Thinking Out Loud

November 15, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Honest, we tried to get secondary corroboration of this story, but the link in the original story was a bit sketchy and there was nothing else online. All we know is it took place at Enhance Church. Click the image for more.

It’s that time of the week!

  • A Canadian journalist is among the many invited to a VIP preview of Washington, DC’s Museum of the Bible, opening Friday.
  • Unqualified: Perry Noble — whose pending divorce was announced on November 1st — goes phrase-by-phrase through I Timothy 3 to show why he completely misses the mark on each and every qualification for ‘an overseer,’ but then in the final paragraphs appeals to the idea of being given a second chance. The further details and confessions fall into the ‘too much information’ category however, and would seem to undermine his point.
  • This was the local news coverage of the first service at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX, one week after 26 lives were lost
  • …Meanwhile, the pews have been taken out, the carpeting has been removed, and the inside of the building has been painted white from floor to ceiling as a memorial to those who died that day. CNN sent a reporter into the church building
  • …but the consensus is that the church will eventually be torn down.
  • What Americans can learn from the Trinity Western University Law School case, which goes before the Canadian Supreme Court on November 30th
  • Essay of the Week: “Ken Ham and his followers may think they’re defending Christianity and ensuring that our faith will be passed along to future generations, but the reality is they’re putting our children and grandchildren at risk of rejecting the faith entirely.” The risks of forcing one Genesis interpretation on the next generation.
  • Here’s a story that needs rewriting on several fronts. It’s about GracePointe church in Nashville and the header uses the term “megachurch” but paragraphs later recants that saying peak attendance was 700-800. But just when we’ve got that sorted out, another paragraph says the church had a 2,200 membership. Since many attendees are adherents and not members, that casts more confusion. The point of the piece is that because of their LGBT support, attendance dipped to 240 and the church was forced to sell their building and property
  • Something completely different: Samoan firefighters march down a mountain singing a hymn.
  • Former Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale pastor Bob Coy — who the article says today helps manage Boca Raton’s Funky Biscuit club — is now accused of molesting a 4-year-old. Futhermore, “Coy certainly paid a heavy price for his infidelity: His family has broken to pieces, and his chapels packed with thousands of adoring fans have been replaced with a half-full nightclub in Boca. [Blogger Michael] Newnham says the pastor still has more to answer for — especially because his sources say Coy has been trying to mobilize investors to start a new church.” An overview of the Coy and the Church in Miami New Times.
  • Is God “di-polar?” Was there ever a time of Logos asarkos where God was but the second person of the trinity was not? That and other deep questions about the immutability of God versus the idea that our history has become part of God’s history. The key question is, “Does God Change?”
  • When the staff at the Catholic hospital pray for patients, there’s a difference. “His mother, he said, had taught him to pray this prayer to Mary… He was certain that the prayer would be answered because as any good son would do, Jesus listens to his mother. He used Mary’s words at the Wedding of Cana as proof that Jesus will even reluctantly obey his mother.”   
  • Bible and Science:  Dietrich Bonhoeffer had reconciled Genesis and his Christian faith decades before our current debates. You may or may not agree with his conclusions.
  • Legal Matters: “Last week, in American Humanist Association v. Maryland, the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling of the federal district court of Maryland and held that a cross on state-owned land violated the Constitution.”
  • Tempis Fugit: “In Biblical studies it is generally understood that a generation is 40 years. In modern times it is 20 years or so.” …
  • …This article on Children’s ministry suggests the change is every 15 years, and that at any given time, KidMin volunteers may be speaking to two different generations of kids
  • The world of Christian publishing: Greg Boyd has signed a deal with Fortress Press for academic books to be released in 2021 and 2022.
  • At last! Calvinism, Arminianism and everything in between summed up in a 2 minute video. The muddy walled pit analogy.
  • Looking for a new church you can really plug into? Here are seven signs you’re on the right track.  
  • Worship songwriter Keith Getty (In Christ Alone) was the guest on this week’s Phil Vischer Podcast, so of course, the first question was about sexual harassment. (And then they kept him on the line for another five minutes discussing women elevator operators and women’s public restroom habits.) 
  • Finally: What to expect when you’re expecting? How about your Christian friends suggesting some great Biblical baby names?

You can show support and encouragement to us by downloading my wife’s Christmas album for only $7 or for just a buck ($1) download the title song.


Because sometimes you just have to rant:

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November 8, 2017

Wednesday Link List

We couldn’t think of a better image today than this one, issued yesterday by The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on the occasion of Rev. Graham’s 99th birthday. Click the image to read their article.

Unlike other similar round-up lists or link lists, we try to vary the source of material here considerably each week. However, there are some websites and blogs which consistently turn out superior material and break new stories. We chose not to keep coming back to the same sources weekly only because I believe the cream rises to the top, and you’re already being made aware of those articles and news stories on social media and through subscriptions.

November 1, 2017

Wednesday Link List

What happens when countries are lax about immigration policy

So…yesterday afternoon we went to see the movie Same Kind of Different as Me. I’ll have more on that tomorrow on the blog. But it meant that the link list was again a little shorter.

Our closing pictures are all about hats:

Rowan and Rowena - The Bishop Bears


We Have Bacon


From Wikipedia, this woman is wearing “The Order of the Swan.”


October 25, 2017

Wednesday Link List

While speaking in South Korea, Skye Jethani couldn’t resist snapping a photo of this Canadian restaurant in Seoul and Tweeting it to Drew Dyck who hails from the frozen north. For that tweet, click the image.

Welcome back to another list of news stories and opinion pieces the other blogs and sites aren’t carrying. (With the possible exceptions of the ones we stole from them.) We didn’t even start this one until about 6:30 Tuesday night. Keep those weekly suggestions coming and watch for updates on my Twitter page.

Note: The third through sixth articles are in some respects related.

Our closing graphic today is from the popular Coffee With Jesus; click the image to visit the website:

October 21, 2017

Churches Need Servants Not “Captains”

Is the modern church over-emphasizing leadership skill sets?

by Ruth Wilkinson

Somebody at a church told me something once, by way of a dismissal, that has stuck in my introvert brain. It’s gone round and round like a leaf in an eddy of river water.

The statement was this: “I don’t see you as a captain. At least, not yet.” The idea being that I wasn’t fit to fill a certain role in that church.

In the moment, I was disappointed, but also there was something that objectively bothered me. Hence the swirling.

“Captain?” Captains have unassailable authority. Captains give orders. Captains have the best quarters and eat at the best table. Captains wear the fanciest uniform. Captains earn the most money and have the loudest voice and shout “Ten-hut!” and “Everybody look at me!”

Captains serve on the Starship Enterprise. Not in the Church.

The Church is the body of Christ. His hands and feet and speech in the world.

I am a servant of that body. I, like all of us, have one calling: to honor God with our gifts and skills, and to serve each other.

In my case, that service comprises music – “leading worship” as it has come to be called. It also includes leading worship leaders. Seeing the potential in other singers and musicians to join in, encouraging them to contribute to planning and then to step out on their own.

I’ve had the joy of raising up a team to feed, encourage and speak Christ’s love to people on the margins of society – a group which has gone on to become an established charity still doing good work in our area.

I’ve been paid to teach groups how to work together to plan, prepare and execute a Sunday morning. Finding their own giftings and setting them loose.

I’ve built from scratch a band of worship singers and musicians drawn from 6 different churches who played together for 3 years.

And I’ve been effective. All without shouting a single order.

So, no, thank God, I’m not a captain. I’m a servant. A builder of frames, a drawer of shapes. I’m a finder of treasures and an opener of doors. A creator of opportunities and an encourager.

And no, I guess I’ll never receive the formal affirmation – the blessing – of my fellow believers. My ‘salute’ will always be hugs and moments and memories.

I just hope that we’re not heading to a future where “captains” run the church. I might just demob.

October 18, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Pictured is the Himmerod Abbey in Rhineland, Germany which is set to close after a millennium, a necessity given that the huge facility currently houses only six resident monks. The closure is seen as symptomatic of the decline of religion in Europe. Click image to link to full story.

Not a major news week, but that left us room to probe deeper online for some unique material for your perusal.

Christian Book Distributors is a lean, mean, book-shipping machine, but when things go wrong in their search engine, they go really wrong. Entering their Audio Book listings you’re told there are nearly a quarter of a million, but when you refine by media type, you’re told there’s only 120 CDs.

October 16, 2017

Skye Jethani’s State of the Modern Church Address

Those of have heard Skye Jethani speak, be it a sermon, conference message, or podcast conversation, know him to both extremely forthright and wonderfully articulate on matters related to church and culture. He brings this gift to a new book, Immeasurable: Reflections on the Soul of Ministry in the Age of Church, Inc. released last week by Moody Press.

The book is a series of 24 short essays on various aspects of church and ministry leadership; interconnected, but presented such they can be studied in any order. While I have heard him touch on many of these before, as assembled here, much of this material was new to me.

Skye Jethani’s forté is analysis, and a major part of his analytical toolkit is a knowledge of the broader sweep of modern church history, some of this no doubt afforded by his years serving in various departments of Christianity Today, Inc. and as a local church pastor. While much ink has been spilled over the last 20 years lamenting the state of the modern church in North America, Australia/New Zealand and Western Europe, the words here are more prescriptive; a look at where the church may have lost its way presented alongside healthy doses of routes we might take to get back on track. Each essay ends with two or three “next step” questions or applications.

Some standout chapters for me — many of which were brought to life through some clever analogies — included:

1. Ambition (and motivation; always a good place to start)
3. Wastefulness (versus efficiency which can enslave us)
6. Dramas (there are three playing out in church leadership)
8. Simplicity (versus the complexity we see everywhere else, discussed in chapter 9)
9. Complexity (the longest chapter in the book; Jethani at his best)
10. Redundancy (an interesting approach to the matter of pastoral succession)
12. Illumination (another longer chapter; on sermon expectation and who might preach)
15. Platform (this chapter is gold; a look at how we confer authority in the local church)
16. Celebrity (analysis of the rise of the “Evangelical Industrial Complex”)
18. Consumers (again, I preferred the longer chapters; this one is about church choices; some of the other chapters not listed I would like to have seen fleshed out in greater detail.)

And then there was chapter 24, an even more autobiographical essay which strikes at the heart of ministry from the author’s early experiences as a hospital chaplain. A fitting ending in so many respects.

On a personal level, if I’ve learned nothing else in the last 20 years, I’ve learned that while ecclesiology is by definition the domain of pastors, books about ecclesiology are widely read by a variety of lay-people who who feel a sense of ownership in the local churches in their community. With so much reconstruction taking place in the look, feel and purpose of weekend gatherings; many want to champion these changes while others are fearful of going too far and thereby losing the plot. So while the book is being marketed more as an academic title for Bible college or classroom discussion, I think the finished product is something I would encourage many of my friends to read.

 


Read a short sample from Immeasurable at this link

Related: Skye Jethani on news and media

Related: A review of the 2012 title, With.


Photo: Skye Jethani on the weekly Phil Vischer podcast.


Thanks to Martin Smith at Parasource Distribution & Marketing for a review copy of Immeasurable.

October 11, 2017

Wednesday Link List

It’s not a spoof movie poster, it’s a book, a real one, releasing in January from Harvest House Publishers.

Well, you knew this was just a matter of time, right? Christian Fidget Spinners — or as they prefer, Faith Spinners — from Swanson.

Because nothing better introduces the kids to the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation better than a 3-inch plastic mini Martin.

The original introduction here was an apology for a shorter list this week, but that soon changed. Remember, every time you click a link an angel gets its wings. For an even better deal on today’s links, use Promo Code WLL#379.

  • If the Resurrection were a lie, how long would it take for the disciples to crack? Watergate conspirator Chuck Colson knows better than most: “Do you know how long it took for each of us to break? Under threat of prison, we started pointing fingers at each other in less than a week. Are you going to try to convince me that a bunch of untrained fishermen maintained their story, unbroken, to the end, as each was tortured and executed? Not a chance.” J.D. Greear quotes Colson writing about how Christianity got started.
  • Essay of the Week: Artificial Intelligence (AI) “machines could become objects of worship in and of themselves… The machines could…develop their own sects or entirely new religions… [S]ome branches of Christianity will try to convert machines with strong artificial intelligence to follow their God. ” 
  • Provocative Headline of the Week: Survey Finds Most American Christians Are Actually Heretics. It begins: “Evangelical writer Eric Metaxas remarked on BreakPoint last week that if Americans took a theology exam, their only hope of passing would be if God graded on a curve. He’s right. In knowing both the content of the Bible and the doctrinal foundations of Christianity, we Americans aren’t just at the bottom of our class. We are…a nation of heretics.”
  • Happy Ending: After 92 days in captivity in Egypt, a 16-year old Christian girl is released back to her family. A former kidnapper says she is just one of many
  • Churches in Santa Rose, California are stepping up to help victims of a tragic fire that has destroyed 1,500 structures and left an entire community homeless.
  • Breaking Religious News: CBS tracks down the guy who designed the Papyrus font.
  • Joining the list of one-man Bible translation project writers is David Bentley Hart. Scot McKnight writes “Hart has a desire to make the reader as uncomfortable as he can and that is because he thinks the NT itself — those early Christians and their view of wealth — were extremists, which aligns rather well with Hart’s extremist approach to translation. On this Hart is himself just lopsided, delightfully so at times, but lopsided nonetheless.” Read all about The New Testament: A Translation.
  • Driscoll and Plagiarism: Maybe he just can’t not do it
  • Wider World: In a country [Kenya] where 83 percent is Christian with Evangelicals in a majority, this coming re-election matters.
  • ♫ Possibly the best thing you’ll hear and this week: Some of Christian music’s best get together to honor a song; The Joy of Jesus featuring the late Rich Mullins
  • ♫ …The female vocalist on the above song has just released one of her own. Ellie Holcomb sings He Will.
  • ♫ The worship team at Willow Creek South Barrington has released a collection of new songs. This one will make you smile, especially if you grew up singing “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy” in Sunday School. This one is a little different. (Song begins after introduction, link contains full worship set.)
  • Princeton’s Evangelical Christian student fellowship is dropping the word Evangelical from its name. Are other organizations likely to follow?
  • Devotional Moment: Popular women’s author Karen Ehman wrote this as “Go Find Your Old Self” but in a way it’s just a fresh take on “Return to your first love.”
  • Pastor Place: Sermon sharpening and sermon shortening. (But not the type of shortening you add to Christmas baking.)
  • Someone else is working on a Bible edition without verse numbers, starting with the gospels. 
  • Best Headline: How Did Luther Become a Lutheran? “In the months after posting his Theses, he was lecturing on the Letter to the Hebrews. He came to see the nature and significance of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross.”
  • “He causes his sun to rise…and sends rain.”
    “Look at the birds of the air.”
    “See how the flowers of the field grow.”
    “Every good tree bears good fruit.”
    The words of Jesus frequently contained allusions to nature.
  • Technology Time: “We may be the last generation that can remember life before;” says the engineer who developed the ‘Like’ button.
  • Resource Room: A interview with the creators of various resources available free at Harmony.Bible
  • Worship Workshop: Sure, it’s advertising, but the ten reasons for switching to Church Presentation Software are compelling.
  • Missions Moment: We’ve linked before to articles like this about “Third Culture Kids” (formerly Missionary Kids) but it’s something on which we need to be reminded. “When you first meet Third Culture Kids, be aware that answering ‘Where are you from?’ can be difficult because ‘home’ is a relative word for us.” 
  • Another One: This time it’s the pastor of a satellite church who also happens to be the son of the pastor of a prominent Alabama megachurch, though the nature of the transgression is unknown.
  • Canada Corner: Answers in Genesis is setting up shop in Canada; not just a Canadian web-store, but they’re presumably incorporating a Canadian charity here and have hired a General Manager.
  • Catholic Corner: On Saturday (14th) “In 21,570 public places from coast to coast, lay Catholics associated with America Needs Fatima will hold Public Square Rosary Rallies.” 
  • ♫ New Music: Deliverer by Audrey Assad, as she gets ready to release her first original album in 4 years.
  • Thoughts and Prayers, the video game: “Visitors to the game’s microsite are greeted with what appears to be 1980s-style arcade game, which begins with the somewhat sarcastic message: ‘America faces an epidemic of mass shootings. It’s up to you to stop them… with the power of your thoughts and prayers.'”  An article at Christian Today goes on to say, “The point of Thoughts & Prayers is that this is a game that nobody wins – not even the satirists.”
  • Bono Boo-Boo? “Under Canon Law, non-Catholics are forbidden from receiving communion except in exceptional circumstances as the ritual is considered a sacred statement of faith. U2’s frontman caught by the camera in Bogata, Columbia.
  • Bee of the Week: Many a truth is spoken in jest. How many churches do you drive by each weekend to get to yours?

After 24 hours in Cornwall, Ontario we realized upon leaving that we could have chosen to stay at the Elect Inn. Total depravity on our part, I guess.

 

October 4, 2017

Wednesday Link List


 

“Church” in various languages. If anyone knows the source for this I’ll add it.

Wednesday List Lynx

Several of this week’s feature stories have multiple links. When compiling the list for Twitter, we’ll simply list the story and combine your click total.


*This is the quotation from Tullian’s blog noted above:

September 27, 2017

Wednesday Link List

From the website of The Met (The Metropolitan Museum of Art ) in New York, “Jonah and the Whale”, Folio from a Jami al-Tavarikh (Compendium of Chronicles) dated around 1400. Click image to link.

So this had to happen: Regular readers here know we usually end with a few quirky or humorous or satirical links, many of which are to the Christian parody news site The Babylon Bee. Well, the Beekeepers signed a book deal with Multnomah but even though it’s not releasing until May 1st next year, they know it’s going to be 208 pages; not 207 or 209. And it’s all original material. $19.99 hardcover; ouch! That bee just stung me. Which reminds me: How many bees could a beekeeper keep if a beekeeper could keep bees?

 

Evangelists prepare their ‘gospel caravan’ for a meeting in Chesham. Early 20th century. From a collection of “Gospel Vehicles” images at Brethren Archive. Click picture to see them all.

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