Thinking Out Loud

April 19, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Click the image for the story behind today’s lead picture. Welcome to today’s WLL, which a Tuesday night internet outage and the season finale of Trial and Error couldn’t stop.

Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta didn’t care for these kids acting out the crucifixion, calling it “Jesus Torture Cosplay.” Click the image to read his comments.

Silly Songs With Larry? This is the lower left quadrant of a larger March Madness parody called March Gladness, but then the blog writer simply stopped posting. (Click the image to see it all.) Turns out Matthew Pierce had one of these going as well and that one went the distance.

April 12, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to the very last pop-up-free blog on the internet. Or so it seems some days. #obnoxious …Got link suggestions? Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

Below image: The church sign prompted a comment on Reddit: “Even I think this is in poor taste! And I’m an atheist.” Another comment, “that pastor must’ve been ‘hammered.'” (So is it real or a sign generator?)

April 5, 2017

Wednesday Link List

We’re back with a whole new set of diversions and rabbit trails. As to the above picture: My wife found this “Armor of God” plush bear in a thrift shop yesterday. Fortunately, it stayed there.  By the way, she is a great help in so many ways to producing the content you enjoy here on the blog and today’s her special day. Join me in wishing her a Happy ■■th Birthday.

  • Okay, we start with a leftover from April Fool’s Day. When January went by, we thought Englewood Review of Books had forgotten the annual book cover awards — which they had, sort of — but we were wrong, sort of. Instead, they issued The Very Worst Christian Book Covers Hall of Fame.
  • You’re alone. The restaurant is full. No tables. But you can order lunch at the bar. Do you abstain from the very appearance of evil? The Bible doesn’t actually demand that.
  • A Jewish perspective on Christians holding Passover Seders: “It’s a lot like people doing a sweat lodge or sun dance that are not Native American. To me, you haven’t walked that path with that people. You’re taking the benefits without having suffered…”
  • Worth considering: 3 reasons to ban mobile devices from your small group meeting and 4 reasons to allow them
  • Britain’s National Health Service funds hospital chaplains to the tune of an estimated £25m annually, with 916 full and part time posts in 2015. With hospital budgets squeezed some are questioning their value.
  • Despite close ties to the Graham family, a Vancouver pastor was among those who could not support Franklin Graham’s Festival of Hope in that city.
  • Essay of the Week: On the Church and video games. “I’ve felt an oversight in the U.S. evangelical church—regarding video games, we have largely dismissed (as harmful) or ignored (as meaningless) one of the largest cultural phenomena of the past 40 years… The pulpit, the blogosphere, and informal discussion seems to provide regular thought regarding other pervasive media types, such as movies, or fiction books, or sports, or social media. But sadly, I see a disproportionate amount of careful, nuanced thought on an industry so extensive…”
  • A fresh idea: From what we always call “the other Thinking Out Loud,” Jim Thornber asks the musical question, what if it wasn’t the pastor who baptized new converts, but the people most influential in that conversion?
  • From the Archives at Mental Floss: With Passion Week approaching, here’s 15 things you need to know about DaVinci’s Last Supper
  • Problems trying to apply “The Billy Graham Rule” in 2017 where things have changed.
  • Jory Micah is a strong advocate for women in ministry. She announced this week she and her husband Luke are starting a church. Well a sort of church. Having been down this road with my wife (we planted two) I think she knows what she’s doing. Until…
  • along comes this blogger who is… like… “Ms. Micah doesn’t have time for repentance and the traditional marks of the church in her headlong rush to fashion the church into the likeness of herself.” (Ouch! That wasn’t encouraging at all.)
  • Skye Jethani finds an increasing number among the disillusioned. “I think about how often I have seen godly, well-meaning people restrained by policies, bureaucracies, budgets, or attorneys. I think about Christian ministries making decisions driven by the shadow mission of survival rather than the kingdom mission of God. And about how desperately we need leaders and institutions that will empower a new generation of Christians, but how difficult that is when the funding comes primarily from a generation with different values. I know I am not alone. I meet more like me every week.”
  • An early review of Bruxy Cavey’s new book. I’m a fan so I’ll be mentioning this often between now and May…
  • …Here’s a text sample of what Bruxy’s parishioners experience each week at The Meeting House.
  • Parenting Place: This isn’t a Christian website or writer, but I loved this account of author Reif Larsen taking his son to the airport.
  • Sometimes we’re not able to get you the ideal link to a story. Like this time. Stephen Baldwin produced a stage show: “Heaven, How I Got Here: A Night with the Thief on the Cross,” which based on a book by Colin Smith. That one says the DVD is ‘coming soon’ but a press release about the film version of the stage show indicates it’s available at ChristianCinema.com. But a search there yielded nothing. Anyone love a mystery?
  • Rachel Held Evans guests on the Bible for Normal People podcast where she and Peter Enns talk about sword drills and violence in the book of Judges. 51 minutes.
  • An English teacher in New York who has been assigned to 20 religious schools since 1991 was fired from a Muslim school for saying the story of Adam and Eve is a myth and showing the Muslim children a painting depicting the couple naked…
  • …Meanwhile in Australia, another clash of cultures: “A refugee who raped a ten-year-old boy has claimed he did not know sexually assaulting the child was wrong as it was ‘culturally acceptable’ in his homeland.”
  • The Environment: It’s a mall in Sweden devoted entirely to repaired or recycled items. “Products are then sorted into 14 specialty shops that include furniture, computers, audio equipment, clothes, toys, bikes, and gardening and building materials; all garnered from second-hand products.”
  • YMin: The $5 mission trip to the mall. The kids couldn’t spend the money on themselves.
  • Video Flashback of the Week: 2012, Candi Stanton’s Hallelujah Anyway.  Why? …
  • …Because it’s the title of Anne Lamott’s new book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy
  • …An interview with Anne this past weekend at Willow Creek.
  • A year later, Trevin Wax and Brandon Smith are still producing Word Matters, a podcast devoted to troublesome Bible passages.
  • Bible translation is tough going on the best of days, but chapters 3-41 in the book of Job can be somewhat tedious
  • This one is from last October, but if you’re new to the liturgical calendar, this week is a great time to jump in.
  • ♫ The Ultimate Christian Rock Quiz: I was doing fine on the first ten questions, but not so well on the last ten. See how well you know CCM.
  • Scripture make you uncomfortable? You could always try the Happy News Translation.
  • Bee of the Week: It’s not what the Hebrew letters mean, but how cool they look.
  • So…about today’s closing image: I don’t foresee this Christian products retailer opening branches in Europe or North America anytime soon, at least not under that name. (If you don’t get it, don’t worry; ignorance is bliss.) Here’s the story: “CUM Books has become a much-loved and popular name in South African homes for many years. This chain of Christian family bookshops began when six NG Kerk-boekhandel shops were bought. In 1993 CUM Books began to enter major shopping malls. The first shops were opened in Westgate and Greenacres. Since then… there are now over 40 branches countrywide and an online store.”

 

Digging a Little Deeper

From the creator of Thinking Out Loud, check out Christianity 201. Guaranteed distraction-free faith blogging with fresh posts every day. www.Christianity201.wordpress.com

March 29, 2017

Wednesday Link List

What to do with nine year’s worth of T-shirts collected in student ministry? You could make a quilt. Full story at Baptist Press; click image to link.

 

Satellite campus churches are cool, but what if one time you could get everybody together in one place? That’s what Andy Stanley and North Point Community Church did on Sunday night. Six churches. One service. First time in 21 years.

 

Time Magazine cloned one of its own iconic covers causing Sam Allberry to Tweet, “You can’t have one without the other. The more the first is denied, the more the second will disappear.” Click the image for Time’s coverage of its cover.

Welcome to another Wednesday. Not all stories included this week come with endorsement, but they’re things I felt were worth a look.

Thanks for tuning in this week. As always, no animals were injured in the preparation of this week’s link list. Your mileage may vary. Professional driver; closed course. Do not take if you are allergic to Wednesday Links.

The picture is titled, “Destiny.” The artist is unknown. Click the image for a devotional inspired by the painting.

 

Your library as fashion statement: The orange look is in. Absent for photo: The End of Me by Kyle Idleman. Any others you can think of?

March 22, 2017

Wednesday Link List

The Original Wednesday List Lynx

Welcome to this week’s list and thanks to the usual suspects for your suggestions.

This week we caught up with David Hayward aka Naked Pastor… this really speaks for itself:

Finally, when it comes to Christian music tours, what’s in a name? Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction:

March 15, 2017

Wednesday Link List

For those of you who celebrate round numbers, this is Wednesday Link List #350. Our upper image and lower image today are just two of five. Fred Clark at the Patheos blog Slacktivist imagines the five points of TULIP Calvinism as a pulp noir mystery series. Click here to see all five

Also, I can’t remember if I shared this last week, but wearing my other, non-writer hat, I was interviewed for this Christianity Today news story about the bookstore biz. (My second time and with the same reporter as did the first, which was about my writing…my writing the very weekly column you’re lookin’ at!)

March 8, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Germany’s Bernhard Lang took to aerial photography to capture this image of the slums of Manila. Up close the image of the church would look pristine and serene, but pull back and the surrounding neighborhood paints a different picture. Click the image to read the tragic story of what happened on February 7th.

Miss it here? You can always catch it at Internet Monk’s Saturday Brunch on the weekend. (It’s okay…it works both ways! Hi, Mike and Daniel.)

“…At the most basic level, this is a classic example of a false equivalence, which itself is the basis for so many internet memes that try to equate two unrelated issues based on a shared trait. Despite being a logical fallacy, the seemingly straightforward checkmate power of the false equivalence has made it the crack cocaine of many a political debate – especially on the internet… Had even the slightest bit of effort been put into this pseudo-exegesis, its proponents would have noticed a rather inconvenient truth: according to the book of Revelation itself, the gates of heaven are never closed…” Click the image to read at source.

March 1, 2017

Wednesday Link List

tweet-othersWelcome to WLL#348. It’s also Ash Wednesday. We have an unusual number of mid-month pieces here today even though the list was prepared the day before. So not fresh off the press, but we thought worth including. Don’t forget to try to get your suggestions to me by 6:00 PM EST on Monday; but later ones do get considered.

Our extro image is from the Twitter feed Unvirtuous Abbey:

batman-dark-night

February 28, 2017

Oswald J. Smith: Not Made for Defeat

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:32 am

While we were on holiday, I sat by the pool and read an out-of-print book, Not Made for Defeat, Doug Hall’s biography of Oswald J. Smith the founder of The Peoples Church in Toronto. I more or less read the book in a single sitting. I’ve mentioned him in passing here before such as,

The Peoples Church was Canada’s first and for many years only megachurch, and this long before the term existed. The Toronto church was also independent, a rarity in its time. It was founded by Oswald J. Smith whose ordination was Presbyterian and had also founded an earlier church with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Smith had been turned down by several missions agencies because of his health, but ended up living to 96 and traveling all over the world.  You can read more at Wikipedia.  (As a young child, I attended Oswald Smith’s funeral, where Billy Graham spoke.)

as well as one time mentioning his philosophy when he would be gone on mission trips:

Oswald J. Smith built Toronto’s Peoples Church into Canada’s first — and for a long time only — megachurch. When he was away on missionary trips, some of which encompassed months at a time, his philosophy was to always book guest speakers that he felt were better than himself.  If you’re an aspiring teacher or preacher, I can’t stress the value of listening to great speakers; of going out of your way to hear the best, especially hearing them in person.

oswald-j-smithCertainly attendance never waned while he was away.

I also included a number of quotations by him at Christianity 201, such as:


Give according to your income lest God make your income according to your giving. 


So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does.


The church that does not evangelize will fossilize.


We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.


No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.


This was the church where I spent the extremely formative years from when I was 11 to age 21. I continued to have contact for many years after. Peoples Church has only ever had five pastors — Oswald  J. Smith, son Paul B. Smith, John Hull, Charles Price and now Brett McBride — so I grew up hearing the stories about the church’s founding and although the torch had been passed to Paul Smith, I got to hear Oswald on a few occasions. In the later chapters, there were several names I recognized. 

For those reasons, the book may not have held the interest of others, but for me it was a page-turner. A few quick takeaways as I’ve actually misplaced my copy as I write this:

  • The idea of calling: Smith’s was cemented at a very early age when he took a train trip from rural Ontario to hear an evangelist at Toronto’s Massey Hall.
  • The idea of vision: Smith experienced success early on, but would walk away from pulpits in Toronto, Chicago and Los Angeles to pursue a vision for a particular type of church.
  • On non-denominational churches: Smith had seen abuses of the idea of church membership and wanted a place not governed by the denominational requirements to have such.
  • A megachurch apologetic: Smith believed if you want to see many people converted to Christ through preaching, you need to preach to many people.
  • A maverick spirit: Churches weren’t air-conditioned in those days, so one summer Smith erected a tent on a vacant property for an entire summer. Followers were told to bring a chair they weren’t using and leave it there, leading to people clogging the buses and streetcars of the pubic transit system carrying seats to the first meeting.
  • An understanding of media: Smith’s Sunday night “Back Home Hour” was an unscripted radio program for parishioners to end their worship day at home, though they could stay after the evening service for the broadcast. Not only did many stay, but people started arriving from other churches, stretching the Fire Department’s approved capacity for the building.
  • On marriage and ministry: Smith’s wife Daisy freed him to take worldwide mission trips, yet strangely, despite being away extensively, he didn’t want ministry immersion to damage his home and family life.
  • On church leadership: Smith was an iconic leader but was neither autocratic nor a micro-manager. He would return from overseas and discover new innovations initiated in his absence and would be moved to tears.
  • Legacy: Though known for the independent Peoples Church, Smith was a major force in the early years of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
  • The Faith Promise Offering: Smith’s then unique contribution to the fundraising component of missions conferences; only once did actual annual missions giving not exceed the amounts pledged; though pledged is the wrong word, people committed “in dependence upon God.”

Oswald J. Smith was a man for his times but with an approach to ministry that would work in our times as well, even if the fine tuning of the methodology would differ today. We need a lot more like him.

February 22, 2017

Wednesday Link List

soul-cleanser-medication

Did you miss us last week? Subscribers will have one free week added to the end of their subscription.

The item in our top and bottom image was found in a candy store and originates with LaughRat.com (viewer discretion advised).

soul-cleanser-medication-back

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.