • …Related: A critical (at first) and then positive (the larger balance) look at the value of Christian higher education
  • I’ll let Ann Brock explain this one: “Christianity still exerts a powerful force in many black communities, but some young women are turning their back on the faith and returning to the older, traditional religions of their ancestors. The use of social media is letting the younger generations learn of our history and how the religion of our oppressor was more a tool to control and oppress than benevolent religion.” Check out Jesus Hasn’t Saved Us at the website Broadly.
  • Times of Transition: “We’ve all heard the stories of churches losing members, losing funding, losing their ministries in the wake of a pastor leaving…Perhaps the greatest reason for so much hardship during the point of pastoral transitions is because most pastors fail to plan for their departure. Unless you kill the church, you won’t be their last pastor. You’re just a temporary leader. There’s a guy coming up behind you…” This and four other causes for the pastoral leadership void.
  • Horrific Headline Department: Christian Refugee Children Denied Food Unless They Recite Islamic Prayers in Sudan.
  • Religious Journalism: Is rooting around a spiritual community’s founder’s past relevant? An analysis of a New York Times profile of Zarephath Christian Church in New Jersey‘s rural Somerset County.
  • “‘Praise God, I have NEVER changed my beliefs. I am seventy years old and I still have the exact same beliefs I had at age twenty — fifty years ago.'” That’s a common sentiment, but “In most spheres of life, learning new things and discarding old beliefs, practices, and ideas is desired and expected. Not in Evangelicalism. Evangelicals cherish certainty.”  (Be sure to read the full article, past the video.)
  • 🎬 Video of the Week (1): In a 4½ minute confessional, Crosspoint Church (Nashville) pastor Kevin Queen shares the discovery that his random act of kindness could have been a whole lot kinder.
  • 🎬 Video of the Week (2): This 2½ minute commercial aired in Canada during the last SuperbOwl game and celebrates the value of a shared meal.
  • 🎬 Video of the Week (3): David Platt says inviting people to “accept Jesus into your heart” is dangerous, damning, unbiblical and superstitious. (Just not sure why Charisma News has this as “news” since the clip was first posted in 2012.)
  • Buried in the Last Paragraph: It’s a short article by a pastor who empathizes with survivors of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but he notes that PTSD may set in months down the road.
  • I don’t have a link for this but North Point Community Church has kicked the bucket; the offering bucket that is. With so many people automating their giving online, they announced this week that they have decided to end taking up the collection at weekend services… 
  • …On the other extreme is the church that decided to recognize it’s Top Three Tithers. [insert fanfare music here] Before you say, ‘Well that was in Nigeria,’ not every Nigerian thinks this is a good idea, including the guy who dumped his church over this action.
  • Quotation of the Week: “For most of humanity’s past the Bible was not a book. For most of humanity’s future the Bible will probably not be a book. Many of our fears about the future of the Bible are based on careless thought about its history. We assume that since we first encountered the Bible as a book, this is how it has always been and how it must always be. Now, as the printed book begins to fade, many are worried that the Bible will fade with it. But it won’t because the Bible is not essentially a book. It is essentially God’s recorded words to humanity, and those words transcend any single medium.”
  • John Stackhouse isn’t sure he can trust an auto mechanic who drinks Pepsi. A look at the present culture of unfriending.
  • Coming this Saturday, September 23rd to a Planet Earth near you:  “‘Researcher’ David Meade says a hidden planet called Nibiru will crash into Earth that day.” End-times date-setting hinders the cause of Christ.
  • ♫ Music: This song has a weird title if you don’t listen. Mandisa with guests TobyMac and Kirk Franklin on Bleed the Same
  • ♫ Music: New artist Heather Schnoor’s just released video for All In.
  • Not enough links for ya? Check out Links to Go at Timothy Archer’s Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts. (There’s been several installments lately!)
  • Penultimate Finally, A liturgical dancer has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.
  • Finally, during 2017 I’ve often ended these lists with something from Matthew Pierce simply because you all read The Babylon Bee anyway, right? So this time around M.P. has something he calls Worship Leader Power Rankings, where I learned that, “According to LifeWay research, by the year 2031, all of the old people will be dead and we won’t have to keep shoehorning that one hymn into the worship set list because we’re afraid they’re going to get mad and stop tithing.”

We missed Parenting Place, Missions Moment, Leadership Lessons and Canada Corner two weeks in a row. There’s always next week. OR…you could email your suggestions. [Hint!]

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September 13, 2017

Wednesday Link List

LongBay Adventist Church in Anguilla after the roof blew off and walls were destroyed from Hurricane Irma on Sep. 6. Click image to link to story.

Welcome to Link List #375, and it’s a good one! I promised a tighter number of links, but this post actually runs longer because of the excerpts.

  • Op-Ed Essay of the Week: This is both hard to read and must reading at the same time. How I Became a Heretic (or How the Evangelical, Conservative Church Lost Me).
  • The Justice Department on the gay wedding cake case: “This case happens to arise in the context of expression regarding same-sex marriage. But the First Amendment principles that control here transcend, and will long outlast, the nation’s current dialogue about same-sex marriage.” The case reaches the Supreme Court later this Fall.
  • A Houstonian on what happens when Hurricane Harvey hits:
    ► “When your husband sends you and your kids away from Houston, you will not see him again for two weeks. You will have brought enough clothing for two days…”
    ► “On your unexpected cross-country “Hurrication” (patent pending), you will cry in a Target and a McDonald’s. All in the same day. You will yell-weep at the elderly man ‘in charge’ of the safety mask section at Lowe’s because he doesn’t know if they are mold-proof or not…”
    ► “You will not care what Joel Osteen did or did not do. You will be too tired for that.”
  • Nabeel Qureshi enters the final stages of life.
  • This article on Gateway Church contains many revelations, including that “…[Pastor Robert] Morris has always been clear about his target audience: businessmen and entrepreneurs.” And that, “Gateway Church has been accused of erasing the line between church and state, and there is merit to the charge.”
  • Missional church planting advocate and prolific author Michael Frost:
    • “You don’t seem to read or hear many ministers quoting Jesus’ words about family while trying to defend traditional marriage.”
    • “Jesus completely redefines family. His is a radically new social order, a welcoming, open community not forged by bloodlines or betrothals, but by repentance and discipleship.”
    • “And when he says that, he means it. Not like all those churches you’ve visited that said they were a family but no one talked to you.”
    • “And in a cold and brutish Roman empire where all men had three women at their disposal…where orphans and childless widows were as good as dead, where sojourners and strangers weren’t welcome, the new social order embodied by the Christian community was gold!”
    • Check out “Jesus wasn’t real big on the biological family.”
  • Regular readers here know I’m not a fan of Operation Christmas Child, the “shoebox ministry” of Samaritan’s Purse. (If not see this plus its comments section.) But it’s concern over the politics of Franklin Graham that are leaving some looking elsewhere this Christmas. Baptist News offers, looking a little closer to home this year, Ten Alternatives to Operation Christmas Child.
  • Overcompensating: Citing an Ohio University study, the website Science Alert reports that atheists are nicer than Christians, but for a reason.
  • Retro-Link: Going all the way back to May, Timothy Archer posted this link last week, and I decided it was worth sharing: 3 Quick Ways to Improve Short Term Missions Trips:
    1. Stop calling it a “Short Term Mission Trip”
    2. Put away your wallet.
    3. Think beyond the short term hit and run.
  • Another study reported that while acceptance of evolution is widespread, when you look only at stats from atheists and the non-religious showed that one in five have problems with that science in the UK and that jumps to one in three in Canada.
  • Church History Department: Meet Benjamin Lay, the 18th Century Quaker dwarf abolitionist: “…only four foot seven in height; his head was large in proportion to his body, the features of his face were remarkable … He was hunch-backed, with a projecting chest, below which his body become much contracted. His legs were so slender, as to appear almost unequal to the purpose of supporting him…” He opposed slavery and racism.
  • The times we feel we lost faith: “This can happen at any age in life and when not given enough attention, the phase can last multiple seasons, even several years for many individuals. These periods of time can produce drastic effects on our attitudes and behaviors. They have the ability to change the way we act and respond to both situations and circumstances. A loss of faith can be powerful enough to tear families apart and end life-long friendships. Even worse, they create separation with God.”
  • When Henri Nouwen left his academic job to work for L’Arche, he joined an organization headed by Jean Vanier. Meet the Templeton Prize winning advocate for the value of each person. (Links to a series of seven videos.)…
  • …also at Englewood Review of Books, some cartoons with a difference. Sabbath Wanderings by John Dease.
  • Latest Barna Research: 71% of respondents say sex education should include practical skills reinforcing abstinence.
  • Are some kids too young to make life-altering decisions? “At just 12-years-old, Patrick Mitchell, begged with his mother to begin taking estrogen hormones after doctors diagnosed him with gender dysphoria – a condition where a person experiences distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.” Now, he’s reconsidered and is changing back.
  • Provocative Title of the Week: “Heroin in the Hymnals” a review of the Netflix series, Ozark.
  • ♫ Welcome another church promoting its worship resources a la Hillsong, Bethel, Gateway, etc. The Belonging Co. is a church in Nashville with lead pastors Henry & Alex Seeley. From their debut worship album, All The Earth, this video is titled Peace Be Still featuring Lauren Daigle.
  • Stuck at cocktail parties to describe what you do for a living? Peter Enns doesn’t have that problem, he now tells people he’s a Bibliogian©.
  • A fire at an Assemblies of God church in southwest Arkansas is believed to be arson; an attempt to cover up a burglary.
  • One more about Nashville, asking the musical question, “Can We Stop Making Statements on Sexual Ethics?” 
  • Video of the Week: A full interview with Pastor Lim, held in prison in North Korea for over two years.
  • In Italy, a ten-year old girl is washed out to sea by a rip tide and is rescued by a 17-year old with Down Syndrome.
  • Not Lost in Translation: First year students in theological colleges across the UK will get a glossary to help translate the Book of Common Prayer.
  • ♫ New Music: Real Love by Blanca.
  • ♫ Vintage CCM (from 1974): I’ve Been Wanting To by Pat Terry.
  • They are 104 and 92 respectively. They’ve been married for 75 years. Their names will sound familiar this week: Harvey and Irma
  • I have a friend who regularly frequents the religion and Christianity pages of Reddit. In one forum, the question, “Protestants, if the Catholic and Orthodox Churches were to join back together, would you join the Cathodox church?
  • Finally, rather than link you to this video, we’re embedding it here. Can a robot be a priest? Meet Pepper, the Robo Priest.

Parenting Place, Catholic Corner, Canada Corner, Leadership Lessons, et al will return.

August 30, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Just because it’s not mentioned in the links below doesn’t mean we’re not fully following the events in Houston, TX and the surrounding area. We stare at the screen in horror as the stories are told. It’s tempting to say, ‘Thank goodness it’s not else,’ but at that level of water saturation, no one is immune if a weather system parks itself over an area for several days. Lord, have mercy upon us.

  • True Confessions: In an interview about a new book, a former producer for The 700 Club shares his admiration for and his concerns about Pat Robertson. “As smart as Pat Robertson is, and as good as he is at marketing, he is also highly susceptible to his own hype. In that way, [Donald] Trump plays him like a piano. If you watch his most recent interview, some of the things that Trump says to Pat are really way out there in terms of manipulating Pat. He builds him up like a salesman would, and Pat is susceptible to that…
  • …which brings us to our…
    Quotation of the Week: “This bastard love child of the Church and the State currently calling itself Conservative American Evangelicalism, would have been unthinkable and abhorrent to Jesus. It it the full antithesis of his life and ministry, and of the grassroots, counterintuitive community he curated in the rural roads, rugged hillsides, rough neighborhoods, and dusty temples where he spent his days.” The writer proposes we seek to “rid the American Evangelical Church of toxic Christianity.”
  • To the Third and Fourth Generation Department: Meet Jerry Falwell III, better known as Trey Falwell. With a $4.65 Million loan from Dad, he bought a shady hostel in Miami Beach; what the writer calls “Falwell’s gay-friendly flophouse with an on-site liquor store.” Yes, you’re reading correctly. “The Falwell-owned hostel encourages behavior that would get Liberty students expelled—the drinking, the smoking, the advertising for strip clubs, the free shuttles to local bars, the possibility of co-ed sleeping arrangements, and so on. And they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to buy anything from the adjoining liquor store on Falwell’s property—an amenity the hostel touts in the self-description it provides to travel sites like TripAdvisor: ‘There is a liquor store connected to the hostel with almost anything you need for partying!'”
  • Zondervan author Nish Weiseth called it “a gross example of pastoral & leadership malpractice.” Jen Hatmaker said, “The timing is callous beyond words.” Nadia Bolz-Weber called it a “Perfect example of ignoring the hearts and lives of real people so you can adhere to an idea or doctrine.” Read about the anti-LGBTQ message contained in The Nashville Statement on Human Sexuality, released by Evangelical leaders. (Link to the actual document contained in the story.) …
  • …Nadia releases a statement of her own. Read The Denver Statement.
  • Choosing My Translation: For pastors, the translation used personally, or the one they preach from, or the one used where they’re doing graduate work, or the one the church has in the pews; these three may all be different at any point in time. Things about when choosing which translation the congregation hears in weekend teaching.
  • The man’s story reached the ears of the Dallas Morning News and they carried his story. Concerning that, this writer says, “I just find it astonishing that gay activists and other radicals on the left think that they can try to bring in the mainstream media and the law to punish the church for holding to orthodox Christian moral values. But this is why we call sin “sin”.  Read the fuller story of what happened.
  • The Apostle Paul, the original networker. “Paul did not create much in terms of infrastructure–church buildings, cultural centers, and the like. Instead, he discerned what was already available and used them to their fullest potential.” (The graphic image alone on this is worth the look.)  
  • Names to Watch: Denver Snuffer (real name, as far as we know) who is leading a splinter movement of between 5,000 and 10,000 Mormons from the LDS to something new called The Remnant. (Everything the LDS teaches is on the table this coming weekend in Boise.)
  • 60-Second Devotional: The sin of self-deceit.
  • ♫ Don’t know the name Cody Carnes? You probably know his wife, Kari Jobe-Carnes, who also sings on Til The End of Time. (Really like this song! So much so that…)
  • ♫ …Liked it so much that…same artist! Cody Carnes’ song Full of Faith posted just 5 days ago
  • Parenting Place Podcast on Presence: How to Be More Present With Your Kids with Kara Powell. 32 minutes audio. 
  • Non-Music Video of the Week: Check out this look at “real people who have wrestled with their faith, sexuality or gender, and you’ll see that these issues aren’t just about issues. They’re about people.” Dear Church, I’m Gay. 21 minutes.
  • Leadership Lessons: Thom Rainer called his article, “Six Traits of a Church Disrupter.” (I can think of a better two-word term and the last word is similar, Dis—-er.) #5: “He often assures the pastor and other church leaders how much he loves them and supports them. And then he goes and stabs them in the back.”
  • This Fall, a number of churches are embarking on The Immerse Bible Reading Experience.
  • Don’t ask me how, but I scored 100% on this 15-question test of Lutheran knowledge.
  • Canada Corner: The link is to the New York Times, but the story is that Canadian passports can now contain a “M” an “F” or an “X” in the space for indicating gender.
  • If you’re going to seek asylum in Britain as someone who has converted to Christianity, it might be helpful to know what Easter is or recognize the names of the Gospel writers.
  • Finally, you may have seen this item about Iceland banning American televangelists.

(Yes, it’s longer than I said WLLs were going to be moving forward, but it was a busy week. And I didn’t even get to Twitter today!)

August 25, 2017

Parts and Pieces of Praise Production

Yesterday we looked at some very superficial reasons which draw people into the larger music business with a hope that church musicians can understand their own music-personality type. Today we want to stay somewhat shallow (!) in looking at the raw practicalities of drafting the music for Sunday morning.

When it first appeared, yesterday’s piece‘s title was about motivation with this one being about methodology. Both are important and it’s something I first taught at a musicans’ seminar back in the — let’s just say a long time ago. You need the right people with the right building blocks.

treble clefFinding the recipe

If you look at a recipe, it’s always divided into two sections. First you have a list of ingredients, and then you have the instructions as to how you wish to use them. Worship planning is very similar. There’s a list of songs you want to use, but how do you blend and mix them? Perhaps there’s a song that is going to occur at the beginning and the end of the service. Possibly two songs might play off each other (i.e. How Great Thou Art and How Great is Our God). Some might stand alone, while others might combine into medleys.

Ingredients are key

You want to choose your ingredients carefully. Just as in baking, some elements might conflict. Some choices might be too spicy. Others might be too bland. In a salad, you go for color and music is no different. A seasoned worship leader will have about 5,000 songs in their head at any one time. Unless you get to plan a worship night, you’re probably only going to do about five songs. You have 4,995 songs to leave out.

What people are hungry for

Your job is to give people the means by which they can respond to God for his greatness and goodness, his holiness and majesty, his love and compassion; just to name a few. The songs should resonate with young and old, and therein lies a challenge. With different strains of ingredients (classic hymns, 20th century gospel hymns, Maranatha! Music, Vineyard, modern worship leaders, modern hymns, soaking music, Hillsong, UK-based songs, etc.) you can appeal to different demographics, or you can choose to present a more musically-unified selection. If you want to see a younger demographic, you also have to skew your choices to people who perhaps aren’t there yet. That’s risky, but some churches do this.

Appetizer or main course?

Some Evangelicals see the worship time as preparing the hearts of people for the teaching of the word. Some Evangelicals see the praise time more liturgically valid on its own. I personally lean more to the second position. Still you want to know what the sermon topic is so your two selections don’t conflict.

Toppings

A worship time will be rather uneventful if it is just straight singing. You want to intersperse related quotations, read one of the verses before or after singing it, include quotations, or even do a “story behind the song” type of introduction. Many leaders default to Psalms, but some congregants tune them out. But there are exceptions; last week in our church the readings were all from the same Psalm and the songs chosen around that.

A shared meal

One of the values of corporate worship is that there are things we can do together that we can’t do alone (i.e. just listening or singing along with an album or Christian radio station at home.) The music should somewhat exploit the congregational dynamics. There should be some lively songs (by whatever parameter you measure that in your style of church) and there should be some songs where the beauty of blended voices can be both heard and felt. There’s also a value to silence.

When people like the recipe, don’t take credit

It’s very humble to say, “God gave me these songs this week;” but better to deflect the credit to the creators of the songs, or best, God Himself. “This is a new song, written by a musician who God is really using to stir us to deeper worship.” Or, “This song really focuses on God’s knowledge and wisdom and helps us consider how the ways of the Lord are so much beyond anything we could understand.” With opening statements like that it takes the focus away from you; you’re seen rather as a hunter and gatherer of worship that’s already out there.

We’re part of a much larger banquet

Occasionally, I would remind our congregation of the vast number of churches that were joining us in worship across our city, across our denomination, and in our nation; and then I would remind them that in North America, we occupy a place at the end of the timezones, joining a worship service that has been taking place around the world that weekend. Just thinking about that now, I am reminded of its potential to reshape how we approach worship.

So those are the superficial factors. But there are also some very spiritual considerations. That would make a great third part to this weekend series, but Laura covered that for us so well I’m going to invite you to simply click here.

August 24, 2017

The Personality of the Platform People

So what attracts people to work in the music industry? A few years ago, writing under the title “Motivation for Music Ministry” (which is equally alliterative to the one chosen today) I looked at the traits of people in the music sector of the entertainment business listed below and extrapolated from that to make application to the church context. I also added one, at the end of the list, that I believe is more common only within Christian experience, though that’s not say that many musicians don’t have a cause.

Worship leaders: Perhaps finding what attracts you to music in the first place will help you understand your personality type as a musician.

treble clefPerformance

Some people just want to play. They live to gig. If you’re a drummer and you can’t sing, you’re never going to be center stage, and people might not even know your name, but that’s okay, right? The idea is to simply make music, either in a live context or in a studio. The busier the schedule, the better.

Profile

For others, being center stage is really important. They are attracted by the idea of being a name you would know. They might already have their own web domain. Or an agent.

Product

The goal for some people is just to make an album. They aren’t looking for bookings and they aren’t looking for fame. They just want to have that physical CD in a plastic case that they can give to their friends, and show to their kids some day. (“That’s neat, Mom. Too bad we can’t play it on anything.”) Sales in retail stores would be an added bonus.

Publishing

The nice thing about this as a goal is you don’t have to give a single concert or even be able to carry a tune. But if you can compose meaningful songs and get others to perform them your music can travel to places you can’t. For people who are happy behind the scenes, this is an achievable goal, though usually the singer/songwriter usually has their own material. For people who do perform, the goal here is getting their songs covered by other groups or solo artists.

Production

Just as there are frequencies that only dogs can hear, there is a smell in recording studios that only some people detect. To most of us, a 48-channel recording console looks intimidating, like the cockpit of a jet plane, but to them, the lights and dials create an adrenaline rush, or at the very least are all part of a day’s work. Their job demands that they live to serve the needs of others, but we know the names of many producers who have never recorded a single note themselves.

Profit

Although this can apply to any of the areas listed above, if we’re dealing with the area of motivation, then money can be a driving force. If you’re competent at publishing, performance, production, etc. and you need to pay the bills, you do what you’re good at.

Proclamation

This is the one I feel is more common to Christian musicians, though it’s not entirely unique since it applies to anyone who feels they have a message to communicate, whether it’s 60s hippies protesting the Vietnam War, or 80s rockers crusading for environmentalism. Today the message might still be anti-war, or racial equality, or perhaps gay rights. It is in this milieu that Christian artists raise their voices to express their faith or tell their story, though in the last dozen years, Christian music has been dominated by vertical worship which lessens the number of testimony or teaching songs being heard. We have, as Randy Stonehill put it many, many years ago, “the hottest news on the rack,” and so that motivates Christian musicians to make music which reflects their core faith beliefs.

…Of course, playing because you want to have a message to share is a noble ideal, but many musicians also fall into one of the other categories as well. They want to make an album, or achieve popularity, or be able to make a living from their art. That’s okay, right?

In Part Two we’ll look at some of the practical ingredients of worship, comparing it to a recipe that worship leaders bake each week!

August 23, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to the economy size link list. If you missed Friday here, we offered this explanation.

This week in the comic pages, Beetle Bailey learns what it does and doesn’t mean to find refuge in the church:

 

August 16, 2017

Wednesday Link List

The return of Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim to Canada from imprisonment in North Korea is a story worth hearing. We devoted our first four links to it today.

Each week’s list begins with a template looking something like this

This week we have several audio (and video) options for you. We won’t be so podcast happy next week, but we thought we’d give you something different. The listening/viewing time is shown in parenthesis after each.

From the image archives:

August 9, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Australian Wednesday List Lynx

This is list #370 and is truly one of the best. Tell Gertrude in the outer office to hold all your calls. The reference related to the above graphic, in case you’re wondering, is Ecclesiastes 9:4. And if you missed it, we had a Sunday Link List this week. (Don’t miss the lead item on potential changes to how religious content is handled at YouTube.)

Inclusion in the list below does not imply endorsement

  • Keith Green died 35 years ago. Johann Sebastian Bach died on the same day in 1750, July 28th. “When we think of the heroes of our faith, we list missionaries, theologians, and pastors, but often overlook musicians. Christian history is deeply indebted to both men and will forever be enriched by their transcendent legacies.”
  • New Religions Department: “His followers proclaimed him to be the prophet to succeed Muhammad, sparking a new religious movement based on his teachings, which was eventually called Millah Abraham. The new faith was adopted mainly by disenchanted Muslims. It spread quickly across Indonesia and Malaysia to more than 50,000 followers…And like many other new religious movements, Millah Abraham is dreaming big, with hopes to supersede Christianity and Islam as the dominant Abrahamic faith.” The Atlantic looks at why we haven’t seen new major religions.
  • A Ministry of Litigation: A look at “the Christian legal movement, a collection of advocacy groups working in the legal, public policy and public relations arenas to advance and protect conservative Christian moral values.” We’ll see them in court. The National Catholic Reporter called this overview, “Serving God by Suing Others.”   
  • Here’s a shock: Perry Noble has registered the name of a new church in South Carolina. Read about Second Chance Church
  • Trending in the Pacific Northwest: Yoga Mats Over Church Pews. A Yoga instructor who is also a Christian discusses the growth of the former while attendance declines at the latter.
  • Syncretism – Grace vs. Destiny: North America and Western Europe aren’t the only places where culture or tradition is imposed on doctrine. It happens in Ghana as well. (Note: There is also a Part Two.) 
  • For those who find 1,492 pages a bit daunting, the executive summary of Greg Boyd’s 2-volume Crucifixion of the Warrior God is now available in the 292-page Cross Vision (Subtitle: How the Crucifixion of Jesus Makes Sense of Old Testament Violence.)
  • Herm-and-Eutics Department: At least conservative Christians and atheists are misreading scripture the same way
  • Becoming Extinct: The Missions Pastor. Three reasons why.
  • Tragedy: Started compiling this week’s list and was met by this headline, “Kansas Couple Who Met During Missionary Work in South Africa Killed in Crash One Day After Marriage.”
  • Biomedical Ethics: At the public’s expense, 800 kids in the Britain are on “puberty blockers.” A report notes that “more than 600 young people are receiving the drugs from the Gender Identity Development Service at University College Hospital in London, with a further 200 receiving them from a clinic in Leeds…The controversial drugs pause the development of sexual organs, making it easier for doctors to carry out a ‘sex change’ operation later in life…” An expert in Psychiatry said the drugs “have been rapidly accepted by the medical community ‘without scientific scrutiny’“.
  • I think what this author is saying is that if we make a high priority of simply being in church each week, there are ways in which regular church attendance can thwart mission.
  • ♫ I Know What You Did Last Sunday: Worship leaders post their set lists weekly using the Sunday Setlist hashtag
  • Catholic Corner: A letter sent to a same-sex couple from Pope Francis on the occasion of the baptism of their children, should not be seen as an endorsement of their family situation. Rather, it was a translation of a standard form letter, with no direct references.
  • Has the UK’s Greenbelt Festival, always considered a Christian music and arts event, gone multi-faith? “The Greenbelt website reveals it has ‘received funding from Amal’ – a project aimed at promoting a diversity of Islamic cultures and arts – ‘to produce a brand new venue and programme at Greenbelt this summer, showcasing Muslim art, culture, thought and spirituality’.” Greenbelt Creative Director Paul Northup says, “‘Amal at Greenbelt is just another step in our long journey to model inclusivity and engagement.” One seminar offers instruction in Islamic worship chants
  • …Meanwhile, UK readers looking for other festival options have a few on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
  • What About Bob? Randy Alcorn writes, “You will be you in Heaven. Who else would you be? If Bob, a man on Earth, is no longer Bob when he gets to Heaven, then, in fact, Bob did not go to Heaven.” A look at maintaining our personal history and identity in eternity.
  • Parenting Place: The note left in the pair of jeans made no sense; “How could my daughter be writing those things to another girl?
  • Charismatic author and Pastor Rick Joyner on Donald Trump: “God will defeat anyone who tries to take Trump down…It’s because he has a divine purpose…God put him there and only God is going to be able to take him out. You watch what happens to everyone else who tries.”
  • Sports Department: Why is a private school in Las Vegas, operated by Calvary Chapel keeping silent about a coach they hired, even to the point of escorting a writer off the church property where his family has worshiped?
  • Interview of the Week: RNS talks to Jen Hatmaker, even as her new book, Of Mess and Moxie is banned from LifeWay.
  • Church History Department: A look at the time when “a Bohemian reformer called Petr Chelčický (1390-1460) stepped up and preached the message of the Sermon on the Mount: nonviolence, enemy love and good deeds. Instead of just reforming the church to a slightly better state, he wanted to restore the Biblical, apostolic church completely. He believed in the free will of the individual believer, criticized the marriage between church and state, and promoted economic redistribution and communalism…” An excerpt from the forthcoming book, Charismactivism.
  • Canada Corner: A Lutheran pastor from British Columbia shares highlights from the latest Canadian census results.
  • Student Ministry: Responding when youth express doubt. First and foremost, tell them it’s okay to express their feelings. “Young people need to know that we—and God—are going to hear and hold their questions without pushing away.”
  • Provocative Headline of the Week: Hillary Wants to Preach. “Scattered bits of reporting suggest that ministry has always been a secret dream of the two-time presidential candidate.”
  • Worship Workshop: J. D. Greear with 14 things pastors want worship leaders to know
  • ♫ New Music: The group is called Bonray; the song is Turn My Eyes.
  • ♫ Older Music: Tim Challies has occasionally been posting an order of service from his church with commentary as to what was included. A few weeks ago, they opened with this song, Hail to the Lord’s Anointed by Indelible Grace, video posted in 2013.
  • I caught last week’s Phil Vischer Podcast too late to add it to the list here, but parents might want to check out the interview with Rob Rienow on establishing a family worship time. (Fast forward to 34:42 for the interview.) …
  • …Which was followed this week by James Gilmore, author of The Experience Economy, a business book which has no application to the church. Except that in many ways it does.
  • 🎬 Christian Movie Trailer of the Week: Based on the book, Same Kind of Different As Me releases in October from PureFlix…
  • …Somewhat Related: ChristianCinema.com is transferring to digital-only; discontinuing Christian DVD sales.
  • Another leader in youth ministry violates the trust given. (Let’s face it, there’s probably at least one of these per week, but awareness promotes vigilance.)
  • Dumbest Logic Ever: A 1-minute video explaining why Lady Gaga is being sold at major drug stores.
  • Finally, when church planting in Sicily, it’s important to adapt to the local culture.

Don’t forget to check out the link list from Sunday.

For our lower graphic, Zondervan author Nish Weiseth went to see The Book of Mormon in Salt Lake City and found this advert in the program. Were they seizing the home turf advantage? Either way, she says, “Well played, LDS Church.”

August 6, 2017

Sunday Link List

An even rarer species than the Weekend Link List, the Sunday list has never been seen in the wild before. Images: Above: Wayne is a pastor in Hawaii, hence the lei (garland). Below: Click the picture to learn more about this coffee franchise whose name is inspired from a story in Daniel 3.

  • Breaking news this past week: YouTube to limit “controversial religious content.” An announcement on the official YouTube blog reads “…If we find that these videos don’t violate our policies but contain controversial religious or supremacist content, they will be placed in a limited state. The videos will remain on YouTube behind an interstitial, won’t be recommended, won’t be monetized, and won’t have key features including comments, suggested videos, and likes. We’ll begin to roll this new treatment out to videos on desktop versions of YouTube in the coming weeks…” All this in the name of “fighting terror online.” Is fear being used as an excuse?My son Aaron [ ] saw this and noted they are now “repressing content for the vague crime of being ‘controversial.'” Read the full statement on their blog.
  • Also this week, a major ruling from the state Supreme Court of South Carolina regarding Anglican parishes which joined up with an alternative denominational group which formed in 2009: “Dozens of parishes that split from The Episcopal Church over theological issues including the ordination of gay priests cannot take valuable real estate with them, according to a split ruling issued Wednesday by South Carolina’s highest court… Both sides have 15 days to ask the Supreme Court to rehear the case if they choose.” Full report at a local ABC News affiliate.
  • Some are spinning a story involving a Quebec, Canada nun who officiated at a wedding as proof that Pope Francis is softening his stance on women as priests. However, “the wedding was carried out according to a long-established provision of canon law. It allows an exception for a layperson to be permitted to officiate at a wedding when a bishop, priest or deacon is unavailable. That layperson can be a man or a woman.”
  • The Broader Culture: The headline reads, “We All Need to Admit That America Has a Tattoo Problem.”
  • Your Money: “A celebrity pastor offered a day-long talk on church finances. He promoted an idea I had never heard before; not in Bible school, in seminary, or from any other pastor(s). He began a practice early in his ministry of knowing the names of people in his church and the amount of money they gave. With this knowledge, he would make appointments with people and talk openly about their giving. I experienced ecclesial culture shock. This pastor’s approach was an invasion of financial privacy.” Should the pastor know what you’re giving? Also check out the — at this writing — 80+ comments.
  • Arts and Crafts and Cottage Industries: Religion News Service looks at people of different faith tribes sharing their belief through selling their wares on Etsy.
  • The book by a University of Missouri history professor officially published on Friday by no less than Oxford University Press. The title: PTL: The Rise and Fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Evangelical Empire.a precis by the book’s author Religion News Service offers .
  • ♫ New Music: Never Giving Up On You by Matthew Parker is the #2 Christian song in Australia.

August 2, 2017

Wednesday Link List

On an upscale Men’s clothing store in Prague, opposite our hotel

Something seriously messed up in our lynx picture file this week

If you missed it, there was also a Weekend Link List on Saturday. Remember, we try to avoid sending you to links with pop-ups or paywalls. If you see otherwise, let us know.

“God is Good … All the Time” – A screenshot from The Robloxian Christians, an online church we first covered here last year.

1Pierce is no stranger to writing this type of fiction. Type the following search criteria into Google for links to all 8 parts of The Exegeticals — ” matthewepierce.com: Exegeticals “

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