Thinking Out Loud

February 11, 2017

Life in the Twitterverse

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:10 am

Occasionally I take a day to simply reproduce Tweets here for those who don’t use that platform. For those of you with slow loading times, we’re just doing text, but you’re encouraged to visit me at Twitter.com/PaulW1lk1nson (change the letter “i” to number “1”) or simply click here and bookmark.

  • Fun car game: Flip the radio to various Christian stations carrying preacher programs and see who can first guess what major Bible story they’re doing.
  • ♫ This ban is your ban |This ban is my ban |From the Syrian desert | To the streets of I-ran… | …This ban was made for you and me. ♫
  • Attn. Middle-aged worship team members: If you wanna do all those songs which come out of youth culture, simply let the youth worship team play ’em
  • [Drew Dyck] When it comes to end times prognosticating, the trick is to change up the antichrist candidates while keeping the 1980s designs & graphics.
  • Buffalo newscaster just said, “If you go out without your gloves, you’re going to have some cold hands on your hands.”
  • The people making Christian giftware do know there are other scripture verses besides Jeremiah 29:11, right?
  • Ever wonder what’s hot and what’s not in Christian publishing? This link takes you to a pdf of the full Top 50 list
  • What does it profit a man to gain the office of President of the United States and lose the entire populace? [Mark 8:36 amended]
  • How tattoos work: Once you chose Option #1, you’ve automatically eliminated Options #2 to 999,999.
  • [Youth Group Boy] Rather than build a wall Trump just needs to talk to my church – they’ve kept minorities and those who are different out for years.
  • Need to rethink the classic Neil Diamond song: ♫ On the boats and on the planes They’re coming to America… ♫  — not anymore!
  • [Diane Lindstrom] “Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison

 

January 20, 2017

A Theology of Non-Anger

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:20 am

For some time now, I’ve ended the day unwinding with a 20-minute podcast compiled from excerpts of The Brant Hansen Show. Brant‘s a long-time Christian radio guy who has served with Air-1 and WAY-FM. He’s joined daily by producer Sherri Lynn to whom God has apparently given the gift of laughter.

On the sidebar of Brant’s website I kept noticing a reference to Brant’s book, but I figured it to be some self-published project, after all, these days everybody has a book. Only a few days ago did I realize it had been released through Thomas Nelson, and decided it warranted further investigation.

unoffendableUnoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better was actually released in the spring of 2015, so we’re coming up to two years. (You’ll notice my blog hasn’t been reviewing new releases lately; I just share what I’m enjoying.) If you think that the people in Christian radio are somewhat shallow, you’re going to be pleasant surprised — perhaps amazed — at the substance in this book.

Basically, Unoffendable is a study of instances in scripture (and real life) where anger is a factor. You could call the book a treatise on the theology of anger, though I prefer to take a positive spin and emphasize non-anger. We can be so quick to assume, to lash out, and to hurt. Our knee-jerk reactions aren’t good for the people in our line of fire, and they’re not good for us.

The timing on this is significant as commentators are constantly reminding us that the hallmark of social media in particular and the internet in general seems to be our ability to be easily offended. At everything. We are an offended generation.

The book isn’t necessary a self-help title. You won’t find, for example, six steps to avoid getting angry. Rather, through personal anecdotes and lessons from scripture, proceeding through the book’s chapters instills a climate of non-offense as you read. There’s a sense in which the book has a calming effect.

In many respects, the book is an extension of and consistent with the radio show. There are sections where Brant quotes letters he received from listeners and in my head, I was hearing those as the phone calls he takes on air. Our ability with today’s technology to access spoken word content by authors means you can really allow your imagination to hear the author as you read. We found a station that streams the whole show — not the podcast — daily and listened in just to get the feel.

I encourage to get your hands on this. Read it for yourself, not just to give to so-and-so who gets mad so quickly. I think there is a sense in which we can all see ourselves within its pages; because we all have times where we’ve over-reacted.


Order Unoffendable through your favorite Christian bookseller; or get more info at Thomas Nelson.

Thanks to Mark at HarperCollins Canada for the review copy.

December 15, 2016

Young Single Adults Looking for a Context to Meet Other YSAs.

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:04 am

Three people came to my attention in the space of about 72 hours.

  • A young Christian girl from Canada spending a year in Australia
  • A young Christian girl from Australia spending a year in Canada
  • A young Christian guy in Canada returning post-graduation to his college city

They all have one thing in common; they’d like to connect with other people their age socially but find it tough finding the right context in which to do so.

Yes, I know the obvious: Weekend church services, midweek college and career church groups, doing volunteer work, or hanging out in the Lauren Daigle section of the Christian bookstore. But it’s easy to feel like a stranger in a strange land. It’s a matter of connecting with the right church, the right young adults group, the right volunteer project, etc.

bn234118Some are looking for “the one.” Others just want to connect with a Christian community. Either way, it’s like, “I know you’re out there, and I’d like to meet you, but I can’t find you.”

You wouldn’t want to try this in my town. Located about an hour east of Toronto, our little part of the world is a place where people stay until the end of high school and then they go off to college and never want to return, except for family gatherings. Our population of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings is rather anemic. So moving to a busier, urban center is a given. But even there it can be bewildering.

It’s no wonder people turn to online sites to make a connection. A couple generations back, putting an advertisement in the personal section of the classified adverts was seen as an act of desperation. Now, posting a profile online is the norm. Further, it must be said, some great relationships have been forged in the transfer of those pixels, but it often involves a greater investment in travel, unless you set your geographic limit as ten miles or less.

So I know there are a few in that age bracket who read this blog. Or maybe you’re the parent of one such young adult. How can someone make a connection in 2017 with someone who shares their Christian values? What other not-online contexts exist for finding a Christian community of people in the same demographic?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 27, 2016

Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Podcasts and the Stewardship of Your Time

podcastsIt started about a month ago when my friend Martin pointed out to me that my new smartphone had a feature whereby I could bypass the keyboard and simply dictate messages and email responses. I quickly became aware that it’s easy to be verbose when you’re talking compared to finger-typing, which is often more concise.

But it also started several months before that when I realized how many of the bloggers I follow have simply switched over to doing podcasts. Why write it all out when you can simply press the record button and start rambling?

So for obvious reasons, today’s blog post here will be shorter.

I think we’re all really getting sucked down a giant hole where too much time is being spent on social media to the point where other things are not happening or getting done. The time it will take you to read this if much, much less than it would be if I decided to do this as a podcast. I know that because I’ve seen the comparative length of emails and texts that result from the speech feature on my phone.

As Christians, the stewardship of our time is important. In the old KJV, Ephesians 5:16 was rendered using the phrase, “Redeeming the time.” More recent translators went with:

  • Make every minute count (CEV, NASB, and others)
  • Make the best use of your time (J. B. Phillips)
  • Don’t waste your time on useless work (Eugene Peterson)
  • Make the most of every living and breathing moment (The Voice)

The time factor figures into social media, but even more into addictive online behavior such as porn-related and game-related activity.

But the podcast thing is important because many of these run 50 minutes to two hours and have become very trendy. So here are some podcast-specific suggestions:

  1. Be really discerning which ones you want to invest your time with
  2. Don’t do every episode, choose the one with guests and topics of interest
  3. Fast forward through banter and sections of lesser concern
  4. Limit daily or weekly consumption
  5. Keep a balance between spoken and written content you consume

…Keeping this short, as promised! Go make the most out of your day.


This discussion continues today at Christianity 201.

February 23, 2016

Deconstructing is Easy; Building Takes Skill and Time

Filed under: blogging, issues — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:39 am

Blog Birthday 8

This was actually the 4th item posted when I launched the blog eight years ago, not the first, but I think it reflects what online opinion writers should strive for, especially when it is so easy to write and post critique. The comments following the poem itself were on one of the websites where we located this version of it.


Builders and Wreckers

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho, heave, ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a wall fell.

I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?
Like the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He laughed as he replied, “No, indeed,
Just common labor is all I need.

I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken years to do.”
I asked myself as I went away
Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by rule and square?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Oh Lord, let my life and labors be
That which build for eternity.

Why do so many of us find it gratifying to be sideline cynics smothering ideas in a relentless barrage of “what ifs” and warnings? As the poem points out, it’s much easier to be a wrecker than a builder.

Of course it’s wise and necessary to challenge assumptions, test theories and predict problems, but that should be the beginning not an end. We should measure our value by the number of balloons we helped launch, not the number we deflated.

A builder sees problems as challenges and seeks solutions; a dismantler sees problems in every solution. A builder sees flaws and tries to fix them; a dismantler sees flaws in every fix.

 

February 18, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Morality in the 21st Century

Morality in the 21st Century

 

  • Mama Mea Culpa? – Ravi Zacharias on President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast: “For those who did not hear the talk, it is sufficient to say that it was the most ill-advised and poorly chosen reprimand ever given at a National Prayer Breakfast. I have been to several and have never, ever heard such absence of wisdom in a setting such as this…Citing the Crusades, he used the single most inflammatory word he could have with which to feed the insatiable rage of the extremists. That is exactly what they want to hear…
  • When You’ve Lost the Calvinists, You’ve Lost the Battle – Justin Taylor at no less than The Gospel Coalition is not on-side with ‘literal’ six day creationism: “It is commonly suggested that this is such a “plain reading” of Scripture—so obviously clear and true—that the only people who doubt it are those who have been influenced by Charles Darwin and his neo-Darwinian successors…So it may come as a surprise to some contemporary conservatives that some of the great stalwarts of the faith were not convinced of this interpretation…I want to suggest there are some good, textual reasons…”  (Of course, not everyone agreed.)
  • When It’s Time for a Time Out – A look at what it means to be “disqualified from ministry” and the related issue of restoration. “My point is that those who minister for God don’t live unimpeachable lives. By “unimpeachable” I mean perfect. But the sins we are often quick to use to disqualify someone from ministry are far less severe than denying Christ [or] adjusting the Gospel to make it square with our prejudice.”
  • If a First Century Christian Time Traveled to Your Church – “If Americanized Christians were to see how the first Christians lived, it would be denounced as some sort of communist cult being led by folks who distorted the Gospel…If Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort were to fly back in time to see how the first Christians– those who walked and talked with Jesus– were doing things, they’d say they were totally doing it wrong, and have succumbed to liberalism.”
  • Essay of the Week: What Makes a Movie/CD Christian? – “[William Romanowski] argues, when [Amy] Grant began to abandon explicitly Christian lyrics in favor of ones focused on romance, many Christians became uneasy and were forced to reconsider their paradigm for Christian art. Was Amy Grant enough of a Christian singer? The fact that Grant resisted easy categorization prompted discussion and debate. She defied the strict sacred/secular bifurcation. Of course, the only difference between Christian Grant and secular Grant was the lyrics. Christian art, the logic went, is Christian art only if it explicitly communicates its Christian-ness.”
  • Reinventing The Christian Bookstore – Even as the Family Christian bookstore chain enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a former university textbook store has been re-purposed as a center for the Christian community in Winnipeg, Manitoba that is part retail, part library and includes many other parts: “Materials from the lending library, owned and operated by Mennonite Church Canada, sit in the middle of the spacious store, with catalogue stickers indicating the items are for loan, not for sale…” The university president adds, “We didn’t want to build only a library, but we wanted to build a public gathering place.”
  • Missing the Moment – We’ve all seen the pictures where people are so busy with their smartphones they miss something awesome taking place right next to them. Tyler Blanski addressed this and many other social media challenges in a November article that we just discovered: “…Mixing social media with daily life diminishes daily life. When I’m with my son, I want him to be able to take for granted that I am there. And no matter how often I might look up from my phone, if our time together is material for social media, I will never be more than half there. I want him to grow up in a home that is a safe haven, not a stage.”
  • Lost in Translation? – The NIV, ESV, Amplified, KJV and several others get together for a dinner party. (I hesitated to title this link, ‘If Translations Could Speak.’) A great premise if you’ve always wondered what they all think of each other. [NIV to ESV] “Look, I know you’re the new kid on the block, and that a bunch of pastors are all like, ‘Rah, rah, ESV, our study Bible can beat up your study Bible.’ But just because you’re new and polished doesn’t mean you’re better. Some of us have been around for a long time and have seen a lot of things.”
  • The Vanity and Toxicity of Conversation Toppers: “We may not realize it, but there is an art to making good conversation. Such artistry is not simply the goal of talk show hosts and salesmen but should be something that each one of us practices, especially those who serve as pastors.”
  • One for the Road – Next Sunday’s worship: Looking for something new that is both hymn-like and chorus-like and also lyrically deep? You could do this song with a driving rhythm section or a classically trained choir.

Short Takes:

Sometimes preachers talk about people being "too busy for God..." I found it interesting that in December, when we get busy, readership at Christianity 201 drops noticeably. When things get hectic, we do put spiritual disciplines on the back burner.

Sometimes preachers talk about people being “too busy for God…” I found it interesting that in December, when we get hectic, readership at Christianity 201 drops noticeably; some of us do tend to put spiritual disciplines on the back burner at busy times.

September 20, 2014

The Last Post

Filed under: blogging, writing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:50 am

No, we’re not talking today about the bugle call known as “The Last Post,” although there is a similarity of theme.  Wikipedia reminds us about that song which originally connoted the end of day for soldiers and then crossed over into memorial usage: “In all these countries it has been incorporated into military funerals, where it is played as a final farewell, symbolizing the fact that the duty of the dead soldier is over and that he can rest in peace.”

Neither are we saying this is the last blog post here at Thinking Out Loud, though perhaps some of you were hoping!

Rather, what got me thinking was a Twitter post from Keith Brenton last night:

If I had just one social media post left in my life, to bring joy and wisdom and love to a sad, stupid, hateful world …this wouldn’t be it.

Okay. But what if you had one post left?  In the endless stream of social media history you’ve created on WordPress, on Facebook, on Twitter, on tumblr, on Instagram, on YouTube… and on everything else; what if you had One Final Post. Your own famous last words. The thing everyone would remember you by.

What would it be? 

Note: These words, phrases and sentences are already taken

  • Related: Two years ago I posted the lyrics to a song I wrote as a much younger person. I was basically asking the same question, “What will my life be remembered for?” It’s a fair question to ask yourself periodically.

April 3, 2014

Gaining Platform; Rites of Passage

Platform

I frequently look at Christian leadership blogs which seem obsessed about helping pastors and authors build their platform on social media. If that in itself is a stated goal, then I think the type of advice offered may serve some practical good.

But I also keep wondering if true respect is not also built in what might be called ‘the crucible of affliction;’ that is to say, that various people in various types of ministry endeavors have earned the right to be heard because they faced a great test, or championed a great cause.

The challenge is that not everybody gets to climb Mount Everest, nor does everyone want to. The type of platform that some people want to see built is gained only through some newsworthy accomplishment.

The other side of the challenge is that those who want to enjoy a healthy following and a strong platform are concerned only with what can be measured statistically, and stats alone seem to be a rather hollow way of measuring the worth of an individual.

I think platform is good only if leads you to another objective beyond selling your book or gaining social media followers. Utimately, however, it’s who you are that counts. That’s not something you can engineer. It’s not something you can quantize statistically, either.

Mission Trips

It’s true that short-term mission tourism has become an industry onto itself, and there have been various articles posted online, including some here, that have engaged the sport of mission trip bashing.

But lately I’ve been wondering if it isn’t really some necessary rite of passage; the third point of a three pronged initiation into Christian service: Salvation, baptism, short term mission. Or, “When did you become a Christian?” and “When you were baptized?” followed by “Where did you go for your mission trip?”

It almost seems that to lack this quintessential experience — as I freely admit I do — is to have a personal story that is somehow more shallow. When people ask me to document my ministry experience I find myself sometimes apologetically saying, “Everything you can imagine except third-world missions exposure.”

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe I’ve had some rich experiences; maybe it’s reflective of a greater spiritual inferiority complex. I’m just thinking that maybe we’ve been too harsh when it comes to mission trip bashing, provided the trip has been designed to be more than a tourist visit.

Although I’ve never done it, my ideal for you, your son, or your daughter would be to connect with the six month Discipleship Training School at Youth With A Mission bases around the world; each one of which has both a training and a field experience component.

Read more:
Short Term Mission Trips: Yea or Nay?, November 2008
Short Term Mission Trippers as Seen by Full-Time Missionaries, April 2012
Another Critique of the Short Term Missions Movement, June 2012

February 18, 2014

Out of the Abundance of the Heart the Facebook Page Speaks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:32 am

six legged chicken

I remember once hearing a preacher say, “Nowhere in the Bible does it say to close your eyes while praying, but there are over a hundred references to gluttony.”

So what’s with the vast number of people who seem to feel that Facebook exists largely for broadcasting to the world the details of our latest meal? My wife and I know people — who shall remain nameless — who seem to feel that social media exists for this very purpose. Yes, they do post a few pictures of the kids, but they get lost in the vast galleries of food pics.

When we go to the supper table, I always make sure someone has remembered the ice cubes for drinks and a couple of salad dressings. But the camera? With the exception of a six-legged chicken, I don’t believe the camera and dinner have ever coincided.

Don’t get me wrong, Mrs. W. is an awesome cook. She buys things at the Asian grocery store and then goes online to try to figure out what they are and what to do with them. Last night’s meal was a middle-Eastern treat. We enjoy food from around the world because she’s willing to take on a challenge one night and then take on another one the next.

What I’m saying here is, if anybody has the right to post food pictures on Facebook it’s her. But we don’t. It would be boasting. It would be glorifying or idolizing food consumption. It would be trying to make our rather mundane lives look more exciting than they are. It would be a slap in the face to people who dine on Hamburger Helper and mashed potatoes night after night, much like dogs prefer a steady diet of Kibble.

Facebook is about sharing your life, and nightly food pictures suggest to me that instead of sharing your life, you need to get one.

If a person’s worth does not consist in the abundance of their possessions, neither does one’s value consist of the meal they had the day before.

September 17, 2013

Frittering Your Day Away on Twitter

Filed under: links, media, quotations — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:11 am

 

I’m glad I decided to restrict my exposure to Twitter. I don’t know how people do it; do they have 36-hour days that I don’t? How do you follow a thousand people?

I find that trying to condense my thoughts into fortune-cookie sized wisdom-bites just about impossible. However, for what it’s worth, here’s what the last few weeks have looked like on @PaulW1lk1nson with annotations:

  • Elevation pastor Steven Furtick’s 2 1/2 minute sermon highlights video offers a refreshing approach to giving. http://ow.ly/o41vu
  • [Contrary to the 2nd commandment:] Paper money and coins carry the image of human government and leaders, therefore Christians should pay for everything with debit and credit.
  • I think some men validate their masculinity by the noise volume level of their power tools. [Written while trying to relax at a friend’s cottage… my wife just wanted to hear the loons, but the atmosphere was rather looney!]
  • At Newspring, pastor @perrynoble invites the congregation to vote on future sermon topics! http://newspring.cc/ask/
  • I wonder if instead of just teaching kids and teens abstinence, we would do well to throw in a few lessons on delayed gratification.
  • “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” – G.K. Chesterton  (quoted by: @EugeneCho]
  • “It isn’t possible to burn out if you’ve never actually been on fire.” ~Perry Noble
  • Creation care: Urban municipalities should enact bylaws that you can’t cut down a tree unless you’re going to replace it with a new one.
  • “Humble Theology” means we approach Scripture with an understanding of our inadequacy to grasp with certainty everything taught in the Bible [“Humble Theology” is a concept I discovered reading @DanKimball in the 2012 book, Adventures in Churchland published by @Zondervan]
  • @johnortberg — Great idea for Christian cartoon show–the disciples as little boys: ‘The Tiny Twelve’ Bet it happens
  • Faith is about relaxing in the way we do when we are with a friend who we know for certain is fond of us.- Catholic theologian James Allison
  • Pastors vary as to “office hours” but “hours” spent outside the office, i.e. in the community at large, are often most productive ministry.
  • Pastors: If you’re preaching to the choir, then you probably have your back to the congregation.
  • In Quebec, Canada, ‘tabernacle’ is a swear word, sort of like saying “Jesus” as an expletive. [But isn’t it interesting that, in keeping with Catholic priorities, the church is preeminent over Jesus, even when blaspheming?]
  • Today my wife asked why I’ve never helped when one of our cats had to go to the vet to be euthanized. My response? “I’m Anabaptist. We’re a pacifist denomination.”
  • This morning a rare face-to-face meet-up with a regular reader of http://christianity201.wordpress.com/  She starts her day at C201; awesome responsibility!
  • [attended a] Lively concert with the band newworldson @newworldson
  • In the tradition of “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23,” we bring you, “An Ox Looks at Being Unequally Yoked.” New from Oxdervan Publishing.
  • The Biebs, in New York City for Fashion Week, heads to a Hillsong-affiliated church: http://www.americapreachers.com/entertainment/justin-bieber-thanks-pastor-amazing-sermon/ …
  • From a Canadian perspective, party politics at the municipal level or county level must automatically eliminate many good potential candidates.
  • When people on other planets find the Voyager spacecraft and the long-play record we sent them, what exactly will they play it on? Seriously, we sent them a record?
  • I want to start promoting the idea that “the mark of the beast” described in Revelation 13:17 is actually a reference to Google. [Six letters, too.]
  • I asked my wife if she wanted to see a counselor to talk about her nightmares, but at $80 an hour, she thinks the nightmares are cheaper.
  • A classic Canadian “inspirational” rock song! Copperpenny “Help Your Brother” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4pjee9Npu0 …
  • Imagine if your cell/mobile phone had component parts that you upgraded instead of discarding it? Much less waste! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDAw7vW7H0c …
  • Unexplainable things on Twitter: How former UK resident @SheilaWalsh could become a big fan of American college football. Don’t tell her British friends!
  • Rare YouTube gem: Phil Keaggy Band in Cleveland, 1978 w/ Phil Madeira “Mighty Lord” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNZMfoadpaI …
  • A classic Canadian “inspirational” rock song! Copperpenny “Help Your Brother” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4pjee9Npu0 …

But I do love how Greg Boyd @greg_boyd totally ignores the 140-character limit and just continues from one Tweet to the next:

  • I just got COMPLETELY SLAUGHTERED in our worship service!!! BAWLED non-stop through two songs. The REALITY of God’s love overwhelmed me! When any group people are 100% focused on Christ in worship, each person becomes a conduit for God’s presence–and WHAM! It’s spectacular! It’s like the whole atmosphere of the room gets electrified! It’s as if the music and singing acquires a different dimension or something! I know many of u know what I’m talking about. One taste of this and you understand why heaven will never become boring! He is SO BEAUTIFUL! The one downer is that afterwards, your heart aches for every person on the planet to experience THIS!
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