Thinking Out Loud

April 6, 2018

Update of a Classic Christian Poem

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:46 am

Today’s episode, in which a classic piece of Christian/Inspirational poetry gets updated, more accurately reflecting contemporary attitudes…

Touch of the Master’s Hand

Not exactly the way you remember it…

old-violinadapted by Ruth Wilkinson

It was battered and scarred, And the auctioneer thought it
Hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bid, good people”, he cried,
“Who starts the bidding for me?”
“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”
“Two dollars, who makes it three?”
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three”,

But, No,
From the room far back a grey haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet,
As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”
As he held it aloft with its bow.
“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”
“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”
“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone”, said he.

The audience cheered, But I just cried,
I hardly could believe
I’d almost got that old violin –
I could have had it for three.

‘Til that interfering old know-it-all sod
Stuck his nose where I wished he had not
And some overdressed twit outbid my three bucks
By a thousand times what I had brought.

So I watched that old fiddler return to his seat
Near the back where he had been sittin’
As he passed where I sat, I just couldn’t resist
I stuck out my foot and I tripped him.


March 25, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Today’s graphics are a couple of Cheezburger classics from 2009.

cat-can-part-snow

Is the Modern Offering the Same as Biblical Almsgiving? – “I have never heard an evangelical sermon on almsgiving. Despite countless texts in the Hebrew Bible about generosity toward the poor, the example of the first Christians, and a long tradition of the practice, especially during Lent, I have rarely heard the word mentioned in my adult life as a Christian. ‘Tithes and offerings,’ yes of course, and many are the sermons I have heard about the generic subject of ‘stewardship’ or ‘giving,’ but rarely has anyone explained to me what ‘almsgiving’ means and how it relates to other kinds of giving practices…’Bible-believing’ churches…have gotten the subject of Christian generosity and serving others with our resources all jumbled up… Almsgiving is not grounded in the need to support theocratic institutions, but on the specific call to “remember the poor.”

Fans Continue to Make(up) Pilgrimages to See Tammy Faye – From January in The Witchita Eagle: “Since her death on July 20, 2007, fans and friends of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner occasionally make pilgrimages to where the ashes of the Christian television celebrity were laid to rest. There, they leave the types of cosmetic items – lipstick, mascara – that helped give Tammy Faye her distinctive look. In a Harper County cemetery, remote and unmarked, Tammy Faye’s gravestone is far away from the glamor, controversy and cameras that followed the woman who helped build three Christian television networks…” Widower Ron Messner said, “She was the most common, down-to-earth person you ever saw. The press always made her out to be some nitwit type of person. She was totally different. Her IQ was 165.”

35 Years Later, Bob Jones Retracts Idea of Stoning Gays – The Washington Post quotes him: “I take personal ownership for this inflammatory rhetoric…This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago. It is antithetical to my theology and my 50 years of preaching a redeeming Christ Who came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved… Upon now reading these long-forgotten words, they seem to me as words belonging to a total stranger — were my name not attached.” The retraction came after a petition was begun demanding it.

The Divide Over Franklin Graham’s Facebook Comment – First Graham said, “Most police shootings can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience. If a police officer tells you to stop, you stop. If a police officer tells you to put your hands in the air, you put your hands in the air. If a police officer tells you to lay down face first with your hands behind your back, you lay down face first with your hands behind your back. It’s as simple as that.” Then Jim Wallis responded, “It is not that simple. As a leader in the church, you are called to be an ambassador of reconciliation. The fact that you identify a widely acknowledged social injustice as “simple” reveals your lack of empathy and understanding of the depth of sin that some in the body have suffered under the weight of our broken justice system. It also reveals a cavalier disregard for the enduring impacts and outcomes of the legal regimes that enslaved and oppressed people of color…” Other leaders signed on to his statement, while the discussion plays out in over 1,000 comments at Sojourners. (More coverage at CT Gleanings.)

Small Groups Based on the Sunday Sermon – This is an in-house link to a sister blog of PARSE that really struck a chord because we’ve had the discussion at our house many times over the past few years; and as it turned out, Ed Stetzer wasn’t just trying to sell more LifeWay curriculum: “Proponents of the sermon-based model love the synergy their people get; instead of bombarding them with different messages multiple times in a week, the church is able to hammer again and again the core truths of the week. It creates a greater sense of focus than you might otherwise have; that sense of focus is at least part of the reason for the growth in these types of groups. But with the benefits come a new set of challenges to effective disciple-making through sermon-based groups.”

USA Today Explores the Decline of Sunday School – “Instead of a day of rest, Sunday has become just another day for over-scheduled kids to be chauffeured from sports practice to music lessons or SAT tutoring. It doesn’t help that parents themselves, so overwhelmed by life, are skipping church. ‘You would go to church, and then an hour or hour 15 minutes of Sunday school. It takes up all your morning. It felt like more of a chore for them to go, when you’re giving up some of your weekend and attending school during the week,’ says [LeeAnn] MacNeil. ‘By the time they come home, it’s 12 noon, and when you have a weekend, you want to play with your friends outside and be a kid.'”

On Commercial Christian Publishing – Ed Cyzewski: “When I didn’t reach the sales goals I needed to meet, my future as an ‘author’ hung in the balance. I didn’t know how to survive without the approval of others for my work. Adding in the pressure to make at least some money from book publishing, I had created a toxic mixture of personal approval and financial pressure that poisoned my writing work… I never knew how tightly I was holding onto commercial publishing as the source of my identity until I let go of it.”

How Your Sponsored Child Picture is Taken – Some of the Compassion International children have never had their picture taken before and so it’s a pretty big deal.“They feel so excited to take the pictures that they come jumping and dancing to the project. At the time of their photo shoot, they become more serious, and we have to keep telling them to smile. Otherwise, they are enthusiastic.”

Men, Sinful Cravings, and Pornography – Two related articles; first, one by J.D. Greear when you wonder why God doesn’t simply remove the cravings: “[S]ometimes God allows us to struggle with a lesser sin to keep us from a greater one—pride. Because if you or I were immediately cured from certain sins, we’d become insufferably proud.” Second, Dave Jenkins with six essential ingredients necessary in repentance from porn: “The porn addict lives in a world where they go through a cycle of feeling sorry for what they did, but never coming to see the gospel seriousness of what they have done.”

Ten of the Worst Christian T-Shirts – and we’re sure there were plenty of runners up. “I’ve always found American Christian culture’s diminishment of the sacred to be extremely troubling. In a manner foreign to other faiths, evangelicalism often obscures the holy in a cloud of kitsch. Take, for instance, the Christian t-shirt. Now here’s a phenomenon that serves absolutely no purpose. Oh, I know that they’re sold as powerful tools for evangelism, but let’s be honest. Have you ever met someone who saw a ‘Lord’s Gym’ t-shirt and fell to the ground crying, ‘WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED!?‘”

Song of Solomon’s Ideal Woman – “At first glance, this might look like nudity. But I promise it’s just gazelles.” Okay, but it may not be safe for the church office. (And yes, we remember the Wittenburg Door version.)

A Refreshing Musical Voice – This time last week we had never heard of Heather Janssen who has been posting videos to YouTube for six years. Enjoy a minimalist acoustic guitar cover of Hillsong’s This I Believe, or the fuller grand piano sound of an original song.

I had enough material this week for two columns; be sure to check back on the weekend for more.

funny-dog-pictures-jesus-shepherd

September 26, 2014

The Rise of the Anons

Twitter page

Let me begin today by saying you don’t have to be on Twitter to read Twitter feeds. I did this for the longest time before jumping in myself.  (If you’re familiar with these, be sure to read the last paragraph.)

One thing Twitter has brought us is the creation of accounts that either are pretending to be someone well known, or simply represent broad categories, in our case perhaps youth pastors or church secretaries. These anonymous accounts are sometimes called anons.  While anonymous blogs also exist, Twitter seems a medium most suited to this.

We don’t have space today, but in addition to what follows there’s a Fake Mark Driscoll (@NotDriscoll, somewhat dormant the last two weeks) and I couldn’t find the one purporting to be Steven Furtick’s $1.75M house (yes, a house Tweeting) but there is Not Steven Furtick (@FakeFurtick) but again, some of these arise during a period of headlines and then go quiet for awhile.

One such account is Chet Churchpain (@Churchpain) who for some reason uses Rainn Wilson (from The Office) as his image; interesting only because of Rainn’s strong religious views.  Sample:

  • I don’t know if I’d ever have become a Christian if not for that “God Answers Knee-Mail” church sign. So inspirational.
  • So, Hillsong United is not an Australian soccer team?

We devoted a whole article here last year to Church Curmudgeon (@ChrchCurmudgeon), though he’s now gone from 63,000 followers to 72,000. Some of his best pieces lately transform his love for coffee into hymn parodies:

  • Drink up, drink up your coffee Ye soldiers of the bean! Each drop will wake and keep you Sustained by your caffeine!
  • Coffee, coffee, how I’ve drunk you How I’ve brewed you o’er and o’er Coffee, coffee, precious coffee O for beans to brew you more.

though I liked this one, too:

  • As a measure of thanks, I sent Bono some free Gaither tapes.

Bad Church Secretary (@ChurchSecretary) is what its name implies.  Today:

  • When pastors do it all day its called Outreach and Discipleship but when I do it they say its “Slacking on Facebook & making personal calls”
  • You can cover up errors in tweets after they are posted, but as soon as you scroll they show up under the White-Out.

Youth Group Boy (@YouthGroupBoy) is also self-evident, though much of the premise seems to be the boy missing youth group.

  • Don’t tell my ymin “I’m not coming tonight,” instead say “I’m going to try and make it, but I’m not sure.” Give some hope to be crushed later.
  • If there’s one thing I want my youth minister to know it’s how the old youth minister did things.

The other side of this coin is Then My Youth Said (@thenmyyouthsaid):

  • Me: I’m excited, our interns start working on Sunday. #ThenMyYouthSaid: Good, you can finally get back to sleeping in your office all day.
  • Youth praise band paying worship music before Bible study tonight #ThenMyYouthSaid: “We need backup dancers.”

Which brings us to Bible Student Say (@BibleStdntsSay), a Twitter account that remains anonymous by necessity (though we think we know the college in question). These are actual quotations from remarks or essays:

  • “Society tries to integrate science into the Bible, saying that the universe couldn’t be created in 6 days. Genesis turns it on its head.”
  • “Contrary to these beliefs, an atheist believes that the future is controlled by our human people.”

(We need to devote an entire column to this one, and the author really needs to write a book.)

Then last night we met Yael (@YaelHeber), who was taking shots at our Calvinist friends. Actually, I’m not entirely sure she’s anonymous, it could be her real name but the Tweets had the feel of an anon:

  • I tried to be Reformed, but I apparently don’t like to argue enough. My application was rejected.
  • When people tell me they are reformed, I want to ask which prison they were in.

But wait…there’s more.  Part of the fun of playing this game is that many of the anons follow each other, which leads many new discoveries. Click following at the top of their page and… you’ll know what to do…

November 13, 2013

Wednesday Link List

How to Make Thomas Kinkade Paintings Totally Awesome Very few people know this, but the Wednesday Link List is named after Art Linkletter.  The links below will all take you to Out of Ur, where the list officially resides.

The Wednesday Link Letter (see introduction) was written by Paul Wilkinson and recorded before a live audience (Paul’s wife). Read more of his work at his Anglican baptism website, Sprinkling Out Loud, or at Devotional Plagiarism 201, where only the best get borrowed.

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