I think this guy is late for the evening service. He may not have his Bible, but he remembered to take up his cross.
- Living Ministry Life Backwards - From The Washington Post: “For most of his career, Joshua Harris was the kind of evangelical pastor who chuckled at the joke that ‘seminary’ should really be called ‘cemetery…’ That is, until Sunday [1/25], when the 40-year-old announced that he is leaving to go to seminary, saying he needs formal education and training and more exposure and connection to other parts of Christianity… Harris said he expects that studying at Regent College, a graduate school of theology, will broaden his perspective, including on accountability.” (Links to full sermon/announcement video.)
- Getting Back on the Horse You Fell Off – After battling the Ebola virus in the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Rick Sacra is back in Liberia. “Thomas Curtis is senior pastor at the Sacra’s church, Holden Chapel, and a long-time friend and prayer partner. He said watching Sacra battle Ebola this last year helped to grow the congregation’s faith and united several area churches in prayer. He said members at Holden Chapel are excited that Sacra has returned to serve in Liberia. ‘It wouldn’t make sense to us if he didn’t because he’s not that kind of person…'”
- Church Planting in Sin City – “The [San Francisco] Bay Area has never been perceived as religious: a 2012 Gallup poll found that fewer than a quarter of residents identify as “very religious” (defined as going to church weekly), as opposed to 40% of the nation as a whole. High salaries have drawn droves of well-educated millennials to the booming tech sector, which correlates with lower religious sentiment. So far afield from the Bible belt, the region is in fact seen as hospitable to all forms of old testament abominations: fornication, paganism – even sodomy. If you look around, however, you’ll notice a bumper crop of newer Christian ministries…“
- The Danger of ‘Winging It’ in the Pulpit – While the Perry Noble Christmas sermon on God’s “Big Ten” brought some major doctrinal concerns, perhaps a greater problem was the backstory on how the sermon happened at all: “Sometimes you are put on the spot and have to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you. This was not one of those occasions. Perry Noble got caught up in excitement and interrupted a program to deliver a message that he was in no way prepared to give. Preaching is not just some form of spiritual motivational speaking, it’s declaring the word of God. Even the goofiest sermon is a sacred act of worship that is meant to call those who hear to a deeper relationship with God. It’s just irresponsible to take that lightly. There is a real danger that can come from misrepresenting God’s word. I have no doubt that had Perry Noble spent a few hours preparing this message (instead of 10 minutes) that a lot of the controversy surrounding it would be almost non-existent.”<
- Gideons Face Roadblocks in Georgia – Did the framers of the constitution intend this? For most Christians, clearly not, but it doesn’t stop secularists from continuing to marginalize Christianity in public places. “Some board members are in favor of the proposal. However, school board attorney Tommy Coleman says it’s unconstitutional for them to allow the Bibles to be distributed on school grounds. Glenn Phelps, with the Gideons, presented board members with a map showing many other South Georgia counties that allow Gideon Bibles to be distributed. But Coleman held that if it was happening, those school boards were not obeying the law…He said he doesn’t believe there’s any practical way to legally distribute Bibles to students at school.”
- Podcast of the Week – Steve Brown talks to CCM singer Jennifer Knapp about coming out (which he thinks might lose him a radio station or two). “I had people writing…the worst is the anonymous stuff… I’ve had people disagree with me in public spaces and come to shows and say they’re disappointed in me, but those are pretty tame in comparison to the anonymous kind of stuff that you get… The thing I didn’t anticipate that absolutely happened was an overwhelming responsive of positivity.” 43-minute audio.
- The Worship Article That’s Got Everyone Talking – Perhaps it’s just the fact that articles that begin with a number (6 Tips, 5 Principles, 7 Ways) always get traction; but it seemed that everywhere I turned last week, someone was including this in their own internet roundup. Check out 15 Worship Decisions We’ll Regret Later. (Sample #10 – Not providing a venue for creatives to express their art as worship.)
- Micro-Church Planting – “There are 60-some beds at the Kings Motor Inn, but it doesn’t seem like our friends find much rest here. People bounce from room to room, cars come and go, kids play in the parking lot. Everyone looking to escape, to feel some peace, but nobody really finding it.” They call it Dope Church. Fife, Washington is on the I-5 corridor, which is also a corridor for drug and sex traffic. Some snapshots of ministry life at the motel.
- Moody Press Offers To Trade Books - The conservative Evangelical publisher is inviting readers an opportunity to mail in their copy of 50 Shades of Grey and receive in exchange a copy of Pulling Back the Shades by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery. The latter book helps undo the damage done by the former. (You can also read a sample chapter at the site.) Related article: How 50 Shades of Grey Harms Women & Jesus Saves Them.
- The Angst Your Church Sound-Tech Faces – “The stage was set. The equipment checked and double-checked. The band was plugged in and ready. Everything was as expected until they played the first song…They sounded horrible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the musicians were horrible. The house mix sounded atrocious…” I’ve probably never seen an article that so well exposes the heart of that guy at the back who is under-appreciated and dealing with his own self-doubts.
Short links and things that got cut from Parse!:
- A different kind of Baptism invitation: Don’t come forward, go out the door.
- Everywhere I went online this week, people were talking about the band I Am They. Check out the song From The Day. (Also posted here yesterday as it turns out!)
- Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Canada continues to its battle to see the school represented by various law schools on a province-by-province basis including this recent victory in Nova Scotia.
- The Hour of Power with Bobby Schuller TV show is getting a makeover with a new producer who has done similar work for Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer; as well as a host of denominations and organizations.
- On the wearing of leggings as pants, there is no end of media coverage. Read the original story with the ABC News video clip. And coverage here. And here. And…
- As we’ve said before, there are no cats in the Bible, but dogs do not fare well in its pages.
- is this transcription correct? if so, it’s the only time that e. e. cummings used a capital letter… see what may have occasioned this exception.
- I can see using this “service countdown” video at youth group, or even mid-week, but I’m not sure it would work in even an informal Sunday morning. Then again, churches are changing right. Step away from the computer and enjoy 5 minutes of exercise.
The rug and lamp cozy living room theme from Grace Community Church in Fremont, Ohio as seen at the blog, Church Stage Design Ideas
Why are opening remarks called an introduction, but concluding remarks are never called an extroduction?
- Emotionally stirring: Caiden Hooks, eight-years-old, lost his eyes to cancer. He shares his faith in a baptism video produced at LifePoint Church in Columbus, Ohio: “We live by faith and not by sight.”
- Frank Viola attempts a classification of Evangelicals into four distinct streams. It’s actually part two of an article he posted in May.
- Last week I found myself in the middle of a discussion concerning a Catholic parent whose eight-year-old daughter is being invited to Bible study run by Evangelicals. It’s good to see both sides of this scenario.
- Or how about this one which goes all the way back to December 30th — that’s so last year — where he’s Baptist and her parents are Church of Christ and insist he convert before marrying her. They say that otherwise, he is “leading her to hell.” Yikes.
- When a faith healer like Todd Bentley reports of crusade miracles taking place, it would be helpful if there were sufficient information to verify the claims. Update: Bentley has just been refused admittance into Australia.
- Here’s a fun idea; the world’s most popular provider of cosmetic beauty — Photoshop — marketed as if it’s a consumer product that actually changes people in the real world.
- Haiti for Christ was in line for much needed financial support from Mark Driscoll’s network of churches, but when they found out the organization had a female pastor, they pulled the plug on that support.
- Comment of the week: At an article at Reformed Arminian about KJV Onlylism, this response: “I am KJVJSB — KJV Just Sounds Better. I can’t bear the ugly English in the NIV in particular. So I swap between the NKJV and the KJV…”
- An excellent piece from across the pond about the ongoing value and need for the ministry of Christian bookstores.
- Speaking of Driscoll, Todd Rhodes thinks we’ve gone from speaking too little about sex, to talking too much; especially Pastor Patrick Wooden. (Note: Audio clip content is unnecessarily and uncomfortably graphic.)
- One of the worst things about being newly — or not so newly — married is hearing the same question over and over and over and over again: So when are you having kids?
- Meanwhile, over at Mandy Thompson’s house, the topic of contention is FDT or Family Devotion Time; somewhat complicated by the fact that he’s the preacher and she’s the worship leader.
- Often by promoting a moral high ground, the church unknowingly is pushing sexually active young people toward having abortions.
- Polish pop star Doda this week was fined the equivalent of $14.95 — no, make that $1,495 — by a Polish court for comments she made in 2009 suggesting the Bible’s writers were drunk and on drugs. Doda disagreed: “If someone is a deep believer, I would not think such words could offend someone.”
- How about a blog that mixes video games and theology? That’s what David is trying to do at Reclaimer 105. Or maybe you’re in youth ministry and just need a good game analogy to get a message across.
- Still lots of heat over a July piece here concerning Perry Noble’s charge to his congregation, ‘Show up on time for church, or else.’
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day last week, turned up a rare 30-second clip of King’s humorous side when he guested on The Tonight Show.
- So why is the Pajama Diaries comic here today? It was the words “Sunday School Tuition” that got me. We use the phrase in one context and forget that it means something entirely different in a Jewish context. Besides, most church children’s programs don’t charge fees, while the various synagogues I checked online were charging between $200 and $550 per child.
Here’s a new list to kick off a new year…
- While some “Christian” pastors — one anyway — want to burn the Qu’ran, Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tennessee has “a more welcoming approach.” ” Steve Stone and his congregants put out a sign welcoming incoming neighbors at the Memphis Islamic Center. The church then allowed these Muslim neighbors to use their sanctuary as a makeshift mosque throughout Ramadan while the Islamic Center was under construction.” Read more at Christianity Today.
- As strange as that story may be, it’s also the basis for a Canadian situation comedy now in its 5th season. The new season of Little Mosque on the Prairie kicked off on Monday night with an episode that makes the Imam look a lot more appealing — i.e. “nicer” — than the Anglican minister who is renting the Islamic congregation its space. Watch past episodes at CBC-TV.
- The girl who recorded “Wait for Me” in 2000 is done waiting. News yesterday that Christian singer Rebecca St. James is engaged to marry Jacob Fink who has a background in missions, television production and music. Proposal: Christmas Day. Wedding date: TBA.
- The number of abusive priest lawsuits in a Milwaukee diocese has forced it to declare bankruptcy. But a victims’ lawyer says it’s only being done to protect identities, and will merely delay the process.
- This item was the runner up on Perry Noble’s top 2010 posts: Ten Questions That Unchurched People Are Not Asking (Sample: #8 – “Does your pastor teach exegetically through the Scriptures?” Hey, it’s a dealbreaker, right?)
- Tucked away in a little corner of James MacDonald’s (Walk in the Word) website is this tidbit of news: “And this is amazing…We received a donation of a 20-million-dollar television production facility. The studio and the technology it provides will enable Walk in the Word to produce greater resources to reach more people.” Not the first time something like this (i.e. Harvest Bible Chapel’s land in Elgin, Illinois) has dropped into their laps!
- Does God withhold blessings from me because of my sins (even sins that have been forgiven)? That’s the question Dana asked at Upwrite. “…it is about the possibility of freedom from beating myself up over the things I might have missed out on because of my sins.” Anyone care to leave her an answer?
- And then, this testimony: “My backstory isn’t a pretty one. In fact, I didn’t even begin life as an sweet little planned bundle of joy. My mom was raped and I was the result. I was adopted by two wonderful parents who loved me and raised me as their own. But from the age of 3 until about the age of 12 my concept of love became skewed and shattered as I was repeatedly molested and raped by two different people in my family.I was pregnant at 17.” That’s Stephanie Shott’s story. Read the rest at her guest post at Jenni Catron’s blog.
- This week I checked out the website affiliated with a book that released in November: Besides The Bible – 100 Books that Have, Should, or Will Create Christian Culture. The publisher blurb promises, “Covering a wide array of subjects and authors, from Christian bookstore best sellers to classics of Christian history and more, you’ll find yourself agreeing with some titles, shaking your head at others, and even shocked by a few.” Here’s the WordPress blog for Besides the Bible.
- 265 Journal pages containing 214 entries later, John Piper is back from his leave of absence, and condenses his report in a much, much shorter summary at Desiring God.
- Bored during church or that expensive ministry conference? Jim Lehmer is back with an entirely updated version of Christian Buzzwords Bingo. Each refresh of the page gets you a new bingo card!
- Want to send a shout out to long-time friend Al Clarkson for keeping me posted on things I might have missed. (Like this and the next two entries.) Here’s Alpha Course founder Nicky Gumbel speaking at the Lausanne Conference.
- Canada’s popular Christian musician, Steve Bell — who we linked to last week — scored some major press here this week in the prestigious business insert to a national newspaper. You can catch both items at once at this bookstore industry blog.
- And at the same blog, at age 102, George Beverley Shea is to receive a Lifetime Achieve Award in conjunction with The Grammy Awards.
- Last week we linked to Derek Webb’s piece at Huffington Post, and this week you can read Frank Turk’s very firm response, and the 250 comments it generated.
- And at the blog, On The Fence (tagline: A Skeptical Screenwriter and a Christian Pastor Talk About Faith) Travis comments on reading Greg Boyd’s Myth of a Christian Nation over the holidays. Not sure if Frank Turk would approve of Boyd.
- Our photo below is a flashback to a 2009 post at the now defunct blog, Cool Things in Random Places. It’s a picture of The Door to Hell. Really. The link gets you many more pictures and videos.
The Door to Hell, is situated near the small town of Darvaz in Turkmenistan. Thirty-five years ago, geologists were drilling for gas when then encountered a very large cavern underground filled with a poisonous gas. They ignited the gas expecting it to burn off in a few hours. The gas is still burning to this day. Its 60 meters in diameter and 20 meters depth have not been caused by volcanic activity or a meteorite impact.This crater was created sometime in the 50’s when the Soviets were prospecting for natural gas in this area and it’s been burning since then.