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

Carey Nieuwhof on If you’re the leader, you are the lid.

Over time, the team and organization you lead will never grow past where you’ve grown. If you stop growing in an area, people who want to grow past that point will simply find another leader to follow.

Did Jesus have a wife?

Last week, the Harvard Theological Review released a much-delayed series of articles on the fragment. After a series of investigations undertaken by diverse scholars, the general judgment claimed by Professor King is that the fragment probably is not a forgery — or at least that it dates back to ancient times. The analysis suggested that the fragment dated from about four centuries later than Professor King had first suggested. This would place the fragment, if authentic, in the context of eighth-century Egypt — hundreds of years after the New Testament was written and completed…In her major article released last week, Professor King defended the fragment’s authenticity, but acknowledged that — all previous sensationalism aside — “It is not entirely clear, however, how many women are referred to [in the fragment], who they are, precisely what is being said about them, or what larger issues are under consideration.”

Thom Rainer on The narcissistic Christian leader.

Narcissism should not be said in the same breath as Christian. The former is love of self; the latter is love of God in Jesus Christ. The world of narcissistic Christian leaders is complicated by the fact that these leaders rarely recognize their problem. And the disorder may not be readily apparent to those who see them from a distance. They can appear, at least on the surface, to be brilliant and charismatic.

Tim Challies on Help my kids are looking at porn.

By looking at pornography your children have violated your trust and shown themselves unworthy of it. That trust will need to be earned and regained over a period of time as they prove themselves responsible and obedient. You will need to be actively involved in training your children to use their privileges well and to use the Internet and their digital devices without this kind of behavior. You need a plan that will account for their devices and their lack of Christian character. 

Brian Howard on How to avoid burnout.

 Burnout might seem to come out of nowhere, but it really doesn’t. Burnout is often the by-product of poor choices on the part of a leader. There are patterns that lead to Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Collapses. These patterns involve not paying attention to what your body and soul really need.

Three kinds of shame.

Sin is muddy. When it splashes, we rightly want to clean it up. But sometimes our zeal to clean causes us to oversimplify sin’s muddiness by seeking trite answers for complex situations.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Rest Takes Hard Choices

book

On a regular basis I will talk with someone about Sabbath, pace of life, margin and rest. Most Americans are tired, don’t get enough sleep, don’t take enough vacation, feel stressed, overloaded, overwhelmed and aren’t sure how to change it. For many years, I struggled with this and still find myself not getting it right.

A couple of things helped me make the hard choices to rest (you’ll see at the bottom of this why I call them hard choices):

  1. Rest is a faith issue. Rest is a lot like giving back to God. It is trusting that God will make up for the time you aren’t. When people say, “I don’t have time to rest or take a sabbath.” What they often mean is, “I don’t trust God with my time. I’m too important. Life will fall apart if I’m not there.” Or, “I need to be doing as much as I am.” Many times, people won’t stop because the silence is too painful. As long as they keep moving, they don’t have to deal with hurts in their heart. The pace they keep, keeps them from feeling hurt.
  2. Rest isn’t something our culture encourages. Rest is seen as lazy. If your kids aren’t on 3 teams, in 2 dance troops. If you aren’t in 4 bible studies you aren’t growing as a Christian. We don’t encourage rest. We come back from vacation and say, “I need a vacation.” We go to work on Monday and ask “where did the weekend go?” I know someone who goes on vacation and fills their days from sunrise to sunset with things to do and see. Even on vacation, they keep moving and moving.
  3. Most people aren’t sure what “rest” means. Most people don’t know what it means. Some Christians say you shouldn’t shop or go to the movies on Sunday. Should you do any work? Rest in Scripture is to be restorative. It is to be recharging. For some, that is woodworking or painting, taking a nap, reading a book, having a long meal with friends, taking a hike, working out. Rest should connect you with God, restore your body, mind and soul.

So, why do I call having rest making hard choices?

Because, it will take time and it will often mean being countercultural to those around you.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you rest:

  1. It doesn’t matter what day it is. I’m a pastor, so Sunday is a work day, not a rest day. Just pick a day. It might be Wednesday for you. Pick a day, set it aside and think through what you will do on that day to restore your body, soul, heart and mind. What will you do? Who will you be with or will you be alone? How will you reconnect with God? How will you rest?
  2. It needs to be a day. Some people in an effort to feel better say, “I’m starting with 4 hours of rest.” That sounds nice and makes it feel like you are moving in the right direction, but it often fails. Quickly, you will find a reason to make that 3 hours. If you can give 4 hours, you can give a day. What are you afraid of? I know, you are afraid of not getting everything done, of things falling apart. So keep reading.
  3. Work fills the time allowed. Have you noticed how you accomplish everything you need to before going on vacation or before a school deadline? Work gets done that needs to get done. If you have 6 hours to work and at the end of 6 hours, whatever is not done is not done for the project. You skip Facebook, turn your phone off, no apps, no games, no breaks, you get it done. Work with that intensity each day so that you can rest.
  4. You have all the time you need to accomplish everything you want. I tell people this all the time and they always tell me I’m wrong, but hear me out. I’m a huge Steelers fan and never miss a Steelers game, even if I watch it on DVR. Why? I put it on my calendar. Because everything that is important has a time attached to it. You do something similar to this. It might be a show, a class, a team you’re on, a hobby you have (think about how much time you spend on a hobby). My point is, we accomplish all kinds of things we want to accomplish. We often just accomplish the wrong things.
  5. You don’t have to do everything you are doing. This is the hard choice. Resting means you will skip things. You will miss things. You will say no to things. But remember, when you say no to one thing, you say yes to something elseYou don’t have to do all that you are doing. You can stop some things. Not sign your child up for that team. You can get off that committee at school or church. You can stop and slow down.

Let me close with a story.

When I was in seminary, I wanted to not lose my marriage as many married students working on their masters do. Katie and I both worked full-time and I went to school full-time. Each class, I would get my syllabus and anything that was 1 or 2% of my grade, I didn’t do. Why? I had class one night a week and we agreed that I would do homework 3 nights a week and we would have 3 nights a week for time together. I had to be diligent in those 3 nights to get all my homework done for a full class load. I trusted God each semester to expand my time and effort. Even with doing 90% of my work in each class, I graduated with a 3.8 GPA and my marriage stronger than when I started. Sadly, I have classmates that are divorced and out of ministry.

Please, make the hard choice to rest.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

Will You Mentor Me?

The word Mentor in magazine letters on a notice board

Since Revolution Church is filled with people in college and their 20′s and because we’re part of Acts 29, myself and the other leaders at Revolution will often get requests to mentor someone. Either in our church or a church planter or worship leader.

This has caused me to think through, what makes an effective mentor. They are important, but I think we often set ourselves and the person we are seeking help from up for disaster.

A mentor is someone further ahead of you in an area you want to grow in. 

No one person can mentor you in every part of your life.

This is the problem we run into. We look for someone to be the end all be all for us.

When someone asks for a mentor, I explain this to them and then ask a series of questions:

  1. What is the 1 or 2 areas you want to grow in as you think about your life in the next 3, 6, 12 months? This could be finances, prayer, marriage, boundaries, health, etc.
  2. Why do you think I can help you? I want to know why they think I can help them. Not because I want to pump up my ego, but I want to know they’ve done their homework on me not just threw a dart at the wall and picked the closest person.
  3. What are you doing or have you tried to grow in this area? Often, not always, but often people seek a mentor because they are lazy. I want to know what books or blogs this person has looked at in this area. Are they actively seeking to grow in this area or just hoping to rub off success from someone. Which leads to the last part.
  4. How much time are you willing to put into this? Anything worth doing will take time. You won’t grow in your handling of finances, health, marriage, career, preaching, etc. without putting in time and effort. This is a commitment you are as the person getting mentored is making, the mentor is coming along for the ride and if I as the mentor am not convinced you are into the ride, I’m getting off.

If you are worth your salt as a leader, person or pastor, you will be asked often to mentor people. You must be selectively in who you mentor because you are giving up one of your most precious commodities as a leader, your time. If you are asking to be mentored, to succeed and have it be worthwhile for you, you need to do your homework and be willing to put in the work. There is nothing more exciting than working with a person who wants to grow in an area and helping them to grow in that area. Love seeing that happen.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Reach Your Goal of Losing Weight

I got to share my story over the weekend at a health seminar. It was awesome to see the amount of people putting in the time and effort to live a healthy lifestyle.

If you don’t know my story, I used to weight almost 300 pounds and have a 42 inch waist. Over the course of 18 months, I lose 130 pounds and have kept it off for the last 5 years. It feels incredible. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about what does work and what doesn’t work to lose weight, keep it off, pass on healthy habits to your kids and enjoy life.

So, I put together all the blog posts I’ve ever written on the topic.

Being free from bad eating habits, a food addiction (and other addictions that lead to an unhealthy lifestyle) and poor body image:

  1. What to do on “Fat Days”
  2. Food, Weight, and Stop Being the Victim
  3. How to Examine Your Heart/Motives
  4. When Eating Becomes a Sin
  5. Why We Aren’t Healthy
  6. Women and the Cycle of Defeat
  7. Two Ideas that Should Change how We Think about our Bodies, Weight Loss & Food
  8. Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace

How to lose weight:

  1. My Journey of Losing Weight
  2. How I got to where I am 
  3. The idol of food (the spiritual side of weight loss)
  4. Have a plan
  5. It’s for the rest of your life
  6. The effects
  7. Do your homework
  8. The idol of exercise & staying in shape

Staying healthy (eating well, avoiding burnout, etc.):

  1. Every Time You Say Yes to Something You Say No to Something Else
  2. What I Wish I’d Known About Energy, Family & Mistakes
  3. Making Room for What Matters
  4. How I Structure my Week
  5. How to Know You’re Too Busy
  6. How to do Crossfit on Your Own
  7. 6 Ways to Stay Motivated to be Healthy
  8. Thoughts on Burnout, Sleep, Adrenaline, Stress, and Eating
Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Steps to Wrecking Your Life

book

On Sunday, I talked about the reality that everyone, man or woman, married, divorced or single, is always one choice away from wrecking their lifeIf you missed it, you can listen to it here.

The question I always wrestle with is, “How?” How is it possible for so many professional athletes to throw it all away to take PED’s? Why do so many people sleep with someone they aren’t married to and lose their marriage? Why do people gamble with their finances and go into debt in hopes of finding the quick fix? Why do people gamble or look at porn while at work and lose their jobs? The list goes on and on.

In his helpful book Impact: Great Leadership Changes Everything by Tim Irwin, he says there are 5 steps to wrecking your life, or as he would say derailing your life. They are:

  1. Lack of self-awareness. This comes when a person doesn’t know what could bring them down. They don’t know what their weaknesses are. Is it money, greed, power, sex, lust, a bigger house or car? What are they willing to trade their marriage, reputation, kids or future in for? If you don’t know that, you will be brought down.
  2. Arrogance or misguided confidence. This is when a person sees someone wreck their life and says, “That could never happen to me.” This is when a person sins once and says, “I already did it once, what is one more time?” They have supreme confidence they can stop whenever or take back control whenever they choose. Or, that it won’t destroy their life.
  3. Missed warning signals. This might be close calls in getting caught, being late to work for staying up too late, conviction from the Holy Spirit that you push away or even evidence that you might get caught.
  4. Rationalization. This is when you start to say things like, “I deserve this.” Or, “This is my only vice.” Or, you blame someone else for your situation. “If my spouse was more attentive.” Or, “If I had a little more money we could get ahead.” Or, “My kids will understand when their older why I had to work like I did.”
  5. Derailment. Eventually, with enough time, enough rationalizations, you hit the wall and derail your life.

The problem is that no one knows when derailment will hit. Some people get away with something for years.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Know You’re Too Busy

book

I was talking with some pastors the other day and the topic of burnout, being too busy and doing too much came up. This seems to be a common thread among people, no matter what they do.

Here are some of the things they asked:

  • How do you know if you are close?
  • Are there warning signs that you are getting too busy?
  • How do you know that your busyness is not just a season, but becoming a way of life?

I know in my life, there are warning signs when I am doing too much or taking too much on. Sometimes I adhere to them and make changes, other times I bulldoze through and pay the price.

Here are some warning signs to be aware of:

  1. What is normally easy is now hard. This is one of the first things that happens. For me, it centers on preaching, sermon prep, reading leadership books. Whenever I find myself not feeling motivated in one or all of these areas, I know I am past the point of running too fast in life. To combat this, I take periodic breaks from preaching (I try to not preach more than 10 weeks in a row) and I work in books that have nothing to do with sermon prep or church ministry to give my brain a break.
  2. Sleep is hard to come by. For many Americans, sleep is hard as it is. We go to bed too late, we don’t take enough naps, spend too much time on technology and get worked up. I try to get to bed by 10:30, I try to not look at social media or texts after 8pm so that my brain is able to take a break. I’ve read studies about how using a smartphone after 9pm can be harmful to sleep and productivity. If you have to take sleeping pills, watch TV to fall asleep or find yourself going to bed at midnight or staring at the clock at midnight, you need to work on your sleep.
  3. It is hard to get going in the morning. Some people are morning people and can’t wait to get going, others are not. I’m not a morning person. But, when I find myself having a hard time getting going in the morning, needing multiple cups of coffee to stay awake or to focus, that’s a warning sign. Think about this morning, how hard was it to get out of bed? The harder it was, the closer you are to burning out.
  4. Motivation is hard to come by. It is true that you are more motivated and alert at certain parts of the day. For me, it is first thing in the morning, which is why I reserve that for sermon prep and not meetings. It is when I am most creative and I need to give that mental time to the most important part of my job: preaching. When I find that motivation not there, I know I have a problem.
  5. You get angry fast. When you are tired, you tend to get angry fast. Your fuse is shorter with those closest to you: family, friends, coworkers.
  6. You use things to calm down. This might be food, sex, porn, exercise, drugs, smoking, alcohol. While these things calm you down and all of these are not necessarily sins, when used to calm us down or help us relax or sleep or “take the edge off” we have a problem. If you think, “I just need ____ to calm down or feel better” you have a problem.
  7. You don’t laugh as much or have fun. This is connected to what we’ve already said, but if you can’t remember the last time you laughed and had fun, that’s a problem. When you are tired, the last thing you have energy for is fun or community.
  8. You have pulled back from community. When you are tired, especially if you are an introvert, the last thing you want is to be around people. Ironically, one of the things that can be the most helpful to warding off burnout and helping to bring you out of unhealthy patterns is community, being around people who care about you.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage

book

It is so sad when I meet a couple that is unhappy. Whether it is stress, finances, kids, in-laws or sin, too many couples simply settle for a mediocre marriage. They carry around this look that says, “I’m not happy, but this is as good as it will get.”

I’m sorry, but if I’m going to be in a relationship for the rest of my life, I want it to be better than a sigh followed by, “this is as good as it will get.”

So, how do you know if you are in a mediocre marriage?

Here are 11 ways to know if you have a mediocre marriage or are on your way to one:

  1. Your marriage and life revolve around your kids. I’ve written before about how to know if your kids are more important than your marriage, but if you can answer any of these, you are in trouble.
  2. It’s been over a year since you read a book on marriage. The best way to grow in your marriage is to get around a couple who has a better marriage or read a book on it. You should read at least one book on marriage a year. It’s a great way to create conversation and push issues to the surface in your marriage.
  3. Roles in marriage feel like a trap instead of freedom. Headship and submission are tricky things and controversial. They are meant to bring us freedom, not to be a trap. When they feel like a trap, there is sin under it. Whether in how it is playing out or how our heart feels about it.
  4. You can’t remember the last date night you had. I can’t tell you how important date night is. It doesn’t have to be grand or expensive, but as a couple, you need to have at least one time a week where it is just the two of you (no phone, no tv, no computer, no kids) to talk about build into your relationship.
  5. You have sex less than 2 times a week. I realize this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Pregnancy, health, age, travel, deployment, etc. all can get in the way of this. That being said, sex is a great barometer of your marriage. In every situation when I talk to a couple struggling in their marriage, sex is the first thing to go. It reveals past hurts, addictions, abuses, etc. Every study also says the same thing, a healthy marriage has a healthy sex life.
  6. You nit pick at your spouse. I talked in more detail about this here, but disrespecting your spouse, making fun of them, being sarcastic is one of the fastest ways to move from a good marriage to mediocre to miserable or divorced.
  7. You consistently talk about how much you love your spouse on Facebook. I’m sure you’ll disagree, but every time I read something incredibly awesome on Facebook, my first thought is, “That’s probably the exact opposite of the truth.” I can’t tell you how many times I have counseled a couple who seemed on the verge of divorce and the next day posted on Facebook, “I love my wife.” Or, “My husband is incredible.” The charade of Facebook reveals a lot.
  8. When you are alone with your spouse, you have nothing to talk about. Whenever Katie and I go out to eat and see a couple just sitting there, our hearts break. That’s so sad. It means a couple has stopped growing. Yes silence is great sometimes and needed, but when it is a consistent pattern, that’s a mediocre marriage. You know if this is you.
  9. There are things in your past your spouse does not know. Your spouse should know everything about you. That doesn’t mean you need to tell your spouse how many sexual partners you’ve had or how much porn you saw as a teenager. That isn’t helpful. They should know about addictions, hurts, abuse against you. No one on the planet should know more about you than your spouse.
  10. You fantasize about being married to someone else. Our imaginations are powerful, our memories are powerful. Often, we will think back to high school or college and wonder where someone is or what life would have been like if we married someone else. When that happens, we disengage from our marriage.
  11. A friend knows more about your marriage than your spouse does. Are you honest with your spouse? Do you talk about what bothers you or do you sweep it under the rug? Do you know how to fight well in your marriage? Do you talk more to a friend more than you do to your spouse about your marriage or kids? If so, well you get it by now.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

Book Notes | How Will You Measure Your Life?

bookI recently read How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen. The point of the book is the answer this question for yourself: the things you spend your time on, the things your company or church spend their time on, are they the most important things?

Many people, pastors, leaders, churches and companies simply exist and walk through life instead of living with intentionality.

Here are a few things I highlighted:

  • Despite such professional accomplishments, however, many of them were clearly unhappy. Behind the facade of professional success, there were many who did not enjoy what they were doing for a living.
  • How can I be sure that I will be successful and happy in my career? My relationships with my spouse, my children, and my extended family and close friends become an enduring source of happiness? I live a life of integrity—and stay out of jail?
  • People often think that the best way to predict the future is by collecting as much data as possible before making a decision. But this is like driving a car looking only at the rearview mirror—because data is only available about the past.
  • The opposite of job dissatisfaction isn’t job satisfaction, but rather an absence of job dissatisfaction. They’re not the same thing at all.
  • The danger for high-achieving people is that they’ll unconsciously allocate their resources to activities that yield the most immediate, tangible accomplishments.
  • If the decisions you make about where you invest your blood, sweat, and tears are not consistent with the person you aspire to be, you’ll never become that person.
  • 93 percent of all companies that ultimately become successful had to abandon their original strategy—because the original plan proved not to be viable.
  • We call in to work from remote vacation spots. In fact, we may never take all the vacation days we’re allowed; there’s simply too much to be done. Work becomes how we identify ourselves. We take our smartphones with us everywhere, checking for news constantly—as if not being connected all the time would mean we’re going to miss out on something really important. We expect the people who are closest to us to accept that our schedule is simply too demanding to make much time for them. After all, they want to see us succeed, too, right? We find ourselves forgetting to return e-mails and phone calls from our friends and our families; neglecting birthdays and other celebrations that used to be important to us.
  • Each of us can point to one or two friendships we’ve unintentionally neglected when life got busy. You might be hoping that the bonds of your friendship are strong enough to endure such neglect, but that’s seldom the case.
  • Children will learn when they are ready to learn, not when we’re ready to teach them.
  • Our default instincts are so often just to support our children in a difficult moment. But if our children don’t face difficult challenges, and sometimes fail along the way, they will not build the resilience they will need throughout their lives. People who hit their first significant career roadblock after years of nonstop achievement often fall apart.
  • Culture is a way of working together toward common goals that have been followed so frequently and so successfully that people don’t even think about trying to do things another way. If a culture has formed, people will autonomously do what they need to do to be successful.

Definitely a good read if you are wondering if you are spending your time on the right things.

To see other book notes, click here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse

book

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.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

How Much of Your Past Should You Tell Your Spouse?

book

On Sunday, Katie and I talked about how to let go of your past. One of the ways to do that as a married person is to share with your spouse your story, your hurt, possible abuse and pain you’ve walked through. Sometimes, this is something you’ve never told anyone.

But what does that look like and how much should you share?

You may have told your spouse parts of it, but held back some out of fear of how they would react or not wanting to hurt them. I want to encourage you to move forward and have the conversation you have been putting off.

Scripture says that a when a man and woman are married, they become one. We often think of that strictly in a physical sense, but it is so much bigger than that. It involves sharing your hopes and dreams, your hurts and frustrations and even your past.

Do they need to know all of the details of your sin? It depends. Every situation is different.

What they do need to know is everything it will take for you to be one. Until Katie and I shared with each other our past, we weren’t able to support each other, to help each other forgive those who hurt us and we had no idea why the other person reacted the way they did, so we took it personally.

By having the courage to share your past with your spouse, you are able be total honest and get a glimpse of Genesis 2:25 where it says a married couple is naked with no shame.

What if you are the spouse listening to the past history?

Be gracious, compassionate and slow to anger. Listen well.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta