Thinking Out Loud

May 17, 2018

Thursday Link List

It’s a great weather day where I live, so for some of you, these are the only links that matter.

A few things seen the day after I would like to have included yesterday. Some of the items below are perhaps of greater interest to people in vocational ministry, but I chose things that I think all of us can connect with. If you missed the bigger list yesterday, click here.

  • Canada’s John Stackhouse guests at Lorna Dueck’s website and looks at the composition of the Willow Creek church board and how the choosing of board members can influence outcomes in situations like the one the church just faced. “From what I could read … the website indicates that the Board of Elders of this large, globally influential church features eight impressive people who are long-time members of Willow Creek and who bring a range of gifts and experiences to the Elder Board. All well and good. Collectively, however, they list not a single year of theological education. Nor do any of them have experience in pastoral ministry.”
  • Egalitarian in theory, but not in practice: Canada’s Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada — the country’s direct equivalent of the Assemblies of God — has been at the forefront of ordaining women and even having women as senior pastors. But it doesn’t always translate into actual positions being granted with what the denom would like to see. So, at this year’s annual conference in Victoria, BC, they affirmed their stance: “Two decades later, we recognize that although our accepted, official position is one of equality between men and women, that position has not translated to reality. Women continue to be vastly underrepresented both as vocational pastors and in governing roles at District and National levels, despite female students consistently attending our Bible Colleges in significant numbers. There is a gap between our official position and our lived reality.”
  • Following up on a link from yesterday, we listened to the most recent John Mark Comer sermon online. If nothing else, listen to the first 5-10 minutes. We also linked yesterday to a piece about “data dumping” where pastors simply unload a great volume of information in a non-academic, church environment. With that in mind, check out how this is done in Comer’s sermon. It’s a friendly, unthreatening approach with an admitted theology “nerd” sharing what he learned and recognizing some people may temporarily tune out. I think however, it’s also the degree of sermon prep which attracts people to his church.
  • Andy Stanley has been the most recent target of the label Marcionite, because of a sermon in the “Aftermath” series wherein he spoke of the first generation church ‘unhitching’ itself from the Old Testament way of doing things. Peter Enns addressed this a few months back, noting that God’s so-called “split personality” isn’t just apparent along the OT/NT divide: “Different portrayals of the one God are self-evident, not simply between the two Testaments but within each Testament. Israel’s Scripture does not present God in one way, but various ways—depending on who is writing, when, and for what reason. Same with the New. This is what keeps theologians so busy, trying to make that diversity fit into a system of some sort.”
  • Staying with the OT for a minute, what is the last book of the Old Testament? Did you say Malachi (the Italian prophet)? “The Bible that Jesus was familiar with, what we now refer to as the Old Testament, did not end with Malachi. In fact, it wasn’t even a single volume book. Rather, it was a collection of separate scrolls that were made to be read as a unified collection, and the book designed as the concluding crown jewel was 1st and 2nd Chronicles! Your favorite book of the Bible, I’m sure.” We don’t know how the change happened but we do know the “The general picture we get from the book is that the long years of Israel’s exile did not fundamentally change the hearts of the people. They’re still in rebellion against God, the temple is corrupted, and it leaves the reader waiting for some kind of resolution.”
  • An Arminian website offers “Five Biblical Texts that Calvinists Can’t Wiggle Out Of.” The outline parallels TULIP, and at the end, they admit their strongest case is made with “L” — an argument against limited atonement.
  • Still continuing with the number ‘5’ an article by a lawyer at Christianity Today offers five things your church should purchase before adding a coffee bar, or making another such purge. (This article may be pay-walled soon.)
  • Got an hour to think about comedy? We listened to this over two nights. Christian stand-up Jon Crist was the guest on The Wally Show (WAY-FM) and they left a camera running in the studio as they recorded the segments.

April 19, 2018

Thursday Link List

Welcome to the what is only the 9th one of these in the history of Thinking Out Loud. I saw so many things on Wednesday night that I wished could have seen a day earlier.

  • At Relevant magazine, this headline: “Wheaton Is Going to Offer a Scholarship Named for Larycia Hawkins, the Professor Who Said Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God.” Wait, what? The professor they dismissed? Who supposedly said that “said Christians and Muslims worship the same God”? There’s more: “Wheaton officials said they made an ‘error in judgment’ in the way the original incident was treated and a task force said it “could not decisively say whether or not Hawkins’ theological views aligned with the school’s doctrinal statement of faith,” according to Christian Post.'” The Wheaton Record reports that “the scholarship of up to $1,000 will allow one or more student(s) to pursue a summer internship or project related to ‘the themes of the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) Certificate.'” That article notes that “Hawkins currently researches the intersection of race, politics and religion as a Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.”
  • What is a church? Another interesting headline, at Right Wing Watch: “Here’s How Focus On The Family Convinced The IRS To Call It A Church.” Background: “Focus on the Family, the influential Religious Right organization founded by James Dobson, is now classified as a church by the IRS, meaning that it does not have to file publicly available tax documents like most nonprofits do. In response to our request, the IRS sent us copies of its correspondence with Focus about the change in its status.” A mockery of U.S. tax laws? This is the amazing part:

    In the letter, the attorneys claimed that Focus’ 600 employees are both its “ministers” and the members of its “congregation” and that the organization’s “chapelteria”—a cafeteria that also hosts regular staff worship services—is its “place of worship.” The organization’s board of directors are its “elders.” It’s president, Jim Daly, is its “head deacon and elder.” Listeners to the organization’s radio programs are “an extension of its congregation.”

  • I realize the timing on this, given other events currently in making religious news headlines, but was compelled to share this tribute John Mark Comer posted to his mentor, John Ortberg which shows the value of younger pastors being tutored (or if you prefer, apprenticing) in the faith with veteran pastors.

    For the last year or so, Dave Lomas and I have been spending time with John Ortberg, a pastor and writer near where I grew up in the Bay Area. I can’t remember the last time I was this moved by a person’s life. Starstruck isn’t the word; it’s not celebrityism. He’s just genuinely one of the most intelligent, wise, humble, present, down to earth, grounded, peaceful and joyful people I’ve ever met. Mentored by Dallas Willard for twenty years, he regularly repeats “the most important thing that God gets out of your life (and you get out of your life) is the person you become.” To see the “fruit,” in Jesus’ language, of decades devoted to formation into the image of Jesus is beyond inspiring. As we left our morning together, the first thing I said to Dave was, “That’s what I want to be like when I grow up.” I ache for that level of transformation. I believe we all do, even if that desire is buried under the rubble of our distracted souls. Grateful to have an older and FAR wiser pastor to speak into my life and give me a bar of Christlikeness to aim for. Also: if you haven’t read John’s book “Soul Keeping,” go order it now.

  • You know him as The Church Curmudgeon but church musician David Regier is a serious composer/arranger. This was the second time in 24 hours that the term “metrical Psalms” came up in our house, so I did some investigating on YouTube after reading this:

    I spent a great deal of my life as a worship leader/songwriter mining the Psalms for: A. words of spiritual encouragement B. words of praise to God Because there are lots of verses that stand out in that regard, and lots of songs use them to turn our hearts to praise. As I have begun versifying and writing music from whole Psalms, the breadth and depth of their content has significantly changed what I considered possible in congregational worship. I’ve noticed that many of the things that we’re all setting our hair on fire about on Twitter these days are addressed in the Psalms. If we all were in the practice of singing Psalms as part of our corporate worship, we’d have some more common language with which to settle some of our differences. That’s why I’ve been versifying them. We’ve been singing one in church every week, and some people are starting to see how much is there. Not everybody. Some people probably think I’m being weird and have a hang up. They’re probably right. But I will say that we’re singing about aspects of the Christian life we’ve never sung about before. And that’s a good thing.

  • Finally, author and radio host Brant Hansen is selling his Tardis. It’s actually a sound proof booth, the image of which reminded me of the recording booth built in the business incubator featured in the new ABC comedy Alex, Inc.

Clarification: A story linked yesterday implied that employees at Disney Orlando would never be able to afford admission for their families. A reader told us that “Disney cast members do get a certain number of complimentary passes each year.”

October 29, 2017

More on God’s Self-Disclosure from Exodus 34

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:59 am

As I mentioned in Part One yesterday, I’ve been most impressed by, and have learned much from, John Mark Comer at Bridgetown Church in Portland. I’ve been able so far to listen to the first two of six messages from the original 2013 teaching series which gave birth to the book, God Has a Name. Yesterday we had part one. Click back a day to listen to that first; this one is even better!

Read my review of the book at this link.

October 28, 2017

Preaching Both Passionate and Well-Researched

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:48 am

The youth pastor at my church talks about having “homiletic heroes.” I get that. Recently, I’ve been most impressed by, and have learned much from, John Mark Comer at Bridgetown Church in Portland. Earlier in the week I mentioned finding the original 2013 teaching series which gave birth to the book, God Has a Name. Today and tomorrow I want to share the first two messages with you, as I know many readers here don’t click through to things mentioned.

Read my review of the book at this link.

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