Thinking Out Loud

August 30, 2008

An All Too-Common Confession

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:27 am

James Mills shares the following at Ecclesial Dreamer:

In October of this year it will be four years since I have been actively involved in a community of faith. Four years. I cannot even begin to articulate how much I miss being engaged in a community of faith. But as hard as it has been to be displaced from that it has been much harder trying to find a way to reconnect, especially at a local level. No doubt there is plenty of blame I need to shoulder for worshiping in the wilderness for so long. I am quite certain that there are issues of pride, ego, and stubbornness on my side of the equation. But I am quite confident that there is more to my extended exile than just my own shortcomings.

Finish reading the article here. You may be, or know people in a similar situation. In posting this, I’m not saying everybody needs to go to church; that’s too simplistic. But every Christ-follower needs to be immersed in a larger community. If that’s you, do you miss what James misses?

August 29, 2008

Looking Out For Her

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 3:54 pm

Loved this cartoon which was up yesterday on Jordan Cooper’s blog. The article that went with it is good also. After having sat out the last year not doing much speaking or worship-leading, it would be easy for me to lose concern and passion for what goes on in the church, but I think it’s important for all of us to “keep looking out for her.” Yes, “her.”

One of my kids got confused last night when the devotional book we were reading referred to the church as “she” and “her” and I explained that this is a literary device and sometimes ships and boats are “she” also, but in this case, this is also exactly how Christ sees the church.

So if it’s not merely criticism, and you’re truly “looking out for her” then keep blogging, Jordan; and everyone else. Look out for her best interests. Nurture her. Encourage her.

August 28, 2008

Accurate Science

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:34 pm

Another great cartoon from Dan Lietha, who draws for the ministry website of Answers in Genesis.

Moving to Another Place

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:46 pm


I’m standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She’s an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come down to mingle with each other. And then I hear someone at my side saying, “There, she’s gone.”
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There, she’s gone;” there are other eyes watching her coming, and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!” And that is dying.

No, it’s not C. S. Lewis. Attributed to Henry Scott Holland or Henry Van Dyke, depending on who you ask.

An ’80s Blessing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:24 pm

To all the hearts that have been broken,
To all the dreamers with abandoned dreams,
To everyone in need of a friend,
— You are loved, You are loved;
To the rebels wounded in battle
To all the rockers that have lost that beat
To all the users who are all used up now
— You are loved, You are loved.

~from the mid ’80s by Christian Rock band, THE ALTAR BOYS; this was running through my head this morning as I felt a hunger and desperation to know deeper the reality of God’s love for me as an individual; something that we all need to strive to be more aware of. His love for us is there and it is constant; it’s our perception of it that changes with circumstances and feelings.

August 27, 2008

Great Line from Bill Clinton’s Speech at the DNC

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:23 pm

9:18 PM, EST:

“..People the world over have always been more impressed with the power of our example than the example of our power.”

AP Photo.

Classic Peter Sellers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:17 pm

It’s one thing to declare war on the United States. It’s quite another thing for them not to actually know they are at war. This was a funny book, and a funny movie. It releases this week on DVD, possibly for the first time. Definitely going to buy this one. Here’s the publisher marketing:

The Mouse That Roared

Release Date: Aug 26, 2008

In this outlandish, side-splitting tale of the fortunes of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, a mythical land on the verge of bankruptcy because its one export, a fine wine, has been undercut by a US company. Grand Fenwick’s prime minister (Peter Sellers) and female monarch (Sellers again) cook up a scheme to solve the problem: they will declare war on the States.

Approximate total running time is 1 hour, 23 minutes.

When I Was Your Age…

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:14 pm

From Bobwama’s Wallpaper of the Day – http://bobwama.tumblr.com/

August 26, 2008

Authoritarianism – 3

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:00 pm

So there they were: Four police officers with two squad cars and a radar gun. The limit on this street was once 60 kph (that’s just under 40 mph) but about 15 years ago got changed to 50 kph (just over 30 mph). There are no houses or offices or stores in the area where they were clocking the cars driving by, though there is a big hill which causes everyone to pick up speed. I wasn’t going fast enough to be pulled over, but I’ll bet they made a lot of money that day. Every main access road around our town — north, south, east and west — is 50 kph.

On the street where I live, which has the same speed limit, cars often race by at about 80 kph (about 50 mph) around a curve. There are parked cars, children on bicycles, seniors walking dogs, and lots of houses. I have never seen the police set up radar on my street. There is simply no money in it. And that’s entirely what it’s all about: Money. Not public safety. (A U.S. town was recently featured on a network news story because something like 95% of their town budget was raised through various type of entrapment, including charges for things like speeding, failing to stop, unsafe lane changes, etc.)

I have no respect for the police in my town. There… I said it. There are lots of reasons for this, and many stories I could tell, and possibly will later on. Most concern my efforts as a quiet, law-abiding citizen to try to get the police to back up my rights to peaceful enjoyment of my home and property. Instead, they tend to side with those who are not quiet, not law-abiding. Once, someone abandoned two bicycles on my property for several days. When I tried to get the police to come and get them, it was me that was made to feel like a criminal. Another time I called about my neighbor’s all night party, which included cars parked on my front lawn. I was told my neighbor “.________would never do that.” When I mentioned that I hadn’t actually mentioned ________’s name, the dispatcher promptly hung up the phone. Yeah. Really. Seriously.

My lack of respect is a problem for me because as a Christian, I have been taught to respect those in authority. What child didn’t, at least once in Sunday School, get told to “respect the policeman.” I have often dismissed this as simplistic Sunday School theology. And if the policeman asks you stop and wait when you’re eight years old and crossing the road, respecting them IS good advice after all. And it was good advice when our family was caught in a lockdown on a beach in Toronto when there was a suspected sniper. (Yes, they do risk their lives.) But the police are for the most part simply entrusted with enforcement. They are neither appointed nor elected. Surely my respect issues ought to be limited to the authorities that are legislative (the government) and judicial (the interpretation of the law).

But then a quick look at The Message translation of I Peter 1,13-17 shoots that full of holes.

“Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.”

Did you catch the line, “authorities, whatever their level…”?

My second problem with lack of respect stems from the fact that one such peace officer in my town is himself a Christian. I’ve met this guy several times. We’ve talked. We’ve e-mailed. I like him. I feel we have Christ in common, which matters the most. Yet, I can’t see how he is able to reconcile his faith and values with things like the radar dragnet I witnessed. (I don’t know that he was actually there.) A person can be technically guilty of speeding in a stretch like this, but be somewhat morally innocent at the same time. How do you “enforce the law” when you know you’re pulling over, in some sense, the “wrong” criminals?

Now that the town has annexed an area to the north of the urban area proper, they have decided that this area should also be 50 kph. It consists of mile after mile of farm properties, open fields, no housing, no intersecting streets.

I couldn’t resist a letter to the editor of our local newspaper:

As soon as the lower speed signs are posted… police enforcement will surely follow, and what a cash cow this will turn out to be as unsuspecting locals and tourists alike are picked off one after the other.

For locals, reprogramming the brain cells on this one is not going to be easy. Call it the urbanization of [our community] if you will, but there is nothing in visual range that will reinforce that urbanization. Furthermore, even the most law-abiding citizen, who has never driven over 80 km/hr on [one of the main roads] will suddenly find themselves not only speeding, but in demerit-point territory, with possible insurance repercussions in addition to very high financial penalty.


None of this will impact the safety of the children and seniors on my block. None of this will catch some of the worst drivers. Why? Because everyone who lives here knows that the radar only gets set up in the middle of nowhere; so they slow down in the known speed traps and then speed up when they turn on to my sidestreet.

For a very brief time I attended a church where I had no respect for the pastor. I told people I didn’t respect him, though I respected the office. In other words, on an individual level, I thought the guy was a bit of a knucklehead, but I respected the office of pastor — and a belief in the sovereignty of God at work in his hiring — enough to temper some criticisms I might have made or temper the choosing of people I might have made them to.

Does that apply here? Can I respect the office of policeman even though I view some of the individuals so serving with contempt? Is it even possible to separate the two?

Respect the authorities. I really, really want to. My devotion to God’s word in I Peter chapter one demands that I do.

photo: generic Internet image

part one of this article on August 13th

part two of this article on August 14th

part four will deal with the issue of authoritarianism in homes and families

Sin While You Can: Limited Time Offer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:56 pm

Canada is about a month away from having a national “do not call” list that should put an end to dinnertime telephone solicitation for those who don’t want any more calls. Needless to say, telemarketers have redoubled their efforts to get as many calls in as they can over the next few weeks. Some are live, some are pre-recorded, and all are a nuisance.

At the local level, the town where we live is supposedly banning the use of chemical pesticides on residential properties for cosmetic purposes, as of the end of this season. I say supposedly because the purveyors of pollution are fighting this to the bitter end. One of my neighbors, who works in the equally environmentally-unfriendly field of nuclear power (but without the charm of Homer Simpson), has actually signed up with TWO different companies. His lawn is a chemical soup, but looks absolutely no different from mine. The trucks are spraying so much of this stuff locally that the entire town reeks of it, and with two family members with severe asthma, it’s all I can do to not scream. A bike ride on Sunday ended after suddenly realizing I was inhaling and ingesting large quantities of the toxins.

The obvious metaphor? Society as a whole. Everybody trying to see what they can get away with, knowing deep down that a day of reckoning is coming. Knowing that the sand in the hourglass is going to run out. What should we be doing instead?

3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

II Peter 3: 3 – 12a TNIV

Cartoon: Clay Bennett, The Christian Science Monitor

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