Thinking Out Loud

June 15, 2014

Classic Christian Card Game

Filed under: family, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:35 am

Acme Bible Book Game

Last night we amused ourselves by playing Acme Bible Book Game which has similarities to Rook*, except there are ten suits, representing the various divisions of Biblical books. Now we know what the Flanders family does after dark. I imagined families nearly a century ago sitting at the kitchen table enjoying this game for several hours before retiring to the parlor to listen to Aunt Bertha play the pianoforte.

It’s not quite Settlers of Catan, which we played the night before. I don’t imagine this making a comeback anytime soon, except perhaps in conservative fundamentalist circles. I regret to state that we did not play until reaching the 300 points that would normally constitute a complete game.


*Rook has a huge following among older Christians, where the game was sometimes known as Baptist Bridge.  The rules are similar to Bridge or Rummy and in this Bible Book Game, there are counter cards, similar to Rook. (I should qualify that by stating there are many different rules for playing Rook, I only remember one which may not have been popular where you live.)

June 7, 2014

To All The Parents of Problem Kids

Filed under: family, parenting — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:36 am

To the parent of a child in

  • Junior Kindergarten
  • Senior Kindergarten
  • Grade One
  • Grade Two
  • Grade Three

who is hearing school staff talk about

  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Hyperactivity
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder

we know what you’re going through. The frustration. The calls from the school. The appointments with specialists. The inappropriate comments from other parents.

We’ve been there. Keep praying. Keep talking to other parents. Keep open to nutritional, non-pharmaceutical alternatives.

Thursday, he graduated with an honors degree in Engineering.

~Paul & Ruth

 

May 16, 2014

Praying Specifically

Praying the ScripturesI think sometimes our prayers seem to be ineffectual because we don’t really specify what it is we’re asking for. We remember people in prayer, but it’s more like reciting a list than it is standing in the gap on their behalf or interceding, that is, coming between them and God. I picture God wishing we would engage him more on the particulars.

“So Lord, please be with Mike and Darla.”

“I’m always with them; I will never leave them or forsake them.”

“But Lord, just be in their marriage.”

“Their marriage is wholly committed to me.”

“Yes, Lord, but help them to reach out to you.”

“They speak to me as a couple each morning and evening and throughout the day.”

“Well, just be with them this week.”

“What would you like me to do?”

“Well, they’re going through a rough time right now.”

“Yes, what things specifically are you wanting to bring forward.”

“Mike’s job at the warehouse is looking unsure, and Darla’s job ends next week.”

“Okay, that’s a specific.”

“And the kids are really stressing them out.”

“Yes, parenting is like that.”

“And they need to fix the roof this spring and the money’s not there.”

“Yes, and there’s a section over the end that’s going to get worse really soon.”

“Wait, you know that?”

“Of course I do.”

“Then Lord, I pray you’ll send them the money, or someone willing to repair the roof.”

“Isn’t your brother-in-law a roofing contractor?”

“Yes, but he lives three states away and he doesn’t know these people.”

“Well, you’ve ruled out that possibility. Which part of the prayer request do you think I should deal with first?”

“Isn’t that your job?”

“Yes, but what would you do if you were me?”

“I guess I would…”

“…Yes?”

“I guess I pray you’ll help them both realize that there aren’t really any jobs in their field anymore, that technology is shifting and they need to look for a different kind of work.”

“Now that’s a really specific prayer request I can work with.”

“How are you going to answer that one?”

“I’m going to send you to talk to them about the job market.”

“Oh.”

“Anything else?”

“No, I guess I’ve got some work to do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

 

May 10, 2014

Everybody’s Famous in a Small Town

Mr and Mrs Mugs

It probably started in California.
Most cultural things do.
People getting married and the woman keeps her maiden name.

It probably started with the film industry.
People who had careers.
Movie stars with name recognition wanting to keep their identity.

But then it spread to the broader society.
“I’m keeping my name;” she would say.
And we all got accustomed to that.

And then it came to church.
We have some friends who went on a one-year overseas mission.
The computer used to generate their support letters had to be reprogrammed.

The trend then moved away from urban centers to rural areas.
Because in the local village everybody has an identity.
Everybody’s famous in a small town.

The Bible talks about leaving and cleaving.
Nothing about changing your driver’s license after the wedding.
They had a different system of surnames back then.

So this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
It shouldn’t be a thing that creates walls and divides.
But people like an excuse to judge, don’t they?

border

Image: Mr. and Mrs. Mugs from Dayspring

…and no, today’s post wasn’t triggered by anything in particular.

April 14, 2014

Should Couples Hold Hands in Church?

Church behaviorDifferent denominations have different ideas as to the appropriateness of what is sometimes called PDA — public displays of affection — in the context of Christian camps or youth group meetings. Any rules that might exist are usually put in place with the intention of applying them to teens and twenty-somethings. Some churches have very strict standards on this, while in others, you’re probably wondering why this topic is here today.

Hand holding is a mark of commitment. If people want to know if it is true that the divorced usher on the east aisle is seeing the alto in the choir, walking in arm and arm should clear up that mystery in a hurry. In the context of gay relationships, in addition to being a gesture of affection, hand holding is really making the statement, ‘Yes, we are gay;’ and so doing this in church is a bold declaration of that situation.

But today I’m not looking at PDAs as physical status updates nor am I as concerned with the puppy love in the youth group. I’m talking about couples who have been married for some time and have nothing they’re trying to broadcast by being affectionate.

Yesterday I attended three different church services. I am always aware of men who put their arms around their wives during the service — and sometimes it’s the other way around — and there are times I do this myself. Whether the church in question has pews or chairs, I like to stretch out anyway, so whether there is an empty seat or it’s my wife sitting next to me, I am likely to do this, though I probably have my arm around her less than half the duration of the sermon.

On the other hand — pun intended — there are the couples who sit really close and the hug lasts the duration of the sermon.  (Except in summer in one church I visit which has no air conditioning.) I always see this as a church service = movie date type of posture. I would hope that in worship we see ourselves as standing before God individually even though as we sing we are worshiping corporately. The worship time is our personal response to God, and not something I can do with my spouse. (A possible exception might be if the worship leader invites everyone to join hands and sing a classic like “We are One in the Spirit,” or “Father Make Us One.”) I would also like to believe that in an ideal world, during the sermon we are busy taking notes, or looking up passages in our Bibles, even when the words are on the screen.

I also believe that during the actual time of the service, our “arm around” is broadcasting more than we realize.

  • It says to everyone that we are happy and committed. (Oh, if only they could see the chaos just ten minutes before we left home!) So in that sense, we are modeling what we consider to be the normal husband/wife relationship. We’re saying that the church family is a place where we are free to express that. It might be the only time we’ve had all week to just sit together.
  • It possibly serves as a major distraction however to singles. It could be a jarring reminder that they are sitting alone; that they have no such relationship; no hand to hold. I’m not sure this is the intention, but with all the other things the church does which tends to cater to couples with 2.4 children, I’m not sure we need one more. (Especially the one where, at the end of the benediction, the couple shares a quick kiss.)
  • It does equate to something we might do at a concert, play or movie. In that sense, we are saying that we are observers; that we are the audience; when the worship environment should be one where we are participants.
  • It gives the aforementioned kids in the youth group unspoken permission to do the same, which when combined with the current trend toward low lighting levels in our modern auditoriums, should beg all kinds of other questions. Can teens with raging hormones get all turned on while the preacher is discussing righteousness and judgment? (It’s a rhetorical question.)

HandsSo while I realize the intentions and motivation in the first case may be pure enough, and while I hate to be The Grinch that ruined the only moment of affection you and the significant other had all week; the second, third and fourth points seem to suggest a more conservative approach. I’m not saying you won’t catch me next Sunday with my arm around my wife, but it’s good to occasionally stop and think our actions through.

What do you think?
Any stories to tell on this subject?

 

 

April 5, 2014

Happy Birthday to Mrs. Thinking Out Loud

Filed under: family — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:55 pm

Happy Birthday - Another YearHappy Birthday! You know who you are. And I’ve saved you the hundreds of congratulatory notes you would have received had I put this up earlier in the day, by posting it near the very end of the day. You can thank me later. Hope your day was relaxing and you’re looking forward to a day a few weeks from now when, like the Queen, you have the ‘official’ birthday.

August 25, 2013

Just in Time for Back-to-School

Filed under: family, parenting — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:08 am

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

August 5, 2013

Christians Should Be More Procreative

Procreative.

Oh…my spell check approves. I thought I’d just made that up. Okay, maybe I have heard it before. Either way, it’s a good lead in to Adam Roe’s article, Why Christians Should Have More Children. Here’s a couple (meaning ‘three’) of highlights:

At some point the church bought into the idea that 2.3 kids is the ideal.  In speaking with an older and wiser friend about this the other day, I was informed that this might be a sort of generational bleed-over.  When everyone was worried about overpopulation after the baby boom, Christians joined in the cause and largely kept their families at about 2.3 children.

and

Even our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters are having difficulty in this area.  In a 2008 article by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Monsignor Vittorio Formenti noted, “while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer.”

and

Child rearing is the ideal in the Bible, and no reading of Scripture I am aware of, in connection with historical interpretation (Protestants concluded), can lead one to conclude otherwise.  God’s first command before all other commands is to be fruitful and multiply.  To separate children from marriage is as artificial as separating God from the Creation narrative.  God created because it is in His nature to do so.  God calls on humanity to be fruitful because we exist in His image.  To live in the image of God is to love in the image of God; within community and fruitfully.

So why are you still reading this. Time to turn off the computer and…

Otherwise continue reading here.

July 5, 2013

Saturate Your Home With Christian Media

Since my 72% US audience are all off celebrating the time they told England to get lost in 1776, here’s a repeat item from a year ago about which I am still very passionate…

I’ve previously written here about how we’re big fans of sermon audio when we travel, and as someone who works in the Christian bookstore environment, it’s a given that I’m a huge booster of Christian books and music.

But today I want to approach this from a slightly different perspective. Over the past few days I’ve written about the battle that goes on for our thought life, and how this takes place on a moment by moment basis. Back in June, I posted a great analysis of the types of thoughts, that are going on in our heads at any given point in time.

I don’t spend a lot of time commuting, but I am increasingly aware of the contrast that exists between the mental processes that take place when I omit to turn on the radio — which is mostly presets for Christian stations — and the times I have worship songs playing. This is a giant contrast, not a mild difference.

Listening to Bible Teaching

Yesterday we listened to sermons from North Point and Crosspoint. We tried to find another “point” but left it at those two, plus what we heard in church that morning. The day before I listened to one at Mars Hill (MI), a few days earlier it was a conference talk streaming at Elevation. You can find all these churches linked in the sidebar of this blog.

Life was not always so.

I can remember asking my parents why they had to constantly listen to more preacher programs. Their media of choice was WDCX, an FM station in Buffalo, and WHLD, a Buffalo AM outlet. Of course, my choice would have been Top 40 rock station 1050 CHUM in Toronto. I think that was the real issue.

But today, although I hunger to learn and grow and discover more about Christ through what others have learned, I also am acutely aware of what happens in the absence of Christian media in the home.

Bible teaching can come in other forms besides radio and television. There are the aforementioned sermons-on-demand and live-streaming church services on the internet, plus some teachers, like Bruxy Cavey at The Meeting House often do a separate podcast. But there’s also CD audio and of course books.

Listening to Christian Music

For some Christ-followers, the dominant form of uplifting, inspirational and wholesome media is Christian music; which may consist of hymns, mass choirs, southern gospel, adult contemporary, Christian rock in all its various genres, and the current favorite, modern worship.

Again, these can be accessed in various forms. Some choose mp3 files which can be played back in the car and in the home. Many people are still buying CDs. Christian music song videos abound on video sharing sites like GodTube, Vimeo and YouTube. There is an abundance of Christian radio available online, and here in North America, most people live within range of a broadcast station that plays music, teaching or a mix of both.

But I have to say that as a worship leader, nothing compares to the songs that you experience in a worship environment with your faith family. Maybe it’s because I was playing in the band yesterday, but one particular song — an original song written by our guest musician — stuck in my head for hours yesterday, and in a good way.

For a listing of some of my favorite songs with video, visit the sidebar in the right margin at Christianity 201.

Listening to God

These varied media I find to be a positive alternative to anything else, and in fact fulfill a direct instruction from scripture:

Phillips – Col. 3: 16-17 Let Christ’s teaching live in your hearts, making you rich in the true wisdom. Teach and help one another along the right road with your psalms and hymns and Christian songs, singing God’s praises with joyful hearts.

What will control your thought life this week?

June 2, 2013

My Wife is Awesome!

Filed under: family, personal — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:52 am

I told my wife that for my birthday I wanted a mix CD of all the songs I listen to regularly on YouTube. But then I never gave her a list of those songs. So while we had a picnic birthday lunch in the park — note to readers: candles don’t work at the beach with offshore winds — she handed me a small wrapped present which contained two very homemade looking discs.

Radio CarolineTurns out it was better than a mix CD. It was an hour each of two programs from Radio Caroline, the onetime pirate radio station that broadcast from a ship off the coast of England. She recorded an oldies show and a contemporary show.

But then, as happens quite often, our CD player in the car wouldn’t give back the disc we had listened to on the way. So yesterday, I finally got to hear a bit of the oldies show.

We were driving along the freeway and the host was reading off requests he’d received when suddenly, there was a shout out to us. By name. And location. Broadcast from London. It turned out he didn’t have the song she requested for me, but that’s okay. The whole concept was perfect with or without the song.

Most. Awesome. Gift. Ever.

Older Posts »

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.