Thinking Out Loud

December 17, 2016

Chickens and Eggs: Which Comes First, Belonging or Believing?

Try Before You Buy?

Later today at Christianity 201, we’re doing a video post from Seven Minute Seminary at Seedbed.com. We did this about a year ago, and while choosing something for today (it’s on the destiny of the unevangelized) I found this one. At first, I found the reference to “postmodernism” a bit dated. Surely everybody gets that mindset now and its continued pervasiveness among Millennials, right? But as Jim Hampton got into this 6½ minute explanation, I realized that is take on believing vs. belonging was something I hadn’t seen before; the notion that a new generation of seekers really wants to embed themselves in our communities to see if our faith is genuine; if our belief is authentic enough that it translates into our everyday practices. 

But embed themselves to what extent? Singing on a worship team? Partaking of The Lord’s Supper (Eucharist)?

Click the title below to read the article and watch the video at source:

Belonging vs. Believing: Postmodernism and Its Implications for Discipleship

Postmodernism has many implications for how churches understand and approach discipleship. Using youth culture as a model, Dr. Jim Hampton explores how those who have a suspicion of authority and dogma might be included in the process of discipleship by allowing them to participate in community in significant ways.

James Hampton is Professor of Youth Ministry at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is an editor for the Journal of Youth and Theology.

View the growing playlist of Seven Minute Seminary.

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October 2, 2012

Details, Details

I don’t hear voices. But on Monday I felt an unmistakable prompt to put a devotional here on Thinking Out Loud. My first response was, “No, that’s what Christianity 201 was created for.” But sometimes you do better to listen to those prompts. So here it is. The author, Cloudwatcher writes from a land down under, is a frequent contributor and comment-er at C201, and at 74-years young, is possibly the eldest writer in this blog’s blogroll with her blog, Meeting in the Clouds.  To read this at source, click here.


Oscar Hammerstein II wrote,

“A year or so ago, on the cover of the New York Herald Tribune Sunday magazine, I saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty, taken from a helicopter and it showed the top of the statue’s head. I was amazed at the detail there. The sculptor had done a painstaking job with the lady’s coiffure, and yet he must have been pretty sure that the only eyes that would ever see this detail would be the uncritical eyes of sea gulls. He could not have dreamt that any man would ever fly over this head. He was artist enough, however, to finish off this part of the statue with as much care as he had devoted to her face and her arms, and the torch and everything that people can see as they sail up the bay.”

We can well ask WHY?

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was the sculptor. He went from France to Egypt in 1856 and was awestruck by the grandeur of the pyramids and the beauty of the stately Sphinx of the desert. His artistic mind was stimulated. Taken by the concept, he decided to design something out of the ordinary. He worked on the concept for 10 years, changing the design many times until he was satisfied.

The result was a colossal robed lady that stood taller than the Sphinx. She held the books of justice in one hand and a torch lifted high in the other.  After Bartholdi returned to France, the French government sought his artistic services. His 10 years of planning and designing culminated in the Statue of Liberty lighting the New York harbor.

The statue of Liberty was built in the late 1800’s. The Statue was completed in France in July, 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor in June 1885. In transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. The Statue was re-assembled on her new pedestal in four months. The dedication of the Statue of Liberty took place in front of thousands of spectators October 28th 1886. President Grover Cleveland, the former New York governor, presided over the event.

The Statue of Liberty stands 305 feet 1 inch or 93 meters in height from the base to the top of the torch.

No planes flew at that time. There were no high rises.  It was not until many years later that airplanes were able to fly above it and the exquisite details and beauty of the top of the head could be observed. Bartholdi could have reasonably argued that such detail on the top was not necessary.

WHY did he, on such a massive job, take so much trouble
on something that he thought would never be seen?

Why?  INTEGRITY.

We see another example of such integrity in the work of MICHELANGELO in his four years labor (1508-12) in painting the very high ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The painted area is about 40 m (131 ft) long by 13 m (43 ft) wide. This means that he painted well over 5,000 square feet (460 m2) of frescoes, carefully perfecting the tiniest details of each figure he painted.

A friend asked him WHY he took such pains, since the figures would only be seen from a great distance, and no one would be able to discern such perfection.

The artist simply answered “I will!”

Why?  INTEGRITY

Integrity is MORE than NOT being deceitful or slipshod.
For the Christian, it means doing everything ‘heartily as unto the Lord‘

Colossians 3:23-24
And whatever you do, do it heartily,
as to the Lord and not unto men;
knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward;
for you serve the Lord Christ

We are not called to build a sculptural masterpiece or a great work of art, but the same principle applies.  If no one ever knows of our efforts, our work ethics should be the same.

When it comes to ANYTHING in Christian service,
whether it is ministering to a lonely or needy person,
or sharing the Gospel message,
or singing in the choir,
or teaching children,
or cleaning the Church,
or working behind the scenes,
or playing a major role,
or whatever we do,
we should give 100-plus percent even to the tiniest detail
which “no one will ever notice”.
Our Father will and we serve Him.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

June 7, 2011

Worship Leading Blogs Hit Home

If you check the lists of the top blogs, most are written by pastors, but in some churches as much of 50% of the service time is spent in worship.  Worship leaders have a lot to say to us about things vital to the broader scope of living as a Christ folllower.

David Santistevan asks the question, “What does a move of the Holy Spirit look like?

A warm, fuzzy feeling?
A third key change?
Singing “How He Loves”?
A crowded room?
Tongues and interpretation?
People falling all over the place?
Healings?

and gets some interesting answers:

  • I think one of the biggest things that came out of it, was a place where the revelation of the gospel can affect people at ALL stages in their walks with Christ.
  • We can tell if the Holy Spirit is moving if authenticity is being presented in the service and outside of the service.
  • A lot of time, when regarding “snapshot moments”, we are forced to base our assessment on people’s reactions and how we all “felt” in that moment. However, I have been challenged to consider the moving of the Holy Spirit from a longer perspective – over time. Are we growing deeper? Is there fruit evident in the lives of the people of our congregation? Are we, as a whole. changing more into the image of Christ?
  • When we see souls being won to Jesus inside and outside the church. The Holy Spirit is more than thrills, chills, and tears.
  • I think the Holy Spirit is already moving if the essential word of God is being taught or preached…and the name of Jesus is being exalted and the work of the cross is at the core of every message.
  • So many times, we try to equate the Holy Spirit to a physical manifestation (ie. goosebumps, tongues, shouts, tears, etc). However, scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit moves in many ways.
    Teaching – John 14:26
    Guiding – Galatians 5:25
    Filling – Luke 4:14
    Leading – Luke 4:1
    Speaking – Luke 2:26
    Interceding – Romans 8:26
    Conviciting – John 16:8-11

Meanwhile Carlos Whitaker digs a little deeper and asks what expectations people have the worship leader himself/herself.

  • Genuine worship on stage should be a continuation of your personal worship during the week… Col. 3:23 has been a verse that has guided me in how I try to approach both Sunday mornings and daily life.
  • I think that to be a true worship leader, one has to live a life of worship firs; entirely centered around Christ and seeing every moment as a chance to offer worship.
  • I think worship pastors need to become more transparent both on stage and during the week and focus more on being ready and available for God’s leading at all times. God will provide teaching illustrations from your own life if you are ready to live one out any time. If worship is truly a lifestyle, then we should use that lifestyle to build up other believers.
  • Those few minutes leading worship on Sundays should be thought of as an opening act to prepare us for the week ahead. They should be a prelude to our constant daily worship, not the sum total of it.

And a few that are really admonitions:

  • It would be great to see their lives off stage reflect the same zeal and passion they exhibit onstage.
  • By stepping off the “big boy” stage and leading worship at that Youth, Kids, Women’s, Men’s, Seniors ministry meeting that you thing you’re “too good” or “too busy” to serve at. Basically, lead worship when nobody’s looking so you won’t look so fraudulent when there are.
  • What you do on Sunday morning is meaningless if you don’t live it out the rest of the week.

Finally — and there are literally a few thousand such blogs, so this is only a snapshot — here’s some words from Seth at WorshipOnTV.com:

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;”

Notice that the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs were to be sung to each other.  Wait a second! Could it be that New Testament singing was not only meant to worship God, but to encourage and teach each other in the body of Christ?

I believe that more theology is taught through music today in the church than the sermon. So it is a valid concern that our songs be theologically sound. Are they? 

…Take some time to visit other Christian worship blogs including The Worship Community.

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.


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