This week a slightly different algorithm was used to find the stories you see below. Let me know what you think…
- Christian author Sheila Wray Gregoire says you can raise kids who wait until marriage for sex without purity balls, purity rings, and chaperones.
- The format is quite similar to BibleGateway.com, but the pull-down menu of translation options has several quite different choices at Online Bible. Or if you prefer, try this sample verse.
- Research shows that watching shows like “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” a Canadian sitcom that ran from 2007 and 2012 about a Muslim community living in Saskatchewan can help breakdown anti-Muslim prejudices.
- …speaking of prejudices…
- The Roman Catholic Church controls 97% of Ireland’s state-finances schools. “Nikki Murphy’s son, Reuben, 4, was rejected by nine local schools in south Dublin last year because he was not baptized. Forced to delay Reuben’s formal education by a year, she is frantically seeking alternatives for next fall.” (New York Times)
- Rethinking formulaic evangelism approaches like The 5 Steps of Salvation.
- Bible translation ain’t easy. Watch the video for an inside peek at the process. (And that’s just about the translation of one single word.)
- Dear Nadia Bolz-Weber: I know you’ve said when people like me come to do church tourism it ‘messes up your weird,’ but I would have given anything to hear you preach this one live.
- KidMin Korner: Although the writer approaches the subject from the perspective of a parent of a special needs child, the question may have broader application: Why does Sunday School need to follow the school model at all?
- Leadership Lessons: As he prepares to pass the baton, things we can learn from the career of Garrison Keillor.
- There is no link at this point, but where else would you see two consecutive links, one to the Sarcastic Lutheran and one to the host of Prairie Home Companion? (Okay, maybe this.)
- I’ll take “Things I Never Noticed Before” for $500, Alex. What is “Roman Catholics don’t endorse political candidates?”
- Pastor Place: How long should a pastor stay with a church? To this writer, the answer is as long as possible.
- Quotation of the Week: As another ‘gay wedding cake’ is in the courts in Northern Ireland, the defendant notes: ““For us, I think it means you have to leave your Christianity at your house and in your church, once you go out the door in the morning you can forget about your Christian beliefs…”
- Essay of the Week (from 3 weeks ago): …uh…it’s not that long, you’ll just have to read it.
- Parenting Place: Three steps toward protecting your children from sexual abuse.
- Should all my tithes go to the local church? In this three minute video, the conclusion seems to be that we’re not sure…
- …Related: Are people giving less now than they formerly did?
- You’d better sit down for this one, but we’re running a link from John MacArthur’s website. Mind you, he didn’t write this excellent devotional using the phrase “traveling mercies” as a starting point.
- New from Lee Strobel (not really): The Case for Pipe Organs.
- On my devotional blog, Christianity 201, we’ve just wrapped up a three-part series on the intersection of Christian compassion with the Syrian refugee crisis. (Parts display in reverse order.)
- Art Appreciation: You won’t find this type of fine art on sale at LifeWay, Family Christian or Mardel stores…
- …From the same blogger, a look at Christian biographies and the role models we provide for our children.
- Even if your hometown newspaper’s circulation is less than 50,000; your religion writer(s) could be eligible for recognition by Religion Newswriters Association.
- Not a surprise really, but Mark Taylor, son of Living Bible author Ken Taylor is now President and Board Chair of Tyndale House Publishing…
- …In other industry news, the Smallbone brothers of the band For King and Country now have a book deal…
- …And on the music side of things, another Christian music superstar sells Christian bookstores short. Michael W. Smith’s cozy relationship with Cracker Barrel.
- Academic & Apologetics Alley: Dealing with the objection that Jesus was simply one of a number messianic figures in his time.
- The Gospel of Matthew in the Peach State: After knowing about it for years, this weekend we got to see this play for the first time.
- Look out Wycliffe Bible Translators! Look out The Brick Bible! The Emoji Bible is on its way.
- The Dutch Reformed Church has some competition from The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Looking for more links? Tim Archer posts Links-To-Go every 2-3 days at his blog The Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts.
In cooperation with Christian Humor, our gift to all of you still recovering from Jonas:
So what’s news? As I go a-huntin- and a-gatherin’ each week, it occurs to me that entirely different things are important to different interest groups within the broad category we call Christianity. There are items here that I would never consider clicking, but experience (and stats) teach me that these are things that Christian people want to be made aware of. Let the games begin:
No, it’s not just the whole “Two Corinthians” thing; it’s a lack of understanding of all things Christian. CNN noted that Falwell, Jr. is not ordained; not a “Rev.”
- Larycia Hawkins’ violation of Wheaton’s statement of faith may have had nothing to do with Muslims after all.
- Televangelist Morris Cerullo has purchased a foreclosed hotel in San Diego with the aim of creating a timeshare theme park reminiscent of Jim Bakker’s in Charlotte. But this one is considered “More Disney than Hilton.”
- The church where nine people at a Bible study were gunned down last summer, Emanuel AME Church has a new pastor.
- The Lutheran delegation indicated they were ineligible to receive communion, but priests at the Vatican served them anyway.
- The C. J. Mahaney sex abuse scandal has resurfaced in Washington, DC media in a big way.
- Worship Wars, 19th Century Style: Should the choir be at the back giving vocal support to parishioners in the pews, or at the front, where they can be a distraction?
- Sadly, all CNN was concerned about was 2016 election constituencies, but in the process, they came up with seven categories of Evangelicals. (Rather dubious categories, as any insider can see.) …
- …Fact Checking: If you’re for family values, is Donald Trump with you or against you?
- The story of Trinity Western University’s law school challenges is now playing out in Utah with Brigham Young University.
- Was the Apostle Paul Seeker Sensitive? “1 Corinthians 9:19-23… has been a mantra for today’s seeker sensitive churches, but Paul is talking about empathy not entertainment, compassion not comforts.”
- Church service cancelled? Not this time. Online streaming for many churches meant that even in the middle of a blizzard, the service must go on. And it did.
- Pastor Place: In the past, preachers were taught ‘Alliteration Always Adds A Little,’ but a new generation isn’t interested in sermons with five key points that rhyme.
- 99 Interview questions, floating in the summer sky: Yes, 99 — count em — questions to ask each prospective worship pastor.
- There is a movement taking place in the UK and Europe to make the annual Good Friday and Easter dates consistent.
- Apologetics Alley: Trevin Wax invites us to watch how G.K. Chesterton responds to classic arguments against Christianity…
- …Also at The Gospel Coalition: Why your church should support fewer missionaries.
- One of my former editors of the Wednesday Link List, Paul Pastor has a new book with David C. Cook, The Face of the Deep. Listen to him teaching on the subject of the book at his home church. (Starts around 9:00)
- Essay of the Week: The complications of dealing with suicides on social media.
- While admitting the problem is widespread, 41% of Christians surveyed by Barna Research said pastors watching porn should resign or be fired.
- Kids Korner: First talking vegetables, and now talking owls. The co-creator of Owlegories talks about how the video series came about. (Read our review here.)
- Various perspectives bandied back and forth on Saeed’s situation…
- …Meanwhile, Saeed speaks with Fox News.
- Whose the best Catholic? Stephen Colbert and Patricia Heaton compete to see who knows the most doctrinal trivia…
- …Among the trivia unearthed is something this non-Catholic never knew: Whoever dies wearing the scapular shall not suffer the eternal fire. (Two links.)…
- …And some Catholic Inside Baseball: The strained relationship between Pope Francis and the Italian bishops.
- Okay, I’m a month late, but here’s a still-valuable, exhaustive list of Christian conferences for 2016 and beyond.
- List of the Week: Carey Nieuwhof’s 10 predictions about the church and changing demographics.
- Doug Wilson and Mark Driscoll: A tale of two plagiarism cases.
- Name dropping: Take the Wednesday Link List spelling test.
- If you happen to be in downtown Richmond, Virginia on Valentine’s Day, don’t miss the 9:00 AM mass at St. James Episcopal Church, featuring the music of Bob Dylan.
- Written a worship song? You have until early April to submit it to the PraiseCharts SongQuest contest.
- Tweet of the Week: For some churches, this could be a scary concept.
- A most bizarre side-project from the fertile imagination of Eric Metaxas: A Ripley ripoff — well a parody, so it’s okay — previewing on Twitter. You have to see it to not believe it.
- University of California Press discovers that “…Christians use digital media to promote the idea that God wants married, heterosexual couples to have satisfying sex lives. These evangelicals maintain their religious beliefs while incorporating feminist and queer language into their talk of sexuality—encouraging sexual knowledge, emphasizing women’s pleasure, and justifying marginal sexual practices within Christian marriages.”
- Killer Robots: A fresh look at Daniel’s prophecies in light of technology. (12 minute video teaching.)
- Finally, from Family Feud (see link above re. alliteration) meet Father Matt the dancing priest.
Tedious (Yawn!) Job of the Week: Staff at Moody Press proofreading all 1,000+ pages of the index to the John MacArthur New Testament Commentary. “Can we get another round of coffee in the board room?”
C’mon, you know the nursery rhyme: “There was a congregation / that met in a shoe…” Yes it’s a church, opening in Taiwan. Details at NPR.
In case you missed it, we had what I consider our very finest Weekend Link List on Saturday. Be sure to check out some vital news stories and commentaries there, and I’ll try to keep this list here a little shorter.
- A new year brings a new crusade to remove “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency.
- Donald Trump at Liberty U.: Turns out Garrison Keillor had described the speech fully a full week before we heard it.
- Rethinking the worship that takes place in Christian college and university chapel services.
- In light of the weekend release of Saeed Abedini, I kept wondering how this part of the story will fit in…
- …The Washington Post addressed this on the weekend.
- El Chapo, the recently re-arrested Mexican drug lord, works at an occupation where a devout faith is essential. Sample: “If this devotion comes as a surprise to you — as it did to some — it shouldn’t. Drug traffickers across Latin America are typically religious, and Catholic, like just about all their neighbours.”
- Church in a Box: Or in Mark Driscoll’s case, Church in a Post Office Box. (Seating is limited; if not impossible.)
- Essay of the Week: “Those who play the lottery are predominantly poor, by a wide and shocking margin… So if the losers in the lottery system actually lose quite big, and the winners don’t receive unmixed blessings, who are the real victors in the whole system? The answer is quite clear: Government is the great winner from lottery schemes.”
- New Word of the Week: We’ve heard the term, ‘bivocational pastor’ before. But Thom Rainer sees a new paradigm, a new type of bivocational church leader that he calls a ‘marketplace pastor,’ definable by eight characteristics.
- Observation of the Week: Many of the USA’s top preachers are over age 75.
- Quotation of the Week: “God made the world through the Word, and so if man wants to steal the world, he must first attempt to steal all the words.” Doug Wilson examines pronouns.
- This week we caught up with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove for MLK, where he pledges allegiance to an America yet-to-be.
- Dissension in the Catholic Church: A move to ban the popular National Catholic Reporter because of its support for “women’s ordination, contraception and same-sex ‘marriage.'”
- The Daily Beast offers a lengthy exposé of a darker past in the earliest days of Hillsong Church.
- Sunday night, I reconnected online with Pete Wilson at CrossPoint.tv in Nashville. Check out Week #1 of the sermon series I Quit.
- A key figure in the Southern Baptist movement, Dr. Russell Moore launches Signposts, a new podcast.
- Tech Time: The worship leader and the audio engineer, aka Buzz and Woody from Toy Story.
- Worship Resources (1): The choir and the organ “…have been pillars of congregational worship for hundreds of years. We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can totally move away from two pillars without some crumbling happening.”
- Worship Resources (2): Like the people at @WorshipLinks who told me about this article, I like #4, equipping the team to lead without you. Here are six areas where worship leaders can make improvements.
- Worship Resources (3): Surveying your team to set goals for 2016, including ways you can better serve the people you lead.
- Worship Resources (4): Take a cue from the seraphim and know when to get out of the way.
- Apologetics Alley: An obscure 2013 video, God Does Not Exist, in Italian with English subtitles.
- Provocative Title of the Week: Don’t Let Your Church End Up Like Playboy Magazine. (Yes, there’s even a picture!)
- For our Mormon Readers: This writer wants to clean your cupboards, your closets, and yes, your doctrines.
- Lucifer is Los Angeles. Maybe that’s not news. But Lucifer Morningstar lands in the city as part of the setup for a new Fox-TV series…
- …That TV-series is being protested by One Million Moms, who recently got Sleep Number to pull their advertising from CBS-TV’s Angel from Hell.
- Dumbest Tweet of the Week: By which I mean this graphic, not Drew’s comment…
- …On the other hand, when Donald Trump said “Two Corinthians,” Eric Metaxas knew exactly what he meant.
Remember, there are some excellent links on Saturday’s Weekend Link List.
…The closing of Leadership Journal means, among other losses, we’re going to miss our diet of cartoon humor…
While the NIV dominates some demographic sectors, the God’s Word translation is clearly tops among middle-aged male felines*…
→→ Before we begin the links today, I need to share something with regular readers. In the not-too-distant past, for a period of 22 months, this weekly link list appeared at PARSE, the blog of Leadership Journal, a division of Christianity Today. For a brief period of time, the people at CT were family, and there are several with whom I still keep in touch.
Yesterday, we were somewhat shocked to learn of the closing of Leadership Journal, which has served the North American church since 1980. You can learn more about the closure at this announcement. Some of the issues and analysis previously raised at Leadership Journal will be incorporated in a new section of CT called The Local Church. You can learn more about that at this link.
Now we return you back to our regular programming…
- Another week, another wedding-related provider facing a lawsuit. But this time the banquet hall was owned by a Jewish owner who didn’t realize the couple were Messianic Christians. The newlyweds are suing for the equivalent of $25,000 US.
- In the UK, there is only one religious news story; the pending breakup of the Church of England. As you might expect, the main issue is homosexuality.
- Lysa Terkeurst’s different type of New Year’s resolution: “I’m breaking up with my quiet time.”
- Size Matters: While I gave up reading the blog Pyromaniacs a long, long time ago, I returned yesterday to find a landmark article, posted on the first the year, on the issue of ideal church size. It’s a very concise look from all sides — big and small — at a very important subject in the American church with questions everyone needs to consider.
- In many places it is customary to end the Pledge of Allegiance by saying, “God Bless America.” Now, the ACLU has challenged a NJ school board, and won by default since the school cannot afford incurring the legal costs needed to challenge them.
- A large number of Evangelical leaders have signed on to a statement thanking InterVarsity for its endorsement of Black Lives Matter at the recent Urbana 2015 conference.
- Guilty! It’s true, when we practice hospitality, it’s often people from our church circle, and even then, it’s people with whom we already share so many interests. What if we did our inviting outside the box?
- This time, it’s Young Life that got caught in the fallout from the Ed Cash connection to The Gathering.
- Movie Making: Six more religious books are being readied for the big screen.
- Quotation of the Week: “Before social media, the Internet, the ‘seeker sensitive’ movement, Christian rock bands, projection screens and Starbucks in the lobby, Tozer saw where the church was headed.” For this writer, the point is that Tozer recognized the need to fish with nets, not bait.
- Essay of the Week: An apologetic for apologetics…
- …Which brings us to this article: The church has been in the entertainment business for 1,700 years.
- Revelation of the Week: “Nearly half of the background checks requested by churches through LifeWay’s program with backgroundchecks.com reveal some type of criminal offense. Most of those are minor incidents such as speeding tickets, but 21 percent of inquiries discovered misdemeanors or more serious crimes…” More at Baptist Press.
- Headline of the Week: I’m not sure if it was just a slow news day, or if David Bowie’s influence was simply much wider than I imagined, but while entertainment obituaries usually are at the end of the newscast, this one topped the network broadcasts. Now, we learn of a spiritual element in the story.
- Podcast of the Week: Promise Keepers Canada looks at mental health issues facing men including depression and anxiety.
- Infographic of the Week: (Well, it’s actually a rather basic black and white chart…) How the apostles died and where they are buried.
- Definitions: You’ve given four statements, and you have to sign on to all of them to be considered an Evangelical.
- Provocative: “I think that one of the things that bothers me the most about so much of contemporary Christian worship is it’s ugly. It’s just ugly. I don’t get why it attracts people.”
- Pastor Place: Answering the question, “Why did you leave the ministry?”
- Too late for this year, but here’s a New Year’s Eve ritual that couples and families can consider: A Thank List and a Hope List.
- After a longer than usual break, the Phil Vischer Podcast returns (via audio anyway) with some good mid-show analysis of the Wheaton/Doctor Hawkins situation by Skye Jethani.
- Sovereign Grace Music expands its relationship with Integrity Music.
- A giant octopus made out of snow is providing clean drinking water for kids in Haiti.
- The continuing GFA debacle impacts Gospel for Asia Canada.
- The Link List links to Cosmopolitan magazine: How the writer escaped from a polygamous cult…
- …And you won’t find this on other blogs: A report from the recent Gay Christian Network conference.
- Dumbest news story this year: “Laura Reid was arrested on Jan. 5 at the Hall of Justice in Louisville, Kentucky, for allegedly beating a disabled man on Oct. 20, 2015, for not believing in God.”
- Finally: The Vatican reviews Star Wars. Stephen Colbert reviews The Vatican.
*Simply doing what the internet does best: posting pictures of cats.
Welcome to the link list for January 6th… I think I’m having an Epiphany.
- For a Nashville songwriter and producer, it may not be “the thrill that’ll getcha when you get your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone;” but getting written up in Christianity Today when the article is all about the cult you belong to might cause you to change priorities. So it’s no surprise that Ed Cash has left The Gathering…
- …Still, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this story. Some family members react.
- Essay of the Week (if you haven’t already heard about it): Jory Micah fighting the assumption that the complementarian position is the only one that’s ‘clearly Biblical.’
- Video(s) of the Week: Just about anything from last week’s Urbana 2015 conference in St. Louis. (Eyes starting to water up from thinking about watching some of the sessions.)
- Rethinking our Priorities: Perhaps it’s not about passion and it’s more about hunger.
- You call them “atheist chaplains.” The UK’s National Health Service calls them “Non-Religious Pastoral Carers.”
- Quotation of the Week: “In crisscrossing the Christian blogosphere, visiting local churches, and viewing Christians posting in social media, I’ve witnessed repeated thought patterns based on ‘insufficient’ theology. Too many statements made by supposed believers lack something essential to well-rounded Christian belief.”
- I wish Americans knew how bizarre this story appears to those of us in the rest of the civilized world: A look at how Texas churches must notify church attenders of what type of handgun concealment or non-concealment is permissible. (Begs the question: Why bother having a public worship service at all? Why not just produce a weekly podcast?)
- Scot McKnight looks at the Anabaptist view in Zondervan’s new Counterpoints title, Five Views on the Church and Politics.
- Pastor Place: Planning a sermon series schedule for 2016 is not the same as overall strategic planning.
- Controversy of the Week: The Washington Post weighs in on the potential firing of Larycia Hawkins at Wheaton College, and its place in the school’s history.
- Keeping a close watch on the rise of Driscoll in Arizona.
- A few of these go against the standard operating procedure of the modern megachurch, but here are 9 pleasant surprises that make first-time church visitors return…
- …Also at ChurchLeaders.com, Is Gun Control a Christian Issue?
- Twitter Account of the Week: The director for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Canada, Andy Bannister.
- Tim Challies reviews two of the latest books published to help us understand the terror that is ISIS.
- David Murray reviews a new Zondervan title tackling the problem of student debt.
- At least one person marked Epiphany on their blog.
- Barnabas Piper made the December installment of the Young Influencers List.
- So were you able to spot the panda among the snowmen? Here’s another one to try. See if you can spot the angels who appear in the middle of this charismatic service. (As the strains of In Christ Alone compete with another soundtrack playing at the same time.)
- Finally, since Donald Trump is now due to speak at Liberty University, a writer at Religion News Service puts together a draft of a speech for Hilary Clinton.
In his defence, blogger Lorne Anderson writes, “I would argue that when I set the tree in its base I made sure it was standing straight. I am not responsible if the weight of the ornaments is causing the tree to tilt. The cat was not in the boxes I brought up from the basement.”
- After a series of rough financial years, Acquire the Fire and the organization Teen Mania is shutting its doors.
- An update on the Canadian pastor sentenced to life imprisonment and hard labor in North Korea.
- The school board decided students couldn’t recite the lines Linus quotes from the Bible; but then the audience filled in the deleted lines.
- “This may be the first time in journalistic history that an original song has been submitted in lieu of an interview.”
- A tale of two Christian universities: Comparing recent events at Liberty and Wheaton.
- Some items you donated have been removed from Operation Christmas Child boxes. Anything licensed with Harry Potter or Pokemon on it “could interfere with our ministry to share the love of Christ with kids around the world.”
- NPR is the latest journalistic force to try to define Evangelicalism.
- Is she the Children’s Director or the Children’s Pastor? The Creative Arts Pastor or Creative Arts Director? Why ministry staff titles matter. Or don’t.
- Being in the same city (Minneapolis) as Greg Boyd would seem to suggest that Boyd’s pacifism has rubbed off on John Piper. (At least in contrast to Junior Jerry Falwell.)
- Free Advice of the Week (Reconsidered): If someone threatens your church with a gun, throw a Bible at him. Which translation works best?
- Essay of the Week: Rich Kirkpatrick on five disturbing trends emerging in worship leadership. [via Worship Links]
- A Top Ten Books of 2015 list with some titles I would love to dig into. (Six are from IVP!)
- On the evening of December 8th, the face of St. Peter’s Basilica was lit up with projected images of our planet – a multi-media show to raise awareness for climate change in conjunction with the Jubilee Year of Mercy. You can watch the entire one hour show.
- A Knoxville church voted out their pastor, but he didn’t leave.
- Religion reporting: The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily newspaper, decided to restore a full-time religion writer to its reporting staff.
- A national Canadian newspaper reporter looks at C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Evangelicals were the last segment of Christians to embrace the book.
- 3-D Church. That’s a thing now, thanks to The Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, Florida.
- Why “Joy to the World” is not, technically speaking, a Christmas carol.
- Just four cities left in 2016 as the classic Women of Faith team wraps up its Farewell Tour. Who will be on the next team? Any ideas?
- Concerns that a Muslim prayer room is undermining Catholic education.
- Franklin Graham resigns from the Republican party over the bill which re-funds Planned Parenthood.
- With a second episode just weeks away, kids are excited about Owlegories, a new DVD series and app.
- When buying a Bible, sometimes online shopping for this particular commodity is like shopping in a vacuum; you really need an informed salesperson to help make a choice. Trying to bridge the gap, Christian Book Distributors launched some new pages to help with the decision.
- Just so everyone is clear, Festivus is not an attack on Christmas.
- Finally, if you’re still stuck for that hard-to-buy-for person, you can’t do better than a 2016 calendar featuring Orthodox priests who are also cat lovers.
In other family pet Christmas tree news, this is not a decoration, the snake belongs to my sister-in-law. Rather similar to the opening picture, don’t you think? I just realized both families live in the same city. Something in the water?
You know, a person could just change “Make the Yuletide gay” to “Make the Yuletide great” and reduce everybody’s tension.
The return of the Christmas List Lynx
And now, I hereby declare these links officially open.
- One of the most re-blogged stories this week was a CT piece revealing for the first time that C. S. Lewis cooperated with British intelligence during the second world war.
- Also at CT this week, the story of the bizarre connection between a cult leader and one of the most popular worship songs.
- Politically awkward subject of the year: Someone dares to ask if perhaps InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) is attracting too many Asians.
- Preaching Place: The author proposes six mistakes to avoid when preaching the Birth of Jesus…
- …Also on sermon substance, encouraging white pastors to preach without notes. (Warning: Driving off-road could be dangerous.)
- Not all Christian universities are painted with the same brush. After Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s remarks at Liberty on gun control, the student community at Wheaton College responds…
- …But Wheaton College made other news this week, when a tenured professor donned a hijab to show solidarity with Muslims…
- …Meanwhile, on secular college campuses it’s the reverse of the 1960s; students are asking for the opposite of free speech.
- After an Indiana high school received an injunction instigated by the FFRF and ACLU banning a live nativity performance, the school used mannequins instead…
- …Speaking of nativity scenes; most are flawed.
- If God made everything, then should it be okay to smoke weed? 4-minute video response from Sean McDowell.
- The Driscoll comeback continues: The location is Phoenix and the name is Trinity Church.
- Essay of the Week: I missed this one two weeks ago, but take the time to read Philip Yancey’s reflections on being in a Muslim country at the time of the Paris attacks.
- Quotation of the Week: “For some reason, the notion of ‘suffering Christians’ seems to resonate less with liberal hearts than ‘suffering Muslims.’ Maybe Muslims are seen as more ‘exotic’ or ‘misunderstood’; maybe it’s the fact that many liberals have contempt for fundamentalist Christians in America, because of their political positions.”
- Does the new Christian fiction title Eve, written by the author of The Shack take too many liberties with the creation story?
- After a week off, The Phil Vischer Podcast returns with Chicago pastor Charlie Dates discussing differences in approach to church between white culture and black culture.
- Because the U.S. and western Europe dominate the Bible reference genre, in a new publication, culture meets commentary in the 1824 page South Asia Bible Commentary.
- Devotional of the Week: The problem with sin is that it’s easy to develop a taste for it.
- Despite its conservative student covenant that states that sexual relations are limited to heterosexual marriage, British Columbia’s supreme court has overturned the B. C. Law Society’s denying accreditation to the law school of Trinity Western University.
- The Virgin Mary is this month’s National Geographic cover story.
- First there were concerns about the new Muppet Show, but now concern has shifted to a 1993 book about disadvantaged peoples that is now being seen as too graphic. (By all means, keep the kids protected in the bubble.)
- Reuters News reports that in 2016 more U.S. pastors are running for political office.
- This is the saddest abortion-related story that I read this whole year…
- …Meanwhile, a high school student in Chicago’s northwest suburbs is told her essay on abortion can only be written from a pro-abortion position.
- And now, time for a return to the musical question, Why Are Some Reformed People Such Jerks?
- On the weekend, Scot McKnight alerted parents of teenagers to a Washington Post story about the dangers of the new After School App.
- Just in time for Christmas, a podcast on how to fire your pastor.
- Around point #5, the writer of The Five Most Disturbing Things About a Benny Hinn Service admits that after two hours, he walked out, missing “the faith healings, the slaying in the Spirit, and his message.”
- Benjamin Corey has surfed the internet for Christmas gifts so you don’t have to, finding the ten weirdest gifts of the year.
- Finally, the Charlie Brown Christmas special did not air with content warnings like the one below about the Christian message contained therein, at least not this year anyway.
Twist Cap Advent Calendar
If you find a previous link installment where everything goes to Christianity Today, which is now pay-walled; let us know the date and we’ll update that particular list with all the right links.
- Responding to the New York Daily News cover: One time, when God ‘fixed’ something he ‘fixed’ it “by dying an unimaginably horrible death.” More responses at Get Religion.
- As part of Pope Francis’ commitment to transparency, an external audit of Vatican assets begins immediately.
- A devastating illness kept her from two years of high school, but today you can’t help but hearing singer Lauren Daigle.
- Essay of the Week: Q: Why study history? A: “Civilizational amnesia” In church life: “Every decade or so a revolutionary new “model” of church growth and vitality—the Willow Creek model, the Purpose-Driven Church, the Simple Church— sweeps away existing patterns of congregational life.”
- The Mark Driscoll comeback begins in earnest.
- Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette co-pastors a PCUSA church when she’s not writing songs about social justice and gun violence.
- The Air Force Academy football team is again the center of controversy regarding a public display of Christian faith.
- Strange Fruit for Christmas: “…forget the Mandarin Oranges in season, we have our basket full of bitter fruit.” A look at the Planned Parenthood shooting.
- Publish or Parish (…yeah, cheesy pun…): A look at women in academia from a publisher at Zondervan — “[I]f you think there is a dearth of women in biblical studies, look at theology—where the situation is far worse. Few women go into theological studies to begin with, and even fewer continue in constructive work in straight-up dogmatic theology rather than shifting—or being pressed—into ‘gender studies’ or whatever.”
- Racial Reconciliation and Multi-Ethnic Churches: I didn’t listen or view this podcast, but I did watch this guy preach at Saddleback on Sunday; in fact I watched the sermon twice. He gets my full recommendation. Transformation Church’s Derwin Gray is interviewed at Unseminary.
- John’s prologue is the assigned reading for December 25 mass, but “Many priests routinely avail themselves of the permission to use other readings in place of the readings proper to the Mass of Christmas day. ‘People want to hear about shepherds and angels,’ a pastor I once worked for told me, ‘and that’s what we give them.'”
- Jerry Falwell Jr.’s remarks on concealed carry permits at Friday’s Liberty University Convocation get picked up by local media along with a full video of what he actually said…
- …Brian McLaren responds to Falwell. (Does he ever!)…
- …As does Shane Claiborne. “I cannot sit idly by when a fellow Christian makes open threats to Muslims – especially when he does so in the name of the Prince of Peace…”
- …While Zach Hunt just shakes his head and says, “So this is how Christianity dies…with thunderous applause…”
- Helping the homeless in Washington State: “40 tiny houses for 50 homeless people this winter at a church next to Garrison Square shopping center. Forty 8-by-10-foot insulated garden sheds with windows and locking doors will be erected on a fenced, 1.5-acre empty field just north of Safe Harbor Church of the Nazarene.”
- For a single clergywoman, miles from home and working as a chaplain in a hospital that never closes, Christmas celebrating has to be reconfigured.
- Helping Healing: If you know someone who is grieving at Christmas, here are some things you can do, including bringing alcohol. (It’s in Proverbs 31.)
- Worship Workshop: How to copyright the songs that are original to your local church. (Podcast)
- In Sunday School news, David C. Cook, fresh off the acquisition of Gospel Light curriculum, acquires selected resources of Standard Publishing.
- Joel Osteen explains why he’s always smiling, and justifies his big house because he doesn’t have an office at the church.
- “Silent Night, Solstice Night…” — A Carol Controversy in Connecticut.
- 19 Things people with anxiety want you to know.
- Rebecca St. James’ brothers Luke and Joel will both act in and produce a new movie about human trafficking.
- Pictures Worth a Thousand Words: The Big Picture website at The Boston Globe has a photo essay on giving.
- Video of the Week: Bus Ministry — A former bus kid tells (sort of) her story.
- Because of a song Graham Kendrick linked to on Twitter, I learned a new word this season. Hands up all of you who know the meaning of Christingle.
- This is it: The epic-length Rob Bell interview containing all the questions you wanted to ask.
- To Today’s 14 Year Old Girls (from a 19-year old girl).
- Speaking out against authors who review their own books on Amazon gets one writer condemned as still adhering to “the prehistoric, unenlightened notion that they [reviews] were best done by people who were not actually the author.” But the trend continues.
- Attention all sommeliers: A winery in Israel is working to reproduce the wines King David and Jesus would have used. But then, this news story turns into a devotional.
- After the theft of about $8,000 worth of equipment is stolen, thieves respond to an appeal to return it.
- A woman I consider one of Canada’s top Christian journalists is watching Justin Bieber’s faith journey.
- Provocative Title of the Week: Oh, How He Smells Us.
Zach Hunt is looking for an ugly sweater party so he can wear this one. I think ugly is just one of many adjectives:
Finally, this adventure:
You could call this a Virgin birth…
…The picture was taken by author Michael Frost at the Sydney Airport.
Perhaps not all animals boarded Noah’s Ark:
Now, on to this week’s link. See my Twitter for last week’s top five clicks.
- Where did Christmas go? “Christmas didn’t go anywhere. It has become what “we” wanted it to become as materialism has waxed and faith has waned.”
- After the gang on Seinfeld go to visit a new baby, there’s the question of what exactly do you say? They settle on something like, “It’s a baby!” So then, what might the shepherds have said to Mary? Maybe something like WRLYB.
- “Most ‘secular’ eschatologies are pessimistic in their outlook.” Advent stands in contrast to narratives heading toward catastrophe.
- Essay of the Week: The refugee situation has divided us into the red team and the green team…
- …or what this much longer essay would call the cosmopolitans and the communitarians.
- Zondervan author Nabeel Qureshi responds to the Paris attacks. (3 minute video.)
- Question of the Week: Is it a sin to criticize the pastor? One hates to disagree with Billy Graham, but…
- The Walking Wounded: What happens when wounded leaders still have a platform, still have people to whom they are communicating.
- After reading, “‘God, we forgive him. We can’t not,’ [Hope Chapel co-pastor Scott] Dontanville prayed... ‘You’ve forgiven him…'” in this CT article, I started to delve into the topic deeper, and found this 2014 post by David Murray on forgiving those who haven’t asked for forgiveness.
- Everybody loves Jesus, right? Except for the fact he was judgmental, uncompromising, chauvinistic, racist, anti-environmental, and angry. Check out the new book Jesus Behaving Badly by Mark Strauss.
- Teen Mania, the organization founded by Ron Luce is slowly fading from view after months of financial crises. A charity watchdog ranks them as “the fifth most insolvent charity in the country with a negative net worth of $5.2M.”
- This is our week for 5-letter acronyms: WWUUT is another one and also a dot-com web address for When We Understand the Text. Check out one of their videos…
- …They also produced one on how to leave a church, which I personally found timely.
- Was Paul the Apostle married? People need to know. There’s evidence both for and against.
- Another monthly Young Influencers List from a revamped website for Brad Lomenick.
- They love each other. They’re in a committed relationship. So under those circumstances, what type of guy would turn down having sex with a supermodel?
- Baptist News: “LifeWay Christian Resources has sold its headquarters in downtown Nashville, Tenn., for a reported $125 million cash, the second largest amount of money ever spent in the city for a building or property.” (Does this mean a few more SBC missionaries don’t have to come home?)
- After complaints, YouTube suspended, but then later reinstated the account of a Christian ministry organization.
- Investigators are treating it as ‘suspicious’ after fire destroys the “Smallest Church in America.”
- A new Bible: Wycliffe Associates is developing a new open-source translation. Actually, it’s two translations, one formal correspondence and the other dynamic equivalence. You can learn more and view a preview by navigating from this Unlocked Bible page.
- A local church congregational favorite, “Death Was Arrested” has become a favorite at North Point Community in Atlanta. Friday December 4th, the song releases as a single on iTunes for $1.29; watch for a link at Go Connections.
- First, her mom wrote this blog post about her daughter for a national Christian magazine…
- …25 Days later, her 17-year old daughter wrote this blog post about her church.
- This isn’t new, but this week I discovered this colorful harmony of the synoptic gospels.
- More coverage of Kent Dobson’s decision to step down as pastor of the church Rob Bell founded.
- In Utah, a “bleeding host” (a communion wafer that turns red) is considered miraculous.
- Video of the Week: Andrew Peterson – Be Kind to Yourself.
- Breaking news: David did not kill Goliath. (No it’s not a Malcolm Gladwell link.)
- Finally, there’s this pastor: “I don’t preach about polygamy but I feel it is a very Christian lifestyle. I have no problem with homosexuals but I think it’s wrong that their marriage is now recognised by the state but my second marriage is not.” He’s 60, first wife is 44 (they’re still married) second wife is 19 and pregnant.
We’ll have to leave with that one, because according to the message below, my computer needs some attention.