Thinking Out Loud

March 21, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Click the image above for sourcing; meanwhile, here are the rest of this week’s suggested readings:

  • The Economist catches up to the wind of Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity blowing through the church in the UK.  Yeah, really, The Economist. 
  • I was recently scanning the four youth books that deal with cutting, addiction, abuse and food disorders by Nancy Alcorn, and noticed the books are somewhat of a commercial for something called Mercy Ministries. Then I read this report.
  • Last week while we were linklisting here, Pete Wilson posted an article about all the damage being done by Facebook. Except that Facebook isn’t really the culprit
  • At Internet Monk, Denise Spencer, wife of the late Michael Spencer who founded iMonk, shares some insights she discovered after being lost in a forest.
  • Why do so many Christian blogs have Christian book reviews, and so few have Christian music reviews? Amy Sondova at Backseat Writer is the exception with this in-depth CD review of The Same Love by Paul Baloche.
  • Here’s an intriguing idea: What if we read the directives in Paul’s epistles in the first person? This example from Galatians 3 models what could be an instant small group exercise. B. J. Stockman guest posts at Zach’s. (Chapters one and two are also blogged there.)
  • Here’s an opportunity to wear your Spandex to the Red Sea: Stryper frontman Michael Sweet is leading a Holy Land tour.
  • Why Writers Need Editors: A guy we associate with alternative Christian media doesn’t have much use for mainstream Christian media. Maybe too much so.  He apologizes, sort of.
  • Here’s a short story that will rock your world when it comes to how we tend to view who pays for what when it comes to missions. Not everyone gets a 4-star hotel with M&Ms (red ones removed) either.
  • Texas pastor and blogger Trey Morgan was involved in a house giveaway last week that didn’t involve either Habitat for Humanity or Extreme Makeover Home Edition. It’s the second house they’ve given away. (Here’s more about the first one.)
  • If some are chosen, elect or predestined, why evangelize? Here’s a Calvinist with seven Biblical reasons.
  • Wanna go deep? Here’s an article about the concept that worship is a physical act; there isn’t a higher or purer worship to be experienced; not in this life.
  • Author Linda Mintle talks to CBN News about the “Am I Pretty?” YouTube video disturbing teen trend.
  • And here’s another parenting must-read: Brad Whitt’s 20 Ways To Tell Your Child You Love Them
  • Know someone responsible for worship and/or creative arts ministry in your local church? Tell them about Sunday online magazine.
  • Dave Carrol has a great quotation from Randy Bohlender’s new book, Jesus Killed My Church.
  • Speaking of books, Rick Apperson reviews the new Mike Howerton book Glorious Mess which he found literally too funny.
  • Here’s a blog link just for the sisters; but the guys can read it, too. Sometimes parents exasperate their kids because we think that they have to learn to do a task the way we do it.
  • Hometown (sort of) rapper Chris Greenwood aka Manafest, has a new album, Fighter releasing in April. One of the producers worked with Justin Bieber while another produced for The Newsboys.
  • Don’t forget to have your link suggestions in by Monday night.
  • For our closing picture below, we ask the musical question: Why throw out your old car parts when they can be part of the church stage design on Sunday morning? Click the image for the story link.

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!

June 16, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Seems like only about seven days since we did the last Wednesday Link List.   Funny that…   But just think, if you read all these linked items you will be as wise as I…

  • Lots of family-related stuff this week, like this one:  Jason Salamun contrasts the American Dream with what could be called the Missional Dream in a piece titled, Don’t Focus on Your Family.  (Great Donald Miller story at the end, too.)
  • Krista Bremer gives her 10-year daughter a choice between the Western clothing she grew up with, and the Islamic costume that is part of her husband’s culture.   The girl chooses to wear a headscarf.  This is a long article, but one I think parents — especially moms — will want to read; as well as anyone in a ‘mixed’ marriage who has or is planning to have children.
  • Jason Wert can’t watch World Cup Soccer without thinking of hundreds of women being raped.   Yes you read that right.   But his short article also shows this isn’t just something happening half a world away; it’s true of the Superbowl as well.   Check this out.
  • If you’re a parent, you might also want to check out this 5-minute video about the commercialization of our kids over at Vitamin Z.
  • But if you want to take the spirit of that video and really get into this topic in depth, you need to check out an article from the June issue of Catholic World Report, 10 Ways the Media Has Failed to Protect Kids.
  • The 17-year old daughter of Naked Pastor David Hayward is going to have a different take on church, right?   Check out this excellent guest post by Casile.
  • One more parenting link, which you’ll relate to if your kids are worriers; a short article at Canada’s Christian Week.
  • Michael Spencer’s widow, Denise, gets brutally honest about her own suffering and pain in dealing with Michael’s physical decay and death at Internet Monk.
  • Here’s something you might relate to — the blogger at Upwrite encounters some people doing coffee shop evangelism, and realizes that perhaps God sometimes sends these people to minister to the saved as well as the unsaved.
  • If your taste in Christian music is toward the heavier sounding bands, you might want to get the free 15-song “Summer Soundtrack” from Tooth and Nail Records, which includes Children 18:3, The Almost, The Letter Black, Sent By Ravens, Write This Down, and more.
  • Speaking of music, here’s an indie artist from Canada:  To Tell (aka Zach Havens in the tradition of Owl City, though I think Zach was there first!)  Give a listen to the song “The Problem” from his new album at this MySpace page.
  • Thomas Nelson, the (somewhat) Christian publisher, has done a book about beer.   Seriously.    Tim Challies reviews the brew book so you don’t have to read it.   Better him than me.
  • USAToday Religion doesn’t think this is a very good job market for pastors.
  • Meanwhile, Thom Rainer writes a First Person piece about seven mistakes he made in ministry.  (Number four is about failing to “love the community where I live.”   I know some pastors who see their present assignment as a short stop on the way to somewhere else.)
  • On my other blog, Christianity 201, I pay a second visit to an online church service — that’s a different animal from a podcast or sermon download — at North Point.
  • In case you missed it, David Quinn at Passion Australia has that “trinity diagram” that does the best job of wrapping up a tough concept into a small space.   Click on the image to see it full size, and then save and send it to your friends.
  • Staying with the church theme, David Fitch at Reclaiming the Mission has embedded a video with Fr. Robert Barron on the state of empty churches in Europe and beyond.
  • If you live in the Northeast and have done the drive to Florida down I-75, you’ve seen the giant King of Kings statue at Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio; between Dayton and Cincinnati.   Well, this week the statue was struck by lightning and it’s no longer there.  (The statue, had just received a makeover back in March.)
  • Pete Wilson guests at Michael Hyatt’s leadership blog with Four Leadership Lessons he learned from Nashville’s “1,000 Year Flood.”
  • Note to other bloggers:  If you get a comment that begins, “If I had a penny…” or ends “you’ve done it again.  Incredible article;” don’t bother approving it.   The comments all link back to a number of Blogspot blogs containing only one post — always March, 2010 — with a rather rambling article.
  • Our upper cartoon is from ASBO Jesus by Jon Birch in England, where this sort of road sign warns of hazards up ahead.   Jon’s place was recently burglarized and he lost all his cartoons, animations and music.  Thanks to cloud computing, at least the blog survives, but it sounds like that was a very small part of the whole.
  • Our lower cartoon is from Preacher’s Kid by David Ayers at Baptist Press.

May 12, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Time for this week’s links.   I think I need to just be boring and call this by the same title each week, the perfunctory Wednesday Link List.   But the lynx, the chain links, the cuff links and the golf links will make an occasional appearance.    This was a very busy week online for a lot of people.   Pick a few of these and let me (or them) know you what you think:

  • Video link of the week is the animation of a great Sovereign Grace Music song, The Prodigal.
  • There are seven letters to different churches in the first chapters of Revelation.   Now it’s 2010 and you have the chance to write The Eighth Letter.    I don’t usually promote conferences, but that’s the premise of one coming to Toronto in October, with guests Ron Sider, Shane Claiborne, Andy Couch, and perhaps even you:  Three people will be selected to have their own 15 minutes of fame.
  • Shaun Groves talks to Christian business students and asks the musical question; “Is ‘Christian’ and ‘business’ not a bit of a contradiction?”
  • Ever read Jewish blogs?   Everybody knows cheeseburgers are not kosher (although your cat can has them) but here’s some detail why that is, and why adding cheese to your chicken sandwich is simply a case of guilty by association.
  • After a discussion with a police community support officer, who is also “the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered liaison officer” for his area, a UK street preacher is  jailed for saying homosexuality is a sin.
  • Most of the stuff on Wayne Leman’s blog about Bible translation issues may be over the heads of many, but here’s a simple post on how a Bible version expert appreciates a titanic translation.
  • Trevin Wax rightly calls into question the tradition in some churches of noting (in small ways) or giving an entire service over (in really big ways) to Mother’s Day.
  • Are there things we know about God that we don’t know from the Bible?   Dan Phillips launches a series on this topic that will make you think, but not everybody is going to agree about, on extra-Biblical revelation.  (Hit the home page to continue to locate subsequent discussions.)
  • Here’s a very new question-and-answer blog that bridges the gap between parents and teenagers.   Later this week we’ll introduce Matt who started it, but meanwhile, checkout ihaveaQ.
  • Mark Batterson thinks we need to listen to the voice of innovation, but also the voice of wisdom if we want to avoid making the classic mistake.
  • Some classic Ben Arment this week on the difference between a teacher and an exhorter is reposted at Christianity 201.
  • The media may have moved on, but the messy cleanup in Nashville continues, with one particular church — operating out of a building where they’ve yet to hold their first service — doing a lot of the heavy lifting.   Pete Wilson also thinks a 1,00o year flood is a 1,000 year ministry opportunity.

  • Liberty University’s seminary president Ergun Caner says he grew up Muslim, but now others are saying his claims are unsubstantiated.

  • Coming soon to a Holiday Inn near you… (not really) The reunion of the veteran Christian rock band Petra.  Tour kicks off in October.
  • Okay, so I’m the billionth blogger to link to this, but North Point Media did a really good spoof of “contemprovant” Churches in this Vimeo clip, Sunday’s Comin’.
  • In our “scariest thing done in the name of Christianity” department, check out the people “aisle running” at Stuff Fundies Like.  (But I’m sure next week SFL will find something scarier.)
  • In our “beating up Donald Miller” department, here’s a look at the question, “Is it really authentic to publicly confess sins you didn’t commit to people who weren’t sinned against?”   I always thought it was a rather inspired thing to do, but here’s an opinion that it’s really done out of pride.
  • In our “Let’s just keep to ourselves” department, here’s a critique of the mechanics of Tim Challies latest Christian book reader’s survey.  Also, here’s how the Calvin Crowd responded.

  • Here’s a worldwide look at what our online search terms say about our spiritual interests versus our interest in sex.

  • Our cartoonist today is a return visit by Joe McKeever at Baptist press, who does a new cartoon daily.


May 7, 2009

Newsboys Still Got It

newsboysFaced with five hours in the car today, I downloaded recent sermons by Rob Bell and Greg Boyd which I played once each, and the new album by The Newsboys, which I listened to at least three times, parts of it more than that.

In The Hands of God released on Tuesday in North America — I’m not sure how that compares with the U.K. and Aust. — though the title song has been on Christian radio for several weeks.

I’m the kind of person who likes to review an album with all the facts in front of me, as well as having completely studied the lyric booklet.   While that was not possible while driving, it also wasn’t possible when I got home because the typsetting is so miniscule that I don’t think even the kids to whom this album is targetted could read this without a magnifying glass.   This did however confirm the old adage that if you listen to rock music you’ll go blind.   I think that’s the adage…

So I really don’t know what the song RL 1984 is about, but I’m sure someone will inform me in the comments section.    That leaves me room for just a few observations.

  1. Michael Tait:   You’re gonna fit in really well in this band.   …For those who already know about this, note that it’s Peter Furler on the album; Michael took over after its recording.   But you can already hear a new direction in the band’s sound.
  2. It’s nice to hear great Christian music that isn’t modern worship or vertical worship; not that I have anything against worship.   These guys are the kings of Christian pop for good reason, and I appreciate them being who they are and what they and not trying to cave in to pressure to release what everyone else is doing.
  3. That said, “Glorious” and “Lead Me to the Cross” are worship songs, but to my ears, so is the title song.   I envision “In The Hands of God” with a soloist doing the verses and then the chorus projected onscreen for a congregation to join in.
  4. “The Upside” is much fun musically.   Reminds me of many of the best great pop anthems.
  5. I have no fifth point.

newsboys with PeterSo there you are.    Just for reading this far, here’s a bonus link to the title song on one of those homemade videos where they provide the lyrics superimposed over stock photos.   (The lyrics are appreciated to help focus on the song, but the pix are often crying to be removed from the web due to overuse.)   Truth-in-video purists can choose this link to a live version.   I’ll take the studio quality audio.

Link:  Exhaustive Newsboys bio and discography at Wikipedia

March 11, 2009

Larry Norman Documentary Premieres in San Jose

fallen-allenCanadian David Di Sabatino, the man who brought us a unique glimpse into the early days of the Jesus movement through his documentary of hippie preacher Lonnie Frisbee, is back again, this time with Fallen Angel, an honest look at the life of Jesus Music pioneer Larry Norman.

As a documentary film-maker, Di Sabatino doesn’t act under a strict mandate to paint a rosy picture of Norman, citing examples from the Bible of people who God used in unusual circumstances and despite unusual personalities, in this interview with blogger Michael Newnham who blogs as Phoenix Preacher:

I think that if you or I met the prophet Ezekiel or Hosea brought his whore wife over for dinner or John the Baptist sat at your table and demanded to be fed locusts and honey, we’d call the cops never mind anathematize them. I always ask people when they start parsing the life of Elvis or Bono or some lesser mortals and whether they are heaven bound what their reaction would be if the Apostle Paul showed up a few years after his conversion to speak in your hometown church, and he had been responsible for killing your parents. Not likely you’d be dropping a bundle in the offering that night.

God uses some of the most screwed up people to do his bidding. I think that story is sometimes tough to deal with. I sure don’t like it at times, but nobody left me in charge.

Much of what’s online right now is from people who, like me, haven’t seen the finished production.    Blogger Jon Reid tries to get the heart of the issue in this post where he begins, “Was Larry Norman a messenger of God, or was he a dick?”    Okay…  (UPDATE: In fairness, Jon’s full review — a little less provocative — is now available here, and well worth reading.) But the San Jose Mercury News was at the premiere and by reporter Shay Quillen’s account, the event drew a rather unique audience:

When Cinequest premiered “Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman” Sunday at the San Jose Repertory Theatre, the conversations afterward were as fascinating as the riveting documentary on the screen. Norman, widely regarded as the father of Christian rock, got his first taste of fame in the late 1960s as a member of the San Jose band People, which scored a big hit with “I Love You.” So he’s got a lot of friends and fans in the area, as well as a lot of people who came to have serious differences with him. (As the movie made clear, many people fall in all three categories.) And a lot of ‘em came out for the premiere.

Sitting directly in front of me was Randy Stonehill, the San Jose-raised Christian rock pioneer who was led to Jesus and given his start in the music business by Norman, and who sat for hours of interviews for the movie. Also present was Norman’s first wife, Pamela, as well as Jennifer Wallace and Daniel Robinson, the Australian mother and son battling for recognition that Norman was the boy’s father. Denny Fridkin and Gene Mason from People were there, as well as lots of movers and shakers from the Christian music industry. And the filmmaker, David DiSabatino, was on hand to answer questions about a movie that is sure to be controversial among those who care about Norman and his music…

…continue reading more of that report here.

On the webpage for MetroActive, also in San Jose, reporter Richard Von Busack seems to see an inherent challenge as Di Sabatino, the fan, must become Di Sabatino, the journalist:

…Unfortunately, the preponderance of the evidence is that Norman was no more moral than any other easily tempted, world-famous musician…

…This is bad news for Di Sabatino to deliver, because he is a fan…

…The devout Di Sabatino worked very hard on this documentary, just as he did on his fascinating Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher. He must be considered an expert on the Jesus Freak epoch, and this warts-and-all study of Norman must be considered definitive…

You can read that one in its original form here, complete with the 411 on the moral temptations being referred to.

BTW, the last two items surfaced in a Google News search for both Norman and the documentary title; if you use a regular Google search, you actually find over a thousand matches.   Already.

My own contact with Larry was on and off during those days.   One day, while staying at the home of Alex MacDougall (Daniel Amos) Larry arrived at noon to do about six full loads of laundry.   I’m not sure if he had been on tour or had simply got behind on his laundry the way he had gotten behind on his sleep:  booking overnight sessions at Costa Mesa’s Whitefield Studios when the rates were lower.   Anyway, Larry set his alarm clock to go off every half hour so he could take laundry from the washer to the dryer, and then would fall back asleep.   (Note:  This is not healthy.)

My other Larry story stems from a night we had worked on a concert in St. Catharines, Ontario.   The promoter took us all out for a healthy dinner (french fries, hamburgers, french fries, coke and french fries) at the only place he knew to be open at midnight in that town:  a bowling alley.   I think either Randy Stonehill or Tom Howard was with us that night; and each time the musical guests from Saturday Night Live showed up on the television, Larry ran frantically toward the screen; such was his desire to keep up with new bands and new sounds.

larry-norman-in-another-land-25th-frontOf all Larry’s “product” output, my favorite is In Another Land, often called “the Sargent Pepper of Christian music.”    I use the word “product” that way because for me, the exhaustive notes accompanying the album were as meaningful and valuable to me as the recording itself.   I always felt Larry should have done a book or two, and I told him so several times.   The notes in his documentary of faith themes in secular music, the album Streams of White Light Into Corners of Darkness, are equally illuminating.  (Pun on title intended.)

David DiSabatino’s Lonnie Frisbee project has been linked on this blog for awhile now.   This week we’ll be adding the link to Fallen Angel.    I hope to see the film soon, and may get back to you again when and if I do.

Graphics:  Documentary cover and one of the many covers of Larry Norman’s landmark album.   Search it out online and notice the many different versions, though the images are actually a mix of vinyl and CD product.

Related post on this blog – Frisbee – documentary review – July 7, ’08

Related post on this blog – Remembering Larry Norman – February 25, ’08

December 26, 2008

If You Like Relient K … Album Review – Capital Lights

Filed under: Christianity, music — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:15 pm

Capital Lights – This is an Outrage – Tooth & Nail Records, 2008


This is an outrage!   Yes, it’s also the album title, but it’s also an outrage that a band whose bio suggests that their goal was to “abandon commercial expectations” should produce something that is so upbeat and full of commercial appeal.    I mean, forgive me guys, but there’s not a lot of musical distance here between what you’re doing and what I hear on Radio Disney.  This is an album of feel-good, move-your-feet songs.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  After all, at my advanced age, I’ve just admitted to occasionally tuning in Radio Disney.      Listening to the band performing live on the second video — “Mile Away” — on their MySpaceMusic page you can’t help but notice the kids singing along with the band.   The song has a great hook.

Commercial music is not a bad thing, guys; it’s why they call it the music business.    Listening to lead singer Bryson Phillips deliver the lyrics on the title song, “Outrage” reminds me of the song “1985,” a major hit in 2004 for the band Bowling for Soup.   Commercial success isn’t a bad thing, either.   The instrumental work on this album, especially the guitars and added keyboards are, as the Brits say, ‘bang on.’

Lyrically, there’s a lot of  imagery to think through.   It reminds me of the lyric writing of the band Yes in the “Leave It;” or “Owner of a Lonely Heart” era.   Not a comparison the band would be expecting, but rather good company, I would say.   Though Tooth & Nail is a Christian label, I would say this is an album that Christians would enjoy, but not a “Christian album” in the sense that raises narrow lyrical expectations.   On the other hand, songs like “Night of Your Life” remind me of the advice the writer of Proverbs is giving to his son.


This is a debut album for a band from Tulsa, Oklahoma that you should purchase* and give to anyone who enjoys music with energy and life; whether they are the right age for Radio Disney or a ‘You’re never too old for rock ‘n roll’-er like myself.

*My first choice advice: Forget the downloads; spring for a whole CD!  The songs are all good!   Also check out Capital Lights’  “His Favorite Christmas Story” on the various artists album X-Christmas.

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