Thinking Out Loud

July 19, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Meow

We’re back after a week away from link-listing. One of the big winners here each week is me! I get to prepare this thing and see such a wide swath of what Christians are thinking and doing. There are some topics here for your consideration. Take some time, and tell your friends to visit.

  • Essay of the Week: Shane Claiborne chronicles the history of Christian civil disobedience. “You can go to jail for doing something wrong. And you can also go to jail for doing something right. We went to jail for doing something right.” 
  • Listicle of the Week: 5 Sure Signs You’ve Been Hoodwinked by the “Prosperity Gospel.
  • Electronic Dance Music (EDM) in church? “It’s not supposed to draw out the voice of a congregation. It’s supposed to make people want to move and leave their rational selves behind. And buy music. And stay in the club longer and spend more on drinks. It doesn’t facilitate the liturgy, it hijacks the liturgy, making it something else entirely. ” (Some of the points here apply to more than just EDM at church.)
  • Making your church introvert-friendly: “Our church cultures are unintentionally designed to identify, groom, and celebrate a specific personality type which leaves most introverts unseen, undeveloped, and left with a stigma of guilt and shame. Our ministry and discipleship opportunities implicitly communicate what a ‘disciple’ looks like, what ‘ministry’ looks like, or what ‘leadership’ looks like. And most of those narratives are very, very narrow.”
  • Quotation of the Week: “Sadly, it seems like John Piper has trouble dealing with the fact that women have bosoms even though he is free from sexual feelings towards other women.” Documenting John Piper’s ongoing obsession with this particular topic, including mothers allowing their 2-year-old daughters to show their knees. (Trigger alert: This discusses the private parts of men and women.)
  • Colorado’s gay wedding cake case: “There is an impulse to frame every issue as a clash between the tolerant and the closed-minded. But the Masterpiece case doesn’t challenge, undermine or re-litigate the issue of same-sex marriage in America. Gay marriage wasn’t even legal in Colorado when this incident occurred.” 
  • Moving: After 25 years at Wheaton College in Chicago, New Testament prof. Gary Burge is joining the faculty of Calvin College in Grand Rapids.
  • Farewell, SBC: “Today I am officially renouncing my ordination in the Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant body, with about 15 million members, and the world’s largest Baptist denomination. My reasoning is simple: As a black scholar of race and a minister who is committed to social justice, I can no longer be part of an organization that is complicit in the disturbing rise of the so-called alt-right, whose members support the abhorrent policies of Donald Trump and whose troubling racial history and current actions reveal a deep commitment to white supremacy.” Lawrence Ware writes at the New York Times.
  • Apologetics Alley: Did Jesus speak Greek? When the subject of whether or not our Bibles contain the exact words of Jesus, we default to:
    1. Jesus primarily spoke in Aramaic.
    2. The Gospels were written in Greek.
    If Jesus ever used Greek to speak, then the Gospels may contain his exact words. Three reasons why Jesus probably spoke Greek at least some of the time
  • …Meanwhile, a different view at Zondervan Academic: “Jesus probably knew enough Greek to understand it. But he wouldn’t have spoken it as his first language. He also wouldn’t have used it in his daily conversation or taught the crowds in Greek.” …
  • …Also at the same blog, a look at both sides of the authorship of Hebrews issue.
  • Sermon Stats: “In these days of Ted Talks and 20 minutes messages, we were surprised that the most watched and beloved preachers in America preach almost twice that long!” Check out the average sermon length for ten popular pastors.
  • Dialing for Doctrine: Who exactly did Jesus die for?  The debate on “particular redemption,” which most of us refer to us “limited atonement.” (If nothing else, be sure to check out the 6-minute video.)
  • This is a developing story which may have changed by the time you read it, but the TGC website deals with the basics of the Charlie Gard case.
  • Sermon of the Week: Full disclosure, the one I chose was from June 23rd. The pastor is Levi Lusko a name that was new to me. He pastors Fresh Life Church in 8 locations around Kalispell, Montana. He was one of the ten pastors on the sermon stats piece above, and is the author of Swipe Right: The Life-and-Death Power of Sex and Romance from Zondervan. Enjoy all 39 minutes of The Things That Make for Peace.
  • The Christian Patriarchy Movement: “My father told me so often that God works through men to reveal his will for women. ‘You can’t know God’s will without a father or husband.” Of 30 of her friends who were subject to this mindset, she knows of only three who are currently following Christ.
  • Jesus and Yoga: For me this sentence sums up the entire article,  “I was once a super devout Christian, and I have a lot more ideas about my creator now from practicing yoga. It’s turned into another type of worship of me.” Or how about the woman who, “was actually a Pentecostal minister before she found yoga. When she became interested in the practice, she decided to eschew U.S. studios and traveled to India to study the yoga there. The choice forced her to reconcile her Pentecostalism with her new passion. “My yoga made it difficult to maintain my religious relationships, so much of that ended when I announced I was going to India.” An insight into the practice of what is called trap yoga.
  • In the four years 2012-2015, Trinity Broadcasting Network spent over $20M (US) in legal fees, and that number doesn’t include amounts paid out in settlements. “Besides examining a preacher’s theology, donors should determine if giving to them is good stewardship.” 
  • Marriage Matters: “What do I do when my spouse doesn’t have the same sense of calling to the poor, or mission, or ministry, that I do?” 4 Guidelines when facing a mismatched sense of calling.
  • Translation Troubles: We’ve all experienced it. Something like, “I don’t really like what the ESV does with verse 21, I think it should be more like…” Three reasons pastors should avoid a public put-down of particular translations.
  • Today’s Trivia Question: A classic preacher and author is quoted as, ““I can say quite honestly that I would not cross the road to listen to myself preaching.” Know who he is?
  • Breaking another glass ceiling, “Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens was elected …to serve as the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. She is the first African-American to hold this post and the second woman to lead the denomination.” (Or lead any mainline Protestant denomination…)
  • …Also, increasingly more black families in the US are choosing to homeschool.
  • Church on Wheels: His sanctuary is a 2009 Mercury Grand Marquis. His Uber passengers are his congregation.
  • ♫ New Music: Some recommendations from New Release Today:
  • Canada Corner: Booksellers on the prairie are always surprised when people keep returning to buy Paul Young’s The Shack.
  • Pot Calling the Kettle? Young Earth Creationists accuse Flat Earth devotees of taking the Bible too literally.
  • Catching up with the Phil Vischer podcast while I was away; a great interview two weeks ago with Kevin Palau who is the son of…well, you guys are smart…
  • …A week later, somewhere after the 30:00 mark, Phil suggests to Skye that a future badge of honor on consumer products might be “Made By Humans” in a world where robots and automation have replaced workers
  • Finally: “Probably a good idea would be to pick an age (maybe 73 or something) and agree to never get upset by something a Christian says once they’ve crossed that line. We could call it the King David Line, or the King David Rule.”
  • Finally, finally: One good Matthew Pierce link deserves another, and after debating it, I decided to actually conclude with this one about how to be an introvert in the modern church. ” PRO TIP: You can’t really get in trouble for anything if you’re not an official member. Then the pastors will come to you and be like “if you’re not a member, you can’t be a leader or vote on things” and even though that sounds really good, they mean it as a bad thing.”

Below, the Goliath Wall fresco in Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany. Not sure why I took this picture as there are exactly 2.43967 zillion of them online and they all look the same. Modern renderings in children’s Bible story books tend to put more distance between the two combatants. Could this be more accurate?

 

July 5, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Our lead graphic this week comes from This is Indexed, a blog I’ve been following for many, many years.

I think the fundamental thing about compiling this each week is to look at an array of stories, many of which turn up on other roundup lists like this, and say, ‘Is this the type of story that fits our Wednesday list?’ Hopefully we’ve evolved a style where you might know what to expect. 

The link list won’t be here next week. We’ll see you in two weeks.

The media and graphic arts division of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) is the gift that keeps on giving! At their Twenty One Hundred Productions Facebook page you find things both of interest to IVCF staff members and also broader topics for the rest of us.  Like this one from 2014:

(Here’s another one of my favorites from them that we’ve used before.)

June 28, 2017

Wednesday Link List

So who’s this happy youth group? These are the interns working at Craig Groeschel’s Life.Church this summer. As we pointed out at this time last year, their roster of interns is larger than many American churches.

Welcome to WLL #365. We continue to try to direct you to sites not containing pop-up ads or paywalls, but the internet is not the same place as it was 365 link lists ago.

As we prepared this, the trial of Shane Claiborne and 17 others arrested in Washington for protesting the death penalty was scheduled to begin at 9:00 AM today (Wednesday). Pray, as this is a watershed moment for this particular social justice issue.


Today’s ephemera:

Not sure how we missed this 2014 title, from no less than Zondervan.


An 11-year old Chris Tomlin. This baseball-card-sized object may have been a cassette insert.


Why I always say my wife is actually the better writer in the family.


That’s, “Doctor Karen Kingsbury” to you. The leading Christian fiction author picked up an honorary Doctor of Letters this Spring at Liberty U.


This isn’t a parody. The author Robert W. Schambach (1926 – 2012) was an American televangelist, pastor, faith healer and author.


Published in 2001, N. D. Wilson’s book features “tweaked versions of all the original characters … in an absurd tangle of Evangelical goofiness struggling to make sense of the pathetically gnostic vision of the original story. You won’t want to miss all body parts, cats, and youth pastors left behind…”


Don’t say you don’t see the similarity. Should Benny run in 2020?


I don’t claim to have all the answers, but surely they could have come up with a better name for the place.

June 25, 2017

Baby Dedication and Gift-Giving

Not being Roman Catholic, I didn’t realize that Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation were gift-giving occasions until I started working in a Christian bookstore. To be honest, I didn’t really know what the latter two sacraments were and at what age they were preformed. I quickly caught up.

Then came the day someone asked for a First Reconciliation gift suggestion. This is the confession which precedes First Communion since, as every good Catholic knows, there is no participation in the Eucharist without confession. But a gift?

I think there can be some appropriateness to presents associated with the sacraments if the gifts are well-chosen, suited to the child, and represent something that will help the child remember the importance of these occasions. However, I also think some of this is an attempt to parallel what happens in the life of a Jewish boy or girl at their Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah. Let’s face it, there’s nothing particular spiritual about those pen and pencil sets. Or the envelope containing $20. At least Catholic kids get crosses and pictures of those warm and fuzzy Precious Moments characters kneeling.

But now I see that the Evangelical equivalent of Baby Baptism, Baby Dedication is increasingly a gift-giving occasion. I’m not biting the hands that feed me; those purchases certainly do keep our local store open, and it is a great time to offer a new baby gift, I just hate to think that Evangelical friends and family might feel an obligation to bring a gift. That’s not written in stone in any book of social or religious etiquette and I’d like to see it stay that way.

I wrote about this once before in regard to Evangelicals giving teens and adults gifts for their believer’s immersion baptism, and concluded that at the outset of the Christian pilgrimage, you’re needed as a mentor, not a benefactor. That should be first and foremost. Don’t buy something, be there for them.

In an Evangelical setting, it’s as much about the parents dedicating themselves to serving the spiritual needs of the child, and the entire church community vowing to support that nurturing. In that sense, buy yourself a gift! Something to support your own spiritual development and formation so you can be the person who can best support the Christian parents and children in your church family.

June 21, 2017

Wednesday Link List

I keep thinking the title of this game implies that it focuses more on the edgy, racier stuff in the Bible.

As of 12:24 this morning, it’s officially summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Welcome to WLL #364. I guess you know what that means? Right. Next week is WLL #365.

See y’all next week!

 


*Referenced in the links this week: Australia’s Hot 25 Countdown. An Aussie equivalent to 20 The Countdown Magazine.

 

June 14, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Because prosperity gospel churches can always use an offering liturgy.

This was the link list that almost didn’t happen as my version of Firefox crashed on Tuesday night. My wife theorizes that the problem originated with my anti-virus program (Avast) just as did on her computer (AVG). She thinks the incompatibilities with Windows 10 are intentional to make people switch to Windows Defender, the program now running on both of our computers. Still, we did have some time to get some of the links ready for market; hope you enjoy them.

June 8, 2017

Testimony: Sharing Your Salvation Story

As the counselors added new logs to the fire the sparks would rise high into the night sky. It was Friday night, the last night, and it was testimony night, and camp staff and campers took turns sharing their testimony.

Knowing what I now know about liturgical churches, I’m not sure where the equivalent forum is to share a testimony in those denominations, but if you’re Evangelical, such opportunities are everywhere. Here are some things to consider when they pass the microphone to you.

1. What happened way back then?

Most people have a before and after story. There is your story what Andy Stanley would call a pivotal circumstance, what David Jeremiah would call a turning point. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. That sorta thing. Be sure to mention Jesus.

2. Was this a gradual thing or did it happen all at once?

In my denomination, the former is called process conversion and the latter is crisis conversion. Choose your answer carefully because some critics on the sideline will question the nuances of either. God works in mysterious ways.

3. What other significant events have marked your life in Christ?

Most people will think in terms of crossing the line of faith as a one time thing, but hopefully there have been other markers in your story. Baptized? Volunteered to work with kids? Started a blog?

4. Were they part of a gradual climb, or was it more incremental; more step-by-step?

If you want to be honest this is a good time to say that some times it’s one step forward and two steps backward. Some periods in our lives will find us more responsive.

5. What scripture verse(s) or passage(s) has been helpful in explaining, confirming, affirming your relationship to Jesus?

People aren’t looking for a particular life verse, perhaps it’s more a matter of some common ground you’ve found with a Biblical character, or a promise that has been particular helpful.

6. If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything different?

There may be something in your story that will help someone in the audience who is facing a tough situation or difficult decision.

7. What about more recently? What happened this week, yesterday or this morning?

A testimony that is solely about something that happened 35 years ago isn’t a testimony to the power of God active in your life today.

8. Why should someone want to experience what has happened to you?

You want to remind your hearers that the response to your story is to look at their own lives and see if there’s a next step in their future.


One of my all-time favorite testimonies: Nancyjo Mann from the Christian band Barnabas. Copied from a VHS tape.


The image at the top is a composite of baptism videos from North Point Community Church. Before being baptized, each candidate is required to make a 2-4 minute video sharing their salvation story.

June 7, 2017

Wednesday Link List

First of all, this was a Weekend Link List weekend. About 15 really, really good links. So pause for a moment and go to Saturday to catch up.  As to this list: Recommended processing time is 18 minutes.

But wait, there’s more!  Again, this was a Weekend Link List weekend. If you’re done here, go to Saturday for the good stuff!.

May 31, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Some great news and opinion pieces to end the month of May. The Wednesday List Lynx (pictured) welcomes you. If you follow me on Twitter, you know there’s always music playing on my computer. We have lots of ♫ this week for you!

May 25, 2017

The Quest for the Holy Grail of Worship Community

Filed under: Christianity, Church, reviews — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:21 am

Book Review: Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans

Searching for Sunday is the story of Rachel Held Evans and her husband Dan and their meanderings in being sometimes drawn towards and sometimes repelled from a place of weekend worship. Far from the usual oft-seen rant on this subjective, the book is very redemptive in tone and is in part a cautionary tale and in part of celebration of the great things the capital-C Church can do through the ministry of the small-c local church.

This book was actually published in 2015. A copy landed accidentally from the publisher; in other words I was under no requirement to read the book at all, much less write about it. My intention was to read a few chapters and then possibly give the copy away. Instead, I worked my way through eventually missing nothing from the copyright page to footnote #93. And also, it appears, wrote a review.

Rachel Held Evans is often seen as a poster girl for the progressive Evangelical movement. Her name is — and this is to be taken quite literally — used as a swear word on a popular Reformed podcast. Her roots are conservative and she describes her relationship to those days as analogous to someone who has broken up with their boyfriend, but continues to check their Facebook page every few days. She walks a tension between  traditional Evangelicalism and its more modern expressions.

My first exposure to her was on her blog, RachelHeldEvans.com, where she no longer posts as frequently, but back in the day, it was the springboard to my second exposure to her, the book Evolving in Monkey Town, the story of growing up in Dayton, the epicenter of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Searching for Sunday is relatively similar in the weight of its autobiographical content, but is also as informative as Evolving, if not more so. There is a commonality to the personal sections however. The book contains an ever-present tension between her story and my story; or yours.

The book is organized in seven groups of chapters (3-6 per group) each of which could be viable as a stand-alone essay. The groups themselves represent seven sacraments: Baptism, Confession, Holy Orders, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Marriage. The perspective of the author varies. Sometimes she is a congregant; a parishioner just like many of us. At other times, she finds herself on the platform; the result of speaking engagements brought about through the popularity of her blog, and later her books. So there is another tension here, between disciple, earnestly seeking after God, and church leader, the one at the front of the room holding the microphone.

Finally, her journey represents a constant vacillation — in a good way, mind you — between historical, liturgical denominations and upstart, informal church communities. Personal familiarity with both is helpful here, but not required. Let me rephrase that: Personal familiarity with both is probably recommended here; the book exposes the value of both types of Christian community. 

One last thing: Rachel is an awesome writer, no surprise given she was a literature major. Even if you don’t agree with her take on everything, I think you can still enjoy the reading of it, and come away informed and enriched.


Learn more at ThomasNelson.com

Follow her @rachelheldevans

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.