Thinking Out Loud

August 20, 2015

Andy Stanley: Love, Sex and Dating

Eschewing the standard Christian Television approach, Andy Stanley and the staff at North Point in Atlanta have been buying time on local NBC stations after Saturday Night Live. The repackaged sermon video is called Your Move, and the website is YourMove.Is

Today, if you have 28.5 minutes; we’re going to watch one of Andy’s most popular messages, which is also a book and a curriculum, The New Rules for Love Sex and Dating. This is the first of several episodes and deals with The “Right Person” Myth.

July 26, 2015

Too Many Characters to Tweet

Some random thoughts:

My wife noted the other night that if she were black and lived in the United States, she would simply take public transit everywhere. It’s increasingly difficult for a person of African-American descent to survive a routine traffic stop.

Also, in the Sandra Bland case, did anyone notice on the video that she was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change in an area that was completely devoid of traffic? Even if it’s the custom to divert cars to a side street for the ticketing process, there’s no denying that in the dashcam video, the traffic pattern is unusually light. I’m not sure I would signal a lane change under those circumstances.

Why isn’t enforcement taking place in high traffic areas where the need is more acute and driver errors are more consequential? I’d venture to guess that irrespective of everything that followed, this was entrapment not enforcement.


Internet pornography is an express train that will take you from the “That’s disgusting!” station to the “I’d be willing to try that” terminal in record time. From there you change to trains that can take you in a variety of directions to unexpected destinations.

Yes, there is exploitation; and yes, there is the problem of addiction; and yes, some people do act out on what they see; However, the greatest impact is the potential for long-term viewing to undermine values and alter worldview.


North Point Community Church (Andy Stanley) has added extra broadcast times to its Sunday full-service live stream which contains music, announcements, baptisms and the sermons (which later are available by themselves on demand). The program now airs live services on Sunday at 9:00 and 11:00, and then rebroadcasts at 2:00, 4:00, 6:00, 8:00, 10:00 and midnight, EST. (The Wednesday rebroadcast has been dropped.) 


Recently the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ran an news item about “Free Range Parenting.” (They might have called the piece “Free Range Kids” but that’s copyrighted by the woman they interviews.) As I watched the kids in the story navigating the New York subway system, I recalled my own days heading off to downtown Toronto on mass transit at a young age.

From my perspective, the problem in the story is not that some parents feel their kids can handle the same level of independence that we did at the same age, but rather, the busybody neighbors who feel it’s their duty to report said parents to the authorities.

We’re living in a tattletale culture. If Big Brother isn’t watching you, the neighbors are.


Finally, three new books to tell you about from Random House subsidiary Waterbrook Press.

Kent Brantly was the medical missionary who contracted Ebola in Liberia and needed to evacuated to the US, where he received an untried anti-Ebola drug. He and his wife have written Called for Life, just released in hardcover. Liz Curtis is back with a study into the Biblical figure known as The Queen of Sheba. It’s Good to be Queen is a paperback original. Finally, Nick Vujicic’s Stand Strong: You Can Overcome Bullying converts from hardcover to paperback.

New Waterbrook Releases

 

July 2, 2015

Family Games Night

Filed under: Christianity, family, parenting — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:09 am
Admittedly, I wasn't doing well in last night's game of Settlers of Catan, which meant I had time on my hands to construct this fortress.

Admittedly, I wasn’t doing well in last night’s game of Settlers of Catan, which meant I had time on my hands to construct this fortress.

For some of my US readers, the kids have already been off school for a month now. So… how much time have you spent together as a family?

Trips to the cabin, road trips and similar adventures will often pull parents and children together for a time, but even there, smart phones and personal computers take us into different physical and mental spaces.

The question is no longer, ‘Does the motel have a pool?’ but rather, ‘Does the motel have good wi-fi?’

Much has to do with the ages of your kids. Younger is better when it comes to bonding and creating experiential memories. But as the kids get older, you often have to force the issue, and one way to facilitate that is through what is usually referred to as table games or board games.

Our ‘kids’ are actually now in their 20s, but they’re both home this summer. Most of that time is spent staring at screens. I’ve done everything I can do to break this routine, but not with much success and honestly, I am just as guilty as everyone else on this. I’d love to pack the whole family on an airplane and fly to Europe, but that’s just not in the budget.

I’m also big on the idea of giving children a Christian camping experience, but that’s only one or two weeks out of the summer. What happens when they return? Does everyone just take off to their rooms and switch the devices back on? That’s just not ideal. Movies are an option, but much of what popular culture offers is not helpful to spiritual nurture. Our family DVD of choice last month was episodes from classic television, in this case Green Acres. For some reason, as it did in another season when the kids were in their early teens, it works.

So we play games. Rummikub is a favorite of mine, because it involves numbers, and is not so dependent on luck. Right now the favorite for everyone else is Settlers of Catan. I join in for the aforementioned reasons of family unity, but this one is not my preference, and I’ve only won once. Still, it’s not a video game; and as I don’t bother with such — I get enough adventure driving the freeways — at least we have a lingua franca in discussing Settlers strategy.

We have others, and the camp that my wife and I met at often sees the adults breaking out board games during the evenings in the dining room. Ticket to Ride is one I can enjoy just watching, and we recently purchased Bohnanza, a card game where you buy and sell crops of every type of beans imaginable. (Grammar police: I know that should be ‘every type of bean’ in the singular, but I liked it the other way…)

To jump in, it’s helpful to have a friend who can recommend something or let you sit in as they play, but a good games store (i.e. not a department store or toy store) can usually tell you what might be best for your ages and interests. If your kids are younger, you can get the routine started with classic standbys such as Monopoly and Clue. If your kids have been to a Christian camp, they’ve also probably encountered Dutch Blitz, which is available in Christian bookstores and is now available in an expansion pack for up to eight players.

The time you spend together is priceless, but the kids grow up fast, and the opportunities become fleeting.

Don’t let personal computing and online diversions rob you of simply being a family.

June 26, 2015

Christians and Magic The Gathering (MTG)

This weekend we’re featuring two highly-watched articles from this site’s history.

The kids playing Magic the Gathering in this picture is a similar scene to the MTG group that meets in a local Cards and Games store where we live. Photo: GatheringMagic.com

The kids playing Magic the Gathering in this picture is a similar scene to the MTG group that meets in a local Cards and Games store where we live.      Photo: GatheringMagic.com

There is not a day that goes by that this article, which appeared on my son’s Facebook page a long time ago, does not come 1st or 2nd as the most-read piece here. It existed out of sequence on a page rather than as a post, so many of you have never seen it. I told him that this weekend we were going to re-post some of the top articles for new readers, and he said there are some things here that he would write differently today.*

Clearly, this article struck a chord with a good number of people. I even had someone in the southern U.S. track me down by telephone to talk about it. That never happens. I think the traffic it generated — albeit thanks to Google — was largely because few were writing about MTG from a Christian perspective. 

Comments have been disabled here so that if you want to leave a response, you can do so with the original article at the original location.

Should Christians play Magic: The Gathering?

by Chris Wilkinson on Sunday, 27 November 2011

Recently, a friend of mine started playing the trading card game Magic: The Gathering (henceforth MTG). His father is concerned that this isn’t the sort of thing Christians ought to be doing, while my friend insists it’s harmless. There are numerous arguments from both sides all over the Web. Personally, it doesn’t bother me too much and I’m considering buying a set myself.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you play MTG or if you’re worried about someone who does:

1. Magic is not magick.

The spelling “magick” is used by “real” sorcerers and witches to distinguish “magic tricks” and illusions from “real” magick. Magick includes several activities ranging from inquiring of the dead to fortune-telling. Sorcery, the mythical practice of summoning supernatural beings to do your bidding, is also magick, and MTG is a simulation of sorcery – MTG players “summon” various people, supernatural beings and mythological creatures to fight their opponent. Playing MTG, you will take command of humans, zombies, griffins, dragons, goblins, angels and demons, among other things.

The real-life practice of sorcery is clearly condemned as an abominable sin by the Law, the Prophets and the New Testament. It also doesn’t actually exist – If you think you have the ability to communicate with or command angels, demons or the spirits of the dead, let me tell you right now that Satan is playing mind games with you and you’re in extreme danger.

The fact that MTG is a simulation of sorcery is the most serious root of the objections Christians raise against the game, and you ought to consider whether or not you want to fill your mind with that sort of thing.

2. Magic is not pretty.

The graphics on the cards can be rather off-putting. Some of them are very grotesque, depicting hideous creatures, mutilated bodies and blood and gore; some are just very nightmarish; and others include bizarre depictions of feminine beauty. If seeing those kinds of images might make you more likely to sin, it would be best for you not to play.

Personally, even the most grotesque ones don’t bother me (much), and I’m trying to think how I could have become desensitized to those kinds of images. My friend has excluded certain cards from his deck just because of the graphics.

The themes exuded by the graphics are, without doubt, not good, but they aren’t necessarily bad either. It depends on how those images play on your particular brain.

3. Magic eats into your time.

The actual game-play of MTG is largely luck-based: You draw cards from your deck and use them to fight the battle. The strategy is in building your deck: Each player plays with his own personal deck, using a subset of the cards you own, and choosing what cards to use determines the probability that you’ll be able to use particular plays in a game. However, deck construction requires an enormous amount of knowledge about, first of all, what each of the cards does, and secondly how different combinations of cards play off each others strengths and weaknesses. The current basic set, titled Magic 2012, contains about 250 cards, and there are over 12 000 unique cards in circulation from the many sets that have been published since 1993. If you’re the type who likes to fill your brain with a lot of minutiae, MTG will give you the opportunity to spend a lot of time this way. This is true of most other hobbies too (chess has its strategy, sports have their statistics, crafts have their materials and tools, music has its theory and instruments…) but MTG is particularly complex. It’s up to you to decide whether or not using your time this way is honouring to God and compatible with His plan for your life. Having hobbies is not a sin, but they have the potential to become idols.

4. Don’t “cause your neighbor to sin.”

If I played, I wouldn’t go around telling everyone I met about it. The controversy surrounding MTG could potentially cause conflict between a player and his/her particularly opinionated Christian friend, and it’s best to avoid getting into passionate arguments that don’t have an objective right answer.

Also, MTG could get people curious about real-life supernatural beings. That could be good or bad: On the one hand, one might start reading about spiritualism and fortune-telling and put oneself in danger, but on the other hand, if you know your real-life supernatural beings as well as as mature Christian ought, then you won’t be caught up in flirting with the occult, and by playing you may even be able to meet and educate someone who’s going down that road.

5. There are alternatives.

If you like the idea of a trading card game but want to steer clear of MTG in particular, there are numerous other games in the same genre that don’t have the disagreeable graphics or the theme of sorcery, including Pokémon, Doctor Who Battles In Time, and Star Wars Customizable Card Game. (Munchkin Dungeon, which many of my FB friends are familiar with, is sorta similar in game-play, but lacks the defining deck-building aspect.)


*I asked Chris if he would be willing to update this, but he declined. He’s rather distanced himself from this topic, and is always surprised at the amount of traffic it generates. Again, you can leave comments at the end of the article on its original page.

This photo is from the same source as the one above. (Click to link.) The story says the average age in the group was twelve; the youngest were, as the boy in the picture, aged eight.

This photo is from the same source as the one above. (Click to link.) The story says the average age in the group was twelve; the youngest ones were, as the boy in the picture, aged eight.

May 7, 2015

Thursday Link List

Monday night we went to see Do You Believe? but it’s so late into the theatrical run, that I decided to hold comments until the week the DVD releases. For now, suffice it to say I think that in many ways it improves on God’s Not Dead which is by, I think, the same producers.

So there was no blog post scheduled for today, and rather than a re-run, I thought we’d just do what we do best, with some material that didn’t make it in time for yesterday.  But first, a random page from The Brick Bible:

Brick Bible

Amy Julia Becker at the Washington Post on the National Day of Prayer:

But if Christians want a National Day of Prayer that invites people from various faith traditions to join together in what we hold in common — a belief in a good, active, creator God — and implore that God to work through us and in us for the good of our nation and our world, then we need to do so in a way that creates common ground rather than reinforcing the theological points that divide us.

Thom Rainer’s list of 10 Things Never to Say to a Guest at a Worship Service:

“That’s not the way we do it here.”Of course, you can’t have a worship service where any behavior is acceptable. Most of the time, however, the varieties of worship expressions are absolutely fine. I heard from a lay leader recently who witnessed that sentence spoken to a guest who raised her hand during the worship music. She never returned.

Pete Wilson’s 4th book launched Tuesday, What Keeps You Up at Night?

It’s easy to feel paralyzed by uncertainty.  We want our questions answered, our decisions affirmed, and our plans applauded.  But life doesn’t come with an instruction manual and rarely follows a straight path. How would your life change if you learned to lean into uncertainty instead of waiting on the sidelines for just the right moment or opportunity?

For an international body concerned with religious freedom, Russia is now on their watch list.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reports Russia is now a country to watch. The USCIRF issued their report April 30. According to the 232-page document, there are 17 nations listed at Tier 1 abusers of religious freedom. There are 10 on the Tier 2 list, including Russia. Mission Eurasia Director of Religious Freedom Issues, Wade Kusack, says Russia being on the list is a big deal. “This is a first official announcement, or recognition, of the persecution from the U.S. government’s side.”

Purposeful Parenting: 5 ways to avoid raising ‘It’s all about me’ children.

A recent study on the origins of narcissism in children concluded, “narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.” The abstract of the study further explains, “children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them.” Unfortunately, the “you are so special, so smart, so beautiful, so talented, so gifted—you can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be—mantra” is often believed, and our children suffer because of it.

“I’m into Jesus, but not all the technical, big-words stuff.” Sorry, but in many circles,doctrine really matters.

Indifference about doctrine is the mother of every heresy in all of history, and in our day indifference about doctrine is spreading like wildfire in the pulpits and pews of our churches. Ironically, the assertion that doctrine doesn’t matter is in fact a doctrine in itself. When people tell me they are into Jesus but not into doctrine, I tell them that if they are not into doctrine, they are, in fact, not into Jesus. We cannot know Jesus without knowing doctrine, and we cannot love God without knowing God, and the way we know God is by studying His Word.

 

 

Songs with substance
If you check the right hand margin over at Christianity 201, you’ll see that all of the various music resources that have appeared there are listed and linked alphabetically. Take a moment to discover — or re-discover — some worship songs and modern hymns from different genres.

 

 

 

April 10, 2015

Staring at the Screen

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:40 am

Albert remembers that afternoon in 1975 as if it were yesterday. He was 15.

It was July, hot and humid as you would expect. The sofa had been positioned to face the television set and he was jammed into it with his brother Barry, 13, sister Cathie, 10 and youngest brother Douglas, 8. They were all wearing shorts and tried not to let their legs touch because of the sweat the hot farmhouse was causing.

Short StoriesTheir father Ernie had resisted getting TV saying it was “the devil’s instrument;” and that “nothing good would come from having it;” but he couldn’t resist when a neighbor farmer offered him his old console set for $20 so he could make the move to one with better color.

The siblings spent their summers doing chores, but this day was so hot they had stripped down to shorts and t-shirts for lunch, and because the intensity of the noon-day sun, Ernie allowed them to take a rare full hour break, so they headed to the family room and settled in front of the television.

The set however, was not on.

After capitulating to pressure of the culture of the day, Ernie had second guessed himself after installing the set in its place. The set connected to the wall plug by way of a utility cord that was actually detachable — something they did back then — and he had yet to turn the set on for more than a few second to determine it had survived the move on the back of the pickup  and was capable of receiving a few off-air stations. Then he removed the cord and placed it somewhere out of sight.

So Albert and his brothers sat staring at the blank screen. Cathie found the TV listings in the Sunday paper that was still sitting by the fireplace, a routine placement for kindling for fires that weren’t needed in July. “Let’s see, it’s 12:30 PM on Friday, so what would we watch?” The kids talked about shows their friends often mentioned as the screen simply stared back silently, showing their reflection in the glass. They had television, so to speak, or at least they were making some progress.

Forty years later Albert remembered the absurdity of that summer lunch hour. A few days later his father caved in and the kids sat glued to it at every opportunity. It was harder for Ernie to get the kids to do their chores, but it also brought a wealth of information into their home which they had lacked for so many years.

Why remember this now?

The day came back to mind as Albert stared at the blank, blue screen on his computer, wondering who he should call to get it working again.

April 4, 2015

Weekend Link List

Pull up a chair and join us for some weekend links

Pull up a chair and join us for some weekend links

Featured Stories

David Cameron’s Easter Message – While both U.S. President Barak Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper both claim Christianity as their own, I haven’t heard of either one penning a faith-centered message for Easter. Was the British Prime Minister in over his depth? “I’m hardly a model church-going, God-fearing Christian. Like so many others, I’m a bit hazy on the finer points of our faith.” Theologically, I suppose this is a bit of train wreck, but full marks for trying. He ends, “I hope everyone can share in the belief of trying to lift people up rather than count people out… That after all is the heart of the Christian message. It’s the principle around which the Easter celebration is built. Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children. And today, that message matters more than ever.” The heart of Easter at your church may vary slightly.

Responding to a Spouse’s Sexual Sin – Part of a video series, The Mingling of Souls where Matt Chandler and Lauren Chandler answer questions. Lauren: “Although it feels intensely personal, it is not. It is an issue in her husband’s heart that’s rooted in sin, it is sin; it’s coveting; it’s rooted in choosing the creation over the creator; it’s against God, and though it feels very personal, it’s not personal… What a privilege, as painful as it is, that she gets to be a part of his reconciliation to the Lord and to her, and how she gets to be the hands and feet of Jesus; that she gets to be a minister of the gospel to her own husband. It’s hard, and it involves a pouring out, and it is very much like Jesus did for us… You will have to sustain something that feels very offensive, but Jesus did it first for you.”

The Wedding Cake Issue Just Got Exponentially More Complicated – Benjamin L. Corey thinks there’s more than just one reason for a Christian to refuse to do a wedding cake. He’s got ten, one of which is: “The Bible clearly states in Deuteronomy 24 that a man cannot serve in the military during his first year of marriage. If you sell a cake to that young military couple, you will be endorsing a lifestyle that is directly rebelling against God’s inerrant word. Don’t do it!” Plus, according to Ezekiel, you shouldn’t do the cake if one of them works at a bank.

Children’s Ministry Reveals Much About Adult Ministry – “I truly believe that you can get a sense about how your church feels about the Bible by looking no further than the children’s wing of the church. In a way, Sunday School is a great litmus test to see how important the Word of God is to the larger church… Do children have Bibles in their hands at church? Do they open those Bibles when they are in Sunday School? …Make sure to peer behind the aesthetics of children’s ministry. Take an interest in what is being taught and don’t let visual appearance fool you.”

Faith Focused Film Announcement of the Week – “Hugh Jackman will be playing the role of Paul, and he, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck will produce the film under their Pearl Street Films production company. The film is believed to cover Paul’s conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus, his ministry to the gentiles and his imprisonment. Jackman told Parade magazine in 2009 that he is a student of transcendental meditation … His father, however, became a born-again Christian after attending a Billy Graham crusade in Australia, which Jackman attended as a young boy.”

Childbirth Imagery in The Cross – “Early and medieval Christians were less reluctant than many of us to imagine God in motherly terms…Imagining Easter as a kind of childbirth offers us another way to understand Christ’s suffering on the cross. Birth is not passive, pointless, cruel suffering. It is active work—labor. Women who have given birth sometimes speak of the great sense of strength and triumph they feel when their baby finally emerges. These mothers suffered pain, perhaps even risked death, to bring forth someone new, to bring forth new life. And so when Jesus goes to the cross “for the joy set before him,” as the writer of Hebrews puts it, it’s not masochistic, nor is it passive. He puts forth strength and endurance; like childbirth, it is a commitment to struggle.”

Street Preacher Told Not to Use Certain Verses – “A street preacher has been told by a judge which Bible verse he should have used when discussing homosexuality, as he was convicted of a public order offense at Bristol Crown Court…In court Judge Shamim Qureshi told Overd that he should have used Leviticus 18 instead of Leviticus 20 to make a point about homosexuality, the Christian Legal Center said. Overd commented: ‘I am amazed that the Judge sees it as his role to dictate which parts of the Bible can and can’t be preached. This is not free speech but censorship. The Judge is redacting the Bible‘, he added.”

Bible Reading Blues – “I always felt like I was drinking from a shallow well in every single Bible Reading Plan I picked. I’d lose steam and feel guilty that I wasn’t checking off my daily reading, I’d forget where I was reading, or forget the narrative line. I found myself spending more time trying to piece together things than actually reading and ingesting what I was reading. I loved the Word of God, but I mostly loved it because I knew there was life in it, not because I actually felt life in my reading.” But then the scene changes, “I saw themes I hadn’t seen before, and I understood Paul as a person in a way I never had. It was as though my Bible reading went from watching a drama take place on a stage to actually being a part of the play.”

Churches Have Bullies, Too – Thom Rainer: “They wreak havoc and create dissension. They typically must have an “enemy” in the church, because they aren’t happy unless they are fighting a battle. They tend to maneuver to get an official leadership position in the church, such as chairman of the elders or deacons or treasurer. But they may have bully power without any official position. Church bullies have always been around. But they seem to be doing their work more furiously today than in recent history.”

Finally… – On Easter Sunday, if you’re doing Children’s ministry, you can offer to bring both the craft and the snack.

From Stuff Fundies Like: Gospel Baptist Church wants to make extra special sure that you don’t think women are in charge of anything more important than the nursery. They want to make so sure that they had an extra banner made just to point it out.

From Stuff Fundies Like:  Gospel Baptist Church wants to make extra special sure that you don’t think women are in charge of anything more important than the nursery. They want to make so sure that they had an extra banner made just to point it out.

Short Takes

  • That moment where your 21-year old son, who was in to Dubstep and Electronica writes you from college to say this is his favorite song right now.
  • New York City churches are allowed to rent schools, for now. The Mayor: “While we review and revise the rules, groups currently permitted to use schools for worship will continue to be able to worship on school premises.”
  • Tweens and porn in the UK: “Shocking new figures reveal that one in ten 12 to 13-year-olds believe they may be addicted to pornography, and 12 per cent admit to having made or taken part in a sexually explicit video.”
  • Passover like you’ve never seen it. A 2-minute video.
  • It’s a different type of small group, one that is a faction that forms against the pastor. “28 percent of pastors have been pushed out of their churches by attacks that originated from a relatively small group of people… Nearly half of those pastors who had left then seriously considered abandoning ministry altogether.”
  • It’s been out there for a while, but I just noticed that 3 of the Top Ten bloggers on this Top 100 Christian blogs list are Canadian, including the first two.
  • I get what Fred Clark’s doing with this series, but the series itself needs a better name.
  • Finally, from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s media division, TwentyOneHundred Productions, we finally know how the Apostle Paul drafted his letters:

Paul's Epistle Template

 

 

February 18, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Morality in the 21st Century

Morality in the 21st Century

 

  • Mama Mea Culpa? – Ravi Zacharias on President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast: “For those who did not hear the talk, it is sufficient to say that it was the most ill-advised and poorly chosen reprimand ever given at a National Prayer Breakfast. I have been to several and have never, ever heard such absence of wisdom in a setting such as this…Citing the Crusades, he used the single most inflammatory word he could have with which to feed the insatiable rage of the extremists. That is exactly what they want to hear…
  • When You’ve Lost the Calvinists, You’ve Lost the Battle – Justin Taylor at no less than The Gospel Coalition is not on-side with ‘literal’ six day creationism: “It is commonly suggested that this is such a “plain reading” of Scripture—so obviously clear and true—that the only people who doubt it are those who have been influenced by Charles Darwin and his neo-Darwinian successors…So it may come as a surprise to some contemporary conservatives that some of the great stalwarts of the faith were not convinced of this interpretation…I want to suggest there are some good, textual reasons…”  (Of course, not everyone agreed.)
  • When It’s Time for a Time Out – A look at what it means to be “disqualified from ministry” and the related issue of restoration. “My point is that those who minister for God don’t live unimpeachable lives. By “unimpeachable” I mean perfect. But the sins we are often quick to use to disqualify someone from ministry are far less severe than denying Christ [or] adjusting the Gospel to make it square with our prejudice.”
  • If a First Century Christian Time Traveled to Your Church – “If Americanized Christians were to see how the first Christians lived, it would be denounced as some sort of communist cult being led by folks who distorted the Gospel…If Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort were to fly back in time to see how the first Christians– those who walked and talked with Jesus– were doing things, they’d say they were totally doing it wrong, and have succumbed to liberalism.”
  • Essay of the Week: What Makes a Movie/CD Christian? – “[William Romanowski] argues, when [Amy] Grant began to abandon explicitly Christian lyrics in favor of ones focused on romance, many Christians became uneasy and were forced to reconsider their paradigm for Christian art. Was Amy Grant enough of a Christian singer? The fact that Grant resisted easy categorization prompted discussion and debate. She defied the strict sacred/secular bifurcation. Of course, the only difference between Christian Grant and secular Grant was the lyrics. Christian art, the logic went, is Christian art only if it explicitly communicates its Christian-ness.”
  • Reinventing The Christian Bookstore – Even as the Family Christian bookstore chain enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a former university textbook store has been re-purposed as a center for the Christian community in Winnipeg, Manitoba that is part retail, part library and includes many other parts: “Materials from the lending library, owned and operated by Mennonite Church Canada, sit in the middle of the spacious store, with catalogue stickers indicating the items are for loan, not for sale…” The university president adds, “We didn’t want to build only a library, but we wanted to build a public gathering place.”
  • Missing the Moment – We’ve all seen the pictures where people are so busy with their smartphones they miss something awesome taking place right next to them. Tyler Blanski addressed this and many other social media challenges in a November article that we just discovered: “…Mixing social media with daily life diminishes daily life. When I’m with my son, I want him to be able to take for granted that I am there. And no matter how often I might look up from my phone, if our time together is material for social media, I will never be more than half there. I want him to grow up in a home that is a safe haven, not a stage.”
  • Lost in Translation? – The NIV, ESV, Amplified, KJV and several others get together for a dinner party. (I hesitated to title this link, ‘If Translations Could Speak.’) A great premise if you’ve always wondered what they all think of each other. [NIV to ESV] “Look, I know you’re the new kid on the block, and that a bunch of pastors are all like, ‘Rah, rah, ESV, our study Bible can beat up your study Bible.’ But just because you’re new and polished doesn’t mean you’re better. Some of us have been around for a long time and have seen a lot of things.”
  • The Vanity and Toxicity of Conversation Toppers: “We may not realize it, but there is an art to making good conversation. Such artistry is not simply the goal of talk show hosts and salesmen but should be something that each one of us practices, especially those who serve as pastors.”
  • One for the Road – Next Sunday’s worship: Looking for something new that is both hymn-like and chorus-like and also lyrically deep? You could do this song with a driving rhythm section or a classically trained choir.

Short Takes:

Sometimes preachers talk about people being "too busy for God..." I found it interesting that in December, when we get busy, readership at Christianity 201 drops noticeably. When things get hectic, we do put spiritual disciplines on the back burner.

Sometimes preachers talk about people being “too busy for God…” I found it interesting that in December, when we get hectic, readership at Christianity 201 drops noticeably; some of us do tend to put spiritual disciplines on the back burner at busy times.

December 1, 2014

While You’re Cleaning Up From Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:01 am

Kids are back at school today, relatives are back at work, but the house is a disaster, right? Actually, it’s all in how you look at it. Credit for this goes to Chelsea Lee Smith; click the image below to explore her blog.

It's All In How You Look at It

October 29, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Orange Curriculum Parody Poster

Our graphic image theme this week is parody. The upper one is a supplement to the Orange Curriculum, a weekend service Christian education experience for children. You can click on the image and then surf the rest of the web page to learn more.

A bumper harvest this week; get coffee first.

The rest of the week Paul Wilkinson offers you a daily choice between trick at Thinking Out Loud, or treat at Christianity 201.

What a Mug I Have of Coffee

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