Thinking Out Loud

December 11, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Is she playing a Roland or a Yamaha?

Welcome back to another week. This is #83 in this Wednesday Connect series. My goal is to complete 17 more of these, which would bring the total to 100, which when added to the 400 Wednesday Link Lists would mean 500 news and opinion roundups. But there might be weeks we miss, or weeks that are smaller, like this one.

I’ve also noticed there are fewer and fewer people clicking the New Music links. I’ve had some direct email from people who enjoy this feature and I certainly enjoy discovering the songs, but moving forward I’ll try to limit it to a few unique selections.

Again, anytime you’re hungry for more, check out Michael Newnham’s Tuesday Linkathons at Phoenix Preacher, Internet Monk’s Saturday Brunch and Clark Bunch’s Satur-deja-vu; along with the various news sources linked in the sidebar if you’re reading this on a PC or laptop.

Also, on a personal level, I would appreciate prayer for an unusual health condition which reappeared yesterday.

A Methodist church in California has posed a controversial nativity scene and raised an interesting question: “Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center.” In a statement from the minister, Karen Clark Ristine, the church said that after fleeing a tyrant king, Jesus, Mary and Joseph became “the most well-known refugee family in the world.” Source and video report.

The Atlantic profiles Timothy Keller.

■ Essay of the Week: Christians grow best in the manure of criticism.

■ Radical! “A children’s author and poet has written a new book helping young children [in the UK] to accept the body they were born with. Rachel Rooney, who is also a trained special needs teacher, wrote My Body is Me! to counteract the recent “explosion” of books promoting radical gender ideology. She says, ‘It’s impossible to have the ‘wrong’ body. It’s a very worrying message we’re sending to children.'”

■ Eric Metaxas seems unsure whether his latest book is for children, or if it’s for adults.

Q: Why is King David’s “grocery list” in the Bible?
A: It ties in with a verse you know well, and besides, nothing in the Bible is trivia.

■ Who ya gonna call? “Dee Parsons is the sole Wartburg Watcher these days and is in my view the most thorough and indefatigable advocate for those who have been abused in churches or by clergy or church staff.”

■ One promotion; is another to follow? “Cardinal Tagle, 62, the charismatic Archbishop of Manila, a sprawling archdiocese in the Philippines, will take over the 400-year-old Roman Curial office which has responsibility for much of the Church’s work in Africa, Asia and Oceania…it cements Cardinal Tagle as “papabile”, a strong contender to succeed a Pope who turns 83 later this month.

■ I ran this as a separate post on the weekend, but if you missed it, acapella worship artist David Wesley has just released his 4th Virtual Choir project. 176 singers from 34 countries perform A Mighty Fortress is Our God.

■ Chick-fil-A’s new corporate donation policy: “What does all this mean for youth looking to work their first job for a company that truly follows Chick-fil-A’s purpose statement? If the third-largest fast-food restaurant chain in America can’t hold on, is it possible for a business to operate by biblical principles?

Lessons in replacing toilet seals and the Corinthian church.

■ The Harvest Bible Chapel saga: There are major penalties for what is termed ‘excessive compensation.’ Can a person become a millionaire on a pastor’s salary? Living in a world where “tax laws were too lenient on non-profit leadership that permitted excessive compensation.”

■ Sheila Wray Gregoire guests at Spiritual Sounding Board, asking women to help with a survey. “I’m embarking on what I hope will be the largest survey of Christian women’s marital and sexual satisfaction. We’re looking at marriage and sex from a whole lot of angles (if you’ll excuse the pun) to uncover what makes great sex–and what wrecks women’s sex lives.”

■ A federal court in Canada has decided that the Church of Atheism doesn’t qualify as a church, nor qualify for tax exempt status.

■ Though I might not agree doctrinally with all he writes, sometimes compassion compels me. This note by Tim Challies on the death of his father is a reminder how our lives are short and sometimes endings are unexpected.

■ Remembering a powerful evangelist: “Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke is the only person who could walk out into an open field, and a million people would show up time after time.” 

■ New Music: Heartbeat by Elevation Rhythm

■ A lighthearted sermon outline on the comparisons between Santa and Jesus. Who do you think comes out on top?

■ Finally, this rant, in the style of Greta Thunberg:

 

 

December 4, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Nativity Calendar Enhanced 2

This week our lead item and our Essay of the Week are one and the same. Some of its content isn’t new to readers here, but as a curator of various sources, the author exceeds the article’s mandate in a good way.

As to the above image, if your Advent calendar has a nativity scene that looks like this one, something is seriously wrong.

Apparently, as part of its two-year severance deal, we’re still paying the Wednesday List Lynx. Might as well get our money’s worth.

Essay of the Week: Ostensibly, Alex Morris’ piece in Rolling Stone is about the ascendancy of Donald Trump to near God-like status among Evangelicals. It does this, but better serves as a history of Evangelicalism in the U.S. as a dominant political faction that Washington ignores at its peril. Depending on your speed it’s a 10-15 minute read, well-researched, but also personal.

■ What if you couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving, not because you couldn’t get a flight, or because of the driving conditions, but because your family has rejected you for being LGBTQ? First Congregational Church in Beloit, Wisconsin opened their doors to allow a Thanksgiving dinner to take place.

■ Why do kids always seem to follow the religious identity of their parents? And why do some leave? The answer has to do with something called creds. (7-minute video.)

■ Joseph Prince’s church in Singapore recently purchased the shopping mall complex which surrounds their own sanctuary. The price was $296M and the church “has the money on hand.

■ Persecution of Christians in China — The Story Continues: It’s not just Evangelicals, Catholic churches are frequent targets, too.

In late September, local officials ordered the congregation to paint over the sign with the name of the church, replace it with “Follow the Party, Obey the Party, and Be Grateful to the Party,” and display the national flag at the entrance. What has hurt the congregations the most was the removal of a painting of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child, later discarded into a dark corner of the church. Instead, a portrait of president Xi Jinping was hung in the center of one of the walls, surrounded by propaganda slogans on both sides. A few days later, officials confiscated the keys to the church and locked all its doors and windows. The congregation lost their place of worship.

■ While in Japan last week, Pope Francis “denounced possession of nuclear weapons even for deterrence as ‘immoral.’ He moved beyond the stance of previous popes, and the U.S. bishops in their pastoral letter on nukes in the 1980s, who grudgingly accepted nukes for deterrence as a step towards disarmament. The Pope’s move on nukes resembles his action on capital punishment, which the church previously accepted in theory, but which it now rejects in total. His political theology seems to be an absolutization of idealism. Moral aspirations must now become policy without explanation of implantation or any recognition of consequences. Critics might say it’s one more example of immanentizing the eschaton…” (Immanentizing the eschaton?)

■ Latest Barna: What young adults say is missing from the church. For one thing, their friends aren’t there.

■ A long time ago, in a musical galaxy far away: Before there was O Come, O Come Emmanuel, there was O Radix Iesse.

■ Have you discovered The Accessible Faith Project videos on YouTube? This recent one aims to de-mystify the Pharisees.

■ If you’ve tracked the journey of Anne Marie Miller, you know it’s been eventful. Recently, The Tennesseean told the story of her freak accident which did major facial damage after a Nerf baseball bat slipped out of someone’s hands

■ Centuries before there was The Bible Project, the best visual aids to learning the story of the Bible was either stained glass windows, or what we today call fine art. This week I discovered the masterpieces of Biblical paintings at ArtBible.org

■ Parenting Place: Becoming emotionally dependent on your kids; using your children as an emotional outlet.

■ New Music: ♫ We actually posted a link to a rough version of this a year ago suggesting it could be titled “Away From the Manger.” Refugee King by Liz Vice is all about Jesus and Mary and Joseph and the flight to Egypt.

■ New Music: ♫ Again, the song itself isn’t new, but there’s now a video for Kanye’s Closed on Sunday. As Relevant points out, “no actual fast food makes an appearance.”

■ New Music ♫ Getting closer to new, this one is from May. Actually I recently found Jaisua’s remix of this, and couldn’t remember sharing the original. Gallery – Wind and Waves.

■ New Music: ♫ Living Room Worship – Let Nothing Separate Us. (Technically speaking, this video is Dining Room Worship.)

■ New Music: ♫ The Young Escape – So Alive (lyric video).

■ New Music for Christmas: With her first independent release, this well-known Christian singer rocketed to the top of the iTunes chart on Monday. Nicole Nordeman – What Child Is This/Fragile.

■ New Music for Christmas: The sister of Rachel Held Evans shares a new version of a classic; Amanda Opelt – Joy to the World. (Read the background on this recording.)

■ The people at Our Daily Bread are now offering daily devotional videos. Click here to watch a sample. (Thanks, Clark.)

■ Mary, did you know? As a matter of fact she did. The angel told her. Suggested similar songs that would never fly:
Abraham, did you know, that you would be the father of a nation?…
David, did you know, that someday you, would rule over all of Israel?…
Mary, did you know; or were you just, another clueless female?…
[I didn’t exactly make those up, they’re more or less in the article.]

■ Many are cold but few are frozen: In Antarctica, “It just so happens that the southernmost chapel (of any religion) is a Catholic chapel at the Argentinian Belgrano II Base (still over 800 miles from the south pole). And it has a unique attribute: it is carved out of pure ice

■ There are a number of “favorite books of the year” lists I won’t link to, but Russell Moore’s is always colorful.

■ It’s one of the shortest Ten Minute Bible Hour videos, but Matt uncovers a chapel in Wall Drugs in Wall, South Dakota. (See image below.)

■ Liberty University students were visiting Denmark to try to learn why the country is so happy. (I don’t make these up; honestly.)

■ And then, there’s the Christian college student who came out as gay during a lip-sync contest. The school, George Fox College, “holds that God intended sexual relations to be reserved for a marriage relationship between a man and a woman.” But student Reid Arthur won the contest, and is giving the $500 prize to an LGBTQ organization.

■ Donations wanted: Humanists UK is looking for crowdfunding donations so they keep a campaign going to shut down faith-based schools. (Where do I find these things? It was this article.)

■ Advent Calendars: The Associated Press reports, “Among rituals associated with the Advent is keeping an Advent calendar. Some reusable versions begin on Dec. 1, and many include windows, doors or pockets to reveal a poem, portion of the Christmas story or a small gift. It’s the latter aspect of Advent calendars that has gone completely bonkers in recent years, offering dog treats, bath bombs, socks, booze and even a limited-edition behemoth stuffed with pricey treasures from Tiffany & Co.” Check out what’s on offer this year.

■ Finally, I hate when this happens: “Mrs. Martens of Saskatoon has been checked in a rehab facility this week after it was discovered that she has been doing nothing but eating popcorn and watching terribly-acted predictable Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel for the past couple weeks.”

The Chapel at Wall Drug. See video link above.


■ In case you missed it: Brant Hansen’s song for Black Friday.

 


■ Bonus item from our archives, on how to configure your worship team on stage:

The Last Word on Modern Worship

 

 

November 27, 2019

Wednesday Connect



Biblical Disaster

So yes, last week I forgot to write this introduction, which is the part that’s visible on Facebook and Twitter, so… here we are! This week I mined our own archives for some graphic images. I’m not sure I was as diligent about attribution back then, but you can play click-the-pix and see if it takes you anywhere.

■ A pastor of a church respected for their charity and community involvement didn’t realize the impact some comments related to gender would have last month.

Normally, such a sermon would not only be expected in an evangelical church, but would be accepted as consistent with Scripture and biology. Nothing unusual so far… But they crossed a trip wire. The current culture rejects civil discourse, rational discussions, and honest evaluations of biological and scientific evidence accepted by many doctors which state that gender tampering can be harmful for children and, for that matter, adults…But this is the reality that many churches will likely be facing in the coming years. As this issue begins to divide families, communities, and churches, some will begin to separate themselves from organized religion and reject Christianity as a whole.

■ C. S. Lewis’ last words: “In his last published piece, an essay for the Saturday Evening Post entitled ‘We Have No Right to Happiness,’ Lewis combats the then-growing, now-prevalent notion that personal happiness, and particular sexual happiness, should be allowed to govern our moral standards…” And unpublished, “As was his practice, the accomplished scholar and famous author took the time, even while literally on his deathbed, to graciously and warmly encourage a child he had never met.”

■ It’s not just Evangelicals: “The former head administrator of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America was arrested Monday on charges he embezzled over half a million dollars from the organization even as the church ran out of money trying to build a shrine to replace a church crushed in the Sept. 11 attacks.”

■ The future of weekend worship:

In January, Hillsong released what’s believed to be the first 360-degree virtual reality (VR) worship music video…Now imagine watching this video in 3D, wearing a VR headset. The musicians appear to be right in front of you – so close you can reach out and almost touch them. As you move your head you are surrounded by a vast army of three dimensional worshippers – hands uplifted, swaying in time with the music… And with that, church is now available as a completely autonomous experience. Christians can have the world’s best preaching and worship piped directly into their eyes and ears without ever having to interact with another human being. Technology allows us to create the illusion of Christian community without the challenges it presents.

■ Pastors who go down the rabbit trails of telling intimate details about their marriages are probably the reason why the conservatives say you should just exegete the text. In this example, the pastor may not have been sensitive to the people hearing the sermon and the variety of home situations from which they come and, an hour later, to which they return. “So, to cap it up, pastors and church leaders, please preach as if one in three women have or will experience domestic violence.”

■ Best headline this week: “Mr. Rogers Was a Televangelist to Toddlers.” Sample: “He probably would have cringed away from that kind of title, but that is totally what he was doing. He was telling people that they are loved and I am confident that that was at the heart of his theology, that God loves us just the way we are. So if you look at the true meaning of evangelism, sharing the good news of the Gospel, he was trying to offer the good news all the time.”  Also…

■ …In this 9-minute podcast, Joanne Rogers, the widow of Fred Rogers, discusses the movie Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.His thing was reconciliation.”

■ We’re really quite different, aren’t we? “I joined a homegroup (Bible Study or life group) two years ago and as time passes, more and more of each member’s character is coming forward. It dawned on me the other day that we honestly do not have anything in common. No one does the same job or has the same friends or enjoys the same hobbies. No one would have met if it wasn’t for the homegroup. The only thing in common is our love for Jesus.

■ Declining Denominations: Yes, the Anglican Church of Canada is hurting. It’s the second fastest decline of any groups in the worldwide Anglican communion. What’s the worst? Buried in the story, one discovers it’s The Episcopal Church in the U.S.

■ Persecution, U.K. style: He was arrested for praying outside an abortion clinic. It violates “a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) that prevents people committing ‘any act of approval/disapproval’ outside the clinic, including ‘prayer’.”

■ Persecution, U.S. style: He was actually speaking rather softly but for that he got attacked in the head with high heels. “…No one did anything to help but look at this old man bleed.”

■ Also at Premiere Christianity, a response to the Catholic columnist in The Daily Telegraph who thinks it’s Christians who should boycott Christmas.

■ Ministry Occupation Options: Chaplaincy. “Each ‘call out’ is another walk with someone through their worst day…Those situations leave us realizing our inability to comfort at a depth that only God can reach. Christians have the promise of supernatural comfort from the Holy Spirit (John 14:26-27), but seldom do we know the spiritual condition of anyone on scene. Standing over a body is no time to make assuming statements about someone’s life, character or destiny…”

■ Going Deeper: A long-form essay exposing the literary brilliance of the creation account. “The biblical narrative is absolutely brilliant literature. However, it is more than that. Amazingly, it presents the basics of a complete worldview. It provides the nature and source of existence.”

■ I guess I hadn’t listened closely enough to the Eric Metaxas Podcast to realize that he was very much inside the Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham, pro-Trump camp. On the November 21st broadcast, both Metaxas and Graham affirmed that anyone opposed to Trump is demonic.

■ A statement from TobyMac and wife Amanda following the funeral of their son: “…We’ve been encouraging ourselves to stand on this….the place of death is actually where all that we believe is most significant. That God has the power to do what he promised, defeat death and give life to anyone who believes. So from the valley of the shadow of death we pray a flood of thankfulness will rise this week…”

■ Things she’d like to hear: Six questions to ask your pastor’s spouse.

■ Parenting Place: When his 13-year old daughter left a list of doctrinal and theological questions on his pillow, he realized that apologetics begins at home.

■ Remember that 5-year-old who got tossed over the railing from the third floor of Mall of America? He’s back in school. He still faces some challenges, but he’s got a testimony: “He tells people all the time when they get hurt, ‘don’t worry, I fell off a cliff, but Angels caught me and Jesus loves me, so I’m ok and you will be too!‘”

■ Our changing culture: It’s not just washroom/restrooms; now it’s the fitting rooms where you try on clothing. Two of the iconic clothing and department stores in the U.K. now say, “As an inclusive business, our policy states that customers are welcome to use whichever fitting room makes them feel the most comfortable.”

■ Finally, song parody band Apologetix has found a way to worm their way into your Sunday morning (or Saturday night) church service with their very own service time countdown videos of which this is one:



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

November 20, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Consider this your personal, engraved invitation from Kanye. For details, see story below.

■ Breaking/Ongoing: Churches and Chaplains are jumping in to help as brush fires ravage the north coast of New South Wales, Australia. 

“The sort of thing they do is mainly about comfort. They have an enormous amount of conversations with people who have gone home and found that there is no home, that they’ve lost their property.

“They’ll go out with people as they go back to their homes and talk to them about the reality of what they have just witnessed or help them to comprehend it and work out what’s next – being part of the process.”

■ Worth Noting: Michael Frost observes that the Evangelical establishment is quick to commend Francis Chan and condemn Jory Micah. “…Holding a different view to Jory doesn’t justify the cruel, hurtful, belittling things people were writing to her.”

■ The pope institutes a new sin category: Ecological sins.

■ Yikes !! Buried in the second-to-last paragraph article of this article on Mormonism, “Mormon missionaries… have publicly praised Wycliffe Bible Translators for opening their translation courses to them, thus assisting in their own translating of the Book of Mormon.” Really? Well, that was worth the price of admission. (Any WBT-supporters out there want to reconsider?)

■ Is Chick-fil-A softening its policy or making an exception? Todd Starnes recently tweeted that the company will be supporting this charity

■ …but you’re probably more aware of the story this week that the fast food chicken outlet will stop its support to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Salvation Army.

■ Even as a friend of ours is traveling India and Nepal and sending back some amazing photographs, it’s easy to forget that this is a region quite hostile to Christianity; at least until I’m reminded of detained Tennessee pastor Bryan Nerren who has “always known the danger” of ministry there. CT reports, “The danger of Nerren’s mission work stems from the fact proselytizing has been illegal in Nepal since 2017.” Despite the challenges, the area is experiencing spiritual revival.

■ Bible translation is no big deal, right? Not exactly; consider trying to translate the word for sin

…In Cameroon, the Bible was originally translated in a few languages, one of them being Ewondo. Different churches/denominations adopted these languages, and so I have been told that in the Catholic church they used (and some still use) Ewondo as a “church language.” My experience is that most people do not understand Ewondo well, so it is sort of like Latin mass. Since the word nsɛm has been used in the churches, people have gotten used to it and many now associate it as the Kwakum word for ‘sin’.

As we have talked about the issue, several people (though not the majority) have said that we are supposed to be translating into Kwakum, not Ewondo. And if they have a perfectly good word for ‘sin’ in Kwakum, why would you use a borrowed Ewondo word? But of course, that raises the question: Is sɛmbu really a Kwakum word for ‘sin’?

So, I went out and did a survey with two men (one who says nsɛm and one who says sɛmbu). We went to a total of 10 villages and talked to 48 people…This is how we spent two hours of our translation time last Friday. On top of that I spent probably around 10 hours surveying. This is all for one word!

■ MacArthur on MacArthur: Did he make nice, offer a clarification, or dig the hole deeper? You decide: “If women are in charge, we’re in trouble. And if you look carefully at our nation, you would have to agree that it’s childish, young, inexperienced, ignorant women who are ascending into power. When you overthrow the divine order, the results are always disastrous.”

■ Transgender Issues (1): On the issue of kids wanting to transition, a specialist says, “I’m of the opinion that this is a psychiatric problem and it should be approached psychiatrically rather than physically…”

■ Transgender Issues (2): …but this young person, after making the full transition, is left with nothing but regret. “I surrounded myself in an echo chamber that supported and validated my poor decisions, because the others were also, unfortunately, stuck in that pit, too.”

■ What if? Dealing with the fears churches have of inter-generational worship. “Just a willingness to be a little uncomfortable in order to grow, to learn, to experience something that may seem new to us, but is actually the way things were for centuries.” 

■ Canada Corner 🇨🇦 : Facing extinction, “‘Projections from our data indicate that there will be no members, attenders or givers in the Anglican Church of Canada by approximately 2040,’ said the Rev. Neil Elliot…” The historic denomination is a counterpart to the Episcopal church in the U.S. “Membership in the Anglican Church fell from a high of 1.3 million in 1961 in membership to 357,123 in 2017.” (But wait, didn’t we hear this before, ten years ago?)

Christmas Music: Joshua Aaron sings “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” in English & Hebrew Live at the Tower of David. 

■  Christmas Music: The group Switch performs Joy (as in the carol you know that starts with that word.) Love this version.

■ Church Leadership: Spotting arrogance in younger leaders with these seven signs. Sample: “All of the influencers in your life are your peers.

■ More Leadership Lessons: Dealing with ‘The 7-year itch,” in Missions and Ministry which actually happens in the 5-10-year window. Here are five steps when you are approaching ‘rusting out.’

■ Unreached People Group? — Recognizing the ministry needs of those dealing with sexual brokenness.

■ All I Want for Christmas: The Hallmark Channel is tapping into the longings of the human heart. “If you’ve seen one of these movies, you’ve seen them all…Still, what these movies lack in Emmy Awards, they make up for in something that those creating and distributing edgier flicks would kill for: millions and millions of viewers.

■ Back to Website Basics: Forget trying to be cool. You’ve only got 15 seconds. Where the heck is your church and what time does it start?

■ It’s a science test, and for your church-raised children, the right answers go against everything they believe. If they’re in Ohio, not to worry. They can go against the science on the basis of religious beliefs.

■ New Bible translation: PEV aka Plain English Version, “designed for Indigenous Australians whose mother tongue is an Aboriginal language.”

Mark 9:5-6
NIV: ‘Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)’
PEV: ’Peter, James and John were very frightened and they didn’t know what to say, but Peter talked anyway. He said to Jesus, ”Teacher, this is great! We must put up special bush shades; one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!“’
Eph. 2:8a
NIV: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God’
PEV: ‘God is really good to you. You believed in Jesus and God saved you. You did not do anything good but God saved you anyway. It did not cost you anything ’
2 Thes.2:12
NIV: ‘we had … been insulted in Philippi’
PEV: ‘Philippi people got really cheeky to us’

■ Provocative Headline of the Week: Dave Ramsey Pulled Out a Gun in a Staff Meeting. Well at least that was heard in a deposition in a recent court case. It references a 2014 incident which is fleshed out more in this story.

■ Provocative Devotional Title of the Week: I Am Done Praying With You.

“At one worship service of another church, the worship leader who wrapped his music set said a prayer, then the next person to go up to give announcements closed with a prayer so the next person could lead us in the confessional prayer, then the pastor opened and closed his sermon with a prayer, and the final guy “prayed us out.” While I am all for prayer, I am not for perfunctory prayer that is really just a socially acceptable way to wrap things up (or move musicians around on a stage).”

■ Shopping List (1): Got young grandchildren? Paul Tautges has four picture books you need to know about… or…

■ Shopping List (2): …If they’re just slightly older, these Bible story books and Bibles from a director of NextGen ministries.

■ Confused about the whole gender pronoun thing? The Quakers worked some of this out a few centuries ago.

■ And then this story: “Kanye West revealed his first ever opera, Nebuchadnezzar, will be performed at the Hollywood Bowl next week.” Out of all the people in the Bible, why this one? “Self-described as a recent convert and not a theologian, West understands that Nebuchadnezzar suffered from bipolar. West has the same illness and the artist explained how others have used it as a reason to cut him down and de-platform him.” 

■ New Music ♫ (rap): Dillon Chase – Paradise. “I’m heading for paradise / I’m ready for the afterlife / Tell me is this over yet / ‘Cause I know what happens next;” fun, escapist theology! 

■ New Music ♫ (acoustic): Okay, this is a coincidence. This (different) song has the same title. Coby James – Paradise

■ New Music ♫ (contemporary): If I’m reading this right, it was recorded in a cave. Matthew West – The God Who Stays.

■ Creative Sermonizing : “Brian Zahnd is a pastor and preacher in Missouri, and a very big music fan. He has done sermons using a song’s poetry as a springboard to a message of hope for years now. Recently, he did a sermon like this using Jimi Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower… I had never heard any connection to the language in the Book of Isaiah. Zahnd does an awesome job with it. (Link includes both the song and the sermon.)

■ Finally, with a previous ruling overturned, a Kentucky man will now be able to go ahead with his vanity license plates proclaiming himself to be God. (Pictured below)

 

 

 

November 13, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Ironically subtitled, “The Subtle Art of Appearing Better Than You Are;” this book won’t be appearing anytime soon. See stories below. [Image: Waterbrook]

An abandoned French chapel. “It’s on private property, meaning that the municipality doesn’t have to take care of it, like most churches in France. The owner, for a reason or another, couldn’t or wouldn’t maintain it.” Source: Reddit.


Often, when looking back at the previous week’s events, there is one story which sticks out and I wrestle with whether to mention it or if it’s best to assume that everyone has already seen it. This week, it was the revelation by Charisma Magazine of the indiscretions of John Crist, a Christian comedian.

So often, these are not happy stories. Each one however is a cautionary tale; and one that people — perhaps even one person reading this blog — needs to hear. But first…

Francis Chan is moving to Asia.

“I feel like I’ve been fishing in the same pond my whole life,” he said. “And now there’s like thousands of other fishermen at the same pond, and our lines are getting tangled and everyone’s fighting over stupid things, and one guy tries some new lure and we go, ‘Oh, he caught a fish, let’s all try his method!’ And it just feels like, what are we all doing here?”

■ …But there’s something in the way Francis Chan said it that has him mired in controversy. (Read the whole thread.)

■ James MacDonald responds to being considered “disqualified for ministry.” Spoiler alert: He disagrees.

■ Runs in the Family: Anne Graham Lotz on Donald Trump’s withdrawl from Syria as a fulfillment of Ezekiel 38. This is the sentence where the writer lost me: “…Lotz appeared on “The Jim Bakker Show” last Wednesday to promote her new best-selling book…” Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

■ Back when I was a regular listener, I got to ‘meet’ so many people through the Phil Vischer Podcast, now the Holy Post podcast. Two of these really stand out. One was John Walton, and the other was John Mark Comer. John Mark recently joined Skye Jethani to talk about his new book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. (Both are rabid Dallas Willard fans.)

■ Are you a fan of the CBS-TV show God Friended Me?

So, back to John Crist. Here’s what happened.

■ Our changing culture: A Columbia University theater professor resigns after being told the hiring committee he chaired could not hire the best person for the job, unless that person was either female, a minority, or gay; and then was pressured into casting a trangender student in the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. He said that America is heading toward the communism he left behind years later in Romania.

■ In another one of his visits to different types of churches, Matt at Ten Minute Bible Hour certainly found a colorful interviewee in Illinois with Lutheran Pastor William Weedon. (33 minutes; watch it all!) (Already watched it? Here’s the follow-up interview.)

Essay of the Week: The 1.3 million people of Estonia have over 700 choirs. “Much of their history is marked by occupation and oppression and they’ve rarely been a free people. As a result, they’re not known for their universities, for their innovation or their army. They aren’t known for great food, scientific exploits or their soccer team.
They are known for their voices.”

■ New Music ♫ — I don’t see a lot of clicks on these each week, but I do get encouraging comments, often by email. These three all originated in the same place. I went to confirm an event date on the website of Life100.3, a Christian ‘superstation’ (not ‘superstition,’ spellcheck) in central Ontario, Canada and found these three — none of whom I was familiar with — on their daytime Top 10 list.

♫ The band: We Are Leo; the song: Your Voice.

♫ The artist: Charlie Rey; the song: Undeniable Love.

♫ The artist: Joel Vaughn; the song: I Look to You.

■ What’s your theology of heaven like? What of this live will we carry forward into that life? Much of has to do with your views on the nature of God.

■ Irony: An Indonesian religious scholar, who helped draft one region’s very strict adultery laws was publicly flogged 28 times after being caught after being caught in a parked car with a married woman.

■ From our Anglican/Episcopal friends, “Songs for the Holy Other includes almost 50 ‘queer hymns’ by and for individuals who identify with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.” “…[I]t’s an amazing resource for music directors and for priests who are looking for hymns that are affirming for the LGBT community.” “There are songs about our created belovedness—how God created us, God loves us, and our sexuality, our gender doesn’t change that.” And yes, worship leader, they’re covered by your CCLI license.

■  A follow-up essay on the story of the mother and father arguing over the sex of their seven year old: “…our nation is so entangled with the diabolical concept of gender theory that, in this situation, the jury ruled exactly the wrong way: they negated the rightful authority of the parent who is striving to uphold nature and validated the authority of the parent who spurns nature. The reasoning is completely upside down.”

■ Did you ever laugh so hard you cried? That was the question posed to Brant Hansen recently. Click on Podcast #1023, and jump to 12:28 and listen to the end. (Had to listen to it twice.) (5 minutes total.)

■ Essay of the Week: “Let’s say your last meeting included five songs. Based on those five, would a new person be able to tell that you believed in the Trinity? In the cross? In the resurrection? In the return of Christ? … I have been in churches that seem never to sing about the cross; I was once in a church that (literally) never sang about anything else. The problem in each case was not the songs that were sung, but the ones that weren’t

■ Kayne is headed to Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church this weekend. Hardly surprising. It’s how TMZ reports this that makes it more interesting.

■ In Case I Missed It, Which I Did: This was published in RNS back in October in a report on the Evolving Faith Conference, co-founded by Rachel Held Evans. (Referenced in a comment on Saturday at Internet Monk.)

Dan Evans, Held Evans’ husband, also spoke during the opening session, reading an excerpt from a book she had been working on before her death… and which will be published posthumously in 2020.

In his remarks, Evans opened up about some of his own personal struggles with faith and Christianity… “I’m agnostic,” Evans said. “I haven’t been public with this.

“I wish I was certain we were all going to live forever,” he continued. “I wish I was certain we are all going to heaven. I wish I was certain I would see Rachel again. But it doesn’t seem very likely to me. I don’t know.

■ Names to Note: Addison Bevere is the son of well known authors John and Lisa Bevere, has a book coming in January with Revell, is the COO of Messenger International (his parents’ organization) and is the cofounder of Sons and Daughters.

■ Another pastor steps down because of a sexual abuse which was long in the past. “Charles W. Lyons, who led the 400-member congregation at Armitage Baptist Church for the last 45 years, resigned in July after telling church leaders two years earlier about his misconduct.” The events took place before he began his run leading the church. Why mention this here? Because this is yet another church in the Chicago area.

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers

■ Won’t you be my neighbor? The Mr. Rogers movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens US Thanksgiving weekend. (FYI: Fred Rogers was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963.)

■ Parenting Place: Using the new, third edition of the NIV Life Application Bible with your kids. “Overall, if someone knew nothing about the Bible’s background, this study Bible has more than enough information to get by while still not getting lost in the weeds with theology or historical information.” 

■ The 2019 Christy Awards for Christian fiction were announced last week. (See image below.) Patti Calahan’s Becoming Mrs. Lewis was Book of the Year.

■ Unusual Twitter Account: “No Context Chick Tracts.” Description: “The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Chick Publications as a hate group. There are many valid and effective responses to hate; we believe humor is one of them.

■ Hilarious. Not this tweet, but the 300+ comments. Captioning the Donald Trump/Paula White saga with a scripture verse.

November 8, 2019

Blogroll Update #11

Computer searchIt’s been almost a year since I did one of these. This is not the blogroll that appears here on the blog, but rather things I bookmark in my computer as I find them. If you read all of the various parts to this ongoing series of lists, it comes to several thousand. If you find something that’s a dead link let me know. Also, because the list is shorter this time, I’m including an updated list of the various sources I use to compose the weekly Wednesday list.

Blogs (new)
More Than Cake
Blog – Phylicia Masonheimer
Blog | Jennifer LeClaire Ministries International
Standing For God – In These Evil Times
Mark 12:30 – Worshiping with Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength
In the Fourth Nocturn
Ken’s Daily Bible Re
thinkingpastorally
SeanPaulMurphyVille
Out of the Depths
Jesustrek | Journey of a Lifetime by Tom Cox
BROKEN BELIEVERS
TXAB: The Christ Almighty Blog
The Apologista | Love, Life, and Logic with Lauren
BLOG – JimmyHinton.org
BLOG — Danielle Strickland
Faith and Leadership | Duke Divinity
Home Page | Vital Sermons
Brenton Collyer
Just A Thought
Home – Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy
In Pleasant Places
Gospel Taboo
ExpressYourself4Him | A writer’s journey with God
Rock Badger Christianity – YouTube
Peacehacks
Simply Shannon!
Generosity Monk – Meditations
Warhorn Media – Welcome to the reformation.
Church Militant – Serving Catholics
the Way? – Following Jesus in the 21st century
Spiritual Regurgitations |Rev. Dr. Robin J. Dugall
Nathan Hamm
CultureWatch – Bill Muehlenberg
Jen Pollock Michel
Todd Wilhelm: Thou Art The Man
Hare Translation Journey –  Bible translators in Cameroon
Practical Faith
Christian News Sources
FaithWorld | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters.com
Christianity Today Gleanings
Christian News, The Christian Post
Christian News on Christian Today
Faith and Leadership
Disrn – Brief, smart, faithful
Christian news, church news, **** – FaithfulNews
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
Religion News Service | Religion News in Photos, Articles & Video
Religion Dispatches
Christian News Headlines
RealClearReligion
News | The Christian Institute
Trending News – Positive Encouraging K-LOVE
OneNewsNow.com – Your News Right Now
HuffPost Religion
GetReligion
RELEVANT Magazine
Spiritual Sounding Board
CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com
On Faith:  The Washington Post
NRB :: LATEST NEWS
Persecution News of Churches Persecuted & Christian Sufferings
Forum 18 Latest News
WORLD Magazine | Today’s News, Christian Views
Religious News – SRN News
Christian News Network
News & Events
WND – Faith
Breaking Christian News
ASSIST News Service
Holy Post | National Post
Religion News Blog
Belief – CNN.com
News | LifeSiteNews.com
Premier Christianity
Mission Network News – Mission Network News
The Old Black Church
On Religion – The UK’s first magazine about faith and religion
God Reports
BuzzVine | The Christian Post
Converge MagazineConverge
Baptist News, Opinion, Resources, Inspiration | Baptist Standard
The Journal of Gospel Music –
Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project
Read the Spirit | Spiritual, Interfaith, Cross-Cultural Media
News | The Living Church
The Aquila Report —  Reformed and Presbyterian
Rush to Press, news from Christian publishing industry
Ecumenical News.com – Daily Christian, Ecumenical News Online
The Association of Religion Data Archives – U.S. and World Religion Statistics and Data – ARDA
TheBlaze – Breaking news and opinion
The College Fix
NEW ADVENT: Home
Now The End Begins: End Times Bible Prophecy
Gateway News — Christian News Portal, South Africa
ISSUU – Faith FEED
Parents As First Educators
Christian News on Christian Times
NEWSROOM – NRB.org
Religion Dispatches
Christian Daily
SBC Today | Southern Baptist News and Analysis
Christian News on Christian Today
Baptist Press
Jewish News & Israel News – JNS.org
ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
religion | The Africa Report
These Christian Times
Sports Spectrum – Christian Sports Magazine, Christian Athletes and Profiles, Faith-based Influences
Christian Examiner Newspapers | Christian News, Commentary, Events
Christian News, The Gospel Herald
News Archive – Mission Network News
News : BREATHEcast
Episcopal Cafe
365 Days Of Inspiring Media | Music and Entertainment Blogs with a Motivational and Moving Message For All Days Of The Year
BRnow.org – Baptist News – Biblical Recorder is the Official News Service and Baptist Press for the NC Baptist State Convention
All are welcome.
All Religion News and Press Releases from PR Newswire
Trunews. The Real News, Uncensored.
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
News & Ideas | Faith and Leadership
Christian Current Events – ChristForums
Good News, Inspiring, Positive Stories – Good News Network
Religion – Good News Network
ChurchPOP | Make holy all the things!
Christian Book Expo
Religion
Home Page – HAPPY SONSHIP
Religion | Commonweal Magazine
BCNN1: Black Christian News Network One
Catholic Stand – Living the Truth the Church Teaches : Catholic Stand
BREATHEcast
Christian Standard | Resourcing Christian Leaders
Home – EpicPew
Christian News on Christian Times
The Christian Mail | Christian News, Christian Mail for Christians Worldwide
Christian Newswire – Up to the Minute Christian News
The Christian Post,Christian News
Acts of Faith – The Washington Post
Worthy Christian Forums
Christian Forums
Company News | HarperCollins Christian Publishing
The Christian Sentinel – Where Faith Meets Investigative Reporting
Publishers Weekly Bestseller Lists
News : Hallels
PE News | News
Religion Books and Publishing News | Publishers Weekly
Church
Religious News – SRN News
Omni Articles | Quill and Quire
BRnow.org – Baptist News | Baptist Press Coverage by Biblical Recorder
Christian Daily
Religion | HuffPost
NEWSROOM – NRB.org
The Living Church – Serving the One Body of Christ
Christian News Archives – Christian Blog
Eternity News
Global Christian News – Christian News Across The World!
Articles Archives | ChurchPOP
World Religion News
Religion Dispatches – Rewire.News
Hallels
Latest News :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
Breaking Christian News – Religion Headlines
Religion & Politics
Religion Archives – The Federalist
Church Watch Central
Eternity News
News – Global Christian News
Religion Release Distribution by EIN Presswire and EIN News
Religious Forums
Reformation Charlotte
Homepage – Religion News Service
Home – Anglican Ink © 2019
Subject: Religion | The College Fix
News – Word&Way
Christian Film News™
After the Altar Call –
Home – The Christian Index
Bitter Winter | Religious liberty and human rights in China
Home | Step FWD UK Christian Chart

The link to part one. (October, 2014…six years worth of links to that point)

The link to part two. (St. Patrick’s Day, 2015)

The link to part three. (May, 2015, also included my news sources to that point)

The link to part four. (August, 2015, included blog aggregators and people who do things similar to the Wednesday Link List or Wednesday Connect)

The link to part five. (August, 2016, a full year later)

The link to a mini update. (Just five weeks after part five the file was getting full again)

The link to part six. (January 2017)

The link to part seven (June 2017) 

The link to part eight (October 2017)

The link to part nine (May, 2018; included an updated list of Christian news sources)

The link to part ten (January, 2019)

November 6, 2019

Wednesday Connect

See our Essay of the Week below for more on this theme.

God is getting into wearable tech. See story below. [Vatican News photo.]


Welcome to Wednesday Connect #78, hence the 78 RPM Records motif this week. The image is from Wikipedia who inform us that, “The literature does not disclose why 78 rpm was chosen for the phonograph industry, apparently this just happened to be the speed created by one of the early machines and, for no other reason continued to be used.”

■ Just as coastal regions put up beacons and lighthouses to warn passers-by of immanent danger, just to be clear, Harvest Bible Chapel has declared to the world that James MacDonald is presently unfit for ministry and “biblically disqualified.”

■ …and while a number of HBC churches have jettisoned the name, the same is happening with former Sovereign Grace Ministires churches.

■ Crusade of the Week: Kanye gave an altar call, and according to reports, 1,000 people responded out of a crowd of 6,000.

■ I found this gem of an article this week, and wanted to feature it even though it was posted at the end of August. Did missionaries really receive used tea bags from supporters back home? Did they really pack their supplies in coffins believing they would be buried on the mission field? In the article and the comments you can explore the myths and memes.

■ Transgender; gender-fluid; what’s a parent to do? Opinions vary. At Premier Magazine (part of the UK’s popular Christian media network) two articles appeared recently.

  • First, The Christian Institute’s Sharon James wrote an article on dealing with gender fluid kids. (We often quote the Institute’s news feed for articles here.) She offered 10 ways parents can respond.
  • But three days later, Katie Pope, the mother of a transgender 16-year old found the article disturbing and asked for equal time. She gives 10 alternative responses.

■ Persecution Watch: An American pastor has had his passport seized and is being detained in India.

■ Christian Education Department: J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity isn’t a fan of dumbing it down or trying to make it exciting and dynamic. He says we need to stop treating kids like kids because “this new generation is ripe to hear the word of God.”

■ Scot McKnight kicks of a series of looking closely at Introducing Evangelical Theology by Daniel J. Treier (Baker Academic), which is organized differently from other books of this type. “Here theology is not forced into one biblical author that mutes the voice of other biblical authors, but instead it is shaped by the fundamental categories of the great tradition that forms the Apostles’ Creed and the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.” Don’t miss this introductory article.

■ Parenting Place: This is a powerful article. 14 Things you can easily do to give your children a global perspective. “You might be raising a future missionary.”

Essay of the Week: They only show up a few times a month. So what? Attendance is not the same as faithfulness. Author Mimi Patrick asks us to “stop shaming busy parents” because it’s “not the way to minister to these families.” (Sample advice: Put teaching modules on YouTube and ask the student to leave a comment each week.)

Pachamama! What was he thinking? The Pope placing Incan fertility idols inside The Vatican? From studying pastoral issues in the Amazon region to bringing in a female shaman into The Vatican gardens and brought in two such statues, stunning people watching from around the world. The idols were later placed next to the altar of St. Peter’s. Then they were thrown into the river. (3½ video.) (Read further details at LifeSite News.)

■ Podcast 🔊 — Fostering another church. Not adopting. “There are neighboring churches in your community struggling and need your church’s love.”

■ Is giving down? 💵 — Also at Thom Rainer’s blog is this summary of five reasons why giving may drop.

Addition (8:55 AM) — Roger Olson lists (and laments) the many Christian leaders and authors who have landed on the Fundamentalists’ blacklist: “Tony Campolo (one of their first targets way back in the 1980s), Jim Wallis, Clark Pinnock, Stanley Grenz, Beth Moore, Rob Bell, John Sanders, Greg Boyd, Andy Stanley, Richard Foster, Carl F. H. Henry, Bernard Ramm; I could go on and on.” He wonders when “moderate evangelicals going to come out of hiding and condemn the vituperation of the neo-fundamentalists?”

■ Essential Reading about Essential Oils: Do you have people in your church who are into the Essential Oils movement? Or who recruit other people to sell the products through multi-level marketing? People may be led to expect more than just basic health benefits, and practitioners may find the love for the product all consuming.

■ Significant Music ♫ — “On June 1, 2019, 15 year-old Lily Kelly was tragically killed when the car she riding in was hit by a drunk driver. In the days that followed, a song emerged that Lily had written and recorded just six months before. Family and friends found comfort in Lily’s original song, ‘I AM,’ which tells of her close relationship with Jesus and her thorough understanding of His character.”  

Addition (8:48 AM): Josh Harris’ first public interview since renouncing his faith. It’s only 3 minutes, so there must be more somewhere.

■ Following the death of his 21-year old son, TobyMac has established a foundation to allow kids who can’t afford it to pursue music education. The Truett Foster Foundation is accepting single and monthly gifts.

■ Longtime Christian blogger Mark Altrogge offers 12 reasons we should belong to a local church.

■ Youth Ministry / Parenting: There’s been a significant spike in teen suicide since 2007.

■ Podcast 🔊 — Hey readers, why didn’t you share this one with me? The Mega podcast is the official podcast of Twin Hills, a non-existent mega church. (Note: This type of satire is not for everyone.) Read the story about the podcast itself. Or, listen to an episode.

■ Blowing Our Own Horn Department: Four days ago, our sister blog, Christianity 201 celebrated 3,500 consecutive daily posts. C201 is a melting-pot of devotional and Bible study content from across the widest range of Christian blogs and websites.

■ ICYMI: Adam Ford’s Christian Daily Reporter has resurfaced as Disrn

Addition (9:25 AM): There is finally a release date for home viewing of the Overcomer film, November 26th on digital but those looking for a physical DVD will have to wait until December 17th, giving them only a week to purchase it before Christmas.

■ New Music ♫ — We’re gonna kick off this week’s cluster of five new songs with an audio-only by Citizen Way, The Hope Song.

■ New Music ♫ — The Porter’s Gate with a song featuring Casey J. and Josh Garrels, Daughters of Zion. Actually, there are two  different versions of this just posted. This one features Urban Doxology with The Porter’s Gate performing the same song, Daughters of Zion. (This may not be a song for complementarians.) 

■ New Music ♫ — This is the #1 song on the UK’s Step FWD Christian music chart, One Voice Collective and their video of Strength to Go On. (Personally, I love the sound of mass choirs, so it’s #1 with me as well.)

■ New Music ♫ — Also from the UK, the folk/acoustic sound of Land and Salt and their video for Homeless Hearts (Amazing Grace)

■ New Music ♫ — Lastly, in this week’s music cluster, some fun with Matt Maher and Elle Limebear and a collection of Sunday School instruments Alive and Breathing.

■ Unforeseen Consequences: When we tell our female children and teens that “modest is hottest” we are inadvertently sending a rather contrary message. The author of this piece makes her two key points quite well.

■ It knows when teens are sleeping.
It knows when they’re awake.
Okay, maybe not literally, but nearly five million students are being monitored by schools “paying big money” for the online surveillance services of Gaggle. 

Addition (8:30 AM): This video collage of “The Best of Paula White” is one thing. But do not — do not — miss the 250+ comments as readers attempt to caption the video with a scripture verse.

■ Finally: Not an Onion story — The Vatican is behind a high-tech rosary. “However, unlike its traditional predecessor, the eRosary links to a ‘Click To Pray’ prayer app of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. The device is activated by making the sign of the cross.


[Source: Casual Christian Comedy 2]

October 30, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Brooklyn-based brand MSCHF released a limited-edition Nike Air Max 97 sneaker filled with water from the Jordan River in the soles at a cost of $3,000 per pair. The sneakers, called “Jesus Shoes,” sold out within minutes. Story link below.

Tomorrow is October 31st. It’s a special day for both children and lovers of candy, and people who like to pretend they are someone (or something) else. Jesus had a name for people who were pretending to be someone else. Can you name it? 

Also, all of this week’s New Music features are for artist names you’ll recognize.

■ In my opinion, the top Christian news story this week was the untimely death of TobyMac’s 21-year-old son, Truett Foster.

■ What’s new in funerals: Alkaline hydrolysis or what is sometimes called water cremation.

…[T]treatment with alkalies in water solution in a sealed container…converts proteins into simpler water-soluble compounds, which are harmless — and, indeed, can provide valuable plant nutrients. Disarticulated bones remain, softened but intact and easily crumbled to a pure white powder; again, an excellent phosphatic fertiliser. Alternatively, they can be dried and stabilised for burial in a small casket.”

Reducing the process, “to three to four hours has been possible using a pressurised stainless-steel cylinder in equipment that is like a large washing machine.” For some reason, I found the picture rather clinical.

■ Best opening paragraph:

A lot of evangelicals are swimming these days. They’re slipping on their metaphorical fins and masks and churning their way across bodies of water to emerge on the other shore as members of a different faith community. Those that move from evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism are said to swim the Tiber; those that become Orthodox swim the Bosporus.

The reader is invited to instead swim the Mississippi, and check out Lutheranism.

■ An avowed complementarian says that nonetheless, John MacArthur does not speak for him.

Neither his words nor his attitude towards Beth Moore displayed even a basic respect, let alone the kind of godly, honouring love that Christians are required to show even to their enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). He was not seeking to enable her to flourish, or “contributing extra features to her in such a way as to improve or emphasize her qualities”. He wasn’t defending a complementarian view of the Bible. He might have been speaking at a conference entitled ‘Truth Matters’ but he wasn’t defending truth, he was insulting a woman (and one who wasn’t even there to defend herself). In doing this, he betrayed the model of biblical leadership that he claims to believe in.

And in the conclusion, “He hasn’t won anyone over to his beliefs.”

■ Patterns in Peacemaking: Beth Moore tells her followers, “Let’s move on.”

■ Jesus had to die. But why such an extreme, or — pardon the etymological pun — excruciating death? At Good Question Blog, “I don’t feel that I can answer your question in terms of purpose, that is, why God would have wanted Jesus to die that way. I can’t imagine that this was something that God wanted, intended, or made happen, even though God did send Jesus into the world at a time when crucifixion was practiced, knowing that he would be ‘delivered into the hands of men.’

■ Parenting Place: The latest from Pew Research notes that, “The share of young adults who could be considered ‘financially independent’ from their parents by their early 20s – an assessment based on their annual income – has gone down somewhat in recent decades. A new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data finds that, in 2018, 24% of young adults were financially independent by age 22 or younger, compared with 32% in 1980.” And this consequence, “There’s a sense among a majority of Americans that parents are doing too much for their young adult children these days.”

■ Leadership Lessons: When pastors have a ton of education, it’s good to keep the perspective of this guy, “God did not give me a congregation so that I could have all of the benefits of being a Church History professor without having to grade papers or sit on the curriculum committee; God entrusted me with a flock so that I could feed them, love them, and point them toward the Chief Shepherd. They need to know Jesus Christ and the gospel.”

Essay of the Week: Does anyone need healing? When the question is asked, and you’ve been just been diagnosed, but you remain seated. “My body is in need of some divine intervention, no doubt. But I didn’t stand up. I didn’t even consider standing up…I didn’t let them pray over me and beseech God for bodily healing on my behalf because I don’t believe it’s going to happen…Was the bleeding woman physically healed? Was the blind man? They almost certainly were and that alone is worthy of exploration. But it’s actually the least interesting part of those stories.”

■ Since we last gathered, there has been great momentum for Kanye West’s Christian album, Jesus is King, available for download. As I prepared this on Monday night, the top song on YouTube was this title, Selah

■ …But it’s difficult to let this pass without sharing this People magazine headline: Kanye West Asked Jesus Is King Collaborators Not to Have Premarital Sex While Working on Album

■ …Meanwhile at New Wineskins, a reminder that the church has a 2,000 year history of being skeptical about high-profile converts

■ …Finally, a review of the Kanye IMAX film itself, Jesus is King. This contains many spoilers. (But it’s only a 35-minute film.)

■ Julie Roys looks at the situation at Willow Creek Crystal Lake, but not so buried in the story is a mention that Bill Hybels received a sweet retirement deal. “…Hybels’ retirement contract was ‘non-contestable’ and had no morals clause…”

■ Divine appointments can happen in small groups: “I have seen a group member dealing with an illness rare enough that only one person in the entire church should be experiencing it. But when the person opened up about it, two more people in the group said they had experienced or were experiencing the same thing. This phenomenon is not just reserved for health problems. I see the same thing over and over with things like dreams, passions, family issues, and work problems.”

■ If you find yourself reading this blog after the rapture and are wondering what to do next, there’s this book, pictured: Rapture 911: What To Do If You’re Left Behind — “Rapture 911 is your handbook for navigating the Apocalypse. If you like to-the-point information, actionable checklists, and helping save your loved ones’ souls, then get this sobering guide to humanity’s final days.” (The publisher link I hoped to provide is actually the author’s LinkedIn page.)

■ Provocative header of the week — Star Trek: 50 Years of Humanist Values.

■ After his speech was edited for the second time, Kirk Franklin is calling for a boycott of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the Dove Awards, and the Gospel Music Association. He raised social justice issues previously in 2016.

Most intriguing opening sentence: “In case you were wondering if we are living among complete reprobates with no concept of financial responsibility, a bunch of idiots are buying “Jesus shoes,” with holy water injected into the soles, for $3000 a pair, making some swindler very rich.”

Crux Ansata
(Ankh symbol)

■ Religious symbols and icons: Did Christians steal the Ankh symbol? (6 minute video.)

■ New Music ♫ — Remember Rachel Lampa? She’s back check out the audio for He’s Good.

■ New Music ♫ — New from Rend Collective, audio for Revival Anthem.

■ New Music ♫ — A song of testimony from Aaron Shust, lyrics and video for This I Know.

■ New Music ♫ — Just released from Matt Redman, official lyric video for The Same Jesus.

■ Sleeping in Church: “Eutychus probably had an excuse. He probably worked long hours, or walked a long ways to get there. I do think he moved to the window in an effort to keep awake. The spirit was willing, the flesh was exhausted.” Recommendation: Let them keep sleeping.

■ Not sure about this one: “Meme Monday: Calvinism is the Gospel Urinal.”

■ Finally, a church organist is working hard to learn Kanye’s Christian repertoire.



The Door to Hell
The Darvaza gas crater also known as the Door to Hell or Gates of Hell, is a natural gas field collapsed into a cavern located in Derweze, Turkmenistan. Click image for details.


Matchstick Church
If you click the image, you’ll discover that building matchstick churches is a popular pastime.

October 23, 2019

Wednesday Connect

It’s been a busy week month for my wife and I, but I thought I’d better do another one of these Wednesday Connect roundups before I forget how. So after a couple of weeks off, a welcome back to readers. Please let us know if you find any broken or incorrect links.

■ This was the week that John MacArthur’s brand took a rather large hit and appropriately so. His comments about Beth Moore were simply beyond the pale. Sadly, the same polarity which grips (particularly) the United States politically is evidenced in situations like this. Peoples’ minds are already made up. MacArthur has his supporters and to their way of thinking he can do no wrong. Rich Villodas put this so well: “Right” theology + Unloving Practice = Wrong Theology.”  In the event you missed it, this will catch you up… 

■ … and appropriately, our Tweet of the Week.

■ In completely unrelated searching, I happened upon this.

■ Speaking of Beth Moore, about a week ago she tweeted: “Nothing on earth can make sober people drunker than being invited to a table where they can sip on power. It is a drug like no other.” It was quoted in a recent Religion News Service story reporting on Jack Graham (not related to Franklin or Billy), Robert Jeffress and Greg Laurie, tweeting their approval of a new book by Paula White, who most in the SBC regard as a false teacher. So why do it? One possibility is the Trump connection, or as it’s termed in the article, the Trump-dunk.

■ Willow Creek fallout continues: Just months after the resignation of the pastor at the church’s Wheaton campus, comes the resignation of the Willow Crystal Lake pastor Marcus Bieschke. But sadly, he also shut down the possibility of continuing independently, which some in the congregation suggested.

■ Continuing the topic of megachurch meltdowns, but switching our attention to Harvest Bible Chapel and James MacDonald, the question everyone is asking: What happened to the deer herd? (A story in progress, so do read the comments including the one saying “there are two stories about two deer herds.”)

■ …Okay, forget the deer, they’re probably asking about James MacDonald’s recent ‘first’ public appearance, where participants at the event were told not to take pictures.

■ I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, this might be one of the major Christian book releases heading into the Christmas gift-buying season: The Faith of Queen Elizabeth by Dudley Delffs (Zondervan). Excerpt: “More than the product of polite deference to historical tradition, the Queen’s faith transcends her inherited responsibility and the theology of the Anglican Church….Such an authentic faith could not be merely academic, political, or social but is undoubtedly personal, visceral, and deeply intimate….the thread stitching person and personage, duty and desire, together.” Quote sourced at Publisher’s weekly, or check out the book’s page at Zondervan.

Essay of the Week: A look at climate change.

There’s nothing in the Bible that conflicts with climate change science. Climate change science poses no Biblical or hermeneutical crisis for the Christian, forcing you to choose the Bible over facts. This makes climate change wholly different from how evangelicals have approached evolution. Yes, there is science denialism at work in both instances, but that denialism has to be coming from two different places. We know the Bible is the source of resistance to evolution. But where is the resistance coming from when it comes to climate change? I think the answer is obvious. Resistance to climate change science is rooted in—

[seemed like a good cliffhanger, click to read.]

■ Essay Runner-Up: After the March. He “found that pastors were never as confident about what they believed as they came across from the pulpit;” and he gives 5 reasons your pastor may not want to be highly visible in that public fight over social issues.

■ Worship Workshop: “Be Thou My Vision is an ancient Irish poem thought to be written in the 700s. The 700s. As in 1300 years ago! When my church sang this song a few weeks ago, Millennials in Monterey were connected to an Irishman 5,000 miles and 1,300 years away.” “…So you tell me. Do we really need to keep singing hymns?

■ On the other hand: Roger Olsen on the “concert atmosphere” of many modern churches. 

In most of these services there are no announcements, no pastoral prayer, no scripture reading, no responsive reading, no Lord’s Prayer, no Doxology, no invocation, no benediction. And in most of them some people in the congregation are wearing extremely casual clothes…, and sipping coffee and occasionally looking at their cell phones during the worship service. In one such church I observed a man leave the worship space during worship. I assumed he was going to the men’s room. Nope. He returned with a cup of coffee from the coffee bar in the foyer.

■ Persecution in China: “Months after the fact, a report has surfaced that True Jesus Church in China’s Henan province, worth about $1.4 million, has been forcibly demolished by Chinese authorities…On the morning of June 22, 2019, as about 200 believers were gathered at True Jesus Church, the church’s electricity supply was suddenly cut off…Then, on July 26th around 3 a.m., approximately 1,000 government employees covertly assembled at a school nearby as they planned to demolish the church.”

■ An ultra-low U.S. refugee ceiling in 2020 of only 18,000 will be a hardship for persecuted Christians seeking settlement in the States on religious grounds…

■ …which is strange when you remember the attention that Donald Trump received when he left the climate change discussion at the UN in order to attend and address a gathering on religious freedom.

■ Remember Larycia Hawkins? The former hijab-wearing Wheaton College professor’s story became a film, the documentary Same God. The film pops up in various cities with discussion afterward, but I was able to find this general review of the production.

■ Do I have to go to church every week? “Instead of going to church as long as nothing else gets in the way, the Christian guards Sundays so that nothing will get in the way! Rather than scheduling Sunday around one’s week, he or she schedules the week around Sunday…Affections (desires) dictate priorities.

■ Through a bizarre series of circumstances involving an academic scholarship and their 2-year old son’s health, an Iraqi Christian family finds themselves caught between a rock and a hard place that is literally life or death.

■ Good reading: Lysa TerKeurst on the problem with pithy, trite, cheap, cliché Christian answers and responses.

■ Disturbing. That’s the only word to describe this Texas story about a family who had two twin boys. The mom wanted to embark on “transitioning” one of them, heretofore named James, to female, with the name Luna. The dad, Jeffrey Younger, “argues his ex-wife is transitioning James against the boy’s will.” I may have left out one detail: James/Luna is 7-years old. The dad is now forbidden to use the former name. His visits will be supervised. He was only trying “to protect his seven-year-old son… from chemical castration.” And buried in the last paragraph, word that the mom is not biologically related to the twins, “They were created through in-vitro fertilization and the couple used an egg donor.”

■ Gary Thomas on Gary Thomas: Read the author’s personal summary of his latest book on dealing with toxic people as Jesus did, When to Walk Away, along with a brief chapter excerpt. From one reviewer: “Gary Thomas says that he quotes Scripture more in this book than he has done in any other that he has written…He [also] tells us that he wasted 30 years of his ministry believing that standing up to toxic people was wrong.” The book’s content is also available as a Zondervan small group DVD study.

■ Jobs in Journalism: As religion reporters become “as endangered as polar bears,” the challenge of covering religion in the world of The Nones.”

■ Personal checklist: Guilty of any of these? The 5 Marks of a Pharisee.

■ The challenge of getting the Pennsylvania Amish to vote: “George W. Bush,…and his father, George H.W. Bush, were the only two sitting presidents who came to speak to Amish people.” Most of the 75,000 Amish in the state simply don’t vote.

■ A little high church moment: I love reading the reviews at Ship of Fools, but this 95-minute mass (long by most standards) captivated children and adults alike.

■ A shopping mall in the UK will terminate Chick-fil-A’s lease when a six month trial period ends. “We always look to introduce new concepts for our customers, however, we have decided on this occasion that the right thing to do is to only allow Chick-Fil-A to trade with us for the initial six-month pilot period, and not to extend the lease any further.” By now you’ve guessed the reason: Pressure from the local Pride (LGBT) chapter.

■ While many in Evangelicalism have capitulated to the Republican/Trump rhetoric, one sector has not: Contemporary Christian music artists. (Published at CNN, no less.) …

■ But Michael Frost wants to know why Christian music isn’t more revolutionary. “People like U2’s Bono, and Christian hip-hop artists Lecrae and Marty Mar from Social Club Misfits, have bemoaned the tame, risk-averse nature of Christian music.” He continues:

  • The Civil Rights movement sang Christian spirituals.
  • The German democratic movement that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall began with singing and prayers for freedom in a church in Leipzig in 1980.
  • The anti-Marcos movement in the Philippines, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, the anti-Russian movement in Ukraine – they all wrote songs to inspire their followers.
  • Even today on the streets of Hong Kong, millions of protesters resisting the controls imposed by Communist China have found the Christian hymn, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” as their anthem of freedom.

So why don’t they write songs like that today?

■ 🇨🇦 The landscape for Christian book distribution in Canada will change drastically on December 1st as two of the country’s largest distributors — Foundation and Anchor/Word Alive — merge distribution and operations.

■ Music ♫ — Avril Lavigne: “I wrote I Fell In Love With The Devil as a constant reminder to myself that some of the darkest people in this world can be disguised as angels. It will continue to remind me of my worth and what I deserve as a woman. Sometimes it’s not easy to walk away. But I am so sick of the pain and heartache, and I know what I deserve…” (Facebook)

■ Music ♫ — Check this out: “The recording has officially been released and includes 30 albums, 296 songs and 32 hours of music, all available on a USB flash drive.” What is it? A musician in Maine has completed “an eight-year project recording books of the Bible sung and played with bluesy rock melody lines. “The Bible Sung to Rock Music” is truly biblical in scope.” It consists of most of the New Testament and selected books from the Old Testament.” 

■ Music ♫ — Monday I asked the programmer for a satellite Christian music channel what he would include here and he recommended I introduce you to the band Good Weather Forecast. Check out the song Underdog (recent) and (from four years ago) one of their most popular songs Citylights.

■ Music ♫ — Official audio for Jason’s Gray’s Order Disorder Reorder.

■ Music ♫ — Then there’s the new John Crist music video. Wait a minute, John Crist? Music? Yup. Check out the official video to Check Your Heart featuring DJ Mykael V, nobigdyl. & 1K Phew. Which brings us to…

■ John Crist is getting his own Netflix special on November 28th, titled “I Ain’t Prayin’ for That.”

■ Sports Department: Magic Johnson’s decision to leave the NBA was in part so he could spend more time serving in his local church. (COGIC, in case you’re wondering.)

■ Kellogg’s — the cereal company — has partnered with an LGBTQ activism group to promote diversity with “All Together,” a limited edition cereal combining many of its favorites into a single box.

■ The latest at Lutheran Satire as Tyler the Evangelical Quits Swimming.

■ Finally, “The message printed on a runner’s bib during a recent Minneapolis race turned out to be prophetic.” It said, “Jesus Saves” and mid-race, Jesus did.

Snowman worshiping the Christmas star: Another example of the people at Dayspring Cards doing the best they can.


From Reddit

October 2, 2019

Wednesday Connect

 

This modern worship leader and author of five books is running for Congress in California. See story below. *

The Union Theological Seminary faculty member behind #plantgate. “We processed into the chapel carrying plants and placed them on soil. Immediately people started to come to the plants, to confess their forms of relation or non-relation.” See story below. **

Welcome to the Long-Haired-Newsmakers edition of WedCon, aka Wednesday Connect #75. Don’t forget to try to get your link suggestions in by Monday evening.

■ The danger of accepting public funding: “Some ATC [Adult and Teen Challenge] centers are trying to walk a dangerous tightrope. They’ve instituted short-term, state-licensed programs, which usually come with more funding. But state-attached strings can make that programming look more like clinical rehab plans instead of the Christ-centered message ATC has always brought to its students.” ATC co-founder Don Wilkerson is worried for people accepted into the program, “They need to be surrounded 24/7 in a spiritual atmosphere…

■ Rethinking the Sermon (1): A trainer for TED Talks comes to Nashville and meets with local pastors.

…Every pastor in the room felt a certain amount of vindication when her eyes went wide with surprise as she found out we, the pastors, have to write a new “speech” every week.

“No way,” she said. “No one can do that. There’s not enough time”.

We agreed, and then, it was our time to be stunned. How long do you work on a TED Talk?

Three months, she said…at a minimum.

Mike Glenn guests at Jesus Creed.

■ Rethinking the Sermon (2): Essay of the Week — Skye Jethani writes at the UK’s leading Christian magazine:

I am a preacher. For hundreds of years my craft was in high demand. People travelled inconvenient distances to hear my sermons, they paid for my training so I could improve my skill, and they sacrificed to supply me time and space to study and write my weekly monologues.

But now the forces of modernity and technology have conspired against me. Seemingly overnight the conditions that made my vocation valuable have disappeared. I feel like a lamplighter at the dawn of the 20th Century, watching the cold glow of Edison’s lights replace the warm flicker of flames across my city. People still need light, just not mine…

…An audit of virtually any Protestant church will reveal a massive percentage of the institution’s resources (space, funds, leadership) are devoted to the Sunday preaching event and its related activities. In other words, most churches have inherited a 16th Century model that is increasingly unsustainable with 21st Century realities.

■ Students are being handed gender-neutrality by progressive educators, but rather than protest, push back quietly by creating unspoken, more traditional structures. The children “are pushing back against the delusions that adults are imposing on them.”

■ The end of “evangelical” – an expanded book review: Alan Jacobs discusses Tommy Kidd’s Who Is An Evangelical? A History of a Movement in Crisis. ” So we now have a peculiar situation in which people who don’t know what the term evangelical historically connotes and who massively distrust one another—God-and-Country moralistic therapeutic deists on the one hand, and a press that simply doesn’t get religion on the other—have combined to take the term away from those of us who know and care about its history.” 

■ Amanda Opelt reflects on the last few months and on heading out to the Evolving Faith Conference that her sister, Rachel Held Evans, helped to organize. “Woundedness wasn’t a status for her; it was a tool with which she could better love and serve others and fight for justice.”

■ These are times most challenging for Bible translators. Bill Mounce reflects on the specifics of “Gender Neutral,” “Gender Inclusive,” and “Gender Accurate.”

■ Maybe they should have called it ‘Know Where You Believe.” This is the book that fellow Moody Press author Drew Dyck called “genre bending.” “…each community had its own way of doing Christianity, and usually did not understand how others could think differently.” The title is Not From Around Here: What Unites Us, What Divides Us and How We Can Move Forward.

* This isn’t a Babylon Bee article: Bethel Worship musician Sean Feucht is running for a congressional seat in California.

■ Suffering with the little children: “When I was preparing in seminary to become a pastor, I was offered an internship at a local church. The pastor asked me what area of ministry I was interested in focusing on most. I told him I would do pretty much anything – teaching, adult discipleship, student ministry, missional living, worship and liturgy, or polishing the pastor’s shoes and being his errand-boy – whatever the church needed me to do would be fine. I told the pastor that there was just one group I wasn’t interested in working with – little children.” You can guess where he was assigned.

■ Your Acronym of the Week: DMM = Disciple Making Movements. If nothing else, watch the 96-second video and see how this fits with what your church is doing.

■ Provocative Headline of the Week: “Franklin Graham: The Apple That Fell Far From the Tree.” Sample: “To turn ‘The Hour of Decision’ into a thinly-veiled promotion for President Donald Trump (or any political candidate) betrays the passionate, singular cause that Billy Graham espoused in more than 400 crusades in 185 countries.”

■ Unique Podcast: Gabe Lyons, host of Q, welcomes his wife Rebekah Lyons who shares the story of her second book Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose (Zondervan) which officially released yesterday. Moving to New York was the beginning of her first panic attack. (Audio, approx. 15 min.)

■ Church History Department: Ever heard of Renée of Ferera? Born in 1510? “She was the daughter of King Louis XII of France and Anne the Duchess of Brittany, the richest woman in Europe.” She figures largely into the story of Charles d’ Espeville, a.k.a. John Calvin. Yes, that John Calvin. And it’s not a story which casts him the best light.

■ Academic Alley: With Christmas approaching, resolving the differences between Matthew’s and Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus.

■ As devotional literature gets increasingly specialized, this one for families involved in service of all types: “Though the book does specifically address families that serve in the military, as first responders, and in other ‘front line’ ways, it is applicable for EVERY family that is serving the Lord and others in their home, church, and community.” 52 Weekly Devotions for Families Called to Serve.

** The answer to the question we’re all asking, from the leader of the chapel service in question: Dr. Cláudio Carvalhaes, Associate Professor of Worship at Union Theological Seminary on Why I Created a Chapel Service Where People Confess to Plants.

■ When joining a church is conflated with joining a particular political party. “..it gives those considering the Christian faith the strong impression that to be converted, they need not only to believe in Jesus but also to become members of the (fill in the blank) Party. It confirms what many skeptics want to believe about religion — that it is merely one more voting bloc aiming for power.” complicated by this: “…Increasingly, political parties insist that you cannot work on one issue with them if you don’t embrace all of their approved positions.” Timothy Keller in the New York Times.

■ Canada Corner 🇨🇦: “Eight months after declining to ban conversion therapy, the Liberal party is promising to do just that if re-elected in October…In its platform released Sunday, the Liberal party said it will criminalize the practice.”

■ Shameless Internal Link: This week we were blessed to have a guest post here from Dr. Robin J. Dugall on how local churches succumb to the temptation to over-program, trying to be all things to all demographics.

■ A rabbi, an imam and a pastor walk into a plot of land: Flashback to 2013 and the unique Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha, Nebraska.

■ From high (church) to low (church), Ten Minute Bible Hour, in a video that may not be as interesting as their Catholic and Orthodox visits, decides to check out an Evangelical Free Church in Colorado. (Video, 16 min.)

■ What “hard core Evangelical” looks like to K. P. Yohannan of Gospel for Asia. For me at least, church never looked like this.

■ Newish Music: ♫ An indie Christian band based in greater Cincinnati; enjoy Where You Are by Mere Vessels. (From March, 2019)

■ New Worship: ♫ The former Dove Award-Winning band, Soulfire Revolution is now G12 Worship. This is We Invite You by G12 Worship.  (Released last week.)

■ New Music: ♫ An acoustic version of a song we featured previously, I Feel Bad by Hollyn. (Released two days ago.)

■ New Music ♫ Thought we’d end the collection with something LOUD! This is the song Premonition by Becoming Bristol. (Released two weeks ago.)

■ Oh, my! A recent poll confirms that Britain’s favorite hymn is the one recalling the time that Jesus visited England.

■ Update ICYMI: The band had in-ear monitors and simply kept playing for a few seconds after the cross fell off the wall and landed on the drum kit and the drummer.

■ Baptist “pastor” Robert Jeffress says there will a civil war if Donald Trump is removed from office. Then he gets the opportunity to dial it back a little, and doesn’t.

Do it yourself link. What’s a weird and wonderful story, or a good and beautiful essay that you read this week? Comments are open. You remember comments, right?

■ Finally, for those who have often wondered, here’s what happens if you’re speaking in tongues and checking your phone at the same time:



A concluding new-way-to-do-ministry image from this week’s Happy Monday:



Last week’s top clicks: Click here to read last week’s WedCon:

1. Purge Sundays
2. World Vision new sponsorship paradigm
3. Is Greta Thunberg being used?
4. Cameron Strang stepping back from RELEVANT
5. TBN founders’ granddaughter keeps $900K
6. Racism charges at RELEVANT
7. Universalism
8. 10 Redemptive Films

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