this went thru my mind


Aging: Aging Well with Dr. Dan Blazer, Part 2: Successful Aging by Christine Scheller

“The perception of old age as a depressing season of life, however, is not confirmed in scientific studies of the elderly, Blazer concluded. Instead studies consistently show that only about 15 percent of older adults exhibit depressive symptoms.”

Application: How to Apply Scripture When It Does Not Speak Directly and Personally to You by Justin Taylor

“… we believe that ‘all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.’ But sometimes it is hard to see how.”

Apps: * Our New App, Evernote Hello, Will Help You Remember People; * Evernote Hello: The iPhone App All Youth Pastors Need

“Evernote Hello is based around the three fundamental ways that our brains actually remember people: (1) Faces – What do you look like?, (2) Time – When did we meet?, and (3) Context – Why did we meet and who else was there?”

Attitude: * How a Shift in Your Vocabulary Can Instantly Change Your Attitude by Michael Hyatt; * It’s Not That I Have To; It’s That I Get To by Chaplain Mike

“The first expression (i.e., I have to do it) is the language of duty. Nothing wrong with that. I am all for responsibility. But too often, we say it with a sigh, like it’s a sentence—or we are a victim. The second expression (i.e., I get to do it) is the language of privilege. It is as if we have been given a gift, and we are relishing the opportunity. This subtle shift may seem small, but it has had a big impact on my attitude. I am choosing the language of privilege every chance I get.”

Bible interpretation & study: * Why Studying the Bible Won’t (Necessarily) Change Your Life by Trevin Wax; * Paul’s Example on How to Deal with Silence in Scriptures by Matt Dabbs

“Bible study alone is not what transforms your life. Jesus transforms your life.”

Bible translation: An Evaluation of the 2011 Edition of the New International Version by Rodney J. Decker

“There is no one translation that is best in every situation.”

Church: Why Do People Stay? by Joe McKeever

“We have two kinds of people in our churches today: those who flit from church to church, never putting down roots or establishing relationships and finding their ministries, and those who will stay in a church regardless. It’s the second group that puzzles me.”

Christmas: * For Those Who are Hurting This Christmas Season by Thom Rainer; * Frankincense Comes From a Tree by Ferrell Jenkins; * Some Things You May Not Hear About Myrrh in a Sermon by Ferrell Jenkins

“In the midst of our own pain, we have the hope and promise of the gospel. May we ever be messengers of that gospel to those who are hurting and need to see that hope.”

Death: 10 Signs Death is Approaching by Paula Spencer Scott

“Not all dying symptoms show up in every person, but most people experience some combination of the following in the final days or hours …”

Heroes: Five Ways You Can Become An Everyday Hero by Michael Hyatt

“It’s easy to underestimate the power of one person’s influence. We think, What can I do? I am only one person. The truth is that each of us wields far more power than we could possibly imagine. However, most of us have never discovered this—or we have forgotten it.”

Iraq war: Iraq Ledger: War by the Numbers

“Coalition deaths totaled 4,803, of which 4,484 (93 percent) were American. The number of Americans wounded was 32,200. At least 463 non-Iraqi contractors were killed. Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated to total between 103,674 and 113,265. … the war resulted in 1.24 million internally displaced persons and more than 1.6 million refugees.”

Islam: How to Respond to Our All-American Muslim Neighbors by Margot Starbuck

“… pursue an authentic relationship with a person in your community who practices Islam. Now that would be radical.”

Loving one’s enemies: Hating Pixels: A Modern Day Reflection on the Sermon on the Mount by Richard Beck

“Might the souls of my liberal friends be hanging in the balance depending upon how they love (or fail to love) Sarah Palin? Might the souls of my conservative friends be hanging in the balance depending upon how they love (or fail to love) Barack Obama?”

Marriage: Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married – A Record Low (Pew Research)

“In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are.”

Moving forward: New Year: 4 Ways to Move Ahead Instead of Remaining Stuck by Jim Martin

“Maybe some of us do not grow, develop, or mature because we rarely address the reality of our lives. Maybe we have allowed ‘but’ to excuse our behavior. The following are 4 ways to move ahead into this New Year instead of remaining stuck.”

Politics: 48% – The Generations and Politics: Who Was Our Best President? (Pew Research)

“When asked which president has done the best job in their lifetime, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the two most popular choices. Sizeable numbers in each of the four generational groups — including majorities of Millennials and Gen Xers — cite Clinton as either their first or second choice on the ‘best president’ question.”

Productivity: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less by Tony Schwartz

“… increased rest and renewal serve performance.”

Silence & solitude: Just Sit There by Peter Enns

“Why is it so hard to be alone?”

Women: Women and the Public Reading of Scripture by Scot McKnight

“Anyone who says reading Scripture is a teaching ministry is just making stuff up. Reading is reading and teaching is teaching, and preaching is preaching, and prophesying is prophesying, but reading is not teaching, preaching or prophesying. Women were prophets, women were apostles, women were teachers – this is all in the New Testament. That more than qualifies them for the public reading of Scripture.”

power to the people! (aka: 7 reasons why I switched to the Common English Bible)


1. For years I’ve longed for a translation of the Bible that speaks with an English vocabulary somewhere between the Contemporary English Version (CEV) and the Today’s New International Version (TNIV). The Common English Bible (CEB) does just that. Clarity for the people!

2. For quite awhile now I’ve wanted to see a rendering of the word make frequent and consistent use of some of the Biblical scholarship that I’ve greatly benefited from and have been blessed by. The CEB has done that. Scholarship for the people!

3. For years now I’ve wanted to see a fresh translation of Scripture from the ground up, not merely a reworking of an existing translation or version. The CEB is precisely that. Freshness for the people!

4. For sometime now I’ve been growing increasingly unhappy with Zondervan’s handling of the whole TNIV/NIV business. I finally got disgusted enough that I decided to jump ship (understand, the NIV and TNIV have been my default Bibles in years past). The CEB appears to have a more open and authentic base to it. Authenticity to the people!

5. For quite a spell I’ve wished to see a committee-based translation have the nerve (and backing from the publisher) to make some truly bold, original renderings of the Biblical text as has been the case in recent years among some single-translator renderings of the Bible. The CEB does that. Courage for the people!

6. For years I’ve wished for a solid Bible translation to appear that the publisher was confident about to truly support that they would share with all a general timeline of the anticipated publication dates of various editions (i.e. – supporting reference works, pew Bibles, study Bibles, audio Bibles, etc.). The publishers of the CEB have done just that. Planning for the people!

7. For a very long time I’ve yearned for all of the preceding to funnel into a translation that also includes in its work the Apocrypha. The Common English Bible (CEB) offers editions that include the Apocrypha. Knowledge for the people!

5 things to look for as you shop for a Bible


When I say “a Bible,” I mean your go-to Bible. With that in view, let me suggest five factors you need to consider as you choose a new bread-and-butter English Bible.

1. Your primary Bible should be the product of a committee. There are some fine one-person translations and paraphrases on the market. I enjoy N.T. Wright’s The Kingdom New Testament and Eugene Peterson’s The Message. Such renderings have their place. However, no one person can begin to equal the knowledge and skills of a team of linguists, translators, etc. “Two heads are better than one.” And for an everyday Bible that will be the one from which you do most of your study, you’ll want to be surrounded by all the wise counsel possible.

2. Your Bible should aim for the twin goals of accuracy and readability. Many translations lean hard one way or the other and for good reason: this is a tough balancing act. Still, expect your Bible’s translation team to walk the highwire and avoid falling off to the left into inaccuracy or off to the right into obscurity.

3. The committee responsible for your Bible should come from different places on the theological and denominational grid. Let no one tell you otherwise: translation involves interpretation. Different people see things different ways for they look at things from different perspectives. If you want a Bible that simply underscores your current theological take on things, I’m sure there’s one out there for you. But if you want to do to more than just hear and tow the party line, you need a Bible that cuts across denominational lines.

4. Your Bible should be the product of serious, proven, current scholarship. If you were buying tools, money was no object, and you had your choice of Sears good, better, or best, which would you select? It’s obvious, right? What about speakers? Someone who might know what they’re talking about, someone who is truly knowledgeable, or one of the most knowledgeable leaders in their field? Clearly. Now if you must make a choice between good scholarship, better scholarship, or the very best of Biblical scholarship in a Bible translation, which will you choose? I thought so.

5. Your Bible should boldly value meaningful translation over marketing advantage. Some translations do a fine job of translating a great portion of the Biblical text, but are reluctant to revisit the wording of some of the best known Scripture passages, word, or phrases. This is often not the fault or even the desire of the version’s translation team, but is the result of the expectations connected with marketing and the parameters set by the publisher. Don’t be naive. Do your homework.

Now I can name a number of Bibles that meet three or even four of those criteria; however, precious few can meet all five. The fifth criteria – boldly value meaningful translation over marketing advantage – is the hurdle a number of contenders can’t clear. But the Common English Bible (CEB) not only meets all of these criteria, but clears the hurdles with plenty of room to spare. Go through them with me and see for yourself.

1. “Your Bible should be the product of a committee.” The CEB is the result of a collaboration of 120 academic scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world. Or as Paul Franklyn, associate publisher for the Common English Bible put it: “When we say ‘built on common ground,’ we mean that the Common English Bible is the result of collaboration between opposites: scholars working with average readers; conservatives working with liberals; teens working with retirees; men working with women; many denominations and many ethnicities coming together around the common goal of creating a vibrant and clear translation for 21st century readers, with the ultimate objective of mutually accomplishing God’s overall work in the world; in essence, helping Bible readers live on common ground.”

2. “Your Bible should aim for the twin goals of accuracy and readability.” While the reading level of the CEB is comparable to the newspaper USA TODAY it also works hard to capture even the most subtle of nuances in meaning. Being a very recent production, the CEB also has the advantage of not being burdened with words that have changed their meaning over time, fallen into disuse or simply sound dated.

3. “The committee responsible for your Bible should come from different places on the theological and denominational grid.” The CEB is the work of 120 biblical scholars from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, and Latino communities, representing such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others. Or let me just spell it out: Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Evangelical, Episcopal, Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Quaker, Roman Catholic, United Methodist, and more.

4. “Your Bible must be the product of serious, proven, current scholarship.” Merely peruse the translation team of the Common English Bible and you can’t help but be struck with the sheer quantity of members who are outstanding Biblical scholars in their field of expertise. Take for example James Charlesworth, John J. Collins, Raymond Collins, James L. Crenshaw, Peter Davids, David A. deSilva, and Beverly Gaventa. Need more? Consider John Goldingay, Joel B. Green, Richard Hayes, Craig Koester, Tremper Longman, and J. Clinton McCann. Or how about Patrick Miller, Pheme Perkins, Charles Wanamaker, or Walter Wilson? Many of them would be considered by their peers as simply “the best of the best.” The Common English Bible may be easy to read, but it is certainly not the result of slap-dash, simple-minded work.

5. “Your Bible should boldly value meaningful translation over marketing advantage.” Some publishers have ceased production of certain translations or have “backed off” of fresh renderings of specific passages and have stayed with outdated renderings that do not do the most justice to the Biblical text in order to attempt to maintain market share. This is appalling, but it shouldn’t be surprising. That’s another reason I like the Common English Bible. Take for example it’s decision to use the phrase “The Human One” in place of the well known phrase “the Son of Man.” It’s accurate, clear … and gutsy. I like that. Do your homework and be careful in making a choice as to your go-to Bible translation. I’ve selected the Common English Bible. I say “Go and do likewise.”

Question: What are some of the main things you look for when you shop for a new workhorse Bible?

8 of my biggest mistakes as to how I’ve used the Bible


1. I blindly followed people’s advice to “use this version of the Bible because it’s the only right one.” That’s why years ago I started out with the KJV, later switched to the ASV (1901), and then to the NASB. However, language and translation, any language and any translation, are just not such simple matters. If someone ever tells you such and such Bible version is “the only right one,” they’ve given you the wrong advice for they’ve handicapped you by limiting the number of tools available to you. Such limiting advice is about as helpful as telling a fisherman they mustn’t ever fish with anything except topwater lures or telling a cook they can only prepare chicken. I enthusiastically use the Common English Bible daily and heartily recommend it to others, but I’d never claim it is “the only right one” to use or that anyone should use only it. I know the CEB’s translators would say the same. Put it in your toolbox … and use it along with other good tools.

2. I simply accepted what I was told a passage meant without researching the matter myself. I assumed good men and women of long-time faith knew what they were talking about. What I failed to factor in was the fact that we’re all human, no matter how learned, experienced, or sincere. Photocopiers were made to copy; disciples are meant to think. Faith is a journey and thinking is required. The way you’re being led to believe may or may not be right so ever trust, but verify.

3. I decided to not memorize Scripture, but to remember Scripture references instead. My simple-minded reasoning went like this: “If I want to know where something is, I’ll always know where to quickly find it.” The problems with that faulty logic are too numerous to mention, but let me just say here that while recalling references can help you prepare lessons, they won’t feed your mind, reform your life, or sustain your spirit. We need the mind of Christ, not a Google brain. How I wish I had memorized so much more of Scripture in my younger years!

4. I treated Scripture as if the lay of the land of Scripture was flat; as if every word was of equal importance. But the topography of Scripture isn’t flat. There are mountains, steppes, plains, valleys, lakes, rivers, deserts, fields, and more. While all Scripture is Scripture, not all Scripture is created equal nor is it all equally essential to me at any given time in my life. There is a supreme commandment, a second commandment, etc. I’ve done my share of “majoring in minors” and would pray that any and all would avoid falling into that man-made pit.

5. I tried to use Scripture to prove what I wanted to believe. Mind you, I didn’t do that with premeditation, it was simply a logical second step to a preceding problem (blindly accepting what I was told by others). If what I’ve been taught is undeniable, then those undeniable truths become the lenses through which I read Scripture. This is no small thing. You can only see what you see through the lens you wear. It’s one thing to use Scripture to prove what you believe and altogether another to believe Scripture and let it have its way with you and your beliefs, come what may. The former leads you away from God; the latter leads you to him.

6. I left reading my Bible to times I felt like it or felt like I had time for such. In the moments, or even seasons, of such, I would have been adamant that I had no real choice. However, looking back I can see such was simply attempts to justify my lack of self-discipline and my ability to procrastinate on even important matters. Feeding on God’s will is more important than eating is to feed your body. You don’t let your feelings or the clock be your sole determiners of your eating habits so plow through your moods and value listening to God more than emotions or your self-made life schedule.

7. I read my Bible for the sake of others, but not for myself. That is, I spent abundant time with the word of God, but did so for the sake of instructing others. I allowed the paramount importance of spending time in the word “just for me” to be crowded out by good, but lesser things. You can’t really share what you don’t really have yourself so time in the word for yourself isn’t just what’s best for you, but is actually what is best for others.

8. I agreed with Scripture, but I didn’t put it into practice. I became content to understand the teaching of Scripture and to teach such to others, rather than let Scripture teach me and then personally determine to live it out myself first. At best, this is self-deceiving; at worst it’s hypocrisy. If I know what is good, but do not do it, it is sin to me. Even rocks do the Father’s will so I mustn’t trick myself into living as dumb as dirt by not attempting to do what I know pleases my Father.

Question: What are some of the worst mistakes you’ve ever made in regard to how you’ve used your Bible?

7 reasons why I preach from a variety of Bible translations

As I typically put up on projection via Powerpoint the majority of Scripture texts I use in a given sermon, I often, and quite deliberately, make use of a variety of English Bible translations. Though I might reference a dozen or more texts, they might appear from as many as a half a dozen different versions.

Have you ever wondered why I consider this a good thing to do? I think this approach offers a host of pluses, but let me share just a few of them with you here, in no particular order.

1. It “shows my work” to the people and thereby, ups my credibility. In effect, it silently says to those assembled: “Yes church, I’ve done my homework on this passage and looked at it through several different lenses. I’m not flying by the seat of my pants here. You can take this to the bank.”

2. It exposes people to matters many of them would otherwise never be exposed to in Bible study. It asks: “Did you know there’s a whole new world of understanding out there in a different cover? There’s much to learn from actually studying your Bible.”

3. It models good study habits to the church that they can imitate. It tells people: “Here’s a way you can study, not just read your Bible, and you’re already well equipped to do it. It’s as simple as closely comparing the wording of a text in several different translations and pondering what they have in common and how they differ.”

4. It does healthy pastoral work by allowing the pulpit to reflect the variety of renderings used by the variety of people in a flock. For example, it subtly says to that singular user of the Good News for Modern Man, “No, I haven’t forgotten you; we have this in common.”

5. It allows me to utilize the rendering I sense does the best job of conveying the text’s meaning rather than simply using a version because a lot of people do and then having to explain that version’s quirkiness. Think about how many times you’ve had to say something like this: “The rendering of the _____ is unfortunate here because …” Using a variety of translations lets you get back to wrestling the demons that needs to be grappled with, not the translation demons.

6. It injects just another little bit of variety into a sermon and that helps people remain attentive, thinking, and engaged. You’ll know that’s happening when someone comes up to you afterward and says something like: “Hey preacher, I noticed the ____ uses the word ___ and my version, the ____ uses the word ____ and that got me to thinking …”).

7. It helps put the emphasis where it belongs, on the word of God and not on any one “brand” of God’s word. After all, what we’re about is not about a particular version of the Bible, but the “Thus saith the Lord,” right?”

this went through my mind

Bible translation: Ben Witherington interviews N.T. Wright regarding the upcoming publication of Wright’s translation of the New Testament in his post entitled Tom Wright’s ‘Kingdom New Testament.’

Complaining: Trey Morgan’s post entitled Ten Reasons I Don’t Like People Who Complain is good stuff.

Division: Whether or not you’re a regular reader of matters pertaining to the Civil War, you’ll learn from Bill J. Leonard’s post entitled Slavery and Denominational Schism.

Geography: David Escaped to the Cave of Adullam by Ferrell Jenkins.

Humor: The hot weather had me thinking about snow and what should appear in my Google Reader, but some of my favorites from Calvin & Hobbes. Enjoy.

PoliticsIf God Got Elected  is so true and Reconsidering the “Texas Miracle” is so sadly true.

Parenting: Brandon O’Brien’s review of Kara Powell and Chap Clark’s book Sticky Faith is entitled Can Parents Make Faith Last? Brandon says: “The bulk of the book … is dedicated to offering parents and church leaders who work with children and teens wise practical counsel for helping instill in their kids a faith that sticks (hence “sticky”).

Salvation: Dan Bouchelle’s post entitled You Can’t “Obey the Gospel” by Yourself is required reading.

Self-care: Self-care is a Gift to Another by Jim Martin.

Speech: Rhetoric Isn’t a Bad Thing – 16 Rhetorical Devices Regularly Used by Steve Jobs.