Thinking Out Loud

April 16, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Pet Blessing Service

I’m writing this assuming everyone survived the prophetic implications of the blood moon, but maybe the April 15 income tax deadline is a form of judgment. 

As we do each Wednesday, clicking anything below will take you to PARSE where the links are live.

Paul Wilkinson writes the rest of the week at Thinking Out Loud, and edits the daily devotional Christianity 201 page.

Lettuce Pray from _ChristianHumor Twitter

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September 20, 2011

When It’s Your Turn to Lead the Scripture Reading

Fortunately, this issue hasn’t been a problem in the churches we’ve attended recently, but I think it’s worth repeating this piece from September, 2009…

scripture_readingNothing strikes terror in the hearts of churchgoers like being asked to do a scripture reading. Even some progressive, non-liturgical churches are trying things in the middle of the sermon which involve having the reader seated with a live microphone to jump into the middle of the sermon to read texts as needed. (The change in voices might actually keep some from slipping into their Sunday slumber.)

Laypersons so asked to participate will often make a panic purchase of a resource with a title like, “How to Pronounce Bible Names;” only to find the pastor saying the names with completely different vowel sounds and syllable emphasis than what they read to the congregation moments earlier.

And then there’s always the critical question, “What should I wear?” This usually transcends any consideration of the words being uttered.

Talking about this on the weekend however, we decided that what is usually lacking in these moments is passion. It’s not that the participant is unsaved or involved in gross sins. Rather, they just haven’t taken the time to examine the text and draw out its key elements in spoken form.

Which is a great place to interrupt this and add, in case you missed it, the excellent comment made by Jeremy two posts back, in ‘A New Way to Meditate on Scripture’ where he redefined this as: “…like walking down a highway that you drove on every day. Longer to look, to feel, to think about.”

So let’s cut to the “how-to.” Here’s how to slow down on the highway and consider the text so you that can read it with passion.

Photocopy or hand-write the verses you have been asked to read. Then go through and place EMPHASIS on the KEY WORDS you want to draw out. You can do this with:

  • underlining
  • capital letters
  • bold-face type (or retracing handwritten words)
  • highlighting in yellow

In other words, whatever works for you; one, some or all of the above. This is what newsreaders on Top 40 radio stations would do to keep music listeners from tuning out during the newscast. Punch it out a little! Sell it! Make it sing! (Unless you’re reading from Lamentations.)

In other words, short of doing a dramatic reading — which you probably were not asked to — communicate some of the fire and intensity in the passage. Because, all scripture is God-breathed.

February 13, 2011

When Scripture Is Like a Comfortable Chair

Unless you have public speaking experience, or work in radio and television, or are an actor; chances are that when you’re called upon to read something you haven’t seen before out loud, you stumble over the occasional sentence.  Miss the syntax of a sentence and you can get really bogged down. Start to read the sentence as if it’s a declarative statement when in fact it’s a question, and things can get quite messed up.

Despite having some experience in both broadcasting and public speaking, I can mess up entire paragraphs, especially if I’m not fully concentrating.

Every night at 9:00 PM, my boys — who are now 16 and 19 — join me for Bible study time.  We sometimes read from different translations, but most often read from a wide assortment of devotional books, current Christian bestsellers, or Christian classics.   So we could go from Mere Christianity or With Christ in the School of Prayer all the way to Francis Chan’s Forgotten God or Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew in the course of a single week.  In other words, this ain’t The Beginner Bible story time.

As I’m reading — especially with the older classics — it’s not unusual for me to have to start a sentence over.  Sometimes I take two or three runs at a sentence to try to find the ‘voice’ of the author.

But lately I’ve noticed something. I’m not trying to blow my own horn by saying this, but I hope it challenges you or resonates with you or both. I’ve noticed that when I hit a sentence that contains a quotation from scripture, it literally rolls off the tongue; even if the translation is somewhat different.

I’ve found that the scripture passages an author chooses to cite are like second nature; they fit like a cozy chair or a comfortable pair of shoes. I may not have internalized their message fully, and I may not be living out every aspect of their teachings, but at the very least, I can’t claim unfamiliarity with the words.

Although I stumble over the sentences that come before and the phrases that follow, once I am reading Bible quotations, I’m on familiar ground, almost as though the words are the words of an old friend.

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!


March 24, 2009

Read The Bible in One Year: Until Mid-March

Filed under: Christianity, Faith, theology — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:55 pm

Did you set out to make this your year of Genesis to Revelation reading?

The way Jon Rising sees it, most of the people who set out to read the Bible through in 2009 should be coming to a screeching halt in Leviticus right about now.    Fortunately, he offers some encouragement to keep pressing through:

“Push through the howling winds of boredom in late Exodus and throughout Leviticus. Things pick up a little in Numbers and Deuteronomy. When you reach the plateau of Joshua you will see sunshine again. And remember, when you reach the summit in the Book of the Revelation, the view is breathtaking.”

By the way, if you like the idea of owning good theological reference books, or the idea of taking good theology courses online, or even updating your academic credentials with distance education; bookmark Jon’s blog, Word and Spirit for regular reading.

December 6, 2008

Tribute to The Text, The Book, The Word, The Bible

Filed under: bible, Christian, Christianity, Faith, theology — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:10 pm

While looking for a familiar quotation that is part of the second half of what follows, I came across this much larger version that the author, somewhat unfamiliar with the concept of paragraphing,  had no doubt created himself.    Personally, I wouldn’t have begun with “The Bible is not an amulet…,” but hey, that’s just me.

I broke it up into paragraphs, and deleted his closing sentence which is his personal tribute to his Drake’s (sic) Bible including the mention that it is a King James.  (Sigh!)  Mind you, KJV issues aside, the Dake’s Bible was quite the labor of love, with more annotation than any study Bible ever produced.   If you ever get the chance to see one, take a few minutes to look over the notes.

A Tribute To The Bible

The Bible is not an amulet, a charm, a fetish, or a book that will work wonders    by its very presence.  It is a book that will work wonders in every life, here and hereafter, if acted upon and obeyed in faith and sincerity.  It is God’s inspired revelation of the origin and destiny of all things, written in the simplest human language possible so that most unlearned can understand and obey its teachings.  It is self-interpreting and covers every subject of human knowledge and needed now and forever.  As a literary composition, the Bible is the most remarkable book ever made.  It is a divine library of 66 books, some of considerable size and others no larger than a tract.

These books include various forms of literature-history, biography, poetry, proverbial saying, hymns, letters, direction for elaborate ritualistic worship, laws, parables, riddles, allegories, prophecy, drama, and others.  They embrace all manner of literary styles in human expression.

It is the book that reveals the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.  Its doctrines are holy, its precepts binding, its histories true, and its decisions immutable.

Read it to be wise, believe it to safe, and practice it to be holy.  The Bible contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.  It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.  Here heaven is opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.  Christ is its grand subject; our good is its design, and the glory of God its end.  It should fill your memory, rule your heart, and guide your feet in righteousness and true holiness.  Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully, meditatively, searchingly, devotionally and industriously.

Read it through and through until it becomes part of your being and generates faith that will move mountains.  The Bible is a mine of wealth, the source of health, and a world of pleasure.  It is given to you in this life, will be opened at the judgment, and will stand forever.  It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the least to the greatest of labor, and will condemn all who trifle with it sacred contents.

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