Thinking Out Loud

August 31, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Due to an unfortunate accident last week, we have to remind readers: DO NOT PET THE WEDNESDAY LIST LYNX

Starting off this week with something a little un-characteristic for this blog…

  • From Drew Marshall’s Facebook page:  “Saw this somewhere: ‘For all you single ladies who are in such a hurry to find someone, here’s a quick piece of biblical advice: Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz. While waiting on YOUR Boaz, don’t settle for ANY of his relatives: Broke-az, Po-az, Lyin-az, Cheatin-az, Dumb-az, Cheap-az, Lockedup-az, Goodfornothin-az, Lazy-az or Married-az….. and especially his 3rd Cousin Beatinyo-az !!!!’ “
  • Okay, that was a strange way to start the link list, but it was actually an excellent lead in to a piece by Donald Miller who doesn’t waste words but just asks, “Ladies, Why Do You Hook Up?”  Closing in on 400 responses.
  • CNN’s tech page reports on a Bible-based video game, El Shaddai, except that the Bible-book it’s based on is The Book of Enoch, not exactly part of the core canon of scripture.
  • Now that we’ve hooked you in with superficial story links, let’s aim for some substance with Confessions of a Former Worship Leader.  Yeah, I know, even that one starts with “confessions.”
  • “Are you busy but not intentional? Do you feel like you are just spinning your wheels and not getting any traction? Does there seem to be a lack of any kind of momentum in your organization? Could be you are dealing with way too much “sideways energy.” So begins a post at Brad Lomenick’s blog.
  • The Brink — an online magazine for twenty-somethings — interviews the voice behind the currently popular “Blessings” song, Laura Story.
  • A former Mormon thinks that Rachel Held Evans gave a Mormon apologist a free pass with questions that were too easy.
  • 150,000 views isn’t much by YouTube standards, but on GodTube it’s fairly significant. Check out Brazilian child singing sensation, Jotta A. singing Agnus Dei.
  • You didn’t know Eugene Nida, but depending on what Bible translation you use, you’ve been affected by his research and ideas.  Nida pioneered the translation philosophy often referred to as ‘Dynamic Equivalence.’ Nida passed away last week at age 96.
  • Your new word for the day: Biblicism.  It means Biblical Literalism.  Of which one kind is Letterism. (Hey, that’s what Wikipedia says; I think it’s a typo: read the section header that follows its mention.) Even though our family played Balderdash on Monday night, I’m not making these words up. Actually this was sparked by this article at Jesus Creed.
  • Rather than wait for a fan to post a lyrics-only video for his song, The Real World, Owl City did the job himself. Nothing new here, just a musical style that obviously works. More important might be his new website, Reality is a Lovely Place.
  • “God moves at three miles an hour because walking pace is the pace of love. Efficiency, hurry and haste do not effectively communicate love, and so a vision of mission centered around haste cannot be carried out according to the character of our God.” Eddie Arthur quoting Simon Cozens at Kouya Chronicle with a link to Cozens’ full article.
  • The activity known as gleaning — look it up — is alive and well as Kevin Rogers notes in a profile of Forgotten Harvest.  (Does anyone else think “The Activity Known as Gleaning” would be a great name for band?  How about “Forgotten Harvest?”)
  • It’s not a Christian movie in the sense we normally use that term, but on Sunday morning, Pete Wilson was gushing about a forthcoming film, Machine Gun Preacher.
  • Visit Zac Hicks blog for a free download of the song “Hail Thou Once Despised Jesus” from the album Without Our Aid by Zac Hicks and Cherry Creek Worship. (Offer ends Sept. 13/11)  Furthermore, get ‘the story behind the song‘ along with the classic lyrics.
  • Zach quotes Tim Chester in 12 Reasons to Give Up Porn. Heck, any two or three of these oughta be sufficient.
  • If you find you need something today to get angry or frustrated about, you could always read the King James Bible Declaration. Posted at SFL of all places!
  • I actually did read some other things this week that were a little deeper, you can find those over at C201.
  • And now for something completely different. Click the image to find the answers to James West’s Bible Puzzle

August 30, 2011

Three-Legged Gospel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:35 am

The gospel is a three-legged stool. There is an overarching story, which recounts our history from first creation to new creation and demonstrates how God will be magnified as our all in all. Then there is an announcement about Jesus Christ — His obedient life, His substitutionary death for sinners, and His resurrection and exaltation as king of the world. This announcement finds meaning within the story. The announcement elicits a response that then births the gospel community, the church that puts on display the gospel announcement by holy living that provides a foretaste of heaven here on earth. (p. 26)

Trevin Wax as quoted in Chaplain Mike’s review of Trevin’s Counterfeit Gospels at Internet Monk.

August 29, 2011

Mark Driscoll’s Visions

Okay, I missed this one. But sometimes there are advantages in arriving late to the discussion. Especially when other people may have missed it, too. 

Mark Driscoll made a video in which he described how in counseling sessions, he sometimes ‘receives’ a picture of things the counselee isn’t necessarily sharing.  What some charismatics might call a ‘word of knowledge’ which Driscoll mistakenly calls a ‘gift of discernment.’ If Mark were an Assemblies of God minister, I don’t think anyone would bat an eyelash at this announcement. But Mark is generally seen sitting in the Reformed section of the church, so this raises all kinds of issues that non-Pentecostals haven’t seen hit so close to home.

Nor does it stop there. The nature of some of the images, or impressions, or visions that Pastor Mark has seen are, for lack of a better word, explicit. All of which led Phil Johnson at Team Pyro to refer to it as Pornographic Divination. No, Phil, tell us really think.  The link gets you nearly 300 comments and begins with this intro:

In a post last week, I pointed out that the preposterous claims, unhinged behavior, and spiritual quackery that are so prominent at the charismatic movement’s lunatic fringe are by no means limited to the outer edges. Goofiness and gullibility are necessary byproducts of a belief system that fails to take seriously the principle of sola Scriptura and its ramifications (i.e., the authority and sufficiency of Scripture).

So we know — actually we knew – where the bloggers at Pyromaniacs stand on revelatory supernatural gifts. But as I said earlier, this time the issue has come home to roost.

I remember years ago trying to nail down a definition of the “Charismatic Movement” that began around 1970, and someone much smarter than I said that it was a seeking after a deeper experience with God or a deeper experience with the Holy Spirit characterized by “a manifestation of spiritual gifts occurring in denominations which heretofore had no history of those gifts being operative.”

Now, I am not the president of Mark Driscoll’s fan club.  But what do you when someone has a supernatural word given to them? Do we say, “That turned out to be true, but they didn’t get it from God.” What if it’s a healing? Do we write it off to, “the meds kicked in” or some more earthly explanation?

I think Phil Johnson raises some valid issues. But I’m also convinced that in the Christian pilgrimage, some issues are simply not so black-and-white. Bloggers often want to be liked, and I know my desire is often to say, “I agree with him and I agree with her;” but I truly believe in the plausibility of Mark Driscoll’s story, and the conviction of Johnson’s trashing of it.

Problem is, I wasn’t there; I didn’t see what Mark saw. Whatever it was, he is giving God the credit. Whatever it was, the people at Team Pyro are not. The battle lines are drawn, and not a single Assemblies of God or Charismatic pastor started the fire.

August 28, 2011

Seeing and Hearing Grace for the First Time

You could call it “elder brother syndrome.”  It doesn’t matter what you call it; I just keep thinking that those of us who’ve been around church for a longer period of time are sometimes working from a distinct disadvantage. I don’t mean to minimize the years of things God saved us from, but I’ve had two experiences within about two hours of each other:

  • The first one was sitting in the morning service behind a couple who are new to our church having started coming about a year ago. The worship leader chose some pieces which we haven’t sung in awhile, and the thought struck me, they’re hearing some of these choruses for the first time. I imagined the freshness of the music and lyrics to their ears and compared it to when I heard some of them initially.
  • The second impression was just an hour ago. I’m reading a manuscript for a counselor who is writing to other counselors on dealing with issues like forgiveness and healing, and twice in four pages he noted that people who have amassed a head knowledge of God over the years will find it will actually prevent them from hearing directly from God; hearing a message that reaches into their hearts.

This is why I believe it’s so important to invite friends, neighbors and co-workers to weekend services; so we can see what we do through fresh eyes.  It’s also good to get connected with people who are new to faith, so we can rejoice with them at the discovery of the different aspects of God’s grace as He reveals it. Finally, we need to constantly “come as a child,” with the sense of awe and wonder that happens when people “taste and see that the Lord is good” for the first time.

August 27, 2011

Need a Rescue?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:53 am

When Jesus’ teaching began to go a little deeper, and his many followers realized that staying with him wasn’t going to be a constant free potluck dinner, the scriptures record that some of them decided to go rabbi-shopping elsewhere.  Jesus turned to his core group and asked them, “Are you going to leave as well?” and Peter says, “Where else can we go?”

60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

   67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

It’s easy to think Peter was just choosing among several lousy options and saying, ‘Oh well… this will have to do… nothing better is going to come along….;’ and in so doing we miss the power of verse 69:

69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Last night we spent some time with some people for whom the summer has brought their person version of what Paul Young would call “a great sadness.”  Maybe you’re dealing with something similar. For them, and for you, I want to share a song that has been on my heart all week.


You are the source of life
And I can’t be left behind
No one else will do
And I will take hold of You

‘Cause I need You Jesus
To come to my rescue
Where else can I go
There’s no other name
By which I am saved
Capture me with grace
I will follow You

My heart is Yours for life
I need Your hand in mine
No one else will do
I put my trust in You

I will follow You
This world has nothing for me
I will follow You
This world has nothing for me

I need You Jesus
To come to my rescue…

© 2003 Vertical Worship Songs (Admin. by Integrity Music, Inc.)
Jared Anderson

August 26, 2011

Your God is too Stereotyped

This morning while looking for something else, a copy of Your God Is Too Small by J. B. Phillips fell into my hands.  This 124-page pocket book is usually remembered for its first 59 pages which focus on a number of “wrong pictures” we have of God, and while I know that Thinking Out Loud readers would never fall into one of these errant views, I believe that we often partially fall into looking at God in one of these stereotyped forms.  Here’s a quick paraphrase of the types Phillips lists:

  • Policeman — an image usually formed out of a ‘guilt-based’ response to God
  • Parental hangover — the Father image of God evokes images of an earthly father which is more negative than positive
  • Grand Old Man — the head of the seniors group perhaps, or president of the service club; but the danger is the ‘old’ part if it implies irrelevance
  • Meek and Mild — an example, Phillips would argue, of a Sunday School chorus influencing theology which we might want to keep in mind when choosing modern worship pieces for weekend services
  • Absolute Perfection — which leads to us trying to be absolutely perfect even though we don’t often grasp what it means; or thinking God isn’t interested in us when we’re not perfect
  • Heavenly Bosom — a variation perhaps on burying our head in the sand; we bury ourselves in God as a kind of escapism
  • God in a Box — what I think Phillips is using describe people whose image of God has been shaped by subjective experience in local churches or denominations; or conversely, is defined by the beliefs of his or her denomination
  • Managing Director — with an emphasis on God as “controller,” this image evokes another metaphor: puppet string God
  • Second-Hand God — a longer section; it might be summarized as variations on the God-picture we would get from having seen a single movie or read a single book about God and built everything else up from there
  • Perennial Grievance — whatever the God-view the person holds, this one is ever mindful of the time that God let them down them; disappointed them; etc.
  • Pale Galilean — an image Phillips uses to describe people whose faith is lacking vitality and courage; or whose loyalty is fragile
  • Projected Image — which we would describe today as “creating God in our image.” 

Do you ever find yourself falling into any of these mistaken views of God?

While the terminology might not be readily used today; the book is fairly thorough about describing the full range of false views about God that can exist.  I felt led to share this here, but then needed to come up with some resolve to this.  Phillips views the first half of his book as deconstructive and follows it with a constructive second half.  What I want to do here instead, is end with a quotation I’ve used before, but which I believe everyone should commit to memory:

When we say we begin with God, we begin with our idea of God, and our idea of God is not God.   Instead, we ought to begin with God’s idea of God, and God’s idea of God is Christ.

~E. Stanley Jones

Further reading:  If you can get your hands on this out-of-print book, look for Jarrett Stevens’ The Deity Formerly Known as God (Zondervan) which is an updated version of Phillips’ classic.  If you can’t find it, get the original, which after all these years is still in print!

What is the New Jerusalem?

We’ve had an interesting run of comments at Christianity 201 on the subject of the New Jerusalem.  Is the Biblical language literal in its references to a city or location; or is the language more figurative, referring to believers as the people who make up the New Jerusalem?  Visit the discussion by clicking this link.

Prayer Request

Filed under: prayer — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:27 am

Without wanting to get into details — and not knowing all the details ourselves — I would appreciate it if my blog community could remember to continue to pray for me for physical healing.   Thanks.

August 25, 2011

Everybody Talks about the Weather…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:18 pm

Last night here in the Greater Toronto area, we sat glued to the Intellicast weather satellite web page, watching as a long skinny band of severe thunderstorms tracked its way from Terra Haute, Indiana, through Detroit, toward Toronto and up to Ottawa.   One Ontario town, Goderich, had seen its downtown area devastated by a tornado just the day before and was back on the tornado watch 24 hours later.

Tornadoes are rare in the area east of Toronto, but then so are earthquakes in Washington, DC.   It’s been that kind of week.  And sooner or later, someone steps forth to suggest all the strange weather is an indication that we are indeed “living in the end times.”  How do you respond?

First of all, I think weather is a rather weak “sign” of the impending  ending to the “age of grace” when compared with, for example, moral decay.  When people say, “Look at the way the world is…;” they generally are referring to its spiritual state, not its meteorological state. Furthermore, it’s the aggregate of many signs that point to “final wrap up” here.

So a good response might be, “Well yes, we knew that.”

Secondly, I think that we have imperative ever before us to live in an “end times” mindset.  The early disciples expected Christ to return in a matter of weeks or months.  Our expectation should be greater.  But we also don’t know what the next day might bring; it may not be the “last days” for everyone, but it could be the “very last day” for us.  We need to think in terms of leaving a legacy, of passing our faith values on to the next generation and doing some “kingdom building” that will impact our neighbors, co-workers, extended family, etc. 

So a good response might be, “Are you fully prepared, no matter what happens?”

Finally, I think we have a responsibility to close the windows so the rain doesn’t get in.  In other words, we need to do the practical things we can do here and now.  To not be so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good.  To not be spiritualizing the moment when we should be rounding up the patio furniture so it doesn’t blow away. 

So a good response to your neighbor might be, “Do you want to join us in the basement to ride out the storm?”

I Cor. 13 in a Fundamentalist World

From Darrell at Stuff Fundies Like.  I mean, where else would I get this?

1 Corinthians 13 (Annotated)

1 Corinthians 13 as found in the greater annotated Saved, Separated, And Soul-Winning Study Bible

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels (not that those gifts are still for today you understand), and have not charity(which is such a much better word that “love” don’t you think?) , I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (only we don’t use cymbals unless it’s to play John Phillips Sousa).

And though I have the gift of prophecy (Since I’m the pastor you know I do!), and understand all mysteries (I’m the pastor that’s a given!), and all knowledge (have you seen the diplomas on my wall??); and though I have all faith (which I pretty much do), so that I could remove mountains (or at least remove people from the membership rolls that I don’t like), and have not charity(that word is really hard to understand we’ll get back to this later), I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor (not that we actually go in for that kind of thing around here) , and though I give my body to be burned (probably by Roman Catholics), and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long (oh, how I suffer! I haven’t had a new car in months!), and is kind (to those who deserve it and aren’t liberals); charity envieth not (no problem here, I’m already the best at everything); charity vaunteth not itself (whoops. go back and scratch out that last note), is not puffed up (Again this is confusing. I’m assuming this is a reference to being gay), Doth not behave itself unseemly (no rock music or britches on women), seeketh not her own (eh?), is not easily provoked(unless of course it’s holy anger which all of mine is), thinketh no evil(no bad shows on TV, amen?); Rejoiceth not in iniquity(Doesn’t vote Democrat), but rejoiceth in the truth(Votes Republican); Beareth all things(it doesn’t say “bareth” amen? so you women keep yourselves covered), believeth all things(at least the things I tell you to believe), hopeth all things(I hope I get a better bonus this year), endureth all things(like me putting up with you more sinful folk).

Charity never faileth. (at least as long as you stay on my good side.)

And all God’s people said?

August 24, 2011

Wednesday Link List

I like a church that covers all the basics for living

Years from now, when anthropologists discover this blog, they will say, “Truly, this was the Wednesday Link List for August 24th, 2011.”

  • Randy Alcorn quotes a Chuck Colson report that we shouldn’t be talked into thinking there’s been a lessening of persecution of Christians in China.
  • The author and publishers of The Shack — a bestselling Christian novel — found themselves on opposite sides of a lawsuit which was finally settled out of court.
  • Just what WOULD the Beatles have come up with, creatively speaking, had they been followers of Jesus all those years ago? A good friend of ours has finally given us the green light to release the link for a take-off to The Beatles “When I’m Sixty-Four.”  So enjoy “Matthew Six Three-Four.”  (The link will open your computer’s media player.) Stay tuned for more from Martin Barret on a soon to be released project featuring this song and others.
  • Schullergate Item of the Week:  The Crystal Cathedral succeeded in getting a dissenting website, Crystal Cathedral Music, taken down this week. The site featured commentary from former members of the CC choir and orchestra and friends of the Cathedral’s former music style.
  • Darryl Dash warns pastors and others that when it comes to email and online correspondence, nothing is confidential.
  • Christianity Today profiles Dave Ramsey, noting the new Momentum curriculum, designed to bring the same advice to cash-strapped churches as is given individuals.
  • Alex Mejias at the blog High Street Hymns gives you Five Reasons to Use Liturgical Music in Your Contemporary Worship Service.  (And no, “Liturgical songs are free of copyright worries” wasn’t in the list.)  [HT: Zac Hicks.]
  • This one’s a repeat from April, but I read it again and laughed again.  What if churches used their signs to suggest “purpose statements” that were actually achievable?
  • DotSub — the online service which adds subtitles in any language to your videos — picks up a June, 2010 TED Talk by Larry Lessig which deals with copyright and fair use, but begins with an observation about Republicans: They go to church.
  • Ronnie McBrayer adds his voice to The Underground, a Christian website like no other, and notes that a lot of people do strange things because they thought they heard God’s voice.
  • In an in-depth article, CNN ponders whether Christians can win the war against pornography. (Over 3,000 comments as of Monday.)
  • Julie Clawson considers the theological implications of the Veggie Tales song, “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.”  Okay, that’s not exactly what this post is all about.
  • Just discovering the music of Phil Wickham.  Gave Mrs. W. the Cannons album last week for being good!  This older song, You’re Beautiful, is closing in on 2,000,000 YouTube views.  For the already-converted (!) here’s a clip from Phil’s October-releasing album, Response.
  • Darrell at Stuff Fundies Like delivers a fundy take on I Cor. 13; though in all honesty, I gotta say this one is high in contention for being tomorrow’s post here.
  • You’re not really going to the bathroom at Bible study group are you?  Bryan Lopez reblogged Tech-Crunch’s Technology is the New Smoking.
  • Somewhat related: Chrystal at Life After Church introduces a new blog series by describing a very non-Baptist way to engage with scripture.
  • Thomas Prosser at the UK Guardian newspaper thinks that Christian youth camps are manipulative, but before you read, you need to know that what they term as camps, we refer to as festivals.
  • If you’re a link-o-phile, you’ll also find a daily rundown at Take Your Vitamin Z (Zach Nielsen), Kingdom People (Trevin Wax) and Tim Challies.  These bloggers include things from the broader blogosphere including lots of tech news, but when it comes to theological discussion the links are all from a single doctrinal family of bloggers.  (Note the vast number of links that turn up on all three over the course of a month.)  The mix here is quite different, but feel free to check out the three mentioned above as well as the large, diverse number of other bloggers in the margin at right.  These links are constantly checked for (a) a spiritual focus, (b) frequent and recent posting, and (c) taken as a group, doctrinal mix and balance.

The Wednesday List Lynx arrives late to the party

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