Thinking Out Loud

January 22, 2020

Wednesday Connect

If you really want to reach unreached people through television, don’t buy time on Sunday mornings; purchase the half hour immediately following Saturday Night Live in selected NBC-TV markets. This month, Andy Stanley ups his game: Instead of re-edited sermon videos, they’ve produced a series just for the Your Move audience.

Note: This blog uses cookies to keep the writer awake after 11:00 PM. 

Welcome to Wednesday Connect #87 (aka Wednesday Link List #487.) So you know what this means, right? Exactly. Next week will be Wednesday Connect #88. 

Don’t forget that WedCon is always happening, 24/7 on my Twitter. Join the select, elite few!

■ Lament for a nation on fire: Michael frost writes,

Friends have told me they can’t sleep, they feel continual low-level sadness. Some speak about feeling helpless or angry. There’s grief about the loss of life, and anxiety about the loss of native animals and livestock. There’s deep concern about the future of our nation. It feels like we’ve all experienced a kind of collective trauma because of the devastation that has occurred to our country. In times of hardship Aussies often say things like, “no worries” or “she’ll be right.” But no one is saying that this time.

Was the fire the pouring out of God’s wrath on Australia?

■ Parenting Place: From a mainstream website, ten “things to look out for this year as you raise kids in a hypersexualized porn culture;” along with practical steps parents can take to protect their kids from the effects of each.

Televangelist Jack Van Impe has died. He repeatedly accused Rick Warren of trying to promote a fusion of Christianity and Islam called ‘Chrislam’ but the charges didn’t stick.

■ The Wartburg Watch looks at author and influencer Dale Partridge.

■ Analogies in the Skywalker movie:  [May contain spoilers] “…the film’s examination of Rey’s identity evokes the good news of God’s adoption of us in Christ. Though humanity’s spiritual lineage is of Adam, though our nature and choices are trapped under sin, still God in Christ desires to graciously embrace us with a new identity: that of redeemed sons and daughters.”

■ Essay of the Week: Alex MacFarland on getting Millennials to church:

The quest to make youth ministry and discipleship ever easier and more accessible and not just ‘study and reflection’ – but actually ‘make it fun’ and ‘make it exciting’?” he questions. “[That] made many churches more about what I would call infotainment and less about imparting the rock-solid truths of scripture.”

And when parents lost the foundations of the faith, the apologist laments, there was less to pass on to their Millennial children.

In a way, McFarland says the horse is already out of the barn. “The majority of Millennials would not come back to a church that they were never a part of in the first place. They need to be evangelized,” he emphasizes.

■ Three new phrases for (some of) you: (1) Dominical sacraments, (2) apostolic charge, (3) liturgical formularies. Now then, read why Anglicans believe that communion (Eucharist) can’t properly happen unless (a) the right person is in charge, and (b) the right words are spoken

■ …so then what do you do with this story from an historic moment in 1969?

Commander Buzz Aldrin had stashed a communion wafer, a capsule of wine, and a tiny silver chalice onboard the Columbia, and smuggled it into space with him. Before his historic walkabout, Aldrin requested a brief radio silence… His actions were at first kept secret because NASA was embroiled in a lawsuit with an atheist who was suing them for broadcasting a public reading of the Bible by the crew of Apollo 8…

The problem is that, according to this author (for different reasons than listed in the previous item) what Aldrin did doesn’t qualify as communion.

■ Digging Deeper: “The apocalyptic logic is made especially clear in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. Jesus must reign at the right hand of God, in keeping with the narrative of Psalm 110, until all his enemies have been overpowered and destroyed, including the last enemy death. Then he will give the authority or kingdom which he received as the faithful Son of Man back to the Father, so that ‘God may be all in all’—effectively bringing Trinitarianism to an end.” Check out the article, How Powerful is Jesus? (For those on a higher pay grade than I, what does this do wiith Jesus sitting at the right hand of God?)

■ What do complementarians believe about women who find themselves in ministry contexts in another part of the world? Do the rules about women in church leadership differ from New York to New Delhi?

■ The Connected Generation: Barna Research Group “spent much of last year researching and learning more about… the 18–35-year-olds—comprised of both Gen Z and Millennials—who are the future of our world.” They were asked both what they already feel they’ve accomplished, and what they are still hoping to accomplish.

■ Before the UMC split happens: “They may wear uniforms, ring bells at Christmas time, and look traditional….but they are anything but. In fact, they are the most progressive people I’ve ever met – I’ve encountered more interracial couples in The Salvation Army than I have in any other church or nonprofit organization I’ve been involved with. Did you know women preach in their churches? That SA fights human trafficking around the world?” What the United Methodists can learn from the Salvation Army. …

■ … For those who don’t click: A link to a piece referred to in the previous item, You Probably Have it Wrong about The Salvation Army. “Every time I hear Lauren Daigle’s song ‘Rescue’ and she sings ‘I will send out an Army to find you in the middle of the darkness‘ I know she’s singing about the Army. The Salvation Army.

■ Yes, the Christian school is Louisville, Kentucky dismissed Kayla Kennedy; and no, it wasn’t because of the rainbow cake. It was because of all the things. The real question that needs to be examined is: How did she get admitted to the school in the first place?

■ Parenting Place (again): Does your local school have a Satan Club? “Atheists using the name “Satanic Temple” attempt to intimidate schools, parents, and the organization (Child Evangelism Fellowship) which holds Bible clubs in schools around the country. Because CEF won a Supreme Court ruling allowing the free exercise of religious clubs in schools, atheists try to get CEF’s flagship program, Good News Club, out of schools by starting Satan Clubs. They hope parents and school boards will panic, and all religious clubs will be expelled.”

■ This was all over Twitter on Tuesday, but if you missed it, a church in a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul is shutting down in June and then doing a ‘reset’ opening in November in the hopes of starting out fresh with a younger demographic. Hence the headline: “Cottage Grove church to usher out gray-haired members in effort to attract more young parishioners.” (A “planting pastor” at the church said later there are some inaccuracies in the story.)

Canada Corner: Not exactly news, but a new study confirms that Canada is not a Christian nation. Not by any means. The survey looked at both belief and church attendance.

■ Mentioned this last week, but now have a link for you: The Jesus Creed blog (Scot McKnight) now has a new home at Christianity Today. (Complete with a back catalog of previous articles.)

■ As of April 14th, gamblers in the UK won’t be able to use credit cards to do so.

■ New Music: Matt Redman – Official Live Video for “We Praise You” Featuring Brandon Lake  ♫

■ Post-surgery, he discovered he didn’t fit the category of gender disphoria, but was truly suffering from PTSD.

■ In North Carolina, you can carry a concealed weapon to church, but not if the church meets in a school.

■ The Jeremy Camp-inspired movie I Still Believe, releasing in March has been named by Seventeen magazine as the #1 Romantic film of 2020.

■ Sorry, but there’s something deeply disturbing about this music video, and if you watch the visual images, it should be rather apparent what it is. In Chinese, with English subtitles, check out the song God Has Predestined the Paths Man Must Walk. (From the website, “Gospel of the Descent of the Kingdom.”)

■ Time for Summer Camp! “A new generation is about to be introduced to such classic Christian hits as Michael W. Smith’s “Place in This World,” Amy Grant’s “Baby, Baby” and Steven Curtis Chapman’s “The Great Adventure” courtesy of the new film A Week Away.” The movie also contains original songs. ♫

■ Facts of Life star Lisa Welchel on why she never made another album, Christian or otherwise. ♫

■ An article about Justin Bieber leading worship at Judah Smith’s church in Beverly Hills contains a 21-minute segment of one (yes, just one) song. His stage posture there is certainly one of humility. ♫

■ An Atlanta Church has hired a psychic medium. I guess all the cool churches are doing it.

■ Matthew Pierce strikes again: “Is Beth Moore Behind the Baseball Cheating Scandal?” (Parental Discretion Advised.)


Found this in a pile of old papers. It’s a ministry partner letter from Walk in the Word, signed by James MacDonald from July, 2011. The middle paragraph reads, “You’re never gonna discover some secret about me or be disappointed with my private life. You’re never gonna unveil some upsetting news about our business practices behind the scenes…”

Digging a Little Deeper

From the creator of Thinking Out Loud, check out Christianity 201. Guaranteed distraction-free, faith-focused blogging with fresh posts every day at 5:35 PM EST. www.Christianity201.wordpress.com

Just in time for the impeachment hearings: This advertisement appeared in the Saturday edition of The Toronto Star. I cropped out the time and date for the event, but the ad was placed by moodystax.com.

January 15, 2020

Wednesday Connect

Greg Boyd’s new tattoo. No, seriously, it is. “I always said that I would tattoo the Logical Hexagon on my back if I ever became convinced it was valid. Thanks to the excellent work of Elijah Hess… I am now convinced!” Sourced at this tweet.


This is the symphony
That Schubert wrote and never fin

…There is nothing I could do to get this done this week. So think of it as the Unfinished Symphony edition of Wednesday Connect. But a huge thanks to all of you who turned out to read last week’s Back-To-Work edition. I think we set a record for items clicked, so if you missed it, click here.

■ Shannon Dingle’s pain is so real, and her loss so great, after her husband was swept out by a rogue wave. But then, out of nowhere, a mention of it pops up on the TV show Party of Five. Despite the utter shock, Shannon demonstrates incredible grace to the program’s writers and producers. (See also the comments and follow-up tweets.)

■ Are you watching Jeopardy’s Greatest of All Time special series? The show doesn’t always get it right. A contestant was ruled incorrect for saying that Bethlehem is in Palestine. Then, to make matters worse, “Sony Pictures Television, producer of Jeopardy!, admitted the mistake and clarified that an uncorrected version of the game was broadcast due to a ‘human error in post-production.'” (We found this story on Aljazeera, no less!) (Watch the replacement clue which was never broadcast.)

■ It was not a great year. Most of us who blog can access a list of our top posts of 2019; something I found out recently. But Julie Roys’ list is more of a Hall of Shame, a sad commentary on revelations involving several personalities and churches, but one in particular.

■ It was one of the most-asked questions to John Piper’s podcast, but for seven years he kept brushing it off. Finally, an answer to the question on how to avoid sexual dreams.

■ Representatives from the black church have signed an open letter in support of Christianity Today’s article regarding Donald Trump, and have rebuked the pastors who criticized CT for publishing the piece by Mark Galli…

■ …speaking of which, this flashback to January, 2018. It turns out this was not Mark Galli’s first rodeo.

■ The last post: Scot McKnight leaves Patheos with a short but glowing review of Does God Really Love Me by Cyd Holsclaw and Geoff Holsclaw. “Something happened in the 1990s and 2000s: the old-fashioned gospel of the four spiritual laws or the bridge fell apart in the hands of the next generation. I don’t know if that collapse occurred because of generational shifts in that the language no longer worked, or if it collapsed because biblical studies were unveiling a more profound and more accurate gospel.” (Look for McKnight’s blog Jesus Creed at Christianity Today in just a few days.)

■ A progressive Jewish magazine did a piece on self-inducing abortion. “Just like building IKEA furniture.” (In fairness, the full quote was, “Just like building IKEA furniture, managing your abortion is easier and safer with a friend.”) The procedure is not without risk, and as pro-lifers will tell you (but the article won’t) it’s not without years of emotional scarring.

■ An Iowa (US) journalist who struggled with gambling addiction in writing his own obituary, credits his “faith in Jesus Christ” for transforming his life. (Read the obit here.)

■ Leadership Lessons: Your new word for 2020, Conversermon. “Sermons aren’t everything,” is the theme of this article which invites you to lead an alternative or experiential worship service or find other ways to engage the Word without a weekend sermon.

■ Why does it seem like there’s a disproportionate number of pastors from Chicago in the headlines for doing things they shouldn’t do? (If you click through to the Trib, it shows the area where he ministered. Poverty. Then he buys a $142K car.)

Essay of the Week: Christ and Pop Culture’s Top 25 of 2019.

■ It was an honor just to be nominated asked. Except this time, the conference invitation was to an event which didn’t exist. (And lots of speakers received them.)

■ Collision course? Apparently, Eric Metaxas has a few things he doesn’t like about the U.S. Constitution. (If it includes procedures for removing a certain President from a certain White House.)

■ Whatever happened to the parsonage? Real estate realities in the world of short-term pastorates.

■ Finally, it can now be said officially. Dog owners attend church more faithfully than cat owners. (Includes an interview with the research study’s author, and his dog, Lucy.)


news stories compiled this week with a little help from DISRN
opinion pieces compiled with help from Eric and Michael at LINKATHON


■ I can almost guarantee you haven’t heard this story before:


Last week’s top clicks:

1. Julie Roys on Chicago churches
2. C.S. Lewis daily account on Twitter: What happened>
3. Andy Stanley sermon teaser
4. Olson’s childhood church
5. The Bee: Surprise! It’s satire!
6. UMC Split
7. People who died in 2019
8. Francis Chan’s Catholic leanings?
9. G Boyd’s new book

Click here to read these and more.

January 8, 2020

Wednesday Connect

Is this what your church will look like in 2040? See article below.

It’s fiction, so it can choose to be or not be about Christianity. Nonetheless the program won’t be streamed in the country where it was filmed. See stories below.

With three weeks of catching up to do, this is a slightly longer list. I hope you’ll not rush through this, but take time to click on a half-dozen or more items.

■ Essay of the Week: I’m staring at a completely blank screen as I type this but this open letter to blogger Julie Roys is undoubtedly this week’s must-read piece. “[I]t can still be fairly observed that anyone who tried to pastor a church in the Chicago area in the past 30 years felt the influence of Willow Creek and Harvest like the manager of a Mom-and-Pop store feels the influence of Walmart and Amazon. Two near-orbiting energy-draining black holes.”

■ If you were following a Twitter account called C. S. Lewis Daily, what would you expect to see? I’m guessing quotations by C. S. Lewis, right? But on the weekend more people started noticing that the items have nothing to do with Lewis, there seems to be an agenda, and perhaps even the account has been hijacked. Check out the comments on this one, for example. (Update: Apparently we weren’t the first to notice this.)

■ UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson used his Christmas speech to remind everyone of the persecution faced by Christians worldwide. “As Prime Minister, that’s something I want to change. We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and we will defend your right to practice your faith.”  ­

■ If they didn’t like the message of Andy Stanley’s Irresistible, they might not be too happy with Greg Boyd’s take on a similar subject. Check out his weekend sermon introducing his book Inspired Imperfection.

■ An Australian reflects on the bush fires consuming such a large amount of acreage in his country:

  • Each year, there is a bushfire season in Australia, but this year it started weeks earlier and they are now the largest in living memory. The bottom line is that over 10 million hectares have been burned (that is an area the size of Scotland and Wales combined), hundreds of homes have been destroyed, at least 20 lives lost, and almost 500 million animals and birds destroyed (including an estimated third of the koalas in northern New South Wales).
  • These fires are not new. This afternoon I was reading about the impact of the 1851 Black Thursday bushfires that burnt a quarter of Victoria, killed 12 humans and over a million sheep.
  • The Indian Ocean Dipole is the main reason for both the extreme heat and drought in Australia. This is an effect where the western half of the ocean is warmer than that of the eastern. Added to this is the problem of the winds. Normally the strong southerlies blow several hundred kilometres to the south but for some unknown reason they are much closer to Australia.
  • If Australia were to destroy its own economy (and impoverish many poor people even more) and reduce its emissions from 1.3% to 1% of global emissions, the new power stations being planned in China would make up for that within a year.
  • 13% of bushfires are natural; 87% are human and of these at least 40% are believed to be arson. The situation is so serious that today it was reported that NSW police are to set up a taskforce to investigate how many of the fires were caused deliberately…

He then asks readers to pray for rain.

■ Memoir of the Week: Though he doesn’t pin any dates or locations to the article, Roger Olsen reminisces on growing up in a conservative Christian home along with the many services attended and behavioral codes adhered to. He wonders aloud what happened to that lifestyle.

■ Not everyone has a Damascus Road experience. “A study done among a group of 500 churchgoers in England who had come to faith in the previous twelve months found that almost seventy percent of them described their conversions as a gradual experience that took an average of four years. Only twenty percent described their salvation experience as dramatic or radical.” 

■ In one of his latest messages, Francis Chan bends slightly Roman Catholic. Or not so slightly. “500 hundred years ago, someone put a pulpit at the front of the gathering. This is when we shifted from communion as both the physical center and most important element of the service to ‘one guy and his pulpit.'”

■ Quotation of the Week: How to Stay in Church, A Field Guide

Maybe I’m not the best person to talk about this; after all, I’ve left. I don’t go to church these days. I’m an outsider. Maybe that disqualifies me from talking about how to remain. But I will tell you this: I still love the church. I’m always captivated by the idea of community and togetherness. And I believe in the mission of the church as I understand it. I believe the church was called to be a place where people come together to follow Jesus by loving their neighbors. For all my cynicism, I still believe in the power of the Holy Ghost flowing through the local church.

Even though I love the church, I’m by no means blind to the hurt it causes. And if you’re going to stay, you are going to get hurt. You must prepare to triage yourself and other people because the church is going to hurt you. There are going to be people who wound you, some doctrine that crushes, and unwillingness to change that is going to be like smashing your face against a brick wall. Theology will be wielded as a weapon and the pulpit will give up its authority for the sake of political power. It’s going to hurt to stay. If you want to stay, you must brace yourself for the hurt.”

■ Another denomination, the United Methodist Church, is splitting later this year over the gay marriage issue.

■ Significant Archeological News: “The Israel Antiquities Authority believes it may have found a 2,000-year-old market next to the recently discovered Pilgrimage Road in Jerusalem that Jesus and other Jews once walked on to get to the Second Temple.”

■ Having to do funerals for people he’d never met convinced this pastor of these five tips the dead can teach the living for 2020.

■ Decade in Review: Religion News Service on those whose influence rose and those whose stature fell.

■ Christmas, one more time: The 41-minute series kick off sermon from December 1 by Andy Stanley to his congregation makes good back-tracking for anyone in your sphere of influence unclear as to what the last month was all about.

■ Seven local church concerns. Thom Rainer reports on feedback from church consultants noting seven trends. Sample: #5 – “The issue of deferred maintenance is a crisis in many churches. Our consultants are reporting a number of churches that simply don’t have the funds to maintain their deteriorating facilities.”

■ A really, really good article from October, 2017 we wish we’d seen. The Bible’s world provides us with so many natural and agrarian metaphors. But we live in cities. Is there a way our worship songs can better reflect this?

■ White Supremacy: Publisher’s Weekly reports, “In this trenchant analysis of the roots of white supremacy in American culture, blogger and preacher [Mark] Charles (Reflections from the Hogan) and religion professor [Soong-Chan] Rah (The Prophetic Lament) team up to examine the insidious legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, a set of 15th-century legal principles based on Catholic papal decrees.” This title released in November from IVP.

■ Thousands attended as “Reinhard Bonnke, the German evangelist known as ‘The Billy Graham of Africa,’ was lauded at a Saturday (Jan. 4) memorial service as ‘a giant and a general in the army of God.'”

■ New website(s) to know about with resources for the whole family: Minno Life (for adults) and Minno Kids (which is also the new home for Jelly Telly.)

■ To bolster attendance at their Kentucky attractions, Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter and Creation Museum will both offer free admission to children 10 and under in 2020.

A season of predictions. The holographic worship leader pictured above is one of several items on a list of ways the church will look different in 2040.

■ Provocative (but not exactly inaccurate) Headline of the Week: “Actress Michelle William Celebrates Abortion During Golden Globes, ‘Thank God’ We Can Kill Babies.

■ Opinion: The CT article by Mark Galli in reference to President Trump was nothing more than journalists doing what journalists do. ” Journalists serve the public… Journalism shares a lot of the same values as Christianity. They both privilege truth. They both are concerned with the interests of others.”

Messiah: Will he convert you or con you? That’s the question asked in a new series on Netflix. Like the CBS series God Friended Me, the brush strokes painted are wider than Christianity, but in much of that network series, Christianity seems to be most dominantly in view. Messiah offers “an ambiguous Christ-like man claiming to be sent by God.” “Packed with several solid teachings and the resounding message that sin brings punishment, season 1 of Messiah ends with the implication that Al-Masih might be either a hoaxer, a magician or a radical terrorist.” (Note: “The series is rated TV-MA (for mature audiences only), because it contains foul language and graphic sex scenes.”)  …

 … However, “The Royal Film Commission [in late December] officially asked Netflix not to stream the TV series Messiah in Jordan after supporting its shoot in the country… ‘The story is purely fictional and so are the characters,’ the commission said. ‘Yet, the RFC deems that the content of the series could be largely perceived or interpreted as infringing on the sanctity of religion, thus possibly contravening the laws in the country.'”

■ A single brand: Discovery House Publishing is now Our Daily Bread Publishing. (The organization has been moving toward a single brand identification dating back to it’s ‘Radio Bible Class’ days.)

■ Russell Moore begins by telling his 2009 self that “Donald Trump is president, Twitter is still around, Kanye West is a Christian, and Joshua Harris is not” and then goes on to name his Top Books of the Decade.

■ Old Music: The Getty’s have just covered a hymn belonging to a writer born in 1894: Thou Who Was Rich Beyond All Splendor.

■ New Music: Mandisa has covered one of our favorite songs: Way Maker

■ Mainstream Music (article): “Coldplay gives us a vision of everyday life in which people acknowledge each other’s hurt, individuals dissolve as drops into the same sea, and we all sing a mournful, joyful hallelujah together.” This analysis leaves me wishing the author had written a few songs of his own.

■ ICYMI: Our summary of the top Canadian-interest faith-related stories of 2019 which appeared here at Wednesday Connect.

■ Babylon Bee articles look like the real thing. And they’re quite funny. So they get shared. A lot. And people read them who don’t know it’s satire. Why that’s a problem for them, for the people referenced in their stories, and for all of us.  

■ Just east of Syracuse, New York, three of the four town councilors decided they’d rather swear on a book of town codes than on a Bible.

■ An article about a movie about the making of faith-based movies got 10,000 comments; all from people who haven’t yet seen the film. Watch the teaser trailer for Faith Based. (Film festival opening January 18th.)

Best sermon series teaser ever.

■ Finally, a Lent course based on Mary Poppins. (see image below) “Where The Lost Things Go is a ‘practically perfect’ Lent course for small group study – or for reading on one’s own – based on the popular film Mary Poppins Returns. Poet and minister Lucy Berry skilfully (sic) draws out some of the themes of the Oscar-nominated movie (which stars Emily Blunt, Ben Whishaw and Lin-Manuel Miranda) and shows how we can consider them more deeply alongside passages from the Bible.”


If you missed the Holy Post Podcast where Phil Vischer and Skye Jethani (and Christian Taylor) responded to the CT article by Mark Galli, it contained a history lesson on the differences between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. Josh Alves illustrated this on Twitter.

■ Postscript: If you already heard the Holy Post Podcast referred to in the above graphic, this article by Roger Olson is a good fit.

December 18, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Here we go again…


…and speaking of front pages, this is what the blog Internet Monk thinks the front page of Time should have looked like.

 

Just hours after last week’s Connect, the hottest thing making the rounds was a picture of a gathering of modern worship composers and musicians in the Oval Office of The White House. This brought out a variety of responses from across the spectrum of emotions concerning the man sitting at the desk in the center of the picture, a topic I try to avoid here. It’s posted everywhere, but if you missed it, try this link

Next Wednesday is Christmas Day, and the following one is New Year’s Day, so it looks like I have a few weeks off! But check back here anyway, there’s more to Thinking Out Loud than the weekly list.

■ Ignoring the sex abuse scandals dogging so many churches right now, The Gospel Coalition chooses the conversion of Kanye West as its Theology Story of the Year.

■ Get to know this term: Extinction Religion. It’s not exactly about religion, but it’s about people coalescing around a cause that could prove to be an activisim-oriented model for movements in Christianity, including missions. 

■ When Charismatic belief in a God without limits comes face-to-face with the reality of death. “The daughter of worship leader Kalley Heiligenthal passed away… and she and the church [were] praying that God [would] raise the child from the dead.” [Update]

Feature Article of the Week: 50 years of CCM: Why the glory days of Christian music are over. The article from our friends across the pond references artists such as Bryn Haworth and After The Fire, but you’ll also see some names you recognize in this British analysis of the movement which germinated in the early ’70s.

■ Catholic veneration of Mary on steroids involves declaring her co-redemptrix. (The word means what you think it does.) Does this place her in a quadrinity? “The formula ‘co-redemptrix’ departs to too great an extent from the language of Scripture and of the Fathers, and therefore gives rise to misunderstandings.”

■ Most provocative opening sentence: “Being known as a nice person has been considered by some to be detrimental to effective leadership.” (I wonder if Jesus was consulted for this article.)

■ The money isn’t going where the donors think it’s going: “The investigation found that most of Pope Francis’s Peter’s Pence collection went to Vatican budget deficit.” CBC interview with Wall Street Journal reporter:

…So you found that only 10 per cent is being used to support charitable works. Where’s the rest going? 

Well that’s true at least of the last five years. Two thirds has been going to plug the deficit in the Holy See. This is a deficit in the operations of the central administration of the Catholic Church and the Pope’s diplomatic network around the world, which has been running an increasing deficit in recent years due to rising wage costs and unsuccessful investments and inefficiencies…

■ … and it’s not just the Roman Catholic Church. In a Washington Post report, a whistle-blower alleges that the Mormon Church (or whatever it’s called now) has misled members on $100 billion tax-exempt investment fund. “The complaint was filed by David A. Nielsen, a 41-year-old Mormon who worked until September as a senior portfolio manager at the church’s investment division, a company named Ensign Peak Advisors that is based near the church’s headquarters.” [Optional discussion question: What’s your church’s investment division called? We’ll go around the circle.] 

■ Boz Tchividjian announced that in the Spring he will step down both from the sexual abuse advocacy organization he founded, and his teaching position at Liberty University in order to return to practicing law.

■ When a family loses a child. This is both painful to read and must-reading at the same time.

■ Future Heir? If you go to the videos page for the YouTube channel of Joel Osteen Ministries, you’ll see that son Jonathan Osteen has built a back-catalog of sermons over the past year.

■ The aging of the church. For mainline Protestant denominations, the modal (most recurring) age is now 67. Check out this graphic.

■ Noteworthy Conversion: “An internationally renowned Anglican bishop and former chaplain to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is leaving the Anglican Church to become a Catholic.”

The Top Books of 2019 at Jesus Creed (Scot McKnight’s blog).

■ ICYMI: The Hallmark Channel gay kiss tempest.

■ Resources Roster: Kidology, everything you need for Children’s ministry…

■ … also on the subject of KidMin, if you upload anything to YouTube that either you or the online platform deems as being content made for the consumption of children, you need to know that COPPA takes effect January 1st.

■ Parents in New Jersey won’t be able to use religion as a reason for not getting their children vaccinated.

Yet another writer leaving Patheos.

■ New Music: ♫ We introduced you a few months ago to these four Dutch guys mixing South American and Irish folk with African beats. This one is more ballad-like. Trinity – Songs of Life.

■ New Music: ♫ Six months ago we introduced you to Bethany (not Bethel) Music. Like many ministries they have a youth component. Check out – BOLD YTH – Only Wanna Sing. “This is no performance / Lord I pray it’s worship / Empty words I can’t afford.”

■ New Music: ♫ A band referenced in our feature article (above), Wildwood Kin was also covered in a separate article at Premier Magazine. Check out their recent release, Wildwood Kin – Headed for the Water.

♪ Watch for a special-edition of New Christmas Music later this week ♪

■ Meanwhile, on Netflix: “The First Temptation of Christ is a 46-minute film depicting Our Lord and Savior as a homosexual involved in a same-sex relationship with a man named Orlando. It also portrays Mary, Jesus’ mother, as a pot-smoking adulterer.” (But I’m sure that other than that it follows the Biblical narrative, right?)

■ In deference to the people for whom Jesus is not Lord, a London school substituted the word baby for Lord in the carol, Away in a Manger.

■ They were first-time visitors to the church, but they were asked to bring their payroll stubs from work so the church would know that they would actually be tithing 10%.

■ Finally, and also from the collection at Not Always Right, their Dad, the pastor, on showing respect for ‘The Good Book.’


Jesus Shaves: It’s a temperature-sensitive, reactive mug miracle. Some people really do have too much time on their hands.


It was the subtitle that got me: Abstinence, Drugs, Satanism, and Other Thing That Threaten Their Nine Lives… The book “How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety answers crucial questions such as, ‘What is the right age to talk to my cat about the proper use of firearms?’ and ‘What are the benefits of my cat living a lifestyle of abstinence?’ and especially ‘Why does my cat need to use the internet? Can’t he just play with yarn like cats used to do?'”

 

 

December 11, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Is she playing a Roland or a Yamaha?

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

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

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

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

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

The Atlantic profiles Timothy Keller.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons in replacing toilet seals and the Corinthian church.

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

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

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

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

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

■ New Music: Heartbeat by Elevation Rhythm

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

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

 

 

December 4, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Nativity Calendar Enhanced 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Chapel at Wall Drug. See video link above.


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

 


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

The Last Word on Modern Worship

 

 

November 27, 2019

Wednesday Connect



Biblical Disaster

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

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

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

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

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

■ The future of weekend worship:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Digging a Little Deeper

From the creator of Thinking Out Loud, check out Christianity 201. Guaranteed distraction-free faith blogging with fresh posts every day. www.Christianity201.wordpress.com

November 20, 2019

Wednesday Connect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

November 13, 2019

Wednesday Connect

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

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


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

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

Francis Chan is moving to Asia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers

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

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

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

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

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

November 6, 2019

Wednesday Connect

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Source: Casual Christian Comedy 2]

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.