Thinking Out Loud

February 13, 2019

Wednesday Connect

First of all thanks to those of you who responded to Last Wednesday’s “serious week” of highly focused items without the tabloid-style stories. The stats were encouraging. This week’s list needed to be completed by Saturday night, so apologies for things which broke earlier this week that I’m not aware of. Graphics like the one above appear at the start of the week on the Happy Monday feature from Clark Bunch. I love that type of humor. He will have posted something newer by the time you read this, so here’s a link to both this week and last week!

♦ The Archbishop rides again! First, he shocked everyone with his “speaking in tongues” revelation. Now this: ‘Who cares’ if you’re Protestant or Catholic?

♦ He was doing apologetics before some of the rest of us knew what the word meant. The UK’s Michael Green passed away last week, so Premier Magazine re-ran an interview it did with him in 2010.

♦ Before he died of a lethal injection, Dominique Ray was a Muslim who was on death row. All he wanted was to have his imam present in the chamber. “Ray has exhausted his death sentence appeals and now only seeks to die with a measure of spiritual comfort. Alabama automatically gives Christian inmates this benefit: Since 1997, the Rev. Chris Summers has witnessed nearly every execution in the state, kneeling and praying with prisoners just before they are killed.” The state of Alabama said no, even though the imam already had clearance to visit the prison

♦ …Alabama then solved the problem by banning all “spiritual advisors” from being present during executions; including prison chaplains.

♦ Essay of the Week: “It is an interesting fact that Christianity’s three most famous creedal statements, the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, contain no moral doctrines.  They contain metaphysical doctrines, e.g. the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement; and what I suppose may be called historical-miraculous doctrines, e.g., the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Ascension. But no moral doctrines: nothing about the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the two great commandments – love God, love your neighbor.”

♦ What will your life be remembered for? Often it’s the things we do near the end. If we start poorly but end well, people remember the ending. If we start well, but end poorly, people remember the end. This article by Julie Roys solidifies the characterization of James MacDonald as a “mob boss.” What a shame if this is his ultimate legacy

♦ …On the weekend, one website was reporting MacDonald was already gone from Harvest. (This story may be updated or the situation may be altered by the time you read this. One of the drawbacks of an early deadline this week.) (For updated news, see the Twitter feed of WLS radio personality Mancow Muller.)

♦ They don’t just think evangelism is optional, but they actually dare to say it’s “wrong.” Barna Research “is releasing Reviving Evangelism, a new report based on research commissioned by Alpha USA. This study looks at the faith-sharing experiences and expectations of Christians and non-Christians alike. Among the major findings in this report is the revelation that Christian Millennials feel especially conflicted about evangelism—and, in fact, almost half believe it is wrong to share their faith.”

♦ Last week’s National Prayer Breakfast. I actually spent some time trying to find a good summary of the event and finally settled on this one. It’s one of those silly “5 things” articles where you have to click to get the next thing, but it covered details other had not, like who led worship and the bipartisan prayer moment.

♦ Provocative Headline of the Week: “Let’s talk about virginity-shaming.

♦ The people God puts next to you on an airplane; those moments when God says, “He’s not an airline companion in the next seat. He’s a mirror.”

♦ Justin Bieber talks to Vogue magazine: “Justin has been especially focused on his own moral development lately, what he describes as ‘character stuff.’ Last fall he made a decision to step back from music for the moment to focus on being the man he feels no one ever taught him how to be, and above all a good husband. ‘Just thinking about music stresses me out,’ he says. ‘I’ve been successful since I was thirteen, so I didn’t really have a chance to find who I was apart from what I did…”

♦ Chris Pratt talks with Stephen Colbert about trying The Daniel Fast, a Biblical diet

♦ …but actress Ellen Page has called Pratt out for attending Hillsong, which she sees as an anti-LGBTQ church…

♦ …meanwhile, the day after The Late Show appearance, Pratt remembered that it was Christine Caine who was the source of a powerful quotation that left Colbert deep in thought for a few seconds: “If the light that is within you is not greater than the light that is on you, the light that is on you will destroy you.” He says that quote has helped him survive Hollywood.

♦ Though it’s still not known how many LifeWay bookstores will be closing, current President Thom Rainer said the company “did all they could” to save them.

♫ Elias Dummer, lead singer for the band The City Harmonic has a new solo album, The Work, Vol 1. Check out the song Heartbeat

♦ Parenting Place: Everything you need to know about e-cigarettes in one infographic.

♦ “Unofficially, Disney World and Disneyland have had Gay Days since in the 1990s, but there has never been an officially sanctioned LGBTQ event until now.”

The original blog post for this has long disappeared, but I can’t think of a better day-before-Valentine’s-Day link: Biblical ways in which a man gets a wife.

♦ You’ve always wanted to find this: The best way to refute Jehovah’s Witnesses on their reading of John 1:1. You just have to memorize everything Donall and Conall say

♦ Finally, and I quote: “A man is suing his parents for giving birth to him without his consent.” An exercise in logic and bio-medical ethics.


source: Southern Baptist Memes

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February 6, 2019

Wednesday Connect

This week’s list starts out like many of them do, but actually manages to stay focused all the way through. Looking for tabloid stories? That contributor took the week off.

♦ Today’s lead item: If “Your church is more interested in defending against the outsiders than finding lost sheep;” or if “Your church is predominately known for its judgment and condemnation rather than its love and mercy;” then it’s easy: You’re attending an Old Testament Church.

♦ A Forrest Gump moment, or a complete fantasy? John MacArthur claims he was with civil rights activist Charles Evers when MLK was asassinated. Evers claims it simply isn’t so.

♦ Essay of the Week: Aging Grace-fully. A wonderfully written memoir of his grandmother by Philip Yancey.

♦ Francis Chan in an interview that “no one in the U.S. is reading” said this about being an Evangelical:

We walk around in America with so much arrogance. Everyone tweets, everyone blogs, everyone wants their voice to be heard. And I’m trying to explain to them: “I’m to shut my own voice out of my own head and trust his words above mine. How you label me for doing that is up to you. I’m just trying to be a person who follows the word.

♦ Retro: Another local church is going back to the hymn book. (For them, I hope this works!)

Our return to the hymnal will not cause us to turn our backs on the use of technology. We will continue to use screens and put words from the hymns on the screen, but we will put an emphasis on using the hymnal too—in order for us to follow the flow of the song and to learn how to recognize the direction of the notes so that we can remain on key as we sing. This will enable us to teach another younger generation on the importance of singing and how to use the hymnal to sing corporately to the Lord.

♦ Just as I Am: In a possibly related article a look at what Evangelicals call “The Invitation Hymn.”

Preaching worthy of the name calls for people to take specific steps. Granted, the response that is appropriate at the end of any lesson will not be the same for each person in the audience. But if the sermon does not call for any kind of response from anybody, it would be well to ponder why it was preached in the first place.

♦ Think that churches are dying in the UK? Check out the backstreets of London, England. But note, these are ethnic churches.

The busy scene at the Celestial Church of Christ is repeated at a half a dozen other African Christian temples on the same drab street and in the adjacent roads – one corner of the thriving African church community in south London. Around 250 black majority churches are believed to operate in the borough of Southwark, where 16 percent of the population identifies as having African ethnicity.

♦ Provocative Headline of the Week: Is ‘First Reformed’ the Best Faith Movie Ever or Pure Blasphemy?

♦ …While we’re on the subject: Do Christian film creators know their movies suck? (This whole article is a great insight to what goes on behind the scenes, and by that, I don’t mean on set.)

Who am I to doubt that? Maybe the Lord did want them to make a film. However, I doubt very much the Lord wanted them to throw together a script, buy a cheap camera, gather up a few friends from church and make a movie. Come on. Be real. If the Lord told you he wanted you to be a doctor, you wouldn’t buy a scalpel and start operating on people the next day.

♦ Which type are you? In what the author calls “10 Contemporary Evangelicalisms” there is a category classification that begs you to put an “X” in the box where you think you fit.  Which brings us to…

♦ Analogy Avenue: “You see, it’s supposed to work like this: The world of churches is like a big mall, and there are many different kinds of stores. You choose one store–ONE–and you go there for everything you need. You are LOYAL to that store. You BELIEVE in that store and what it’s all about; in the way it does things. You persuade others that your store is the one and only store real shoppers patronize. You buy name brand merchandise at every opportunity. It’s your store. Yes, there is a mall, but you only need one store.” An encouragement to shop the entire mall.

♦ Wow! Did my wife write this? Here’s an article that gives voice to all the women who are tired of Bible studies that are about feelings. A call for women’s ministry resources which get to the heart of genuine Bible study.

♦ With an already 30-year low birth rate in America, some residential neighborhoods are lacking amenities for families with kids. Municipalities are restricting permits for houses with multiple bedrooms and allowances for daycare centers.

♦ Pastor Place: I totally loved this short article, titled Fortnight Evangelism. “If you want to build bridges with the next generation, especially the boys, an easy point of connection is to talk about their world. And their world right now is one thing: Fortnite.

♦ Fallout continues for Karen Pence, wife of US Vice President Mike Pence, as the Christian school where she teaches has a tough stand on LGBTI lifestyles for staff and students, and now another school affirms they will no longer participate in events at Immanuel Christian School.

♦ Chicago area Youth Pastor Joshua Nelson who writes at The Sidebar Blog:

  • Regarding the youth in his church, someone once suggested to him they should “just sit on the sidelines until their time came.” That prompted the article Too Young For Church. However…
  • …Then, a week later, the other side of the coin: “Just as the Body is deprived if young people are not championed, so too is the church deprived if the elderly are forgotten.” Check out Too Old for Church.

♦ Who to watch: It’s been awhile since we ran links to the Young Influencers Lists by Brad Lomenick. The last two produced were for October and November of 2018. 

♦ In a post entitled “The End” Michael Gungor says this is the end for Gungor, the musical group. But haven’t we heard this song before? (Or one like it?)

♦ Canada Corner: Statistics Canada stopped collecting data on marriage in 2008. However, 30 prominent academics are asking the government agency to restart the practice.

Once you understand that marriage is a public institution and is a marker for things other than just your own personal relationship, you want to have that data to be able to discuss the other things it correlates with. For example, social isolation, childcare, aspects of eldercare, how public policy is designed around those issues. I think marriage would have a bearing on them.

♦ Continuing in Canada for a moment, this foster parents case continues for one couple:

…In the week of April 30-May 4 of last year, they met with a Child Services social worker. The social worker asked the couple, one of whom is a pastor, if they “still” believe “in some of the more outdated parts of the Bible” and if they considered homosexuality a sin. Last October, the couple received a letter from Child Services declining their application, stating that “the policies of our agency do not appear to fit with your values and beliefs.”

♦ Maybe it’s all Greek to you, but to him, Greek was a lifetime passion. Dr. Robert “Bob” Mounce passed away on January 24th at age 97. [His son, and also a respected Greek scholar, Bill Mounce reflects on his father’s death.]

♦ At what everyone must agree is “a particularly sensitive time in Israeli-Palestinian relations;” the dispute now centers on a new collection of artifacts in the West Bank which some are calling, a new cache of Dead Sea Scrolls.

♦ Leadership Lessons: Are two sites better than one? This pastor confesses to four mistakes his church made in going multi-site.

Finally…

…Not finally. We usually have a number of bizarre stories in the final few links here, but they distort the stats and just for this week, I decided to take this whole thing more seriously and just run some links to some solid news stories and opinion pieces that would be helpful to some of the people who read this each week, even if they’re not the majority.


Two months ago Mark Hall of Casting Crowns posted this on his Twitter account: “Doctors put me on vocal rest but I know there’s still plenty of ways that we can point to Jesus! How do you point to Jesus! Just started drawing again!” (The band has a new tour starting February 21st.)


Yes, they were serious. Now you can tell someone’s eternal destiny by their political party… I followed this account on Twitter for exactly five days. Some of the items they posted were informative, but there was no denying that overall tone of the organization could easily lead to someone’s spiritual demise, regardless of party affiliation. This is what the Gospel of Hate looks like. Sorry, no link for this one.


Miranda Rights for PKs (Pastors’ Kids)

January 30, 2019

Wednesday Connect

This week’s list delves into some social issues and honestly, it was discouraging to include these but I felt that in view of the New York State decision (which we’re assuming you heard) it’s worth keeping aware of these developments.

♦ You’ve heard of Jonah and the Whale; now meet Casey and the Bear. Did God send a bear to take care of a boy? How did the boy survive two days in frigid temperatures; weather so adverse the search was called off? We might never know.

♦ The second coming: Perry Noble (pictured) is back. At the first service at Second Chance, he reports 725 people attended with 18 first-time decisions. Read what he wrote before that first service.

♦ Essay of the Week: In the Boston Globe, the link between religiosity and generosity. “…'[N]ones” will outnumber Catholics by 2020, and will be more numerous than Protestants by 2035….[A] decline in religious ties is ominous for reasons having nothing to do with theology. America has always been extraordinarily charitable. But that generosity has been disproportionately linked to faith. As faith shrinks, charity — and the good works charity sustains — will take a hit.”

♦ No, it’s not a Babylon Bee article, and it’s not actually new. Earlier this week Drew Dyck (author of Your Future Self Will Thank You) posted a link to the Wikipedia page for the Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptist denomination. (Never ceases to amaze me who gets a page on Wikipedia and what they feel doesn’t qualify.)

♦ Bringing the Bible back to school: North Dakota Rep. Aaron McWilliams has co-sponsored a bill — supported by no less than Donald Trump — to bring Bible classes back to school. “‘There’s a separation of church and state, but there’s not a separation of books from education,’ McWilliams said, adding that unless schools allow classes about religious texts, the state ends up ‘establishing a religion of secularism within our school by not having anything else.'” …

♦ …But Jonathan Merritt makes a valid observation “If conservative Christians don’t trust public schools to teach their kids about sex or science, I can’t imagine they want a government employee teaching kids about sacred scripture.” [Source: Twitter.]…

♦ …Meanwhile, Christian parents have more to worry about. Kids are referred to “experts keen to affirm their children as transgender,” according to journalist Abigail Shrier writing in the Wall Street Journal. “Parents said they were ‘terrified’ that opposing treatments recommended by therapists and others would result in their child refusing to speak to them…Therapists and psychiatrists undermine parental authority with immediate affirmation of teens’ self-diagnoses. Campus counsellors happily refer students to clinics that dispense hormones on the first visit.” …

♦ …And if you’re not disturbed enough, CBN News reports on a video on a channel for kids with more than two million followers which attempts to normalize abortion. “She compares having an abortion to a bad dentist appointment and a bodily procedure that’s ‘kind of uncomfortable.’ She also tells one child that she believes abortion is ‘all part of God’s plan.’” [The second link here is to the video itself, which CBN did not directly link to. If your computer is in an area where kids could hear the audio, discretion is advised.]…

♦ …Meanwhile, after the New York State decision, some are calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.

♦ There’s no succession plan. At some point, some megachurch pastors will want to retire. Nobody is waiting in the wings. Millennials don’t want the job. “In fact, we are seeing search committees or their equivalents taking longer and longer to find a pastor… we have a supply and demand crisis. The demand is growing, and the supply is small.”

♦ A former co-anchor of Good Morning America’s weekend edition, as well as a former co-host of ABC’s The View, Paula Faris has launched a podcast for ABC-News, Journeys of Faith. “An intimate look at how some of the world’s most influential people lean on faith and spirituality to guide them through the best and worst of times.”

♦ Yes, you can live without it. An interview with a 40-something pastor who has no cellphone. “I don’t see any negative impact on my ministry. I might be better. When I am listening to you, I am listening only to you. When you send me on a retreat to pray, I only pray for you and for our church…Before cell phones I was not considered a focused or warm and fuzzy person. But now the bar for what is considered focused has dropped so low that I am considered nearly super human in what I can accomplish.”

♦ This story reminded me so much of last year’s story involving John Chau, the young missionary who wanted to evangelize an isolated tribe off the coast of India. Only this time the story takes place in Brazil.

♦ Another website dedicated to exposing James MacDonald. Read the most recent post at Harvest Bible Chapel Fraud

♦ …and a well-known Chicago radio personality who was a friend of MacDonald’s speaks out against the pastor

♦ …I told you so. This article appeared on this blog in April, 2013 and drew 68 comments, which is unusual for Thinking out Loud. It showed where MacDonald’s priorities were then (as now) preaching about money and finances on Easter Sunday morning.

♦ The Bible doesn’t talk about politics? Not so fast. “…[T]he birth of Christ took place in the shadow of the twin pillars of a typical political Empire: economic power and military might.” (This is so well-written; I’m also featuring it Friday at Christianity 201.)

♦ Over at Internet Monk, Chaplain Mike is working his way through the book The Bible and The Believer by Mark Zvi Brettler, Peter Enns, and Daniel J. Harrington. In the third of three posts, he looks at the contribution of The late Daniel J. Harrington, who provides insight into a Catholic reading of scripture. (Be sure to track back and read the earlier parts to this, including the Jewish perspective, and also don’t miss the comments.)

♦ Make sure you copy right: Each year various types of “books, songs and films that entered the public domain on Jan. 1, 2019 — the first time that published works’ copyrights have expired since 1998.” The reason is due to a 20 year extension that was placed on the expiry date

♦ The church abuse story background: For those who want to play catch-up regarding the C. J. Mahaney story, this article about Mahaney and Together for the Gospel (T4G) is what you’re looking for.

♦ Q2019: John Mark Comer is among the featured speakers at this year’s Q. April 24-26 in Nashville.

♦ Provocative headline of the week: Evangelical Christians need an exit ramp from Trumpism. “Some of his evangelical disciples have explicitly said there is nothing he could do to lose their support. Yet a divorce is not impossible, and it won’t require white conservatives to suddenly back a Democrat. Trump’s white evangelical support has already fallen in the wake of chaos in the administration and the longest government shutdown in history. If the walls continue to close in around the president, he may yet lose even more support…”

♦ Book excerpt from What if It’s True by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson, released 1/29)

Because if this story is true, then the King of all kings, the infinite God who spoke the Milky Way and me into existence — because He loves me deeply — stepped off His throne and embarked on a rescue mission to save and deliver a self-centered slave like me.

What kind of king does that?…

…You and I have a problem, and the appearance of a baby boy in a nameless stable in Bethlehem is our first clue that the problem is out of our control — that after a few thousand years of pleading with us to return to Him, He has come to us. To save us from ourselves.

♦ Adam Ford’s cartoons are too big to reproduce here, but with New York State’s recent abortion decision, this one is somewhat timely.

♦ Great marriage advice from Pat Boone, on the loss of his wife Shirley after 64 years together: “We didn’t have the perfect marriage, but it helps to marry a magnificent woman… You make your commitments to God and each other, and in troubled times, you hang on to the commitment to God, and to your kids. You see the problems through and you find you’re stronger because of it.”

♦ Sadly, another child sex abuse story involving a youth/children’s worker, only this time it’s at a satellite campus of the Texas megachurch headed by Matt Chandler.

♦ Finding that he can’t be a donor for his mother, an Ohio pastor gives part of his liver to a stranger

♦ Attendance was down at this year’s World Youth Day in Panama.

♦ Book Review: Lorne Anderson looks at how the lives of 14 people are reflected in Moral Leadership for a Divided Age.

♦ “If two or three of you…” With this new Click to Pray app you can agree in prayer with what the Pope is currently praying for/about.

♪ New Music: From Tampa, Florida, check out Never Leave Me from Reach City Worship

♪ … also new this week from popular singer musician performer Kirk Franklin, Love Theory.

♪ Singer Ray Stevens turned 80 last week. He’s recorded a number of gospel songs such as Turn Your Radio On and my favorite version of Love Lifted Me.

♪ Musician James Ingram died yesterday. His song Ya Mo Be There was a hit on progressive CCM stations.

♦ Finally, who else but Jon Crist:

 

 

January 23, 2019

Wednesday Connect

For those of you who love alliteration, this is the smiling Satan statue in Segovia, Spain. He’s happy. A little too happy as it turns out. See today’s final linked item.

So here we are again. Thanks again to our contributors. Today as usual there is good news, bad news, and strange news.

♦ Breaking as we come on the air: Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury speaks in tongues.

♦ The story at Harvest Bible Chapel keeps going. Both of these links are to blogger and broadcaster Julie Roys who has been relentless in separating fact from fiction in this unfortunate drama.

  • The last time we looked, James MacDonald was going to be leaving regular preaching duties, but would have continued speaking at Harvest Bible Chapel in Naples. The Naples pastor didn’t think that sounded right, and was promptly fired. He says if he’d known about the internal turmoil at HBC, he never would have allowed his formerly-independent church to join the HBC network. Now he wants his job back.
  • Harvest leadership team admits there were shortcomings concerning the firing of the Naples pastor. (Tuesday)

♦ A $452 billion (USD) Saudi “mega-city” project would destroy crucial historical and archaeological evidence including bulldozing the site where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

♦ A most distressing day for pro-lifers in New York State and everywhere else. A new “radical pro-abortion bill Tuesday that would allow unborn babies to be aborted for basically any reason up to birth.” It gets worse: “Protections for babies born alive after botched abortions also would end under the new bill. Additionally, the bill says the state cannot “deny, regulate or restrict” abortion, not even for common-sense reasons such as parental consent for minors, informed consent or limits on taxpayer-funded abortions.”

♦ Happening in Vermont: The story of Kelly Haines and Pastor John Longaker. “No one conducted a background check when a small church in southwestern Vermont hired a pastor in 2010…” From there, it’s a long story. Or if you prefer, check out this timeline constructed by the Burlington (VT) Free Press.

♦ Persecution Watch:

  • “During 2018, the Iranian Christian community, along with other religious minorities, continued to suffer multiple violations of their right to freedom of religion and belief. Ongoing surveillance of Christians by the authorities was often accompanied by harassment. The end of 2018 saw an unprecedented wave of raids on private house gatherings, leading to large numbers of arrests. Many Christians received prison sentences, or had sentences upheld by the court of appeal…” This link will lead you to a 9-page .pdf report.
  • For reports from four other countries, “The Christian Post spoke with believers from India, Iraq, Nigeria and one undisclosed South Asian country about the violence they and their communities have faced.”
  • For people in the world missions community, the release of the Open Doors annual World Watch List is always anticipated. Last week, the group issued the report, significant for the top-10 placement forn India. (In this case, the .pdf file link is a 68 page booklet; be sure to allow ample time.)

♦ Leadership Lessons: Fighting insecurity. “Consider the best leader in your life. What made them so effective? Why did you love them? It probably had something to do with how they empowered you to be your best. Not that their coaching and feedback was always easy and stroked your ego, but it was what you needed. And it was delivered in a way that moved you forward, rather than holding you back.”

♦ Those Catholic kids seeming to clash with a Native protester? You can’t always trust viral videos. “For most people, the meaning of moving images seems to relate to the footage inside them—the people, settings, and events that the camera pointed at and captured. But in fact, the way those elements were selected, edited, and re-presented has an enormous impact on the way they are received and understood. In the case of the Lincoln Memorial encounter, neither the original video nor the new one explains what ‘really happened.’

♦ Parenting Place: Just read this. Even if you don’t have kids. Turns out the opposite (and better) strategy to giving your kids a time-out is giving yourself a time-in.

Roger Olson on the wall. (As opposed to The Wall, a Pink Floyd album.) Sample: “Imagine that a political or natural disaster crisis occurred in Canada and thousands upon thousands of Canadian men, women and children fled it by crossing the border into the U.S. technically illegally? I wonder how many Americans would be up in arms demanding that a thousands mile long wall be built?”

♦ Reading Genesis: “According to C. John Collins, professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary and the Old Testament editor of the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, both of these camps [creationists and evolutions] are fundamentally wrong for the same reason.

♦ Essay of the Week: Bath Night, Baptism and Happy Days. (Awarded not for the premise itself, but for the execution including some musical memories.)

The uploader has not made this link available in your country.

♦ After winning Christianity Today’s Book of the Year award for The Storm-Tossed Family, Russell Moore thanks the publication not only for the honor, but for the magazine’s very existence.

♦ An eight part series on The History Channel explores the life of Jesus from the perspective of eight people with whom he interacted. Jesus: His Life “will premiere with two episodes back-to-back every week starting on March 25 at 8 p.m. ET leading up to the week before Easter.”

♦ An unknown number of LifeWay Christian bookstores are closing.

♦ Headline which forced me to click through: Blackmail and the Gospel. You might consider this approach next time you get a spam email asking for money.

♦ New Music from Planetshakers: All Around (turn up your subwoofers).

♦ You’ve heard people talk about the music at Urbana events like Urbana 18. Listen to “You Are God” described as “a multilingual, multicultural worship anthem.”(Is this what singing in heaven will be like?)

♦ The cost of social media marketing for Christian publishers: This guy gets some rather incredibly expensive Bibles for free in exchange for reviewing them on YouTube, but given the small number of views relative to the retail prices of some of the Bibles, there’s something wrong with this picture.

♦ On the weekend we covered ABC-TV’s rehash of the Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker story. Here’s a 20/20 extra with some extra footage you didn’t see of what is now the home of Morningstar Ministries.

♦ John Crist’s advice on how to know whether or not you should cancel your services due to weather.

♦ ‘Before we begin today’s session a moment of prayer..’ Only at an Alaska assembly meeting, the invocation will be given by Pastafarians and Satanists.

♦ Finally, back to the “smiling Satan statue in Segovia, Spain.” (I just like typing that phrase.) If you read the story, he’s smiling for the same reason you’re often smiling. He’s taking a selfie. TIME reports that, “The Satanic sculpture was commissioned by the city council in hopes of drawing tourists to some of the town’s lesser-known neighborhoods, according to Spain’s El Pais newspaper. But residents were perturbed by the playful Prince of Darkness. [Again, notice the alliteration.] Some 5,500 people — approximately 10% of the entire city’s population — have signed an online petition calling for the project to be scrapped.”

Satan sneaks a selfie in Segovia.


It turned out we had another selfie picture in the files. Why should the devil have all today’s pictures?

 

January 16, 2019

Wednesday Connect

We’re back with another list of news and opinion pieces and music. Thanks to those of you who send links. We try to use relatively recent items, but sometimes an online article will rejuvenate an older article or video. [Picture, above: See third item below.]

♦ Our lead item this week: Joyce Meyer saying her views on faith and prosperity were out of line? Relevant Magazine: “Joyce Meyer has posted a surprising video on Instagram where she seems to walk back some prosperity gospel and ‘word of faith’ theology.” But then…

♦ …In verifying the story at Relevant Magazine we found this little story with this headline from last March: “Watch Joyce Meyer Make a Strong Biblical Case for Getting Tattoos.” There was no actual video to watch, and this is the article in full: “Well, this is probably not the headline you were expecting to see today. Popular preacher and author Joyce Meyer recently preached a message in which she made the biblical case for getting tattoos, and explained why Christians who use the Bible to argue against them are taking the Scripture out of context. She also said that she is actually thinking about getting a tattoo of her own.”

♦ Equally Ridiculous: ‘If you have a brain, you must choose Calvinism.’ “I viewed this discussion with frustration at the willingness of these men to insult and denigrate the intelligent and theologically minded Christians throughout time who have not found a home in Calvinism.” (To which I add, frustration at how the views of others have been caricatured and misunderstood.) If you are theologically minded and also have low blood pressure, this will raise it. 12½ Minutes of Gospel Coalition preaching to the choir.  (Sample quotation: “It’s hard to imagine young Evangelicals being animated humanly speaking by anyone more than someone like John Piper.”)

🇨🇳 Persecution Watch — China: The [Early Rain Covenant] Church in south-west China has been shuttered and [pastor ]Wang and his wife, Jiang Rong, remain in detention after police arrested more than 100 Early Rain church members in December. Many of those who haven’t been detained are in hiding. Others have been sent away from Chengdu and barred from returning. Some, including Wang’s mother and his young son, are under close surveillance. Wang and his wife are being charged for “inciting subversion”, a crime that carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison…Early Rain is the latest victim of what Chinese Christians and rights activists say is the worst crackdown on religion since the country’s Cultural Revolution, when Mao Zedong’s government vowed to eradicate religion.

📖 This ain’t the theology textbook you’re accustomed to, but it would help you understand many a discussion you’ve possibly overheard. Scot McKnight’s preview of Contemporary Theology: An Introduction – Classical, Evangelical, Philosophical and Global Perspectives (Zondervan) by Kirk R. MacGregor is 50% comprised of the chapter titles, but what a list it is! Included are “a collection of names, movements, and methods that pervade theological and biblical discussions.”

✟ …Also recommended by Scot McKnight, this article: Has someone ever told you they are a theologian? What do they actually do after they arrive at the office and punch the clock? “…By implication then, all those who grapple with the question of God are, in one way or another, theologians. They might be very poor theologians, amateur theologians, professional theologians, perhaps even theologians whose work is widely recognized in the life of the church – but theologians they are…”

♀ On Sunday, Dana Trent invited people to post pictures of women in the pulpit. “Our daughters, nieces, sisters, and neighbors need to see themselves represented in worship spaces. This is what a preacher looks like.” Check out the pictures in the thread.

♦ With the passing of former SBC President Bailey Smith, the words which became a legacy: “It’s interesting to me at great political battles how you have a Protestant to pray and a Catholic to pray and then you have a Jew to pray. With all due respect to those dear people, my friend, God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew. For how in the world can God hear the prayer of a man who says that Jesus Christ is not the true Messiah? It is blasphemy. It may be politically expedient, but no one can pray unless he prays through the name of Jesus Christ.”

📣 “The sermon is generally the most important element of most Protestant church services (most take between 25 and 45 minutes), but there are serious doubts about its effectiveness and Biblical basis.” Check out this very lengthy, very thorough look into how we learn, suggesting that it’s time to reconsider the sermon.

♦ “Science is rational, faith is irrational.” Ever have someone say that to you? “To me, the only answer is to yield the point, but to dispute the assumption. Your friend is attacking you because they are assuming that the word ‘irrational’ implies ‘bad’ — that anything that cannot be rationally explained is, in itself, bad. Yet this is in itself a case of generalizing too far, and our hypothetical challenger would have to agree that there are many non-rational things in the world which are fairly uncontroversially natural and good…”

📖 Releasing February 1st from Eerdman’s: Mere Calvinism. “Learn why the teachings of Calvinism not only matter, but can renew your trust and hope in the gospel!” (Because goodness knows, without it, the gospel is pretty hopeless.)

♦ Apologetics Alley: At the YouTube channel Pints with Jack — obviously set in a bar with equal parts beer and C. S. Lewis — a 5½ min. discussion about the question, “What is the point of Christianity?

✈ Yesterday marked ten years since “the miracle on the Hudson,” where US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger pulled off the feat of a lifetime. The spiritual lesson in this is that while we sometimes only have precious seconds to make a decision, we can draw on a lifetime of training and experience.

♦ Here’s a fairly comprehensive weekly spiritual inventory. Sample “#8 Who knows more about God today because of my witness this past week?

🎬 Opening in theaters this MLK weekend: Canal Street featuring music by TobyMac, Social Club Misfits, Hollyn and many others. After being arrested for the murder of a white classmate, a young black man’s father fights in court for his son’s vindication. Watch the trailer or visit the website.

♦ Relational Dynamics: Most of us don’t want criticism and don’t want negative feedback. “I have spent so much of my life carefully calculating what would earn me affirmation, attention, and accolades. I wanted to be highly revered and deeply loved. I did all I could to be the good kid, the smart kid, the capable kid, the best friend, the funniest, the kindest, the holiest, the most responsible… And it worked.”

♂ Combating a culture of toxic masculinity: ICYMI, here’s that Gillette commercial everyone’s talking about.

♦ Parenting Place: When your kids are looking at things online you wish they hadn’t seen. “You know, kids today, they’ve seen modeled that when they have questions, they take it to the internet. So our kids are just doing what we functionally taught them to do over their younger lives. So, that puts a burden, a responsibility on us to monitor what they’re looking for. Because, clearly, looking up body parts in the Encyclopedia Britannica or in the dictionary is going to yield different results than just looking it up on Google.”

♦ Anchorage, Alaska (Huffington Post): “A conservative Christian law firm that once defended an evangelical baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple is now representing a Christian charity that refused to let a homeless transgender woman stay in its overnight shelter… The [Hope Center] charity has reportedly refused to provide information about its public funding, which would help determine whether it is a place of public accommodation that could be required to follow the [city’s] anti-discrimination law.

🇮🇱 In Haifa, Israel, a firebomb was hurled at the museum currently displaying the McJesus sculpture by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen. Christians want it take it down, but in an unusual twist, so does the artist.

★ Chris Pratt and fiancée Katherine Schwarzenegger: Apparently the celebrity couple feels living together is okay as long as you’re engaged. Katherine “– whose dad is movie star Arnold – only agreed to move in with A-lister Chris Pratt after he’d popped the question, because co-habiting would be against their strict religious beliefs.” 

♦ After I compile the list, I check out the links Michael and Eric have posted at Phoenix Preacher and see how many we had in common. (Their list goes up on Tuesday.) We had three, and then I saw these:

♦ Remember the ‘Bruce Jenner’ message on the church sign? The pastor who posted it has resigned to stop people leaving the church. 

♦ Podcast of the Week: Chris Fabry discusses self control with Drew Dyck author of Your Future Self Will Thank You.

♫ Part of the Hillsong UNITED 2019 tour, Mack Brock’s song Fresh Wind Fresh Fire borrows from a book title by Jim Cymbala. 

♦ Tweet of the Week: A social media history of philosophy. [See also below.]

♦ Finally, thanks to my son Aaron for discovering the Bible Illustrated videos on YouTube. Here’s the first one he sent me, showing the difference between Roman Catholic Christians and Orthodox Christians.



A brief history of Philosophy


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

January 9, 2019

Wednesday Connect

So here’s a question for you: Why do the authors so intent on helping me solve my financial problems only publish their books in hardcover?

Just a reminder that this blog uses cookies to keep the writer awake after 11:00 PM. Here’s your week’s worth of items culled from a variety of sources.

♦ An old format meets today’s technology in a Bible commentary in pictures: “The Visual Commentary on Scripture (VCS) [is] a freely accessible online publication that provides theological commentary on the Bible in dialogue with works of art. It helps its users to (re)discover the Bible in new ways through the illuminating interaction of artworks, scriptural texts, and commissioned commentaries. Each section of the VCS is a virtual exhibition comprising a biblical passage, three art works, and their associated commentaries. The curator of each exhibition selects artworks that they consider will open up the biblical texts for interpretation, and/or offer new perspectives on themes the texts address.”

✎ Essay of the Week: What ‘values’ are we trying to hold on to? “Conservatives, by their very nature want to conserve the values of the past. But the past wasn’t entirely Christian, you know? The past wasn’t a good time to be a woman or an Aboriginal or an immigrant or LGBTIQ. It wasn’t a good time to be an old-growth forest or a river. In fact, for very different reasons, it wasn’t even all that good to be a white male either.”

James MacDonald’s decision to shut down the broadcast component of Walk in the Word is our Story of the Week.

📻 After months of personal controversy, James MacDonald surprises his staff with the decision to shutter the broadcast sector of Walk in the Word. Julie Roys was anonymously sent a recording of the staff meeting.

In a surprise announcement to staff on Wednesday, MacDonald said he had decided to remove Walk in the Word from all “traditional” broadcast mediums and exclusively focus on digital delivery, like podcasts. MacDonald said the reason for the change was primarily pragmatic. “Traditional broadcast is a dying thing,” MacDonald said in a live announcement to staff

📻 …Dee Parsons believes the ‘radio is a dying medium’ argument by MacDonald takes the focus away from the controversial lawsuit and the issues which sparked it…

♦ …Breaking — Harvest drops the lawsuit; text of message to the congregation

♦ … Response from the defendants.

♦ Also from Julie Roys: Is it just about terminology? Or is there more? Beth Moore’s assertion that “reading the Bible isn’t the same as spending time with God‘ has sparked a firestorm, not dissimilar from Andy Stanley’s late last year… 

♦…Speaking of Andy, this week he asked the musical question, ‘Why do we worry about posting The Ten Commandments in public buildings and not want to post excerpts from The Sermon on the Mount?

📊 Survey says: A Barna study shows that half of all pastors had — and responded to — another calling before getting the call to a vocational ministry career.

♦ Coming to a comic book store near you: “Marvel and DC Comics… tend to shy away from actually depicting real religious figures like God and Satan. Usually, they’ll create a loose analogy … to steer clear of controversy, but evidently DC is throwing caution to the wind with their newest superhero, someone you might already be familiar with… That’s right: Jesus Christ is coming to the rescue in an upcoming series called The Second Coming, from DC imprint Vertigo.” …

♦ …Another article describes it: “Second Coming… sees the son of God return to modern-day Earth (because God hopes Jesus will learn a lesson in godliness from the almighty superhero Sun-Man), only for Christ to discover that the message of his gospel has become horrifically twisted in the years since his crucifixion.” (Possibly no argument there.)

♦ Devotional of the Week: By no less than Rez Band (Resurrection Band) guitarist Glenn Kaiser “riffing” (his word) on Paul’s words in Philippians 3.

♦ What’s your sign? “The names we call our churches have long provided a window into our souls, to borrow an irresistible cliché.”

Flippin, Ark., is home, somewhat irreverently, to Flippin Christian Church, Flippin Baptist Church, Flippin Church of God, and is not far from a Bar None Cowboy Church. Versions of the last also exist in Oklahoma, Texas, and Iowa. If Internet lore is to be believed, the South has played host not only to Hell Hole Swamp Baptist Church (South Caro­lina) and Waterproof Baptist Church (Louisiana) but to the First Church of the Last Chance World on Fire Revival and Military Academy (Florida) as well.  …continue reading at National Review

♦ In the Twitterverse: January is a time for “best books” lists, but this short Twitter thread gives a very short “best Bibles” list with reasons for each of the three choice. (Maybe not the three you’re expecting, but if you’re open to change in a new year, this might help.)

♦ Parenting / Student Ministry: The article’s title is “Stop Telling Girls to ‘Save Themselves.'” Sample: “The body that never had sex is better than the body that didn’t – at least according to purity culture. The problem? Virginity is not same as purity. Virginity is physical; purity is spiritual. God has commanded us to save sex for marriage because His design is for our protection and honor. So in a sense, virginity – not having sex prior to marriage – can be a form of purity, but only in the physical sense. Virginity is simply a biological status – not a status of the heart… When we focus on virginity as the only manifestation of purity, we also negate the value of Christ’s redemption.”

♀ Women’s Workshop: From Laurie Pawlik author of the book, Going Forward When You Can’t Go Back (releasing next week from Bethany House) this article about Six female Bible characters who, in different ways, said ‘yes’ to God. Sample: “… I noticed that these 6 female heroes of the Bible—our Biblical sisters—didn’t waste time wrestling with ‘Why me?’ Instead, they threw themselves into ‘Yes, Lord.'”

♦ Life and Leadership: 10 Questions to ask yourself, the answers to which will make for a fruitful 2019

♦ Bonus article for website visitors: Eight simple ways each of us can be missional in our everyday living.

🇨🇦 Canada Corner: The controversial “attestation” in the federal government’s summer job grant program has been removed for 2019. (Having to agree to the statement prevented many churches and Christian organizations from receiving the grant last year.) The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada reports on the changes in this 6-page .pdf article.

♦ Quotation of the Week: “We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids.” — Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, criticizing a program in his country that could see children dressing up in opposite-sex clothing in order to explore gender fluidity…

♦ … Meanwhile in the UK, an event we reported previously, The Drag Queen Story Time is going ahead despite the report that “65 per cent of over 2,600 respondents find the event ‘inappropriate’.”

♦ The subject of the book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Alex Malarkey has refiled charges against the publisher, Tyndale House, for “for appropriation, publicity given to private life, and financial exploitation of a person with a disability.”

♦ Unexpected: Gospel themes in the reboot of Mary Poppins.

The children often can’t believe what Mary Poppins proposes. But she says with a grin, “Everything is possible, even the impossible.” Did not Jesus say something similar? … But, just as Narnia doesn’t give a full exposition of faith or every attribute of Christ, enough is in Mary Poppins Returns to pique curiosity, to whet the appetite, to possibly plant a seed that Christians can water… there are echoes that can be tied to the gospel for those who seek to help people understand how longings in culture are connected to ultimate realities… There are many other allusions to the gospel and biblical truths in Mary Poppins Returns, not least of which is the fact that with the coming of this savior from heaven (as with Christ in His first coming) light emerges, miracles are performed, realms are opened, broken hearts are restored, a family is healed, faith is kindled, “childlikeness” is sparked, love grows, a thief and a liar is judged, and hope awakens.

♦ Changing standards? Are we allowed to use term ‘badass’ in a Christian book title? Eerdman’s did. Burying White Privilege: Resurrecting a Badass Christianity.

♫ The title song from the new Passion album, Follow You Anywhere. There’s a one month gap between the release of the album online (available now) and the physical CD (early February).

This link is only available to premium subscribers.

♦ For all you Church History buffs, The Theological Comedy Awards. “Example #1: St. Sebastian. If you’ve ever been to a renaissance or medieval art museum, you’ve probably seen a statue or painting of Sebastian pin-cushioned with arrows. He was a Christian Roman soldier in the third century who was caught converting other soldiers to the faith, and sentenced to death by arrows. Today, no joke, he is the patron of, among other things, archery.”

Okay, I was kidding about the premium subscription thing.

Finally, I really wanted to end today with a thing that Brant Hansen posted to his Facebook page on January 4th, but after trying to follow the instructions for embedding FB videos, I don’t think my version of WordPress supports it. So I decided instead to end with something by James Cary, whose book The Sacred Art of Joking releases this March.

 

January 2, 2019

Wednesday Connect

see story below for link

Welcome to Wednesday Connect #42. We’re back with more news and opinion pieces we hope you didn’t see elsewhere. Also, there was a list last week, so if you missed it, click this link.

♦ During a six-month period in 2008, three members of a well-known Evangelical family quietly left the staff of James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Chapel. In December, one of them decided to break years of silence.

I think that most of us felt that Harvest was the biggest thing, humanly speaking, that we would all ever be a part of – travelling to cool places; being invited to speak at conferences full of people who actually wanted to really listen to you; hobnobbing with famous people; making six figures as a 32-year-old worship leader… these are all things that are understandably hard to want to give up. They’re the kinds of things that condition you to not rock the boat. Who would be crazy enough to purposely flush an incredibly prosperous career or dare to try and go against the powerful, unspoken Christian cultural ethic of never “speaking poorly” about your church or pastor?

♦ This would be the equivalent of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kelly Conway both quitting the same day, only it wasn’t in the President’s office, but across the ocean at The Vatican, where the Pope’s official spokesman and his deputy resigned.

♦ 2018 was an Urbana year and videos of all the teaching sessions from this year’s conference are already posted at Urbana.org. (The Inter-Varsity sponsored event convenes every two years.)

♦ This might be controversial where you live:  People visiting the new Doha’s new Sidra women’s and children’s hospital in Qatar are welcomed by 14 huge bronze sculptures that graphically chart the growth of a baby, from conception to birth, ending with a 14-metre (46ft) statue of a newborn. There are other reports on this available, but this video shows all 14 sculptures.

♦ A Gallup poll shows the rating given clergy in terms of honesty and ethics continues to decline.

♦ Didn’t get this in time to include last week, but highly worth the reading: Why more American Muslims celebrated Christmas this year.

♦ Everybody sing! ♫ “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…” ♫ which is also the newly-announced title of the movie about Mr. Rogers starring Tom Hanks. Relevant Magazine also noted, “He was a Presbyterian minister with a divinity degree, and he viewed his work as a children’s show host in pastoral terms. ‘The space between the TV screen and whoever is watching is very holy ground,’ he said once, and he took that belief seriously.”

♦ Twist of Circumstances: In Egypt, two Christians were killed by a policeman who had been assigned to guard their church…

♦ …meanwhile, violence against Christians by majority Muslims in Uganda is quickly escalating.

♦ For Christmas this year, Philip Yancey looked into accounts of the appearance of angels in the gospels.

♦ Philosophy Department: For those of you who like to go deeper, a revised “Correspondence Theory” of truth.

♦ It’s not too late to change your family devotion time to more of a family worship time, and roommates can do this as well. “…It has had a powerful impact on our lives. My wife and I often comment on how our personal faith has been strengthened, and our kids eagerly expect ‘Bible time’ each morning. They actually complain on the occasional days when we miss our time together due to life’s hiccups….Christian housemates, empty nesters, and married couples without children could consider committing to a regular household devotional gathering like this. Even engaged couples might want to think about beginning so they can get in the habit early. I wish we had!…” Their model includes singing together.

♦ Jesus accepted people as they were. No one was required to fill in a statement of faith before hanging out with him. He didn’t put people in boxes except insofar as he would categorize them in terms of how they responded to him and his message.

♦ This article is four months old, but it’s message is important: “…But there’s one thing I don’t like about online dating sites. The very first thing a user sees is a photograph. Whether on a website or at a co-ed party, many will instantly eliminate ninety percent of potentially great partners on the basis of looks and body type alone.”

♦ A popular California pastor, Craig Jultila suffered a heart attack and died during a snowboarding trip. He was 53.

♦ Ohio upheld the veto of a “heartbeat” test for abortion bans, but the fight is not over and the tide could change with a new government in 2019.

♦ Franklin Graham was banned from Facebook for 24 hours, not for something he posted recently, but for an item he posted in 2016

♦ Parents continue to pull their kids out of the centuries old Boy Scouts of America in favor of a faith-based organization, Trail Life USA. “In 2015 the group announced it would begin allowing openly gay and lesbian leaders. Eighteen months later, the Boy Scouts opened ranks to girls who self-identify as boys. Girls started joining Cub Scouts earlier this year and will be able to join the traditional scouting program for 11- to 17-year-olds, to be renamed Scouts BSA…” Meanwhile, at Trail Life, volunteers must adhere to a statement of faith.

♦ Can you identify the source of this quotation? Answer below

In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it is written that the kingdom of God is within man, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security.

♦ The recent season of Doctor Who, along with all the other changes it brought, seemed to make a greater allowance for the faith of its characters.

♫ A purple-haired Lauren Daigle performs You Say on Good Morning America.  

Chris Tomlin is again taking the show on the road…to Israel

♫ …or you could Kevin Max, TobyMac,The Newsboys, John Crist, Ryan Stevenson, Mandisa and others sailing on the Jesus Freak Cruise.

♦ There’s a classical music parody composer, Peter Shickele who once worked “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” into a ostensibly classical piece, but I never considered doing the Jeopardy theme during the offering

♦ 90 years after it was stolen, a statue of the baby Jesus was returned to a New Jersey church.

♦ Finally, if you’re like me, all the stores were sold out of Nativitalk, so I’m bookmarking this as a reminder to shop early next year.


The quotation is from the Charlie Chaplin movie The Great Dictator. You can read it in full here, and also hear portions of it on the live version of the song “A Head Full of Dreams” by Coldplay.

December 26, 2018

Wednesday Connect

The difference between a colon and a hyphen is critical here; but I know there are those who read it the other way around. [Source: The Christian Institute]

This week’s list follows up on at least one continuing story, and provides a conclusion to a year in which the Wednesday Link List became Wednesday Connect. Your suggestions for stories and opinion pieces to include here are always appreciated.

♦ Carey Niewhof’s end-of-year prognostications about the future of church attention contain some points worthy of deeper consideration beyond simply reading the article. Sample #4 “Does online participation feed consumption or drive engagement?” or #9 “What happens to kids whose parents only attend online?

♦ After #MeToo became #ChurchToo, for some writers, like Michael Frost, it was a very Hybels type of year.

♦ Why are some pastors afraid to denounce pastors who have done horrible thing. We took Sheila Wray Gregoire’s post and made a blog article out of it, but if you missed that, here’s the thread in its original form with comments.

♦ Comparing the situation a few years back at Mars Hill Church (MHC) to present day Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) Warren Throckmorton writes: “I can’t see it getting any better as long as HBC maintains the defamation suit. Putting aside biblical arguments for or against the action, I think it is a terrible precedent to set as a matter of public perception of how Christians do things. The tension and animosity will only escalate with each new revelation. In MHC’s case, the church was always the PR loser when differences emerged into the light of day.”  Also…

♦ Mary’s song and social justice: “It’s an all-too-common reaction to scripture. When the message gets difficult (as it frequently does), the Church often “spiritualizes” the text, which really means divorcing the otherwise obvious challenge from any practical reality. That way, we can say we believe it, love it, quote it, sing it – but not let it affect our personal comfort or challenge the status quo of church or society.”

♦ Comparative Religion: When representatives from 200 different religions showed up at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto in early November, it probably left some wondering what are these 200 different faiths, when most of us could only name a dozen or so.

♦ Pursuant to its desire to simply be known as “The Church” what you know currently as the “Mormons” or “Latter Day Saints” will have its bookstore chain, Deseret Books phase out titles using the old nomenclature

♦ Unexpected (CNN): “The Iraqi Cabinet approved a law to mark Christmas Day, December 25, as an official holiday across the country ‘on the occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ,’ according to a statement released by the Iraqi government. The Cabinet voted on an amendment to the national holidays law in the country that Christmas Day is a holiday for all Iraqis, and not only for the Christian community, as it had been for decades.”

♦ Actress Patricia Heaton feels that Christian actor Gary Sinise’s humanitarian philanthropic work shouldn’t go unnoticed. If she had her way, he’d be TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year.  

Robert Alter has finished his translation of the Bible. (I’m at my limit for New York Times articles, so I didn’t get to actually read this.) (Which is a shame because they do a lot of religion articles.)

♦ Provocative devotional article title: “Does Your Giving Say “Leftovers” or “Lord”?

We never seem to have the conversation that goes like this: “We can do what Jesus is leading us to do in his kingdom, but if we do, everything else is going to have to change.” Instead, we ask, “How much can we afford to give after all these other commitments are fulfilled?” After we get the kind of house we want to live in. After we go on the vacations we think our family would enjoy. After we drive the kind of cars and wear the kinds of clothes we want.

♦ While parishioners are singing a hymn, a car crashes into a church on the west side of Columbus, Ohio.

♫ If for some reason you didn’t get enough seasonal music, check out the blog of Pastor Brad Russell. This will take some work on your part, but there are 25 separate blog posts here, each titled “Christmas Playlist” and then in some, there are up to seven different versions of the same song. On others, there are some obscure songs you might hear for the first time. (I listened to about 15 of the 25 and thoroughly enjoyed each.)

♦ In poly-amorous relationships, whose family do you get together with at Thanksgiving or Christmas?

♦ In the first seven minutes of this sermon, John Mark Comer deals with one of the great moral dilemmas of the 1990s: Burning CDs for friends or from friends.

♦ In an end-of-year soft news story, Religion News Service asks Phil Vischer about his relationship with Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber after 25 years.

♦ Prosperity teaching at Hillsong: “…In other words, give money to Hillsong and God will unlock ‘financial revival’ in your life. Note that after God, generosity towards the ‘church’ has priority over family and those who need it most.”

♦ Meet “The Gucci Priest.” Vyacheslav Baskakov is a Russian Orthodox priest with a thing for bling. “Baskakov denied actually purchasing any of the luxury goods he posted, saying he took photos in shops. He said he sometimes sewed expensive-looking buckles and accessories on his shoes to make them look nicer.” 

♦ And then there’s this priest: In a Spanish village for nearly two decades he performed marriages, baptized babies and heard confessions. But his ordination documents were forged; he had never been ordained.

♦ You think your pastor runs long? This service has been going on for over 1,400 hours.

♦ Finally, we end this link every week with rather bizarre Christian news stories, so it’s only fitting that our final one for 2018, should be as bizarre as they get: “A French teenager has injected himself with a DNA sequence he claims contained text from the Bible and Koran, prompting fierce criticism from those involved in the specialized science. Adrien Locatell, from Grenoble in France, translated the passages into DNA code in order to generate proteins that he could inject into his body.” With that, we wrap up the year.


Joseph and Mary in a modern world. The picture was posted without annotation to the Christianity page of Reddit with the title José y Maria. Take a second look. Read the 200+ comments.

December 19, 2018

Wednesday Connect

‘…and on the eighth day, God created paragraphs.’
This is someone’s blog. For reals. Here’s a different article. Same format.

We made it back around 9:15 PM from being out-of-town all day only to have the link to Firefox.exe disappear from my computer last night. Nonetheless, I had prepared much of this beforehand. Have you ever done the hot tub in the dead of winter thing? It was -6°C (that’s 21° for those of you in that country that still won’t switch to metric) and honestly I could have stayed all day. Scratch that one off the bucket list!

♦ The Julie Roys investigative piece into activities involving James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel was finally published a few days ago. It’s a disturbing piece which paints a picture of a rather shameful church leadership culture. (See also the screenshot from the article at the bottom of today’s list.) 

♦…But wait, there’s more!

♦ God wasn’t leading us into temptation in the first place, so Pope Francis is working on an amended version of The Lord’s Prayer. (As I was formatting this, I noticed a December, 2017 piece we ran at C201 which indicates that he was working on this last year as well.)

♦ Why won’t there be marriage in heaven? The question has more to do with resurrection than it does with the institution of marriage itself.

♦ Quotation of the Week: “When the voices of dissent are silenced, whether through threat or departure, the institution itself suffers.” An article about rocking the boat.

♦ From Associated Press: “Twice as many high school students used nicotine-tinged electronic cigarettes this year compared with last year…It was the largest single-year increase in the survey’s 44-year history, far surpassing a mid-1970s surge in marijuana smoking.”

♦ A memorial mural at Pomona College remembering the victims in the Pittsburgh synagogue attack has been defaced at least two times.

♦ Parenting: “…I dislike the things about him that remind me of my own awkward teenage self. Yes, I played sports. But I didn’t really like it. I pretty much just did the bare minimum that I had to do. Just like he does. I really just wanted to draw and write and listen to my music and talk to the adults about adulting, even though I knew nothing about adulting. Just like he does…” Thoughts on when your child doesn’t meet your expectations.

♦ The President of the United States either didn’t know The Apostles Creed, or chose not to recite it, even though it was printed in the program of the funeral he was attending. Members of the Churches of Christ don’t know it, either.

♦ If you’re target audience is seekers — as opposed to believers — it’s going to affect what your worship looks like and what your preaching sounds like.

♦ Another great site celebrates ten years: Check out the apologetics articles at What God May Really Be Like.

♦ Essay of the Week: “The most pressure I ever felt in seminary to adopt a certain viewpoint had nothing to do with a theological issue. It was over Santa Claus…Unlink the gifts from behavior. The presents under the tree have nothing to do with avoiding a ‘naughty list.’ Instead of being part of attempts at mere behavior modification, Santa can actually help bring about Christ-centered character development.Children do not earn gifts or lose them because of their behavior. They have them because they are loved.”

♦ A supposed exposé of Ravi Zacharias has been released as an eBook on Kindle and Nook. “He had written dozens of books, had a weekly radio show that reached over 2000 outlets, he packed large auditoriums around the world, and in 2016 his ministry brought in $42,000,000. This was a large boat that nobody in the Christian business world wanted to rock.

♦ Your future self will thank you for reading this book: Countdown is on to the New Year release date for Drew Dyck’s third book; this one covering the topic of self control.

♦ Not the bad porn, but the good porn. Apparently Nadia wasn’t the first to suggest this, Mark Driscoll said it first.

♫ We’ll start out this 4-pack of music with something highbrow and Christmas-y: A selection from Handel’s Messiah.

♫ While not a commercial recording, you might like the refugee perspective of Away from the Manager.

♫ This particular duet was part of a 2016 tour, but I believe this recording of the song (originally recorded by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli 30 years ago) may be new: The Prayer performed by Danny Gokey and Natalie Grant.

♫ Matthew West’s song The Motions has been certified Platinum. Watch the video, read the story.

♦ Where I live, as well as the UK and Europe, Christians would find this somewhat unbelievable.

Recently billboards have appeared along major U.S. freeways depicting Trump’s face and the quote from John 1 “And the Word became flesh.” Another saying on the billboards is “Make the gospel great again.” Predictably these billboards have raised concerns and questions. The Christians who sponsor the billboards have defended them, claiming that they do not equate Trump with Jesus Christ. But the billboards are what they are. Whatever the sponsor’s thoughts and intentions may be, the billboards scream out that Trump is “up there with Jesus” in terms of messiahship, saviorhood, worthiness of ultimate loyalty.

♦ I don’t think you’re going to be successful looking for “A Multitude of the Heavenly Host” under the artist listings on iTunes. (Probably make a great recording, though; we might be able to request it one fine day…)

♦ Artistic License: The Mormons get ticked over what they feel is the appropriation of one of their own pieces of art by the new Deadpool movie, even though the picture was painted by a Jehovah’s Witness.

♦ Finally, When Mennonites lose their passwords.


Deer me! Truth is stranger than fiction:  My favorite paragraph from the Julie Roys piece in WORLD. (First link in this list above.)


Over the years many of our graphic images have come from Twenty-One Hundred Productions’ Facebook page. 2100 is the media division of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

 

December 12, 2018

Wednesday Connect


Again, a most interesting collection. If you missed last week, use the large “Wednesday Connect” logo in the blog’s right margin to link to the whole collection. Images are courtesy of Relidicous.com. We’ll try to be back next week but family obligations may make that impossible.

♦ The man who revived Nietzsche’s ‘God is Dead’ franchise, scientist Thomas Altizer has died.

♦ This week’s most talked about religion story: Sexual predation is a recurring theme in the Independent Fundamentalist churches. Why are so few perpetrators in jail?

♦ …and read more about the reactions to this front-page, 4-part, investigative series which, from a local Texas newspaper is now rocking the Christian world

♦ At the Museum of the Bible, a rare Bible from the 1800s used to educate and convert slaves omitted key verses which would have given them ideas about rebellion or liberation.

♦ Breaking this week: 100 Christians arrested in raids on churches in China

♦ The James MacDonald lawsuit – Collateral Damage: Was Wayne Grudem defamed in the process?

♦ In the UK, concern about making all associations working with children politically correct. “The idea that Scouts, Guides, Cubs, Brownies, Sunday schools, sports teams and cadet forces should be assessed and graded by the Government and its agencies is as unwholesome and unwelcome now as it was then.”

♦ Parenting: A first-hand account with the provocative title, “Don’t Teach Your Children Predestination.”

The latest Harvest Bible Chapel update.

♦ John MacArthur 1998: It is dangerous for the President to have a habit of lying, deception, and hypocrisy.
John MacArthur 2018: Christians should not be concerned about the moral life of the President.
What happened between 1998 and 2018?
He gives the current President a pass, but wouldn’t do that years earlier.

♦ Composed after a summer of violence in Salzburg, Germany, this year we wish Happy Birthday to “Silent Night” which turns 200 this year

♦ Reconstruction: Rebuilding the Utah town made infamous by polygamous pedophile cult leader Warren Jeffs.

♦ Name-it-and-Claim-it, Catholic Edition.

Since the 1950s, when the prosperity gospel was first preached by Pentecostals in America, it has proliferated with astonishing speed across the Christian world, finding a particularly receptive audience in developing countries. Although initially limited to the Pentecostal flock, through a process of osmosis the prosperity gospel has entered the teachings of many Catholic clergymen…In Latin America and much of the Global South, believers typically seek to receive divine blessings by forming contractual relations with sacred figures. For example, grassroots Catholics make a promise or vow to a saint or the Virgin Mary in return for a favour generally involving health, wealth or love.

♦ Instead of being classrooms, churches should be studios. That’s the thought of Brian McLaren in a recent interview.

♦ Getting rid of the accuser: It’s time to kill the Elf on a Shelf. (A parable of sorts.)

♦ TGC has its 11th annual list of the top ten Christian news stories of the year.

♦ Don’t tell Bob the Tomato: The question is whether a Calvinist can truly say “God Loves You” to each and every person they meet.

♦ A Christian high school teacher thought he could avoid the gender problem by not using one altogether in reference to a student. “The West Point School Board voted unanimously 5-0 to fire Peter Vlaming who teaches French.” When you read the article, you might learn two new words, “misgendering” and “deadnaming.”

♦ … Students stage a peaceful walkout in support of that teacher.

♦ Canada Corner (1) The Federal Government has pledged that the “values attestation” which prevented many churches and parachurch organizations from getting summer job funding in 2018 are being re-worded to avoid this year’s debacle. However, not everyone is rejoicing.

♦ Canada Corner (2) Children in Alberta were taken to a Gay Straight Alliance conference and to a facilitator’s home without parental knowledge or consent

♦ Canada Corner (3) At a Christmas Market in Kitchener, Ontario when two presenters who attempted to read the Christmas story — as they had in previous years — the city cut off the audio system.

♦ A plea for balance in the attacks on Christian singer Lauren Daigle

♦ With two-thirds of December still to go, Bible Gateway released its list of the Top 100 Bible Verses according to this year’s searches. 

♦ A Nebraska principal has solved all her problems by basically banning Christmas completely. Included in the forbidden list:

  • Christmas trees
  • Carols
  • Candy canes
  • Elf on the Shelf (that’s Christmas-related)
  • Sending a Scholastic book that is a Christmas book (that’s Christmas-related)
  • Making a Christmas ornament as a gift (this assumes that the family has a Christmas
    tree, which assumes they celebrate Christmas. I challenge the thought of “Well they can
    just hang it somewhere else”)
  • Red/Green items (traditional Christmas colors)
  • Reindeer
  • Christmas videos/movies and characters from Christmas movies

♦ Chance the Rapper is taking a sabbatical for Bible Study. “Now, he’s planning to take some time to get to know the God he’s rapped about…”  

♦ Finally, this could be the best gift you give them this season:

 

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