Thinking Out Loud

November 22, 2016

When I Say I am a Christian

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:13 am

Indeed, we all make many mistakes…   James 3:2a NLT

I found this poem going through the archives of a blog author whose material we had used previously at Christianity 201. I took a screen shot and posted it to twitter with the comment at the bottom:

Then I decided to dig a little deeper and discovered author Carol Wimmer’s Facebook page only to discover she had posted this on Thursday:

A major US wholesaler of “Christian” gifts marketed to retailers around the world contacted me for permission to develop a product line using the words of my poem, “When I say I am a Christian.” I signed the licensing agreement and prototypes are in the design phase. Truth is … I never purchase “Christian” gifts, but I know a market for such items exists. I look forward to seeing the designs.

The poem was written in 1998 and published in a magazine in 1992. From that first publication, someone placed the poem on the Internet where it took on a life of its own. About 14 years ago, I was forced to establish a website for copyright reasons.

From the personal side of things, I have a love/hate relationship with the poem that is now in its 24th year of circulation. The sentiment lifts up the spirit of humility and denounces the spirit of self-righteousness. Like so many authors/writers, we see the beauty of the ideal … the possibility of the ideal … and we create from that perspective. As a Christian, I could never live up to the words I wrote because the words reflect the ideal. No one can perfectly reflect the spirit of humility. We fall miserably short. Then we pick ourselves up, get back on track, and try again.

And yet … the dark side of being an author whose work has gained international attention is that people expect me to live up to the words that I wrote … 24/7… regardless of what might be going on in my personal life, or the mood I might be in on any given day, etc. People don’t realize that artists, songwriters, or poets, are capable of expressing unattainable “ideals” because we allow ourselves to dream about a fullness of light … while living in the darkness just like everyone else.

In terms of putting this on a card or plaque: Great minds think alike. (Remember, you read it here first before you saw the merchandise!)

Then, I discovered the poem itself has its own Facebook page.

The truth is that as Christians we live in the tension between the now and the not yet, between a public position and a private position, between a Jesus-given ideal and messy-world reality. The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippains 3:

10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! 12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  NLT

 

 

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December 13, 2015

A Holiday Travel Alert

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:30 am

Many years ago blogger David Fisher introduced me to the poetry of Greg Asimakoupoulos whose work is posted at The Partial Observer. I felt that this poem, posted about ten days ago, would be a welcome addition to the mix here, especially with its provocative title! Send Greg some link love by clicking the title below to read this (and other works) at source.

A Holiday Travel Alert

Lessons from Mary and Joseph’s Flight to Egypt

by Greg Asimakoupoulos
December 4, 2015

The warning system set in place
suggested grave concern.
A terrorist in Israel hatched a plan.
Those leaving home this time of year
would do so at great risk.
The danger posed called for a travel ban.

A dad and mom and infant son
packed for their westbound trek.
They knew they had to make their midnight flight.
Determined to avoid the threat,
they cautiously escaped
advancing in the shadows of moonlight.

That terror cell in Bethlehem
achieved its ruthless plot
exterminating children under two.
With ISIS-like precision,
Herod killed the innocent
while unaware his hoped-for target flew.

And now-as-then the travel risk
this time of year is great.
Young families have good reason for their fear.
The tyranny of terror robs their joy
and steals their peace
because they can’t be sure when death is near.

So as You guided Joseph
on his flight to Egypt land
with Mary and young Jesus in his care,
won’t You dear loving Father
please protect the ones we love
as they travel in a car, by rail or air?

July 9, 2014

Wednesday Link List

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I was looking around for pictures of the 2014 Wild Goose Festival, and found this one from 2013.  Anyone know the backstory on this?

Now that the eye burn-in from weekend fireworks has faded, it’s time to see what people have been reading over the past few days:

Not sure of the origin of the picture below. It was captioned, “What Happened to the Dinosaurs” and the picture file was labeled “Shoo!”

What Happened to the Dinosaurs

April 22, 2014

The Touch of the Master’s Hand: Revisited

Filed under: Humor, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:07 am

Not exactly the way you remember it…

 

old-violin

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.


Ruth Wilkinson

 

September 14, 2011

Wednesday Link List

In case you’re wondering, the reason I’ve never done a pun here based on sausage links — even though we’ve done lynx cats and cuff links and chain links — is because the necessary pictures are all really disgusting.  Just so ya know.

Here’s where my epic adventures took me this week, though after the gazillion links posted here on Monday, I am a bit worn out…

God remains our source of courage when we’re traumatized by terror.
When we’re haunted by the headlines and the violence everywhere.
Hear God whisper in the silence, “Don’t despair, I’m in control.
Hurting hearts and broken cities will at last one day be whole.”

God recalls that tragic Tuesday when twin towers disappeared,
when 3,000 people perished and our hearts were numbed by fear.
Yet God whispers 10 years later, “Justice will in time be done.
I will stand with those who need me ’till my Kingdom fully comes.”

God invites us to be trusting when we find that faith is hard.
When we’re fearful for our safety and our nerves are frayed or jarred.
Still God whispers in the silence, “Even when your faith is weak,
I will keep your feet from stumbling when your way is dark and bleak.”

Greg Asimakoupoulos as quoted at Pilgrim Scribblings

July 12, 2011

Best of Thinking out Loud

4 Classic Posts from 2008

During that year before Mrs. W. and I married, I was living with Tony Rossi in a house he owned in northeast Toronto; though we each tended to be home while the other was out. Tony was a member of The Daniel Band, which was for awhile one of Canada’s most popular Christian rock bands. The band was good friends with Glenn Kaiser and Resurrection Band; some of the band members remain connected until this day.

Anyway, in 1978 Tony wrote this song, which I’ve carried in my Bible since. These are not the full lyrics, but without the tune, I thought you’d enjoy it in this abbreviated form.

I’d rather be a servant, and not a master
‘Cause then I could do my duty and I’d be true
I’d rather do the praising, and not be glorified
‘Cause then I could give all the glory to You


I’d rather be a student, and not a teacher
‘Cause then I could learn about the wisdom You bring
I’d rather be an audience and not a vocalist
‘Cause then I could listen to the song that You sing


Well the first shall be last, and the last be first
Well, my Lord, You know that’s how it will be
For to be the greatest we must all be least
Yes, my Lord, You know in this I believe

Tony Rossi, 1978

The Beatitude Creed

How about this for a novel creed:

I believe that the poor in spirit will inherit the kingdom of Heaven.
I believe there will be comfort for those who mourn.
I believe that being meek is a good thing and that those who give everything will inherit the earth.
I believe that those whose heart is set on seeking righteousness will find it.
I believe the merciful will receive more than they think they deserve.
I believe the pure in heart will be blessed and will see God.
I believe that those who long for peace and do more than others think is safe are children of the living God.
I believe in a place of safety for those who are hurt for trying to do the right thing.

I believe that being poor, and ignored and weak, and sick and tired and broken and messed up and kicked around is not as spiritually dangerous as being self-satisfied and clever and well-clothed and well-fed and degreed and creed-ed and important.

~posted July 17th, 2008 at A Life Reviewed blog – Joe and Heather live in Coventry in the English West Midlands

…something similar…

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(Matt. 5:3)
Author and theologian Monika Hellwig gives us the following:
  1. The poor in spirit know they are in need and can’t help themselves.
  2. The poor in spirit know not only their dependence on God and on powerful people but also their interdependence with others.
  3. The poor in spirit rest their security not on things but on people.
  4. The poor in spirit have no exaggerated sense of their own importance and no exaggerated need of privacy.
  5. The poor in spirit are less interested in competition and more interested in cooperation.
  6. The poor in spirit instinctively appreciate family, love and relationships over things.
  7. The poor in spirit can wait, because they have learned patience.
  8. The fears of the poor in spirit are more realistic and exaggerate less, because they already know they can survive great suffering and want.
  9. When the poor in spirit have the gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not like a threatening or scolding.
  10. The poor in spirit can respond to the call of the gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything.

~found in files; original source unknown

Lion Chaser’s Manifesto
by Mark Batterson

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

March 7, 2011

Introducing the Ministry of Ann Voskamp

While much energy in the Christian blogosphere is currently devoted to that other book that’s causing so much discussion, another book is making waves in a quieter, more gentle way.  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp has been doing so well at retail, that I’m taking the rare step of featuring the book before actually receiving my own review copy.  The reason is that you can win one of three copies just for leaving a comment today. (See today’s other blog post for details.)

First, you might want to get to know Ann’s website, A Holy Experience. Make sure your speakers are turned on, as music plays underneath. Or maybe not. I read one reviewer who valued Ann’s words so much, readers were advised to make sure their speakers were turned off! I guess we each process things differently.

Second, read Ann’s story. Some of you have blogs of your own and you’ve had that experience of creating an “about” page where you try to sum up your life journey in a few words for people who you’ve never met. If not, open a word processing program or open a blank e-mail and take about fifteen minutes to craft your own personal “about” page. (If you like the result, that can be the comment you post here!)

Finally, watch and listen to an excerpt from the book in this video.

I realize not all of you are into poetry, but consider the following:

  1. The Bible devotes five books to wisdom literature, much of which is poetic in form.
  2. In many places that we don’t think of as poetry, the simple repetition of words (i.e. “Holy, Holy, Holy”) is following Hebrew poetic forms familiar to the audience. There is a beauty to the language of scripture that our language, English, causes us to overlook.
  3. The Bible is filled with Psalms in places other than the book that bears that name. In the book of Luke, Mary greets the angel’s news that she is the one chosen to bear the Messiah with the song we know as The Magnificat. While it is largely a reiteration of various scripture; combined it becomes poetic. The passage in Philippians about Christ’s humility (“Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus…”) is indented in most modern Bibles because it’s recognized as an early Church hymn.

So watch, listen and enjoy…

 

Leave your comment here to be eligible to win one of three copies of One Thousand Gifts; see the other blog post today for contest details.

September 22, 2010

Wednesday Link List


The links are back!   Here are some highlights of my past seven days online…

  • The upper picture is another classic entry from the classic photo site, Shorpy.com; which I’ve mildly colorized.    It’s an auditorium in Ocean City, NJ set up for a revival meeting sometime in the time period 1900 – 1910.   Click here or  on the image all the way through for a full size image.  (It’s my computer desktop this week!)
  • Donald Miller explains why, for now, the movie based on the Thomas Nelson book Blue Like Jazz isn’t happening.
  • Elsewhere in film production, City on a Hill, the people who brought you the Alpha-Course-alternative known as H20 have brought Kyle Idleman back to host  a new series titled Not a Fan.
  • Bill Mounce wades into the subject of accuracy in Bible translations in the first of a weekly series.
  • Randy Morgan gives you an inside peek into the world of pastors, and how and why the whole guest speaker thing occasionally happens.
  • Okay, that fun, but maybe it was a little superficial; so do this instead:  Click on Randy’s home page, and scroll back to September 13th and then check out his five-part series on his visit to the local AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) chapter.   Long, but worth it, especially if you have family or personal history with AA.
  • Link list links

    Preparing for the upcoming Eighth Letter conference in Toronto, Matt at the blog, The Church of No People, delivers his pressing message for the church in North America.

  • It’s 7-pages long, but Christianity Today gets into depth on the church’s relationship with sex offenders.
  • CNN boldly goes into a full scientific explanation for what happened when Moses parted the Red Sea.
  • A repost of a classic poem asks the question What would He say, if He should come today?    Also at Christianity 201, the Love Chapter from I Corinthians rewritten for kids; and something borrowed from David Hayward, aka Naked Pastor.
  • Following in the tradition of Russell D. Moore — who this week deals with a tough dilemma — and inspired by the Desiring God video series, Randy Alcorn is inviting questions at Ask Randy; but the deadline is today, Wednesday the 22nd.
  • Zach at Take Your Vitamin Z linked this week to this New York Times article which is self explanatory:  Deciding Not To Screen for Down Syndrome.
  • Seen something online you think should be here next week?   Try to get to me by noon on Tuesday.
  • Well…choosing a cartoon for this week’s list was no contest after Abraham Piper reminded all of us of this classic:  Solomon’s ideal woman as reflected in Song of Solomon interpreted literally; just as it appeared all those years ago at The Wittenburg Door.

May 23, 2009

God Prints

Filed under: Christianity, Faith, God — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:11 pm
God Prints

You’d expect him to make himself known,
to appear at our party, you might say,
if God is really out there.
He wouldn’t travel the cosmos incognito.
And if he is at all good,
interested in our questions and needs,
for sure he’d step out of
the shadows, identify himself
and share his strategy for a better life.
Wouldn’t he have one, after all
if he were God?
Perhaps that’s why religions
of all major name brands
have always figured
God would somehow let us in on his secrets.
You’d just expect him to.
Maybe he would write a book.


~Jim Long


April 28, 2009

Revisited: The Touch of the Master’s Hand

Filed under: Humor — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:52 am

Not exactly the way you remember it…

old-violin

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.


Ruth Wilkinson

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