links: this went thru my mind


Atheism, evangelism, outreach & persuasion: How Not to Debate an Atheist

“When you combine the powder keg of Christians proselytizing about Christ and atheists proselytizing about secularism on the Internet, you get an explosion of arguments … Here are some ways I’ve seen these conversations go wrong as a former atheist.”

Capital punishment, death penalty, ethics, faith & Jesus: Albert Mohler Has No Use For Jesus [required reading]

“… obviously there are some things Jesus didn’t talk about…but the death penalty isn’t one. … You see, the challenge all of us face along with Mohler is straightforward: If we talk about Jesus all the time, but when we claim we’re taking a Christian position Christ is nowhere to be found, then there’s nothing actually particularly Christian about our position.”

C.S. Lewis, perspective & progress: Why We Need ‘Dinosaurs’ Like C. S. Lewis

“When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake.”

Evil, Satan, wickedness & the world: Our Beautiful, Nightmarish World

“I honestly don’t see how it is possible to explain how an all-good God could create a cosmos that is this screwed up without accepting that he’s opposed by forces of evil that operate on a cosmic scale. Appealing to human free will alone simply doesn’t cut it.”

Future & technology: A Vision of the Future From Those Likely to Invent It

“Almost two-thirds of Americans think technological change will lead to a better future, while about one-third think people’s lives will be worse as a result, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center. Regardless, expect more change. In a series of interviews, which have been condensed and edited, seven people who are driving this transformation provided a glimpse into the not-too-distant future.”

Television: Television and the Glamorization of Anything It Desires [required reading]

“Watching too much TV can triple our hunger for more possessions while reducing our personal contentment by about 5 percent for every hour a day we watch.”

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.”

this went thru my mind

Church: Someone finally got around to writing that article I’ve always intended to write, but never did. Ever since I first saw what would become one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption, James Whitmore’s character, Brooks, has been on my mind. I thought I had a copyright on the contents in my head, but apparently Dan Bouchelle walked around in there, took some pictures and notes, and then typed it up for all to see … and did a far better job than I could have ever done with it. Thank you, brother. Too Institutionalized to Live on the Outside is brain food.

Church leadership: Todd Rhodes’ post Dirty Little Secret is perfectly honest and spot-on.

Courage: The Freedom Riders. James Zwerg: “I asked God to give me the strength to remain nonviolent and to forgive the people for what they might do.” “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I fear?” If you read no other post here, read this one by Richard Beck … and this one, a follow up.

Covetousness: That’s the topic in most of this coming Sunday morning’s adult Bible classes at MoSt Church as we begin to draw near to the conclusion of our study of the Ten Commandments. Here’s a good illustration of “coveting gone wild” – Is Extreme-Couponing Gluttony or Good Stewardship? by Jerod Clark.

Domestic violence: Why Pastors Struggle With Confronting Domestic Violence by John Shore.

Faith: Terry Rush on faith in his post A Mistaken Doctrine That Holds the Church at Bay.

Generational differences: Matt Dabbs has it so right in his post entitled The Gospel-Epistle Generation Gap.

Human: What does it mean to be human and what do we humans need in relation to God? I think Brian Mashburn’s post entitled My Neediness is one of his best … and that’s saying a lot!

Humor: What a hoot! Now if it was my funeral it would either be a matter of wheeling the casket in at the last minute or doing two or three things at the same time while the funeral was going on, right? Read Late To Your Own Funeral by Matt Dabbs and grin. Ben Witherington’s Fractured Fairy Tales From the Farm is hilarious. Reminds me of the Monty Python classic on SPAM.

Lying: I recently preached a sermon on honesty and lying and taught a class on the ninth of the Ten Commandments (“you shall not bear false witness …”) just last Sunday morning. Here’s a fine article by Sarah Sumner that appeared just yesterday on The Seven Level of Lying.

Marriage: Trey Morgan’s post entitled Six Reasons Not to Have An Affair says it clearly and concisely.

Mission: Everything needs rethinking. Regularly. Times and contexts change.  Methods of mission must as well. David Fitch’s post The Important Task of Creating Missional Rhythms in a Community kindly and clearly reminds us of such.

Progress: You can spend your life trying to address and shore up weaknesses or you can play on your strengths. That’s true of people groups as well as indivduals. Jim Martin’s post What Strengths are You Building On? is good stuff.

Torture: I agree with this. Do you? Torture will always be wrong by Linda J. Gustitus.

Just for fun: Ever wondered what a map of the location of the top fast food burger chains in the U.S. would look like? Check out Data Pointed’s visual representation of the eight largest burger chains and see the overwhelming winner in Texas is … not who you’d probably guess.


Every time I reach this point in John’s Gospel I feel like the child who, in waiting for a grown up to finish a long story, excitedly butts in and blurts out the story’s ending. Blame it on Nicodemus! I love this guy; he’s one of my favorite characters in all of Scripture!

You see, in his Gospel, John is enamored with the thought of “knowing” God. Over and over John underscores the point that coming to know the Lord is a process, not a point in, life. And one of the primary ways John drives that thought home is with his account of the character of Nicodemus.

Nicodemus shows up three times in John’s Gospel. Everyone remembers his first appearance (John 3:1-15) for they recall he “came to Jesus at night” to ask him some questions. Some folks remember his last appearance, as the one who openly assists Joseph of Arimathea in the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial (John 19:38-42). But not nearly so many folks recall his appearance in between those two events when at great personal risk, Nicodemus, to his faithless, conspiring peers, speaks up in Jesus’ defense (John 7:45-52).

Well, as you read today’s selection of Scripture in the Fresh Eyes project – John 7-9 – you’ll come across that second appearance. Linger over that passage and consider how it plays on much of what Jesus has to say in the chapters surrounding it (e.g. – John 7:17-18,24). Consider, too, how the enlightenment of Nicodemus, spread out over the scope of John’s Gospel, is akin to the enlightenment of the blind man as told in a single chapter (John 9).

But before you do so, read the three appearances of Nicodemus back-to-back. Watch him take matters up with Jesus (John 3), listen to him takes up for Jesus (John 7), and finally, take care of Jesus (John 19). Drink in how he sits at his feet in private, stands up for him in public, and generously serves him however he can. Watch him bloom in faith, progressing in “knowing” our Lord, living up to the meaning of his own name (Nicodemus = “victorious person; victorious people”).


There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could do these miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.”

Nicodemus asked, “How is it possible for an adult to be born? It’s impossible to enter the mother’s womb for a second time and be born, isn’t it?”

Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t be surprised that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said, “How are these things possible?”

“Jesus answered, “You are a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things? I assure you that we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you don’t receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Human One. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Human One be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. (John 3:1-15 CEB)


The guards returned to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked, “Why didn’t you bring him?”

The guards answered, “No one has ever spoken the way he does.”

The Pharisees replied, “Have you too been deceived? Have any of the leaders believed in him? Has any Pharisee? No, only this crowd, which doesn’t know the Law. And they are under God’s curse!”

Nicodemus, who was one of them and had come to Jesus earlier, said, “Our Law doesn’t judge someone without first hearing him and learning what he is doing, does it?”

They answered him, “You are not from Galilee too, are you? Look it up and you will see that the prophet doesn’t come from Galilee.” (John 7:45-52 CEB)


After this Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate if he could take away the body of Jesus. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one because he feared the Jewish authorities. Pilate gave him permission, so he came and took the body away. Nicodemus, the one who at first had come to Jesus at night, was there too. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloe, nearly seventy-five pounds in all. Following Jewish burial customs, they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the spices, in linen cloths. There was a garden in the place where Jesus was crucified, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish Preparation Day and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus in it. (John 19:38-42 CEB)

We should pray.

Father God, make me like this man, Nicodemus, actively growing in the opening of my mind, my heart, and my love for your Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen.