Thinking Out Loud

November 28, 2013

Heaven is For Real – The Movie: Sneak Preview

Filed under: media — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:09 am

Scheduled for release on Easter weekend, 2014, the movie adaptation of the bestselling Thomas Nelson book, Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo is now far along enough in production that a trailer is now available. The book has significant title recognition even in the general market, and is sure to re-spark conversations about death, the after-life and faith.

Below is the first official movie poster, a little hard to read, but it gets away from the Sunday School version of Colton on the front cover of the book. Click the image to see the full cast list at Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

Heaven Is For Real - The Movie

August 25, 2013

Entering Another Place

Filed under: Faith, theology, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:10 am

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.

January 9, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Paul's Other Damascus Road - Cuyler Black

Remember, “The just shall link by faith.”

  • Our artwork today has no specific link, but is in celebration of artist Cuyler Black’s newest greeting card releases from his Inherit The Mirth collection and Nicole Brayden Gifts
  • Passion’s Louis Giglio will pray at the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama. Now it’s not happening. Read this update.
  • Shane Claiborne talks about his 2012 trip to Afghanistan on two videos at Red Letter Christians.
  • After several years silence, James Duncan returns to his blog to document his side of the lawsuit he filed against Perry Noble‘s New Spring Church.
  • Also on the subject of lawsuits, at the end of December a court weighed in on the dentist who fired his assistant for being too ‘hot.’  Dan J. Brennan offers a Christian perspective on men and women working together.  [HT: Pastoralia]
  • Michael Gungor has a very lengthy, very thoughtful essay on the state of the Christian music business. Or you can read ‘The Becky Part’ in this excerpt at Vitamin Z. You might actually know her.
  • Stanford University has an atheist chaplain — apparently that’s not an oxymoron — but Get Religion editor Terry Mattingly thinks the reporting on this misses a bigger story: What are the spiritual needs of atheists?
  • Without books like Heaven is For Real at their disposal, where did Old Testament saints think they were headed after death? C. Michael Patton answers this one.
  • Mark Galli at Christianity Today provides an updated profile of Francis Chan. “I’ve got five kids (ages 17 to 1)… My one daughter had to drive on the same day that I taught my other one how to walk. So it’s a weird, weird phase.”
  • If you’re using a computer right now, you are among the world’s richest people. Congratulations! You won the life lottery. Here’s some pictures that ran here two years ago that illustrate your prizes.
  • …And January 2011 was a good month here for several reasons. If you’re new to this blog, another one you missed was this challenge to summarize the gospel in a single sentence
  • A classic book by Louis Giglio is now updated and available in paperback. I am not, but I know I AM is both the book’s rallying cry and its title. (This item was slotted here before item #2 was added late Tuesday night!)
  • Never thought of this one.  With all the gay-friendly churches out there today, do gays really need their own denomination?  A look at the Metropolitan Community Church movement.
  • Meanwhile, a Roman Catholic church in London has ended their gay-friendly service. “Archbishop Vincent Nichols said in a statement that gay Catholics should attend Mass in their local parishes rather going to separate services.” So it’s about the parish system.
  • Sometimes when someone does something silly we jokingly say, “Are you off your meds?” But mental illness is a serious problem that the church needs to be more aware of.
  • The Christian Post weighs in on the thorny issue of how much pastors get paid. Some salary quotations are comparing apples and oranges.
  • A new generation of video game designers wants to launch a new generation of video games that aren’t lame.
  • Do you reach out when new neighbors move in? Here’s a brilliant essay with everything you need to know about how not to do this. Or maybe you’ve already done something like this.
  • Finally, a video for a song from Chris Tomlin’s new — released yesterday — album, Burning Lights, gives us weekend guitar players onscreen guitar fingering charts to play along.

Mrs. Goliath - Cuyler Black

January 7, 2013

What If? – The Ultimate Revelation Song

The idea expressed here is not something that I believe to be the case, but rather is simply a possibility I want to consider in the hope of enlarging your vision of what it means to speak of someday standing in God’s presence.

Urbana 2012

So I’ve been cruising the interwebs for the last couple of days hoping to run into some video footage of InterVarsity’s latest missions conference, Urbana 2012, which was held between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

I finally encountered this homemade video compilation at YouTube, though I could see evidence in it that a professional camera crew was probably documenting the event for something more formal to be released later.

The person who posted the video was obviously more interested in the music than the speakers, though there was an interesting excerpt of what appeared to be the opening of the event where someone was talking about the millions of kids who have passed through the Urbana events since their inception some 60 years ago. (Full disclosure, as a one-time InterVarsity Press employee, I am very biased towards anything InterVarsity does!)

Based on the scant bit of data I could gather from the video (and a second part posted by the same individual) the future of modern worship has a distinctively Latin flavor. But then, this was a conference with a world missions emphasis.  (Another aside: If your church doesn’t occasionally sing a familiar worship chorus in another language, you’re missing out. There is nothing more worshipful than to realize that we are part of a larger body doing what we do on weekends; and to free ourselves from the confines of our local church buildings.)

There’s a point in the video where the audience is singing Revelation Song (Worthy is the / Lamb who was slain / Holy, holy is He) in what I believe to be Spanish. (The video quality is good but not great.) I believe the words to the chorus are something like “Santo, santo, santo…”  (Corrections welcomed.)

But then there is a point — possibly due to the poor audio — where it appears there are several languages going on at once. At least, that’s what it sounded like on my bargain-basement speakers.

And it got me thinking.

What if?

What if the song sung by angels and resurrected followers of Jesus Christ is a song that had already been heard on earth. (Again, it’s probably something far greater; “…ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man…:” etc.). But what if?

What if the “Holy, Holy, Holy” of those falling on their faces before God in the book of Revelation had been already previewed for us. And what if, in the grandest of ironies, the song is known in English as “Revelation Song.”  (Rev. 4:8 attributes this to the Living Creatures, but the text doesn’t preclude others joining in the song.)

Again, this is pure conjecture. And I don’t want to embarrass the writer of the song by attaching a significance to it that exceeds all commonly held parameters.

But what if some of the songs we sing in heavenly places are songs that we now know, with each one singing in their own language? Think about it, we’ve increasingly seen some of today’s worship choruses transcend the broadest denominational spectrum. And the internet takes songs around the world instantly.

But what of the people who didn’t live in the 21st century?

What if the saints who have gone before us live out their role as a “great cloud of witnesses” are eavesdropping on our weekend services and learning our songs? Do they sing along on some (not all) of them? What if their greatest delight is to hear sincere praise emanating from our lips as we sing the songs which advance the purposes and power of God in our generation?

What if those people who said after a good worship time, “I believe we’ll be singing those songs in heaven” were partly right?  What if those who offered, “I believe that was a taste of heaven” weren’t completely off the mark?

What if there’s a way that people singing in different languages can be united by a melody, by harmonies, by chords; and that some day we will hear what it sounds like when an assembled multitude from across the spectra of time and locations join with a company of angels to produce a sound to honor God that is literally out of this world? 

What if we turn out thoughts toward dreaming of heaven?

September 11, 2012

Rapture, What Rapture?

Thank you, Skye Jethani.

I’ve finally found someone whose take on the whole pre-tribulation rapture so popular among North American Evangelicals resonates with what I am coming to understand on this topic; and is able to articulate it well.

It happens on Episode # 15 of the Phil Vischer podcast. They’re talking about the Up-There versus New-Earth views as to what constitutes heaven when Phil asks about the rapture. Even though it’s audio, you can almost see Skye rolling his eyes. He then explains to Phil and co-host Christian Taylor that people have forced the scripture to fit a pre-determined (and wished-for) theology.

The heaven thing is around the 26-minute mark, and they get into the rapture somewhere around the 31-minute mark. If anyone knows a cheap (i.e. free) way of running a transcript of this, I would be more than happy to reproduce it here.

…They say that when pastors are experiencing rapid growth and aren’t sure about adding more service times or commencing a building program, they simply preach some tough message to create more seats. There’s actually a Biblical precedent for this, if you think about it.

So I realize that coming out on this topic might cost me some readers, but I hope that anyone who is open to reconsider long-held peripheral doctrines — because this isn’t core doctrine — will listen to what Skye has to say.

 

UPDATE (September 13th) — We thought we were finally burned out on mentioning the Phil Vischer podcast here, but things continue to get more interesting. Here’s a piece at Christianity 201 about the episode that followed this one.

June 27, 2012

Wednesday Link List

A different approach to links this week.

If we are speaking to cultural elites who despise us and our beliefs, we want to be bold and courageous.
If we are speaking to strugglers who fight against same sex attraction, we want to be patient and sympathetic.
If we are speaking to sufferers who have been mistreated by the church, we want to be apologetic and humble.
If we are speaking to shaky Christians who seem ready to compromise the faith for society’s approval, we want to be persuasive and persistent.
If we are speaking to liberal [or gay] Christians who have deviated from the truth once delivered for the saints, we want to be serious and hortatory.
If we are speaking to gays and lesbians who live as the Scriptures would not have them live, we want to be winsome and straightforward.
If we are speaking to beligerent Christians who hate or fear homosexuals, we want to be upset and disappointed.

  • Here’s a link all the way back to May, where N. T. Wright offers a different view of heaven. The heaven we understand he says would sound foreign to people in Jesus’ time. He also proposes we think more of heaven as overlapping or intersecting with the here and now.
  • Perry Noble joins the ranks of megachurch pastors with books released through major publishers. Unleash is, from what I can tell, largely the story of New Spring Church and about God helping you unleash your vision. Here’s a sample chapter.
  • Another Mars Hill (Seattle) horror story. This one describes an exorcism. There’s no happy ending:

Why do you think Mark [Driscoll] claimed that your “demons” were “sexual”?

It’s always his go-to topic. Ironically, my husband had more “demons” than one could imagine. But his demons were of no consequence and unimportant to the church. It was somehow my fault because “maybe I wasn’t the godly, providing wife” I was supposed to be.

That said, Mark was also aware that my husband and I had sexual troubles from day one. And regarding our sex life–because I was essentially grinning and bearing it most of the time–Mark concluded that I was a terrible wife to my husband. Even when my husband looked at porn, Mark blamed me because I wasn’t doing my “wifely duty”. I felt violated when sex was expected of me. I was intensely miserable and neglected throughout my marriage, but Mark deemed that irrelevant because I was the wife and my duty was to serve my husband sexually.

One night I had a wondrous dream,
 One set of footprints there was seen,
 The footprints of my precious Lord,
 But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
 And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
 Those prints are large and round and neat,
 “But Lord they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” He said in somber tones,
 “For miles I carried you alone.
 I challenged you to walk in faith,
 But you refused and made me wait.”

“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
 The walk of faith, you would not know.
 So I got tired, I got fed up,
 and there I dropped you on your butt.”

“Because in life, there comes a time,
 when one must fight, and one must climb.
 When one must rise and take a stand,
 or leave their butt prints in the sand.”

  • Daniel Jepsen goes to the movies: “I saw the SF movie Prometheus last week.  I won’t review it or summarize it here except to note that it featured a creature far rarer than aliens in Hollywood’s universe: a practicing Christian.  She is even portrayed in a positive light, and is, in fact, something of the heroine of the story.”
  • Darrell Dash notes that material benefits, combined with intangible benefits, added to future rewards equals the situation that pastors are well compensated, thank you.
  • Timothy Kurek has rewritten the playbook on incarnational, choosing to identify as gay even though he says he isn’t in order to understand their persecution.  His adventure could fill a book:

Facebook: Timothy Kurek is an aspiring writer, proficient drinker, laudable instigator, and recovering Pharisee. 

YouTube video description: From bigotry to empathy, this is the true story of a conservative Christian attempting to find the answers. And it all begins with two words. “I’m Gay.” (Jesus in Drag, The Book Trailer; linked above.)

MSNBC Interview: “I was pretty immersed in that experience.”

  • Author Karen Spears Zacharias debriefs the Jerry Sandusky trial: “When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is hurt denied. When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is responsibility deafened. When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is shame misplaced. When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is evil granted access.”
  • It’s 431 .pdf pages, but Bible aficionados — or perhaps people who have never read an interlinear Bible — might enjoy the Mechanical Translation of Genesis.
  • As CNN’s Belief Blog put it, “She went from atheist to Catholic in just over 1,000 words.” Leah Libresco announces her conversion on her blog:

Libresco says one of the most common questions she has received is how she’ll deal with atheists now.

“The great thing about a lot of the atheist and skeptic community is that people talk more critically about ideas and want to see proof provided,” Libresco said. “That kind of analytical thinking is completely useful and the Catholic Church doesn’t need to and should not be afraid of because if you’ve got the facts on your side, you hope they win.” 

  • When Benny Hinn remarries his former wife Suzanne, Jack Hayford will perform the re-nuptials. Hinn said, “We never broke the covenant. Our marriage has been restored. We just want to make sure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes.”
  • Pete Wilson confesses that there are three things he learned early on in ministry — about problems, conflict and giving up — that he later had to unlearn.
  • Not a Christian site/blog link, but you have to feel for these two kids who got sunburned when the school refused to apply sunscreen on field day.

April 11, 2012

Wednesday Link List

WLL #99, but who’s counting?  Besides they existed before the name became uniform each week. 

  • Fine artist Thomas Kinkade died over the Easter weekend. He chose to highly commercialize his art rather than sell in galleries; and after becoming a Christian many of his works were faith-focused.
  • Many local churches are discovering how to do what we call The Lord’s Supper or Communion in something closer to its original context as a meal. Alan Knox shares how that happened in combination with an Easter Sunday gathering.
  • You may have seen the Google predictive search results for phrases beginning with “Christians are…”  Matt Stone tries Google searching the same phrase substituting other religions.
  • An Ontario school board wants to ban the distribution of Bibles, and now board members are receiving threats which are not coming from the Gideons.
  • The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) ran a report on Easter Sunday on how technology is impacting various world religions. Bobby Gruenewald of livechurch.tv was interviewed, and there was a brief shot of Craig Groeschel, but otherwise, Christian representation was limited to file footage of Billy Graham et al.
  • The American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) wandered down the same road on the same day with an interview with Rick Warren, who hasn’t done much media lately.  Don’t miss the part on page five of the transcript where he affirms that dogs and cats go to heaven. Yes, he said that. (Video not available outside the U.S.)
  • And speaking of heaven, Time Magazine revisits the concept four years later.  Here’s a link to their coverage then and now; the ’08 article is available in full, the current article will cost ya.
  • The Russian Orthodox Church went to a lot of trouble to airbrush a photo showing Patriarch Kirill I wearing a $30,000 wristwatch, but while they got they watch removed, they missed its reflection in a highly polished table.
  • Peter Rollins publicly denies the resurrection. But before you quote me on that, better watch the video.
  • Yesterday at C201 we tapped into a series from Mike Breen’s blog wherein a British pastor reflects on the differences between the church in North America and the church in England.
  • A graduate student in theology and support staff worker at Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspective Ministries gives a short Christian response to The Hunger Games franchise.
  • Rachel Held Evans spoofed her own Sunday Superlatives — the equivalent to this Wednesday Link List — on what happened to be April 1st. Too bad; some of the articles looked promising.
  • Blogger John Shore participated in a “Burning of Resentments” ceremony on Easter Sunday. Apparently in 2013 this is going to take place across religious lines in San Diego County.
  • What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him is a new collection of essays from author Byron Forrest Yawn. Check out the book trailer.
  • The character in this Motts for Tots packaging looks really familiar, but shouldn't that be tomato juice instead of apple juice?

    Jefferson Bethke, aka the “I hate religion but I love Jesus” guy, is interviewed by Trevin Wax on the topic of Student Ministry.
  • The old church annual report is never the same once it goes digital.  Here’s an analysis of the one from Elevation Church (Steven Furtick) which includes video links, infographics and humor.
  • Want to take your church service online?  Check out Church Online Platform and also 316 Networks.
  • It’s been ten months now, and this post about regulations at Perry Noble’s church still draws a lot of comments from both sides.
  • The Worship Song links in the sidebar at Christianity 201 have finally been updated, and the blogroll here is in the middle of some serious editing. Only blogs with posts within the last 30 days are listed, though some do return after disappearing.
  • Christianity Today now requires a subscription in order to read selected articles online. If you find a link here to what is now paid article, let me know and it will be deleted.

January 4, 2012

Wednesday Link List

By request, a fresh take on the recurring List Lynx pun here

(B)link and you’ll miss it! 

  • Hard to imagine anyone opposing a translation of the Bible into another language, but the Jamaican patois version isn’t pleasing everyone.  Text sample: “De angel go to Mary and say to ‘er, me have news we going to make you well ‘appy. God really, really, bless you and him a walk with you all de time.”
  • Daniel Jepsen admits it’s not like him to walk out of a church service, but he did just that when the service went too far, or perhaps didn’t go far enough. Teaching the Bible would have been a refreshing addition.
  • Fuller Theological Seminary’s Kara Powell thinks that while adults and children are all sharing the same church, they’re all having a different experience of it.  In a 4-page article at CT, she suggests keeping kids in church beyond high school means giving them a faith that sticks.
  • He uses his involvement in TV and film production to evangelize well known actors, and he’s been fired by one prominent casting agency for doing so.  Steve Cha talks to Christian Post about evangelizing Hollywood.
  • This is the link to part one of the original video that Ben Breedlove posted at YouTube just days before he died on Christmas Day; though you need to watch part two to get the full story.  Gateway Church in Austin, Texas also posted the 42-minute memorial service  video in which lead pastor John Burke refers to Ben’s faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Cerebral palsy and epilepsy didn’t stop Toronto’s Robert Gagnon from completing a BA at Redeemer and an MTS at Tyndale Seminary, or from launching a new ministry for people with visible disadvantages, Abilities in Christ.
  • Here’s an interesting standup routine by Phil Long that gets some deep analysis on Tyler Braun’s blog.
  • Still haven’t made those New Year’s Resolutions?  Ann Voskamp offers five steps to help you begin.
  • Is heaven and The New Jerusalem the same thing? Think about it.  Here’s a C201 blog post that took on a life of its own in the comments.
  • Mike Breen looks at the Rainer Research Group’s ten trends for the next decade in church life.
  • The man at the center of the Jesus movement in the early 1970s, Costa Mesa California’s Calvary Church pastor Chuck Smith is now battling lung cancer though he never smoked.
  • TV Producer Mark Burnett is joining with Zondervan and the digital team that developed Glo Bible to introduce a new app, Bible 360 which will integrate with devices and social media. Sales will be through iTunes.
  • Seems a policy statement issued at Rossville Christian Academy in Tennessee is really just a mass memo directed at a single student. (The video is useless, but there’s a full text of the story when you scroll down.)
  • Time for one last Christmas image; J. R. Briggs got this from David Fitch; it’s titled Advent Distraction:

October 16, 2011

Rob Bell Pens Response to the Responses

In keeping with our policy of all Rob Bell news all the time, here’s the latest:  HarperCollins will release a paperback response to the critics in February 2012 simply titled The Love Wins Companion.

Bit of a cover similarity, don't ya think?

Here’s the 411 from the publisher:

For anyone who wants to delve deeper into Rob Bell’s bestselling Love Wins, the expansive and accessible Love Wins Companion offers scholarly support and critiques, resources for individuals, groups, and classes, and brand new material by Rob Bell himself. As Love Wins continues to become a touchstone for thousands of readers worldwide, controversy surrounds the book’s arguments. Author Brian D. McClaren wrote that with Love Wins “thousands of readers will find freedom and hope and a new way of understanding the biblical story,” yet USA Today observed that “Bell has stuck a pitchfork in how Christians talk about damnation.” Here, in The Love Wins Companion, Rob Bell offers commentary on the positive and negative attention his groundbreaking book is receiving, delivering a crucial supplement to one of the most important books since the Bible.

For those looking to go deeper with Rob Bell’s bestselling pioneering book Love Wins, this companion offers:

  • Insights and commentary by theologians, Bible scholars, scientists, and pastors
  • Deep analysis of all relevant Bible passages on heaven, hell, and salvation
  • Detailed chapter summaries, discussion questions, and Bible studies for individuals, groups, and classes
  • Excerpts from works throughout Christian history illustrating the variety of teachers also debating the issues Bell wrestles with
  • New material by Bell on his mission for the book and how people can take the next step

July 6, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday link kangaroo

A kangaroo walks into a bar.

“Wow!” the bartender says; “We don’t get many kangaroos in here.”

“Yeah,” says the Kangaroo, “And at these prices, you’re not going to get many more.”

…I know it’s pathetic, but that’s always been one of my favorite jokes, and the link list seemed the best place for it.

Click the image above to see 226 more pictures from North Carolina's Wild Goose Festival in June by photographer Courtney Perry

  • If you missed the Wild Goose Festival, photographer Courtney Perry has 227 pictures; you can even purchase copies.
  • John Starke nails it on How to Write a Great Book Review (Or How Not to Write a Bad One).
  • Speaking of which, Benji Zimmerman does a great review of Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle’s Erasing Hell the response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins. (Easier to read with a Javascript Black/White swap app.)
  • And Chan himself sits down with Mark Galli at CT for what appears to be an interview but is really more of a dialog.
  • Stephen Brewster was one of many syncrobloggers who joined together in June to talk about blocks to creativity.  He links to some of the other writers, too.
  • Frank Turk digs into the can of worms being opened by New York’s new marriage law.
  • Craig Groeshel, the guy with the .tv web domains, is now suggesting individuals and families take a few nights off each week to unplug.
  • A few days late for the 4th, but for our American friends, Louis Giglio reflects on the Declaration of Independence with Chris Tomlin on camera and some cheap shots at England’s Matt Redman.  (HT: Worship Blog)
  • Matt Rawlings brings his twice yearly top five books list, and his top 62 “geek” books list.
  • Also on books, Jon, our academic book-watcher on the left coast wants you to know about Christians at the Border: Immigration, The Church and the Bible.  Basically this is a Guatemalan professor of Old Testament studies discussing social policy.  Here’s the publisher’s 411, and a 9-pg .pdf preview.
  • Adam Young, aka Owl City, has a new video, packed with footage from the Back to the Future movies.  Check out Deer in the Headlights.
  • But we can take the animal video linking thing further with this Charlie the Hamster audio file. (HT: Stuff Fundies Like.)
  • Anne Jackson, transparent as ever, has reactivated her blog which has been dormant since March.  You can read her posts from June 17th and June 24th.
  • No link here, but my son Chris put this on his Facebook page:
    .
    The Parable of the Dry Stick
    .
    I was out for a hike a while ago and there was a stick on the path.  I gave it a kick, and all the bark broke off and scattered, leaving only the bare, white wood.
    .
    God then said:  “The world is full of people who will completely change, who are just waiting to be prompted, quietly hoping someone will disrupt their daily ennui.”

    .
     If you know one of those people, give them a proverbial kick.  Tell them their life can amount to something.  Invite them to join the adventure of discovering God.

Separated at Birth (and by a few generations) — Lyn Cryderman, author of Glory Land, republished as No Swimming on Sunday and Colton Burpo of Heaven is for Real fame.  The Cryderman book is a bit of a hard-to-find collector’s item but an excellent document capturing growing up in America in the Free Methodist denomination.  “I gotta home in Glory land that outshines the sun…Way beyond the blue”

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