Thinking Out Loud

June 13, 2018

Wednesday Connect

The Week That Was: Trump at the G7 meeting in Canada. To see who is featured in the picture, click this BBC News story.

Scripture Faith Christian Shirts

Several of this week’s links are from Canadian sources. Events at the G7 weren’t connected to my decision to include them, but it’s a good place to remember that we are all brothers and sisters on both sides of the border.

We try to avoid sending you to sites with annoying pop-ups. Excluded this week was Thom Rainer, whose page allows you to do nothing until the pop-ups are finished. Anyone old enough to remember the Christian blogosphere before all this nonsense started knows how frustrating it is today.

Here’s this week’s collection of stories you may not see elsewhere.

► Faced with a dying congregation, an ailing building and poor finances, this Montreal pastor shut down the church for 9 months and then reopened it as a multi-faith community center providing a home for five different churches and addressing the fact that the 20,000 sq. ft. of urban space was only being used less than 5% of the time. “When it reopened, the masses were pared down. New people started coming. Before Singh took over St. Jax, the congregation was about 30 people. Now, there are about 80 there every week.
And groups have begun to start renting the space. There have been salsa dancing, choral and tap-dancing events. Long-overdue repairs have begun.” This revolutionary approach is worth reading.

► Coming soon to a computer near you: Crowd-funding continues for what is planned to be a summer launch of what founder Steven Andrew calls an alternative to Facebook and Twitter, USA.Life

► …And on a rather similar-looking page (featuring the swearing in of President Trump in the background) an alternative to Google,  (The vision for both sites obviously ends at the U.S. border. Sigh!)

► This will be outdated by the time you see it on Wednesday, but I was still rather amazed at this article — appearing in no less than Christianity Today — calling for the election of Beth Moore for President of the Southern Baptist Convention. (Aren’t these the same guys who turned their chairs when Anne Graham Lotz spoke not so long ago?) …

► For the record, at age 45, the SBC-ers elected J. D. Greear.

► Decided this week: “Printing ‘In God We Trust’ on US currency does not force a Satanist to spread Christianity, federal judges have ruled.”  (History: The first motto challenge took place in 1970.)

► Could you pass as a Christian refugee? Swedish “officials did not believe that [Aideen] Strandsson was a true Christian because her knowledge of Christianity was apparently insufficient;” and wanted her deported back to Iran. I wonder what their test was and if the average North American Christian could satisfy them.

► So…Are there fewer weddings booked at your church this year? “Clergy are solemnizing fewer and fewer marriages. Instead, couples are turning to civil magistrates or even loved ones who obtain credentials. In 2009, 29 percent of couples had a friend or family member solemnize their wedding. That number had increased to 43 percent by 2016.” …

► …The article was based on a May article at Facts and Trends. “In 2017, 15 percent of weddings were at barns, farms, or ranches. Fourteen percent were at historic homes. Seventeen percent were at a banquet hall. Hotels (12 percent) and country clubs (12 percent) were also popular.”

► Increasingly, the term vacation is coming to mean vacation from the internet and social media. “More and more travelers seem to want to unplug. Terms like slow tourism, off-the-grid trips and unplugged travel are popping up on tourism-related sites. Travel firms have even started offering trips that require clients to leave their phones at home (or at least tucked away in their suitcases)… Ironically, resorts that once used Wi-Fi access as a selling point are now touting features that allow guests to unplug. For example, the Four Seasons Costa Rica lets guests log off by offering a 24-hour tech detox program. The luxury resort locks your device in their safe, and they provide tech-free activities such as dancing classes and boating trips.”

► When Wednesday Connect is all finished, I check Eric’s list at Phoenix Preacher to see where we doubled up (if we did) or if there’s something vital I really should include. This time around he noted that Charisma Magazine just one day apart, had two different takes on the Jesse Duplantis jet story which he heralded with this pithy one-liner with two short hyperlinks: “Charisma rag mag divided on Duplantis jet… nay, yea

► An athiest Indiegogo campaign raised 130% of its goal to place the booklet, Disproving Christianity in hotels. “I will send a petition to some of the top hotels in Los Angeles, indicating that the Bible should be accompanied be a secular equivalent. I hope the hotel owners will see that having the Qur’an, the Book of Mormon, and the Bible in clients’ rooms is OK, but that we should have the opportunity to point out the discrepancies in those holy books, too.” Will the hotels be forced to give the book equal time?

► Is Junia the same person as Joanna, mentioned in Luke 8 and Luke 24? One thing’s for sure, she’s not Junius (a male name) as some would have it; in fact don’t even think of that if you ever meet this author. (For the record, she didn’t mention it either.)

► The Billy Graham era may have come and gone, but Greg Laurie is still packing in people at arenas for events such as this past weekend’s Harvest America crusade in Arlington, TX. (Link takes you to event’s Twitter feed.)  …

► …On the same day as the crusade, Greg Laurie posted his reflections on the sudden passing of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain. He compares Bourdain’s journey — raised, as he was, without religion — to his own.

► Moral failure warning signs: I’ve seen lists like this before but the five in this list contained some different indicators that are out there, such that afterwards people say, “Looking back, we see what was going on.”

► Cath Stats (Catholic Statistics): “With only 23% bothering to engage in the central tenet of that relationship, the Eucharist, it is easy to say the relationship is severely damaged. If more that 3/4 of the family doesn’t see being with the family as important, then something has gone wrong.” On the other hand, “with only 23% participation, the Catholic Church runs a vast array of schools, hospitals, and services for the poorest of the poor. We are able to do a great amount with just 23%. Imagine what could be done with 50%, or 75%, or even 100%.

► Never underestimate a young person’s desire and interest in God, the Bible and spiritual truths.The Ontario Director of the Canadian Bible Society reflects on 12 years of working with youth.

► An iconic church in Toronto has been offered the opportunity to do a land swap with a condominium developer that would also include sufficient funds to build an all new auditorium, offices and classrooms.

► Third Culture Kids (TCKs) are always discovering that Americans have an abysmal knowledge of world geography, as the opening illustration here so well illustrates.

► Poco (Good Feelin’ to Know)/Buffalo Springfield (For What It’s Worth) singer and guitarist Richie Furay pastored a Calvary Chapel in Colorado for 35 years. Retired now at 74, he’s still doing concerts.

► Parenting: “At least two new animated television shows about drag queens, one featuring children characters, are set to debut in America, drawing high concern from conservative commentators.” (Watch, if you can, a trailer for Drag Tots.)

► Christian Reggae band Christifari is back with a new music video. ♫

► Your deep theological questions answered: Seven reasons why Mennonites hold hands to pray.*

► Finally, not baking cakes for gay weddings? That’s just the start of the list this guy won’t bake cakes for, which includes just about everybody.*

*Mennonite satirical news site.

At age 91, J. I. Packer isn’t too old to cruise the J. I. Packer section in the Regent College bookstore this week, making sure his bestsellers are properly displayed. (Facebook – click to link)

Resurrected from 2013 at the Facebook page of twentyonehundred Productions, the media wing of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. (Facebook – Click to link)


June 6, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Today’s Wednesday Connect rates a 95 on the Evangometer.

This one’s from the old Theologygrams site…before the two Theologygrams books, I think.

Our goal each week is to present you with stories and opinion pieces you might not see elsewhere, but this week I had a few emails asking me not to overlook the Supreme Court decision on the (former) wedding cake baker Jack Phillips’ refusal to design a cake for a gay wedding many years ago. The two I decided to go with were actually the two which were forwarded to me, this summary of the entire case history at Baptist News, and an analysis by Skye Jethani. (The latter is a Facebook link, for which I apologize. There was a web-equivalent to Skye’s mailing list version, but the link was particular to my subscription, and Skye didn’t post to his blog.)  

Also, before you read further, we need to let you know that this was a Weekend Link List weekend. Seven items that couldn’t wait until today.

► Essay of the Week: The nature of cover-ups which protect a particular institution, and the resultant fall when the truth is exposed. “For justice to be done, the village had to be broken because the village was not a true community but was simply a made-up idea that powerful men came up with to protect their status.

► The American Bible Society “has decided to adopt such a statement [which “requires employees to embrace a host of Christian beliefs and practices”] after functioning for 202 years without one does make this development noteworthy. As the author of perhaps the only scholarly history of this storied Christian organization, I can attest that the “Affirmation of Biblical Community” represents a definitive break with the vision of its founders. It also represents the culmination of a roughly 20-year transformation of the Society from a diverse Christian organization to a ministry with strong ties to American evangelicalism.

► Technology impacting U.S. churches: After having to stop using their wireless microphones in the 700 Mhz spectrum, now the 600 Mhz band is being impacted. Yes, “…you have to do it again. In a nutshell, most of that affected wireless spectrum in the U.S. has been sold to mobile broadband and similar carriers for their exclusive use, meaning that no one else may broadcast radio signals to potentially interfere with their services. The clock began ticking last spring on the 39-month transition period to clear the spectrum, and it’s not a given that you have that entire period to react. If the purchasers start using a particular band in your area earlier, you must stop using your competing devices. Importantly, T-Mobile – a major purchaser of that 600-MHz spectrum throughout the U.S. – is already deploying and testing its new system using those frequencies in many markets. If you’re using wireless microphone systems (or in-ear monitors or intercoms) in the specific frequency bands in which they are deploying in your area, their new services legally have priority and you are obligated to stop your transmissions – with hefty fines for non-compliance.  Not to mention that the stronger signals from these 600-MHz broadband services might begin to cause interference with your Sunday service...” (Seems a bit unfair to me.)

► Canada’s national news service, the CBC, covers the story of longtime Christian blogger and pastor Jamie Arpin-Ricci who is “a father of two and married to a woman he loves deeply. He’s also bisexual and leads Little Flowers Community, an Anabaptist- and Franciscan-inspired church… In the past two years, he has opened up with his small congregation and the broader Christian community about the fact that he is bisexual.”

► What are home-schooled kids really being taught. I wish the author, himself home-schooled, had done this as a blog post, rather than a Twitter thread, but the photographed pages from a single Abeka book are very interesting, to say the least. Apparently we did a lot of good for the Africans by colonizing their homelands and bringing them here to pick cotton in nice warm climates.

► Bible Tribalism: Your current translation of choice says a lot about you, according to Scot McKnight who reminds us that, “there is a distinction between the text and a translation of the text. The authority is with the former; those who know that text are informed enough to decide about translations.” 

► Vocational ministry can be dangerous: “A Protestant pastor was killed by a crocodile during a baptism ceremony in an Ethiopian lake… Lake Abaya has lately had a shortage of fish, and the crocodiles have become aggressive toward humans, who have little chance to spot them in the lake’s murky red waters.”

► Resigning: Amid some tears on the weekend, the founder of the humanitarian organizations One Day’s Wages and the author of Overrated, Eugene Cho felt it was simply time to step down from his position of Pastor at Quest, the church he founded.

► Is he nitpicking or providing an important clarification and reminder? Stephen Altrogge says we’re not saved by faith but we’re saved by Christ. The phrase is actually somewhat lacking.

► Provocative Headline: “Why the Catholic church is ‘hemorrhaging’ priests.” The article notes that, “the pope has suggested filling the gaps in the priesthood with something markedly similar to an existing institution, the diaconate. Also known as “deacons,” these men complete a two- to four-year course and are ordained to assist priests and bishops. They can baptize, marry, preach and administer the Eucharist, but they cannot take confession. Though the concept is as old as Christianity itself – the Church traces it to the apostles – the diaconate has garnered renewed interest in recent years as priests have become scarce.”

► Ever found yourself saying, ‘Well…that’s a gray area.’ Or, ‘Scripture isn’t really clear on that.’ In this article, the author gives 6 reasons that some so-called gray areas are really quite black-and-white.

► “Christine Caine grew up revering the Bible, and even kissing the Bible, but never reading it for herself. In her family’s Greek Orthodox tradition, reading the Bible was reserved for priests. When Caine—an excited new follower of Jesus at age 22—came home with a Bible, her mother was mortified. ‘Christine, who do you think you are?’ her mother exclaimed. ‘You’re being brainwashed!'” A profile of the author’s life and ministry at Bible Study Magazine

► …from the same source, in case you wondering, the answer to the question Why the Ark of the Covenant will Never be Found.

► “Danielle Strickland is passionate about serving and loving the marginalized all over the world, at one time holding the most unusual job of acting as chaplain for brothels across Canada.” Two amazing five minute video segments

► …If that leaves you wanting to hear more of her, she recently spoke at Canada’s Peoples Church. 41 minutes, audio only.

► The Great Gay Divide: This time it’s the United Methodist Church, with the same result as others know too well. “Some conservative churches have already voted to leave, including a few of the denomination’s largest and wealthiest; their departures would mean the loss of significant financial support and raise complicated issues over how to divide up local church property, which is held in trust by the denomination.”

► (re)Defining Our Terms: A short, six-point reexamination of the idea of being “called.”

►Snopes of the Week: No, the Pope did not order white women to breed with Muslims.

► If he were alive today, C. S. Lewis would probably earn a “Farewell, C. S. Lewis” from John Piper.

► No, we haven’t forgotten you, Michael Pierce; we’re just trying to maintain a certain level of dignity now that we’re the more upscale Wednesday Connect and not a mere link list. But this one was good: The 7 People You Meet at Baptist Church Picnics. (Hardcore fans will want to read the one he posted after, though.)

► Finally (and you know this is bizarre if the Michael Pierce link isn’t the “finally”) at the Bethel Church BSSM — Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry — there is the “Drive-through fire tunnel” where “On the way into the church the 2nd year [BSSM Students] were blessing, praying for and prophesying over leaders arriving for the Leaders Advance.” See for yourself.  (This video isn’t current, but the items linked were, with the implication this is an ongoing practice.)

May 30, 2018

Wednesday Connect

From (click to link) by Kris Straub

In addition to bulletin announcements and signage, churches dealing with congregants who have perfume allergies can also place subtle reminders in musical selections.

Welcome to the 12th Wednesday Connect. Also my birthday, if that matters. Our focus is connecting you with stories and opinion pieces you might not see elsewhere. Let’s see what we found for you this week:

► Who will be your church’s next pastor? “Of all the issues the church needs to deal with in the next ten years, succession is near the top of the list. So many of the churches started in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s are led by (now) older leaders. A similar reality is also facing established churches who have had a leader in place for decades.” The writer also sees a surprising root problem: Existing pastors who are staying too long.

► How does it feel to be a guinea pig? “…It’s not that the Amish view technology as inherently evil. No rules prohibit them from using new inventions. But they carefully consider how each one will change their culture before embracing it. And the best clue as to what will happen comes from watching their neighbors. ‘The Amish use us as an experiment,’ says Jameson Wetmore, an engineer turned social researcher…”

► Going overseas involves more than buying a plane ticket. “…the existence of an issue in the world—be it social, political, humanitarian—does not mean a certain individual is called to engage it or help solve it… the call does not necessitate the readiness. Or put differently, even when we are we called, it doesn’t mean that we are prepared to go.” 

► She was the only schoolgirl kidnapped by Boko Haram who wouldn’t renounce Christianity to gain her freedom. She was discussed in meetings between U.S President Donald Trump and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. But why is CNN the only network following the story of 15-year-old Leah Sharibu?

► What happens to the blank fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls? “Back in the 50s, hundreds of scroll fragments were stored in cigar boxes. They were never analyzed because they did not appear to have anything printed on them. Why cigar boxes? They were the archaeologists’ Tupperware® containers of the 1950s…” But now, infrared technology is finding there’s writing on those fragments, some of which help complete existing texts.

► Coinciding with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Dallas, “At the For Such A Time As This Rally, women and men will be raising their voice to say, NO MORE. We must follow the example of Christ who valued and respected women in a way that was uncommon in his time.” and also this About page

► At the American Bible Society, “Employees are resigning in protest of the new policy, which will effectively prohibit sexually active LGBT people and couples in cohabitating relationships from working for the American Bible Society. But the organization stands by it…” Nine have quit so far with other departures pending. The code of conduct goes deep, requiring employees to “seek spiritual maturity through regular Bible engagement, participating in worship and prayer with others, and being involved in a local Christian church.”

► Catholic Corner: “Are we allowed to touch the Host when we receive it? And is it okay to chew it? A caller explains that when she was growing up in the Dominican Republic, she was taught that she could not touch or chew the Host during Communion. She is surprised to see people in the U.S. doing so, wonders if this is appropriate.” The Busted Halo Podcast answers Mass-related questions recorded on a live radio show.  (Even if you’re not Catholic, or don’t care about this, listen for a few minutes to what a Catholic talk radio show sounds like.)

► Literary Lane: The role of religion in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

► Practical for Parents: 3 Principles for leading family devotions.

► Provocative Headline of the Week: “The Age of Apologetics is Over.” The article continues, “Christian apologetics has plenty of traction left – for Christians. But just as the early 90s reruns of Billy Graham on the big screen across the country proved, it’s the already convinced who are turning up to to events and conferences in order to be further convinced.” 

► Are you Pro Choice? In this graphic, it means something a little different.

► I was able to get to Pennsylvania for a number of music festivals in the late 1970s where a frequent speaker was Larry Tomczak, a dynamic communicator who was converted from Catholicism in a storefront church. In this piece, he offers five issues he has and five things he would desire to tell Pope Francis.

► The Vote: “Ireland’s overwhelming vote to legalize abortion is viewed as the last main social taboo to fall in this Catholic-majority country, but the church’s hold on Irish life has been weak for some time, experts say… The referendum removed the Eighth Amendment, added to Ireland’s constitution in 1983 by the urging of the Catholic Church, that gave equal rights to a woman and an unborn child.”

► An Arab Evangelical, who also attended the April summit in Wheaton, Illinois, offers some words to American Evangelicals.  (Printed in both English and Arabic.)

► There’s still division over the lyrical motif in the worship song Reckless Love by Cory Asbury

► …but this response to a condemnation of the song by John Piper, just makes me want to say, Farewell, John Piper. (The Pipester — who I refuse to link to here — calls the song “defective.”)

► Called “a pop culture ghost” the primitive technology of Genesis Story Time — which featured 10% Bible stories on video but without sound — is hard to verify, but 2 minutes of it recently turned up. (If you’re reading this in the UK, you’ll probably compare it to Ceefax and Oracle.)

► “Artificial intelligence, robotics and other technological innovations must be so employed that they contribute to the service of humanity and to the protection of our common home, rather than to the contrary, as some assessments unfortunately foresee.” So who said that? A futurist? A leading scientist? No, it was Pope Francis! “Some observers are concerned Catholic theology hasn’t caught up with modern advancements to participate productively in the AI debate. ‘Pope Francis is absolutely right in raising the bar of our attention to technology;’ said Sister Ilia Delio, a Catholic nun and head of the science-and-theology focused Omega Center.” Other respondents look at faith and tech in this RNS story by Jack Jenkins.

► Regular CT columnist Karl Vaters says that it’s not a matter of churches trying new programs or innovations, but rather, getting better at what they’re already doing.

► Tongue-in-cheek: Why don’t restaurants advertise upfront the unique flavors they have to offer? (Hint: This article isn’t about restaurants.)

► New Worship Song: Majesty, by Collin Baxter, seen here performed live at Perimeter’s 40th Celebration.

► A top-selling book in Canada on basic Christian doctrine, (re)Union by Bruxy Cavey, pastor of Canada’s fastest growing church network, The Meeting House, now has a companion study guide.

► A few weeks late perhaps, but on his first Mother’s Day without his mom, the author of The Shack, Paul Young reflects on his loss, resulting in 60+ comments from those who understand.

► At 7-years-old, Gracie was the youngest transgender child the reporter had ever met.

► The band MercyMe claimed the top spot at last week’s Billboard Music Awards.

► Major TV networks followed the story of the student in Kentucky denied the opportunity to give his valedictory speech, just ten years before the ceremony. They say it was due to content and deadlines, but it seems more likely it’s because he is gay.

Tweet of the Week

► Oh, my! After 6+ years of relative silence, Phil Johnson, the man who knows all of John MacArthur’s secrets, is back blogging at Pyromaniacs. (Yeah, that same Pyromaniacs blog from a long time ago in an internet far away.)

► Another prosperity preacher, another offering being collected to buy him a $54M jet. (No, wait! Let’s call this out for what it is with all the zeroes: $54,000.000.00 .)

► Finally, the NRSV Pride Bible, shown below. Available in paperback and hardcover from

May 28, 2018

Blogroll Update #9

Computer searchIf you’re new to this recurring feature, this has nothing to do with the featured blogs in the side-margin of this happily old-school blog, but rather represents updates to a master index of a few thousand in my computer. This time around we’re also updating the Christian News Sources for you, a list many Christian news outlets would love to get their hands on, but we’re getting you to promise not to tell them.

Blogs (new)
Worship Ministry Catalyst
Preacherpollard’s Blog – Have a taste of Pollard Greens
The Wild Frontier | The Truth will set you free.
bridginghope | Stories of Reconciliation and Hope
expressyourself4him | a writer’s journey with God
Hare Translation Journey
THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM – Responding to Critics, Seekers, and Doubters
War Diary | Lies of the Devil | The Front Line In Spiritual Warfare
The Morning Drive | Driving Thought
The Jagged Word – “What the Hell is going on!”
Curious Christian – Exploring the creative fringes of Christianity and beyond
Juicy Ecumenism | Never too serious!
Phylicia Masonheimer –
Dan Reiland – The Pastor’s Coach – Developing Church Leaders
Core Christianity
Garrett Kell – All Things For Good
Vic the Vicar!
Front Porch with the Fitzes
Inspirational Writing | LetterPile
Vine and Branch
The Cross & The Cosmos
Through the Bible in 2018 – A Plan for Reading Scripture …
The Voice Of One Crying Out In Suburbia
By Their Strange Fruit – Race and Christianity in Today’s World
Echoes and Stars | “We got the sky to talk about and the world to lie upon.”
Josh Crain | Pastoral Leadership and Theology
The Green Room – The faith and work movement as you’ve never thought about it before
Blog – Brenna Lakeson
Rich Wollan | The Church, Worship & Making Disciples
Blog · EvanTell
Matt Tullos – writing, worship and contemplative living
Blog | r e F o c u s | a ministry for transition
Blogs | The American Conservative
Experimental Theology
Grow Christians – A community of disciples practicing faith at home
Real Christian Women – My Journey Unscripted – By Cindy Dawson
True Love Dates – Healthy people make healthy relationships.
Heaven Bound | Forgetting what is behind…
Christian News Sources
FaithWorld | Analysis & Opinion |
Christianity Today Gleanings
Christian News, The Christian Post
Christian News on Christian Today
Faith and Leadership | A learning resource for Christian leaders and their institutions from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity
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
News | The Christian Institute
Trending News – Positive Encouraging K-LOVE – Your News Right Now
World Religion News, Religious Views, Spirituality – HuffPost Religion
Spiritual Sounding Board | Finding resolve amidst the dissonance of “churchianity”
CBN News – Christian News 24-7 –
On Faith: A forum for news and opinion on religion and politics – The Washington Post
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 from an uncompromising Biblical worldview
News & Events
WND – Faith
Breaking Christian News
ASSIST News Service
Holy Post | National Post
Daily Devotionals and Bible Devotions from Popular Christian Television & Video Ministries Online
Religion News Blog
Belief –
News |
Premier Christianity
Mission Network News – Mission Network News
The Old Black Church
On Religion – The UK’s first magazine about faith, religion and society
The remarkable faith of Mariano Rivera, the greatest ‘closer’ in baseball | 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 — conservative, orthodox evangelicals in the Reformed and Presbyterian churches
Rush to Press, news from Christian publishing industry
Ecumenical – 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
Now The End Begins: End Times Bible Prophecy — Christian News Portal, South Africa
Parents As First Educators
Christian News on Christian Times
Religion Dispatches
Christian Daily
SBC Today | Southern Baptist News and Analysis
Christian News on Christian Today
Baptist Press
Jewish News & Israel News –
ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
religion | The Africa Report
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 – Baptist News – Biblical Recorder
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
Good News, Inspiring, Positive Stories – Good News Network
Religion – Good News Network
ChurchPOP | Make holy all the things!
Christian Book Expo
New Life, Australia’a Christian Newspaper
Religion | Commonweal Magazine
BCNN1: Black Christian News Network One
Mission trip fundraising ideas THAT WORK! Raise money for mission trips.
Catholic Stand – Living the Truth the Church Teaches : Catholic Stand
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
Acts of Faith – The Washington Post
Worthy Christian Forums
Christian Forums
Company News | HarperCollins Christian Publishing
(83) Hot 25 Countdown – Home
The Christian Sentinel – Where Faith Meets Investigative Reporting
Publishers Weekly Bestseller Lists
News : Hallels
PE News | News
Religion Books and Publishing News | Publishers Weekly
Religious News – SRN News
Omni Articles | Quill and Quire
CHRISTIAN DAILY REPORTER – Baptist News | Baptist Press Coverage by Biblical Recorder
Christian Daily
Religion | HuffPost
The Living Church – Serving the One Body of Christ
Christian News Archives – Christian Blog
Eternity News
Global Christian News – Christian News Across The World!
Blogs – Some random “originals” which haven’t appeared since the first update
On Faith & Culture | Jonathan Merritt’s blog at Religion News Service
Blog – ReKnew
Red Letter Christians – What if Jesus Really Meant What He Said?
The Master’s Table
The Wartburg Watch
FBC Jax Watchdog
Beliefs of the Heart – Uncovering and Discovering the True Beliefs of the Heart
Rachel Held Evans | Rachel’s Blog Articles
Lorna Dueck: Her thoughts on world issues from a Christian Perspective
Passionately His – Blogging about the intersection of faith and culture
Another Red Letter Day | Pastors and Church Leader News and Opinion
Reclaiming the Mission :: The Weblog of David Fitch
Philip Yancey | Author, Thinker, Climber
Holy Spirit Activism « Salvation, Miracles, Peace and Justice
theologygrams | Theology explained in diagrams
Christian Crier — For Ye That Have Ears To Hear
Brad Lomenick
One Passion One Devotion
Eric Metaxas
Kouya Chronicle
rob bell
Red-Letter Believers
IVP – Andy Unedited
Lifestream Blog
The Heart Of The Matter
Donald Miller’s Blog — Best-Selling Author Of Books, And Stuff
Shaun Groves
Reformed Arminian Blog
Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace – Christian Apologetics
The Bible and Culture — A One-Stop Shop for All Things Biblical and Christian
Cain’s Wife Answer
The Catch – John Fischer
The Bible Hunter
Losing My Religion



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)


May 23, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Places with “Saint” in their name; sourced at the Brilliant Maps Twitter feed.

Never one for dull sermon series titles, the Church by the Glades in Florida doesn’t disappoint.

Welcome back! It was a week of ups and downs. First of all, in case you missed it, we had a Thursday Link List last week — yes, the very next day — featuring eight stories/articles you won’t see here.

► Our top item: CNN explores the intersection of Christianity and dealing with chronic depression.

► The Royal Wedding Sermon: “It was so post-modern that everyone could take their own meaning from it. Atheist, agnostic, or Christian – it didn’t matter. You could take that sermon ‘all you need is love’ and quote it in support of your own views… We were told that marriage is ‘a solemn, public and life-long covenant between a man and a woman, declared and celebrated in the presence of God and before witnesses’. But Bishop Curry does not believe that. Not only does he believe in same-sex marriage, but he has led the American Episcopal Church to go against the rest of the Anglican Communion (including the archbishop of Canterbury) so that it is now in the process of removing references to procreation and husband and wife so that the marriage ceremony can be non gender-specific. This was a traditional ceremony conducted by a man who seeks to undermine the theology, liturgy and practice of that ceremony.” …

► …Or for more, a review of the sermon by the Queen’s former chaplain. “[B]ishop Curry is a great preacher. And it will change nothing; because it wasn’t Christianity. It was ‘Christianity-lite’…

► …Or for a response to that response, this article at Premier Christianity which reminds us that this was a sermon watched by two billion people. (And that was just the estimate of the live audience; many have watched it since.)  

► Did the Billy Graham preaching gene actually skip a generation? Some say that grandson Will Graham is carrying on in more of a direct line from the late evangelist. In an Australian Christian news site, he talks about his grandfather and the challenge of having to preach one of his sermons in a movie. “The good thing was that I didn’t have to act – I only had to do what I was naturally doing anyway,” says Graham, “But what was hard was I had to preach a sermon that’s not my own.” He continues, “[Universal Studios] came back to me earlier this year and they said, ‘we actually want to make the gospel a little bit stronger.’ They said ‘we’ve already shot the movie, so we’re going to do some audio, so you’re going to go in and say these words and we’re going to overlay it with some scenes that we’ve already shot because we want to make sure that people hear a clear message of the gospel.’ When have you ever had anyone in Hollywood say, ‘we want it stronger?’”  

► On The Paulcast, Kurt Willems responds to those accusing Andy Stanley of Marcionism.  

► Winging it: “The central problem with evangelicals, as is illustrated with our ‘winging it’ approach to spirituality, is that we are unaware of our roots (especially our most toxic and problematic roots). We don’t know much about what came before us. The many denominations and off-shoots of denominations in Protestant Christianity should give us pause… In fact, as I read about the history of the evangelical movement, I was struck by how often groups split off from each other under the auspice of calling themselves ‘Christians.’ They thought of themselves as somehow preserving a pure version of the faith and didn’t see how they had any kind of bias or distinctives that set themselves apart.”

► I have long contended that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) acts as a surrogate religion in the lives of the participants I have spoken with. So this article piqued my interest. “While AA presents itself to the public as a mere program of recovery from alcoholism, it’s actually best thought of as a particular moral community, offering a comprehensive conception of how one ought to live one’s life… AA surreptitiously presents itself as a program to help one with their drinking, when, in actual fact, it’s offering a moralistic program that holds implications for much more than simply what one chooses to consume.”

► Reports are now saying that twenty Evangelical pastors were among the dead in last week’s plane crash in Cuba. (Other reports, over-shadowed by the Santa Fe shooting and the Royal Wedding noted that the American embargo with Cuba makes the purchasing of parts or better aircraft impossible.)   

► Watchdog/Investigative blogger Warren Throckmorton has left Patheos. “Patheos leadership informed me yesterday that my blog no longer fit their ‘strategic objectives.’ Since I don’t know what those are, I can’t say how I didn’t fit them…What a strange turn of events. Patheos was at the center of the Mars Hill Church and Gospel for Asia stories and now they host Mark Driscoll and K.P. Yohannan. All of the those Patheos links about Mars Hill and GFA are now erased. The content is here and archived elsewhere but admittedly, it will be harder to find.”

► In case you haven’t picked up on this, Christianity in Nigeria is quite different than where you’re reading this on so many fronts. Several Christian groups are demanding the release of Leah Sharibu, now 15-years-old who was kidnapped by the “Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group along with 109 other school girls in Dapchi in February. A federal government negotiation secured the release of 104 other girls but Leah was not released because she refused to [renounce] Islam during their weeks in captivity, according to her school mates. Five other girls reportedly died during the captivity.” The warning is that if she “dies in captivity, her death could result in ‘religious war’.”

► Rethinking the Invocation: At Patheos, David Rupert argues it might be a good time to retire this tradition at graduations, and the like. “With great flourish, the invokers often sound like the Pharisee, calling attention to a god of love and hope and joy, but rarely the God of the Bible. They are supposed to cause us to think about Divinity, to order our human business around his will. But too often, they are showcases for mediocrity and in today’s culture, invitations for mockery of God.” 

► Fuller Theological Seminary will relocate in 2021. “The cost of living in Pasadena is an increasing challenge for many of Fuller’s faculty, staff, and students. As we build a new campus in Pomona, we will have an opportunity to reimagine and reinvent Fuller for the 21st century, unencumbered by a campus that was designed for a previous era in theological higher education and in a location so costly that it limits our ability to reach many potential students. In addition to this, selling the campus in Pasadena resets the financial foundation of the seminary by eliminating all debt, increasing Fuller’s endowment, and generating seed funding for a new campus that is both high-tech and designed to foster student-to-student, student-to-faculty, and faculty-to-faculty collaboration.”

► Condensing the Conversation: Giving each approach just two or three paragraphs, the author looks at the four types of responses to the question, “What happens to people who have never heard about Jesus?”   

Bitterness: Five things it is, five ways to kill it.

► Many voices are saying that the new children’s movie Show Dogs is actually grooming children for sexual abuse. [UPDATE: This link now takes you to a drastically updated version of this story at CBN News.]

► Beyoncé Buys a Church: The 7,500 square foot church “is said to be over 100 years old and was listed for $850,000… The church…has not been active as a place of worship for believers due to members of the congregation reaching age and passing away. This New Orleans site is destined to become a tourist spot for those who are fans of the superstar from all over the world.” And then the report contradicts that with, “No word about whether Beyoncé will actually turn the church into her own, or flip the property into something else.”

► ‘Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and Matt Redman songs’ is a directive given in Ephesians 5; one author asks, “But why does this come after an exhortation not to be drunk? Perhaps I am making something of nothing, but it is not an intuitive sequence of discussion to my modern sensibility. As it turns out, however, it may be more intuitive to an ancient Greco-Roman sensibility.” A look at the music/drunkeness connection. (Part one of a two-part article.)  

► Polyglots and Pentecostals: Speaking in tongues as a political threat to Rome. A lot to consider here in four short paragraphs.

► Smoking is fairly taboo among Christians, but in the UK, Christians smoking cigars is a bit of an exception

► In praise of multi-generational churches: “In a world where kids spend 8 or more hours a day with children “their own age,” adults in the work force are surrounded by individuals who are largely their generational peers, and seniors often live in “senior only” housing, the Church is one of the few places where people of all generations have the opportunity to share space.
And in this, I am not raising my children in the church because they get to hang out with “their cohort” or go to age segregated Sunday School rooms. I am raising them in the church so they can be part of a multi-generational community in which they can be seen and known and loved, for who they are, as full and equal members of the Body of Christ.

► Adam Ford is no longer the force behind The Babylon Bee, a Christian satirical news site. His reasons are lengthy, but for one, he didn’t want to have to sell his soul to Facebook and Google to insure it’s continued success. Also his heart now lies with his news feed project, The Christian Daily Reporter.

► Film: The half hour documentary Godspeed invites you to follow the story of an American pastor whose desire to change the world grinds to a halt in a Scottish parish. An ode to simplicity, ordinariness and a slow paced life, with commentary by Eugene Peterson and NT Wright

► A year after Donald Trump’s appearance, former President Jimmy Carter spoke at the Liberty University graduation.

► Preston Sprinkle’s 13-year-old daughter wrote this. He described it: “One of the beautiful byproducts of encouraging your kids to not get on social media at a young age. They explore life with more creativity and depth. “

► FOBTs. Or if you prefer, Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (as pictured at right). England is reducing the maximum bet from a high of £100 to £2 “because of the impact on vulnerable people.” 

► Need a hug? If you’re in Fullerton, California, you could always go to HUG Church.

► If you’re single, looking for a life partner, and ‘hold to the Doctrines of Grace,’ then Sovereign Grace Singles, which we reported on a year ago, is still going strong. Because sometimes, dating just a normal, committed Christian isn’t good enough.

Communion on the Go

After 300 episodes, The Phil Vischer Podcast is now the Holy Post Podcast. Click image to link (hopefully by mid-morning Wednesday!)

May 16, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Welcome to Wednesday Connect 010. Grab your coffee and sit back and we’ll see what happened since we met last week. First, what got clicked last week? We try to keep you posted by posting the list weekly at Twitter. Also, our opening graphics today originated with our friends at The Master’s Table and their weekly feature, Happy Monday.

► First Get Religion quotes Religion News Service: “The gold standard for church leaders – the Master of Divinity – is losing some of its luster to its humbler cousin, the two-year Master of Arts… The reasons for the decline in the Cadillac degree, required by most mainline denominations as well as the Catholic Church for anyone wanting to serve as pastor or associate pastor, are many and multifaceted. One is the growth of seminaries affiliated with evangelical and Pentecostal denominations. These religious groups don’t typically require the Master of Divinity for men and women who want to be ordained.”
…Then the piece goes on to add, “Actually, a lot of Pentecostal/charismatic groups don’t require any theological degree for a lot of their pastors. Case in point: Bill Johnson, pastor of the popular Bethel Church in Redding, Calif. doesn’t have such a degree…” Excellent excerpts from the original article and analysis by Julia Duin.

► Church leaders who wouldn’t be caught dead “proof texting” a passage of scripture seem to have no problem doing the same with Andy Stanley’s sermons. Relevant Magazine gave him a platform to defend against his accusers (though nothing beats listening to the whole Aftermath series, as we did.)

► Preachers: Beware the ‘data dump.’ “The pursuit of a deep messages that are deeply edifying, can unintentionally lead to the dreaded ‘data dump.’ By now, every expositor has been warned of the ‘data dump’ sermon, and most congregants have been on the receiving end of an exegetical unloading. It is a sermon brimming with details about the context of a passage… saturated with observations about the verses… and drowning in cross-references related to the text … It is essentially a verbal commentary. The preacher has simply filled his notes with a collection of information he has gleaned throughout the week with little effort to make any connections between the text and God’s people.  

► A consequence of the #MeToo Movement: Some of you know Anne Marie Miller, formerly Anne Jackson, who wrote Permission to Speak Freely and Mad Church Disease. “One of the stories I’ve shared through my years in writing and speaking was of my sexual abuse when I was sixteen. The man who abused me was a 25-year-old youth pastor. I learned on March 20, 2018, that this man was not appropriately reported to law enforcement by the organization who investigated him internally (in 2007) and found him to have abused me. This man was also given a chance to resign instead of being terminated. Within days of me learning he was not reported, I reported him to both CPS and law enforcement. I have been working with them over the last six weeks as they conduct this man’s criminal investigation… This amount of “re-hashing” what happened has caused the trauma to resurface in my life, hitting my mental health very hard. In the last few months, I have been extremely anxious, depressed, and at times, wishing I was not alive.” Anne is asking for help on GoFundMe to raise $28,000 in treatment and counseling costs.

► A big announcement happening on Episode #300 of The Phil Vischer Podcast! But why does it say “Farewell?” And what is the Holy Post? I guess you’ll have to listen to find out.

► “A podcast about the craft of sermon preparation.” This time around, John Mark Comer share his philosophy of preaching and ministry at Sermonsmith. (57 minutes; if you don’t have that to spare this week, check out his personal study process at about 32:00 to about 37:00.)

► Important reading: “Though my husband and I have enjoyed a faithful marriage of nearly 39 years, the sexual sins of our church leaders have been like a series of boulders being catapulted into our lives at regular intervals… I’ve wondered if my husband and I were sending off some kind of beacon that drew these troubles to us like moths as though we were lamps on a summer night. I don’t wonder anymore.” While unable to provide a quick-fix, the Michele Van Loon offers her thoughts on what to do in the aftermath of improprieties and transgressions.

► An America Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop will preach at the Royal Wedding on the weekend.

The Blue Parakeet, a classic by Scot McKnight gets a second edition: “There are whole new sections, and this much-revised edition is nearly 100 pages longer than the original. New sections on reading the Bible as narrative, new material on slavery in the Bible, on science and faith, on the gospel … and more!  …Ah, yes, and the long section on women in ministry has been a highlight.”

Roger Olson reviews a 2017 book by Roger Olson in which he would argue that the Bible contains more than just theology; it contains an entire worldview.

► Catholic mothers trying to keep the kids Catholic: “Many of the good Catholic mothers I have talked to are just as bewildered. They did everything in their power to raise children in their faith only to see them adopt other religions or reject God altogether. Some say they were defeated by a culture that increasingly values the material over the spiritual, or they point to the rigidity of doctrine, failures of individual priests, sexual abuse scandals, boring services and bad music. Many blame themselves, although they struggle to say where exactly they went wrong.” As I said on Twitter on Monday, this article has implications for Evangelicals as well. I especially appreciated the part about kids seeing the male parent engaged in faith. Great in-depth writing at American Magazine.

► With all the focus on Israel and Jerusalem this week — a reminder of the prophetic significance of both — is this a bad time to mention that you missed the rapture?

► It’s been six months since a gunman killed more than two dozen people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Now, construction is beginning on a new 250-seat facility

► I love the title: Preschool Pneumatology. “We aren’t doing kids any favours by dumbing down theology to a point of meaninglessness. And, just in case you are wondering if kids need to really understand the nature of the Triune God, I would say a resounding yes, and here is why: we believe God is love. Love is communal – it is something experienced between persons. God in his very being is love, and we know God is communal his mysterious and wonderful 3-in-1 way. To take away from that reality and attempt to ‘simplify it’ is to remove something so significant to the character of God.”

► Internal link: As the song grows in popularity, here’s our own look at the song Reckless Love, posted in December.

► A different type of church planting: “Founded in 1996, Crossroads has always built on its business background. Only a small fraction of staff members have seminary training, because the church seeks diverse staff to fill roles that go beyond preaching, music, youth, and children’s ministry. While in-house graphic design and branding are nothing new for megachurches, Crossroads has a team that functions like an ad agency—stocked with designers, copywriters, project managers, public relations managers, and social media strategists…
“…At least 38 groups meet together for Crossroads Anywhere in far-flung cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, and Houston. The church spends over $100,000 a month to keep the app’s digital infrastructure running…In January, the newest Crossroads campus opened in one of the outlying Cincinnati regions where the staff had seen growing interest—and 8,000 people showed up the first weekend.”

► A comedian-turned-preacher offers pastors six things they can learn from the world of comedy.

► “The release of three Americans held prisoner in North Korea is being hailed as a sign of increased goodwill heading into next month’s U.S.-North Korea summit, but a leading group assisting persecuted Christians is imploring the Trump administration to make human rights and religious freedom an important part of the conversation as well.” World Net Daily asks, “What about Christians in North Korean labor camps?”

► Endorsed: Oprah’s website offered a Top 15 books list from the last 30 years of titles dealing with 15 life issues. #11 was from Moody Press, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

► In the UK, a voice from an unexpected source, “Transsexual people have spoken out against Government plans to make it easier to change sex. In a letter to The Guardian, seventeen transsexuals who have undergone full sex reassignment surgery said they were ‘deeply concerned’ about removing safeguards from the Gender Recognition Act.”

► …but liberal ideology is alive and well in this video for kids.

► A horror story out of Columbia. The Newsweek headline: “Nuns Tortured 60 Children by Burning Their Skin, Shoving Faces in Toilets.” The home was described as “a hell house by neighbors and local media.

► A mainstream publication reviews last month’s Lynchburg Revival organized by Shane Claiborne (and others) who noted just days before the rally when he was served with a notice of trespass from Liberty University, “I’ve been arrested plenty of times in direct actions and protests and such, I’ve been banned from places, but I’ve never been banned from a church.”

► After a brief shutdown, the Twitter account Unvirtuous Abbey is back in business.

► And then there was this text, an un-credited paraphrase of 1 Cor. 1:
“I follow John Piper.
I follow John MacArthur.
I follow R.C. Sproul.
But is Christ divided? Was Piper crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of R.C. Sproul? When we say these things are we not behaving merely in a human way?”
…It’s actually a report on potential divisions in the Young, Restless and Reformed (YRR) movement from someone who attended Together for the Gospel (T4G). 

► Friendly Atheist aka Hemant Mehta wasn’t terribly impressed by this explanation of disease by Pat Robertson. “All of this is nonsense. Some diseases come back for the simple reason that our bodies remain susceptible to them. Even certain vaccines require booster shots, right?”

► Canada’s Glass Ceiling: For the first time, a woman will become an Archbishop in the Anglican Church of Canada. Melissa Skelton will hold the highest position representing the province of British Columbia and Yukon Territory. “Skelton was raised by civil rights advocates in the Southern United States before moving to Canada and has a background in business, working in brand management for Proctor and Gamble…”

► Stephen Worthey was a senior in a freshman English class. By his own admission, not a smart person. Tormented by questions, he asked God for wisdom (James 1:5) and shares his testimony on what will become a new YouTube channel, Standardized Apologetics.  (8 minutes)

► Did a home motion-sensitive security camera capture an image of an angel in Michigan or was it a moth?

► For last weekend’s Mother’s Day in a number of countries, “Say it With a Kiss” by Amy Grant. ♫

New worship artist Anna Petrillo’s song “Joyful” releases in June. ♫

► If you like music with lyrics that repeat and repeat and repeat — inducing a trance-like state as evidenced in the video — a song from the Dallas, Texas worship and prayer ministry Upper Room, “This is How I Fight My Battles” and “Surrounded.”


May 9, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Pardon my Planet’s Vic Lee often dances around religious/spiritual themes as in this example and one below.

“I got baptized in the Jordan River and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” This connects with the video about the origins of baptism, linked below.


Perhaps we can get this new “variant on Special K” as a sponsor for Wednesday Connect. In the meantime, click the image to learn more about this trending breakfast cereal.

Welcome to Wednesday Connect #9. Or if you prefer, Wednesday Link List #409. I don’t really care what you call it, as long as you click things, and this week there are some pieces worth both clicking and sharing.

► Probably one of the most seen items online this week was Beth Moore’s revelation concerning what she has had to put up with from male Christian ministry leaders. (And a malicious response online from one of them that I won’t dignify by naming him.) She claims to have gone out of her way to avoid criticism. This one would be hilarious if it weren’t for the fact she found it necessary: “I wore flats instead of heels when I knew I’d be serving alongside a man of shorter stature so I wouldn’t be taller than he.” No matter what you feel about Beth Moore, her version of it contains a glimpse into attitudes that were far, far less than Christian

► …Which led to this apology from a spokesperson for a large bloc of Christians.

► You saw the reports last week about rainbow-themed Mickey Mouse ears just in time for Pride Month at Disney. Now comes word of the cancellation of a Christian-themed event which goes back to 1983, Night of Joy.

► As everyone knows, women outnumber men in church, but “…the fault lies not with the men who skip church each week and instead go golfing or fishing or to a game or simply stay in bed. No, the fault lies with the churches that fail to give them the presentation of Christianity that best suits them.”

► Lutheran publisher Concordia is told it can get its advertising back on Google if they’ll just edit out the pesky religious stuff.

► Bible translation is the extreme sport of Christian academics, research and scholarship. But to pursue it, one needs to be trained in linguistics. But the best linguist can’t be without the theological education. “Asking a Bible translator to choose between linguistics or theological education is like asking him to choose between his toothpaste and toothbrush.” The writer also identifies two schools that achieve this balance

► Across the Pond: “On May 25 Ireland will decide whether to repeal or retain the Eighth Amendment of our Constitution, which recognizes the equal right to life of mother and unborn child… I was not surprised that U2 came out for Repeal. It was only a matter of time. The world’s loudest folk band has been heading in that direction for years, its early truth-telling gradually giving way to a jostling for liberal kudos… Fans were bereft. One tweeted: ‘This breaks my heart. I have loved and followed you for 20 years. I still love you but I can’t follow you down this road. My tickets to upcoming shows will go unused…’ It’s hard to say where they stand with Jesus these days. He’s still there in (some of) the lyrics, but sometimes you get to thinking that the U2 trajectory looks more and more like a belated discovery of the delights they eschewed in youth, a front-loading of the piety of age followed by an eruption into delayed adolescence.”

A pastor is found beheaded in India.

► His perspective was probably quite different than most others who attended the summit in Wheaton, because his is a global perspective. Brian Stiller of the World Evangelical Alliance offers Six Takeaways from the Future of Evangelicalism meeting last month.

► Theology Nerd: In a special Q&A podcast, Dr. Tripp Fuller looks at the option of reopening the canon of scripture versus reasons for keeping it closed.

► Church attendance: Up or Down? “We tend to believe, thanks to research like Pew’s, that church attendance has waned. (From 2007 to 2014, the percentage of Americans who reported attending services at least monthly dropped from 54 to 50.) The map [in the Washington Post article] shows many places where there was an increase. In fact, the number of counties where church attendance increased since 1952 as a function of population is distributed fairly evenly, with slightly more counties seeing increased density in church attendance than decreases.”

► I debated about this one last week, and didn’t include it. Today, I’m just tossing it out there and you can decide the relevance. The story in a sentence is that author Mallory Ortberg has transitioned and is now Daniel Mallory Ortberg. (Related to the now-Presbyterian, former-Willow pastor? Yes.)

► Rethinking a respected Standard: “The “Billy Graham Rule” is rooted in an idea that men and women are inherently, uncontrollably (hetero-)sexual beings, and it is designed to discourage any situations in which extramarital temptations could arise. But I think this whole narrative is a) unbiblical, b) anti-women, and c) factually incorrect. I also think it does men a huge disservice.”

► Must-Read Essay of the Week: The real reason Millennials aren’t at church. One writes, “I don’t need your life to look like mine. I don’t mind your messy, kid-filled busy life. I would actually love to be a part of it. I can come over and help you fold laundry. I can laugh with you about the crazy comment your kid said over dinner. I can tag along at the grocery store or in the car during school pick-up. As a part of Christ’s family, I want to share my life with you too. The good, the bad and the ugly. The successes at work. The fears of not measuring up. The failures I need to say out loud to know someone will still love me despite them. As a millennial, I want to be a part of your life and am hoping you want to be a part of mine as well.”

► From the academic, nonsectarian video channel Religion for Breakfast, a look at the Pre-Christian origins of the practice of baptism. (5 minutes)

► Supermom! Is it unrealistic for a woman to try to live up to The Proverbs 31 Woman?

► “There’s one clear way the world can help the Syrian people. The Trump administration is doing the opposite… The Trump administration cut the targeted number of yearly refugee admissions in half, from 95,000 in previous years to 45,000 in 2018. And at the current pace, refugee experts say, the final tally for this year is likely to be half that figure. As a case in point: in the first three and a half months of this year, the U.S. admitted only 44 refugees from Syria—about one-twentieth of the number accepted in the corresponding period in 2016… The ostensible reason for the U.S. clampdown on refugees is national security… Yet the actual security risk posed by refugees is negligible. “

► Things the kids need to know if their Missionary Kids (MKs) or Third Culture Kids (TCKs): A writer who knows what it’s like has summarized some of past articles into an all-time Top Ten mindsets these kids need to have.

► Job Description: What does a church “Communications Director” actually do, and what type of person are you looking for if you feel your church needs one? 

► From Pew Research: Black Americans are more likely than others to read their Bibles regularly and revere it as God’s Word. Also, “Another sign of the importance of the Bible to African Americans is their participation in prayer and scripture study groups.”

► The Complete Apologetic Answers: “A group of vocal atheist YouTubers posted a video on the Non Sequitur Show YouTube channel entitled ‘Questions no Christians Can Answer! An Atheist Creators’ Collaboration.’ In the video, fifteen atheists who are popular on YouTube and/or social media each presented what they considered to be their most compelling questions for Christians.” Read the responses “from various sects of Christianity representing Catholicism, Southern Baptists, Anglicans, Calvinists, Mormons, Eastern Orthodox and Messianic Jews with both liberal and conservative viewpoints.”

► Karl Vaters and Drew Dyck are among the speakers at a conference for small(er) churches happening in 11 days in the northeast. Check out the 2-minute intro video at

► No good news for American Pastor Andrew Brunson who is “is one of many Americans currently imprisoned in Turkey, including a NASA scientist and consulate workers.” He remains in prison until his next hearing mid-July.

► Modern Worship touring events: “Is it really worship if they charge you to get in?” “VIP seating at something that’s supposed to be worship?” “Brother Tomlin is not the only one to bait people in with the promise of worship, but it’s apparently a successful venture for him… you can reserve your own spot before Tomlin’s throne.”

► Podcast Preferences: Honestly, I wish I had the time. Podcasts involve a much greater commitment than simply reading a blog post, and don’t always offer the portability of reading a book. A year ago we told you about Seminary Dropout with Shane Blackshear, and if I had the time to follow one more, this would be top of list.

► A near-death experience, this one well documented. “From no brain waves to now walking and talking and reading, doing math. A miracle,” [his mother] said. Trenton [McKinley, 13] said he believes he was in heaven while he was unconscious. “I was in an open field walking straight,” he told WALA-TV. “There’s no other explanation but God. There’s no other way. Even doctors said it.”

► Add the greater Toronto church C4 to the list of churches producing original worship music. Their album, What is a Mountain? released on a Sunday…just in time for church. Listen to a one-minute sample. (Available on Apple and Spotify.)

Zack Hunt is now blogging at Patheos.

► Hitting the Road: Your annual index to major Christian Music Festivals in the United States and Canada. (And for my UK readers, this list.)

► The Slippery Slope Begins: Ken Ham can’t find enough potential Creation Museum and Ark Encounter employees who meet his doctrinal standards so he’s relaxing the rules a little. (If you click through to the Facebook announcement, jump to the 5:45 mark.) 

► From our Fashion Department: This year’s Met Gala 2018 was entitled, “Heavenly Bodies – Fashion and the Catholic Imagination;” the purpose of which is “to examine fashion’s ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism.” Some say the fashions “went too far.” Preview and backstory; images (of which, if it weren’t for copyright, if I could have posted any here it would have been #22 and #24.)

► Finally, a new blog: Stephen Altrogge has launched including a look at Youth Group culture: “From what I can tell, lock-ins occur in two places: maximum security prisons and youth groups.” From his experience, such events are incredibly dangerous.


May 2, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Baylor University Homiletics Heavyweights: How many can you name? To see who these “A dozen pastors known for their consistently stellar performances in the pulpit” are, click the image. Your assessment of who’s in and who’s missing from this list may vary.

So I wrapped this up last night, and then this morning, as I was turning on my computer I realized I hadn’t written the introduction. There was just a placeholder that said ‘int.’ That’s a first. Again, welcome to Wednesday Connect and I hope you benefit from some articles and news items you might not see otherwise. Also, let me know if you want me to bring back the music videos; we weren’t getting a lot of clicks on those…

► Article of the Week: While speaking at a fairly conservative church, a suit-wearing Philip Yancey has an unexpected interruption from an unexpected guest

► Must Reading: Kristen Welch, author of Raising World Changers in a Changing World offers you, right here in this article, 100 Ways Your Family Can Change the World. Or, if you prefer, read a free chapter excerpt from her book. (22 pg .pdf)

► Clarification Needed: Rumors are widely circulating that a California bill would ban sales of Bibles

► My University is Bigger Than Your University: Apparently size matters, at least to Jerry Falwell, Jr. who when confronted with the news that Grand Canyon University (GCU) was bigger, said, “Our definition of a Christian university only includes universities who hire faculty who adhere to fundamental Christian doctrine. GCU does not. Liberty does.” (Expect this to go on for awhile.)

► Lastest Pew Research findings on belief: “About half (48%) of U.S. adults believe God determines what happens to them most or all of the time. Nearly eight-in-ten U.S. adults think God or a higher power has protected them, and two-thirds of Americans say they have been rewarded by the Almighty. At the same time, fewer see God as judgmental and punitive, with just four-in-ten saying they have been punished by the deity in which they believe.”

► On Benny Hinn: “Growing up in the Hinn family dynasty is a hybrid of the Royal Family and the Mafia.” Six weeks ago, nephew Costi Hinn sat down with HLN. (6½ min.)

► Meet Kristan Hawkins. I don’t know about her faith, but Kristan is the president of Students for Life of America, the largest pro-life youth organization in the nation. Since 2006, she has grown SFLA from a few dozen pro-life student groups to over 1,200 high school and college clubs throughout all 50 states…Kristan has been speaking on college campuses for her ‘Lies Feminists Tell’ tour, exposing how the abortion industry manipulates women into killing their children.”

► Listened to this Week: All 2 hours and 20 minutes of Greg Boyd taking questions from his parishioners on a variety of topics in 3 different services.

► Most under-reported story of last week: The firing of House of Representatives Chaplain, Father Patrick Conroy. Why the silence, even from Catholic media?

► After reading Brian Stiller’s book, From Jerusalem to Timbuktu, I gravitated toward this article, which also looks at what is called, the serial growth of Christianity.

► Is the conservative Evangelical response to the #MeToo crisis the correct one? This abuse survivor blogger says no.

► I have mixed feelings about sharing this, but for some of you who aren’t easily offended, it needs to be seen. In a few days a classic Christian blogger, Jamie Wright is releasing the book The Very Worst Missionary (Waterbrook Press) which is liberally peppered with expletives. It’s unfortunate in some ways, because over the years she was a powerful voice on such things as the foolishness involved in some short-term missions trips as seen from the perspective of full-time career missionaries. But rather than apologizing for the earthly language, she flaunts it in this post, telling people if they don’t like it, they can redact the words on the pages they occur, providing an index of each instance of crude language.

► The Psychology of Guilt: “In 21st Century America, guilt ain’t what it used to be — on the surface. It is often portrayed as a needless, even damaging, burden…Is guilt disappearing as religion is moved from the center of cultural influence in the West? Quite the opposite…Secularization makes matters worse because so many can no longer rely on Jewish and Christian forms of absolution that make guilt bearable.”

► All things to all men: “Today’s missionary theorists talk about ‘inculturation’ by which foreign workers learn about another culture, assimilate, and reshape methods to attract adherents. The same applies to outreach within a culture that is secularizing or post-Christian. But how to do this yet uphold the essentials of Christian belief

► I grew up in a church which did things like this. Still, it takes courage to invite someone of another faith to share in your sermon, as Bruxy Cavey did inviting a Zen Buddhist to speak last week.  

► For Roger Olson, the journey of Carlton Pearson — both as seen on NetFlix and in real life — is rather personal. But Come Sunday is also a film about Oral Roberts: “Oral did not permit any formal, written statement of faith at his university. Doctrine was whatever he said it was. And that fluctuated greatly. In the departments of theology we faculty took turns taking phone calls from people asking about Oral’s theology. I simply explained to callers that Oral was not a theologian and they should not expect him to be perfectly consistent or deep in his thinking or presentations of doctrines.”

► As someone who has stuck with a basic, free WordPress blog for more than ten years — not even changing the theme — this article really resonated.

► At the Movies: Alien Intrusion has been playing single night performances since February 28th and aims to show a connection between UFO sightings and evolution. It’s based on a bestselling book of the same name by Gary Bates. If anyone has seen this film, I’d love to learn more.

► One host site, not far from the main venue, is passing on the Global Leadership Summit this year in light of allegations against its founder Bill Hybels: “In light of the allegations now swirling around the former senior pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church AND the larger national movement drawing needed attention to the stories of women treated in harmful ways, this message comes to inform you that Christ Church will not serve as a host site for the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) this coming August…We’d like to see the largely constructive witness of Bill Hybels, the Willow Creek Church, and its Association continue. But, given the high identification between Bill and the GLS conference, this year we are taking a purposeful pause.”

► Disney. Again. This time it’s rainbow-themed Mickey Mouse ears; gearing up for its annual LGBT-Pride Month in June. (Updated link 6:25 PM)

► A wonderful side-benefit of becoming a Christian is that you now have 17 different ways to say ‘no.’

► Finally, The Jimmy Kimmel Show has a staffer who is assigned (hopefully among other things) to troll Pat Robertson. He finally got a made-up question read to Pat on the air.

April 25, 2018

Wednesday Connect

So here we are today with just eight months left to Christmas and I haven’t bought you a thing. It’s been a crazy week up here. Our little ministry is actually organized as a commercial business — why, I can’t remember — which means the Canadian income tax deadline hits us on April 30th like a ton of bricks. (We can’t afford to pay an actual accountant, nor can we use tax computer software. The process involves copious amounts of Wite-Out and liberal doses of almost-swearing.) So we were doing that, plus this, plus trying to sort out a number of other situations not worth mentioning here.

► The Assemblies of God denomination has elected its first female General Secretary. The presbytery “unanimously elected Donna L. Barrett to serve as the 11th general secretary of the U.S. Fellowship. With this election, the 21-member executive board fills the unexpired term of James T. Bradford, following his midterm resignation to pursue full-time pastoral ministry at Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri.” She’s been a youth pastor and a church planter. General Superintendent Doug Clay stated that, ““While Donna was not selected on the basis of her gender, I know this moment will be meaningful for many women who feel God’s calling on their lives.” The AOG press release noted that “Barrett will serve as the first woman on the Assemblies of God Executive Leadership Team.”

► Monday’s mile of mayhem in Toronto took place not far from where my oldest son lives. We’ve seen this happen in U.S. cities, but now it strikes closer to home.

► Why are Christian academic institutions churning out graduates with PhDs in theology when the job market is terrible? This author calls it morally irresponsible. “Tell the students that they should have a solid Plan B and then tell them to make it their Plan A. Teaching overseas is a possibility. Pastoring, unfortunately, seems to be the default option, but they should get out of their heads the naive, idealistic fantasy of the scholar-pastor, delivering publishable sermons to an eager congregation. Don’t kid yourself: apart from rare cases, by pastoring you’re leaving scholarship behind, and woe to the frustrated PhD who tries to turn his/her church into an ersatz classroom.”

► One week ago today (4/18) a 50-year old Roman Catholic priest was stabbed to death in Mexico. But this is even more disturbing: “He is the 22nd priest killed in Mexico during the current administration, which began in 2012, according to the Catholic Multimedia Center. It said Mexico leads Latin America in the killing of priests.”  

► Mystery of the Week: Significant staff departures at Religion News Service. (Leading to this.)

► Watchdog blogger Warren Throckmorton says everyone who has or is contributing to Gospel for Asia needs to read this report of a February federal hearing into the organization’s finances.

► Rewriting a widely used liturgical resource: “Proposals to incorporate marriage rites used by same-sex couples into the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Episcopal Church in the United States will increase pressure in the Church of England to “dissociate” itself, the secretary general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, has warned. In a letter to the Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, which has produced the proposals, Mr Nye writes that… the Episcopal Church could face ‘calls for more, and more stringent, consequences’ if it authorizes new rites.”

► Sadly, the case against Bill Hybels intensifies with new allegations. Also… the letter (4/20) the WC elders sent to the church community.

► After so many stories of crosses being taken down in government buildings and public spaces, how about the opposite? “A cross will be hanging in all Bavarian government authority buildings from June 1, following a decision by the state cabinet. The symbol is meant to signal a Christian cultural identity, according to Bavarian Minister President Markus Söder. ‘The cross is not the sign of a religion,’ he said after the cabinet meeting.

► File this one away and see if comes up anytime again: The phrase, ‘Prince of the Church.’ “[Friedrich] Schleiermacher chooses the term carefully, demurring from ‘Father of the Church’ as a possibility, because it is already used in a stipulated sense (i.e. of certain figures from the ancient church); but, like that term, Schleiermacher’s new term does not indicate some sort of office, and is the furthest thing from clericalism. though the prince of the church wields authority, it is authority of an informal kind: the authority of understanding, prudence, and piety.”

► A documentary film has Hillsong, TobyMac and Bethel Music in its sights in this half hour Australian production, “New Age Christianity Infiltrating the Church.”

► At the movies, at least in the UK, is the film Two Crowns. It’s based on the life of a man who, as a prisoner in Auswich, has probably turned up as a sermon illustration in your church at least once. [Or, watch the trailer.]

► Trending? In a mobile phone, laptop world does a pastor need a physical office anymore? Here are six reasons to rethink the office-required paradigm

► You’ve already seen the technology at consumer electronics shows or maybe you know someone who owns a headset. Watch out, though, because it could be the next frontier in p0rn0graphy.

► The hero in the Waffle House shooting is the same guy who started a GoFundMe page for the victims. As of Tuesday night, it was up to $120k.

► The Bible is overrated. So say the editors of GQ, a popular men’s magazine. Last week they published a list of “21 books you don’t have to read and 21 you should read instead.” At #12, Agota Kristof’s novel The Notebook was recommended as a substitute for The Good Book.

► Word of the Week: Sequelvations. “Christians often joke about their first, second and third times getting saved. Many have stories of fourth, fifth or even tenth times! Some folks get saved on a weekly basis, just for good measure. Churches love those hands. They look killer on spreadsheets and metrics. Maybe your first salvation was the result of an emotionally-charged situation, peer pressure or fear. Maybe that led to subsequent salvations (or sequelvations), because you felt the need to double-check your security. It’s the equivalent of driving home at lunch to make sure you didn’t leave the iron on. Also, no one calls them sequelvations. We made that up.”

► A pastor is claiming that the Oprah Winfrey Network show Greenleaf was the idea of himself and another person, and idea they pitched to that same network years earlier. ““[T]hey didn’t even seek to hide the theft; they used the same character names, and copied verbatim unique and novel storylines, themes, subplots and the overall tone of the show. They even named their antagonist after Plaintiff Pastor Barrie (Pastor Basie in ‘Greenleaf’).” 

► Strangest thing you’ll read all week: “Grave sucking, sometimes called grave soaking, is the process by which someone lays on the grave of a deceased Christian in order to absorb their mantle or anointing.” That, plus a connection to Jesus Culture and Bethel Church.

► If you’re free tonight (4/25) and in San Francisco, you’re invited to a Beyoncé Mass at Grace Cathedral. “to sing your Beyoncé favorites and discover how her art opens a window into the lives of the marginalized and forgotten, particularly Black women.” There will be a sermon by Rev. Yolanda Norton, Assistant Professor of Old Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary, will be preaching. Rev. Norton created a ‘Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible’ class at the Seminary.

► Finally, does your church worship team have an aerialist? All the cool churches are doing it. (And here, one writer responds.)

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.

April 18, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Baptist Food Pyramid: This Babylon Bee article, published exactly one year ago today, is accessed by clicking the image.

Finding True Religion: I took this picture a few weeks ago at Toronto’s Eaton Centre. Apparently True Religion is a brand of denim jeans. Click the image to visit their site.

I’m writing the introduction at 5:30 PM yesterday with the list not quite finished. This week really came together and in some respects I feel that this is one of the best Wednesday Link Lists (or whatever we call it now) that I’ve ever completed. I hope you’ll take the time — and it does take time — to read several of these which might interest you and share the link with your friends using this shortlink:

► Your Article of the Week: “I’ll never forget hearing the phrase, ‘Make Sunday morning the best hour of their week!’ encouraging ministers to focus all of their attention on making that Sunday morning hour so popping, so exciting, so over-the-top memorable and fun, that kids couldn’t wait to come back. However, the trade-off for that is that we had to create programs that appealed primarily to the senses and not necessarily to the soul and spirit.”

► Your Quotation of the Week: “At this point in the pontificate of Francis, I believe it can be reasonably maintained that this marks the twilight of that imposing historical reality which can be defined as ‘Roman Catholicism.’ This does not mean, properly understood, that the Catholic Church is coming to an end, but that what is fading is the way in which it has historically structured and represented itself in recent centuries.” The writer then argues that Francis is using the playbook written by Martin Luther.

► Provocative Headline of the Week: “New Documents Reveal How the FBI Deployed a Televangelist to Discredit Martin Luther King.” The article details how “the bureau colluded with Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux, then a widely successful black radio preacher and televangelist, in their campaign against King.”

► As the Global Ambassador for The World Evangelical Alliance, Brian Stiller prepares to travel to a symposium on the subject, a look at what it means to be (called) Evangelical. “While the recent sharp reaction to the use of the label has come about in the U.S., in part because of divisions following the 2016 presidential election, a decision on what name best suits us globally is not a choice we can leave for Americans to decide. The U.S. does not set the agenda for the world, and we should not assume that what matters to them will define what matters globally. As influential as they are, and recognizing that American concerns do affect the world, the real place of evangelical growth is in the global south (Asia, Africa and Latin America).” (Be sure to also check out Brian’s new book from IVP, From Jerusalem to Timbuktu.)

► Congratulations to Terry Mattingly: “This week marks my 30th anniversary writing this national  ‘On Religion’ column. The first piece ran on April 11, 1988 and focused – wait for it – on arguments about evangelicals and White House politics. Turn, turn, turn. Three decades is a long time, so allow me to pause and make something clear. I still believe that if journalists want to cover real news in the real lives of real people in the real world then they need to get real serious about religion.”

► Monday was not a good day for U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, on trial in Turkey. “The day’s hearing ended with the court ordering Brunson back the prison where he was first held after he was detained in 2016, said the American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington D.C. advocacy agency that is supporting the pastor’s defense. It is a facility where nearly two dozen inmates are held to a cell, the center said. ‘Instead of being returned to the prison where he had been held most recently, the judge ordered Pastor Andrew to be taken back to an overcrowded and extremely grim prison where he was held initially,’ said the center’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow. ‘As you can imagine, the news is devastating to Pastor Andrew and his family.'”  (Background: The BBC reports “Andrew Brunson is accused of helping a group led by Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Muslim preacher who Turkish authorities allege was behind a failed 2016 coup.”)

► Allow me to go off on a tangent with this one. The article on lesser-known Bible translations, stressing the value of translation by committee, does recognize that we tend to celebrate the work of individual translators, mentioning Jerome, Tyndale, Luther, Jan Hus, and Robert Morrison. Really? So why is that we have some who now despise this very type of solo effort, condemning the work of Eugene Peterson (The Message) or Brian Simmons (The Passion Translation)? Makes no sense. If you have a CT subscription, or they haven’t pay-walled this by Wednesday, checkout Ten Bible Translations You’ve Never Heard Of (even though most readers certainly have heard of several of them.)

► Your word of the Week: Intercommunion.  “the German Church has been thrown deeper into controversy after seven bishops appealed to the Vatican against new guidelines that would allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion…The more fundamental problem with intercommunion is that, even if the form is similar, different religious communities often have very different understandings of what Communion means…Either the sacrament is the Body and Blood of Christ, or it is not. If it is viewed simply as a symbolic remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, that is another thing entirely. This is why, under established Catholic teaching, intercommunion is possible with the Orthodox Churches – though limited in practice – but not with most Protestant denominations, simply because they don’t agree with the Catholic view of what Communion actually is.

► End of the world predictions: Ed Stetzer–
I emailed…January 15, 2018 after his last prediction failed. I wrote him:
It looks like all those predictions did not come together. I wonder if you regret them now and the embarrassment they’ve caused so many Christians?
…He explained that “revelation is progressive.”
But, it’s not…You are either a fraud or a fool, and it’s time for you to stop making Christians look foolish.

► Poverty in Kissimmee, Florida: “It seems obscene that such poverty exists in the shadow of the Happiest Place on Earth, perhaps even persisting under its watch. That the person serving my churro or checking my seatbelt on Magic Mountain could be living out of a derelict motel should be a devastating realization. A single day pass to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom costs $115, which means some of the park’s workers likely cannot afford the luxury of taking their family to visit Mickey and friends…. While we may cringe at the idea of seeing such raw stories played out on screen— 6-year-olds swearing at adults, spying on the topless elderly woman tanning at the pool, finagling adults into giving them ice cream money—assuming this all to be some horrific parable about the doctrine of total depravity, simply because the images are uncomfortable does not mean that they can be ignored.

► Bible Contradictions: Six discrepancies that don’t actually exist. “Sample #3: James and Paul teach two different salvations. …The book of James would seem to teach a contradictory salvation of faith plus works (Ja. 2:14-17). However, the book of James never denies faith is necessary for salvation. Its focus on works is to show that live faith, like a live tree, blossoms and bears fruit…This is not denying justification by faith but simply showing that justification and sanctification are connected, albeit in a strict order.”

► Muting the choir so that you can hear the soloists: A parable on the danger of spiritual over-activity.

► Writing runs in the family: “I now find it much easier to find satisfaction in the small things in life. The beauty of a house in my neighborhood, an interesting piece of poetry, playing with my roommate’s dogs. All these things add up and make life much more enjoyable.” My son’s story about learning to appreciate anxiety-inhibiting drugs.

► Live near or within driving distance of Toronto, Canada? Here’s a last-minute notice for Thriving in a Babylon, a conference on living in a secular world happening this weekend.

► New Podcast: Just listening to Episode 1 of this 30-minute journey into eschatology. “If you’re ready to leave behind Left Behind: we get it. If you’ve been traumatized by doom-and-gloom preaching: let us bring you a good old-fashioned dose of hope. Together, we’ll explore the New Testament passages about the so-called ‘End,’ in intelligent and humanizing ways.” Host Kurt Willems has IMHO one of the best teachings (on his other podcast, The Paulcast) on understanding “caught up to meet him in the air” from 1 Thessalonians. So I can safely say that I think you’ll find the podcast, Rapture Drill most interesting.

► The Chicken and the Big Apple: Chick-fil-A arrives in New York City. “…the company has announced plans to open as many as a dozen more storefronts in the city. And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays. Its C.E.O., Dan Cathy, has been accused of bigotry for using the company’s charitable wing to fund anti-gay causes, including groups that oppose same-sex marriage…” The company “…is set to become the third-largest fast-food chain in the nation, behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks.”

► Words about Worship: 20 Quotations about worship for worship leaders. (The headline adds, “by worship leaders” but not sure how that applies to any of the people quoted.)

► Sexual misconduct allegations happen to atheist groups as well. The head of American Atheists, David Silverman is out.

► You thought we were kidding when six months ago we promised you, and yes, this book actually did get released. (We offer the CBD page as proof!) “An intriguing look at the enigmatic prophecies surrounding the Trump presidency. Examining how the chaos enveloping the world could signal the beginning of the end-time awakening, the authors explore the president’s interest in rebuilding the third temple in Jerusalem, the global economic “reset” announced by the International Monetary Fund, the establishment’s hidden agenda, and more.” 

► I thought this was going to be something you’d expect to see on “The List” or “Access Hollywood” or “Entertainment Tonight.” But then Brittany Valadez surprised me with these 19 surprising facts about Paul, Apostle of Christ.

► There are still many bloggers who command a large daily readership, but how many have a Spanish language edition? Consider Tim Challies, bloguero, autor, y comentarista de libros. (Coming soon — I hope — the Internet Monk blog in Latin.)

► The weight of the matter: A Kentucky Baptist pastor realized he needed to do something when he was weighing in at nearly 500 pounds (223 kg). “I had lost my prophetic voice,” [Jeremy] Atwood said. “How are you going to speak to someone about their sin when you weigh 491 pounds?”

► I wasn’t going to go back to him again so soon, but Justin Bieber apparently led a worship set at one of the two weekends of the Coachella Festival. (He is bringing his faith into view more frequently…it’s an interesting trajectory.)

► In other celeb news from Relevant Magazine, Catholic nuns appealing to Pope Francis stop Katy Perry from closing the deal on the purchase of a convent in California. Sister Callahan of the Sisters of the Most Immaculate Heart stated, “in selling to Katy Perry, we feel we are being forced to violate our canonical vows to the Catholic Church.” 

► The YouTube channel Mahima Ko Aawaz features worship songs in Hindi or Nepali. This one is titled Hallujhea vandai Hosana. Or for something more professionally produced, check out Mero Chattan. ♫

► Televangelist Ernest Angley is back in the news. “The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals…decided to overturn a 2017 ruling that required Cathedral Buffet and Angley himself to pay more than $388,000 in back wages owed to workers as well as damages.  The latest appeals court ruling, which was unanimously decided by a three judge panel on Monday, said the workers did not expect to be paid for their work at buffet, meaning Angley did not violate fair labor laws. Angley claims that the buffet never made a profit.”

► Truth is stranger… “A woman has sued the pastor of a megachurch in Georgia for pushing her head while praying for her, causing her to fall down to the ground and hit her head. She says she got a traumatic brain injury due to the incident. Since her fall last year, [Yvonne] Byrd has had headaches and dizziness, and has visited hospitals several times, he said, adding that the church’s insurance company has refused to cover the medical bills which is why Byrd filed a lawsuit against the church and the pastor.”

► Finally, Christian comedian Jon Crist and his wife are on vacation and trying to find a church.

Coming This Weekend to an Imaginary Location Near You: ♫ The Christian Coachella Festival ♫ (via. Jon Crist)

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