Thinking Out Loud

November 13, 2013

Wednesday Link List

How to Make Thomas Kinkade Paintings Totally Awesome Very few people know this, but the Wednesday Link List is named after Art Linkletter.  The links below will all take you to Out of Ur, where the list officially resides.

The Wednesday Link Letter (see introduction) was written by Paul Wilkinson and recorded before a live audience (Paul’s wife). Read more of his work at his Anglican baptism website, Sprinkling Out Loud, or at Devotional Plagiarism 201, where only the best get borrowed.

August 9, 2013

Fall Ministry Season Focus

Full disclosure: This is the THIRD time I’ve reblogged this piece, which is actually a pre-Easter article that Pete Wilson wrote which I’ve adapted into a non-seasonal piece. Timing is everything with this, Pete’s own kids are already back to school this week. It seems fitting to remind ourselves of these priorities as the heat of summer gives way to regrouping our forces with a fresh intensity…

Like many of you I’m up to my eyeballs in the details and logistics … I’m distracted, maybe a little stressed and certainly carrying all kind of concerns. But I just want to issue this challenge to all of us…

Pastors, I pray you’ll preach the hope of Jesus Christ like never before. Preach as if you were there the day it happened and is if this were the last message you are ever going to give!

Worship Leaders, I pray you’ll lead worship with the same awe and amazement as if you just watched the stone roll away. Whether you have lights or no lights, production or no production, may they see the wonder and awe in your eyes and voice that you actually believe what it is you’re singing.

Kids’ Teachers, I pray you look your kids in the eyes and use every bit of passion, energy, and excitement you have to tell them a story that can and will impact their life forever.

Volunteers, I pray you’ll serve, sing, hand out programs, park cars, turn knobs, and make coffee as if eternities were on the line, because they are!

Worshipers, I pray you’ll open your heart and raise your voice and pour out all you have and all you are in honor of a God who has defeated death so you may have life.

I pray [each] weekend we’ll all drop our cynicism, egos, and agendas and will stand amazed and marvel at the wonder of a God who has set us free from the penalty and the power of sin

Pete Wilson; senior pastor of Cross Point; Nashville, TN

November 28, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Some extra graphics this week for your Facebook page or tumblr blog.

  • UPDATE from yesterday’s post here concerning Two-and-a-Half Men actor Angus T. Jones: Journalist Maria Cowell has asked all the right questions in this interview posted at Christianity Today.
  • Christmas songs: How soon should they start and how many should you do? For worship leaders, Jason Hatley offers a programmatic approach to building Christmas music content. (Mainline churches don’t have this problem as tradition pretty well dictates content.)
  • Or you could do this song. (Nobody would ever forget it.)
  • Which reminds me, our 2010 post, Should Audiences Stand for the Hallelujah Chorus still gets a lot of readers and the odd comment. (But you should probably stand for And Can It Be and All Hail The Power, too.)
  • Lots of music-related stuff this week, like Rich Kirkpatrick’s list of questions about worship ministry that weekend service attenders might like answered. (Some of which I hadn’t thought of before.)
  • Of course you can’t please everyone with church music; here’s a classic Perry Noble response from 2007 — five years ago — about loud music in the church.  (He’s running a top ten list from each of the last seven years of blogging.)
  • Or you might prefer Perry’s 2006 post on seven reasons why Jesus wouldn’t qualify as a pastor in most of our churches. (He’d certainly be under review by now.)
  • Mark O. offers some great advice for the parents and youth leaders of middle-school teens on how they see themselves.  (It actually does involve using a mirror.)
  • I’m not sure why I made this a ‘page’ and not a ‘post’ — probably the extreme length of it — but we still get lots of hits on The Eight Things That Destroyed Our Marriage, culled from eight different blog posts by Justin and Trisha Davis. (I think Justin turns up occasionally on Pete Wilson’s Sunday service online feed.)
  • Sometimes the things that turn up in a week of faith-based web-surfing are just bizarre, like this April-released movie, Seventh Gay Adventists. (I think it’s more about gay than the SDA church.)
  • Greg Boyd — a major proponent of what’s called ‘open theology’ — defines the phrase in terms of ‘unrealized possibilities’ in this four minute video.  (But does God know if you’re going to click on this link or not?)
  • Here’s another review of a 2009 book that is proving to be the sleeper title of 2012: The Lost World of Genesis One. (Note to friends and family: Since you can’t get review copies of 3-year-old books, this one is at the top of my Christmas list.)
  • A word of the week for preachers and public speakers: Fermata.  (Hint: It’s a music term.) (HT: Darryl Dash‘s Saturday Link List for pastors.)
  • Ken Ham responds to a website written for teens who need encouragement in living as atheists, including a section on how they can ‘come out’ to their parents. (He encourages parents to have a counter-response.)
  • There’s an app for The War Cry, the Salvation Army magazine that traces its history back to 1879 enters the digital age. (Canadian readers: Ours is a different edition; not sure if it’s online.)
  • Are there people at your church you try to avoid? Just asking. (Maybe I’m the guy everybody else is avoiding.)

I love this well-marked Bible; it’s my current desktop theme.

October 2, 2012

Details, Details

I don’t hear voices. But on Monday I felt an unmistakable prompt to put a devotional here on Thinking Out Loud. My first response was, “No, that’s what Christianity 201 was created for.” But sometimes you do better to listen to those prompts. So here it is. The author, Cloudwatcher writes from a land down under, is a frequent contributor and comment-er at C201, and at 74-years young, is possibly the eldest writer in this blog’s blogroll with her blog, Meeting in the Clouds.  To read this at source, click here.


Oscar Hammerstein II wrote,

“A year or so ago, on the cover of the New York Herald Tribune Sunday magazine, I saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty, taken from a helicopter and it showed the top of the statue’s head. I was amazed at the detail there. The sculptor had done a painstaking job with the lady’s coiffure, and yet he must have been pretty sure that the only eyes that would ever see this detail would be the uncritical eyes of sea gulls. He could not have dreamt that any man would ever fly over this head. He was artist enough, however, to finish off this part of the statue with as much care as he had devoted to her face and her arms, and the torch and everything that people can see as they sail up the bay.”

We can well ask WHY?

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was the sculptor. He went from France to Egypt in 1856 and was awestruck by the grandeur of the pyramids and the beauty of the stately Sphinx of the desert. His artistic mind was stimulated. Taken by the concept, he decided to design something out of the ordinary. He worked on the concept for 10 years, changing the design many times until he was satisfied.

The result was a colossal robed lady that stood taller than the Sphinx. She held the books of justice in one hand and a torch lifted high in the other.  After Bartholdi returned to France, the French government sought his artistic services. His 10 years of planning and designing culminated in the Statue of Liberty lighting the New York harbor.

The statue of Liberty was built in the late 1800’s. The Statue was completed in France in July, 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor in June 1885. In transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. The Statue was re-assembled on her new pedestal in four months. The dedication of the Statue of Liberty took place in front of thousands of spectators October 28th 1886. President Grover Cleveland, the former New York governor, presided over the event.

The Statue of Liberty stands 305 feet 1 inch or 93 meters in height from the base to the top of the torch.

No planes flew at that time. There were no high rises.  It was not until many years later that airplanes were able to fly above it and the exquisite details and beauty of the top of the head could be observed. Bartholdi could have reasonably argued that such detail on the top was not necessary.

WHY did he, on such a massive job, take so much trouble
on something that he thought would never be seen?

Why?  INTEGRITY.

We see another example of such integrity in the work of MICHELANGELO in his four years labor (1508-12) in painting the very high ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The painted area is about 40 m (131 ft) long by 13 m (43 ft) wide. This means that he painted well over 5,000 square feet (460 m2) of frescoes, carefully perfecting the tiniest details of each figure he painted.

A friend asked him WHY he took such pains, since the figures would only be seen from a great distance, and no one would be able to discern such perfection.

The artist simply answered “I will!”

Why?  INTEGRITY

Integrity is MORE than NOT being deceitful or slipshod.
For the Christian, it means doing everything ‘heartily as unto the Lord‘

Colossians 3:23-24
And whatever you do, do it heartily,
as to the Lord and not unto men;
knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward;
for you serve the Lord Christ

We are not called to build a sculptural masterpiece or a great work of art, but the same principle applies.  If no one ever knows of our efforts, our work ethics should be the same.

When it comes to ANYTHING in Christian service,
whether it is ministering to a lonely or needy person,
or sharing the Gospel message,
or singing in the choir,
or teaching children,
or cleaning the Church,
or working behind the scenes,
or playing a major role,
or whatever we do,
we should give 100-plus percent even to the tiniest detail
which “no one will ever notice”.
Our Father will and we serve Him.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

August 15, 2012

13 Measures of a Healthy Church

Found this at the blog of Paul Clark, Vision Meets Reality. While this may seem basic to some of you, IMHO you can never emphasize these essentials enough.  The temptation is to read this too quickly. Slow down and ask yourself how your church ranks according to these criteria.  For those who want to read at source, click this link.

Along with sound theology, we also believe that there are other elements that make up a healthy church: At Fairhaven Church, where I’ve served for 10 years, we have identified 13 measures that we believe define a healthy church. We’ve created a dashboard report around these measures which our leadership and Board review each month.

  1. People are coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
  2. Our missions program is expanding locally, nationally and globally.
  3. People are making public professions of faith through baptism.
  4. Attendance in worship services is increasing.
  5. The worship experience is vibrant, enthusiastic and intergenerational.
  6. There is broad participation in serving throughout the ministries.
  7. New ministries are beginning as God imparts vision.
  8. Guests are being connected to church life.
  9. Covenant membership is increasing.
  10. Our budgetary needs are being met.
  11. Leaders are being developed and placed in ministry roles.
  12. Scripture is central to our message.
  13. Staff relationships are healthy.

Wednesday Link List returns next week.

July 4, 2012

Wednesday Link List

From the Sojourners Magazine slide show and report on the Wild Goose Festival


With an over 70% U.S. readership, I don’t have a lot of high hopes for record high stats on the 4th of July, but here goes anyway.  Lots of Wild Goose Festival coverage here, too.  If you’d like more links, there was a Weekend Link List here on Saturday.

  • So why does Mark’s gospel begin with a quote attributed to Isaiah when it’s actually taken from the book of Malachi?
  • Small-town pastor Chuck Warnock did a graduation address to a Christian high school that’s worth reading in full, but if you can’t take the time, at least check out The Monkey Experiment illustration.
  • Author Cathleen Falsani (Belieber) goes off the grid (not by choice) at the Wild Goose Festival and then comes back on the grid (via Sojourners) to share her experiences.  “The revolution is not dead.”
  • Speaker Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove reflects on the festival, an event he sees in a long line of camp meeting culture.
  • He was the only explicitly non-religious speaker invited to the Wild Goose Festival.  Bryan Parys travels with Chris Stedman.
  • Ian reflects on the theologically relaxed atmosphere, while a Unitarian Universalist fills us in on the LGBTQ issues that were raised, and more details on the music.  There are many more reports — use Google Blog Search — to help you get the picture…
  • Have your say: It’s Open Forum Week at Internet Monk.
    • Monday: Open Forum for Pastors
    • Tuesday: Open Forum for Readers around the World
    • Wednesday: Open Forum on America (Independence Day Special)
    • Thursday: Open Forum for Mission Workers
    • Friday: Open Forum for Bloggers and Writers
  • Thomas Kinkade’s wife and Thomas Kinkade’s girlfriend are in a battle over the artist’s fortune.  (There’s one of his works in one out of every twenty homes in the U.S.) Sixty-six million is at stake.
  • Apparently Church Executive magazine — it’s usually racked next to Newsweek — thinks the new generation of pastors isn’t speaking out on national issues. As one of those mentioned, Pete Wilson responds.
  • Randy Alcorn has a three-in-one post with an update on Steve Saint, a discussion of the problem of men not being readers, and a related reblog of a Russell Moore piece on men and online addictions.
  • Author Timothy Paul Jones fills us in a little on some of the books that did not make it into our New Testament.
  • Brave New World Department: The first genetically modified humans have been born. Yes. Only in America.
  • A Christian writer gives a thoughtful and thorough review of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, albeit with a few spoilers.
  • Okay, we do have a link that’s tied to the 4th of July: Chad Hall looks what happens when patriotism comes to church. “Conservative Christians rightly resist religious syncretism …but we fail to see that equal and greater harm comes from the syncretism of Christianity and nationalism.”
  • Medical Complications Department: “The medicine he had to take as a child to fight his cancer had eventually caused his heart to wear out… he had to have a heart transplant…[years later]…the medications Chuck had to take to maintain his new heart had given him cancer.” Read J.’s tribute to his friend.
  • Dan Kimball has a new book and a new website coming. Here’s the 411 on his new project: Adventures in Churchland.
  • And Mike Breen (Lifeshapes) has a new blog. A good place to learn more about what he and 3DM is doing with church-planters is to start with this 5-minute video.
  • Website Discovery of the Week: HarvestUSA — Proclaiming Christ as Lord to a Sexually Broken World.
  • Mark Sandlin explains why he, a pastor, is taking three months off from attending church.  “I want to understand what it is that the ‘spiritual but not religious’ like about not being in church AND I want to understand what I, a life long churchgoer, miss about not being in church.”
  • It’s been a year since we introduced you to Aimee Byrd, Housewife Theologian who is still blogging regularly and living proof that not all radical Calvinists are male. (Hence, no specific link here.)
  • Yes, I know just about everybody else has blogged this by now…but here’s the bacon graphic… Everyday Theology had the best intro: “If you live in 17th century Holland, it’s fine to summarize your theology using flowers. But in 21st century America, we prefer our theology a little meatier, and saltier, and greasier. So forget the five points of TULIP, here is the new creed for the Five Strip Baconist!”

June 6, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Links

Welcome back to WLL. You’re not playing the game unless you click through. Place your mouse on the underlined section of each story and click.  (“Oh, you mean that’s how it works?”)  Above image: Sacred Sandwich archives.

  • Like his father before him — and at almost the same age and circumstances –  a Pentecostal minister from a snake-handling sect dies from a rattlesnake bite.
  • A former marine gets assigned to preach the section of the Sermon on the Mount dealing with non-violence. Reactions were strong, but not from military people.
  •  “For an insecure 16/17-year-old kid whose life, identity, main social activity, and faith were wrapped up in the church she’d been a part of her entire life, it was devastating.”   Check out 11 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When My Church Split.
  • Saturday, May 26, 2012 was supposed to be M.’s wedding day. But in between, after reading the book, When Sinners Say I Do by David Harvey, things changed.
  • Thanks to whoever sent me info about Cardiphonia. Original worship songs on three different themes on a pay-what-you-can basis. The newest is Hymns for the Ascension.  Or just listen.
  • Just when you thought you had solved the dilemma of whether to be buried or have your ashes scattered to the four winds, now there is the option of diamond burial.
  • On a similar theme, here’s a major discussion at Parchment and Pen on the subject some of you have considered, How Can Heaven Be Heaven When People You Love Are In Hell?
  • Got 9 minutes? On video, an orthodox priest teaches the difference between the Protestant view of salvation and the Orthodox view of salvation, under the title, Love Wins – An Orthodox View.
  • Got 53 minutes? That’s a greater commitment. But you’d get to hear the very first ever Phil Vischer podcast with Skye Jethani. (This is for you adults, not the kids.)
  • Got all day?  Check out the video-on-demand apologetics programs featuring Ken Ham at Answers in Genesis.
  • Joel Osteen is set to sit in the producer’s chair for a new movie about the life of Mary which he hopes will be “the biblical prequel to the story of The Passion of The Christ.”
  • Remember that story about the 43-building college campus that was going to be given away free of charge?  Well, it’s down to two finalists.
  • Here’s an article by yours truly at C201 designed for those of you who want to rethink how you draft your prayer lists. (I actually do some serious writing once in awhile.)
  • And a message to those graduating from the hallowed halls: The academy doesn’t need more academics, but the local church does.  Advice for theological seminary grads.
  • Mystery link: Does anyone know the story behind this Elevation Church music video? The YouTube location has no information and the blogger who posted this was equally silent.
  • Matt Hafer’s advice to pastors actually has application to anyone who proposes to stand before a group of people and lead them into God’s Word.
  • It’s “the only billion dollar house in the world.  Ironically, it’s found in one of the poorest countries; India.” America’s Next Top Mommy looks at over-indulgence.
  • You have to read the comments on this one: Advice for students heading off this fall to a Christian college or university.
  • Todd Rhoades thinks it’s only a matter of time before a pastor legally changes his name to something ending in dot com.
  • If the Blue Like Jazz movie missed your town, you can arrange for a showing.

Classic auto emblem from The Holy Observer

May 12, 2012

Churches That Welcome vs. Churches That Are Welcoming

This article appeared at The Ooze, where articles aren’t dated..  It was written by Dr. David W. Manner, Director of Worship and Administration for Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists since 2000.  “Worship” here is meant to refer to the whole of your worship experience, not just what’s in the picture below. The article appeared under the title:

Is Your Worship Welcoming to Those Not Like You?

Most congregations can answer affirmatively when asked if their worship welcomes those not like them…all are welcome if or when they come. Where the conflict arises is when a congregation changes its culture in order to be intentionally welcoming to those not like them. Welcoming worship loves my neighbor as I love myself even if my neighbor is not always lovely.

• Welcome is passive. Welcoming is active.
• Welcome is safe. Welcoming is usually risky.
• Welcome is occasional. Welcoming is frequent.
• Welcome may be accidental. Welcoming is always deliberate.
• Welcome is comfortable. Welcoming can stretch.
• Welcome happens on Sunday. Welcoming happens every day.
• Welcome satisfies givers. Welcoming won’t pay the bills.
• Welcome waits. Welcoming initiates.
• Welcome controls. Welcoming unleashes.
• Welcome tolerates. Welcoming embraces.
• Welcome hoards. Welcoming gives away.
• Welcome is preferential. Welcoming is sacrificial.
• Welcome focuses just on those who are present. Welcoming includes those who are not and may never be present.

Welcoming worship never compromises biblically, theologically, or doctrinally but often accommodates culturally, contextually, and systematically. Welcoming worship is not just what we do on Sunday, it is who we are and how we treat people out in the world every day.

Welcoming worship purposefully considers those who are often neglected and easily ignored. Welcoming worship affirms that, “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Prov. 14:31). Welcoming worship loves, honors and praises the Father by loving those He loves. Could worship be any more profound?

~David W. Manner

April 24, 2012

Church Taps Into Supernatural Power

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:21 am

While your ideal trip to New York City might include tickets to a Broadway show, my ideal visit would coincide with prayer meeting night at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. 

It’s not the famed Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, although that would be great; but just the idea of attending a service at a church where they break all the rules of what a North American church service is supposed to look like is enough for me to covet the experience. Where they follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Where they like loud music but aren’t afraid of silence; even extended silence. Where people line up around the block waiting for the doors to open on Sunday. Where people arrive two hours early for midweek prayer meeting because they want to spend more time in God’s presence. Where people get saved from crime, from crack, from prostitution.

This is actually a book review; and what you’ve just read above is really my biggest takeaway from reading Spirit Rising: Learning to Tap Into the Power of the Holy Spirit, the newest in a line of books by Brook Tab pastor Jim Cymbala. That’s it. Something good is happening there. Jim wants to share it. My guess is that he’s hoping some of it becomes contagious and spreads to your city or even your house of worship. With a healthy balance of teaching and amazing testimonies, this is a book that will transform your expectations of what can do.

For the many who read Francis Chan’s Forgotten God, here’s a book if you want to go deeper into understand the person and work of the Holy Spirit. If you’re a church leader or pastor who wants to be inspired for greater things, this book could be your game changer.

** Read an excerpt from Spirit Rising at Christianity 201

April 18, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to WLL #100 !!  The list lynx is back for the party.

  • Okay, the story of the church in Corpus Christi, Texas that gave away cars and flat-screen TVs on Easter Sunday is so incredibly stupid that I absolutely refuse to link to it.
  • How much information is too much for six and seven-year-olds when the subject at hand is VBS stories of the persecuted church from the files of Voice of the Martyrs?
  • Here’s the Christian movie you didn’t hear about: The Church Team is a group of very astute gamblers who use their skills for good and not for evil. The film is The Holy Rollers. [alternate link for preview]
  • A woman with eight kids takes a very different look at the subject of how many kids to have and comes up with a very balanced answer. For some, maybe two is too many.
  • Author David Gregory changes publishers for the third book in the Perfect Stranger brand, Night With A Perfect Stranger.  You can enjoy a free .pdf download of chapter one at this link.
  • Cross Point Church (Nashville) Executive Director Jenni Catron shares the church’s seven staff values.
  • And do you know a new pastor just starting out?  Trey Morgan has 21 tips for a young minister, from a not-so-old minister.
  • Jamie Wright continues looking at the liabilities of short term missions: “Where Jesus appointed, we take volunteers. Where Jesus sent pairs, we send herds. Where Jesus admonished for danger and quiet humility along the road, we opt for vacation destinations and loud self-congratulations.” Amen to that.
  • The latest Top 200 Christian Blogs list is out, but once again, finishing at #201 as I’m sure we did, you won’t find this one listed.
  • Phil Johnson: “It’s my conviction that the worst, most persistent hindrances to the advance of the gospel today are worldly churches and hireling shepherds who trivialize Christianity.”
  • An update from Donald Miller on how the Blue Like Jazz movie is doing at the box office.
  • It’s been five years since BC cartoonist Johnny Hart left this earth, and blogger David Rupert reminds us of Hart’s great conversion story.
  • Looking for the perfect getaway?  You could always rent the home of Robert A. Schuller and his wife Donna for $700/night or $5,000/week which includes continental breakfast.
  • If you sponsor a child through Compassion, here’s what your sponsored child would like to know about you.
  • I finally got to hold a copy of The Voice complete Bible in my hands this week. It’s a really, really different type of translation.  Here’s a passage from Proverbs; I never knew Lady Wisdom was so attractive.  Here’s more about this unique version came to be.
  • UK cartoonist Dave Walker has created another repository for his unique gifts. Check out Dave Walker’s Guide to… which will featured non-church-themed musings. Of course, for everything else there’s the blog we know and love.
  • John Fischer blogs on the “God believes in you” theme that got me in a lot of trouble here when I tried to reiterate Rob Bell’s version of it. Let’s have another go.
  • Kurt Devine steps into a Malaysian brothel only to find that the stereotypical customer isn’t a middle-aged businessman, but someone more like himself.
  • Agitators at Indiana University try to shut down Douglas Wilson’s two lectures on sex and culture, but the show must go on.
  • And now it’s time for… Devotional Apologetics for Scientists, Engineers and Math Geeks. Enjoy Dark Matter and Layered Assumptions.
  • Tween Mania Department: It may not be The Disney Channel, but your 10-16 year olds can audition to be part of iShine this Friday in Nashville.
  • Because People Want to Know Department: Do you and your spouse go to bed at the same time?  Pete and Brandi Wilson do.
  • Speaking of which, of the writing of rather explicit books on sexuality for Christians, there is no end. Here’s an introduction to Canadian author Sheila Wray Gregoire, author of The Good Girl’s Guide To Great Sex, from her blog To Love, Honor and Vacuum.
  • Here’s a 3.5 minute conversation with God on the subject of prayer from Worship House Media uploaded to GodTube. I love the concept; hope the audio is fixed by the time you visit.
  • Not exactly the deepest list ever here, but… have your suggestions in by Monday night for next week’s list.

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