Thinking Out Loud

December 7, 2016

Wednesday Link List

In response to J.D. Hall’s book for children called, “Help!! Arminians are Giving Me Nightmares Again!”, blog readers at Spiritual Sounding Board gave alternate titles...

In response to J.D. Hall’s book for children titled, Help!! Arminians are Giving Me Nightmares Again!, blog readers at Spiritual Sounding Board gave alternate titles

Sidebar from Christianity Today. See first item in today's link list.

Sidebar from Christianity Today. See first item in today’s link list.

Some extended quotes from this week’s linked articles because even if you don’t click, I didn’t want you to miss the substance; each one of which could have been a single blog focus here.

  • Jen Wilkin, speaking to Christianity Today notes that “while most evangelical women know their Tim Kellers from their Rick Warrens, male pastors aren’t expected to parse female teachers. The bookshelves in their offices contain no books by contemporary female authors, and their sermons typically do not reference female voices, other than the usual suspects of Elisabeth Elliot or Corrie ten Boom—both dead, for the record.” The article concerns the popularity of Jen Hatmaker and other women speakers, see CT sidebar at right for her social media popularity.
  • ♫ It was only later I noticed this was a 2014 article, but the songs were so interesting I have to share it. 20 alternative Christmas songs, many of which are covers of more familiar carols. Warning: Don’t try to copy/paste the titles into YouTube, this site has the most annoying pop-ups I’ve ever encountered.
  • Playing Second Fiddle: “In nearly every great church, nonprofit, ministry, or business, there’s a vital #2 person working, and without them, those organizations would struggle.” What it takes to be #2.
  • Now it’s no longer just gay wedding cakes, it’s wedding invitations. Two young Christian women in Pheonix face the prospect of prison.
  • Quotation of the Week: Paige Patterson ends a chapel service at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, of which he is the President. “I know there are a fair number of you who think you are a Calvinist, but understand there is a denomination which represents that view, It’s called Presbyterian.  …I honor their position, but if I held that position I would become a Presbyterian. I would not remain a Baptist, because the Baptist position from the time of the Anabaptists, really from the time of the New Testament, is very different… If we are not careful a myriad of related beliefs and practices will enter our camp, hidden within the Trojan Horse of Calvinism.”
  • Planning Christmas Eve Statistic: “25% of all your visitors for the entire year will come (or not come) on Christmas Eve.” 3 things to consider when planning that service.
  • Bye, Bye Bibles: “…While Marriott International supplies a Bible and Book of Mormon in every other hotel in their franchise, their millennial-geared Moxy and Edition hotels will be free of religious literature. ‘It’s because the religious books don’t fit the personality of the brands.'” 
  • Is God sovereign, even in the midst of the recent US elections? People looked to the Bible to find out. So this link is complicated. First, click on this one to get accustomed to how to read the 3-year comparison of searches at BibleGateway.com. (Give yourself a minute to figure out how the graphs work.) Second, click on this one and check out the first image to see the searches for sovereign skyrocket in November. (Yeah, they might have formatted that graph better, but who are we to say?) Scroll further down to see the top words searched in English and Spanish, and let your mouse hover over a word to compare the two languages’ rankings.
  • ‘And then, when He had given thanks, He took the lamb and killed it.’ That verse isn’t in your Bible. He took bread, “because he wanted it to be clear to us that there was no more shedding of blood required… For all the symbolism of the lamb already established, there was a greater, more significant over-riding factor. And that had to be made clear: No more sacrifice, no more death for sins.”
  • The “Cultural Commute” or “what it means to be an iPhone pastor in a typewriter church.”
  • This article on reading older books begins with a quote from C.S. Lewis; “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.”
  • Although it takes a restorative therapeutic approach that some may bristle at, it’s still relatively rare to see articles on ministering to transgenderism.
  • Window into Another World: I felt like I was coming in on the middle of a movie reading this short article about ministering to the children of hillbilly families.
  • Is Kellogg’s the target of the next major conservative Evangelical boycott? (What? No more Eggo? No more Pop Tarts?)
  • We are not the enemy. Such is the spirit of this article aiming to show that Calvinists and Classical Arminians are more related than you think. “I like to say that they are theological first cousins, both residing under the ‘Reformed’ umbrella.”
  • There’s a difference between giving your testimony and sharing your faith. The latter must begin with the resurrection.
  • Preaching Place:
  • It’s deja vu all over again: With the release of the movie in March, 2017, all the venom that was poured out over The Shack book is now being recycled as condemnation for the movie. This link is but one of many.
  • Announcer: “And now, we bring you the first episode of Perry Noble, Church Growth Consultant.”
  • He writes what many of us are feeling: The Christian liturgical calendar is growing on us.
  • Christian giftware supplier Abbey Press is closing.
  • ♫ The Voice is the name of a Bible version as well as a TV show. Relating to the latter, after Monday night I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from Christian Cuevas.
  • Women in the Church: “I didn’t really believe I could exercise any other gift in my local church beyond nursery duty and craft projects. Teach? Lead? Those things weren’t on my radar screen at the time, and they certainly weren’t on the radar screen of my own church leaders. When I did find my way into a seminary classroom more than a decade later, this Methodist minister was one of the first people I contacted to thank…”
  • ♫ Popular Christian songwriter Darlene Zschech (Shout to the Lord) has re-signed with Integrity Music.
  • Phil Vischer and Christian Taylor talk to Josh Lindsay about movies which have redemptive themes or spiritual analogies
  • Your Word of the Week — Just in time for the holidays — Orthorexia
  • …Also, with December 25th close at hand: “Back in the days when I was a fire-breathing Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher, I encouraged church members to use the Christmas holiday as an opportunity to witness to their unsaved relatives. Hell is hot and death is certain, I told congregants. Dare we ignore their plight?  Remember, the Bible says that if we fail to warn our wicked relatives of their wicked ways and they die and go to hell, their blood will be on our hands. Despite my attempts to guilt church members into evangelizing their relatives, not one member reported successfully doing so.” From there, the language gets stronger.
  • Bee of the Week: A mandatory heresy warning before each TBN broadcast
  • Finally, Matthew Pierce on being a Church kid in 1997
  • …or better yet, Michael’s investigation of bizarre Christian websites including — no really, we have to give this one its own link…
  • …including Rebecca St. James Transvestigation, which is actually just a YouTube link. Michael describes it: “The intersection of trans issues and theology is a fascinating, fertile ground that is ripe for discussion. A topic that begs further scholarly debate. This is not that. This is an 8-minute rant that questions whether Christian singer Rebecca St. James is a man in disguise, sent from the Illuminati…The woman behind this video is the Apostle Laura Lee, AKA Laura Lee Dykstra…Exploring her channel is exhausting. I did, and I will summarize it for you: She claims that Kenneth Copeland might be Tom Hanks, and that Obama is both Stephen Colbert and also a woman.” (Underlining added. Just in case you doubted what you were reading.)

Canada Corner and Catholic Corner along with Leadership Lessons and Essay of the Week return next week. Maybe. There were several articles that crossed all these categories for your consideration. Have your suggestions to me by 9:00 PM Monday if at all possible.

November 30, 2016

Wednesday Link List

my-brain-has-too-many-tabs-open

We’re not part of the online echo chamber. You’ll find links here you won’t find elsewhere, plus a few we stole outright. The piece of wall decor above is from P. Graham Dunn; you can order it by clicking the image.

 

i-will-cut-you

November 29, 2016

Growing Up in a Porn-Saturated World

22 Ways Your Kids’ World is Much Different Than Yours

kid-at-computerLongtime readers here know that adult content on the internet was once a more common theme here. Despite some publisher interest, when the book project didn’t move to the next steps, I moved on to other activities. What would have been very much needed at the time is now more widely covered by other writers, both in print and online. Plus, it’s a topic I no longer wish to be strongly associated with.

Nonetheless, I’ve continued to watch a certain aspect of the topic if only from a distance; that aspect being to try to gauge what is happening to kids who have simply always had access to graphic images of people clothes-less and/or involved in various types of sexual activity.

The world has changed. I believe this is one of the most important articles I’ve written, and I hope you’ll share this with others.

Here, in no particular order, are things I believe every parent needs to think about. I’ve put keywords in bold face type for those who find this longer than most posts here.

1. They have way too much unsupervised time after school. With both parents working, there is often two to three hours from the time they reach home to the time the parents arrive for dinner. Not at your house? Then perhaps at the home of the friend they head to after classes end. Unless they’re playing after-school sports, or are diligent at working at scholarship-level rates on homework, parents often are unaware where the idle time might take their children. This is an important factor in several of the items which follow.

2. They have experienced an utter and complete loss of sexual innocence and mystery which was not common to previous generations. Heck; I still feel there are dimensions to sex which I don’t fully understand, not because I lack the general knowledge or intellectual capacity, but because I grew up at a time when it was all meant to be mysterious. But they grew up with access to all the videos they needed to demystify every possible human sexual activity and all their variants. Fact is mom and dad, they could probably answer some of your questions.

3. Many of them believe that what isn’t intercourse isn’t sex. Maybe we can (indirectly) credit Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman” for that attitude. So even within the church (or maybe especially within the church) we have a very high per capita rate of technical virgins who actually have an incredibly high degree of sexual experience.

4. It gets worse: For many sex is simply only sex; in other words, it’s not such a big deal. They might see your views on politics or environmentalism as a more powerful reflection on who you are as a person than your virgin/non-virgin status. The now-considered-quaint notion that teens should “want their wedding night to be special” is becoming as outdated as the notion of a wedding itself.

5. Which brings us to the point that whether consciously or sub-consciously, many assume they will have multiple partners in their lifetime; even among kids in Christian families. (I should qualify here and note that “the divorce epidemic” predates the internet, though the net has been an agent for what I term accelerated social change, something we’ll deal with again in a future article.)

6. They see themselves as sexual beings. There is a strange phenomenon right now where pre-teen and teen boys remove their shirts for their profile pictures on Facebook or Twitter. (A good place to remind everyone that younger ones are not officially allowed to have FB accounts; but we know that guideline isn’t always followed. The magic number is also 13 on Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit and others.)

7. They have full access to everything online with a data-plan enabled smart phone that you have on your computer. The notion that the kids need to be sitting in front of a PC or laptop in order to access the Internet’s dark side is somewhat outdated. They aren’t looking for 42-inch picture quality, instead they’re exploring and discovering a new, exciting world of possibilities.

8. They live in a world where sexuality is fluid, but fail to foresee that the present fluidity means there could be future fluidity. Kids on the fringes of traditional, mainstream sexuality see their LGBT-etc declarations to be permanent and greatly resent adults or friends suggesting that their views or attractions may change when they get older. (There may be an element where pride — in the more traditional meaning of the word — prevents them from recanting of previously categorical or dogmatic statements about the tribe with which they have the greatest affinity.)

9. They are empowered by the choices of sexual or gender identity. They get to pick and choose who they are off the rack in the same way they choose the colors and patterns of the cases for their phones. In the wrong body? That’s easy, there are drug therapies and surgeries to fix that. (This takes place even within church communities or even Bible Colleges; many youth workers are aware of people who were or are currently in their group who are undergoing gender reassignment; most also have at least one or two youth who are pushing boundaries.)

10. In all probability they have been photographed naked even if they took the picture themselves and immediately deleted it. For some it may be a body-image obsession and for others it’s simply something silly to do with that surplus of after-school time mentioned earlier. The cell phone camera is the new mirror and the unclothed image isn’t subject to any particular fashion trend or wardrobe budget.

11. Even among Christian kids there is a compartmentalization of the sacred and the profane. For example they may not see a contradiction in an actor or actress being photographed nude while wearing a cross. Many church tweens and teens live a double life, being a different person at home and youth group than they are at school or at their part-time job. In a way, that’s nothing new, but many church tweens and teens are also living a blended life where they opt in some of the Bible’s moral teachings but not others.

12. While they know some online images aren’t safe for school or home, they fail to realize that through constant exposure to the images, their worldview is being totally reprogrammed. Their opinions on everything from premarital sex to incest is subject to whatever online websites have been allowed to influence them.

13. Their sources for advice and counsel are often online forums. Rather than seek out their parents, youth pastor or guidance counselor; they are more likely to converse about vital life issues with people on chat rooms and forums, which means in many case they are getting peer counsel only; they are essentially sheep without a shepherd.   

14. Sadly, they are not particularly impressed with information about societal norms in previous generations. When their parents speak of life in the ’80s or ’90s, you might as well be describing the 1880s or the 1790s; to them it’s all ancient history and is therefore somewhat irrelevant, unless they need to know to understand a novel which is part of the literature exam.

15. Many of the ones who are sexually active are not likely to stop. As is often heard concerning this issue, once escaped it’s almost impossible to put the genie back in the bottle. 

16. Some of those who started early being sexually active are already sexually bored and are therefore looking at alternative sexualities, fetishes, or even asexuality. (Can’t help wondering if recruiters for convents and monasteries might want to note that last one.)

17. Underlying some of the sexual acting out is the fact that many of them of hurting. Their lives are not the Leave it to Beaver or The Brady Bunch type of lives of past generations. Many have had friends die — probably more than you did at their age — through accident, illness, criminal activity or at their own hand.  Others are broken by a home life that involves being passed around like a football due to joint custody arrangements, or suddenly sharing a bedroom (and a life) with a step-sibling as a result of a parent’s remarriage. For others, it’s the pressure of academic life which can start in the junior high or middle school years. Sexual activity provides a distraction or a release from those pressures.

18. Their sexual decisions may be taking place in atmosphere fueled by alcohol or weed. The latter, while now legalized in a small handful of U.S. states, is available everywhere even to kids at a young age if they are determined to gain access. 

19. Because of their access to all types of video files, their desire is to emulate what they see in triple-X-rated videos or what they read about celebrities doing. Whereas in past generations a kid might dream of being on stage or on television or recording an album like their entertainment industry idol, now their wish is to do all the things their idol is reported to have done (and by implication, get away with it on some level and continue to enjoy a career and a generally good reputation.) 

20. For some of them the catalog of possible sexual activity is like a bucket list and they want to experiment and see what they like; what works for them and what doesn’t. Furthermore, if you’re still harboring ancient stereotypes, this is as true for girls as it is for boys. (Increasingly, boys will talk about being raped by a girl; the language wasn’t extensively used that way in the past.) Some of this activity starts at an early age, with much taking place at weekend parties, though there are many possible venues. 

21. Many tweens and teens are at a point where they feel no need to cover-up; there is no sense of modesty. Someone once said that humans are a unique species as we are the only ones capable of blushing. That unique characteristic is slowly disappearing. 

22. Finally — and I know some of you have been reading through the whole list wondering where this one was — they may have been abused. There may have been one incident or many which means there are no sexual frontiers to protect and everything is fair game, especially if they are now in control. Conversely, their abuse may have very much diminished their self-worth propelling them into a pattern of increased sexual activity.

…I know there are some people who will read this and feel things are being overstated, said too generally, or that the whole point of this is to paint a ‘the sky is falling’ type of panic. That’s not the intention. I’m open to have people quote studies proving that things are no worse now than they’ve been in the past. I doubt that’s the case however, and I’ll come back to the topic of accelerated social change here in the future.  

What I do hope is that for parents, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, concerned friends I’ve raised some topics here that present a clearer picture of what’s being evidenced online in various formats and platforms. 

So what do we do? Many times people who try to put the brakes on a trend that seems spiraling out of control are simply laughed at, even within the church. ‘You can’t stop that; it’s inevitable;’ is the response heard so often, an echo of a previous generation’s, ‘Kids will be kids.’ 

Whatever my response or your response, it has to begin with awareness.

If you’re a parent whose children are not going down this road right now, be very thankful; but also be aware that some kids simply repress sexual thoughts and actions and then everything explodes when they enter college or university. I would say that you need to have some conversations, but not have others. The advice of Song 8:4, “Do not awaken desire before its time;” is useful here, but there is also a place for warning — Book of Proverbs style — your kids what is going to happen down the road of life. That seems like a good place to reiterate some text which has appeared on this blog many times:

no vacancyOur kids hated road trips. We would get to a city, walk into a motel, pull out our coupon book, and then be told that due to a soccer tournament, there were no motels with openings anywhere within an hour radius. Back to the car, hungry, hot, tired, and another hour’s drive.

Later on, we discovered the joy of planning destinations ahead, and making reservations, though by that point, the kids were older and opting out of our excursions.

Their road trip phobia later turned into an interesting object lesson.  I told them that somewhere in the future, they will find themselves in situations that will tempt them to compromise their principles, or do something foolish and unsafe. We said that like our motel example, they need to pre-book their choices. That way they won’t regret something done in the heat of the moment. Decide now what they will and won’t do.

November 23, 2016

Wednesday Link List

starry-night-holy-night

The above seasonally-appropriate treatment of a VanGogh classic is by Dan Reynolds who works in a variety of media. You can learn more about owning the original or a $25 print by clicking the image or this link

A shorter list this week as my 74% American readership is preoccupied with travel, turkey, football and what one advertiser called “Thanksgathering.”

hipster-nativity-set

 

November 16, 2016

Wednesday Link List

post-apocalyptic-fiction

Welcome to another week of linking. A few more music-related things this week than average. Also, this was again a challenge assembling to get past all the American political content that continues to flood the internet. Will this all start to fade into the background, or will it just intensify in the buildup to Inauguration Day?


You can show support and encouragement to us by downloading my wife’s Christmas album for only $7 or for just a buck ($1) download the title song.

November 9, 2016

Wednesday Link List

luke-2

Link list #333, which is half of 666. I’m putting this together Tuesday night not knowing if anyone is going to be around to read it, or if the world will have ended with announcement of the election results.

So in the end, all my sources were simply too distracted by the election; the results of which I still don’t know as I type this. Hopefully the link list is back to full size by next week. Suggestions are welcomed; try to have them to me via Twitter or email by Monday at noon.

be-thou-my-vision-rogue

November 2, 2016

Wednesday Link List

amway_evangelism

Well, another week, another book banned by LifeWay. Hope your week went better than Jen Hatmaker’s. On the other hand, she joins a growing list of people Baptists can’t handle, including a few I’m proud to say are in my personal library. Relevant links on this story start at item #2 below:

This Tuesday, U.S. voters will find themselves caught between two choices with nowhere to go

This Tuesday, U.S. voters will find themselves caught between two choices with nowhere to go and perhaps a bit bewildered as to how they got there.

October 26, 2016

Wednesday Link List

I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you. ~Romans 12:3b CEV

“I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you.” ~Romans 12:3b CEV

Comic publisher Jack Chick has died.

Comic publisher Jack Chick has died.

We’re back! Some really solid articles this week, not so much weird stuff. Try to have suggestions to me by Monday night if possible. Some days I wish I could get paid to do this; or better yet, teach other young writers how to do it.

October 19, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Economy Edition

As most readers here know, it’s been a tough week for us. So forgive me for a shorter list today. Also many U.S. sites and writers are completely sidetracked by the election, which means many other subjects just aren’t getting covered.

This picture desperately needs a caption:

this-needs-a-caption

October 14, 2016

Today, Lawyers Would Nix This Book

Filed under: books, Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:24 am

I really don’t know how this book came into our home. I was looking for something else and suddenly there it was, published by Zondervan in the year MCMXLVI.*

chemical-illustrations-by-basil-miller

The book is part of Christian Education resource genre referred to as “Object Lessons,” and these may have been more prevalent in early days than they are presently. The book naturally fell open to the following page:

chemical-illustration

Reaching the list of necessary chemicals at the bottom I realized that this book would never be published today.

First of all, your church’s insurance policy would probably be all over quashing the idea of someone showing up for church with turpentine, ammonia and kerosene. I know that when I show up for church with those things, the greeter at the door always takes me aside.

Second, Zondervan’s lawyers would have the same concerns and not want to be in a position of liability encouraging people to do this little trick. A page later, we’re warned, “Care should be taken not to spill any of the ingredients or the completed solution.” I guess so. I would be uncomfortable with the idea of doing this with adults, let alone teens or children. Things are simply too litigious these days than to risk presenting this in a church basement.

zondervan-classic-logo


*70 years ago in 1946

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