links: this went thru my mind


Christmas, culture & devotion: The Real War on Christmas

“The so-called war on Christmas rages on. … When Jesus is primarily just ‘the reason for the season,’ he’s just like that box of Christmas ornaments I keep in my attic. When the season starts, I pull him out, dust him off, and display him loudly and proudly. While the season progresses, I attend to him daily. But when the season is over, I can pack him back up and put him away someplace removed from my daily life. He goes from the middle of my life to the margin of my life relatively quickly.”

Communication: 5 Don’ts of Healthy Communication

“We are all guilty or some of these at times.”

Early Christianity: Social Description of Early Christians/Christianity

“… although this will hardly be news to anyone familiar with scholarly work of the last several decades, I thought it perhaps helpful to point to this work for others.  Essentially, a continuing line of studies has shown from various types of evidence that early Christian circles were comprised of people of a variety of social levels.  To be sure, we have indications that some were very poor and some were slaves.  So, the old stereotype was not totally wrong, just a stereotype, and so wrong.”

Marriage: Marriage Isn’t for You [essential reading]

“Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me. Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.”

Money, oppression & payday loans: I Applied For An Online Payday Loan. Here’s What Happened Next

“Payday lenders made about $49 billion in high-interest loans last year. More than a third of those loans were made online. I wondered what happens when you apply for such a loan, so I decided to find out.”

Parenting: Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children [essential reading]

“I am moved to write this by watching young children pay no attention to their parents’ requests, with no consequences. Parents tell a child two or three times to sit or stop and come or go, and after the third disobedience, they laughingly bribe the child. This may or may not get the behavior desired.”

Rest: Are There Any Christians Who Take a Day of Rest Anymore? [required reading]

“There is perhaps no single thing that could better help us recover Jesus’ lordship in our frantic, power-hungry world than to allow him to be Lord of our rest as well as our work. The challenge is disarmingly simple: one day a week, not to do anything that we know to be work.”

Short-term missions: Doing Short-Term Missions Well (parts 1 & 2)

“… how can we do STM in a way that provides a worthwhile blessing to those we serve without creating a problem?”

devoted: the eyes have it


NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow, Nov. 4. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning entitled Devoted: The Eyes Have It. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture quotations below are from the Common English Bible (CEB)


To explore what it means to devote our eyes, our vision, to God.


• The woman saw that the tree was beautiful with delicious food and that the tree would provide wisdom, so she took some of its fruit and ate it, and also gave some to her husband … (Gen. 3.6)

• Lot looked up and saw the entire Jordan Valley. (Gen. 13.10)

• Then he brought Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them. He continued, “This is how many children you will have.” (Gen. 15.5)

• Don’t take a bribe, because a bribe blinds the clear-sighted … (Exodus 23.8)

• How is it that I’ve found favor in your eyes, that you notice me? I’m an immigrant. (Ruth 2.10)

• I’ve made a covenant with my eyes; how could I look at a virgin? (Job 31.1)

• Those who look to God will shine; their faces are never ashamed. (Psalm 34.5)

• Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things. Make me live by your way. (Psalm 119.37)

• There are six things that the Lord hates, seven things detestable to him: snobbish eyes … (Prov. 6.16-17a)

• The poor and their oppressors have a common bond—the LORD gives light to the eyes of both. (Prov. 29.13)

• An eye that mocks a father … may the ravens of the river valley peck it out … (Prov. 30.17)

• The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. (Matt. 6.22-23)

• No one who puts a hand on the plow and looks back is fit for God’s kingdom. (Luke 9.62)

• No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father. (John 6.46)

• … why do you look down on your brother or sister? We all will stand in front of the judgment seat of God. (Rom. 14.10)

• We always carry Jesus’ death around … so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies. (2 Cor. 4.10)

• I’m happy to see the discipline and stability of your faith in Christ. (Col. 2.5)

• Let’s … get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer … (Heb. 12.1-2)

• Pursue the goal of peace along with everyone—and holiness as well, because no one will see the Lord without it. (Heb. 12.14)

• Everything that is in the world … the craving for whatever the eyes see … is of the world. (1 John 2.16)

• … if a person has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need and that person doesn’t care—how can the love of God remain in him? (1 John 3.17)


Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. When you first meet someone and you’re trying to “get a read” of them, what visual clues do you look for?

2. What things do you have an eye for? That is, what things will cause you to give a double-take?


These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Job says he “made a covenant with his eyes” (Job 31.1)? Of what might such a covenant consist?

2. Luke 9.62. What happens to the crop row when you look back while plowing? What is Jesus’ point here?

3. What sort of things depict “discipline and stability” of “faith in Christ” in a church’s life (Col. 2.5)?

4. Heb. 12.1-2. What all might the author of Hebrews meant for the original audience by the phrase “Let us … fix our eyes on Jesus?” Consider similar statements the author makes (e.g. – Heb. 2.9,12-14; 4.13-16; etc.).


These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. What events do you recall in Christ’s life where the Gospels explicitly mention Jesus looking at someone?

2. What have others told you about your eyes (and/or how you use them) that has affected your use of them?

3. What do you see that consistently brings peace to you? What do you see often that disturbs you?

4. Our habits of prayer affect the way we talk with people. What habits of sight affect the way we see people?

5. We think about training our ears as to how, and to what, to listen. How can a person train their eyes?

6. Someone asks your advice on defeating a visually-activated sin (covetousness, porn, etc.). What do you say?

7 things you can do to bless your church family


Officially place membership. That is, put down roots in a particular congregation and let the leadership know you want to be considered a part of the flock there. Your decisiveness in doing so will not only help you in your development of a sense of belonging and responsibility, but will aid that congregation’s leaders as they seek to lead the flock there well and to shepherd your life with purpose.

Know that where you park makes a difference to others. Don’t park close to the building unless you must. Deliberately park in the back half of the parking lot, leaving the half closest to the building available for guests, the handicapped, and others. Are your knees and hips still good? Good, park a little further and leave the closer spots for those whose joints aren’t nearly so good as yours. It doesn’t just make good sense to do so, it’s a part of considering others before yourself, right (Rom. 12)?

What’s true for parking also holds true for seating. Unless you have a special need, deliberately sit further in on the pew or the row, deliberately leaving the aisle seats available for guests and those who truly need such. Sit a little closer to the front, too, deliberately leaving seating at the rear available for latecomers, etc. That simple, physical act will help impress on your mind that as Christ served/serves you, you’re to be a servant of others in every way. Your obvious display of attention and interest will also strongly encourage all who lead the gatherings, too. This is a win-win-win for all.

Take five. Meaning take the first five minutes following the conclusion of a gathering to either greet newcomers, to encourage those who are there that day, but who are rarely there on other occasions, or to be present with those you’ve just learned of having a deep need in their life. Pray tell, what could possibly be more important during those five minutes?

Keep folks in the loop as to where you are. How many times have you has a conversation like the following? “Where’s Joe & Suzanne?” ” I don’t know.” “Me neither.” “Been a couple of weeks, hasn’t it?” “Seems like it.” “I hope everything’s good.” “Me too.” “Maybe we’ll see them next week.” “Maybe so.” Or maybe not. Better, when you let folks know where you’re at, you not only do right by your own need for accountability and prayer, you do right by those who care for you by removing a concern and replacing it with knowledge, love, and care. Not many folks deliberately try to slip through the cracks into inactivity or invisibility and though you might think such could never be you, it could. So be pro-active in building up your defenses against becoming so. Instead of just being there when you can or waiting on others to seek you out when you’re not, make the first move yourself. Keep church leaders posted as to your whereabouts.

Remember that money matters. So either double-up ahead of time before you go out-of-town or make up your contribution when you come back home from that business trip, vacation, or wherever life takes you. Do it without fail for while you were gone, the bills continued on. No, it’s not all about money, but it is about being a responsible, dependable steward of, and support to, all ministry done in the name of Christ.

Spend regular time interceding with God. Everyone in your church family needs your prayers, not just those who are on the sick list this week. Every ministry in the congregation can benefit from your praise to, and intercession with, the Father, not just the one that’s in the spotlight at the moment. Every action your church helps support elsewhere – be it a mission point, a benevolent work or whatever – should be included in your conversations with Christ, not just the ones that are clearly experiencing a harvest time at this time. As you make yourself aware of the good efforts and actions of others, you’ll find yourself more motivated and stimulated, as well as sharpened and made wiser, as to your own. And a better you makes for a healthier body of Christ overall.

this went thru my mind


Boredom & youth: Engaged in the Fascinating by Terry Rush

“… as a kid I wanted nothing to do with churches when I got older because of one thing; superficially boring. What has changed my perspective?”

Facebook: Facebook May Let Kids Under 13 Join With Parent’s Help by Ruger Yu

“Facebook is really going after the youth market.”

Frisbee: Frisbee – God’s Favorite Sport by Jon Acuff

“You’ve had that same thought too right? I’m not the only one am I?”

Preaching: If I Could Just Preach What I Really Believe … by Dan Bouchelle

“One of the secret dreams of many preachers and missionaries is having the freedom to preach exactly what they believe about every subject. Because few of us started a work from scratch, almost all of us find ourselves in a community of faith with some deeply ingrained beliefs and practices with which we disagree.”

Productivity: Five Ways to Cope With the Productivity Squeeze by Glynn Young

“The reality is that virtually all of us work jobs that used to be done by at least two or three people.”

Resurrection of Jesus: Things Which Ought to Be Better Known about the Resurrection (video)

“The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the central tenets of Christian faith. Yet Dr. Peter Williams is concerned that there are some important details the average Christian doesn’t understand very well. So, in this video lecture, he walks us through some of those issues.”

Sermons: 3 Questions to Ask When You Hear a Sermon by Wayne Stiles

“Even Jesus had listeners who missed it.”

Standing desks: * Best Standing Desks by Mark Lukach; * Ernest Hemingway’s Standing Desk [I use the exact same arrangement as Hemingway; now if I could only write like him]

* “… why would I want to buy a standing desk at all?”

* “Other famous users of standing desks included Winston Churchill, Lewis Carroll, Donald Rumsfeld, Charles Dickens, Otto von Bismarck, Henry Clay, Thomas Jefferson, John Dos Passos, and Virginia Woolf.”