Thinking Out Loud

March 26, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Football Cross at MontanaWestUSA(dot)com

We’re back with another mid-week link meeting! Here’s what your brothers and sisters from random parts of the big ‘C’ church were up to this week. Clicking any of the links below will take you to PARSE, the list’s benevolent patron.

Stay in touch with Paul Wilkinson during the week on Twitter.

Our closing cartoon is rather interesting, don’t you think? The artist is Jess MacCallum and you can click the image to see more.

Evolution Cartoon at JessMacCallum(dot)com

February 12, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Snake Handling Church Disclaimer

Here’s this week’s collection, with the hope that you’ll be my Valinktine.  Click anything below and you’ll find yourself at PARSE, the link list’s exclusive official owners and operators! (Or just click now, it’s easier to read there.)

After winning the silver medal in linking at the 2008 Bloglympics, Paul Wilkinson settled into a quiet life of writing at Thinking Out Loud.

Burning Church

If you watch all four parts of the documentary about Burning Man linked above, you discover that all photographs taken at the event become part of a commons that photographers agree to share. It’s part of an overall philosophy that guides the event and why there’s no photo credit here.

July 25, 2013

Alternative Verses to Cornerstone by Hillsong

If your church does modern worship, odds are that in the last few months you’ve been doing the song Cornerstone by Hillsong. This song incorporates the lyrics of the old hymn, My Hope is Built, and then adds a chorus, “Cornerstone, Christ alone; weak made strong in the Savior’s love…”

My Hope is Built is based on a rhythmic structure called Long Meter or simply L.M. for short. If you grew up with hymnbooks, you know there was a metrical index in the back and it’s there for a reason. Well, actually it was there mostly for the amusement of musicians since most churches never did switch up tunes or lyrics. L.M. is also 8.8.8.8. which means any song with that same meter will work, though I’ve suggested a few that use C.M. or Common Meter which is 8.6.8.6. (though I’ve added words in some cases or you have to stretch in others).

For what it’s worth, I like Cornerstone just the way it is; and I would suggest retaining the first verse as it connects well with the theme. So you would probably only want to choose no more than a couple of these, but I’d recommend the very last one especially.

Alternatives

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace
Emptied Himself of all but love
And bled for Adam’s helpless race

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great redeemer’s matchless praise
The glories of my God and King
The triumphs of His love and grace

He breaks the power of canceled sin
The prisoners are each one set free
His blood can make the worst ones clean
His blood poured out for you and me

Forbid it Lord that I should boast
But for the death of Christ my God
All earthly things I hold so dear
I sacrifice them to His blood.

O God our help in ages past
Our hope for many years to come
Our shelter from the stormy blast
Our strength and our eternal home

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved someone like you and me
We once were lost but now we’re found
We once were blind but now we see

No condemnation now I dread*
Jesus, and all in Him is mine
Alive in Him, my living head
And clothed in righteousness divine

People and realms of every tongue**
Dwell on His love with sweetest song
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their earthly blessings on His name

Faith of our Fathers, living still
In spite of prison, fire and sword
O, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that great word.

Praise God from Whom all blessing flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
And up above you heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

* All the verse from And Can It Be? work well here.

**I really like Jesus Shall Reign here, I just selected a single verse. Cornerstone is a song of declaration, some of these verses turn the song into an anthem of praise, with Christ as the Cornerstone.

March 13, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Romans 8

Let there be links.

In a week that is overshadowed by developments at The Vatican it’s hard to find other religious news stories, but we tried.

  • Two Afghan children that Shane Claiborne met a few weeks ago were killed by NATO troops.
  • N.T. Wright comes at an old issue in a new way, and offers his reasons why women should be in pastoral ministry
  • An Australian TV outlet does a 14-minute exposé of Hillsong Church with a particular axe to grind concerning the church’s tax free status.
  • Is the way forward in church planting that the pastors will have other jobs; be bi-vocational?  Well, yes and no.
  • Francis Chan talks to Canadian interviewer Moira Brown about leaving his church and starting up again in Northern California. (This is a part two of two-part interview; 15 minutes each.)
  • Want more transparency in the church? How about this Belgian church constructed in 2011 out of transparent steel?
  • And a church that treated its former pastors like trash held a service of apology and reconciliation.
  • If you tell people you don’t smoke because your body is “a temple,” then you need to know that in 2013, sitting is the new smoking.
  • A new digital edition of “the quad” the four books of Mormon scriptures includes some editorial changes reflecting “shifting official view on issues like polygamy, the Church’s history of racism, and the historicity of LDS scripture.”
  • It’s not too late to send a gift: Benny Hinn and former wife Suzanne were scheduled to be remarried last week. And since that link was older — but detailed — the answer is yes, it happened.
  • Mark Burnett tells Inside TV that “weird things” happened as they filmed The Bible miniseries. You’ll like the snake handler’s report.
  • Have trouble starting a spiritual conversation? Start by asking questions
  • “Teenage girls aging out of foster care and/or orphanages are known as the highest ‘at risk’ group in our nation. It’s estimated that a teenage girl on the streets will be approached within 48 hours by a pimp…” Read the stats and one city’s game plan.
  • Christian rapper Lecrae is performing along side his mainstream music counterparts at SXSW, the South by Southwest festival… 
  • …And Canadian Christian rapper Manafest is writing a book.
  • Found a great devotional site this week… Here’s a piece about following Jesus versus walking ahead of Him
  • …And the updated list of the Top 200 Calvinist Christian blogs is now online; or at least one person’s version of it.
  • The offbeat  ‘gay worship band’ story got way too much coverage last week which is why I would never link to it.
  • Here’s how Religion News Service was handicapping the race to be Pope on the weekend. Even though this final four may be old news by the time you read this, I left it here for comparison (if RNS keeps it online). 
  • A greater concern for the cardinals during a conclave week is if it goes into overtime and finds them running out of clean laundry.
  • Graham Kendrick has greatly reconstructed an old hymn into something new; check out Oh The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.
  • People from five religious ‘tribes’ will try to convert Catalina an atheist — who looks slightly like Tina Fey — on the latest contest from The Drew Marshall Show titled Soul Survivor.

We leave you this week with a classic scene from Meet The Parents.

June 20, 2012

Wednesday Link List

The fine print: By reading this link list I agree to actually click a few links and check out the stories, and not just scan the summaries and leave.

July 27, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Lynx

And now here’s a Wednesday Link List that needs no introduction…

  • The other members of the band America (“A Horse With No Name”) pay tribute to Dan Peek who later had a career in Christian music, who passed away on the weekend.
  • Jay Grelen joins the cast at GetReligion.org, a blog that looks at how the media handles religious stories.  His own story was interesting.
  • Josh McDowell believes that the internet is the greatest threat to Christian belief: “The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have… whether you like it or not,” said McDowell.  Read more at Faith and The Law.
  • Pressured by his elders’ board to apologize, Mark Driscoll makes a half-hearted effort following his remarks on Facebook about “effeminate worship leaders.”  Rachel Held Evans calls him a bully.
  • Just in case you’re wondering, here’s the website for Hope Unlimited Church in Australia, the church Mark and Darlene Zschech call home since leaving the Hillsong mother-ship; though they’ll still be part of music events.
  • Tim Challies looks at the ‘Christian’ label being applied to the man who brought about the carnage in Oslo, Norway.
  • Paul Clark reads Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God and notes that the greatest books — starting with the Bible — have already been written.
  • Paul also has a great article on creating a “culture of generosity” within your church in this article about stewardship.
  • C. Michael Patton knows how to kick off a discussion and he’s got enough readers that he gets a response.  Be sure to read all the comments on this discussion about praying over and over and over and over again.
  • Michelle VanLoon at Her.meneutics tells about growing up in the 1960s and ’70s with her father’s porn magazines openly displayed on the coffee table and how it affected her.
  • While it wasn’t a Christian story per se, Eugune Cho posted this story about the latest “Susan Boyle” type of story on Korea’s Got Talent.   Read about Sung-Bong Choi.  (No relation to Song Sung Blue.)
  • While this one isn’t a link at all, I wanted to post something rather unique: My church is doing a VBS during the last week before school starts and they’re doing it as an evening program from 6:30 – 8:30 PM.  Different, huh?
  • For our Canadian readers: Yes, it’s true, McMaster Divinity School is giving Christian broadcaster David Mainse an honorary doctorate degree.  (My favorite Mainse quote: “My wife and I were virgins on our wedding night and we’ve been virgins ever since.”  …They have four children.)
  • Nick Costello’s book, Kiss What? is another book to examine the music scene and might be a resource for the teen in your home who is OD-ing on popular music culture.  Here’s a video preview.
  • Here’s a Vimeo vid on the release of the full (OT & NT) edition of the Common English Bible.  (Note: This HD clip takes awhile to load.)
  • New Blog of the Week: Housewife Theologian by Amiee Byrd — Articles of interest to women and a penchant for reviewing books in the Reformed tradition.
  • He calls his blog The Ugley Vicar and recently posted this hymn verse that was sung while attending a “Junior Clergy” conference; a verse that should be the prayer of all of us:

Facing a task unfinished,
That drives us to our knees,
A need that, undiminished,
Rebukes our slothful ease:
We, who rejoice to know Thee,
Renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee
To go and make Thee known.

February 9, 2011

Wednesday Link List

So here’s the question:  If something is being posted and linked all over the blogosphere, should I include it here, or do I assume you’ve read it elsewhere?  Sometimes I exclude items that are ubiquitous in Christian Blogland, but then I always wonder if that means someone misses something I assumed everyone knew.  Leave your opinion in the comments.  And now, on to this week’s list:

  • David MacGregor’s blog introduces the Hillsongs recording of It is Well With My Soul, recorded as a benefit for Queensland flood relief.   But as a minister in Brisbane, he finds the song hard to sing at this early stage of the rebuilding effort.
  • “Many scholars believe, and I am persuaded, that the biblical Gospel of Matthew was designed to be used by the church as a catechism, or handbook for training disciples.”  This is theme of an article by Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk which kicks of a series.
  • Okay this one was overdue.  Fox KTLA’s report begins: “Crystal Cathedral’s chief financial officer –- who received a six-figure housing allowance from the now-bankrupt church –- has retired after 33 years with the organization. Fred Southard, 75, said he believed it was time to let someone else have a chance at his job, and that he wanted to help the ministry reduce expenses.”  Yes.  Definitely.  Give that six-figure job to someone else now that there’s probably not enough money to support a four-figure job.  Of course, Southward justifies himself as the job was once “a ministerial function” albeit in “the early days.”
  • It’s weird, but as I was reading Pete Wilson’s post Everyone Needs Healing, it reminded me of the first part of the worship chorus Mighty to Save.  We are all broken people for whom the cross of Christ is sufficient.
  • How does a guy from Alabama end up spending most of the past decade doing campus ministry in The Philippines?  That was the question we asked here exactly a year ago in a profile of Kuya Kevin.   BTW, his blog is still going strong.
  • Andy Pierson at SoulJournaler discovers that denominational differences make the Christian blogosphere a cruel place sometimes.  Here’s a sentence I wish I’d written: ” Because I do not come forward with a specific denominational statement I am in this nebulous no-man’s land. I have on the other hand made very clear “statements of faith” through blog posts.”  There’s more stuff here some bloggers might identify with.
  • It appears the Fred Phelps gang’s annual picketing at San Diego’s Comic-Con met their match when a much larger group decided to drown out their message with one of their own.
  • Their restaurants are closed on Sunday so you know that Chick-Fil-A is a very pro Christian establishment.  But these days, pro-Christian is assumed to mean anti-gay.  Especially when you donate food to one group and not another.   Read the article at CNN’s Eatocracy blog.
  • Yet another article on the church’s approach to the LGBT community?  Yes, I included this one because Julie Clawson nicely summarizes the various categories that a church’s approach to this issue might fall into.  Not including the extremes, of course.
  • Erik Raymond calls his article Prioritize Priorities: Things I Wish I Knew Before Planting a Church, but in fact, this young pastor from Omaha, Nebraska offers some basic advice that can never be repeated enough.  HT: DD
  • Wil Mancini has Eleven Trends for 2011 at Out of Ur.  One of those trends that is emerging in various quarters:  Small is the new big.
  • Something a little different now:  Bruce Reyes-Chow, a Presbyterian, suggests 10 Ways Liberal Christianity Loses Credibility.  Sample: “Gate-Keeping Social Justice — Just because someone disagrees with us theologically, that does not mean that any actions of social justice that they take on is invalid.”
  • A longer article at Reboot Christianity contrasts the way we understand what it means to “do ministry” with the way the early church would have understood it.  “Most evangelical churches would be scandalized if a pastor taught such things! Imagine…shutting down all those programs and ministries, and instead teaching the Bible every day, fellowshiping with other believers constantly, and giving generously to your community (with no strings attached). Pastors would lose their jobs left and right.”
  • Challies notes that Bart Ehrman has heated up his rhetoric to the point of calling New Testament writings “forgeries.”  Here’s a sample of this article: “Ehrman’s beef is not so much with ancient forgers but with present-day believers who uncritically accept Biblical writings as genuine and consider it a sacrilege to question the Bible’s authenticity. “Forged” is just the latest bombshell Ehrman has lobbed at his former co-religionists.”
  • Here’s the 411 on the graphic below.  [cue the extra reverb]  It’s CAPTAIN SALVATION. Christian Comic International is reporting that “North Carolina USA based Salvation Comics is publishing a new, full-color super-hero comic book entitled “Captain Salvation,” written by Curt Hawn and illustrated by former Marvel and DC artist Greg Waller (“Stargate SG-1,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “Lady Death”). The Christian character-based company was founded by Hawn and Joshua Carpenter who met in 2002 as youth leaders at a church summer camp. Hawn sold a company he started in Atlanta to finance the project. Carpenter is an alumni from Christ For The Nations Institute and is operating as National Sales Director for the company. The first series, “The Kingdom Strikes Back,” will be a 5-issues in length.   Read more at The Spectral Realm.

August 7, 2010

Televangelists are the New Rock Stars

Taken from above the stage area around 6:30. By the 7:00 PM start time, most of the empty seats you see were filled.

The Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs may not score high in the statistical records of basketball and hockey respectively, but the teams make money and the ticket prices are astronomical, if you can find a ticket at all.    So having never seen the inside of the just-under 20,000-seat Air Canada Centre, we decided our only chance to see the facility was to crash the Joyce Meyer crusade that has taken place there over the past three days.

Actually, our other goal was to see Darlene Zschech lead worship, since the chances of our ever seeing Hillsong are about as remote as getting tickets to a Leafs or Raptors game.   (Which, as a guy who helped launch “Jesus Music” in Canada in the ’70s and ’80s, and who could once walk into any Christian concert anywhere without a ticket, shows how far my one-time status has fallen.)

A “pre show” video introduced us to an upcoming women’s conference in St. Louis, a promo for a youth curriculum Joyce has developed based on her Love Revolution book that must have had the budget for a Disney music video, and a video biography of Joyce and husband David.   Instructions for audience decorum were then delivered by two mock airline stewards.   Cute.  Then came the t-shirt giveaway with shirts fired from the stage.  It would be interesting to know how many of those shirts will be on the backs of the recipients a few weeks from now.    Maybe.   Especially given that 70-75% of the audience was female.

The auditorium continued to fill.   The number of arena staff on duty (probably at least 400) gave a clue as to the incredible cost of staging a crusade like this.   Several times my wife mentioned her amazement that this was a free admission evening.  Of course, lineups for teaching tapes, books, Bibles and videos (and mugs) in the lobby were long, and sales were brisk.   And at each entry point into the seating area there were the ubiquitous white buckets and stacks of offering envelopes.

Then the worship began.

Darlene Z. was joined by a 10-piece band.   It was loud.   Very loud.   Not too loud for me, but loud for the demographic we perceived to be in attendance.   Especially in a country that is much more conservative in worship.   The sound — such as we’ve seen take place on the recent Hillsong album, A Beautiful Exchange — more resembled the youth band Hillsong United than anything the regular Hillsong albums have taught us to expect.

There was a rush en masse of younger people into what my wife terms “the mosh pit,” and the resultant video mix of band and audience shots on the giant screen certainly resembled a United concert. I’ll bet a few seniors in the audience will never again complain about the worship band in their local church.

Four songs in and then, as the band continued playing, Joyce Meyer walked out on the stage.   A reverential hush came over the audience.   The reverence one has for a rock star.   The quiet that comes when someone is about to make a significant pronouncement.  Joyce prayed for the audience and then the band finished the fourth song.

Mission accomplished, we sprinted for the exit.   I told the volunteer usher he could give our seats to those still arriving.   “You’re not coming back?”  He seemed shocked.   “No we’re not;” I replied.  I’m not sure why anybody would want those seats however.   My neck was already sore from turning sideways to see the stage, and our view of either Jumbotron was complete obstructed.   This section of arena seating seemed to lend itself to a kind of detachment from what was taking place below.

If there were about 17,000 people there — I think my guess is accurate — I hope the other 16,998 enjoyed the rest of the night.

It’s just not our scene.

July 9, 2010

Currently Reading and Listening

Currently Reading

  • The Last Christian by David Gregory.   Knowing this writer only for his two apologetic Socratic dialog books, Dinner With A Perfect Stranger and A Day With A Perfect Stranger — and their related movies — I decided to jump into this title to see what else he could do.   It’s a fairly thick book; 416 pages, as opposed to the other two which you can read in an hour.   Set approximately 75 years into the future, it deals with things such as artificial intelligence, jungle survival, and missions.   I’ve just started out and the plot moves fairly quickly among what is, at the point I’m at, a number of disjointed scenes.     You can find out more from people who reached the finish line here and here.
  • The Shack by William Paul Young.   I’m reading it again because it caused so much trouble after I read it that I decided to go through it again with a pen and mark pages that I felt were controversial.   However, I’m a few pages from the end and I have yet to underline a single line.   It’s not that the book didn’t raise a lot of debate and even anger, it’s just that the book in and of itself just isn’t as radical as the critics are making it.    I’m simply enjoying a second look at a simple story that somehow captivated readers of all stripes.   Is it a book for Christians or those seeking theological reading?  I answered that question here.

Currently Listening To

  • A Beautiful Exchange by Hillsong.   The Hillsong music formula and sound is fairly well established at this point, and you could say the album offers nothing particularly new.   It’s getting increasingly more difficult to separate the group Hillsong from its youth-ministry counterpart Hillsong United.   Many songs on this album are more like the latter than the former; to the point where I think some older Hillsong listeners may not appreciate this as much.   On the other hand, it’s nice to see such a variety of worship leaders on each of the various songs.
  • Declare Your Name by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.   This is a different kind of CD for us, but my wife got into mass choir music awhile back, so I picked this mostly for her.   With 14 songs, this is good value.   There are some of the expected solos, including some by guests Israel Houghton and Paul Baloche,  but it’s the pieces with the full choir sound that I enjoy the most.    This is worship music meets urban contemporary with results that should appeal to the audience of both genres.

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