Thinking Out Loud

August 20, 2010

Coming Soon To A Video Projector Near You

Filed under: media — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:45 am

From Word Designs, sermon series graphics by Jim LePage

Tell your pastor!    Here’s another:

August 9, 2010

Letter From The Pastor (Redux)

To the members of our church…

After carefully weighing my options as your pastor, I have decided to devote all of this coming season to attending conferences in various places around the world.

During the past few years there has been an exponential increase in the number of such events, symposiums, conferences, etc. that are available to people in vocational ministry, to the point where there is now one each and every week. To be honest, to continue in effective ministry, I can’t afford to miss a single one.

While this means I will no longer be present in the office, I will continue to provide you with weekly video teaching. The largest and fastest-growing churches in the nation are multi-site congregations, and even in the ones where the pastor is actually in the room, it’s been shown that about 85% of the people are watching the screen anyway. As we move forward into the future, we need to recognize that this is the way preaching takes place across North America.

I thank you for your continued support of our church, and on a personal level, I am grateful for any Air Miles or Frequent Flyer Points you wish to donate.

For those wishing more personal contact, remember I can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, and several other social networking sites that haven’t been invented yet, but please remember that due to the high volume of incoming messages, I may not be able to get back to you as promptly as I would like.

Remember, at our church we care about each and every one of you.

Your Pastor.

May 19, 2010

Wednesday Link List

For your consideration…

  • Top Trend of the Week On Christian Blogs (and Everywhere Else) — Quitting Facebook.   This one isn’t a faith blogger, but it makes the point well.
  • C. Michael Patton may call his post Why I Am Not Charismatic, but he’s more Charismatic-friendly than most.   Besides, I have a thing for charts:

  • Speakers, worship leaders, pastors:  If your church has an audio system, act as though The Mic Is Always On.   (Actually it’s a good rule for life, too.)
  • This British TV commercial — a long one, at 1:30 — for the John Lewis department stores is our YouTube clip of the week, as it could easily be one of those media clips your church uses on Sunday morning.
  • Donald Miller thinks the next time you’re at a party, instead of asking someone, “What do you do?” you might try asking, “What is your story?”  Everybody has one.
  • Even the little ethnic churches in major cities are prone to sex scandals.   This one took place in Toronto and you probably didn’t hear about it, but South Korea’s two largest TV networks were all over it.
  • This post on theological systems isn’t very long, but makes a good point, and besides, like I said, I’ve got a thing for charts.   Go to Matt Stone’s blog and double click the image there for a clearer vision.

  • Here’s a longer post I wrote on the weekend over at Christianity 201 which includes a long re-post of something serious by Jon Acuff.  Check out Where Sin Abounds.
  • Tired of getting all your blog input from 20-somethings and 30-somethings?   Donald M. Bastian is no spring chicken, but if you appreciate the wisdom of older mentors — especially if you’re in ministry — check out Just Call Me Pastor.   (And the page which explains the blog’s name.)
  • I need you to check this apologetics blog out — pretend you’re a skeptic for a few minutes — and tell me what you think of Proof That God Exists.
  • Joel Taylor discovers that your local hospital may not be able to call that little room a chapel anymore, because that word is too sectarian.
  • Will Mancini says that when you break down Jesus’ spoken word content, his influence boils down to the use of metaphors.   As a matter of fact, this blog post even has a chart:

  • Book Trailer of the Week:  David W. Pierce describes his 2009 Waterbrook story of mountain climbing with his daughter, Don’t Let Me Go.
  • Devotional Blog Discovery of the Week:  Smoodock’s Blog.   The writer is actually named Eddie, and his “about” page tells you what a Smoodock is.  (You already know, you just didn’t know it had a name.)  Short devos posted every other day or so.  Reminds me a bit of Rick Apperson‘s blog.
  • In our Saving-The-Best-For-Last department, Matt Stone scores another Wednesday link with this post — you so gotta do this — asking you to compare two worship songs.
  • This actually isn’t part of the Wednesday Link List — It was in my image file and I truly have no idea where I got this — but like I said, I have thing for charts:

  • Instead of actual cartoons this week, we have some panels from Sacred Sandwich:

April 10, 2010

Currently Reading: Reborn To Be Wild

It was 11:30 PM Thursday, I was getting into bed when I suddenly remembered that about twelve hours previously, I had received a delivery — a white cardboard box — which I had never got around to opening.   I knew it contained books from David C. Cook, but decided to walk back to the living room to open the package.

The book that caught my eye was Reborn to be Wild: Reviving Our Radical Pursuit of Jesus. I had never heard of Ed Underwood.   Never heard of the book.

The back cover offered this question:

Why did the Jesus Movement stop moving?

I was hooked.  By midnight I was about 50 pages in, and I was up early on Friday morning to squeeze in another 50 pages before heading out of town.

Underwood was part of the Jesus People scene in California.   No not that Jesus People scene in 1972.   He was there for the earlier grassroots events that sparked the whole thing in the late ’60s, 1968 in particular.

He tells his story.  But he weaves lots of good scripture into his text. It’s a book that is autobiographical in nature.   It’s a book that has teaching as a primary goal.

And I’m hooked.  And this isn’t even the book review I’ve yet to do when I’ve covered the next 200 or so pages.    Here’s a sample:

Picturing Revival

One sentence inside the story of Paul’s work in Ephesus describes its impact in words I would use to tell people what happened in the Jesus Movement.  “And this continued for two years so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus.”  (Acts 19:10a)

Nowhere in the entire Bible is there another report of the love and knowledge of Christ growing so quickly and deeply into a culture.  In only two years everyone living in the Roman province of Asia — today’s Asia Minor — had heard the word of the Lord Jesus.   It’s amazing to me that most of the people who speak in order to help us understand God’s Word, try to explain it away.

In one of my “only for preachers and other smart religious people who know Greek” books about Acts 19:10, the author drones on about how the time reference is obviously hyperbole because it really isn’t possible for God to do something that big, that fast.  He concludes that Paul must have meant to say, “a lot of people” instead of “all.”  In bold red ink, I wrote in the margins, “That’s because you’ve never seen revival.”

I have and it moves just that fast and it penetrates just that deep.

The book releases in June in paperback from David C. Cook.   In the meantime, here’s their rundown:

A long-time pastor ponders why the Jesus Movement stopped moving…and challenges all generations of believers to the radical commitment that fuels revival. Long before becoming a pastor, Ed Underwood was a “Jesus Freak”–a young man transformed by the Jesus Movement in the 60s and 70s. He and his friends threw their hearts into a revival they thought would change the world. But somehow, the Jesus movement stopped moving. How did these radically committed young people morph into today’s tame, suburban evangelicals?

That’s the question that sparked this passionate, provocative book, which aims at nothing less than fanning the flames of enduring revival today. Underwood draws on his personal revival experience and his study of the New Testament to expose six seductive lies that can easily sidetrack a movement and affirms five life-changing truths that can keep it going.

Ed Underwood is a pastor and author whose life was transformed by the Jesus Movement and has never lost his passion for revival. He oversees the ministries of the historic Church of the Open Door in Southern California.

November 29, 2009

“I Hate Winter” and Other Things Your Pastor Can’t Say

Today I got to be the guest speaker at a church in the big city.    It’s not unusual for me to play “substitute teacher” at churches on Sunday mornings when the pastor is away.   As an untrained, un-ordained guy, I treasure these opportunities.

But this time the lead pastor (or senior pastor, if you prefer) was there.   For the first time ever that I can remember, I was a true Guest Speaker, complete with being taken out for lunch afterward.    And it went well, other than being told that I ran too long.   Mind you, I always do.   He was rather blunt about it, though.

These opportunities to me are always ‘echoes’ of another path my life might have taken.  Reverberations from another life in a not-so parallel universe.   As I’ve written before here, I’ve been at the crossroads of vocational ministry many times.    Including the reiteration of an earlier offer today.   I’ve often wondered “What if?”   Days like this answer this question.

But there’s a lot more to doing the pastor thing than just preparing messages for Sunday morning.   For many pastors, the sermon preparation — while it does mean you have the equivalent of a term paper due every Friday — is the least of their weekly worries.

I was reminded of that this week when one of our regional pastors invited me out for a two hour coffee.   Actually, he had coffee, I chose a cold drink after deciding to also try the french onion soup.    Or at least, one very popular Canadian coffee shop’s version of french onion soup, which bears only a slight resemblance to the real thing.

For pastors, it’s not just the Sunday thing that matters.   It’s their whole comportment; the way they can be judged on every little minor thing they say or do or places they go.   The key to this was when we were getting in the van to drive back to where my car was parked.

“I hate winter;” my pastor friend said.   But before the last word was barely out his lips he added, “But I can’t say that too publicly.”

Knowing this pastor, his denomination, some of the people in his church, and the way certain people can shoot back with, “But God made all the seasons;” or “This is the day the Lord has given us;” I understood exactly what he meant.

He prefers weather and seasons that are not winter.   He prefers to not experience the frigid cold we get in the north.   He does not rejoice to see the summer days coming to an end.   He really doesn’t care for it.   To “hate” here is to put it succinctly, and it gels with what a lot of other people — myself included — would think.   But he can’t say it out loud without risking getting preached at by his congregation.

And that would drive me nuts.

What do you think:   Are pastors that “set apart” that they don’t get to be real?   Should a pastor be able to say exactly what he’s thinking, or does the job require that every idle comment be carefully weighed or filtered?     Do you think you could do the job?   Do you think 40 minutes was too long this morning?

Rackafracka image from (click on cartoon)

September 3, 2009

Does Your Denominational Label Describe Who You Are?

Filed under: Christian, theology — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:16 pm

Denominational Wordle

Yesterday in the comments section Kaybee hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head with this:

“…Not sure what to call myself: Christian, of course; disciple of Christ; believer in, follower of, Jesus; born-again….

“Maybe that should be the next question you ask, Paul: ‘Does your denomination/church name describe who/what you are (ie: evangelical, reformed, pentecostal?) Or do you have an alternative label?'”

OK!  I’ll take the bait.   Maybe your form of compromise on this involves a hyphen (Post-Charismatic, Anglo-Catholic) or an amalgam (Bapticostal, Methodistmatic).  (I made the last one up.)   Or maybe, following what must be an increasing trend, your spouse worships somewhere completely different from where you attend weekend services.

Do you buy in on everything your church officially stands for?   Are you a Reformer who has reservations about limited atonement?   An Assemblies of God member who believes in tongues, but not as the sole manifestation of the fullness of the Holy Spirit?   A Roman Catholic who isn’t so sure about transubstantiation?

And what if you’re the pastor?   Is there a problem if the leader of the flock doesn’t buy in on the official statement of faith?    Can he/she have a public position on doctrines different from his/her private position?

I know that the comments-to-stats ratio on this blog is rather low.   I attribute that to the way I so eloquently present everything — I mean, what’s to add?   But now here’s one you can really sink your teeth into.   C’mon, you know you want to…

*Image: Cloud generator at

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