links: this went thru my mind


Beggars, the poor & the marginalized: Beggars in Mark

“The stories that end this chapter are about beggars, people who in desperate need. They are angry with life or with Satan, but not with Jesus. Life has not followed the rules with them—it has treated them and those they love unfairly—and they are not particularly concerned that Jesus doesn’t always color within the lines. In fact, they are quite hopeful that (with those they love) Jesus can stretch outside of normal boundaries and accomplish something beyond the ordinary.”

Bible reading: How the World’s Top 10 Countries Search the Bible Differently

“Two of the four ‘implications of the search for truth’ noted in the study: Are pastors and missionaries preaching too much from Paul? Too little from the Old Testament?”

Idolatry: If Daniel 3 Were Written Today

“Beloved countrymen, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can sustain us in the event we are being marginalized, cast aside, and silenced, and He can rescue us from craving approval from the rest of our society. But even if He does not protect us from your penalties and fines, we want you as a society to know that we will not serve your gods or celebrate the gold statue you set up.”

Ministry: Just What Does a Minister Do Anyway?

“I don’t suppose there is an easier target for criticism or maybe jokestering than that of a minister.”

Parenting: 7 Ways Parents Injure a Child — Without Even Knowing It

“… looking back, I can see some of these we were guilty of doing — and I remain thankful for God’s grace in spite of me.”

Racism & reconciliation: Ok, White Folks, Here’s How You Can Really Help! [required reading]

“Young man we appreciate your support and energy but really the best thing you can do for our movement is to go back to your churches, families, communities and friends and share the truth you have heard today.  It is the education of your own race, which will be the biggest catalyst for change in reconciling all races and bringing the kingdom value of racial unity and harmony into existence.”

links: this went thru my mind



Bible reading: 3 Biggest Reasons Bible Reading is Down

“Bible reading is down because people read it in fragments, a-historically, and in isolation.”

Christianity, communication, disagreement, influence, love, relationships & words: Civil Religion Can We Talk? [essential reading]

“… we need to assume goodwill and generosity on the part of others, no matter how wrong we might thing they are. For the sake of having better conversations, and for the pursuit of truth, we have to be able to admit we don’t have it all, After all, if we want to be heard, we have to learn how to listen. So what do you say, Can we talk?”

Culture, history & the United States: I Hope We Never Become a ‘Christian Nation’ Again

* “In reality, Christianity in America may not have the same political, social, and corporate authority it did in the past, but Jesus never intended to spread the gospel message through political strength or domineering control. The problem with people claiming that America used to be a Christian nation is that, well, it never was.”

Creation, nature & stewardship: Stewardship: Being in and Working with Creation

“We use the world’s resources, but the trick is to use them wisely, and with a careful, conservative sense of balance. That’s the difficulty of stewardship. When we use up resources — the resources God gave us — with abandon and without care, the results aren’t pretty. We can never really grow it back. That’s the thing about nature; we can manage it well, but we can’t create it from scratch. Only God can do that. Stewardship is the balanced middle way — it’s not ‘use it up and move on to the next,’ but it’s also not untouched nature for nature’s sake.”

Discouragement, encouragement, ministry & support: 5 Ways to Discourage Your Pastor

“As a pastor of a local church for over twenty-five years, I had my share of buildups and letdowns. Sometimes I recall the discouraging times more. I know that I was not supposed to get down because of people and circumstances, but it happens. I also know that the people who discouraged me did not always mean to do so. But it happened. The purpose of this post is to let you in on a few things to avoid (unless you want to discourage your pastor). If you are bent on discouraging him or her, here are 5 surefire ways of doing so.”

God, suffering, tests, and trials: God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle. I Guarantee It. [essential reading]

“There’s a certain phrase I’ve come to really dislike. … ‘God will never give you more than you can handle’ is the phrase I’m referring to.”

Parenting: Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

“It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while.”

Parenting & social media: Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture At A Time

“Public shaming is awful and is nothing less than societally sanctioned parental bullying. Especially harmful to the young people against whom it is used as a weapon, the ramifications will resonate throughout their lives. They aren’t as tough as we pretend we are.”

Social media: 5 Reasons Social Media is Dangerous For Me [required reading]

“I went on an internet fast recently – I spent 40 days without logging on to anything. Here is what I learned about how I had allowed social media to change me over the years.”

links: this went thru my mind


Animals & creation care: * Animal Welfare [17 min. video; essential viewing]; * Should Christians Care about Animal Welfare?

* “Should cruelty to animals matter to the church? … Animals live not for us alone.”

* “… my daughter Jaclyn says I need to think more on this. Her favorite verse is Proverbs 12:10, ‘A righteous man cares about his animal’s health.’”

Bible reading & verse-sharing: Sorry, John 3:16: The Top 10 Bible Verses YouVersion Shared Most in 2013

“The Bible verse that was ‘bookmarked, highlighted, and shared … more than any other verse” in 2013′ Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Rounding out the top five: Isaiah 40:31, Matthew 6:13, Joshua 1:9, and Philippians 4:6. By comparison, the Bible’s most-read chapter was Romans 8—’read 4 times per second in 2013,’ notes YouVersion. The other top chapters were Romans 12, Matthew 5, 1 John 4, and Hebrews 12.”

Brains, birds & memory: What Chickadees Have That I Want. Badly

“They grow more brain when they need to remember things; then shrink that brain when the ‘remembering’ season ends. … ‘If you count the cells in a chickadee brain before the fall, and then count them after … the number of neurons definitely goes up in the hippocampus, and a number of us have confirmed that (including my lab).’”

Bullying, children & parenting: Responding to Bullies [7 1/2 min. video]

“Greg [Boyd] answers a question from parents as to how their child should respond to a bully.”

Conservation, creation care, environment & pollution: Rivers’ garbageman named CNN Hero of the Year

“I saw thousands of barrels, thousands of tires, cars, trucks and tops of school buses. … I got sick of seeing it and just wanted to do something about it.”

the Christ house: Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus & Philemon


The-Christ-HouseThis month, we wind up our year-long reading of the New Testament. We’ve read the NT at a deliberately leisurely pace of one chapter per day so as to take special note of what is specifically said about Jesus Christ. As we’ve read, we’ve memorized one verse about the Christ from each of the New Testament books; a “Christ verse.”

During the first 22 days of December we’ll read the letters of Paul that we know today as 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Come the last week of this year (Dec. 23-31), we’ll reflect on all we’ve read this month. The Christ verses to memorize as we read through these letters in December are:

  • “Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5.18)
  • “May the Lord lead your hearts to express God’s love and Christ’s endurance.” (2 Thes. 3.5)
  • “This saying is reliable and deserves full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I’m the biggest sinner of all.” (1 Tim. 1.15)
  • “… anyone who wants to live a holy life in Christ Jesus will be harassed.” (2 Tim. 3.12)
  • “… we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2.13)
  • “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” (Philemon 25)

Dec. 1 – 1 Thessalonians 1
Dec. 2 – 1 Thessalonians 2
Dec. 3 – 1 Thessalonians 3
Dec. 4 – 1 Thessalonians 4
Dec. 5 – 1 Thessalonians 5
Dec. 6 – 2 Thessalonians 1
Dec. 7 – 2 Thessalonians 2
Dec. 8 – 2 Thessalonians 3
Dec. 9 – 1 Timothy 1
Dec. 10 – 1 Timothy 2
Dec. 11 – 1 Timothy 3
Dec. 12 – 1 Timothy 4
Dec. 13 – 1 Timothy 5
Dec. 14 – 1 Timothy 6
Dec. 15 – 2 Timothy 1
Dec. 16 – 2 Timothy 2
Dec. 17 – 2 Timothy 3
Dec. 18 – 2 Timothy 4
Dec. 19 – Titus 1
Dec. 20 – Titus 2
Dec. 21 – Titus 3
Dec. 22 – Philemon
Dec. 23-31 – reflection

You can easily read these letters of Paul online in any of a multitude of translations on BibleGateway. Here’s a link to today’s reading: 1 Thessalonians 1.

I pray your experience this year with this portion of God’s word has been a blessing to you in many, and powerful, ways. May we ever be students, and servants, of the word. Amen.

this went thru my mind


Children, parenting & technology: * The Bible App for Kids [essential notice; by the Makers of YouVersion]; * 10 Social Networks You Didn’t Know Kids are Using

* “Help your kids fall in love with God’s word.”

* “Hats off to you for paying attention to what your kids are doing online and on their phones …”

Culture & the U.S.: Forget The 50 States; The U.S. Is Really 11 Nations, Author Says

“… Colin Woodard … has studied American voting patterns, demographics and public opinion polls going back to the days of the first settlers, and says that his research shows America is really made up of 11 different nations.”

Gifts & giving: The Gift of Not Giving a Thing [required reading]

“What if nobody gave my boys presents anymore? What if we only gave GIFTS.”

Healthcare: Some Thoughts About the Affordable Care Act

“There is a huge–HUGE–gap in our safety net because health insurance is tied to full-time employment. Too many employers can game the system by hiring people just under full-time, making American workers work two jobs without getting insurance (or related benefits) from either employer. To say nothing of those who aren’t employed or who would like to get private insurance but have preexisting conditions. The fact that you have to go through insurance companies to get healthcare in American is hugely problematic. Too many people are left out of the system. It needs to get fixed.”

Marriage: Are These Enemies of Marriage in Your House?

“Run from these enemies.”

Ministry & parenting: Prodigal Pastor Kids: Fact or Fiction?

“… where does this stereotype of the prodigal pastor kid come from?”

Preaching: * The Weekly Emotional Process of Sermon Preparation … [Amen!]; * When Good Pastors Preach Boring Sermons

* “It goes something like this …”

* “Instead of becoming dissatisfied with our churches and forsaking them to listen to podcasts of our favorite “celebrity” preachers, I would like to suggest a couple of thoughts to consider.”

Simplicity: Simple Living. The Earlier, the Better. [required reading]

“When I was 33 years old, we began giving away all the possessions in our lives that were not absolutely essential to our purpose and goals. Eventually, our family removed over 60% of our earthly possessions. And we couldn’t be happier. We found more time, money, and energy to pursue the things in life most valuable to us: faith, family, and friends. We discovered far greater fulfillment in life pursuing our passions than we had ever discovered pursuing possessions. And now, my only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner—that we wasted so much time, so many years, and so many resources.”

the Christ house: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians & Colossians


The-Christ-HouseParticipating MoSt Church members are reading through the New Testament this year at the pace of one chapter per day. We call this project The Christ House (TCH) because as we read, we’re paying special attention to everything that is said about Jesus Christ. As we read, we also determine to memorize one verse about the Christ from each book of the New Testament. We call these memory verses “Christ verses.”

During the first 20 days of November we’re reading the letters of Paul that we know today as Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Come the end of the month (Nov. 21-30), we’ll reflect on all we’ve read. The Christ verses to memorize as we read through these letters are:

  • “… a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 2.16)
  • “This is what God planned for the climax of all times: to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth.” (Ephesians 1.10)
  • “God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake.” (Philippians 1.29)
  • “All the fullness of deity lives in Christ’s body.” (Colossians 2.9)

Nov. 1 – Gal. 1
Nov. 2 – Gal. 2
Nov. 3 – Gal. 3
Nov. 4 – Gal. 4
Nov. 5 – Gal. 5
Nov. 6 – Gal. 6
Nov. 7 – Eph. 1
Nov. 8 – Eph. 2
Nov. 9 – Eph. 3
Nov. 10 – Eph. 4
Nov. 11 – Eph. 5
Nov. 12 – Eph. 6
Nov. 13 – Phil. 1
Nov. 14 – Phil. 2
Nov. 15 – Phil. 3
Nov. 16 – Phil. 4
Nov. 17 – Col. 1
Nov. 18 – Col. 2
Nov. 19 – Col. 3
Nov. 20 – Col. 4
Nov. 21-30 – reflection

You can easily read Paul’s letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians online in any of a multitude of translations on BibleGateway. Here’s a link to today’s reading: Galatians 1.

links: this went thru my mind


Bible reading, discipleship, meaning & understanding: 7 Arrows for Bible Reading [essential reading]

“We did not want our people to simply talk about the Bible. We wanted them to understand the Bible and know how to apply it to their lives.”

Christian faith & culture: * I Don’t Miss Mayberry. . . And Neither Should You!; * 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 – Praying with Heads Covered

* “… I don’t know why Christians would long for any idyllic American culture, be it the traditional culture that Mayberry represents or the more progressive culture that America has seemingly become.”

* “If the problem that is at the heart of the veiling of men / unveiling of women is taking worship cues from the pagan world, then there is a most serious application … it is possible that the American church has taken its cues from the pagan world rather than from the Bible.”

Ecology & environment: The Ocean is Broken

“I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen. In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.”

Mormonism: A Brigham Young University Professor’s Escape from Mormonism

“Like me, he no longer believed that Joseph Smith, the polygamist founder of the Mormon church, was a prophet of God.”

Politics: Is It Time for Post-Partisan Politics?

“… perhaps now, we have finally tired of the foolish antics of Congress and will be motivated to imagine a new sorts of politics that begins in our local neighborhoods.”