Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Charles Stone on 8 ways pastors can refresh their tired souls.

The degree to which you love yourself corresponds to the degree to which you love others. Caring for ourselves was difficult for us to do without feeling guilty. We unwittingly thought that dying to ourselves for the sake of the gospel meant dying to marital intimacy and joy in life. We had died to something God had never intended we die to.

J.D. Greear on 4 things you should pray for your pastor.

One of the greatest joys in my life is serving as pastor. But ministry can be both messy and exhausting. That’s why I am so thankful for the prayer warriors in our congregation. I truly believe that one of the main reasons the Summit has grown is simply that God has answered the bold prayers of those in our congregation. The most important ministry anyone in our church can be involved in is that of prayer.

Why most churches are not reaching unchurched 20-something’s.

We want to ask questions.
Voice our doubts.
Explain our struggles.
Confess our sins.
Confide our fears.

And we want the church to do it with us.

Ryan Huguley on Sweat your sermon intro.

The first pastor who really taught me about preaching once told me, “If you open strong, close strong, and hit your transitions, your sermon will take care of itself.” While it’s a bit more complicated than that, he was largely correct. Many sermons fall apart before they even start, crash and burn because of an inability to “land the plane”, or lack clarity due to confusion in transition.

David Murray on The 10 types of church leaders.

The case for fewer friends.

When it comes to friendship, quality matters more than quantity.

Peter Leithart on Are Christians obsessed with Sex?

Are Christians obsessed with sex? I would ask, “Compared to whom?” Peter Leithart argues, “Faced with these charges, we get defensive and protest that we are equally concerned with other things – with economic evils, with militaristic violence, with the degradation of the environment. We shouldn’t be defensive. We should say that we’re concerned about sexual behavior and norms precisely because of the effect they have on the poor, the way sexual immorality is linked with violence. We should say that we guard God’s commandments regarding sex because violation of those commandments will produce social chaos. Sexual behavior and sexual norms are a key barometer of social health. If things are disordered in our bedrooms, they will be disordered in boardrooms and cabinet offices.”

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Top Posts of February

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February was the biggest month ever on my blog. Thanks to all the new subscribers and readers and thank you for all the shares of content on Facebook, Twitter and other places. Please keep it up.

If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:

  1. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  2. Women, It Matters Who You Marry
  3. Loving Does Not Equal Participating
  4. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  5. 7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage
  6. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
  7. Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy
  8. Before You Criticize Your Pastor
  9. How I Structure my Week
  10. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Dave Kraft on 3 ways to have longevity as a leader.

Bobby Clinton has come to the conclusion that only 30% of leaders finish well. That is very disconcerting, to say the least!

Joe Carter on Is sexual orientation analogous to race?

The argument to make this comparison takes the following form:

Major Premise: A sexual orientation is analogous to the category of race.

Minor Premise: Race is a category protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Conclusion: Therefore, sexual orientation should have the same civil-rights protections as those afforded to race.

The question we will examine is whether the major premise is true. Is sexual orientation analogous to race?

Eddie Becker on 5 things you should never say to your spouse.

Christine Hoover on What to not say (and what to say) to a pastor’s wife.

Don’t say: Oh, I didn’t ask/invite you/initiate with you because I know you’re so busy/have tons of friends/know everyone. One of the most frustrating things about being pastor’s wives is that very few people initiate friendship or include us in social activities, because they make assumptions about our schedule or our relationships. This is why many pastor’s wives are extremely lonely; they initiate constantly and receive little in return.

Jon Negroni on How all the Pixar movies exist in the same universe.

Tim Elmore on 5 signs your kids are entitled.

Why work when it can be given to you? It fosters a cycle of laziness and poor work ethic when we constantly give to our children without requiring any work. We need to create entry points starting at a young age for our children to contribute to household chores and jobs.

Owl City – “In Christ Alone”

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

Les McKeown on 4 signs you’re a terrible communicator.

Just because you talk a lot doesn’t mean you’re necessarily good at communicating. In fact, many leaders confuse eloquence with clarity, and as a result, often leave the people who work with them bedazzled by their verbal dexterity, and entirely confused about what to do next.

Brian Stowe on 10 things senior pastors must do to keep their jobs.

This may be the most important post I have ever written.  The Barna Group reported in a 2009 study that senior pastors of mainline churches have an average tenure of only four years.  One of the reasons cited for such a brief stay is that while 93% of all pastors claim to be leaders, only 12% claim to have the spiritual gift of leadership.  You can read the full article by clicking here. The epidemic of pastors leaving their churches, regardless of the reason, is an issue that must to be addressed.

Jonathan Dodson on Why “unchurched” is unhelpful.

  • We say “have faith”; they hear “anti-science.”
  • We say “Christ”; they hear “moral example.”
  • We say “cross”; they hear “arcane human sacrifice.”
  • We say “Christianity”; they hear “Republican and anti-gay.”

5 ways to make sure your content gets shared and goes viral.

Every day, a lot of potentially great content disappears into the ether, never to be heard from or seen again. And others gets shared by hundreds, thousands, or even millions. Why? Believe it or not, most content that resonates share 5 characteristics. With an eye for these 5, you might soon find your content resonating more than it does now.

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The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize

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On a regular basis I will hear from a parent, “My child is disrespectful to me or to my spouse and I don’t know what to do about it.” Or I’ll hear this from someone, “I can’t seem to connect with my spouse. We don’t connect sexually. We don’t connect emotionally or relationally.”

What is going on? I’m about to pull my hair out. I don’t know what to do.

Your kids reaction to you is a mirror of how they see you react to your spouse.

Here’s an example.

I knew a couple who made fun of each other. It was how, they would say, “joked with each other.” The problem was, everything they said to the other person had a little bit of truth in it. “We’re always late because of this one” (laughter). “Wow, your husband does that, wish my husband wasn’t so lazy” (laughter). “Sweetie, look at what Joe got for Sue. Remember when you got me a necklace 5 years ago” (laughter). “So, you’re the couple that has sex 5 times a week. I’ve heard about couples like that. What’s that like?” (laughter).

Those are real lines that I’ve sat and heard a person say in front of their spouse and a group. Consequently, those aren’t even the worse ones.

Now, each time the whole group laughed (some nervously).

Each time and don’t miss this: There was truth in each statement. 

Couples use joking and making fun of their spouse as a way of communicating truth. Now, this is a destructive and unhealthy way to communicate truth, but nevertheless a powerful way.

The problem is that over time, it is disrespectful, it tears the other down and it does not build oneness in your marriage. Eventually, the only communication that happens in your marriage is nagging, nitpicking and making fun.

Why?

Because your spouse will reciprocate.

If you have kids, this gets magnified.

Your child will see how you tear down your husband, how you make fun of your wife and do you know what they will think? That’s how I communicate to mom or dad.

The respect a child shows a parent will always be less than the respect a husband gives his wife, or a wife gives to her husband. Always. 

So, back to the statement at the beginning.

Every time I hear those statements, my heart breaks. It means people are miserable. It means that the picture of the gospel that marriage is supposed to be is broken to the world around it. It means couples aren’t communicating well. That couples aren’t fighting well.

It also means that as children watch, the cycle will most likely continue. They will see how to relate to their parents (in an unhealthy and disrespectful way). Boys will see how his mom treats her husband with disrespect and condescension and think, “If I want a woman to respect me, I need to dominate her, I need to be rough with her” instead of loving and serving her. Daughters will watch her father disrespect her mom and think, “that is how men treat women, they make fun, they put down, they do not show love and respect to women.”

When moving from this, when a child disrespects a parent, it is best if the other parent correct the child. Simply saying, “That’s not how we talk to daddy, we talk to him with respect.” If the child is older and responds with how disrespectful you are. Take the opportunity to admit your sin to your child and apologize. Yes, be angry at their sin, but realize their sin is simply from watching you. 

If you are not proactive, this cycle will just continue and that is disastrous to your marriage and family (and one day to the marriage of your child).

If you aren’t careful, this is the one thing that will destroy your marriage (and your family) and there is a good chance you don’t realize it. 

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7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage

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Katie and I spoke at Pantano MOPS yesterday on the topic of how to fight well. Yesterday, I shared 7 reasons why we don’t communicate with our spouse well. Today, I want to share 7 ways to fight well.

Before diving in, let me address something I hear from couples from time to time. They’ll look at me with pride and say, “We never fight.” My response to that, “You are either lying to me or you are lying to each other.” Every couple fights. Put any 2 people in a relationship and friction will happen at some point. Couples who “don’t fight” are ones who never say anything that would cause a fight and they slowly move apart. If a couple says this, that is a red flag and in my opinion, has begun the ticking clock on their divorce.

That being said, if you do argue (and you should argue or have “passionate debates”) here are 7 ways to do it well.

  1. Listen. This may seem obvious, but most people are terrible listeners with their spouse. Most of the time, people stand there getting their response ready instead of listening to what is being said. This comes from our desire to win and be right, instead of to understand.
  2. Fight for oneness. In your vows, you talk about oneness. The pastor probably read a passage about oneness in your wedding. Yet, when we talk about two becoming one, we mostly think in terms of physical intimacy and sex. This comes from the desire to win. Oneness doesn’t mean losing, but it does mean making a decision that is the best for your marriage and your family. Sometimes that is going with your idea, your spouse’s or a totally different one. When you finish a fight, ask, “Are we more connected and one because of that or less?”
  3. Give grace. We give grace to everyone, children, friends, parents, neighbors, but often struggle to give it to our spouse. We expect heaps of grace from them, but are very hard on them. Give them the grace you want from them. Celebrate small wins. Celebrate when they move in the right direction.
  4. Understand how your spouse communicates best. Most marriages are a pairing of opposites. Extrovert marries an introvert. Verbal processor marries a mental processor. Both are important, both are needed. While this can create frustration, it is also healthy. Be a student of your spouse. Know how they best communicate. If they need space, give it. If they want to talk everything out, do it. If you do put off a conversation, schedule when it will happen, don’t just let it hang out there.
  5. No secrets. Secrets destroy relationships. This doesn’t mean you tell everything about your past, how many sexual partners you had and everything you did. But it does mean you are open and willing to talk about everything your spouse wants to talk about. You need to be wise in this, but no secrets. Your spouse should know you better than anyone else.
  6. Understand what you are fighting about. Katie and I made the point in a sermon that often you are angry at something from your past that something in your present reminded you of. When you are fighting, do you know what you are really fighting about? Is your reaction on part with the situation or is it overblown?
  7. Connect physically, even when you don’t feel like it. Katie made this point yesterday and it is spot on. Often, after a fight (especially if it isn’t resolved) the last thing you want to do is connect physically. Having sex has a way of healing your hurts and emotions and bringing oneness. This doesn’t mean to use sex as a weapon or be abusive, but sometimes this can be helpful. Also, try arguing naked and see what happens.

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7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse

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Katie and I are speaking at Pantano MOPS this morning on the topic of how to communicate and fight well. I thought I share some reasons why couples struggle to communicate with each other. Notice, they are about you (read #1 and that will make sense).

  1. You think it’s them. Most times when a person seeks out counseling or advice concerning their marriage it is to fix their spouse. If only they did this or that. The reality is, the first reason you aren’t communicating well with your spouse has nothing to do with them, but you. Stop trying to fix them. Stop trying to change them. You can’t be the Holy Spirit to your spouse, so stop trying.
  2. You have to be right. Stop trying to be right and try to see from their perspective. Things change in a relationship when you try to see what the other person is seeing. Often though, we want to be right. Because, well, we’re right.
  3. You don’t listen. Many times in a discussion, instead of listening, you simply start thinking of your response to what the other person is saying. You aren’t able to engage them. The thinking is, if you don’t have a response ready the moment they stop talking, you won’t be heard. While it makes sense in our heads, it is ludicrous in a relationship. This goes back to wanting to be right instead of to understand.
  4. You fail to see it from their perspective. If you don’t listen well, you will never be able to see anything from a different perspective. I am amazed at how often Katie and I see the same situation totally differently. And how often Katie is correct in her perception of something or someone. If you fail to see your spouses perspective, you might end up making a mistake.
  5. You don’t know how they listen best. Couples who fight often, don’t know how their spouse likes to discuss things. This was a game changer for us. Katie likes to discuss things immediately, she is a verbal processor. I on the other hand like to process things in my head. By the time I share any idea with someone (at home or at work), I have been thinking about it for months. If Katie gives me space, we often have a better discussion. Now, sometimes I need to bite the bullet on my preference and discuss it with her. Understand how your spouse processes information and work from there.
  6. You don’t know what the real issue is. This is something we’ve talked about it part 1 and part 2 of our Beautiful series. Often, when a couple has a fight, the topic they think they are fighting about is not what they are fighting about. They are fighting about what the situation reminds them of. Their spouse said something that reminds them of what their parent used to say, so they react to that. We end up punishing our spouse for what someone else did.
  7. You belittle them. Want to end a conversation with your spouse, belittle them, insult them or disrespect them. Act like they don’t do enough.

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Fast Company on The secrets of the best public speakers.

Why atheists lose debates with William Lane Craig.

Andrew at Evaluating Christianity has put up some excellent posts of advice on how to debate William Lane Craig (onetwothreefourfive). The reason Craig wins all his debates with atheists is not because his arguments are sound, but because he is a masterful debater. Craig has been honing his debate skills literally since high school. Not only that, but he is a Ph.D. philosopher and encyclopedic historian: an expert on the two subjects he debates, the existence of God and the resurrection of Jesus. Let me repeat. Craig has done 20+ years of Ph.D+ level research in the two fields he debates, has published hundreds of academic books and papers on both subjects, and has been debating since high school.

Justin Lanthrop on I’m a pastor. So, who are my real friends?

One of the most difficult parts of being a pastor, or working in church ministry, isn’t talked about much—and that is the difficulty of making close friends.

Sam Rainer on The biggest leadership distraction.

A lot gets said about followers that create distractions. Those distractions exist. And they can be great time wasters. The greater distraction, however, is the one created by the leader.

Why do so many pastors leave the ministry, the answers might shock you. So sad, but so true for many pastors.

It’s true that some pastors fall into temptation and yet others simply feel it’s their time to call it quits. But often it goes much deeper than that. And the stats reveal much.

Bill Tenny-Brittian on Preaching to a new target.

Most of us pastor-types were taught to preach primarily to a Modern, well-churched or well-church-experienced audience. The target of our preaching was essentially “one of us.”

Passionate Seattle Seahawks fans watch the NFC championship game in complete silence

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

Philip Nation on How we do email completely wrong.

Email is a normal part of my everyday life. It is for many of us. It is a tool that can be a huge help. But, if executed poorly, email is a great weight dragging you to the depths of productivity oblivion. The reason is summarized by a great observation that my friend and LifeWay colleague Brian Daniels has made, “Anyone with an email account is your boss.” It would be funny if it were not true.

10 things you could’ve done this morning if you had gotten up early.

You were going to get up early today. Instead, you stayed up late last night. Now, after resetting your alarm twice, you are rushing to get out the door. What could you have done if you had gotten up early today?

Ryan Kearns on 4 ways small groups can work with the sermon (this is why our MC’s study the sermon).

Ministry is really hard. But sometimes we make it harder on ourselves by not having our core ministries working together. A preaching pastor can find himself wishing for a deeper impact and application of his sermon than just what happens on Sunday morning. On the other side, a community group leader can suffer from a lack of focus and direction and bear the constant weight of preparing multiple curriculums.

Carlos Whittaker on How to avoid the monday morning hangover for church staff.

5 ways to stay productive if you work from home.

The work from home lifestyle is certainly not for everyone (especially those that thrive on day to day interactions with coworkers), but if you have a job where working remotely is an option, here are some tips for keeping you productive and happy.

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Book Notes | The Greatest Communicator

bookI love pretty much any book on communication, leadership or history. Dick Wirthlin’s book The Greatest Communicator: What Ronald Reagan Taught Me about Politics, Leadership, and Life combine all three beautifully. Dick was in Reagan’s inner circle from 1968 through the end of his life. This book provides a unique perspective on not only Reagan, but also the topics of leadership and communication.

If you preach, this is a book you need to check out.

Here are some lessons that stood out:

  • Leadership is always a battled waged at incalculable costs – both personal and professional.
  • You cannot not communicate.
  • There is no way a human being can do anything without in some way communicating a message – verbally or nonverbally.
  • For better or worse, not what is, but what appears to be, often determines the image of public figures.
  • A leader’s every move has the potential to communicate meaning in powerful ways, either implicitly or explicitly.
  • If you are always prepared you will never have anything to fear.
  • Leadership has the power to persuade in ways that change people’s lives.
  • Persuade through reason. Motivate through emotion.
  • Values are the strategic linchpins of effective persuasion.
  • Great communicators speak for people, not just to them.
  • For a leader, words are themselves a form of action.