Thinking Out Loud

October 6, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Here are some highlights from my blog travels in the past week:

  • While you’re link hopping  here, you can stream audio from CCM Gold Radio – Christian music from the ’60s thru the ’80s; though it’s a bit like tightrope walking without a net, because they don’t tell you what you’re hearing, and there are many obscure songs.   Great for Christian music trivia, however; I’m just not sure how many songs actually support the claim to include the ’60s.   I have a 3,000-plus library of Christian music on vinyl, and only a small handful are pre 1970.
  • Then again, you’re going to have to switch media for this one:   Many of you know Pete Wilson from his blog and his new book, Plan B.   But how many of you have been to Cross Point to check out a Pete Wilson sermon?   I thoroughly enjoyed this experience on the weekend.  Go to the page for Pete’s new Empty Promises series, and click on week one, the introductory message.   I promise you 30 solid minutes of distraction-free preaching.
  • Tullian Tchividjian has been busy on Twitter compiling short statements expressing various aspects of the gospel.  Blogger Barry Simmons assembles a couple of lists at his blog The Journeyman’s Files both here and here.   Sample sentence: “When we transfer trust from ourselves to Christ, we experience the abundant freedoms that come from not having to measure up.”
  • Trevin Wax plays transcription stenographer to a recent address by Al Mohler as to how he came to his present position on women in pastoral ministry.   Check out some highlights.
  • What life goals are you working on?  Things you’re trying to cultivate in your life?   Ever feel lost or orphaned?   Kathy Escobar has three words for you.
  • Here’s another take on the new CEB (Common English Bible) translation, which the writer calls a “Good News Glut.”   We learn now that five publishers are involved, and many are motivated by providing an alternative for the NRSV crowd.
  • Just When You Thought You’d Heard Everything Department:  Don’t know if this conversion would actually ‘stick,’ but Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell says she became a Christian because of her love of Italian food, primarily meatballs.
  • This one’s been in my files for awhile… Author Max Lucado considers things spiritual and things sci-fi and everything in between in a consideration of what the next life might be like.
  • Bene Diction posted this link a few days back to an article by Regent College professor John Stackhouse on the appropriateness of criticizing other Christians in a public forum.   Should we shoot our own?
  • Related?   Here’s a comment from a reader at CT’s article on Rick Warren’s video appearance at the Desiring God conference, and John Piper’s negative attitude toward Warren in particular:  “All of us, including the most intellectual, will be taking a Theology 101 course in heaven…”
  • Author Wayne Jacobsen got an insider’s look at the making of the now-released movie adaptation of Karen Kingsbury’s book Like Dandelion Dust.
  • New music artist of the week is two-time ASCAP award winner John DeGrazio.  Check out his 2010 album Stronghold at his webpage.
  • Michael Belote at Reboot Christianity has a great word picture of a typical gathering in the first century church, but to get there, link here first for a quick eight-question quiz.
  • No actual link on this one, but I’m currently reading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis … out loud! Working away one chapter a night, and with my youngest (who’s now 16) listening, I figure many of the chapters started out as radio broadcasts anyway, so why not cover the book in its original form.   It also slows me down to catch all the nuances of Lewis’ masterful apologetics.
  • At least one Target store would rather slash women’s clothing to pieces than donate it to an orphanage in southeast Asia.   Why?   They’re afraid someone else might get the product and try to return it for refund.
  • It remains one of my all time favorite cartoons; so I’m thankful to a reader who sent a much better rendering of it than the one I posted… I think you already know the cartoonist’s name, right?

  • And here’s an edgy one appearing September 14th from Tom Pappalardo at The Optimist written in response to the migration of Roman Catholics out of New England, which leaves the northeast with a reputation once exclusively belonging to the northwest:

May 24, 2010

Your Pastor’s Emotional Rollercoaster Ride

If you’re like most of us, you attended church somewhere yesterday, heard a good sermon, and probably picture your pastor today with his feet up, reading the paper while sipping fruit juice;  relaxing on Monday.   But a pastor’s life isn’t like that; not for a minute.  If physical stress doesn’t weigh heavy, often emotional stress does.

I was going to save this post by Pete Wilson of Nashville’s Crosspoint Church for Wednesday’s link list, but I really want to make sure y’all read it in full.   (Yes, I’m writing from Canada, and I just said “y’all.”  Go figure.)  Besides, it’s a holiday Monday nationally here, and my creative department is shut down for the day!   The picture — which he posted the next day — is Pete Wilson on the golf course with Max Lucado.   I had to retouch it a bit to make sure it wasn’t just a generic guy in a hat!


‘Whiplash’ is a word I’ve used more than once when describing the emotions I often go through as a pastor.

Yesterday was a difficult day.  I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I need to write this now more than you need to read it, so please bear with me. Let me give you a little back story to help you understand.

Over the course of the past two years Brandi and I have had two sets of friends who have experienced the loss of a baby. Todd and Angie Smith who lost their baby after two hours of life and Mike and Holly Phelps who lost their baby late in their first pregnancy.

I can’t even begin to imagine the heavy heartache and deep loss they went through. And while getting pregnant again doesn’t take a way that pain, you can imagine how excited I was to hear that both couples were once again pregnant.

While each couple faced their own unique challenges, they were both on track to have healthy babies. I couldn’t help but think of what a bitter sweet experience it would be for both of them. A glimmer of hope in the midst of the darkness they’ve been walking through.

In the early hours of yesterday morning, in hospitals just two blocks away from each other, both couples had an pre-term delivery.

Yesterday morning I walked into two different hospital rooms. Both scenes could not have been more similar and yet more different.

Both rooms had moms who were laying in hospital beds. Both rooms had dads who were right by the bed holding and rocking a tiny infant.

However, the similarities end there as one baby was breathing and the other was not.

Todd and Angie’s room was full of prayers, crying and pure joy.  There was life.

Mike and Holly’s room was full of prayers and crying, but no joy.  No life.

The whole way to the Phelp’s room I cried. I knew the situation I was walking into. I cried out to God…

How could this happen to them again?

Why God, would you allow this family to endure this pain yet again?

Haven’t they been through enough?

Why God?

I’ve been criticized in certain circles for writing a book called Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up The Way You Thought He Would?, which is about God, crisis and pain.  A book that clearly states I don’t think there are answers to all of life’s questions and complexities.

I dare any one of those critics to stand in the room with this young couple and even try to answer all of the questions they had yesterday as they sit there holding their lifeless child.

I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this as a pastor, but I’m going to anyway… Isn’t it amazing how in a moment like that you so desperately want God near, but at the same time you also feel secretly mad at Him?

  • Reality for Christians often means we have more questions than we do answers.
  • Reality is sometimes lacking the faith that will give us a sustained hope.
  • Reality is even though we know God is with us sometimes we feel completely alone.
  • Reality is even though we believe, we also doubt.

There’s a big difference between trust and understanding. They say trust is what we need when we don’t have understanding. So today I’m praying for trust. A big, huge, helping of trust.

It’s funny but the final paragraph of Plan B says,

I’m asking you to trust that one day faith will win over doubt, that light will win over darkness, love will win over hate, and all things will one day be redeemed. I’m asking you, right in the middle of your Plan B pain, to trust this process that is going on in your life.

I never knew when I wrote those words how much I would need them on a day like today.

~Pete Wilson, pastor and blog-author of Without Wax.

April 8, 2010

U2 Concert Tickets Easier to Get Than Pete Wilson’s New Book

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:45 pm

I’ve been a huge fan of Nashville pastor Pete Wilson’s online writing at the Without Wax blog since I stumbled on it about three years ago.   If I’m ever in Nashville, I know which church I’ll be visiting.

So when I heard around Christmas that he had a new book coming out, I was really looking forward to reviewing it here, especially since I was part of what was — at least so I thought — an elite group of bloggers who had been accepted into Thomas Nelson’s Book Bloggers program, currently operating under the dubious name “BookSneeze.”

However, the program is flawed.

Participants in an early marketing ‘teaser’ for Don Miller’s newest — notice the name in the coauthor spot at the bottom of the cover — weren’t necessarily guaranteed access to the book itself, and sure enough, they ran out of copies.    At that point I simply lost interest in reviewing it, and as I also work in the Christian bookstore business, I lost even more interest when it simply didn’t sell.

None of this is personal however.   I really enjoyed his sermon at Willow Creek which I linked to here last month.   I am increasingly become more and more of a fan of Donald Miller.

It’s my relationship with Thomas Nelson — which was never good — which is hitting the skids.

If you’ve ever tried to buy concert tickets online, you know what it’s like to keep hitting “try again” but for me this was a new experience.   I dutifully logged in to “BookSneeze” at 12:00 noon (1:00 EST) as I had been told to do.   I selected Pete’s new book Plan B, and then I got a description of the book.   ‘Did I really want to read this book?’ the site asked.   Yes, as a matter of fact I did.

Time was ticking.   The site was not responding.   I’ve never been online as a server has been crashing under the weight of demand.   Next question, ‘Did I understand that reviews must all be published on the same day, May 3rd?’   At that point I was looking for the button that said, ‘Yes, damn it;’ but the best I could find was one that read, ‘Select Book.’

That was as far as I got.   So, so very, very close.

My browser is still clicking “try again.”

I’m glad the publishers recognize the role that social media has played in promoting books.    Originally, there were a few key players in this, but now the playing field is wide open.   Yesterday I discovered that on Blogspot blogs, the “Next Blog” button is no longer random.   It will take you to one related blog after another.    In fifteen minutes I saw about a hundred Christian-themed blogs I’d never seen or heard of before.

There’s a lot of us out there.   But we really shouldn’t be treated like cattle in the process.   (And in case you’re wondering, my other blog, which is a Christian book industry blog, plus my ownership of two Christian bookstores affords me absolutely no advantage in this process.  None whatsoever.)  Nor should we be made to waste our time like concert-ticket buyers lining up for hours in the rain.

If the 500 copies were truly gone in less than ten minutes — which is what it looks like — there are probably going to be more people angered by this process than those who are pleased.     If social media is that important to publishers like Thomas Nelson, then this particular promotion — along with the Donald Miller one — has backfired; it has done more harm than good.

And for that I feel bad for Christian publishing in general, and authors like Pete Wilson in particular.

The old-school methodology was to print and distribute hard copy of sample chapters.   That way everyone out there gets an equal opportunity to discover the new generation of Christian writers.

It may not seem a valid option in 2010, but other than cutting down a few trees, it did a lot less damage.

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