Archive for the Recommendations Category

The Amazing World of Blogging

Posted in Community, General, Recommendations on May 10, 2007 by christopherhopper

Howdy small spinning sphere of my influence…

…or at least a perceived influence, how much I actually have is left to be determined.

First off, sorry for the long delay in writing. Following our trip to Europe, I’ve been swamped with playing catch-up, add to that each member of my little clan getting side-swiped with sickness, and you have things that get put on the proverbial “back burner,” blogging being one of them.

In any case, I’m back to my goal of weekly updates. In this issue, it strikes me at how amazing “blogging” has become; the bizzar fact that people would begin to share intimate details about their lives on a global forum, and for the most part not even think about it (BLOG = web log). I guess that opinion comes from being a youth pastor where “MySpace” and “FaceBook” are words of the day; students won’t talk about how they feel in the open…but they’ll MySpace about it (we even have new verbs now). Oddly enough, in one of our local high schools, the police sit in the library, read students blogs, and make arrests, using the information on their site as evidence. It actual stands up in court.

Smart policeman, dumb teen.

My goal today is not to highlight the negative aspects, but those in which blogging is building amazing communities online, infrastructure which is helping to unite people with common vision and pursuit; getting the word out about worthy products and causes; the power of one becoming the power of a throng; even support groups for people that habitually use semicolons too much. (;)

If you shoot on over to the Tsaba House Authors Blog, of which I’m a member, the current two posts, one from Teresa Slack, the next from Molly Nobel Bull, each have to do with “blog tours,” an ingenious concept. The Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour is something I’ve recently joined and seen noted success from in terms fan-based readership. And browsing through any number of the authors listed here on my blog will have you lost for hours in reading. (My biggest problem with browsing people’s blogs?: the amount of time it sucks up from my day…and I don’t even realize it’s gone!).

I recently was “tagged” in a “blog game” by Becky Miller, to list 8 interesting facts about myself, and then tag 8 other friend. The first rule of the game, however, is to post the rules of the game. Here they are:

 

  • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
  • 1.) I never went to college. I had a free ride to a few school, including the Naval Academy (my sudden 20/20 change to 20/200 was pre-laser surgery and prevented me from going), but felt God calling me down a different road.

    2.) I only “really read” four books in high school: Lord of The Flies, Hamlet, Catcher In The Rye, and To Kill A Mockingbird. I hated reading. Why I’m a published author today, only God knows. But needless to say, I finally caught “the reading bug.” (It just takes longer for other people…I’m a late bloomer, OK?).

    3.) My first over seas experience was at age 7. My daddy took me to Portugal for a studio recording project and church ministry tour.

    4.) I had been to over 25 countries by the age of 25.

    5.) I’ve only ever had three formal piano lessons. Reading music was almost as bad as reading books. Why I’m a singer/songwriter with 8 albums out, God only knows. (Perhaps it is that he chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise?).

    6.) My favorite dog was named MacGuyver. He had only three legs and lived 14 wonderful years. (Hey Steve and Jacqui: he was the best dog…)

    7.) I was chased by a wild African ostrich around a tree for ten minutes in the bush of South Africa.

    8.) I used to be terrified of horses. Then I made myself take lessons from a friend for two years, just to get over it. Little did I know that five years later, I would marry a woman who had been riding since she was four. I love you, Jenny!

    What can I say…God knows what He’s doing, even with a book-reading-impaired, music-scoring-challenged, horse-fearing-nut-case guy like me. And if He can change all that in me, imagine what He can do with you!

    Thanks for spending some time with me today,

    CH

    TAG! You’re it! Chris Deanne, Bill Snodgrass, C.S. Harmon, Elliot Hanowski, Gene Curtis, Grace Bridges, Florinda, Hanna Sandvig

    Being Christian Without Being “Christian” (CFSS Blog Tour)

    Posted in Community, General, Ministry, On Writing, Recommendations on February 21, 2007 by christopherhopper

    Yesterday, my friend Jason made a fantastic comment about how we [the greater representative of the Westernized-American Body of Christ] slap the “Christian” tag on everything we do, from businesses to art. It reminds me of a revelation I had recently on the subject of witnessing.

    So often we think that if we don’t mention “Christ dying at Calvary,” and Him being “raised from the dead three days later,” and so on and so forth, that we haven’t accurately witnessed to a lost person. But after re-reading that scripture which says “God is love,” (1 John 4:16) the Holy Spirit taught me a valuable lesson:

    If we haven’t loved someone then we haven’t accurately witnessed.

    To quote Fred Hammond, it’s not so much what we say, it’s mostly what we do. I love Rebecca Miller’s comment on my site yesterday, how Christians are “ghetto-izing” themselves. Granted, I’m posting on behalf of the CHRISTIAN Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour right now. And I rejoice for the title! But here’s my point:

    Wouldn’t it be amazing if our art was categorized because of its excellence and not because of its prefix?

    That day is coming because of people just like you, if you’re reading this and have a heart for the Bride of Christ to rise up, strong and powerful!

    If you are reading any of Jeff Gerke’s material right now, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, please visit his web sites. It’s really encouraging stuff. The guy has a handle on the need for Christians to write modern day parables, and the power they have.

    On yet another subject, Rebecca Miller again just posted this yesterday and I think it opens up a great discussion:

    rebeccaluellamiller Says:
    February 20th, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    “Long way around saying, I do think we ought to lead, but I’m not necessarily sure that             means having the slickest this or that or the latest-and-greatest. Maybe web design needs         to be affordable so churches can have a web presence, for instance. Maybe the movie needs     to be made with volunteer actors (that In the Face of Giants, I think it was called). I don’t         know.

    “I DO think content needs to lead the way. Presentation? I’d like to hear more thoughts on     that.”

    – – –

    What do you think? (FYI: Wayne Thomas Batson already posted a similar theme here. Good reading and some great comments posted by his readers).

    The world has such a strong handle on “presentation” for two reasons: 1.) They know that our culture is conditioned only to buy what looks the best. Call it shallow, but the numbers prove it. And 2.) how people present something directly (or indirectly) speaks of the object’s intrinsic value. Presentation builds credibility.
    Unfortunately, I think there has been a lot of damage done in the world’s view regarding the Church in this; not only must we fight to set a precedent, but in a way, we’re having to make up for the apathy of those before us. Granted, I don’t even think we have to work that hard to do it. But work, we must.

    I agree that our content must lead the way. But I fear that if it’s not presented with the best possible light we can give it, much of it will be passed over. In fact, as important as it is for authors and musicians to make great content, I think creative marketers need to be divinely inspired on how to present it. There are marketers out there (who’s gift it is to present things), who will get new ideas from heaven just on how to market something! A new add campaign, a new media tool, a new ingenious slogan or tour idea.

    In response to Rebecca’s comment, I think “content” and “presentation” will walk hand in hand, a strategy which will set the Church apart, unlike secularism in which “presentation” is everything and “content” is next to nothing.

    The most amazing example of all this, however, is right in front of us and I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss it briefly. On one hand, Jesus was far from what Israel was expecting. His “presentation” was far from desirable. They were looking for a valiant King and a war host following; he came to a manger and rode in on an ass. Yet, conversely, His return “presentation” will leave no doubt that He is who He says He is. All the sceptics will be shut up in that great and glorious day. To this, Rebecca has a fantastic point: in both cases His “content” was bar none.I’d love to hear your comments on this! Thanks for such a great theme, Rebecca!

    And to my dear friend Wayne Thomas Batson, Knight in Arms, Swordbrother of Athera, what a fantastic post yesterday! Y’all need to check it out. I particularly like the picture of Aragorn.

    Tomorrow I’m going to highlight one of the absolute best music albums I’ve heard in years. In my opinion, it’s more Christian than any CCM album has been in a long time, yet the artist has relatively nothing to do with the CCM community, and is signed to one of the largest secular labels in the world.

    Stay tuned! And thanks for spending another few minutes with me today.

    CH

    (PS – Yes Wayne, I guess that would make God Stridex. But only if we can be Jamaican Jerk Sauce).

    If The Map Ends… (CSFF Blog Tour)

    Posted in Community, General, On Writing, Recommendations on February 20, 2007 by christopherhopper

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    If the map ends, how do we pick up the trail? More importantly, who is going to help us? How do we get back on track, or even find the track for that matter?

    Fortunately, this cool guy Jeff Gerke is here to help. Because my post yesterday was more about me than him, and I’m not sure how many readers actually made it to the bottom of my lengthy post to find his link, I thought I’d try and make all the links to both his personal author site as well as his resource site available to you towards the top of today’s post in such a way that you couldn’t miss them no matter how hard you tried by either clicking here or here and being taken to one of his two great sites in the hopes that it may help you or encourage you depending upon which link you click on, for if you click on this one, you may just get both.

    Although he is not a part of the CSFF Blog Tour, I did want to highlight one of the comments left on my site today by Jason Clement. The writer is a dear friend of mine as well as one of the most creative people I know, bar none. And while his comment relates to the web-design end of things, it is very much in line with this month’s theme of Christians leading the way and not following. The comment (below) points out that it’s not just in music or writing that we’re lagging, but even in technology. Again, my point here is not to point a finger and keep it pointed, but to take account of our current state and then look to improve, so much so that we’re no longer trailing behind, but leading.

    The Church as a whole is poised like never before to lead, to take over, and to set precedent. If I didn’t believe in Her, I’d stop writing. And I’m sure you wouldn’t be reading this. She is beautiful and glorious. And She is of God’s design, not mine. Plus, He’s madly in love with Her; that’s why He’s i back. So if I criticize Her, I criticize Him. I have no problem going through a self-examination process (which is what I consider this month to be) in the hopes of making Her (us) more lovely and effective; but I am quite tired of people throwing stones at the Church.

    Stop it! May God convict us all.

    If the Church is so ugly to you, maybe you’re the pimple keeping Her from getting noticed. Get healed or get concealed, because we have a world to save. If not, get popped because you’re too valuable to be toting around so much puss.

    CH

    (Don’t be a pimple!)

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    – – –

    1. Jason Clement Says:
      February 20th, 2007 at 3:27 pm eGreat post! I’ve always been annoyed by the CCM artists sounding very much like secular artists, especially when they are marketed that way…“If you like the Dave Matthews Band, then you’ll love…”

      This brings up my argument on whether or not there should be a “Christian” label for the arts… when there isn’t for anything else. You don’t see a “Christian plumber” or “Christian news anchor” unless you count the “W.W.J.D.” bumper sticker on the plumbers’ van, or the “Jesus-fish” pin on the news anchors coat. Dunno, I could be wrong.

      I guess I don’t see the lack of quality in “Christian” writing, but I also don’t read as much anymore as I should. I do see evidence of the quality issues in my field. The best way I can sum this up is with the mission statement from the gang at Godbit Project.

      The purpose of this site is to help the Church catch up with the rest of the world in adherance to standards given by the World Wide Web Consortium, the governing body of best-practices on the Internet. The majority of Christian web design agencies are using outmoded methods of coding to create websites that the rest of the world would scoff at. Basically, they are stuck in the 1990’s.

      This is so common in fact, that the term “Christian” when associated with the Internet has become synonymous with “sub-par.”

      The good news is that we are starting to make some progress. There are some church web sites starting to show up in design showcases and being recognized for their quality. I have to keep pushing myself to do my part… to press on… to set an everlasting precedent for the world to follow, one that points to the greatness and majesty of the Heavenly Father.

      Check out http://godlycreatives.com/ for some people using “God’s Gifts for His Glory”

    Setting The Standard (CSFF Blog Tour)

    Posted in Community, On Writing, Recommendations on February 19, 2007 by christopherhopper

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    I have been intimately involved with what I will term “the arts” for the past 20 years of my life. Born and raised in a professional recording studio, part of one of the first charismatic churches in the 70’s, and son to highly talented and artistic parents, my life has been anything but dull. Up until I was 13 I thought all churches had dancers, flags, painters, photographers, and rock bands in each service. I was constantly around the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and used to fall asleep under my dad’s giant mixing console in the studio during late-night sessions.

    In my mind, my childhood was the apex, the very pinnacle of creativity and expression. My church set the standards for art, from theater to music, and my family was, and still is, magically gifted. Indeed it was a time in which the Lord taught me something beautiful: that He wanted to be the inspiration behind every work and The One to set precedent for the world to follow. And that He would use His Bride to show off His wonders.

    Around the age of 16, I grew increasingly disturbed about “a trend” I noticed, first in myself, and then in the world around me. I remember that shortly after I recorded my first CD at age 18, I pitched it to Nashville. I sent it to a few family “connections” (something you must have), and felt confidant I would be the next Steven Curtis Chapman within the year.

    Until I didn’t hear back from them.

    Ever.

    I was definitely crushed. It was my dream after all. But it was not God’s dream. And I don’t mean that in terms of His dream for me; while that’s true, it’s much bigger than that.

    We’re talking about God’s dream for His Bride.

    Before I go on, I rejoice that Christ is preached. Period. I don’t care who does it, how they do it, or what motives they are doing it with. There can be no true accounting for the lives that have been touched and changed through the music generated over the last 30 years from Nashville and beyond.

    When no response came from Nashville, my father took me aside and said something that deeply impacted my life. “Son, you’ll never hear back from Nashville. You just don’t fit their mold. You’re not what they’re looking for.”

    At first I was destroyed inside. But when the smoke cleared, I realized the jewel I had received: in order for me to “make it,” I’d have to play to the world’s standard.

    God’s dream for His Bride is not that we’re always to be playing “catch up” with the world. We’re supposed to be the pace-setters, the policy makers, the precedent holders.

    How many Christian albums have you heard that sounded like they were three years behind what some secular artist was doing? How many books have you read that felt as though you had read it before, minus the “God stuff”? Granted, my art must be included among it as I’ve been fighting for over a decade to be heavenly original.

    But I finally feel like I’ve got a hold of something.

    I believe their are secular artists who touch realms in the supernatural that they don’t even know they’re touching. I’ve heard pieces of music that have deeply moved me, even to heavenly places, yet I’m quite certain the artist is not a believer. But how can this be? Would I be a heretic if I dared even say their music was “anointed”?

    As it always happens, I’ve had to return back to scripture for the answers. James 1:17 says that all (ALL) good and perfect gifts are given by the Father. Would anyone dare contest that the gift hidden within the heart of a guitar virtuoso like Joe Satriani is anything but good? Nay, even perfect? And if the giver of that gift is not Himself anointed, that gift is therefore anointed (meaning “to serve”), and accordingly brings great honor to the Gift Giver, whether the artist knows it or not.

    It was for this reason that I began to feel ashamed. Not because I was comparing myself to a Joe Satriani, but I was comparing my level of stewardship with his. Having both been given good gifts from the Father of Lights, whether it be guitar playing or not, it was clear to me that one of us had been a better steward of the gift than the other. Granted, my gift may be in painting or accounting or acting or construction. The point is that we’re both receiving from the same Source, but one of us is setting a higher standard than the other, maybe not in an orthodox “ministry” sense, but certainly in skill, beauty, and overall accomplishment.

    So is it merely in a dedicated and steadfast commitment to excellence that the world is setting the standard over the Church? Or is it in their creativity, too? Here is where I think the Christian has the obvious upper hand. But is it so obvious?

    After a solid reading, and re-reading, of 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, we find some amazing facts about our current state in God’s eyes. How often have you heard someone quote, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”? Probably a lot if you’ve been around Christendom for even a year. But the problem is we hardly ever take into account the next line (how often do we make that error?): “but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”

    Wait a second…

    The things that no one has yet seen or heard about, stuff that no one can imagine, God wants to give those to me?

    No.

    He already has given them to you. When our spirit was awakened to the person of Jesus, summoned by the Holy Spirit to the life which we now live, something marvelous happened: we were given the very mind of Christ (verse 16). And in doing that, our spirit was instantly seated in heavenly places with Christ (Eph. 1:17-20) so that we might have His Spirit of revelation and wisdom.

    If we are three parts, body, soul, and spirit, mirroring the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, then practically that means one third of us, our spirit, is seeing above everything else (right now!) and can inform the other two thirds of us on earth the hidden and secret things of God!

    Christian, this means you have access to things this world can’t even dream of! You can touch the hidden things of God which are yet to be revealed to the eyes and ear and minds of man! So why would you ever want to try and keep pace with what the world produces when you have been positioned to keep pace with what God Himself produces? If you have indeed been made a Son and Daughter of the Most High, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, why would you want anything other than this, your inheritance?

    It is for this reason we press on, as Paul wrote, toward the mark of the high calling of Christ: that we would set an everlasting precedent for the world to follow, one that points to the greatness and majesty of the Heavenly Father. And it’s our birthright. You are the head and not the tail (Deut. 28:13), so don’t trade your inheritance for a bowl of soup. Don’t stoop down to follow when you should be leading. While the world’s dedication for excellence, no expense spared, should at least convict you, causing you to examine your own habits and attitudes, you need not flavor your art with the spice of lesser inspiration.

    Touch the mind of Christ with your spirit. Ask Him. Wait on Him. He died for you to know, and He’s dying to show you.

    As part of the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour, we highlight a different author or blog each week. And it’s very encouraging to know, at least for me, that I’m not alone in my thinking. There are others out there that want the glorious Bride of Christ to stand up and take her place in the world, especially when it comes to creating art. The man I’m highlighting in this months post is Jeff Gerke and his web site WhereTheMapEnds.com

    From his own world-view (which you’ll get in just the first three paragraphs), to his amazing resources (from writing tools to his massive booklist), there are many practical steps and encouraging words that can be gleaned from this brother in the faith.

    Please check it out, and tell him I sent you.

    For other great authors and sites to visit, please review the following. Thank you for reading and spending a few minutes with me today.

    Yours until they have all heard,

    CH
    – – –

    Suggested visiting:

    Nissa Annakindt
    Jim Black
    Grace Bridges
    Jackie Castle
    Valerie Comer
    Karri Compton
    CSFF Blog Tour
    Gene Curtis
    Chris Deanne
    Janey DeMeo
    Tessa Edwards
    April Erwin
    Kameron M. Franklin
    Linda Gilmore
    Beth Goddard
    Marcus Goodyear
    Andrea Graham
    Todd Michael Greene
    Leathel Grody
    Katie Hart
    Sherrie Hibbs
    Sharon Hinck
    Christopher Hopper
    Jason Joyner
    Kait
    Karen
    K. D. Kragen
    Tina Kulesa
    Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 – The Compendium
    Rachel Marks
    Shannon McNear
    Rebecca LuElla Miller
    Eve Nielsen
    John Ottinger
    Robin Parrish
    Cheryl Russel
    Hanna Sandvig
    Mirtika Schultz
    James Somers
    Steve Trower
    Speculative Faith
    Daniel I. Weaver
    Timothy Wise
    D. G. D. Davidson
    John W. Otte
    Nicole