Thinking Out Loud

May 17, 2017

Wednesday Link List

If it turns out this week’s list is shorter than most, keep in mind that on Saturday we had a Weekend Link List. Above: Church Meme Committee. Below: Mike Morgan’s long running comic, For Heaven’s Sake. (click images to link.)

May 15, 2017

A Golden Age of Christian Blogging

Blogging introduces you to a worldwide collective of people you will probably never meet in this life.   Nonetheless, the online connection means that you can be a source of encouragement to many, many people. The right words, fitly spoken at the right time, can really make a difference in a person’s life.  That’s why I like this picture. The words are coming off the page to bring comfort. Everybody needs a bit of that now and then. The best things that are happening in the blogsphere aren’t always happening on the blogs themselves, but in the meta. When you get to follow-up with someone who has a particular interest. Or try to offer some direct, offline advice to someone who might appreciate a bit of a challenge.  Or know of a third-party resource that could be of great help. Or just to say, “I really don’t have a clue about your whole situation, but I want you to know someone is reading your blog who really cares.” Or offer to pray for them. To actually pray for them.

Words communicate. People are listening. You can have a part in what they hear.

~ Thinking Out Loud, September 2008

Recently I was thinking about the writers who inspired me to start doing this…many of who are no longer writing online, or are doing something completely different. After leaving comments on other blogs, I decided to start one of my own. We started on a platform called e4God, but fortunately were able to migrate the content to WordPress.

Honestly, I think this was a golden age for Christian blogging. Twitter wasn’t a force and podcasts were rare. Today, many bloggers simply post videos or podcast links or have abandoned their platform altogether in favor of the 140-character alternative. 

Travel back in time with me; except where noted these are in no particular order.

  • 22 Words — Not the blog you now know, but in those days, Abraham Piper actually confined each post to exactly 22 words.
  • Sacramentis — Sally Morganthaler’s website was a hub for people who wanted to discuss worship ideas. The church was going through a period of accelerated change, and people like Sally, Nancy Beach and Robert Weber were all speaking into that change.
  • Stuff Christians Like — The mind of Jon Acuff knew no boundaries. Think Babylon Bee for a previous decade. I think of Jon every time I’m in church and need to give someone a side hug. The blog spun off a book deal with Zondervan.
  • Stuff White Christians Like — …well, let’s be honest; there were a number of spin-offs from Jon’s blog, Stephy’s was one of them.
  • Lark News — The original Babylon Bee.
  • The Very Worst Missionary — Jamie Wright provided a missionary’s perspective on short term mission trips which many of us will never forget.
  • Fred McKinnon — What avid worship leader didn’t visit late Sunday night or midday Monday to find out what other worship leaders had posted to The Sunday Set List?
  • Puragtorio — Can someone help me remember this one? Seriously.
  • ASBO Jesus — From across the pond, Jon Birch’s website was delightfully cynical. The initials stand for Anti Social Behavior Order.
  • Flowerdust — The writer formerly known as Anne Jackson gained a huge following early on and was a reminder to us all that it was okay to be broken or wounded or both.
  • Evotional — The original blog of Mark Batterson, bestselling author and pastor of National Community Church in DC.  (When he called his first book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, I thought, “That’s a real dumb title. So much for his writing career.”)
  • Letters from Camp Krusty — My first initiation into the wonderful strange world of Brant Hansen.
  • Greg Boyd — This guy had a huge influence on us. We spent endless road trips throughout the U.S. popping discs in the CD player of downloaded sermons from Woodland Hills Church on the Gospel of Luke. Great memories. “Now go out and build the kingdom!”
  • Skyebox — Skye Jethani would later play a pivotal role in my own life for which I am most grateful. Today, he’s a regular on The Phil Vischer Podcast and an important analyst and commentator on the state of Evangelicalism in North America.
  • Out of Ur — The blog of Leadership Journal at Christianity Today and for 22 months, the home of the Wednesday Link List. (See previous entry.)
  • Tall Skinny Kiwi — As I write this, Andrew Jones and the girls are heading back to Europe mid-June. His unique, ongoing story continues and he has my utmost respect and admiration for carrying on despite the loss of Debbie to complications from malaria and typhoid.
  • Donald Miller — I don’t think it was called StoryLine back then, but I can’t remember. He’s been at this a long time!
  • Bene Diction Blogs On — Investigative blogging in an era before Warren Throckmorton. But who was Bene Diction? I have a friend who claims to know and says I knew her. Wait, what? Her?
  • Naked Pastor — David Hayward migrated his blog to Patheos but then moved back to his own domain. I love his writing, but I’m sure he’s best known for the pictures: Original artwork which you can purchase.
  • Without Wax — Pete Wilson is still blogging. Back then, they were like family; I can still name all three of Pete’s boys.
  • Trevin Wax — (no relation to the above) Trevin is now more aligned with a tribe I no longer follow, but I tracked with his writing for many years.
  • Challies — Tim Challies must have been in the right place at the right time, because today his blog regularly ranks in the Top Ten Christian blog lists in the U.S. though, like myself, he is Canadian. Must reading for the neo-Calvinist set. (Tim lives just about 90 minutes from me. Sometimes in the early morning we drive by his house and root through his recycling bin.)
  • Take Your Vitamin Z — Zach Nielson’s blog had a cool title. Three years ago this month, like many others, he switched his primary focus from blogging to Twitter. 
  • Desiring God — The Pipester was a force to be reckoned with! You never actually had to read it though, because for a time, the Calvinist world faithfully re-blogged every word J.P. wrote.
  • Reformissionary — The original name for Steve McCoy’s blog. Many nights at supper we prayed for Molly.
  • DashHouse — Another Canadian, Darryl Dash now writes primarily for fellow pastors and church leaders. He left a comfortable church in the Toronto suburbs a few years back to church plant in the urban core, albeit a more upscale neighborhood.
  • Team Pyro — Note that we clustered all the Calvinist bloggers together here. These guys helped convince me that there was a type of Christ follower I wanted to be, and that tribe wasn’t it. (At this writing, the blog has been inactive for about six weeks. Don’t people need their weekly dose of Spurgeon?)
  • CenturiOn — Frank Turk from Team Pyro. (Not to be confused with apologist Frank Turek.) I have to give them credit for the excellent illustrations and images.
  • Vintage Blog— Another one from that era who is still writing; Dan Kimball aka “the guy with the pompadour haircut.” If you’re ever in Santa Cruz, look up Vintage Church.
  • Eugene Cho — Another writer who’s been at this for a long time. Korean-born Cho is an author, lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle and founder of the charity One Day’s Wages.
  • Jesus Creed — Scot McKnight is another writer who has been faithfully at his computer producing a large number of columns each week since the world was flat. (With enough book sales, perhaps one day he’ll be able to afford the second ‘t’ in his first name.) 
  • John Shore — I tend to think of John today in terms of one particular issue, but in the early days his blog was home for all those who had gotten burned out in their church experience.
  • Michael Hyatt — Better known today for his writing on leadership issues, on building platform and on writing itself, it was his pieces on the publishing industry I enjoyed most back in the day.
  • Blog In My Own Eye — Keith Brenton was another writer who snagged a great blog title. It’s been four years now since Angi, the love of his life was taken from us; yet each day at 3:00 PM, Keith goes on Twitter to offer to pray for anyone with a need or a request.
  • Fire in my Bones — From the then-editor of Charisma Magazine, Lee Grady who still has a blog at the magazine. Right now I can’t think of a more balanced Pentecostal/Charismatic writer. (Maybe Jack Hayford, but he never blogged, did he?)
  • Monday Morning Insights — Over the years, the Wednesday Link List borrowed a number of story leads from Todd Rhoades’ blog.
  • The Idea Club — You never heard of it, right? Actually it was the original name for Cathy Lynn Grossman’s religion blog at USAToday. (Thinking Out Loud actually began as a USAToday blog as well.) An excellent religion reporter. You probably remember better from Faith and Reason. Watch for her byline where quality journalism is sold.
  • Internet Monk — Still updated daily, but sadly without its founder, the late Michael Spencer. This one resonated with a lot of people at a transitional time for the church at large.
  • Boar’s Head Tavern — Another blog Michael Spencer started. 
  • Shlog — The original name for musician Sean Groves’ blog.  
  • One Hand Clapping — Julie Clawson was an important voice in those early days. I wonder who reading this knows how the blog got its name?
  • …Help! I can’t stop…

…This ended up longer than I planned. Those were great days. Through these and other writers I got to read some great books and think about things related to God, Jesus, The Bible, Church, Evangelism, Doctrine, etc., that I otherwise might never have considered.

My life is richer because of all of you…

…So…who did I miss from that era who was big impact on you?


And now, a Best-of… moment from those early days:

May 10, 2017

Wednesday Link List

There’s this one blogger who totally hates everything unless it was written by John MacArthur, and every once in awhile I go on her weekend link list and I find things she is totally opposed to and find that, from my perspective, they are things worth celebrating and I include them here…

…For the above image a shoutout to Clark Bunch who wouldn’t share the origin of this $43 clothing item with his own readers, but clicking it here might yield something. 

One last thing: There’s some great stuff here this week. Please allow an extra few minutes to click more of these links than you might usually.

Finally, The people at Church Marketing Sucks really want to help you with things like having a better church bulletin, but in the meantime, completing this bingo card — among many membership benefits of working with them — isn’t too difficult in the average church.

 

Public Notice: “Will link for food.” If anyone out there with a major Christian website and a budget is interested in leasing the Wednesday Link List as Christianity Today & Leadership Journal did, contact me via Twitter. 

May 3, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to WLL Three-Five-Seven. The beast in the pic is the crafty ssserpent talking to Eve in Eden; as depicted in The Illustrated Bible by Jeff Anderson and Mike Maddox, published by Hendrickson in 2016. We apologize in advance for any nightmares it might cause. As for the hymn above, you’ll have to scroll down to the second link below.

If you need help posting bail, there’s always these guys:

Honestly, how could we resist this great quotation from T. D. Jakes? Click the image for commentary.

Finally, some worship service emojis:

The above image is from an article, Appropriate Emoji Responses during church. The first one “When the Welcome and Greeting Time Comes During Flu Season” would be my wife’s desired default during all fellowship times in the middle of the service and toward greeters at the door as well. Introverts unite! Click the image to see them all.

 

April 26, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber join Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live two weekends back.

Wouldn’t it be funny if it turned out they were related?

An observation from our friend Shane Claiborne

In addition to what you see here each week, I’ve recently updated the blogroll on the right hand side of the page. I’m generally looking to keep blogs which have been active within the preceding 30 days. It’s an ongoing process and suggestions are welcomed. Also, if you find yourself lost somewhere without your computer bookmarks, make your way to Thinking Out Loud and use our news, podcast and blog links as a portal to some great sites.

This week a slightly shorter list due to time constraints and the Canadian Income Tax Deadline on April 30th. 

Oh… one more thing: A big shout-out to Michael and Jenine in North Dakota. Thanks for your note this week!

Is it real or just a meme? “The Newest Testament” first came to my attention when Zach Hunt tweeted one of the covers

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:

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