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 10, 2017

Feel Like a Misfit at Church? You’re Not the Only One.

At the start of the year, I reviewed Brant Hansen’s first book with Thomas Nelson, Unoffendable, which deals with the subject of anger, and is ideally suited to anyone who has ever ‘lost it’ over a particular person or circumstance. You can read that review at this link.

Brant Hansen‘s second book with Nelson is important enough that I’m eventually going to devote another column to it here, but wanted to make you aware of it prior to the November 28th release in case you’re making a Christmas list. The title is Blessed Are the Misfits: Great News for Believers who are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something.

This book is for people

  • who are introverts
  • who deal with social anxiety; mental health issues
  • who are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (or something similar)
  • who feel they are just different; they don’t see the world like everyone else does

and the people who love them because they’re a family member, close friend, co-worker, fellow-student, etc. It’s one of those books where the target readership is somewhat select — not to mention that it also deals with how such people can function in the body of Christ — so mention on blogs and social media and word-of-mouth will do much to help this book find its audience.

I’m about 65% in at this point — thoroughly enjoying it — and will post a full review here when it’s closer to the release date as well as reasons why this book is important to our family.

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 7, 2017

The Downside of Sermon Podcasts

My name is Paul, and I’m a sermon podcastaholic.* On Sundays I’ve been known to listen to as many as five of them, though that doesn’t happen often. But three is not unusual.

Read Schuchardt, a professor of media ecology at Wheaton College was a recent guest on The Phil Vischer Podcast. He has ten kids, no TV, no cell phone, and no internet. After discussing technology and culture, at the very end of the discussion, Skye Jethani asked Read about the implications for the church with respect to the things they had talked about…

Skye Jethani: The basic economy of why people go to church, or why people have gone to church for five centuries, has changed. Most pastors I talk to about this don’t want to change that model. But they’re angry or upset or frustrated that a generation is now around that doesn’t show up on Sunday.

Read Schuchardt: Yeah, I’ve had this conversation with various pastors. One of the things I say is, “Look if value really is a function of scarcity, why are you giving away your weekly sermons for free on the internet which is just an invitation to not come?” Why not just say, “It’s live, it’s here, it’s one day of the week only. You’ve got to be there to get it.”

Skye: It’s the same reason your students won’t read a book.

Read: In other words, if you’ll camp out all night to get those tickets to see that concert of that one singer live…

Skye: Don’t you think that it’s because most pastors know they’re not that good?

Read: No, I think it’s because they are sincerely trying to help further and spread their message and also reach their elderly and shut-ins out of Christian love and concern. But they don’t realize that it’s also simultaneously under cutting the over-all “Why would I go there?”

Skye: Yeah, but when I talk to a young person, they might admire their pastor, think they’re great, whatever. But they also realize, “Well, I’m going to listen to these other five celebrity pastors because they’re so entertaining.” And the average pastor, as faithful and good and doctrinally sound as they may be are not as entertaining. So they’re competing in this media environment in which they can’t really compete.

Read: Yeah, but as soon as you say ‘entertainment’, that’s not a focus on Scripture. That’s a focus on television.

Honestly, I hadn’t thought about that. The words, “If value is really is a function of scarcity…” leave me asking if we’ve devalued sermons and preaching by making them ubiquitous.

There had been some earlier discussion about how modern Evangelical church now consists of simply singing some songs and listening to the sermon. Little or nothing else. There is no particular compelling need to be physically present for this if you can buy or download the worship team’s album and listen to the messages at home.

I reminded my wife, who was getting ready to lead worship on Sunday** how important it is for her to continue to provide the interactive worship elements that she always incorporates in her part of the service. I thought of another area pastor who always includes a weekly discussion question where people break up into groups of 2-4 people. Or maybe you still are in a smaller church that takes prayer requests, or at least as a “pastoral prayer” for needs in the congregation and the community.

Absent those elements, you’re left with just the sermon and, like the man said, you’re giving “an invitation not to come.”


*We prefer the term sermon junkie.
**She also typed today’s interview transcript for me.

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 27, 2017

God’s Power? Yes, As Long as We Are in Full Control

If you grew up in Africa, the West Indies or even in the North American Black church, you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about in today’s column.

Lord, send the old time power;
The Pentecostal Power

Although we sang that gospel hymn at many of our church’s evening service, indications of God’s power were looked on with extreme suspicion. While the Charismatic Movement had contributed to explosive church growth in many locations, the megachurch where I grew up was having behind-the-scenes meetings to discuss how far they were willing to let that movement invade our fellowship…

…I noticed her across the auditorium from the corner of my eye. Middle aged woman positioned ideally on the aisle for what she was about to do. We were singing a very lively hymn, possibly even the one above and the music at the church was quite loud as she started moving to the music, then stepping out into the aisle putting one foot ahead and back, and then one foot behind and then back. The aisle sloped slightly so she was moving forward and backward, up and down the aisle, though never far from her seat.

The ushers serving that aisle watched each other from the back for confirmation and then wasted no time. Swiftly she was confronted but apparently lost in the music continued the dance.

Then the unthinkable happened. They attempted to pick her up. She went rather rigid at that point — to avoid injury to them one would think — and they carted her out of the service like she was a large piece of lumber. She was perpendicular to the floor and one carried her head and shoulders while the other carried her feet.

I kid you not. Down the aisle and out the door. Never to return…

…Maybe your church has stories of people shutting down Charismatic expression. (The man who ran up on the stage at John MacArthur’s church to give a word of prophecy comes to mind. That was dramatic!) …

…One of the songs in that church’s youth group was “The Holy Ghost Will Set Your Feet A-Dancing.” This was a noble goal for those seeking the fullness of God’s Spirit, as long as things didn’t get out of hand. I don’t remember us doing much more than clapping to that piece. But then a discussion would follow about wanting what the Pentcostals and Charismatics had; wanting to see more of God’s power displayed and active in our church and in our lives…

…Today’s there’s the bridge in “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” which goes,

O, I feel like dancing.
It’s foolishness I know.
But when the world has seen the light
They will dance with joy like we’re dancing now.

My wife and I haven’t used that song much when leading worship, but when we did, we always skipped that bridge. The purpose of leading worship is to give voice to the congregation to express the worth-ship of God and their aspirations of response. Most of the people in our congregations did not feel like dancing in those moments, and if you’re not dancing, the song really makes no sense.

They would concur the second the line however, “It’s foolishness I know.” David danced before the Lord. Thank goodness we’re in the New Testament now…

…I’m sure the woman in my story recognized that our church wasn’t the best fit for her and eventually found a home in the many Pentecostal and Charismatic church springing up all over the city where you could take a few steps back and forth without being a distraction.

I wonder how many that Sunday night secretly admired her freedom?


It would be interesting to know what insurance providers and court judges would think of the physical confrontation I watched. Do not try this at home…

…And yes, YouTube would be several generations down the road, but this one would have been great to have captured. Today camera-phones would have been tracking her from the first few steps of her jig.

 

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 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.

 

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