Thinking Out Loud

December 19, 2012

Wednesday Link List

The next time we link together will be the other side of Christmas. In the meantime…

  • Kyle Campos at the blog Our Rising Sound has the final word on how to configure your worship team on stage:

The Last Word on Modern Worship

  • Computer hacking group Anonymous has had enough of Westboro Baptist Church. Haven’t we all? But in light of WBC’s response to the Sandyhook School shooting, they stepped it up.
  • Veteran Christian blogger Andrew Jones came oh-so-close to having a role as an extra in The Hobbit.  Well, he would have if he had been chosen for an interview.
  • Christiane Amanpour’s two-part ABC News special, “Back to the Beginning,”  explores the history of the Bible from Genesis to Jesus. Part one airs on Friday, Dec. 21 and part two on Friday, Dec. 28, both starting at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. Watch a preview and excerpts
  • And Thursday night, Saddleback pastor Rick Warren will be on Rock Center with Brian Williams to discuss his Daniel Plan diet on NBC-TV at 10:00 EST.  Here’s an unauthorized copy of him discussing the health plan with Dr. Oz.
  • Dilemma Department: Should a Christian commercial photographer take on doing a wedding shoot for a gay marriage? Russell D. Moore finds the Bible actually addresses this type of issue.
  • Here’s one we missed in October and it’s very lengthy, but if you believe unilaterally in the doctrine of election, what if one of your children isn’t chosen? Ouch! Jeff Mikels answers this thorny question on behalf of Calvinist parents everywhere.
  • Not all the people who answer the “religion” question on surveys and census forms as “none” are atheist; there is no way for journalists to know if respondents are atheists, agnostics, unaffiliated or otherwise.
  • When Christians share the gospel with Muslims, which gospel writer is going to cause the least trinitarian confusion?
  • A female church-staff member offers some observations and suggestions in the wake of moral failures involving pastors and church employees.
  • And it came to pass, The Queen James Bible, a new translation, “in a way that makes homophobic interpretations impossible.” View a few KJV and QJV passage comparisons.
  • This was posted in the UK back in October; it’s a 14-minute podcast highlighting the Seriously Funny tour with Adrian Plass who is appearing with Jeff Lucas.
  • The graphic below was attributed by Tim Archer to Richard Beck, but there was no link. It seemed timely in light of recent events to end with the link to Tim’s piece on feeling pain in a culture that doesn’t like to cry.

The Psalms Compared to Hymnbooks

July 31, 2011

Seriously Funny: Adrian Plass and Jeff Lucas

When The Elephant Room conference and DVD happened, I suggested that this experience was much like getting to eavesdrop on the conversations pastors have with each other about pastor-type things.    In many ways, Seriously Funny by Jeff (Lucas on Life) Lucas and Adrian (Sacred Diary) Plass is the same kind of thing, only with just the two British pastors sharing a written conversation and offering a distinct British flavour to the discussion.

I actually mentioned this book in a link list on June 9th, 2010 — yes, over a year ago — and was sent a copy by Authentic/STL which I simply never got around to reading, much less reviewing.  But that changed this week, and in many respects, because the book deals with issues that are simply messy, this was a better climate in which to read the book.  Messy is in.  Questions are in.  Doubts are in and even pastors experience them, sometimes in mighty waves.

The book is simply an exchange of about a dozen letters each — one presumes e-mails — between the popular UK writer and speaker (Plass) and the sometimes UK, sometimes USA pastor and writer (Lucas) in which each letter is a response to ideas suggested in the previous exchange.  There’s even an amusing suggestion that it’s a good thing these letters are never going to be published.  Nice touch, guys.   The book is really neither rolling on the floor funny or deadly serious.  Instead it’s real, it’s transparent, it’s honest, and it gets you thinking about the mysteries of living the Christian life.

You can read a random (serious) excerpt here.  Definitely recommended for those who know Plass’ earlier or recent works, fans of which are legion; or fans of Lucas’ Creating a Prodigal-Friendly Church or Will Your Prodigal Come Home, or for my UK readers, the daily devotional booklets that bear his name.

June 9, 2010

Wednesday Link List

From my computer to yours, here’s just a few of the online adventures I had this week…

  • “The day after we here in the U.S. paused to remember the men and women who had died fighting for our country, the fight continued from beyond the grave. On Tuesday [June 1] in the town of Göttingen, Germany a World War 2 era bomb exploded killing three people and injuring six others.” So begins a short essay by Julie Clawson, “Violence from the Past.”
  • The Rev. Scott Schmieding didn’t let a physical impairment stop him from taking a pastor job — which includes preaching — even though he has no tongue.   This CT story will make you reconsider whether or not you’re letting circumstances stand in the way of calling.
  • Christian author Diana Gresh, aka ‘The Secret Keeper Girl,’ shares a concerned one-parent-to-another open letter to Billy Ray and Tish, mom and dad to superstar Miley Cyrus.
  • Remember that street-preacher in the UK who was arrested for saying homosexuality is a sin?  Here’s actual video of him being placed under arrest.
  • Rick Warren tells the people in his congregation that if they’re just faking Christianity, it’s time to find another church.
  • “Social networking does have its perils. This much is for sure. Loss of privacy, device obsession, check-in overdose … Bad. But this new wave of human communication opens doors that have previously remained slammed shut.”  Read more at BeDeviant.
  • American churches (and other buildings with large auditoriums) have only three days left to convert their wireless microphones over to a new operating frequency.  Many can’t afford to do so.   (First it was the digital television conversion; now this…)
  • A German family receives asylum in the U.S. under rather strange circumstances — they are home schooling refugees.
  • Here’s seven great over-arching principles for Children’s ministry from the blog by Will Mancini.   Pass this link on to your Christian Ed. person where you worship.
  • Flashback to February; the blog is called Sim’s Zone, the piece is short but poignant:  Lent Reflections.
  • Blog discovery of the week:  The Aristophrenium.    Four young men; three Australians and one in Canada; writing on Apologetics; often at a deeper, academic level; and often with with the common touch and bit of heart.
  • Rick Apperson launches a blogapalooza with guest writers all throughout June.  It was good to connect earlier this week with Dawn Fehr who blogs at Blown to Smithereens.
  • Two popular UK figures team up to have some fun writing a book together.
  • Christian news and information blog highlight of the week:  New Church Report.
  • New homes in new neighborhoods constructed with new building materials and  filled with new furniture… equals major indoor air quality issues.   It seems that rapid economic advancement is actually killing young people in China.
  • Have a worship moment (or many) interacting with God’s creation:  If you remember the BBC DVD series from a few years back, Planet Earth, you need to know about the new series, Life.  Here’s a trailer.
  • Internal link from this blog two days ago, in case you missed it, on the passing of CCM veterans Dana Key (DeGarmo & Key) and Kevin Thomson (Sweet Comfort Band).
  • Speaking of Christian music, for my Canadian readers who are into modern worship, CCM, southern gospel or even children’s music — and anyone else who wants to take a peek — check out the redesigned (as of yesterday!) from the Music & Media division of David C. Cook Canada.
  • Our cartoon this week is from Sacred Sandwich:

March 31, 2010

“Out Like a Lamb” Link Day

Except that I don’t think March rolled “in like a lion;” at least it didn’t here.   And why does this phrase borrow the Biblical “lamb and lion” imagery anyway?

There’s something unsettling in the contrast of having April Fool’s Day directly adjacent to Good Friday.   Perhaps with that in mind, I thought we’d lead off with this picture:

She looks real, doesn’t she.   This “cybernetic human” can act surprised, or angry, or any other emotion you want to program her to express.   Unveiled in Japan on March 16th, you can see more robotics at’s Big Picture site.

And then there’s this picture, source unknown, of the “Love Chapter” from I Corinthians expressed as a tattoo:

Not sure which translation this is, but then again, that raises the question:  Are there King James Only tattoo parlors?   If not, someone’s overlooking a major market.

Which brings us to this T-shirt:

But I’m getting distracted; we really should move on to the links:

  • John Piper’s unexpected seven-month leave of absence — starting May 1st — was probably the story of the week in the Christian blogosphere.   How will the multitude of his followers get by without their weekly dose of J.P.’s encyclicals?    Read the official announcement at Desiring God.
  • Speaking of the Pipester, here’s his rant on the whole Emergent church movement, which he figures is due to implode in about six seconds from now, with some additional commentary at Tall Skinny Kiwi.
  • Theological finger-pointing at the Emergents continued over at Harvest Bible Chapel in NW Chicago on a recent Friday night Q&A session with a Moody Professor speaking for the anti-Emergent side while to balance things out they had… nobody.   JR looks at this rather one-sided presentation in this report.
  • Blogger Michael Krahn becomes a guest columnist at Canada’s Christian Week website; suggesting that all that technology has convinced us that we can’t sing.   I wish this article was a bit longer, because there are implications for church worship that might have been considered in a longer piece.    Check it out.
  • And speaking of things from my home and native land, I want to totally show off Canada’s national Christian magazine, FaithToday.   They’ve just started doing digital issues and if your internet connection is up for it, here’s a look at the March/April edition.
  • One of my favorite authors, British humorist Adrian Plass joins with Jeff Lucas — who pastors on both sides of the Atlantic — are joining together for a new book, Seriously Funny. “Made up a letters between the two, ‘Seriously funny’ is an honest look at life, love, book-signings, Christian ‘celebrity’, church…”   Check out the announcement at Christian Today.
  • Here’s a follow-up to yesterday’s piece here on foot washing.   Only this one, from last year, was a drive thru foot washing.    Seriously.
  • With all the interest in the Twilight books and movies, the Christian Post decided it was good time to interview former vampire-genre writer Anne Rice.   Actually, they were promoting the I Am Second testimony website.
  • Mark Sayers — whose DVD The Trouble With Paris was reviewed here — is up something big with this mystery project, Bordertown. You’ll have to sign up for the e-mail announcement.
  • I usually lose patience waiting for their web server to keep up to speed, but for what it’s worth, GodTube is back.   Apparently, like New Coke, the brand switch to Tangle didn’t take.  John Scaddington reports.
  • Described as “a little free-will humor;” the image below is from the blog Mockingbird.

  • Our cartoon this week is from For Heaven’s Sake; reproduced here not because it’s anything you haven’t seen before, but so that you can copy and paste it to that person in your e-mail list who needs a not-so-subtle prod.   Be tactful.   Okay, maybe there’s no way to be tactful and send this out at the same time…

  • Finally, the I Can Has Cheezburger (aka Lolcats) people have a new site, My Food Looks Funny. Maybe if the western world only ate as much as the person did who carved this, there would be enough food for everybody!

March 17, 2010

Links for St. Patrick’s Day and Other Things

St. Patrick

Here we are once again at Wednesday, and to those of you of Irish descent, “May the road rise to meet you…”   (They already know the rest…)

  • Donald Miller’s sermon at Willow Creek on the March 6/7 weekend was perhaps his “usual” about the power of story, but it seemed especially more focused at Willow, which made it this week’s lead link.    How are you doing with the story God’s given you to write?   To view you need to select the video from the menu when you link to the sermons on their media player.  (Good one to copy the audio to disc and loan or give to your friends.)
  • This week my internet wanderings led me to further consider the rarely-heard phrase, “Assurance of Salvation;” and I was especially satisfied with an explanation posted at as well as an illustration that appears in the second paragraph of an article at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry or CARM.   Do you ever doubt your salvation?
  • Christian book reviews:  Helpful or hurtful?   Mark Tronson explores the topic; “They do not simply judge good writing, they are good writing, and they reflect on their subject as they do…”  with the caution that, “The reader wants to be reassured that the reviewer has a proper grasp of the subject at question, because misunderstanding theology can be a pitfall…” in this article at Christianity Today Australia
  • This YouTube clip is dated April, 2009, but STL Distributors in the U.S. has the book by British humorist Adrian Plass, Looking Good, Being Bad: The Subtle Art of Churchmanship (Authentic UK) listed as June, 2010 release.   As a huge Plass fan, I don’t know how I missed this previously, but Plass’ wit is very dry, very British, and you might have to watch this twice.
  • Did Herod want John the Baptist Put To Death?  Matthew 14 seems to say ‘yes,’ while Mark 6 seems to say ‘no.’   Join the conversation — if you’re up for it — at The BEAttitude. (Caveat:  This one is not exactly a Christian blog.   Not even close.)
  • Usually our posts from David Hayward at Naked Pastor are cartoons, but this time around, he compares trying to get people to come to church to trying to catch squirrels in his house: “…If there is any sense of a trap, they won’t even come close. They can smell control and manipulation from a mile away. Even if the control is minor and sincere, they won’t take it. Not even a nibble.”  So true.  Before clicking around the rest of his site, finish this one here.
  • In what appears to be the very first post of a new blog, James Rutz, author of Megashift announces the ushering in of The New Christianity.  Besides being a trend-watcher, Rutz might teach you a new word, “Diptisms.”
  • Canadian blogger Tim Challies flashes back to 2006 when AOL made individual online search histories public.   If nothing else, be sure to read the second list of searches with Tim’s concluding analysis in this article at Christianity Today.
  • Speaking of flashbacks, here’s a 2009 post from Kevin Jackson at the Society of Evangelical Arminians blog which gets in the SCL spirit with Stuff Young Calvinists Like (complete with Arminian equivalents!)
  • Here’s a very short piece by blogger Jayarathina Madharasan that you can copy and paste and forward to your friends:  Cell Phone vs Bible.
  • Canada’s outspoken Christian talk show host, Drew Marshall launches his own YouTube picks on Drew Tube.  (Check out the rather amazing collection of interviews from the radio show itself here.)
  • Could political correctness ever lead us from St. Patrick’s Day to “Irish Day?”  Here’s an internal link from two years ago on this blog.
  • Here’s the real deal on St. Patrick from Wikipedia.  “…Legend also credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a 3-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian belief of ‘three divine persons in the one God'”
  • Our cartoons this week are straight off the comic pages of your local newspaper; from For Heaven’s Sake and Wizard of Id.

October 6, 2009

Guest Blogger Nathan Douglas on Adrian Plass

Yes, I know we covered British author Adrian Plass here as recently as May 1st, but when an e-mail from Nathan suggested I do something else in honor of the Canadian tour beginning this month, I threw the ball back in his court.   Regular followers of this blog know I don’t relinquish this spot to many guests, but I wanted you to meet Nathan Douglas, an undergraduate film student at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.  (Actually, some of his earlier work has been linked in this blog eighteen months ago.)

Nathan DouglasPaul has kindly offered me some space to write a few words about a mutually appreciated author: Adrian Plass.  As Paul mentioned in a recent post, Mr. Plass is embarking on a 17-city tour across Canada.  My post coincides with this event, namely because I’m pleased to have the opportunity to hear such a clever and illuminating writer speak, but also because just as the joy of experiencing a Plass novel should not be hoarded, neither should the chance to hear him in person pass by unnoticed.

There is one book that I have read cover-to-cover, four times a year, for about five years now.    It never grows stale, and it never loses its charm, nor its insight.  The surfaces of time and experience do not render it blunt.  It is The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass (aged 37¾).  My appreciation of Plass and his work is based on my experiences with this book, and its sequels.  What began as a fictional account of Plass’ daily life has grown into a tiny universe of its own, populated by some of the most endearing characters to spring from a pen.

Plass’ voice is such a gift to his readers, and to Western Christianity in general.  He understands the life of the middle-class Christian and articulates the graces and frustrations of that life with knowing love.  The life of the fictional Adrian is both plight and gift, and upon every new reading, I marvel at Plass’ ability to capture that finely tuned sense of bumbling around in the moment and by grace, playing some role in the works of God.

adrian plassPerhaps what keeps the Diary fresh is its honesty about the humanity – quirks, flaws, and all – of Christians, and its refusal to communicate this solely through self-critical reflections.  Indeed, Plass’ greatest demonstrations of Christian reality come through the simple actions of its protagonist, whether they are somewhat misguided or deeply informed.  And as silly as some of these situations are, they speak truthfully to universal experiences amongst churchgoers (particularly Anglicans and charismatics, which happens to hit me right in the spiritual bulls-eye as far as experiences go).  Plass underlines the comedy with moments that start small and wind up emotionally resonant.  His speaking is known for its skill in evoking laughs and tears simultaneously, and one may find this gift humbly expressed in his writing.

“Talked to lots of nice people this morning from lots of different denominations.  Had a really great chat in the café.  Had to stop, unfortunately, or we’d have been late for the seminar on unity.”

The style of that writing is no less exciting; the man has a gift for crafting sparse sentences that provide just enough information, wit, and room for the reader to fill in the gaps.  His tone is the ideal balance of dry and emotive, informed by a deep love for the church. And outside of Lewis, I doubt I have read anyone who is so skilled at deploying sarcasm gently and effectively within a Christian context.

Adrian Plass is a prolific writer, and has written countless books outside of his Diary universe.  I have yet to read any, but am assured that they are no less affecting than these little tomes that I return to year after year.  If granted the time from a busy schedule, I look forward to seeing and hearing Mr. Plass in person.  And it is my hope that my fellow Canadians take this chance to experience in person one of the great, humble, and understanding voices of modern Christianity.

To read Nathan’s own blog, click here for Cinema Truth

May 1, 2009

Adrian Plass: One of Britain’s Top Christian Writers

adrian-plassMaybe it has something to do with having greater access to British comedies (before PBS discovered them) but Canadians are a more likely audience for U.K. Christian author Adrian Plass. We share a rather dry sense of humour (or ‘humor’ as Americans spell it) and are able catch more of the references to things British.

Adrian Plass’ best known work, The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 1/4, is itself a tongue in cheek reference to a British children’s book.  Granted, the Church (capital ‘C’ that time) hasn’t traditionally gravitated toward comedic writing; and I’m sure that for some, reading Adrian Plass would be an exercise in bewilderment.   Others of us, would say Sacred Diary ought to be required reading for every Christian.   We who are part of the family of faith do some rather silly things sometimes.   Sometimes we don’t realize we’re doing them.   Seeing them in print however, is another matter entirely, and nobody captures us in print better than Plass.

Plass himself is an enigma.   Though a highly respected conference and church speaker, he is very open about entering periods of spiritual doubt and uncertainty.   Since many of his more popular books are personal and subjective it’s a theme that appears quite often.   His transparency on these subjects can be highly refreshing. To learn more about the man, check out this 2004 Wittenburg Door interview.

bacon-sandwichesI’ve just finished Bacon Sandwiches & Salvation – A Humourous Antidote for the Pharisee in All of Us (Authentic) available in North America through STL Distributors. This is an A-Z encylopedia of things Christian and Biblical interspersed with short anecdotal stories. After several attempts, his explanation of Christian choruses — how we often mouth lyrics that we can’t possibly understand — still brings me to where I can’t read his alternative lyrics aloud with breaking up.

Later this year, Zondervan U.K. is releasing three new titles, which we’ve been told we will be able to get here in the frozen north, but are not releasing through them in the U.S.

Hopefully, U.S. readers who are fans will be able to get their hands on them. They are releasing his full-length novel Ghosts again, under a different title to try to help it find a larger audience.

With the exception of a couple of German titles, here’s an Adrian Plass book list — of which I own more than half — courtesy of Wikipedia:

  • An Alien at St. Wilfred’s
  • And Jesus Will Be Born
  • Bacon Sandwiches and Salvation
  • Blind Spots in the Bible
  • Broken Windows, Broken Lives
  • Cabbages for the King
  • Clearing away the Rubbish
  • Colours of Survival
  • Father to the Man
  • The Final Boundary
  • Ghosts
  • The Growing-up Pains of Adrian Plass
  • Jesus – Safe, Tender and Extreme
  • The Heart of the Family
  • The Horizontal Epistles of Andromeda Veal
  • Never Mind the Reversing Ducks
  • Nothing But the Truth
  • Philip Illiot, Biography
  • Plass At Christmas
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 3/4
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Christian Speaker Aged 45 3/4
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, on Tour: Aged Far Too Much to Be Put on the Front Cover of a Book
  • A Smile on the Face of God
  • Stress Family Robinson
  • Stress Family Robinson 2
  • The Theatrical Tapes of Leonard Thynn
  • The Unlocking
  • View from a Bouncy Castle
  • The Visit
  • When You Walk
  • Why I follow Jesus
  • Words from the Cross
  • A Year at St. Yorick’s
  • You Say Tomato

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