Thinking Out Loud

February 27, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Bart Simpson - Love Wins

Link and the world links with you…  The cartoon? See item 4 below:

For Heaven's Sake - Feb 4 2013

December 5, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Lynx

Wednesday List Lynx

Not only these, but there was a link list on Saturday as well. *UPDATE* 8:00 PM — Yes, I know about the PSY parody. We might run it here Friday. Click to watch Farmer Style. *END UPDATE*

Religiously Confusing Sign

  • The lynx is not alone this time: We end today with some book covers which appeared here in a 2008 post dealing with whether or not Fluffy and Fido will be in heaven. These are real books that were available for purchase when the post was written. First we took the Chuck Colson position that argues against animals in the afterlife. Then, four months later, in August, 2008; I was persuaded by the Randy Alcorn position which argues for furry friends, though not resurrected ones. Trust me, you could split a church over this topic…

Animals in the Afterlife

November 9, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Something seriously messed up in our lynx picture file this week

Introductory paragraph so the links don’t just start cold…

  • Apparently some Christian bookstores are hesitant to stock a title like, When Will My Life Not Suck. Even the intro by Gary Chapman can’t convince them.  
  • Harold Camping is officially out of the end-of-the-world prediction business and will now focus on baseball predictions and NBA final four (assuming they get back to playing).
  • Sunday (Nov 13) is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Here are some verses from the Common English Bible that would fit your Sunday worship planning.
  • Ever wondered what it would be like to be part of a Bible translation committee?  Here’s a 4-minute video.  Wait a minute… they film these things?
  • Christian Week talks to street pastor and Close Enough To Hear God Breathe author Greg Paul.
  • Belated birthday wishes to Billy Graham who turned 93 on Monday and recently reflected at Huffington Post on Nearing Home which is both the title of his new book and the stage in life he considers himself to be in.
  • New research by the Barna Group finds young Christians leave churches they view as judgmental, overprotective, exclusive and unfriendly toward doubters.
  • Have you ever cheated death?  Check out an excellent essay by Tony Woodlief in which he has a meaningful talk with one of his kids.
  • There are Christian groups at secular colleges and universities, so it was just a matter of time before Atheist groups turned up at Christian colleges. But then why would you go there?
  • Last week, White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney made kind of a gutsy move from the podium.  He quoted a verse from the Bible. “God helps those who help themselves.”   If that really was a Bible verse, Matt at The Church of No People speculates on the exegesis.
  • KSZ posts the strangest piece of neo-classical music, or should that be meow-classical?  And how did the kids keep a straight face?
  • And then there’s Kevin Olusola, the guy who’s had 1,000,000 YouTube hits for his beat-box, hip-hop, cello playing video.  According to Brad, he’s also currently touring with Gungor.
  • Kids out at a downtown Halloween party in Loganville, GA received plastic dolls of a 12-week old fetus.
  • Blue Like Jazz – The Movie opens in theaters on April 13th.  I know that for sure because Matt and Ellen told me.
  • Vic the Vicar posts a warning for those who don’t follow e-mail instructions; I link to it partly because I accidentally trashed Vic’s Versatile Blogger nomination.  Sorry, Vic.
  • If you’re anywhere near Toronto, Canada on December 3rd, you won’t want to miss Steve Bell in concert with The Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
  • Sacred Sandwich: The Early Years –

April 12, 2011

Great Song for Palm Sunday

It’s the Tuesday before Palm Sunday, and with worship leaders scrambling for musical ideas, I thought I’d kill two birds with one blog: Offer a suggestion and at the same time, introduce more of you to one of Canada’s finest exports, Steve Bell. (No relation to Rob unless it helps him sell more albums.)

December 29, 2010

Wednesday Link List

A shorter group this time…

  • The big news that finally reached our corner of the world this week is Canada’s most popular Christian male vocalist, Steve Bell,  has recorded a new album with the title song, Kindness, written by Brian McLaren.   Yes, that Brian McLaren.   Details at Christian Week.
  • But in a slightly different musical genre, Steve has company on the link list, as the song Avalanche by Manafest (aka Toronto’s Chris Greenwood) is getting lots of airplay.    Start your investigation of Manafest at this MySpace page.   Or watch the video from Tooth ‘N Nail Records.
  • While most of the attention is focused on New York City, there are residents in Murfreesboro, Tennessee who don’t want a mosque in their backyard, either; and it’s taxpayers who are footing the bill for the legal batter, as reported at USA Today.
  • It’s unfortunate when you have to frame a definition in opposition to other circulating ideas, but Dan Phillips suggests the entry for Mary in a Bible dictionary might read, “The mother of Jesus. A pivotal yet minor figure in the New Testament, mentioned by name in only four books.”
  • Regent College professor, Pentecostal scholar, and author of How To Read the Bible for All It’s Worth Gordon Fee has a 30-minute video YouTube clip on how the book came to be as well as some of its major themes.
  • It must have a slow year for Christian news stories, because Christianity Today’s top ten stories of 2010 seems to missing anything of urgency.   And eight of its ten stories are U.S.-centric.
  • Always provocative — to some — Christian music artist Derek Webb is back in the online pages of Huffington Post.
  • Christianity 201 devotes two consecutive days to the writings of Rick James, author of A Million Ways to Die (David C. Cook)
  • We always end the link list with a cartoon and many of these have come from Baptist Press cartoonists such as Joe McKeever below.   Sadly, it looks like this is the last one, as the cheerful people at BP are attempting to invoke copyright that will permit e-blasts but not blogs.   Too bad; I thought when God gives gifts they’re for sharing.  Oh well.  We’re slowly running out of cartoons we can actually run, although I’m not sure what legal action they would take against a Canadian.    But never underestimate Baptists.   (Or cats.)  This one was quite funny, and it seems a good one to end 2010 with. To Joe, Doug, Dennis, Dennis, Frank and David:  We’ll miss you!


July 24, 2009

Link Letter

lynxIt’s been awhile since I ran some lynx links here, so lets take a run at it:

  • Back on July 12th, Michael Spencer aka Internet Monk did an assessment of the spirituality to be found in the blogosphere.    First observation: “The Christian blogosphere is overwhelmingly male. It is not only male; it thrives on “maleness” in perspective and voice. For various reasons, some confessional, some not, many of us have a seriously limited exposure to the feminine mind, voice and experience of the Christian journey. In fact, our “maleness” is affirmed in the blogosphere in ways that are useful, and neutral and harmful.” Read the rest of this one, plus nine other key observations, here.
  • It’s not just Christians who are listening to Christian radio.   According to a Sojourners Magazine article,  Jewish and Muslim listeners are tuning in also:  “Last spring, Asra Nomani, a Muslim writer living in the Washington, D.C. area, programmed “number three” on her car radio to 91.9, her spirits as a stressed single mother lifted by the lyrics she heard. ‘No matter how daunting your problems seem, this music gives you hope,’ she said.” Read the story here after creating a free login.
  • On July 21st, Justin Wise at the blog BeDeviant (yes, that’s the name) asks the musical question, “Is ‘No Sex Before Marriage’ a Realistic Expectation?”  He writes:  “I would rather marry a couple who is living together and provide some sort of Christ-centered influence than let them go off and find a non-Christian alternative.” So far, over 100 comments.   Join the conversation, here.
  • Some of you are huge fans of the humor/satire blog Stuff Christians Like, but unless you’ve caught a live webcast or been to one of the live events, you’ve never seen Jon Acuff live.   Recently, Jon was asked by Pete Wilson to speak at CrossPoint church in Nashville, and the message is posted at CrossPoint (click on “Adam and the Three Questions”) as well at SCL, where you can catch it here.
  • Author and seminary professor Randal Rauser writes “A Note to Atheists Before They Attempt to Refute Christianity.”    He begins with this: “But what is frustrating for an atheist is doubly frustrating for a Christian. Countless times I have seen atheists assume what I as a Christian must believe. And often this assumption reflects what is no doubt a very restricted experience with Christianity… As a result, atheists who assume what a Christian must believe because they read a few Christian books or attended a church for several years are like self-described travel experts who offer authoritative advice on California vacations because they once stayed at the Super 8 in Pasadena.” Check out his piece, here.   (BTW, in an offline note, I linked Randal to the piece I did here, “You Think You Know Us,” which he appreciated.)
  • Bridging the Gap DVDI’m not sure if this item is available for shipping outside of Canada, but New Direction has put together a 4-week DVD curriculum titled, Bridging the Gap: Conversations on Befriending Our Gay Neighbours. The kit includes 3-hours of video content and a 40-page leader guide with reproducable worksheets.   I haven’t seen this yet, but I know that material on this subject is badly needed.  Guests include Brian McLaren, Bruxy Cavey, Tony Campolo and eight more.   You can read more about it, here.
  • How about a vacation in Chernobyl?   Or a museum of genitals?  This one has no Christian connection that I can think of, but just for fun, I wanted to tell you about Atlas Obscura, which describes itself as “A Compendium of the World’s Wonders, Curiosities and Esoterica.”
  • With a backlog of new subjects to consider, I haven’t done many remixes of older blog posts.   I might repost this one sometime, but for those of you who joined us recently, here’s one from February entitled, “Why II Kings is in the Bible.”    Okay, I doubt it’s the only reason.   Link to that one, here.
  • Canada’s leading Christian male vocalist and recording artist Steve Bell has a new website with occasional free song downloads.   Check that one out, here.
  • The item that was originally my tenth and final link here had to be removed at the request of its author.   So in exchange — to keep it an even ten — Anne Jackson offers an excellent piece on how Christian activity and “busyness” have a drug-like effect that keeps us from Jesus Himself.   Read that piece, here.

February 11, 2009

Readers Want to Know More about Music Artists: Steve Fee and Steve Bell

Two musical artists mentioned in this blog continue to draw hits to the two posts, even though in one case, I have yet to hear the entire album.    Here’s an encore of both October 2008 posts, beginning with the longer review for Canadian folkie Steve Bell, and followed by the mention of Steve Fee whose “We Shine” song remains, months later, an edgy worship song I think more people need to experience, even though my comment was more a lesson in split screen YouTube viewing, which is probably a disappointment to all those tag surfers who end up reading it.

Canada’s Steve Bell’s ‘Devotion’ – An Album Review

Steve Bell is one of Canada’s foremost Christian music artists, in a sub-genre that might be termed ‘Christian folk music.’   For my U.S. and U.K. readers, the closest comparison I can offer in Christian music is Michael Card.  Steve’s catalog on his own Signpost Music label includes a live album recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, a tribute to the songs of Bruce Cockburn, and albums on which he shares the microphone with his daughter, or other artists on the label.   For my Canadian readers, Steve has played back and forth so many times in this country that he is simply no stranger to many of us.   So it was with anticipation that I looked forward to what was described as “Steve’s first ever worship album.”

The rest of this review is intended to qualify that statement.   This is a different Steve Bell album inasmuch as all the songs were penned by Gord Johnson, a songwriter from Steve’s home church, St. Benedict’s Table, described on its website as, “a worshiping community rooted in an ancient future.”   Gord takes some very simple and sometimes very familiar texts — such as the 4th century prayer which begins, “Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open and from whom no secrets are hid” — and makes some very beautiful music out of them.   In the liner notes, Steve explains that they took about forty of Gord’s songs to producer Roy Salmond, with the result being this album, Devotion.   So in some respects, this is not a Steve Bell album, even though it is.

But I’m also not so sure that it’s a worship album in the sense that many reading this would expect.   Most of the songs do have a vertical lyrical orientation, but these are not the simplest songs to adapt and sing in your local church.   (Although, the inclusion of the guitar chords in the lyric book would certainly help facilitate that…)  On the one hand, the melodies and rhythms are not the usual, predictable stuff that passes for modern worship today.   That may be a good thing.   For most churches that I know, these might be more difficult songs to learn.   However, they do sing them at Steve’s church, which makes me think that trying a few of them might be a worthy and attainable goal.

One of our favorites was the second song, Everything We Need, a longer (seven minutes plus) song that is almost chant-like in its execution, and hints at, but never fully maximizes as a two-part song.   (The counterpoints are deliberately muted in the mix, though they are clearly there.)  We thought this song was reminiscent of songs we’ve heard done at Taizé services.  The song Embrace the Mystery is a single stanza of only 17 words, while Who Condemns You Now comprises only 18 words.    Praise The Father, Praise the Son is a  minor melody which bears a resemblance to the pop classic Scarborough Fair.   These are good songs; they are worshipful, but it’s not fair to call this a worship album when the term is usually applied to a ‘certain kind’ of music, and this album is so refreshingly different.

In the end, we started talking about the concept of ‘performance worship.’   There are some songs out there that we, the audience, shouldn’t feel the need to join in on.  We should be able to appreciate what is taking place at the front of the church as being offered as worship on behalf of all of us.   That’s how things were in era before the present modern worship era.   Singers did ’special music’ which often were songs of testimony and often were songs of proclamation of God’s goodness, grace and mercy.

Maybe an album like Devotion is simply the beginning of the next step, the next era in worship.  Perhaps there is a time to allow the better musicians to create something that is beyond the reach of the audience; that we can just sit and enjoy and then say “amen” to.   Or possibly we need to stretch the boundaries of what we sing on Sunday morning and take a cue from Steve Bell, Gord Johnson, and the people at St. Benedict’s Table.

Fee (Steve Fee Band) – We Shine

We shine, we shine, with the light of God
And when we speak, we speak with words of love
And when we dance, we may get a little wild
Cause we’re the people of God, yeah, the people of God

This has recently become one of my favorite worship songs.   Listened to it three times today while doing a couple of hours of driving.

Problem is, I’m the kind of guy who has to have a lyric sheet in my hands while I’m listening — one of the major benefits of the 12″ vinyl album era, but a big downside to YouTube viewing.

Unless you take your cue from ABC Sports and do a split screen.

First, open any web page featuring the song lyrics, such as this one.

Next restore the window and resize it to fit the RIGHT side of your monitor from top to bottom.

Now open another browser, and click on a YouTube, or Vimeo, or GodTube version of the song.   Since I think YouTube (or MetaCafé) opens faster, I chose this one.  (Second time around you could choose this one.)

With the video running on the LEFT side of your screen, click the button for the lyric page you opened which should still be only the RIGHT side of your screen.   Since it opened last, you can page down as the song progresses.   Just think, kids; not that long ago, split-screen was radically new technology.

By the way, it turns out this is a really bad example, because there are several YouTube versions of this song that have the lyrics already superimposed.

Comment added to the February 11 update: If your youth group does Hillsong United songs, you’ll find this one fits right in.   If your church does Hillsong United songs, tell us where you worship, sounds like a pretty rockin’ place.

October 9, 2008

Canada’s Steve Bell’s ‘Devotion’ – An Album Review

Filed under: Christianity, Church, music — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:17 pm

Steve Bell is one of Canada’s foremost Christian music artists, in a sub-genre that might be termed ‘Christian folk music.’   For my U.S. and U.K. readers, the closest comparison I can offer in Christian music is Michael Card.  Steve’s catalog on his own Signpost Music label includes a live album recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, a tribute to the songs of Bruce Cockburn, and albums on which he shares the microphone with his daughter, or other artists on the label.   For my Canadian readers, Steve has played back and forth so many times in this country that he is simply no stranger to many of us.   So it was with anticipation that I looked forward to what was described as “Steve’s first ever worship album.”

The rest of this review is intended to qualify that statement.   This is a different Steve Bell album inasmuch as all the songs were penned by Gord Johnson, a songwriter from Steve’s home church, St. Benedict’s Table, described on its website as, “a worshiping community rooted in an ancient future.”   Gord takes some very simple and sometimes very familiar texts — such as the 4th century prayer which begins, “Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open and from whom no secrets are hid” — and makes some very beautiful music out of them.   In the liner notes, Steve explains that they took about forty of Gord’s songs to producer Roy Salmond, with the result being this album, Devotion.   So in some respects, this is not a Steve Bell album, even though it is.

But I’m also not so sure that it’s a worship album in the sense that many reading this would expect.   Most of the songs do have a vertical lyrical orientation, but these are not the simplest songs to adapt and sing in your local church.   (Although, the inclusion of the guitar chords in the lyric book would certainly help facilitate that…)  On the one hand, the melodies and rhythms are not the usual, predictable stuff that passes for modern worship today.   That may be a good thing.   For most churches that I know, these might be more difficult songs to learn.   However, they do sing them at Steve’s church, which makes me think that trying a few of them might be a worthy and attainable goal.

One of our favorites was the second song, Everything We Need, a longer (seven minutes plus) song that is almost chant-like in its execution, and hints at, but never fully maximizes as a two-part song.   (The counterpoints are deliberately muted in the mix, though they are clearly there.)  We thought this song was reminiscent of songs we’ve heard done at Taizé services.  The song Embrace the Mystery is a single stanza of only 17 words, while Who Condemns You Now comprises only 18 words.    Praise The Father, Praise the Son is a  minor melody which bears a resemblance to the pop classic Scarborough Fair.   These are good songs; they are worshipful, but it’s not fair to call this a worship album when the term is usually applied to a ‘certain kind’ of music, and this album is so refreshingly different.

In the end, we started talking about the concept of ‘performance worship.’   There are some songs out there that we, the audience, shouldn’t feel the need to join in on.  We should be able to appreciate what is taking place at the front of the church as being offered as worship on behalf of all of us.   That’s how things were in era before the present modern worship era.   Singers did ‘special music’ which often were songs of testimony and often were songs of proclamation of God’s goodness, grace and mercy.

Maybe an album like Devotion is simply the beginning of the next step, the next era in worship.  Perhaps there is a time to allow the better musicians to create something that is beyond the reach of the audience; that we can just sit and enjoy and then say “amen” to.   Or possibly we need to stretch the boundaries of what we sing on Sunday morning and take a cue from Steve Bell, Gord Johnson, and the people at St. Benedict’s Table.


The first public writing I did was writing record reviews.   I started doing them in The Varsity, the University of Toronto student newspaper, and then there was Deluge our own newspaper, Harmony Magazine - an early CCM magazine, MusicLine, the trade edition of CCM Magazine, and eventually, CCM itself.   So it’s good to be back in familiar territory.   I hope I did this album justice.


I’m not sure what the U.S. distribution is on this album, but you can find out through Signpost Music at the link in the first paragraph.

The Silver is the New Black Theme Blog at WordPress.com.