Thinking Out Loud

February 10, 2016

Wednesday Link List

A restaurant manager went to bat for his employee who got a tract like this instead of tip. Click the image to read.

A restaurant manager went to bat for his employee who got a tract like this instead of tip. Click the image to read.

Here’s your Ash Wednesday Link List. If you find this weekly service beneficial, please send money.

A pastor in Tanzania reportedly preaches while standing on top of his church members because his feet must not touch the ground during sermon; able-bodied brothers in the church have to carry the pastor on their back one after the other until the end of the service. Click the image for more.

We’re actually hoping this one is fake: A pastor in Tanzania reportedly preaches while standing on top of his church members because his feet must not touch the ground during sermon; able-bodied brothers in the church have to carry the pastor on their back one after the other until the end of the service. Click the image for more.

February 8, 2016

The Face of the Deep: A Refreshing Consideration of The Holy Spirit

Though I’m not usually at a loss for words, I have so many thoughts running through my head that I truly don’t know where to begin reviewing The Face of the Deep: Exploring the Mysterious Person of The Holy Spirit by Paul J. Pastor (David C. Cook, paperback, 2016). So we’ll do this one a little differently.

The Face of the Deep - Paul J PastorOverview: The Face of the Deep is a consideration of different passages in scripture which evidence the presence of the working of what we sometimes term ‘the third person of the trinity’ or simply ‘the Spirit.’ Arranged in two sets of seven chapters each, the first set is more focused in the Old Testament, the second in the New (though there is some overlap) with each chapter beginning in the narrative but with the aim of highlighting some aspects of what we usually term the work of the Holy Spirit. These sections are categorized as Seven Stars and Seven Lampstands, though it is made clear that the terms are not being applied in the traditional manner.

The writing style: The book is just over 300 pages long. Normally, I would consider that piece of information superficial, but I raise it here only to say that many sections of the book could easily have been typeset as poetry, bringing it to around 500 pages; such is the care that has gone into the writing. One endorsement said it better: “…the elegance of the prose befits its strange and beautiful subject.” 

A sample:

“If you want to build a ship,” Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

Many theological understandings of Pentecost see it as some pragmatic extension of wood gathering. The “power from on high” that Jesus promised is perceived primarily as a means to an end–the evangelization of the world. The thinking is that in the face of a humanly impossible mission (making disciples and baptizing unto the ends of the earth), a divine resource is needed to carry out orders.

Of course Pentecost is power-giving. But its means of power is not just the transfer of ability or capacity, but the lighting of desire. It was an act of God that taught us to yearn for the vast and endless deep. More than the Spirit as some impersonal fuel for our “gas tanks” or a yes-man helper for missionary workers, God the Spirit, as an intimate in the souls of Christ’s people, as breath in the lungs, teaches us to yearn, to desire, to burn alive with holy passion. (p. 219)

Subjectivity: The book is far from a theological treatise on God’s spirit, rather, I was taken by the degree to which Pastor wrote himself and his life experiences into the story. Minus the more journalistic style, it reminded me so much of Philip Yancey, one of my favorite writers, whose works are equal parts theology and autobiography. Which brings us to…

Take a deep breath: I’m sure that somewhere mid-University I stopped inhaling books for good, but with this one I flipped the pages, held it close, and took a deep breath. Why on earth did I do this? Paul Pastor is from the Pacific Northwest and you are reminded of this every chapter. I could picture the forest, the rocks, the waterfalls, and I wanted to smell the trees. The book did not disappoint, though the publisher could might have anticipated this and helped me out a little more. The use of the word refreshing in today’s header was intentional. Considering the associations of wind and breath with God’s Spirit, I guess I was in the right zone.

The author’s name: What is usually trivial must be addressed here. Paul was my Wednesday Link List editor at Leadership Journal for over a year, but in days prior, I had dismissed it as a pen name. After all, this was the same publication that gave us the unlikely Url Scaramanga, “adjunct professor of interdisciplinary pseudonymology,” so I felt I was on safe ground. Not so. As the back cover blurb states, “His last name is either providence or coincidence.” (You can hear him do some real pastoring at this link; fast forward to 9 min. mark.)

What I learned: It wasn’t so much that this book introduced new information as much as it brought a number of a-ha moments as I was reminded of things I had heard before but never deeply considered or tied together. Finishing the final chapter, I immediately flipped back to the beginning and started all over, having now better appreciated the full rhythm and cadence of the book.

Bonus cuts: Each chapter features full page iconography by artist Martin French. (View them online.) At the end of the book, Pastor and French annotate each of those. Normally, I skip over illustrations — that’s not true, I usually don’t even see them — but this forced me to go back over each and read the descriptions, which was part of my decision to start the book a second time. (I’m now in chapter five!) There are also some questions for group or individual discussion. 

Conclusion: Five stars. Borrowing yet again from another endorsement, “Thank you Paul J. Pastor for writing the book I didn’t know I needed…”

 


Thanks to Martin at David C. Cook Canada for allowing me to review this great book.

Previously at Thinking Out Loud:

Link: Paul J. Pastor on Twitter.

February 3, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Dinosaur Baptist Church - from Ship of Fools

This week a slightly different algorithm was used to find the stories you see below. Let me know what you think…

 

Pastor Job Title

Looking for more links? Tim Archer posts Links-To-Go every 2-3 days at his blog The Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts.

January 27, 2016

Wednesday Link List

In cooperation with Christian Humor, our gift to all of you still recovering from Jonas:

Shovel Shoes

So what’s news? As I go a-huntin- and a-gatherin’ each week, it occurs to me that entirely different things are important to different interest groups within the broad category we call Christianity. There are items here that I would never consider clicking, but experience (and stats) teach me that these are things that Christian people want to be made aware of.  Let the games begin:

No, it's not just the whole "Two Corinthians" thing; it's a lack of understanding of all things Christian. CNN noted that Falwell, Jr. is not ordained; not a "Rev."

No, it’s not just the whole “Two Corinthians” thing; it’s a lack of understanding of all things Christian. CNN noted that Falwell, Jr. is not ordained; not a “Rev.”

Tedious (Yawn!) Job of the Week: Staff at Moody Press proofreading all 1,000+ pages of the index to the John MacArthur New Testament Commentary. “Can we get another round of coffee in the board room?”

Proof reading commentary index

 

January 20, 2016

Wednesday Link List

C'mon, you know the song: "There was a congregation / that met in a shoe..." Yes it's a church, opening in Taiwan. Details at NPR.

C’mon, you know the nursery rhyme: “There was a congregation / that met in a shoe…” Yes it’s a church, opening in Taiwan. Details at NPR.

Jesus and GermsIn case you missed it, we had what I consider our very finest Weekend Link List on Saturday. Be sure to check out some vital news stories and commentaries there, and I’ll try to keep this list here a little shorter.

Remember, there are some excellent links on Saturday’s Weekend Link List.

…The closing of Leadership Journal means, among other losses, we’re going to miss our diet of cartoon humor…

img 012016

 

January 16, 2016

Weekend Link List

Wheaton Record Jan 15 2016 cover

Anglican Primates

 

January 13, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Bible Loving Cat

While the NIV dominates some demographic sectors, the God’s Word translation is clearly tops among middle-aged male felines*…  

→→ Before we begin the links today, I need to share something with regular readers. In the not-too-distant past, for a period of 22 months, this weekly link list appeared at PARSE, the blog of Leadership Journal, a division of Christianity Today. For a brief period of time, the people at CT were family, and there are several with whom I still keep in touch.

Yesterday, we were somewhat shocked to learn of the closing of Leadership Journal, which has served the North American church since 1980.   You can learn more about the closure at this announcement. Some of the issues and analysis previously raised at Leadership Journal will be incorporated in a new section of CT called The Local Church. You can learn more about that at this link

Now we return you back to our regular programming…

nothing to say


*Simply doing what the internet does best: posting pictures of cats.

January 6, 2016

Wednesday Link List

 

Fifty Shades at the Christian Bookstore

Welcome to the link list for January 6th… I think I’m having an Epiphany.

Purgatory Rapture

December 23, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Cat in Christmas TreeIn his defence, blogger Lorne Anderson writes, “I would argue that when I set the tree in its base I made sure it was standing straight. I am not responsible if the weight of the ornaments is causing the tree to tilt. The cat was not in the boxes I brought up from the basement.” 

In other family pet Christmas tree news, this is not a decoration, the snake belongs to my sister-in-law. Rather similar to the opening picture, don’t you think? I just realized both families live in the same city. Something in the water?

Not a Decoration

December 17, 2015

Book Review: Stuff Married Guys Need to Know

Filed under: books, reviews — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:33 am

As a reviewer who is also involved in the retail side of publishing, I am too aware that books for men can be a tough sell. Generally speaking, it’s not a well performing category, and so when a men’s interest title arrived in a stack of review books, I placed it near the bottom of the pile.

But then I decided to take a second look. Dude’s Guide to Marriage: Ten Skills Every Husband Must Develop to Love His Wife Well (Nelson Books, November 2015) is written by St. Louis pastor Darrin Patrick with substantial contributions from wife and coauthor Amie Patrick. It’s Darrin’s 4th major release and a sequel to Dude’s Guide to Manhood.

The thing that struck me about this book right away was the subject material covered. I dove right in to some sections immediately, and now I have to confess I’m working on a more sequential reading. These are the chapter titles:

  1. Dude's Guide to MarriageListen
  2. Talk
  3. Fight
  4. Grow
  5. Provide
  6. Rest
  7. Serve
  8. Submit
  9. Pursue
  10. Worship

I immediately identified some areas where I have failed as a husband. When we got married, the minister that did our wedding noted that it’s customary to do some marriage counseling with couples but because we both grew up in the church, he felt we “knew all this stuff” and it wasn’t entirely necessary.

Still, I wish he’d bored us to death by repeating some of it anyway. When opportunities later presented themselves to take a marriage retreat weekend, we were usually too busy to take the time, or too poor to pay the cost. A resource like this one would have helped.

This book was well-researched, and Biblical principles were well-integrated. I saw one review that said “The Dude’s Guide to Marriage says nothing new…” but I disagree. I felt this material was fresh and the topical assortment provided much food for thought. I found chapters 5 and 9 the most personally beneficial, but your mileage may vary.

I liked what one reviewer said, “This is not just another ‘marriage book’ to check your box guys… this one pokes you in the eye.” Another wrote, “This may have been the most enjoyable and practical book on marriage that I have ever read.”

I have to admit I skip the individual/group (or in this case couples) discussion questions when reviewing a book, but several readers mentioned these as the high point of each chapter. I went back, and to my surprise the questions were rich in terms of the possibilities for husbands and wives to share their hurts, their blessings and their hearts.

This one is a keeper.


Read reviews of breaking Christian titles at Book Look Bloggers. Click on “Browse Reviews.”

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