Thinking Out Loud

January 14, 2015

Wednesday Link List

God Told Me T-shirt

It’s that time of the week. If you also follow the links at PARSE, the Friday installment will be moving to Saturday starting this week. I guess we’ll be giving the Saturday Ramblings at Internet Monk some competition.

  • Distinguishing Between Values and Faith – “Strong societies are held together by shared values, and shared conversation is a vital part of that community cohesion. I derive my values from my Christian faith, but in saying that, I’m not claiming that Christianity has an exclusive on human goodness. I believe that we all derive our values from our personal beliefs; I also believe that a shared conversation about our different beliefs leads to more understanding, not less. And in situations like 9/11, 7/7 and Charlie Hebdo, it’s often in the context of faith that people try to find answers to the question ‘Why?’” UK writer Gill Robins writes frequently on values-based education.
  • Discovering the Bible’s Bonus Tracks – “…[I]n 1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul alludes to an earlier letter to fellow believers in Corinth. We don’t have that letter, nor are we aware of its specific contents. Let’s say, however, that archaeologists unearth a clay pot containing a manuscript dating from the mid-first century and fitting the description of Paul’s letter. Should the church welcome 3 Corinthians as the 28th book of the New Testament? Not so fast… So, what criteria did the early church use as a guide? [Craig] Blomberg notes three predominant requirements: apostolicity, catholicity and orthodoxy.”
  • When Our Theology of Suffering is Tested in Reality – “Two months ago we were shocked by the diagnosis of our thirteen-year old grandson’s extreme headaches. Yes, we heard the dreaded “C” word; he has brain cancer. Overnight our lives were turned inside out and upside down, and the once-in-a-lifetime Christmas on the island of Maui with our children and grandchildren was out the window. By God’s grace we have enjoyed a relatively tranquil life, at least so far as health issues are concerned. No one warned us of this, and we certainly did not ask for it, but suddenly the theories we had espoused in trying to help others were put to a test at home.” A Wheaton College professor offers five takeaways from this experience.
  • The Problems of Great Speakers Who Try to be Writers –  The writer begins with a jargon-laden introduction, then “This turgid, cliche-ridden paragraph is my own attempt to capture the flavor of much that passes for written communication in Christian circles these days. The style is quirky; topsy-turvy is the word order; and the passive voice is clung to for dear life. It defies the reader to read on… Most of us are speakers first and writers second. And it is natural, therefore, that some of the patterns and habits of spoken English should creep into our writing. This is especially true of those who speak for a living (like preachers). Very often, good preaching is characterized by elaboration, illustration, and a general ‘padding out’ of the material so that the audience can take it in. Good writing is quite different. It is sharp and economical.”
  • What Francis Chan Teaches His Kids – “My daughter did bring home a guy a few months ago from college and some of my friends asked her, they said ‘hey how serious are you with him’ and they told me her answer was so weird. They said her answer was ‘I just want to hang out with him long enough to see if God answers his prayers.’ That’s a weird answer but in her mind that was her gauge.” The California preacher went on tell listeners to John Piper’s podcast how in their home, answered prayer is the measure of strong relationship with God.
  • Worship Service Down-Time During Announcements – Thom Rainer offers 9 observations about that not so special time in the service: “Most church leaders believe that the retention rate of announcements by members is low. If retention is indeed low, it would indicate that most times of announcements are done due to pressure or tradition or both.”
  • Was this Board’s Action Discriminatory? – So there was a teacher fired, and there is the element in the story that ‘the student was asking for it.’ It’s hard not to let your mind make up the missing pieces, but in this case: “The Phillipsburg [PA] School Board fired [teacher Walter] Tutka after district officials said he refused to meet with them to discuss his giving a middle school student a copy of the Bible. Tutka handed the boy, who had been asking about a passage from the book of Matthew, a copy of the Gideon’s New Testament in October 2012.” The teacher was suspended in January, 2013.
  • We Take You Live to Our Reporter in the Field – I know some of you have heard stories from the missions front lines before, but I know this guy. He gave up a comfy career as a dentist to do something he and his wife believe in, and now he describes his work in Rwanda: “I walk in to see (as my first case ever in Africa) a sedated child with a massive hole in the side of his jaw. The hole was not caused by a object, no, it was caused by perhaps a simple ulcer or infection that kept spreading. Because the child is malnourished, and was also battling malaria, and also likely was not getting clean water, and was likely a low birth weight baby, and was also not easily accessible to health care… the list goes on, he developed one of two conditions. Osteomyelitis – which is an infection of bone… or NOMA – described as a disease of the poor, where this uncontrolled bacterial infection knows no limit and literally destroys one’s face… Oh I forgot to say that he is also an orphan. But you probably saw that coming.”
  • Those Problematic Worship Lyrics – We’ve seen articles before on songs like this one: “‘I want to touch you, I want to see your face, I want to know you more.’ It’s tough to sing lines like these when the song never mentions who you’re singing to, and this one never does. The vague lyrics could easily suggest a plan to sneak around and make out in the bushes or a desire to encounter Jesus.” But this was the first time we’d seen this one mentioned: “‘Yahweh, Yahweh, we love to shout your name, oh Lord.’ Jewish people don’t write or say Yahweh to refer to God out of respect — instead writing the name without its vowels, YHWH, or using the alternate Adonai, meaning ‘Lord.’ So, to sing a song that not only uses the name Yahweh, but emphasizes the shouting of it seems . . . odd. The Vatican agrees — in 2008, it removed/replaced the name in all of its songs and prayers, and the Christian Reformed Church removed every occurrence of Yahweh and Jehovah from its Psalter Hymnal.”
  • Short Story Department – An accusation of plagiarism against Christian author and possible Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson ended very differently than another high profile plagiarism case with which readers here are familiar. The source copied refuted the idea saying that the 16 attributions that did appear reflected Carson’s honest intentions.
  • Parting Shot – Okay, this is totally superficial, but I think this church has the coolest menu for searching sermon series archives.

 

Well Done

 

 

January 7, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Cathedral Repurposed as Skateboard ParkThe above is taken from a Wall Street Journal article about European Cathedrals being sold off, this one in Holland was re-purposed as a skateboard park. The story reads, “Two dozen scruffy skateboarders launched perilous jumps in a soaring old church building here on a recent night, watched over by a mosaic likeness of Jesus and a solemn array of stone saints.”

Cathedral Repurposed II


We’ll flip the order this week and start with some fun things, and then go for the PARSE links second…


Church Gro

For your own supply of Church Gro, click this link.


Here’s what we posted at PARSE today:

  • What One Woman Thinks of Women’s Ministry – “If I wanted to learn how to decorate cupcakes, I would take a class in it. If I wanted to be educated on strategies for decorating my home inexpensively from Winners, I would just, you know, go to Winners. Or Pinterest. But I’m here with you now because I want what the world cannot give me. We’re choking on cutesy things and crafty bits, safe lady topics, and if one more person says that modest is hottest with a straight face, I may throw up. We are hungry for authenticity and vulnerability, not churchified life hacks from lady magazines. Some of us are drowning, suffocating, dying of thirst for want of the cold water of real community.”
  • Pastoring Grief – “When we sit with someone who has encountered devastation it can be scary… This is one place I am helped by the Quaker tradition. In fact, I believe – if not always practice – that my role is not to have the answers, give good advice, or “heal” another person at all. All I am to do is create a safe space where he or she can begin – or continue – to listen to the Inward Teacher. My work is to create a space where their soul can be honored and held. This type of listening comes in the form of seeing each meeting as a divine “Opportunity.” In Quaker parlance, an Opporunity – with a capital O – is where both people sit, listen and discover where the Spirit is moving in another. Being comfortable with silence is essential, allowing the wounded person to be the focus of the conversation and to carry it where they will.”
  • Missing the Text Because We Know it So Well – “Unexamined familiarity will prevent you from looking at the Book. Because such familiarity crowds out curiosity, it imperceptibly stiffens necks, hardens hearts, and deafens ears. Familiarity may lead us to assume things that are not in the text, and it may blind us to things that are… the unfamiliar-but-wildly-curious folks see things I’ve never seen… My familiarity tricked me into thinking I knew the story, but I had missed the point.”
  • Time Travel: Before the Megachurch Set the Agenda – “I grew up in small churches that my father pastored, but when I moved into full-time ministry I was involved in mega-churches as an associate pastor. I have spent my adult life attending large churches, and it had been many years since I had not been in a church service where the crowd outnumbered a Friday night high school football game. Stepping away from the big-church scene and stopping by to visit a small church turned out to be a greater blessing than I ever expected. My memories had forgotten the close bond and camaraderie that one feels in a smaller group of people.”
  • Lament for a Closing Bible College – “I am sad for the broader trends that this decision reflects for Christian higher education. Sad that theological education is no longer the priority for young adults and their parents that it once was… I am sad for how the news of Bethany’s closing is, in many ways, symptomatic of far broader church trends… I am sad that more effort is often put into hyper-pragmatic church-planting techniques than the preserving of spaces for theological education that has as its goal the forming of Christian character and the training of Christian leaders. But most of all, I think, I am sad that the world will now have one less good place where young women and men can encounter Jesus and learn to love each other in the context of community.”
  • Inside Female Thought Processes – “Am I enough? Sometimes, I don’t feel like there is enough of me to go around, and it can be exhausting.  When I was teaching, I would wake up and pour into my husband and kiddos and spend some time in prayer.  Once I arrived at school, I would pour into my students.  Once I got back home, I would make dinner for my family, run my kids to their various activities, and end the day by pouring into my husband and kids once again.  I was honestly a shell of a person.  I had been pouring out all day into the ones I love and doing  something I loved to do, but I was completely spent.”
  • Rethinking the Bible College Degree– “From early on in my academic life, I was confused. I knew that a Bible college would prepare you to do the work of the Lord; I knew I wanted to be a missionary in post-communist Russia. I was prepared to be poor for the rest of my life, but I didn’t understand that one could live in deficit, that dreams could be deferred by the crushing realities of student debt. When the financial aid office of my Bible college draped their offers of loans in front of me, I confronted them. Do you really think you should be pushing debt onto missionaries and pastors? I asked them… While this might be a workable financial constraint for many, it can prove crippling to the very students that Bible colleges cater to—those who want to minister, either as pastors or teachers or overseas missionaries.”
  • Making the Case for The Local Church as Dating Site – The same week the Christian Mingle movie releases on DVD, we’re offered a different view: “Every year, between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, online dating registrations soar. There are a myriad of reasons for this: the difficulty of holidays spent single; New Year resolutions; desire to not be by themselves in dark, winter nights; pressure from family; and more. One thing is clear, it is written on the heart of every man and woman that it is not good for them to be alone.” A call for the church to prayerfully set up potential couples.
  • Moving Forward by Looking Back – “I set goals for every conceivable arena of life: spiritual, fitness, education, ministry, publishing, financial, language acquisition, and even reading speed. These give me items for which to pray, plan, and pursue. Holding the goal in mind helps me know when to decline otherwise enticing opportunities and when to apply for those that are not forthcoming. But equally important—a discipline I am less faithful in—is pausing to reflect on past accomplishments…” Take the time to raise your Ebenezer.
  • Question of the Week – “Instead of asking ‘What does this passage mean to you?’ we should ask, ‘What does this passage mean if you never existed?'” You’ll find this somewhere on Julie Roys’ radio program said by either Michael Rydelnik or Michael Vanlaningham.
  • One for the Road – While other Christian news items were more pressing, this was definitely the year of Christian cinema, making this year’s list of the Top 100 films looked up at the Christian Film database all the more important.

From Daniel Jepsen’s blog Sliced Soup (click image to link):

Sketchy Church

 

December 31, 2014

Wednesday Link List

First, here are some stories that ran at PARSE last week that you never saw here:

  • Your Moment in the (Local) Spotlight – In all the leadership articles I’ve combed, I’ve never seen this topic discussed, even though it is often a part of ministry life for local pastors and leaders: “At this time of year there are a myriad of opportunities to speak on local radio, and now even on local television channels. I was fortunate enough to do a media training course as part of my ordination training… If you are on for 2 or 3 minutes (a typical interview format) you might only have five sentences in total. Time flies on air! So decide what is most important, and get that in first. If you leave your most important point to second or third place, you might never get to say it…” In total ten solid pieces of advice.
  • The Gay Wedding Cake Challenge Moving Forward – “A Christian printer from Northern Ireland who came under fire for refusing to print a gay magazine is backing proposals for a conscience clause in the Province. Last year, Nick Williamson said he could not print a publication because its sexually explicit images would go against his Christian faith. But the magazine’s editor obtained legal advice and the case was referred to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. Williamson supports the plans to amend equality legislation to introduce a conscience clause. The proposals were prompted by the case of Ashers Baking Company, which is facing court for declining to produce a pro-gay marriage campaign cake.” The goal is to create a situation “where everybody’s rights can be upheld and balanced.”
  • There’s No Such Thing as Mental Illness – Voddie Baucham is a popular speaker and pastor of Grace Baptist in Spring, Texas. According to a recent sermon transcript, he stated, “Psychology and psychiatry — and they’re not the same thing, one’s a medical doctor who goes to medical school, a psychiatrist, gets a medical degree, k? And they can dispense drugs, and, and that’s pretty much all they do, just dispense drugs and [unintelligible] drugs — and the other one, a psychologist, you don’t go to medical school, that’s a complete different degree, k? But in both instances, psychology and psychiatry have never cured anyone of anything.” There’s a lot more of this on the transcript, as well as, on the same website, a personal response.
  • Redefining Reaching the World – “For decades, missionaries did not consider a people group “reached” until 20 percent of the population was considered ‘evangelical.’ Today, the statistical benchmark is 2 percent. What brought about this change of definition? And how has it impacted missions strategies? Dr. Robin Hadaway, professor of missions at Midwestern Seminary recently wrote an essay for the Southwestern Journal of Theology, in which he recommends a “course-correction” away from the two-percent threshold and back to something like 10 or 20 percent….The needs of unreached peoples to hear the gospel must remain an important factor in making these decisions, and yet Hadaway believes other criteria should be considered, including the receptivity of a people.” Trevin Wax reports on changes taking place, then offers, “I have misgivings about setting an arbitrary percentage for ‘reachedness,’ whether high or low. Every country or people group is different, with various needs and histories.”
  • When You Share Your Building with an Ethnic Church – One main issue for three Lincoln, Nebraska churches sharing First Baptist’s building had to do with the role of children in worship. “Jiang says the reason the Karen and Chinese worried so much was because, to them, the English congregation was kind of the leader of the whole church: it was their building, and they had been there the longest. ‘…the relationship is kind of like guest and host.’ No one ever said anything about their concerns — until a few months ago.” Text and audio at National Public Radio.
  • The Amish Television Interview – Although it’s a lot like the news reports where a whistle-blower is interviewed in silhouette, it is an actual eleven-minute video documentary of Amish life narrated by a carpenter and father of eight children. “Very, very few outsiders join the Amish, as far as leaving… there’s probably ten or fifteen percent that leave the Amish… they want their conveniences, their car and phone and things like that… If we are here as a pilgrim, traveling through this world for a better land then the less earthly possessions we cling to, the better off we are.”
  • Leadership Trials and Tribulations – “Someone who is not performing well on the team. You’ve warned them numerous times. They have exhausted their chances with you. You’re at the point where you believe it would be better for them to leave the organization. Before you release them (which is one of the hardest things a leader has to do)… Have one more meeting.” Ron Edmondson on the meeting before the last meeting.
  • No Staff Christmas Party Here – “Pope Francis issued a blistering critique Monday of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing some officials who lust for power at all costs and suffer from ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’ that has made them forget they are supposed to be joyful men of God. The pontiff’s Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalog of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year.”
Christmas List Lynx arrives just in time to wish you a Happy New Year.

Christmas List Lynx arrives just in time to wish you a Happy New Year.

Today we have an economy edition of the link list, as we’ve been given the week off by our PARSE overlords.

December 24, 2014

Wednesday Link List

We Have Bacon

First, here’s last Friday’s list from PARSE

  • An Introvert Looks at Advent – “I’m willing to suspend my cultural cynicism for a moment and speculate that at the root of American consumer Christmas is a deep-seated desire for meaning. I may be way off on this, but I suspect the decorations, the music, the saturated social calendars, the capitalistic flurry, and the caloric overload are attempts at finding something true, something significant. Hopes for discovering community and transcendence… The problem, I think, is that our culture doesn’t know how to truly celebrate. Over-consumption and over-stimulation are the only ways we know how to mark a special occasion. Even though most of us implicitly know it doesn’t work and that we’re going to wake up with a hangover, it’s all we know how to do. When there is a significant event, we commemorate it by scurrying around, spending absurd amounts of money, gathering a crowd, and turning up the volume. If we’re not weighed down by anxiety and insomnia, then it must not be a very important occasion.”
  • Christmas Has Always Been Complicated – “[F]rom a historical perspective, controversy surrounded Christmas for the first five centuries of church history; and its effects still linger in some circles today… The Ebionites, a legalistic first- and second-century cult, denied the Virgin Birth… In the second and third centuries, the Gnostics likewise denied the incarnation…In the fourth century, the Arians affirmed the humanity of Christ, but denied His full deity… The Nicene Creed, in essence then, was a defense of the biblical understanding of Christmas.”
  • Material Possessions and Dependency on God – “Let’s be honest here, the American church has taken material wealth to levels never even dreamed by the founders of the New Testament church.  ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ was a genuine, heart-felt prayer reflective of a deep-seated daily need by the early church.  My church, on the other hand, raised $1.5 Million last year for a new air conditioner in our Sanctuary… The sad truth is, we just do not need God to meet daily needs when we have material wealth.” So this begs the question, where is the point at which we need God?
  • Not Sure What To Say – Most of us don’t have a handy collection of responses when one or both members of a couple announce they are dealing with infertility. Telling them they can borrow your kids isn’t helpful: “Now, there is lots of room in the world for great aunts and uncles. I have taught children for several years without having my own children. But when you dismissively offer to give away your children (or tacitly encourage the abduction of your children), you minimize their value and worth. Yes, we know that kids are hard. We are paying thousands of dollars to try to have one anyway. Either you are pretending that children are not really worth it, or you are just a miserable person who should not have had kids to begin with.”
  • George Whitefield Would Have Loved Twitter – Or, according to this article, Facebook and YouTube. You either loved him or hated him: “Actors felt threatened when Whitefield, an actor-turned-evangelist, decided to build a church called the Tabernacle in London just down the street from the theaters. ‘He’s lampooned in really popular plays, the most famous being the ‘Dr. Squintum’ play, which is just a total sensation in Britain,’ said [Thomas S.] Kidd of Whitefield, who was cross-eyed after a childhood ailment. He had rotten eggs, turnips and stones thrown at him and once was saved from a stoning by his beaver hat, wrote Kidd.” The article goes on to suggest that it was Whitefield and Wesley who started “the battles that continue between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.”
  • Persecution Up Close and Personal – American Pastor Saeed Abedini writes, “These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.”
  • Our Tabloid Fascination with Rob Bell – “This is precisely why Rob Bell has and still does connect with so many of us– we may have different stories, but we all know what it is like to be taken out into the Evangelical church parking lot for asking the wrong questions… Rob has come to symbolically represent so many of us who have experienced the deep pain of being told, there’s no room for you in this inn. As I have gotten to know so many out there…the one trend I have noticed is this: we all have a very similar stories of pain, hurt, and loss that immediately followed our questions. Some are kicked out of churches, some out of seminaries, and many have real-world friendships stripped away from them – often over areas that are clearly “secondary” theology where there is room for charitable Christian disagreement.”
  • Christian, Celibate, But Same-Sex Attracted – Julie Roys addressed this issue on a program for Moody Radio, and then profiled a counselor at Wheaton College who fits that description for an article at World Magazine. In turn, that produced a reaction from Carl Trueman: “Indeed, to say that those who use the label ‘gay’ should not find their identity in their sexuality is akin to saying that people who declare themselves to be Democrat or Republican may do so as long as they are not making a statement about their political sympathies and allegiances.  If you do not find any part of your identity in your sexuality, then you should not use language which exists solely for the purpose of expressing identity through sexuality… One wonders what exactly the thinking on this issue is at Wheaton.”
  • Someone Had to Go First – Just a month after approving women as bishops in the Church of England, the first such bishop, Reverend Libby Lane was appointed.

Next, we have today’s list from PARSE

  • Government Agency Determines What Church Can Afford – There was a promise that mandatory closed captioning of television programs would be waived by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) if it would place an economic burden on independent producers. Despite issuing hundreds of such waivers, a local church was refused. “This month’s ruling was against one of those re-applying for a waiver:  Curtis Baptist Church, which produces a weekly Sunday morning program on a TV station in Augusta, GA.  While the church claimed the extra $26,000 per year for closed captioning would up its production costs by 61 percent and could threaten the continuation of this ministry of more than 30 years, the FCC rejected that argument.  Notably, the FCC looked past the specific budget for the program, and instead at the church’s total balance sheet.”
  • Understanding the People You Want to Show Up – “If you’re waiting for unchurched people to show up because their life is falling apart, you might wait a long time. Sure, there are always people in crisis who seek God out. But many are quite content with their lives without God. And some are quite happy and successful. If you only know how to speak into discontent and crisis, you will miss most of your neighbors.” (Italics added) Additionally, North Point affiliate pastor Carey Nieuwhof states, “Old school ‘revival’ meant there was something to revive. Now that we are on the 2nd to 5th generation of unchurched people, revival is less helpful to say the least. You can’t call them back to something they never knew.” 15 Things to know about those you want to reach.
  • The Two Sins of Multi Site Video Venue (MSVV) Churches – In the wake of what some consider the key Evangelical news story of 2014: “Multi-Site Video Venue (MSVV) is prone to decontextualization. When one franchises either a teacher or a church model based on one location and transfers it en toto to another location, one has in essence disregarded the local context, its culture and instead assumes that who we are and what we say as a church applies to you with no dialogue or presence needed. It asks people to come to me on our terms. We have what you need. It is a profound act of colonialism.”
  • When the Big Christmas Pageant is Past Tense – “For over 20 years, I was an integral part of designing our Christmas services at Willow Creek, and some of what I remember still makes me break out in a sweat!  I remember the panic of no time to shop for gifts, of wrapping presents late at night on Christmas Eve, of disappointing some friends or family members when I just was not available for certain holiday gatherings… I am somewhat surprised to admit that there are some aspects of the entire experience I do miss.  So maybe it will encourage you to know what they are – a quick list because none of you has time to read much of anything right now!”
  • Facebook Loved This Diversion – “Two professing atheist authors recently held a contest in which they asked followers to ‘rethink the Ten Commandments’ and come up with ‘an alternative secular version … for the modern age.'” The top ten submissions included the maxim, “There is no one right way to live;” and an exhortation to “Leave the world a better place than you found it.” – No word if the atheist big ten will spark a movie with a Charlton Heston lookalike.
  • Do People Need Reminding to Attend Church? – For years I attended a small group in Toronto, Canada that met on the 18th floor of a highrise apartment. Despite the fact I never missed, and despite the fact that seating in the small one-bedroom unit was at a premium for the thirty people who showed up, two nights before I would get a phone call from the small group leader reminding me that small group was approaching. So in my opinion, in a world with email, the concept of churches making contact on Saturday in reference to Sunday morning is a no-brainer. So I’m not surprised that, “57% of the churches that sent emails saw a week-over-week increase in attendance. The average attendance increase in those churches was 13%.” Check out four samples of the emails sent.
  • Verses We Remember – Because the Bible has verse numbers, and because computers can store search stats, and basically, because we can, YouVersion has another annual list showing that when it comes to favorite verses, the U.S., Nigeria and Brazil have something in common, and that’s Philippians 4:5. But it was Romans 12:2 that received the greatest combined number of social media sharing and bookmarking. There’s more at the YouVersion annual report, but if you’re thinking that John 3:16 should be at the top of the list, then you are in agreement with the year-end statistical report at BibleGateway.com (containing a couple of impressive graphs, one resembling a Periodic Table of sorts.)
  • It’s Like Herding Cats – I clicked through to read “Are House Cats Smarter Than Humans” not realizing it was a religion-themed website. “[G]etting two humans, ten, a thousand, or considerably more, to do the same thing at the same time is remarkably easy, and it’s successfully accomplished on a daily basis: Just put a TV in every home. Or set up a religious meeting in a football stadium. Or announce that some electronic device is on “sale” during a limited time period — say, between 4 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving — and get out of the way when the doors open.” And then, there’s where the writer took the subject next.
  • Quick Take – In a recent Wall Street Journal infographic, clergy rank in the second highest category for obesity. Christmas dinner; just sayin’.
  • Online Bibles – I actually had someone ask me yesterday what ever happened to Bible software? Basically, it up and moved to the cloud. Everyone has an online Bible site that works best for them, but here’s a list of the Top 20.
  • Christmas Time Travel – Okay, the song itself isn’t very Christmas-y, but what’s more Christmas Eve than time traveling back a century to listen to the latest Christian music release 100 years ago; CCM in the year 1914. (And Jon Rivers was hosting 20 The Countdown Magazine even back then!)

Best Christmas wishes to you  from Buck, Marney, Jern, Destinia, Rayleen, Cubber, Lareetta, Roscoe, Honalee, Tustin and all the rest of the Thinking Out Loud gang.

There will be a Friday Christian news roundup at PARSE this week, with some of the best stories we’ve seen all week.

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