Thinking Out Loud

August 25, 2008

Disordered Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:29 pm
The Dangerous Act of Worship

“Our central lie is in the discrepancy between the language of worship and the actions of worship. We confess “Jesus is Lord” but only submit to the part of Christ’s authority that fits our grand personal designs, doesn’t cause pain, doesn’t disrupt the American dream, doesn’t draw us across ethnic and racial divisions, doesn’t add the pressure of too much guilt, doesn’t mean forgiving as we have been forgiven, doesn’t ask for more than a check to show compassion. We “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” expressing our desire to know Jesus, but the Jesus we want to know is the sanitized Jesus that looks a lot like us when we think we are at our best. Despite God’s Word to the contrary, we think we can say that we love God and yet hate our neighbor, neglect the widow, forget the orphan, fail to visit the prisoner, ignore the oppressed. Its the sign of disordered love. When we do this, our worship becomes a lie to God.”


Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice (Downers Grove: IVP, 2007), 71 — h/t Andrew Hamilton blogging in Australia at

August 24, 2008

Make Me A Christian

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm

In the words of humorist Dave Barry, “I am not making this up.”

Everything you’re about to read is from a Christianity Today (CT) story, but trust me, you’re going to want to link to the story anyway, because this is so completely bizarre you’ll need to read it twice to make sure you’re not dreaming.

This is the Rev. George Hargreaves, a featured panelist of the newest British reality show, Make Me A Christian. Yes, you’ve just understood the show’s premise. It’s the sequel to another reality series they did called Make Me A Muslim. Both shows are obviously a total caricature of anything remotely religious. CT reports:

A lap dancer, a lesbian, and a lapsed Christian with a pregnant girlfriend are among the participants on the U.K.’s newest reality show, Make Me a Christian, where Christian leaders attempt to bring a group of unlikely candidates to the faith. The show’s premise is to find out if Christianity can help repair the moral fabric of British society…

“I was pleased at first to hear that the producers were trying to make Christianity accessible to people who might not usually watch religious programming,” said Charis Gibson, senior press officer for the Evangelical Alliance. After watching the first two episodes, however, she said, “I’m starting to think I would prefer spending my Sunday nights being bashed repeatedly in the face with a large, leather-bound King James Version.”

“The program says little about relationship and a great deal about regulation,” said Melvyn Cooke, minister of Gillingham Methodist Church. “While there is a slim chance it may promote conversation, by and large my view is that it is damaging to the gospel.”

…Joanna Jepson, chaplain at the London College of Fashion and one of the mentors on the show, agrees. Describing the show as “sensational,” “irresponsible,” and “contrived,” she took legal action to compel the producers to remove her scenes from the last episode. Those efforts were rebuffed.

Jepson said the show’s producers were only interested in fostering conflict and presenting Christians as people obsessed with sex and imposing Christian standards on everyone else, according to The Daily Telegraph.

“We were encouraged to take part on the understanding that we were dealing with a group of people who genuinely wanted to embrace Christianity,” she told the newspaper. “But that was clearly not the case.”

Charlie Brooker, TV critic for The Guardian calls the show,

“…a spiritual makeover show in which four hardcore Goddites attempt to convert a rag-tag band of sinners into full-blown Jesus freaks in just three weeks.In true oversimplified TV-conflict tradition, it’s a clash of absurd extremities.”

David Wallace concludes the following on Jesus Site:

“While Christian instruction is great, transforming these people’s lives is going to take an encounter with the living God. From the series web site, it seems as if the team of mentors is using “Christian instructions and moral teachings” in an attempt to change behavior. However, what they should be doing is to introduce these people to Jesus Christ so that their lives change from the inside out.”

Fortunately, only three episodes were produced. But this story is still significant, because the UK has been the launching pad for most of the world’s most popular reality shows.

August 23, 2008

A Piece of Heaven on Earth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:50 pm

We spent several hours today in what I consider the idyllic place to live. The Toronto Island Community — just south of the core business district, but a 15-minute ferry ride away — consists of two groups of houses, on Ward’s Island and Algonquin Island. This is a world without cars. A world where you wander past homes which are all very distinctive in so many different ways. Someday, we might spend several days here, as we picked up bed and breakfast information this time around. This is a world where its natural peace simply invades your soul.

Every ten years or so, different Toronto politicians try to score political points by suggesting that this community be evicted so that the park area can expand and the public can enjoy the entire islands area. I have two responses to that: (a) we were there on one of the busiest days of the year, and the public simply isn’t interested in walking away from the central area featuring swimming, rides and picnic facilities; and (b) to make the island fully ‘public’ you’d have to evict the three yacht clubs first.

But mainly, I think instead of trying to evict the Toronto Islanders, we should all — whether you live in souther Ontario in Canada or anywhere else in the world — be looking at ways to replicate this community a hundred times over.

(Sadly, I only took one picture myself, which I’ll download & post later.)

August 20, 2008

Life in a Homeless Shelter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:51 am

Here’s a classic post from Today At The Mission (see blogroll at right) from March, 2005 that gives some insight into what it’s like to work at Peterborough’s Brock Street Mission:

Today a client asked me what was the worst job I’ve ever had. “This one”, I replied. “This place is impossible.”

He then asked me what was the best job I’ve ever had. I thought for a minute and then said, “This one – I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”

I’ll apologize to Dickens later.

August 18, 2008

Great Worship Songs – Holy Moment

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:34 pm

Matt Redman’s composition from the year 2000 is a bit intense musically for some churches, but I can’t think of a better call to worship lyrically.   Think of it as a more rocking version of the sentiments expressed in his better known song, “Heart of Worship.”  I’ve used this in its song form and also used the spoken lyrics only.

As we come today we remind ourselves of what we do
That these songs are not just songs but signs of love for You
This is a holy moment now
Something of heaven touches earth
Voices of angels all resound
We join their song

Great Worship Songs – Today

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:30 pm

Canadian Brian Doerksen’s 2003 piece based on the declaration found in the book of Joshua has become an anthem for many churches.   The album of the same name was based on a live concert that was recorded on video, and remains my all time favorite worship concert DVD.

Today I choose to follow You
Today I choose to give my yes to You
Today I choose to hear Your voice and live
Today I choose to follow You

As for me and my house
We will serve You

Great Worship Songs – Your Unfailing Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:25 pm

This piece was written in 1999 by Chris Wright and appeared as part of an unusual album called “A.D.” released by Hosanna Music with the intention of using worship music in evangelism.  Customers purchased a copy and received a second copy to give away to an unsaved friend.   A narration that was not actually recorded created flow from piece to piece.   The ultimate “musical” for churches with worship teams instead of a choir, this album never really caught on, but we were left with some beautiful compositions including this one which mixes testimony with worship.

When I left the shelter of Your warm embrace
And my prodigal heart chose to run away
Still You waited with an unfailing love
A God of justice yet a God of grace
So familiar with all my ways
Still You love me with an unfailing love

I will sing of Your unfailing love

Great Worship Songs – Lead Me to the Rock

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:17 pm

Dozens of pieces have been created from Psalm 61,  but this classic 1976 composition by Frank Hernandez has an almost haunting melody and chord sequence.   Though it’s not simple musically, it has been used by camps and youth groups for over thirty years.   It’s hard to choose among the three verses, because all are straight scripture, but here is one:

Hear my cry oh God
Give heed to my prayer
From the end of the earth I call to Thee
When my heart is faint

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I….

Great Worship Songs – What a Faithful God

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:08 pm

In the spirit of “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” this 1989 worship song is by Dawn and Robert Critchley from the UK. The three verses start out pitched really low, but then the song explodes like fireworks into a higher register celebrating the faithfulness of God.

Lord I come before Your throne of grace
I find rest in Your presence
And fulness of joy;
In worship and wonder I behold Your face
Singing what a faithful God have I

Great Worship Songs – Break Through The Chains

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:03 pm

Men don’t sing.   At least that’s what we’ve been told.   But Promise Keepers couldn’t have asked for a better song to express the heart cry of men longing for a more dedicated devotion to following Christ.   Gary McDonald and Tommy Walker wrote this song in 1995 which has just one verse and a bridge.

Break through the chains in my life
Tear down the strongholds and the walls
Deliver me from all bondage and strife
That I may hear when You call
And give You my all…

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