Thinking Out Loud

May 29, 2014

Thursday Link List

Species rarely seen: The Thursday List Lynx

Species rarely seen: The Thursday List Lynx

A few things missed out this week by a few hours. We might repeat some of these on the PARSE list anyway, but I wanted to share them while they were still fresh.

  • Did someone in your church write a great modern worship song that’s only being sung by your own congregation? Enter it in the Sing It Sunday song contest, and it could be performed in front of 13,000 people at Catalyst Atlanta. Contest details here.
  • I debated whether or not to make this one the sole subject of today’s blog post… Do you know someone who labors in ministry and gets discouraged by what seems to be so little fruit? A pastor whose small church seems lost in a megachurch world? A youth worker who spends long hours working with kids who seem unresponsive? Send them this story.This is the recently uncovered story of a missionary who died thinking he was a failure. 84 years later a thriving church is found hidden in the Congo jungle.
  • In the wake of the death of Fred Phelps, there was a small mention that in the seemingly quiet months before he passed away he had been excommunicated from his church. I remember reading that, but not really focusing on it. It’s possible the reason is that he mellowed; that he softened his stance on some issues to a degree not acceptable to church hardliners.
  • Relevant Magazine did a list of six well-known church figures who, if judged by the standards of modern Evangelicalism, would simply never make the cut. The provocative headline calls them “6 Heretics Who Should Be Banned From Evangelicalism.” The last one will surprise you.
  • A piece that was in the link list yesterday sparked some follow up articles that appeared too late to meet the Wednesday list deadline. The topic was racial balance in the author mix at InterVarsity Press. I’ve often commented that the Christian publishing world is dominated by Reformed voices, which by implication means white and male. But we tend to think of IVP as having more of a global focus. At the blog, By Their Strange Fruit, here is part two of that article, as well as a more general piece which is less IVP-specific.
  • UPDATE: The son of the pastor of a snake-handling denomination who died in February was himself bit this week but refused to be hospitalized. Cody Coots replaced his father as pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro, Kentucky.
  • Finally, many Christian people feel that since ‘God hates divorce,’ they are obligated to stick with a marriage no matter what. As Lee Grady points out, there are at least four instances where it’s right to leave.



March 6, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Jesus is the Light of the World

Regular readers will know this already, but I’ve never quite come out and said it: I find it somewhat snobbish when bloggers publish link lists where anything older than 2-3 days is considered obsolete. A true link sleuth will unearth some great material and won’t be concerned if the post is dated 30 days ago. If it was true then…

  • Essay of the week: Church Planting in Montreal. A somewhat typical couple has been living together for ten years but has never gotten close to having any kind of spiritual discussion. And that’s just one challenge. The Quebecois version of Hybels’ “unchurched Harry” is quite different from “Harry” in the rest of North America. 
  • Runner up: Remember that feeling when you were young and you came home from school only to find nobody home and you immediately thought everybody had been raptured?  Well, it happens to not-so-young college students, too.
  • Okay, so that video about how to write a worship song wasn’t the first time Jordan at BlimeyCow waded into Christian music criticism. Or church camp. And different types of churches
  • While everyone else on Sunday night was watching The Bible miniseries on History, one blogger was putting the final period on his review even as the credits rolled. I guess that way you get to say, “First!”  (The cable channel show beat all the big networks in the ratings.)
  • If you know people whose Christian faith is characterized by what they are against, may I suggest you copy and paste this article and email it to them.
  • For people who don’t know how to use a “table of contents” in a book, The Alpha Bible presents the Bible books in… well you know.
  • Given the success of The Book of Mormon, a Broadway production by The Foursquare Church denomination on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson probably seemed like a good idea at the time
  • The idea of gospel tracts probably seems somewhat archaic to most readers here, but the concision of these short presentations actual suits present attention spans. Now 31 Good News tracts are available on audio.  
  • Matt Hafer comes out of church leadership hibernation with five ways for pastors to tell if people are truly on board.
  • I know I often link you over to Christianity 201, but I really want you all, if nothing else, to catch this video.
  • In some ways connected to a link we had here last week, a Christianity Today women’s blog suggests a little bit of Christianese is OK.
  • As someone whose entire wardrobe was purchased at Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, this is scary: Pat Robertson allows the possibility that those shirts and sweaters could have demonic spirits attached. (That’s why Pat buys professionally tailored suits, I guess.)
  • Once we know the name of the new Pope, the new Pope has to choose a name. Past Pope picks included these. (You remember Pope Urban, right?) 
  • How is it possible that this great song by the Wheaton College Gospel Choir has had less than 2,500 views in two years?  If this don’t bring a smile to your face, your mouth is broken. Watch, copy the link and share.
  • Jon Acuff finds himself in a prayer meeting with someone who gives a whole new meaning to the phrase too much information
  • If you missed it January, Shaun Groves shares songwriting secrets for worship composers. But ultimately, “I think worship writers have parted with standard songwriting practices because they’re creating with the live experience in mind. So their priorities are much different from those of a traditional songwriter.”
  • The people at Thomas Nelson flatly refused us a review copy of this, but I’ll be nice and tell you about it anyway. Jesus: A Theography is a new book by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola combining theology and biography with –[free review time expired]
  • …Mind you, that was already better than this guy’s review. “After a while, I finally put the book down and said enough.” (When you accept a free book you do agree to finish reading it.)
  • Remember Anne Jackson? Well she’s still kicking around, still writing, and apparently this Friday is a special day
  • Nadia Bolz-Weber, the Lutheran with attitude, shares her struggle preparing to preach on The Parable of the Vineyard. (Open the audio link in a new tab, then click back to follow the text; the whole sermon is about ten minutes.) Actual quote: “…you’d think that I’d totally remember a parable where poop is mentioned.”
  • Meanwhile Steve McCoy’s kids, age 12 and 14, are taking sermon notes while he preaches.
  • On our fifth birthday, we introduced you to Derek the Cleric. We had a tough time that day choosing between two cartoons and thought we’d stretch the written permission we received to do just one more.

Derek The Cleric - Powerpoint

August 18, 2009

Brian Doerksen: Make Love, Make War

I lied yesterday.   I said you could expect this book review later this week, when in fact, I couldn’t stop reading.  I never finish a book in a single day.  If anything, the book ended suddenly; I kept looking for a postscript or afterword or epilogue.

Make Love, Make War: Now is the Time to Worship (David C. Cook, 2009)  is a wonderfully crafted outpouring from the heart of Canadian singer-songwriter Brian Doerksen, who has authored or co-authored — he seems to do much of his writing in tandem with others — some of our best known worship songs such as:

  • Doerksen - Make Love Make War (2)Refiner’s Fire
  • Your Love is Amazing
  • Today (As for Me and My House)
  • It’s Time for the Reign of God
  • Faithful One
  • Everlasting
  • Creation Calls
  • Light The Fire Again
  • You Shine
  • and 84 other CCLI-listed songs

Some of these songs, and some I didn’t know, become the chapter titles for this book and are used as a springboard for discussion about what it means to live a life of worship to God, and also the worship songwriting process itself.   On many chapters, I found the songs playing as on a loop in my head, providing a background soundtrack to reading the book.   (Maybe someday that technology will exist as you begin a new chapter, the appropriate song will play…)

Doerksen - Today DVDFurthermore, although I’ve missed hearing Brian live, getting to know his voice and spoken mannerisms from the Today live worship DVD resulted in almost hearing him speak the words right off the page.    I questioned getting the DVD, since I already had the CD, but it has proved to be one of my all time favorite visual worship experiences.   The book Make Love, Make War is the next natural progression, deeper into the heart of Brian’s love for his heavenly father, though if you currently own neither, don’t let that dissuade you from the book..

The book is part worship textbook, part autobiographical.   It is in places humorous and at other places deeply serious.    It is partly intended for worship music personnel at local churches — especially with its technical and practical tips for musicians at the end of each chapter — and also intended for the average person who seeks after God.

In many of our churches, the worship component involves half or more of the total time spent “at church.”   Towards the end, Doerksen suggests:

“…we send people away to Bible school and seminary for years to learn the Scriptures and how to preach.  And upon their return they preach sermons, which people often promptly forget.   But there are very few theological schools designed to help modern artists and worship songwriters learn the Scriptures and biblical theology; we just tell them to write a song we can sing in church.  Maybe it’s the songwriters who should study the most — because the lyrics of the songs are what really stick with us.”

In an excellent analogy — again towards the end of the book — he compares worship leaders to the Best Man at a wedding, leading the introduction of Bride (the church) and Groom (the Father), and then quickly getting out of the way.

DoerksenElsewhere he despairs over pastors who encourage worship leaders to include something “lively” or “up tempo,” when the heart of the Psalms is often woeful lament.   His admiration for principal Psalmist King David — he just calls him Dave — is repeated throughout the book.   He admits that sometimes, following after his role model, his song themes and lyrical choices have been met with criticism.    This does not deter him; he feels he is living out the particular worship role for which God has chosen him.

Lord willing, Brian Doerksen will keep giving the church new musical worship material; but I also hope this isn’t the last time we see his name on a book.   He has much to teach us about our relationship with the Father.

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