Thinking Out Loud

April 28, 2010

Midweek Link List

It’s time for some lynx links:

  • Prodigal Magazine interviews Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, creators of the films Facing the Giants and Fireproof with questions about is role as a pastor, author and film producer.
  • The Church of England announces Monday that N. T. Wright will be stepping down from his position as Bishop of Durham. [HT: Jon Rising]
  • Is the schedule of activities at your church somewhat frenetic?  Maybe your church is over-programmed and you ought to consider Jared Wilson’s suggestion to under-program.
  • Lots of people linking to this piece at Resurgence, “How I Pastor My Family” by Justin Hyde.
  • How about this curiosity piece?  From The Thinklings:  Good Advice From Miley Cyrus.
  • The caption to this photo reads, December 1940. “Itinerant preacher from South Carolina saving souls of construction workers at Camp Livingston job near Alexandria, Louisiana.”  See the image — clickable to larger size — at Shorpy.
  • This has echoes of something Francis Chan would do:  A church in Fayetteville, Georgia says, “We don’t need no stinkin’ building;” and cashes out of its facility to put the money into ministry.  Read the article at Monday Morning Insight.  (No sir, your building is not “stinkin'” – please don’t write.)
  • Here in the north, we don’t get to see firsthand the vitriol dished out politically in the name of religion.   So we missed this bumper sticker entirely.   Sounds good on the surface, but Psalm 109:8-9 actually reads: “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars! May they be driven from their ruined homes…” Joe Bird discusses this at the blog Rebel Pilgrim.
  • Here’s another connection to Monday Morning Insight you don’t want to miss:

    “Pastors don’t need to give up on adults, but if we’re good stewards, we need to be putting a lot of eggs in the kid basket. Even better, we need to target our very young leaders. The most strategic time for developing effective and ethical leaders is a 4-year threshold we call the 10-13 Window. Unfortunately, very few church staff are leadership savvy. They confuse it with discipleship and service. And preteen/middle school ministries always tend to be low on the church totem pole.”

    Start reading here and then don’t miss the link to a rather unique organization called Kid Lead.

  • Congratulations to Canadian singer Matt Brouwer — pictured at right — who won this year’s Gospel/Contemporary Christian category in the Juno awards, Canada’s equivalent to the Grammy Awards.   We now have only one Christian category at the Junos and this is it.
  • Speaking of music, Christianity 201 goes hunting on YouTube for classic Jesus Music from the 1980s and turns up a classic song from the normally not-so-mellow band Servant.
  • Wendy Gritter of New Direction Ministries checks out the Drew Marshall show and decides that Spencer Burke and Tim Challies on the same radio interview represents a clash of pardigms.
  • And speaking of Challies, I think that’s where I found the link to this very powerful 90-second short film on YouTube titled This Was Grace.
  • That, in turn, is the perfect lead to this link that got squeezed out last week, from the blog otherwise known as “my competition at Christian Blog Topsites,”  the parenting/women’s blog called It’s Almost Naptime, with a powerful piece, Designer Babies, Designer God.
  • I know you’ve already seen a lot of discussion on this, but Trevin Wax takes a look at a particular aspect of the Jennifer Knapp story, the interview on the Larry King Show.
  • This week’s cartoon is from For Heaven’s Sake by Mike Morgan.  (Click image to link)

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September 14, 2009

The Shack Publisher Releases Third Fiction Title

Divorce Lawyer

You come home from work and your spouse says something — something possibly containing a minuscule, trace amount of irritation — and you react to it.   Then he/she reacts to your reaction.   Then it gets loud.   Then it crosses the line to where you’re saying things you instinctively know as you are saying them that you are going to have to apologize later. Or worse.

I sometimes have anger issues.   I admit that.  I think a lot of people do, and I think that we live in times that leave us vulnerable to stress factors that manifest themselves in different ways in different people.   Fortunately for me — and my wife — it’s nothing like Steven Kerner, however.   He’s the lead character in the book Bo’s Café, and he is given to what may only be described as serial rage.   Every discussion with his wife escalates into something it shouldn’t.   He can’t help but keep messing up, and then there’s no turning back.

Bo's CaféBo’s Café is the third fiction work from Windblown Media, publishers of The Shack and only the fourth book the upstart company has released.   (A second non-fiction book is due out in November.)   This time around there are three authors, Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, John Lynch, and the setting is an area quite familiar to me, the environs of Los Angeles, California.

And yes, there is a Bo and there is a café but there’s also a bar and Steven’s life is greatly impacted by a guy who smokes, so the Shack-bashers who are now predisposed to despise anything from Windblown will have something to work with.  (see: Sarcasm)  The theme this time around however is marriage, family and our need as humans — including Christians — to come to terms with who we are and build in controls against the knee-jerk reactions we have when someone — especially a spouse — pushes our buttons.

Therefore, don’t look for a fictional treatment on the nature of God this time around.  Bo’s is so much about marriage, I suspect it will land on a lot of bookstore shelves next to Fireproof. In a way, the two form a perfect set.

Like Shack, this title uses what might be termed Socratic dialog (Br.: dialogue) named after the didactic writing in The Republic of Plato. Conversation that teaches.    Words that cut to the heart of issues; our issues.   There was one part, early on in reading, that I wondered if they had pushed that agenda too much to the forefront; if the book was too preachy.   But the moment passed, and I settled in to find out what was in store both for the quirkly characters and for Steven, who I truly believe represents you and I.

The book has another similarity to Shack inasmuch as I think it will attract more male readers than one normally expects with Christian fiction.   Steve is helped greatly by Andy, a guy who just turns up in his life, which will also remind readers of Dinner With A Perfect Stranger by David Gregory, The Noticer by Andy Andrews, and Windblown’s other fiction title, So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore by Jake Colsen (the pseudonym of Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman).   Those books all scored high with male readers as well.

The book has several messages, and I’m sure other reviewers will have a different take on this; but my personal revelation in reading was that personal change takes place over time, not overnight.   Like Shack, this book is expected to score some sales in the general market, as well as the Christian market, and very appropriately Steven Kerner’s faith and belief in God is like a soundtrack running softly in the background, not something that’s in your face awkwardly on occasions the writers feel the need to ‘say something religious.’

This is a book that will save lives.   Marriages in particular.   This is a book that couples should read.   (We both finished within days of each other.)   Days later, I found myself on a website where the blogger was lamenting the lack of someone to talk with.   The book inspired me to suggest that a listening ear is not too far away.  You just have to be looking, to be open, or even to ask, “Do you know someone who is known to be a really good listener?”

This book shows the power of a good listening ear. We all need someone like that.

Comments:  This book review has been tagged ‘The Shack,’ but it’s not the forum for Shack-bashing and such comments will be deleted.   On the other hand if there’s something in this post you want to discuss, feel free.


January 30, 2009

Fireproof: Never Leave Your Partner Behind

Filed under: Christianity, Faith, family, marriage, Religion — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:28 pm

fireproofThe movie Fireproof, for the most part, never played in theatres in Canada, so this week’s video release was our first look at the film.   Once again, the people at Sherwood Church delivered an amazing production.   This is the work of one local church. Where were these people when I was forced to view tacky Christian flicks as a kid?

While the result might not impressed more regular cinema attendees — hey, we don’t get out much, but we know no film is perfect —  I found myself constantly thinking, “Okay, I like how they did that;” or “It was wise letting the audience just infer that development without spelling it out;” or “It was realistic to insert that moment of comic relief in the middle of that scene.”  Christian films have matured.

The acting was credible, even on the part of Kirk Cameron, oft-criticized for his performances in the Left Behind series.   The use of music was good, too; although more would have been better; some scenes seemed “too quiet” lacking in background  sound textures and what are termed Foley effects.

But you know, even if the acting had been terrible and the thing was recorded in 16mm film; there is no denying that this is an absolutely powerful story, which delivers twists and turns right to the very end.   There is a great script at work here; which is part of a larger script:  the power of God to change lives, even lives in the middle of crisis.

Unlike its predecessor, Facing the Giants, the movie Fireproof arrives in DVD accompanied by a host of ancillary products.   There is the Fireproof Couples Kit, the Fireproof marriage curriculum (both Outreach, Inc.), the novelization of the movie (Thos. Nelson), the marriage book (Christian Literature Crusade), and the book Love Dare (Broadman).   Each one of these products is designed to allow those who have seen the movie and want to take further steps to have a means by which to do so.   (Not necessarily so noble are the t-shirts and obligatory soundtrack CD.)

This is a movie that is evocative without being emotionally exploitative.   It is evangelistic without being overbearing about it.   All couples, especially couples in crisis should watch this together.

I can’t wait to see what production the people at Sherwood bring us next.

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