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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Thom Rainer on 4 times when you should not respond to a critic.

As a general rule, leaders should respond to criticism. I do my best to do so, or at that very least, ask someone in my organization to respond. Critics, more often than not, deserve a response. They need to hear from the leader who can give them his or her perspective. They need to hear from a leader in the event the response can be an opportunity for reconciliation. But there are times when leaders should not respond to critics.

Cristina Fox on When distractions keep us from our kids.

One of the biggest drains of our time is technology because of the access it gives us to a virtual life. Our lives revolve around this access and its pull on us is strong. There’s always email to check, texts to respond to, statuses to update, images and videos to see or post. And they must be done right away (or so we think) — putting everything else on pause.

Ed Stetzer on Whether you should stay or go at church.

I, too, found I don’t get much out of sermons, even the good ones. Honestly, there is not much new content I learn at church. Finally, I am easily distracted and the slow pace of sermons let’s my mind wander, so I’d rather read a good sermon than listen to one. So, I could’ve just stayed home. But, I didn’t. And neither should you because our church involvement is not just anticipated (1 Corinthians 12:27), but commanded (Hebrews 10:25).

Donna Jones on 15 things you did when you were dating that you should not stop doing when you get married.

What what if celebrating Valentine’s Day didn’t cost you a dime and could actually re-kindle the flames of romance?  What if you could re-ignite the sparks in your marriage and make them last?  It might be as easy as taking a trip down memory lane and doing what you should have never stopped.

Mike Cosper on Giving up on church and the culture of contemporary worship.

I wonder, though, if Miller’s thoughts don’t say as much about our contemporary worship culture as they do about Miller himself. His description of a church gathering is two-dimensional: we listen to a lecture and sing songs that connect us to God. Miller says he stopped attending because he doesn’t learn from lectures and doesn’t feel like he connects to God through singing. This description of the gathered church is anemic and shabby, but it’s also the description that many American evangelicals would use to describe Sunday mornings. Rather than a robust engagement with God’s people, God’s word, and God’s Spirit through interactions with one another, songs, prayers, scripture readings, and the Lord’s Supper, we think of Sundays as merely preaching and music.

Love this song

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Cheap Kindle Books [12.9.13]

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Here are some cheap kindle books. Not sure how long they’ll stay that way:

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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  1. Ed Stetzer on Has Dr. King’s dream come true?
  2. Mark Driscoll on It’s all about the numbers. Really well said.
  3. 6 subtle signs your organization has silos.
  4. Jay Dennis on Pornography and pastors.
  5. 10 questions to ask about your work/life balance.
  6. Perry Noble on The one thing that holds leaders back.
  7. Seeing God in your work.
  8. John Stott on How to preach with authority.
  9. 10 football books leaders should read.
  10. Dave Bruskas on How to rest in ministry.
  11. Donald Miller on People aren’t following you because you aren’t clear.
  12. What Matt Chandler wished he knew when he started ministry. This series is gold for pastors and those entering ministry.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || The In-Between

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing (kindle version) by Jeff Goins.

I don’t know about you, but I can relate to what Goins says at the beginning of his book:

How we spend our days, according to Annie Dillard, is how we spend our lives. If that’s true, then I spend most of my life waiting. Waiting in the checkout line at the grocery story. Waiting to rent a movie. Waiting for the movie to end. Waiting to turn thirty. Waiting for vacation. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Life is an endless series of appointments and phone calls and procrastinated tasks that need to, but sometimes never, get done. It’s a long list of incomplete projects and broken promises that tomorrow will be better. It’s being put on hold and waiting in office lobbies and watching that stupid hourglass rotate again and again on the computer screen. It’s load times and legal processes – long, drawn-out, bureaucratic systems that leave sitting, watching the clock. Life is one big wait.

So it is, the in-between. The waiting.

I read this book the week waited to hear from our agency about traveling to Ethiopia to meet our son for the first time. Goins writes in a manner very similar to Donald Miller. There aren’t a whole lot of stats or next steps, but a lot of stories to help you see how to wait and walk through the in-between times of life. Because, as you’ll realize by the end of the book, most of your life is “the in-between time.” I love this, “Waiting is the great grace. It’s a subtle sign for those with eyes to see, reminding us there is work yet to be done – not just around us, but in us.”

The in-between times is about learning to be present and enjoy all of life. As Goins puts it, “We all want to live meaningful lives full of experiences we can be proud of. We all want a great story to tell our grandchildren. But many of us fail to recognize that the best moments are the ones happening right now.”

Here’s a great way to end this review from the book:

People don’t hate waiting when they know what they’re waiting for. What drives people nuts, though, is the postponements that happen for no apparent reason, the arbitrary delays and setbacks. We hate waiting for the things we think we deserve now, not later: the spot at the front of the line, hot food from the kitchen, the best job in the company. It’s not the waiting we dislike; we understand some things take time. What we loathe is the time after what we deem to be an appropriate amount of waiting. We can all be patient – to an extent – but then we have our limits. Our problem, then, is not one of impatience, but entitlement.

If you find yourself being impatient, waiting, trying to be in control or are in between something right now. This is a book worth picking. I enjoyed it immensely and was challenged by my sense of entitlement and when I think things should happen.

My Notes from Preach Better Sermons

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In case you missed them today, here are all my notes from today’s online preaching conference, Preach Better Sermons:

Steven Furtick

The whole worship service is one thing, not separate parts, it is one thing. The service is won and lost in transitions. Preaching and a worship service communicate what your values are.

Louie Giglio

Louie’s 6 rules of preaching: (1) Have something to say, (2) Be faithful to the text, (3) Lead people to Jesus, (4) Don’t be boring, (5) Prepare, (6) Be led by the Holy Spirit.

Donald Miller

You need to show up everyday because you don’t know when creativity will strike or when something will hit.

Brad Lomenick

A great communicator moves people and inspire people.

Dave Ramsey

If an audience doesn’t laugh every 7 minutes, you lose them.

Mark Batterson

Would you rather be a great preacher or a great pray-er?

Darrin Patrick

Would your sermon work if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?

Jon Acuff

The greatest way to ruin a speech is ego.

Crawford Lorritts

You’ll never preach any better than who you are. Effective ministry always comes out of the overflow of your heart and walk with God.

Pete Wilson

When you attach your identity to the success or failure of your message, you are in for a roller coaster ride and it is dangerous.

Nancy Duarte

People should leave a sermon and feel unstuck.

Andy Stanley

The foundation of our faith is not Scripture, the foundation of our faith is Jesus.

Ed Stetzer

Maximize your study by minimize your searching.

Mark Driscoll

God’s people are on mission to see more people become God’s people.

Overall, tons of great content for preachers.

Preach Better Sermons || Donald Miller

bookI’m watching the online conference Preach Better Sermons today and wanted to share some of the learnings I picked up. One of the speakers is Donald Miller. Donald is the founder of Storyline, an organization that helps people plan their lives using the elements of story. He is the author of multiple New York Times Bestsellers including Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He is also the founder of The Mentoring Project, a non-profit helping to provide mentors for fatherless children. Don currently lives and works in Washington, DC.

Here are some things that jumped out from his segment:

  • To be a good writer, you must write daily. 
  • When you force creativity or writing, it isn’t as great.
  • You need to show up everyday because you don’t know when creativity will strike or when something will hit.
  • In sermons, you must create tension to engage people.
  • We explain our beliefs based on science or scripture and give 3 reasons for others to believe what we believe.
  • Instead, we need to share the experiences that led to our beliefs. Experiences teach us, not reasons. Don’t teach reasons, walk people through experiences.

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

  1. What John Maxwell is reading. If you want to read great leadership books, read what John Maxwell reads.
  2. Ed Welch on The lasting pain of adultery.
  3. 5 ways you can teach your kids about their sexual development.
  4. Donald Miller on Why 20-Something’s are delusional.
  5. The Haddon Robinson principle of preaching.
  6. Thom Rainer on How to kill a sermon.

I agree with Trevin’s assessment—”there are no words“:

Lots of Cheap Kindle Books 4.18.12

There are a ton of great kindle books for cheap today:

$2.99

$3.49

$3.82

$3.99

$4.99

Frustrating (or Sad)

Every pastor has one message that flows through every sermon. It does not matter what passage they are preaching, at some point, they will get around to their core message. In every sermon. For me, it is that God has bigger dreams for us than we can imagine. We settle. Whether that is not becoming a Christian, limiting God, having small faith, the list goes on and on.

This by far is one of my frustrations in life, or it just might be one of those things that makes me sad. It is the fact that so few Christians seem to experience everything that God wants them to experience. They sell following Jesus short. They walk through life (claiming to follow the God of the Bible) purposeless, missionless, adventureless, faithless and then wonder why God isn’t moving in their lives.

I think most people really want to experience all that God wants them to experience, but they get paralyzed.

At Revolution, because of how many young Christians we have and so many 20-something’s, I get questions concerning figuring out God’s will. What often paralyzes us is that we want everything to be crystal clear before we move forward. We want to know the job, the college, the spouse, the ____________ (fill in the blank). We want to know everything before we move forward. But, faith is to be an adventure. Which means, we will have to move forward without all the details.

The other thing that paralyzes us is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of getting it wrong (which I’m not sure should be a fear, more later), fear of missing something (because we are waiting for it to be crystal clear), or fear of not feeling up to what we feel God wants us to do.

Here is what I don’t understand. I believe that scripture teaches that God wants what is best for his followers (Romans 8). If that is true, why should we have fear? I love what Donald Miller says, “The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is “Do not fear.” It’s in there over 200 times. Which means a couple of things, if you think about it. It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we aren’t supposed to let it boss us around.”

A couple of things:

  1. I think God wants us to know what his will is, but he wants us to know it on his terms. Which means, it might be harder than we want. Too many of us want God’s will, but we want it to not hurt. It was God’s will for Jesus to die on the cross, so we have to know that it might hurt, but it will be the best thing we could do.
  2. It is not as mysterious as we think. God’s will is not as smoky and foggy as we make it out to be.
  3. Don’t sweat the details. We get so concerned with the smallest details, where do I go to school, which company do I work for. I always ask, “Is it a sin? Does it go against scripture?” As long as the answer is no, there is a good chance it might be God’s will.
  4. Try it. I often stumbled into God’s will. God would say I walked on the right path, it just seemed like I stumbled into it.
  5. Be more concerned with the journey and not the destination. In our lives, I think God is more concerned with the journey than the destination. We are more concerned with the destination. To be on the same page with God, we must be concerned with what he is concerned with.
  6. Life and faith are to be an adventure. We are not to go into heaven with clean clothes at a slow pace. We are to run, jump, dance, with holes in our knees. Live like that is how you will end.

Just my 2 cents.

Links of the Week

  1. Stop hatin’ on other pastors & ministries. This is right on (for the most part). The only discrepency I have with Scott is when a pastor is leading people into heresy. You need to call that out, you don’t need to hate on them, but you do need to address it.  
  2. Pastors are bible guys. I am loving this series by Acts 29 on what a pastor/elder is. Pastors have to be bible guys, men need to be bible guys.
  3. Sam Rainer on church staffing in 2020. This is interesting, no idea if it will come true, but I definitely think some of it will happen.
  4. In America’s, Christian faith, a surprising comeback of rock-ribbed Calvinism is challenging the Jesus-is-your-buddy gospel of modern evangelism.
  5. The gospel and marriage.
  6. Donald Miller on 10 reasons pastors are important.