Thinking Out Loud

June 20, 2010

Appreciating the Vision Even When you Don’t Get The Technology

Happy Father’s Day!

In a few weeks it will be seven years since my dad passed away.   I was thinking last night and this morning about him, and about how interested he was in everything I was doing individually, and what we were doing collectively as a family.

It suddenly occurred to me that he would have liked the concept of this blog.

He wouldn’t understand all the nuances of the technology, and I’d probably talk about “articles” I had written instead of “posts;” and “letters” people had written back instead of “comments;” but I think he would love the idea of people sharing ideas over the internet.

He’d also be fascinated by the number and variety of readers this thing pulls in; I know I am.   He’d be impressed that it’s not just shouting into the wind, but that there are real readers who are sharing real dialog; and that some of them “blog” (I’d use the word “write”) as well, and I share in what they are doing online also.

I think he instilled in me the idea that it’s better to be “effective” than to be “successful.”

Yesterday, we listened as Christian talk-show host Drew Marshall interviewed self-proclaimed humanist and popular singer-songwriter Dan Hill.   I actually went to high school with Dan.   Anyway, the title of Dan’s book is I Am My Father’s Son.

Hill said this was a real breakthrough moment when he realized the truth of that statement, and he is realizing it more and more each day.  (That interview will be posted online here on Friday, June 25.)

I can resonate with that statement.   I am also my father’s son.

My father believed strongly in putting effort into things that have eternal value.   I have failed at a lot of things, but at least when I get to the finish-line, and He asks me “What did you to do build My kingdom?” I will at least be able to formulate some kind of answer.   Despite my imperfections — which are many — I am trying to keep the cross in view as I map out my days, my weeks and my months.

Better this than never attempting anything, right?

I think my Dad would have liked this blog.   For all I know, he’s being allowed to look over my shoulder as I type this, and got to read this before you did.

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June 9, 2010

Wednesday Link List

From my computer to yours, here’s just a few of the online adventures I had this week…

  • “The day after we here in the U.S. paused to remember the men and women who had died fighting for our country, the fight continued from beyond the grave. On Tuesday [June 1] in the town of Göttingen, Germany a World War 2 era bomb exploded killing three people and injuring six others.” So begins a short essay by Julie Clawson, “Violence from the Past.”
  • The Rev. Scott Schmieding didn’t let a physical impairment stop him from taking a pastor job — which includes preaching — even though he has no tongue.   This CT story will make you reconsider whether or not you’re letting circumstances stand in the way of calling.
  • Christian author Diana Gresh, aka ‘The Secret Keeper Girl,’ shares a concerned one-parent-to-another open letter to Billy Ray and Tish, mom and dad to superstar Miley Cyrus.
  • Remember that street-preacher in the UK who was arrested for saying homosexuality is a sin?  Here’s actual video of him being placed under arrest.
  • Rick Warren tells the people in his congregation that if they’re just faking Christianity, it’s time to find another church.
  • “Social networking does have its perils. This much is for sure. Loss of privacy, device obsession, check-in overdose … Bad. But this new wave of human communication opens doors that have previously remained slammed shut.”  Read more at BeDeviant.
  • American churches (and other buildings with large auditoriums) have only three days left to convert their wireless microphones over to a new operating frequency.  Many can’t afford to do so.   (First it was the digital television conversion; now this…)
  • A German family receives asylum in the U.S. under rather strange circumstances — they are home schooling refugees.
  • Here’s seven great over-arching principles for Children’s ministry from the blog by Will Mancini.   Pass this link on to your Christian Ed. person where you worship.
  • Flashback to February; the blog is called Sim’s Zone, the piece is short but poignant:  Lent Reflections.
  • Blog discovery of the week:  The Aristophrenium.    Four young men; three Australians and one in Canada; writing on Apologetics; often at a deeper, academic level; and often with with the common touch and bit of heart.
  • Rick Apperson launches a blogapalooza with guest writers all throughout June.  It was good to connect earlier this week with Dawn Fehr who blogs at Blown to Smithereens.
  • Two popular UK figures team up to have some fun writing a book together.
  • Christian news and information blog highlight of the week:  New Church Report.
  • New homes in new neighborhoods constructed with new building materials and  filled with new furniture… equals major indoor air quality issues.   It seems that rapid economic advancement is actually killing young people in China.
  • Have a worship moment (or many) interacting with God’s creation:  If you remember the BBC DVD series from a few years back, Planet Earth, you need to know about the new series, Life.  Here’s a trailer.
  • Internal link from this blog two days ago, in case you missed it, on the passing of CCM veterans Dana Key (DeGarmo & Key) and Kevin Thomson (Sweet Comfort Band).
  • Speaking of Christian music, for my Canadian readers who are into modern worship, CCM, southern gospel or even children’s music — and anyone else who wants to take a peek — check out the redesigned (as of yesterday!) YourMusicZone.com from the Music & Media division of David C. Cook Canada.
  • Our cartoon this week is from Sacred Sandwich:

May 30, 2010

Logan’s Run and Contentment

Here’s a simple psychological test you can conduct at your next dinner party.   Everyone gets a small piece of paper and is asked to write down the age they would like to be if they could be any age.   After they are finished, you ask them to draw a line and under the line write their true age.   They fold up the papers and drop them in a hat, and then you open them and read the difference between the first second numbers.  (i.e. “three years younger;” “two years older;” “seven years younger;” etc.)

They say the mark of contentment is when the difference is zero, when the person is most happy being the age they actually are.   (For added fun, then try to guess who might have said what!)

Some of us are not so content.

Today, I am celebrating (or perhaps lamenting) one of those birthday years that ends in a zero or a five.   Something about our decimal system ascribes to those years great additional significance.

I am not going to tell you what it is.   While I have nothing but contempt for middle-aged men who park in teen chat rooms pretending to be something they are not; I relate best to that part of the Christian blog culture most populated by twenty-somethings, or worst case, thirty-somethings.     With a lack of photographic evidence on this blog to prove anything contrary, I want to keep it that way.


Still, this is a birthday I approach kicking and screaming.    I can relate to Logan, in the movie Logan’s Run. (Mention does not imply endorsement.)  For those of you don’t know, here’s the 411 from Wikipedia:

Sometime in the 23rd century…the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Here, in an ecologically balanced world, mankind lives only for pleasure, freed by the servo-mechanisms which provide everything. There’s just one catch: Life must end at thirty unless reborn in the fiery ritual of Carousel.

Within a domed city, Logan 5 watches as an infant’s hand is implanted with a Lifeclock, a crystalline device that changes color as a person ages. As someone approaches his “Last Day,” the Lifeclock blinks red and finally turns black, at which time the person must report to Carousel, where—he or she is told—there is the hope of Renewal, a sort of reincarnation.

Logan is a Sandman, responsible for hunting down and killing Runners, people who refuse to report to Carousel when their Lifeclock expires. Logan is accompanied by his friend, and fellow Sandman, Francis 7

The two watch a Carousel ceremony as the participants assemble in an arena, are lifted up by an invisible force and appear to be struck by electric arcs and vaporized while the cheering audience shouts, “Renew!”. Neither Logan nor Francis have known anyone who succeeded in this, but Francis believes that Sandmen always renew…
continue reading here…

I believe that the Apostle Paul’s statement,

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4: 11 NIV)

and by inference, injunction — that of being content in whatever place you find yourself — is a valid if not necessary life choice.    Given Paul’s history of imprisonment and shipwreck — not the kind of guy you want to take out on your new ski boat — his ability to relax when things are literally sinking reflects the degree of his faith and trust in his Lord and Savior.

But I am approaching this particular birthday kicking and screaming.   Wait a minute, did I already use the phrase, “kicking and screaming?”   Oh no, that’s one of the symptoms of this age, you start repeating yourself.    Not only that, but sometimes, for no apparent reason, you start repeating yourself.

Anyway, I just want to say in conclusion… that I think… perhaps we can all learn… oh no, it’s worse than I thought, I can’t remember what I was writing about…

May 26, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Another Wednesday rolls around… where did you go this week online?

  • Ruth Tucker at Christianity Today marks  the passing of Moishe Rosen, the sometimes controversial founder of Jews for Jesus, as does an article in the New York Times.
  • Readers of The Internet Monk blog can catch a free download of the first chapter of the late Michael Spencer’s book, Mere Churchianity.
  • A candid Leadership Magazine interview with Francis Chan — is he ever not candid? — about how things work at Cornerstone Church.
  • While I usually laugh at the blog, Stuff Fundies Like, here’s a piece that makes a very, very solid point about Outcome Based Justification.  If just one person clicks on this…
  • Yikes!  A 13-year-old student in New York State can’t wear a rosary to school because of a statute prohibiting “gang related dress.”  Who ya gonna call?  Jay Sekulow.   But wait a minute, could the school board be justified?  The police think so.
  • Blogger Jeff Leake has reason to be proud of his talented 16-year old son, Josh Leake who has released a new album.   Right now they’re selling actual CDs, but they might want to also consider downloads.   Check out his MySpace page.
  • Trevin Wax thinks that, “Traditional evangelistic strategies are not necessarily deficient in what they say, but in what they assume.”  Read more at Kingdom People.
  • I know a number of bloggers have already mentioned this, but if you’re a parent, you need to watch this Vimeo clip from Randy Alcorn about Pornography from 12 days ago, and also this more recent one — despite the audio problems — from 7 days ago for parents who have daughters.
  • What is God’s relationship to time.   Not an easy question.   Start your thinking process at this article at Prodigal Magazine.
  • Unequally yoked?  Russell D. Moore got a letter in April about a conservative, dispensational Calvinist marrying a tongues-speaking Pentecostal.  Two weeks later, he’s still getting mail.
  • Blog discovery of the week (but it’s been around since 2007) — E-Royal by Royal Farris.   Lots of good video embeds recently.  Which is where I first saw
  • “The Gospel According To Krispy Kreme” a ten-minute YouTube video of Louie Giglio from 2009.
  • Whatever happened to scripture memory.   Here’s a top ten list of some Bible passages everyone should know by heart.
  • It would be great if God spoke to us by sending little written notes to us throughout the day.   That’s the theme of this 2-minute free sermon video download at Floodgate Productions.
  • Currently reading:  I actually don’t limit my reading to Christian books; I’m currently enjoying The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee.  (Love that middle initial!)  The book is a fascinating history of Chinese food.   I discovered Jennifer at TED Talks.
  • Currently fundraising: Chris, our oldest is going to be working in the kitchen at a Christian camp for ten weeks this summer.   Based on a 48-hour (i.e. six day) week, they’re giving him $3.00 per hour; he has to come up with sponsors for the rest.   Contact us if you want to help.
  • Currently listening to:  A Ton of Worship.  A  collection of church worship from the UK, but check out the stats:  5-CDs.  20 songs per CD.   That’s 100 songs for only $12.99 US/$15.99 CDN.  Also a kids version for $9.99 US/$12.99 CDN.   From Kingsway Music.
  • Message to certain bloggers:  Your Twitter updates are really slowing down your page loads.   Is it worth it?
  • Question to video uploaders:  Why Vimeo and not YouTube?   I have a fairly high speed connection, but the Vimeo server — especially when embedded in blogs — doesn’t even come close to the speed of the YouTube servers.
  • Our cartoon panel this week is from Calvinist Cartoons by Eddie Eddings (c/o John Scaddington).

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 25, 2010

Personal Confession

Here’s the dirt on Paul Wilkinson:  I’m a very boring person.   Although I think I can hold a “cocktail party style” conversation on a variety of topics with a variety of people, I’ve been, as Drew Marshall might say, “doin’ the Jesus thing” for a lot of years.   As conversant as I might try to be on a variety of subjects, I live and work in a world of Christian ministry.   So you can try to get me going on some things, but certain areas — import cars, domestic red wines, and just about any sport you can name — are going to be a wipeout.

As a result, I have a high regard for bloggers who are faith-focused, and little time for bloggers who ramble on about the latest tech gear, cute things their kids did this week, and pictures of their last vacation.  (The last issue having much to do with envy and covetousness.)

Anyway, that’s my confession.

It shouldn’t be.   I’m realizing that I need to cut loose and relax those standards a bit.   When Steve McCoy at Reformissionary talks about his favorite music, or Pete Wilson at Without Wax highlights those great parenting moments; these things are what make these pastors real and transparent.   I should be celebrating those blogs here.

What I am coming to be less tolerant of involves the very “faith-focused” blogs to which a few years ago I would have given the highest marks.   The problem is their passion has absolutely no relatability to their congregation.   They live in a world of doctrine, a world of theology, a world of acadæmia, a world of church leadership challenges, a world of church government issues.  Truth be told, I believe they are largely writing to other pastors, carrying on a professional conversation that will tide them over until the next conference.

Their congregational members must cringe when they read their blogs.  “Who is this guy?”  “How can he relate to what I’m going through?”

In fact, I’m not even sure I should be the one apologizing.   This blog, although somewhat narrow in its spiritual focus, at least cuts loose with some cartoons, some offbeat ‘religious’ news stories, some speculative “what if?” editorials.  Besides my family wouldn’t be all that interesting to most of you, and my hobbies are few and far between.

But by comparsion, maybe I’m not really the one who is boring.

So how’s life at your computer?  Does your pastor’s blog relate to you, or is he off in another universe? Who do you think has a good chance at the World Series this year?*

*Answer only questions one and two… please.

February 23, 2010

Thinking Out Loud — Two Year Anniversary

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:15 am

Wow!   It’s hard to believe it’s been two years.

I’m typing this for the second time, because WordPress, up to its old tricks, decided to stop auto-saving everything I was typing for the last 15 minutes.   At least this time it might be more concise.

Thinking Out Loud began the same week as two other blogs, 22 Words and Stuff Christians Like.   Both of them are somewhat viral by comparison with this.    It’s taught me the difference between starting out by having a platform and working hard toward gaining a platform.

It’s also interesting to note that — as far as Canada is concerned — each day, I get to speak to six times as many adults than half of all pastors here see on Sunday morning.

Still, it’s lamentable that comments are down, not just here but everywhere.   Internet literacy has been reduced to 140-character Twitter remarks and even fewer-character Facebook updates.     Building readership in the second year has been a lot tougher than the first year was,  and apparently it’s going to get harder.

It seems that Google has just announced that it will add weight to the page ratings it gives blogs that use interactive elements, such as embedded videos from YouTube, a company that it just happens to own.   This blog, in deference to the many people out there on dial-up access, doesn’t embed videos, though my book industry blog — mostly read by people at work — uses several each week.

I also want to continue to make this a blog for the ‘spiritual commoner.’   That’s the person who feels he or she has a real contribution to make to the life of their church, Christian fellowship or broader community, but isn’t as resourced as today’s modern pastor who, already equipped with both an undergrad and graduate degree, is still taking courses and jetting off to conferences.   Uh… when do they have time to do the actual pastoring?

So with a mix of opinions, devotional pieces, breaking Christian news, I will soldier on until I run out of things to say.   I want to thank all of you for your comments — both on and off the blog — and for the sense of community I get each week from you while doing this.  Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for after a time we will reap a harvest of blesssings, provided we are faithful and don’t give up.

If you’re ever about an hour east of Toronto, Canada, I’m available for coffee any weekday except Tuesday.

… To celebrate I was going to do a radical overhaul of this blog’s theme, only to discover that I’m using the widest possible space available from WordPress, and any other theme would have seriously chopped some of the photo images.  So here’s a tribute to a few of the blogs with the same name as this one who have better graphics:

Read how it all started in the one-year anniversary post.

February 15, 2010

Live Monday: Promote Your Blog

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:21 am

We’re stuck at home for the second Ontario installment of “Family Day.”   Everything in the province is shut down for the day.   Nothing to do.   Nowhere to go.

So from 10 AM to 11 PM (EST) today, I’ll be back and forth between the computer, minus the times we’ll be watching some movies from the $3 bin at Blockbuster.

This is your chance to promote your faith-focused blog or website, or just say hi.   Let us know where in the world you live and what the weather’s doing or what you enjoyed about your church service on Sunday.

Go for it.

December 27, 2009

Post 1,000 – Thinking Out Loud

It is with a mix of gratitude and humility that I realize that anybody should want to read my thoughts and opinions on anything enough to provide the readership base that this blog now enjoys.    Though it’s small in comparison to the “biggies” in the world of Christian blogging, some of you — including some people in the worldwide Christian community whom I greatly respect — have even bothered to subscribe to this particular online voice.

One thing I have tried to do is stay focused on faith issues, religious news and devotional concepts.    I don’t talk about tech, or gear, or blogging itself, and I’ve tried to leave my wife and family out of this, but still give the blog enough ‘personality’ that it represents my heart, and isn’t just an exercise in Christian news journalism.    That said however, there have been a few stories that I thought were significant that other bloggers didn’t pick up, and so I’ve tried to be faithful to importing some things from news pages into these blog pages that people might have otherwise missed.

I’ve also tried not to rant, though that can be difficult.   (I have two other blogs for that very purpose!)    There are times when it’s just too easy to complain about that which isn’t ideal, but I’ve tried to make those comments enlightening and constructive.

In a way, writing — whether it’s correspondence or keeping a journal (or weblog) — is very much what separates us from the animals in general and is rooted in Christian tradition in particular.   “Bring me the scrolls;” the Apostle Paul asks, “and especially the parchments.”    Much earlier, Solomon notes, “There is no end to the writing of books.”   And to think that was before the printing press or any other kind of “mass” distribution of the written word, let alone  print-on-demand which as of now releases more titles than conventional book publishing.

Which means there are so many voices competing for your attention that I am, as I said at the outset, thankful and humbled that you should happen to stop here.

I once wrote the biography for a Christian musician’s press kit.   He described the early part of his life this way, “I had a message, I just couldn’t carry a message.”

It’s easy for me to sit at the keyboard and have a daily message for my readers.   But I have to be the kind of person who is a spiritually viable carrier for the message I want to bring.    I need to be able to carry the message, and like all of us, I am learning as I go.


November 4, 2009

Hump Day Link List

I’m assuming most people have heard Wednesday referred to as ‘hump day;’ otherwise it probably sounds a bit rude.   The terms is rather widely used in Canada and the U.S.   …Here’s where my computer took me recently:

  • A Christian musician in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada is facing a first-degree murder charge for a crime that occured 16 years ago, according to this article at ChristianWeek.org.
  • Randy Morgan can’t help notice that among some pastors he knows personally whose churches have hit the 1,000+ mark in attendance, their messages have somewhat of a recurring theme.
  • This link is old — about six months old — but with all the talk about Rob Bell’s orthodoxy these days, this March video post at Viddler has Rob taking eleven minutes to spell out his version of the Christian gospel.
  • I’m not sure when and how I stumbled on the blog, Upwrite, but I like DP’s raw honesty.   A few weeks ago she kept seeing a guy around town who radiated a great sense of joy and peace, but he was not a Christian.   Not even close, as she describes.
  • I gotta be honest; I rather skimmed this one because of the heaviness, intensity and pain of the subject.   Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman discusses the recording of his new album, Beauty Will Rise, in the wake of the death of his daughter Maria; in a 4-page interview with Mark Moring at Christianity Today.
  • Hump DayHere’s a link to a website that directly addresses the issue of young people leaving the church, leaving their faith, or both.   CrossExamined  is a ministry headed by Frank Turek at crossexamined.org .
  • Jered Wilson at the blog First Things considers the idea that criticism of ChristianChirp — the Christian alternative of Twitter, as in, ‘Why tweet when you can chirp?’ — is just too easy.   He’s got a fresh perspective here, though I wish this post was twice as long.
  • I don’t agree with the header that John Saddington gave this video link, but this is the funniest 3 minutes and 42 seconds I’ve seen this week.  If you’re not Pentecostal or Charismatic, and find yourself in such a church unsure of what to do next, check out what was originally titled, How To Worship.
  • So last week the very edgy blog, Stuff Christians Like didn’t print one of my comments presumably because it was too edgy.   Actually it was just a play on words, but now that JA is a Zondervan author, I guess he can’t be too careful.   Still, I like this post about pastors who forget to tell the congregation that, “You may be seated.”
  • Speaking of rejection, Gospel Light became the first publisher this year to refuse a book review request.   If you missed it, Shane Claiborne has had a new book out for several weeks now, coauthored with the very like-minded John Perkins.   It deals with how to be both a good leader and a good follower and it takes a fresh approach to dual authorship.   But since I don’t actually have a copy, you can enjoy this review of the book, Follow Me To Freedom at the new blog, For Readers By Readers.   You might also enjoy this video clip about the book.

…Okay, let me spell it out.   Wednesday is halfway through the week, so once you reach noon, you’re said to be ‘over the hump.’   C’mon guys, it’s no fun if I have to explain it…

What amazes me though is that we’ve got so many new links since we did this last just a few days ago.   And there’s other links that didn’t make today’s final cut.  So where did your computer take you this week?

Portions of today’s blog were prerecorded.  Your mileage may vary.  No animals were hurt or injured in the preparation of this post.   Professional stunt driver; do not try this at home.

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