Thinking Out Loud

November 28, 2015

A Lesson in Songwriting

Filed under: music, worship — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:24 am
Graham Kendrick

Graham Kendrick

And a Lesson in Humility

A guy I don’t actually follow* got my attention on Twitter yesterday and I knew I had to share this today…

Graham Kendrick songwriting

Learn more about Graham Kendrick at this link.

*click anywhere on the quotation to link to Tim Lucas

November 27, 2015

More Blogs 4 U

bloggingdogs-thumbTime for another update to my ever expanding list of bookmarks in my computer. But first; if you’ve missed any…

Here’s the link to part one. (The really big one. You have to be a major blog nerd to go through all these.)

Here’s the link to part two. (Spring, 2015 update.)

Here’s the link to part three. (Late Spring, 2015, included my news sources.)

Here’s the link to part four. (Summer, 2015 update including “aggregators”, which are basically blogs that do things like the link lists we do here.)

So this would be part five.

Contradicting Bible Contradictions | Answering Bible Contradictions
Home | Ratio Christi
Christ Hold Fast
john pavlovitz | Stuff That Needs To Be Said
Bethany House Fiction | Connecting you with your favorite authors.
Stumbling Zombie | Insights of a zombie stumbling towards the Light.
“…a better country”
Vic the Vicar!
jamesedwardsharp | Abundant, passionate, honest, thought provoking musical take on the world.
Disciple All Nations | Implications of the Great Commission for the 21st Century
Redeeming God | Rescuing Scripture, Theology, & Church from the Shackles of Religion
Her View From Home
Pilgrim’s Rock – Worldview Apologetics Online Courses Books
Uniting Grace | Grace is the gift that unites us to Christ, and to others in Christ
Janet Mefferd | A Christ-centered look at life
The Christward Collective
Slowing Down and Speeding Up Time | Shalem Mental Health Network
Welcome to the BreakPoint Blog
ChurchPOP | Make holy all the things!
Brain Pickings | An inventory of the meaningful life.
GoodOleWoody’s Blog and Website
Purple Theology | The Blog of Austin Fischer
Art of the Christian Ninja
Enrichment Journal
Unsettled Christianity
Junia Project Home | The Junia Project
Gender Equality Blog | The Junia Project
The Evangelical Calvinist
Technology, Christianity, Culture | Second Nature
east coast veritas | Living, breathing and wrestling with truth while church planting in Atlantic Canada
Devotions — Proverbs 31 Ministries Devotions
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit | “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise” -Proverbs 13:20
Jeff K. Clarke – Jesus (RE)Centered
Life in the Kingdom
Teaching Nonviolent Atonement — Mimetic Theory’s Wisdom for Building Cultures of Peace
Theology in the Raw
The Mordecai Blog
Liturgy of Life | Sacramentally Cultivating a Household
Alan Rudnick | Pastor, Author, and Speaker
Uncommon God, Common Good —
Christ Almighty!
Blog – What’s Best Next
a Life Overseas | — the missions conversation
Sheep To The Right | Whatever you did for the least of these … Matthew 25:40

Random media links. I have no idea what the criteria was for this particular set of bookmarks. Unlike what’s above, these haven’t all been checked lately, so if you find a dead link let me know. Others are used on a weekly basis like Drew Marshall and Phil Vischer; and His Place (from Cornerstone Television) has been the subject of an entire blog post.

Worship House Media: One-stop-shop for your church media and video ministry
96five – Brisbane, Australia. Family’s Number One!
WAY-FM Media Player – Christian Books, Christian Music, Christian Fiction, Christian Movies
The DREW MARSHALL Show – Canada’s Most Listened to Spiritual Talkback Program
WVMC FM – Christian Hit Radio – Mansfield Ohio
Listen Live! «
Welcome – Ancient Faith Radio
Church Solutions Magazine: Christian Business Resources to Grow Your Church
A Christian and an Atheist podcasts
His Place
The Phil Vischer Podcast
Christian Rock & Christian Hip Hop Radio Online ::  NGEN Radio
My Christian Hits – Your Place For New Christian Music – Home


November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Link List

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:05 am


  • Thanksgiving is More Religious Than Christmas – Last week I spoke with a woman whose family—and extended family—exchanges gifts the first week in December, in order that the focus on Christmas Day itself will be all about Christ. I thought of her when I read this article, though as the new car advertisement says, ‘Your mileage may vary;’ we each experience the holidays differently in our family, economic and cultural contexts. See if you agree with 7 Reasons Thanksgiving is Way Better Than Christmas.
  • One Year Ago – We decided to celebrate Thanksgiving with some microblogging. A picture (or 7) is worth a thousand words, right? So if you’re new here
  • Thanksgiving Song of the SeasonAnd here’s a bonus song, just in time for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, My Heart is Full of Thankfulness by The Gettys, or if you prefer a more rollicking version by Stuart Townend.
  • It’s About a Beautiful Time of Year: There’s no denying that photographers love this time of year. Fall leaves contrast so well with blue sky. This worship song by Canada’s Brian Doerksen seems so appropriate on a day like today.
  • One Last Thanksgiving Debrief – Remember that time your high school small group leader asked, ‘What’s the opposite of love?’ and everybody said ‘hate’ and then he explained it’s really fear?  So what’s the opposite of “thanksgiving?” This answer is both surprising and satisfying: “While this may be human nature, nothing good comes of it.  Mark Twain said, ‘Comparison is the death of joy.’  For when we look and see someone else’s blessings, we suddenly have no appreciation of our own.”

With a day off, we thought some of you might be looking for some fall fiction reading…more great book covers at this link…with word the 2015 worst covers list is coming soon!

Lancast Amish Fires of Autumn

Finally this was forwarded from our friends at Flagrant Regard:

Mayflower's competition

November 25, 2015

Wednesday Link List

First, because nothing speaks to the advent of our Lord’s coming better than Hello Kitty:

Hello Kitty Advent Calendar

Just one month today until the jolly fat man (not John Hagee) comes to visit.

Our closing graphic is dedicated to whoever does PowerPoint at your place of worship:

Bad Slide Spacing

November 24, 2015

(Re) Introducing David Wesley

Filed under: Christmas, music — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:12 am

David Wesley Simply ChristmasSeveral months ago we took a day here to introduce you to David Wesley and his first  album, Basement Praise.  Now just three months later, David is back with Simply Christmas.

It’s not every day that I meet someone with 30,000+ YouTube subscribers who is also closing in on 4.8 million views. The music channel has flown him to the west coast twice in recognition of his song stats. David lives in the same part of the world as I, where he is mild-mannered reporter by day and video superstar by night. (Well, not the reporter part, but he has another life.)

On the first album he sings multiple parts which are also recorded for the videos. Offering the latter for sale is prohibitive because of the royalty structure, but many fans — including people who already own the album — would be willing to buy the visual versions if they could. On the new album, one song (see below) is also filmed that way, while the others have embedded links for purchasing individual songs or the entire album.

And this is where you come in. After listening to a few songs below, you can probably think of someone who would appreciate David’s unique sound, and there are links where you can download his music. (Physical CDs also exist for retailers or quantity buyers.)

Or you might just want to keep it all for yourself! Sit back and enjoy some early Christmas music:



YouTube: DavidWesley on YouTube

Facebook: David Wesley Music

Physical CDs / Retailers: Collide Media

Physical CD:…
Google Play:…

November 23, 2015

November 22, 2015

Door to Door Evangelism: Marginal Groups Willing to Invest the Time

Several years ago I met with a man who was a somewhat lapsed Episcopalian (or Anglican as we say here) who had been meeting on a monthly basis with some Jehovah’s Witnesses. He had a lot of questions about various issues, and so he invited them into his home and they returned regularly, staying about an hour each time.

There was a time when Evangelicals were very big on the concept of door-to-door outreach and visitation. Many a Saturday morning in the 1950s and 1960s might be spent in twos or threes ringing doorbells in a local neighborhood.

But as time went by, people tended to associate the “two by two” approach with only two groups: Mormons (LDS) and Jehovah’s Witnesses. These two groups took ownership of this method of proselytizing, with the result that today it’s not widely used by others.

Before anyone starts dismissing these groups out of hand, I want to commend the approach for the following reasons:

  1. It’s Biblical. The disciples were sent out in this manner. I’m not sure that by concluding that certain groups had taken over this approach and the simply giving up, Evangelical Christians did the right thing. What contact do we now make with our surrounding neighbors?
  2. They deliver. If the last few years of Missional Church has taught us anything, it’s taught us the importance of being sent. So much of what the church calls “outreach” is really “in-drag.” Millions of people are falling through the cracks of printed brochure distribution or mall campaigns or e-mail invites. But it’s harder — though not impossible — for them to ignore a knock at the door.
  3. The people who this man met at his front door were willing to invest the time with him. On hearing that, I made sure that I took out as much time as he wanted. Fortunately, the phone at my workplace didn’t ring and no one else needed to see me. I would have given him all day.
  4. They knew their subject matter cold. He was impressed with both their depth and their passion as they presented answers to his questions and introduced their beliefs, and also how their various doctrines fit together. It’s important that we are able to do the same. It has been said that of all the religions on earth, Christians are the least acquainted with their own sacred writings.
  5. They are optimistic about the results. I asked one Mormon missionary what would constitute the ideal “at the door” contact. He replied, “Someone who hears the message, receives the message, and commits to be baptized.” I asked if he’d ever heard of that happening all in the very first visit, and he said, “Yes, for sure.”
  6. They followed up. They returned to see him several times.

Hopefully through meeting with me he met someone with an equal passion for and knowledge of the true Christian faith. I encouraged him not to seek answers from the single source he has been using, and told him about a variety of resources available online. We continued meeting and while in recent years the contact has been somewhat fleeting, he always knows where to find me.

November 21, 2015

For The University Student Looking for a Window into the Next Chapter

Filed under: education — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:32 am

Today I met with a woman who told me that her son started sending out resumés when he was only in his first year of a four year university program. He’s had offers already and still has years to go before graduation.

Later in the day I met with another woman whose son is on the precipice of college and doesn’t have a plan. He’s definitely university material, but there isn’t a clear vision of which school to pursue and what program to take.

In the latter case, we tend to expect that things will crystallize, at the very latest, by the end of the college experience. They may jump in with shaky feet, but they will tweak their course load as they experience academic disciplines that are foreign to the high school experience, and eventually come up with something that catapults them into the working world, or more specialized graduate school education.

But that scene doesn’t play out for everyone. What if you’re approaching the end of four years without a fixed plan? And what if you’re doing that surrounded by the type of people who were getting career offers while still an undergrad?

I follow the blog of such a university student. There’s a reference here to opportunity which may play a part. Or at least perceived opportunity. Some times it does seem as if all the breaks go to others.

James 4 - Do not say tomorrowHowever, I also recognize that there are times when the people who seem to have life all planned out need to remember to be humble, and perhaps write their plans in pencil, not in ink. (See the Bible passage at right.)

Anyway, here’s what the student in question wrote:

So, today I’ve been feeling pretty useless.

As my university life approaches its end, I’ve been starting to think about what I’m going to do afterwards and I’ve got nothing. It seems that everyone in my year is smarter than I am and more creative. Many of them are Type-A personalities that have a billion projects going on at once, many of them are far more traveled than I am, and on top of that most of them are prettier then me.

I was feeling this way, but then I started wondering about this idea of ‘useless’. Can a person be useless? I definitely feel like I’m falling behind everyone I know, but at the same time I can think of skills that I have and abilities that I can offer if given the chance. Or maybe I have to make those chances myself but I have no idea how to do that and I find the prospect overwhelming so let’s just forget that for now.

I find it helpful in these moments of self-doubt to know exactly what I’m doubting. It’s easy to say ‘I’m useless’ but if that’s not really how I feel then I’m not going to get anywhere. My problem isn’t feeling useless, it’s feeling unused. It’s a fear over lack of opportunity and an insecurity over a perceived lack of affirmation. I don’t feel like I can’t do anything, I feel like I haven’t done anything.

No one is useless. I don’t believe that anyone is made without something to offer. Sometimes we just don’t get the right chances, at least in a given moment. I’m sure there are things I could do and do amazingly but nobody’s asking for them right now.

If there’s anyone reading this who feels the same way, I hope that you stay strong and get your chance to shine. Correction: You already shine, I just hope that somebody notices.

If you want to leave a comment today — especially some encouragement — you can do so at the original blog post.

November 20, 2015


Filed under: Christianity, health, Humor — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:33 am

okay to laughIt’s probably the world’s most-used (and overused) acronym on emails, but not everyone actually laughs out loud in the course of a day, or for some, even a week.

For many people, it’s hard to laugh right now. Circumstances are somewhat dark, or tense, or frustrating; you’re under a cloud. I get that. I’ve been there.

But for others, the problem is this: Laughter is a surprise emotion, and if you already have guessed the punchline, or noticed the bucket of water above the door, then having seen what’s coming, usually the best you’re good for is a smile.

Unless you’re one of the people who simply laughs at everything. I know you bring joy to a lot of situations, but always bear in mind that when your friends are making a point and want to be taken seriously, that’s not the time for hilarity.

I’ve spent a lifetime of figuring out punchlines before they’re spoken. I know that readers at this Christianity-focused blog may not appreciate all the plot-lines on Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory, but these two sitcoms represent the top of their craft and there is some really good writing that goes into each and every episode. With both this week, I did find myself quite literally lol-ing, even if I wasn’t exactly rofl — look it up — or experiencing a laughter so severe it causes certain body parts to disconnect.

And you need to laugh. The medical folk tell us it’s good for you. Whether it’s Mr. Bean, or Inspector Clouseau, or Basil Fawlty, or Tina Fey; or just that naturally funny person who is in your sphere of influence. Having a pet will also bring down your blood pressure, although they say you have to actually pet the pet for that to work. Dog food and cat litter can get pricey, but laughter is free.

Jesus LaughingAnd the Bible got there first: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” at least that’s how the old KJV puts Proverbs 17:22; but I much prefer to leave you with The Voice Bible’s “A joy-filled heart is curative balm.” That’s right, curative balm. I guess it’s part of trying to make your translation stand out from the rest of the pack.

Which reminds me…

…A conservative Evangelical Bible translator walked into a bar. “Gee,” the bartender said, “We don’t get many conservative Evangelical Bible translators in here.” To which he replied, “No, and at these prices you’re not going to get many more.”

Finally, from the movie Uncle Buck, a song that’s been stuck in my head ever since.


November 19, 2015

Where Do We Go Post-Paris?

Filed under: Christianity, current events, issues, social justice — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:19 am

a guest post by Rick Webster*

To read this at source, click on the original title below:

Paris. Now What?

A few days ago there was a murderous rampage by members of the terrorist group ISIS on the streets of Paris. In light of such horrific events, and in their wake of the emotional trauma and fear, I’m left wondering what the Christian faith has to offer at times like these. Distance removes most of us from the victims, and takes us out of orbit to their pain. Few of the people reading this, if any, will have a role in directly comforting the victims, their families and loved ones. But you don’t need to be a Christian to comfort the afflicted. You just need to be a decent human being. So what does Christ-like faith have to offer the world at at time like this? Three thoughts come to mind:

  1. Transformative Justice. The work of the prophets is to call the nations of Israel and Judah to justice. Life in the ancient world was lived under the tremendous burdens of empire. Taxation was oppressive and political and economic systems were designed to keep the poor trapped in horrific poverty while the wealthy reaped the benefits of exploitation. There was no middle class in the ancient world; there were only the incredibly wealthy and the victims who supported their wealthy lifestyle. The Christian faith, at its core, calls for a radical reevaluation of how we live. To live with justice as per the ethos of the prophets and of Jesus Christ is to radically change the way we interact with others, bringing freedom from oppression, corruption and crushing poverty – the very conditions which radical fundamentalism needs to thrive.
  2. The Incarnation. One of the foundations  of Christian faith is the belief that Jesus is divine, and that he took on human form. Jesus being clothed in humanity is known as “The Incarnation.” The reason why our efforts in the middle east (and elsewhere) have failed so spectacularly, and continue to fail, and will continue to fail, is because we operate from the basis of empire to conquered people, and our work in the world suffers from colonialism and ethnocentrism. We operate from the perspective that if failing nation states are going be successful, they’re going to be like us, thus perpetuating the evils of our world. If we are to truly follow the way of Christ we are to become embedded in the culture of those we care about. If we are to follow the way of Christ we become a part of the social, cultural, political and economic lives of our friends. We can only effect positive change in the world, particularly in the middle east, from within the body of the ‘other’.
  3. Self-sacrificial Service. If we are to take the words of Matthew’s Gospel at face value, then we cannot help but acknowledge that Jesus “…came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Clearly, Jesus operated from a position of powerlessness, but the objective of his philosophy was to be a ransom – a rescue or redemption – for others. The Christian faith, as lived by it’s most noble practitioners, brings rescue or redemption to those enslaved, oppressed and to those denied hope. It takes a particular depth of faith to live with justice when we realize that we are the oppressor. The authentic voice of faith does not ask “How can I make you like me?” but rather, “How can I help you reach your full potential?”

I’m not naive enough to realize that we can live in a world without armies, and that our history will not continue to be blood-soaked and violent. But the Christian faith, contrary to popular belief and popular practice, is a radical, revolutionary call to live with justice and mercy, and offers the world compassion, redemption and hope. What Christian faith offers the world is the hope that this world, here and now, can be a better place and a vision for how we might get there.

*Rick Webster is the pastor of Third Space Church in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada and the author of Introducing Jesus: A Heart to Heart Encounter with the Most Influential Person in History.


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