Thinking Out Loud

April 19, 2017

Wednesday Link List

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

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

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

April 12, 2017

Wednesday Link List

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

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

April 5, 2017

Wednesday Link List

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

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

 

Digging a Little Deeper

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

March 29, 2017

Wednesday Link List

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

March 22, 2017

Wednesday Link List

The Original Wednesday List Lynx

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

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

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

March 15, 2017

Wednesday Link List

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

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

March 8, 2017

Wednesday Link List

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

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

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

March 7, 2017

Unequally Yoked: Advice Not Taken

dating-tipsWhile going through boxes of old books, I came across a 1962 publication by Back to the Bible Broadcast, Dating Tips for Christian Youth. Though only 64 pages in length, the booklet has no less than five authors dealing with the following topics at the length indicated:

  • Relationships with parents, 11 pages
  • Making sure you date the right person, 17 pages
  • The myth that “everyone is doing it,” 8 pages
  • The dangers of physical intimacy, 6 pages
  • Committing to a single person to date, ie. “going steady,” 11 pages

In other words, the chapter given the greatest weight in this 55-year old title has to do with the Biblical principle of not being “unequally yoked” which was and still is generally interpreted in this case to mean that Christians should not date non-Christians.

I have not spent a lot of time reading more recent books either written for teens or for people in youth ministry, but I would like to think this is still a rather important theme. Trying “unequally yoked” at CBD did not produce any youth titles, and “dating a non-Christian” only revealed a 2002 IVP booklet. On the internet however, “should a Christian date a non Christian” revealed 12,800,000 results. The phrase “unequally yoked” brought 345,000 results, and just to be sure I checked every one of them. Or maybe not.

Still, I’d like to think that youth pastors continue to advise the tweens and teens to make lifelong connections through church, youth groups, Christian concerts, church-based summer camps, and yes…with certain caveats…on Christian dating sites. In other words, not necessarily at school, their part-time job or, once they reach the legal age, at a bar.

So…

…I have to wonder if Christian kids grow up hearing this message over and over and over and over again, why is it that each week, in the context of my work, I hear the despairing voice of a parent lamenting that their teen or twenty-something is dating, is engaged to, or has married a non-believer. There are no words to describe the disappointment these moms and dads feel when, after a lifetime in church, their son or daughter has made a decision that they feel is the opposite of every core value they tried to instill in them on the subject of choosing a mate for life. Often, for this or other reasons, the relationship is currently in crisis.

The thing is, when a male and a female live together or get married (a choice that needs to be the subject of a different article) if one of them is not a Christian, while it’s sometimes the case that the non-Christian is willing to check out their partner’s church, the greater preponderance seems to be that both stop going to church.

recessive-faithI know nothing about biology but I remember hearing someone using genetics to explain how blue eyes are a recessive trait and as blue eyed people continue to crossbreed with non blue eyed people, the number of blue eyed people declines. I sort of feel like church attendance and faith commitment are recessive traits and as theological mixed marriages take place, we see the decline in church attendance and/or people identifying as Christian.

In other words, there’s more at stake than just the underlying reasons why Paul makes the statement in 2 Corinthians 6:14, though the context is quite broad and marriage is not mentioned specifically. (If you’re in a business partnership with an unbeliever, the principle would appear to apply equally.)

What’s at here stake seems to be the future of the church.

 

March 6, 2017

If Jesus Attended My High School

rene-schmidtToday we have a guest writer. René Schmidt wrote the following in the context of his role as the Director of The Beacon, a youth centre in Brighton, Ontario where he is on staff with Quinte Youth For Christ.  He’s also a published, award-winning author. Learn more at writersunion.ca or read his blog at booksbyreneschmidt.blogspot.ca.

• by René Schmidt

With some teenagers I have been discussing what Jesus may have been like as a teenager, or today, what Jesus would be like if he was a student in one of our local schools. What clothes would he wear? Who would be his friends? Would he seem ordinary in some ways?

So this is a poem I wrote about that…

If Jesus Attended My High School

I look at my high school and see the big crowd
There are so many, some shy and some loud
I wonder of all things how Jesus would be
If he were at my school – a student like me?

Maybe young Jesus would be the total sports achiever
Who could anticipate passes as a football receiver
Would his game-skills be awesome or his skating the best?
Would he be faster and smarter than all of the rest?

Would he be good-looking for the girls to admire?
Strong and handsome and he’d never perspire?
Or would he be a joker, the best kind of class clown,
Witty and smart, someone cool to be around?

When I try to fit in I wonder how Jesus would fare?
Would he buy the latest styles or blue-dye his long hair?
Would Jesus the teenager even think of these things?
Like who to ask to the semi, or perhaps the spring fling?

Would we be friends on Facebook or would he tweet on Twitter?
Would he wear clothes with pinstripes or glitter?
Maybe Jesus would avoid social media so speedy
And instead be spend time with a friend who was needy

Maybe Jesus would be a studious guy off in another zone
Reading dusty old textbooks in the library alone
He’d surely be smart, especially in History,
And know all the answers – to him nothing’s mystery!

He would know me, right down to my middle,
But would I know him? Recognize him, a little?
Jesus on earth wasn’t automatically respected
Born to poverty, not influence, and often rejected

WWJD says try to do what he would do, live as he did
But we imagine him a grownup man, not a teenaged kid
Because as a teenager in my school, I’m guessing that rarely
The day would go by that a Jesus would be treated fairly

Maybe teased for being good or the way that he talked
Or who really was his father, was he born out of wedlock?
Maybe he’d be short and ignored, not allowed in the club
Because those shy quiet types are the ones people snub

If a kid was friendless Jesus would text that kid’s phone
And he’d talk to that strange kid who is always alone
Jesus had a purpose and wouldn’t be embarrassed
To be seen with me when I’m being harassed

So maybe not fitting in at school isn’t the worst thing ever
Not belonging with the cool groups, or being thought clever
If Jesus went to my school, I hope that I’d recognize
Him for his goodness and kindness not his beauty or size

I look at my high school and see the big crowd
There are so many, some shy and some loud
I wonder of all things how Jesus would be
If he were at my school – a student like me?

March 1, 2017

Wednesday Link List

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

Our extro image is from the Twitter feed Unvirtuous Abbey:

batman-dark-night

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