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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Mark Driscoll on 3 pieces of advice for Easter.

Please pray for your preacher this week. This is not a normal week for them. They have already been running hard since the new year started and are exhausted, overwhelmed, and probably have a lot going on in their personal life that is taking their energy in addition to the ministry. Give them some grace and space. Encourage them. Let them know you are praying for them. Do all you can to take any other duties off of them this week.

Justin Taylor on Christianity is the world’s most falsifiable religion and has survived.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on I’ve earned my place in heaven.

The New York Times reports: But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

Russell Moore on Same sex marriage and the future.

So what should we do? Well, precisely what we should have done before and after Roe. We should recognize where the courts and the culture are, and we should work for justice. That means not simply assuming that most people agree with us on marriage. We must articulate, both in and out of the church, why marriage matters, and why its definition isn’t infinitely elastic.

Daughter Performs “Youth” (love this band)

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Top Posts of March

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In case you missed them, here are the top 10 posts of the last month:

  1. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  2. Dear Worship Leader
  3. When You Manipulate Your Husband, You Lose Him
  4. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
  5. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  6. Leadership Lessons: World Vision & Same Sex Marriage
  7. Leadership Lessons: Mark Driscoll, Repentance, Choices and the Effects of it All
  8. Women, It Matters Who You Marry
  9. My Journey of Losing Weight
  10. 10 Lies Leaders Love
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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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Are visits to heaven real?

It is quite true that heaven is a place of perfect bliss—devoid of all sorrow and sin, full of exultation and enjoyment—a place where grace and peace reign totally unchallenged. Heaven is where every true treasure and every eternal reward is laid up for the redeemed. Anyone whose destiny is heaven will certainly experience more joy and honor there than the fallen mind is capable of comprehending—infinitely more than any fallen creature deserves. But if you actually saw heaven and lived to tell about it, those things are not what would capture your heart and imagination.

Yancey Arrington on What to do when you’re in a preaching funk.

It seemed every time I stepped down from the pulpit my heart was full of frustration because, in my estimation, my sermons felt chunky, cluttered, or confused. There was an aimlessness about them. Everything kept coming off flat. They weren’t, for lack of a better term, ‘clicking’ in the hearts of the congregation (or for me for that matter). I would have people speak encouraging things to me after services but they were of the generic, southern politeness, garden-variety remarks that you would get no matter what because people are kind. And even if those messages were good, I didn’t feel that way. And if you don’t think your sermons are good, it doesn’t matter what others tell us. And for quite a season, that’s exactly how I felt. It was a Sahara of preaching because I felt desolate in the pulpit. It seemed no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake it. I still look back on that season and shudder. I hated it and wouldn’t wish it on any preacher.

Carolyn McCulley on How women easily confuse what they do with who they are.

Any change in what we do can easily trigger a crisis of identity — what is the story we are now to tell others about ourselves? While I think this is true for men, I think it is different, and perhaps more pronounced, for women because our productivity choices are scrutinized more often than those of men. That’s why the most divisive terms may be the dreaded “working mothers” versus “stay at home mothers.” If it were a simple description of the location of female productivity, that would be one thing. But these phrases are loaded with guilt and judgment.

Kevin DeYoung on Celebrity Pastors.

The term “celebrity pastor” is decidedly pejorative. I don’t know anyone who would be happy to own the phrase. That doesn’t mean we can’t use it. But it means we should not attach it to pastors in a knee jerk way. A Christian with some combination of influence, social media followers, books, a large church, and speaking engagements may be a public Christian or a well known individual, but let’s not use “celebrity pastor” unless we mean to say he relishes the spotlight, has schemed his way into the spotlight, and carries himself as being above mere mortals. Does this fit some popular preachers? Probably. Does it fit all of them? By no means.

Mark Dance on Should pastors be excited about everything?

Pastors sometimes feel pressure to show equal excitement about all of the ministries in our church, lest we show a hint of favoritism.  Well meaning members and staff lobby for their ministry’s rightful place in the promotional rotation, budget and church calendar.  Some of them even pressure the pastor to give a shout-out from the pulpit.

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Leadership Lessons: Mark Driscoll, Repentance, Choices and the Effects of it All

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If you haven’t been following the Mark Driscoll saga, this post might not make a ton of sense.

Here’s a good synopsis from Owen Strachan:

Some of you have been following the events related to Mark Driscoll’s publishing plan. It’s been a winding affair, but long story short, according to Warren Cole Smith of World Mars Hill Church essentially bought a best-seller spot for a recent Driscoll book. It was found out, controversy ensued (on the blogosphere, of all places), and Driscoll publicly issued a statement of repentance related not only to book-writing but his general demeanor and leadership. Ray Ortlund just wrote up a short blog post on Driscoll’s repentance that you should read.

I don’t know all that happened, but as this was unfolding, I was preaching a series on the life of Samson, leadership and manhood. I gave a sermon on how we are all one choice away from wrecking our lives the week that this blew up. As a pastor, leader, husband, father and man, it was sobering. As a pastor in Acts 29, I’ve always appreciated Mark Driscoll. This blog isn’t about what happened, if it’s true or what Mars Hill or Mark Driscoll should do moving forward. They will figure it out.

What I do want to point out is what a situation like this has taught me and what it can teach other leaders:

  1. Every choice matters. And every choice affects the next one. This is easy to forget when you live life, especially at the pace we live at. Something that you say in a meeting, counseling session, or sermon can ripple into something that happens 3 years from now. There really is no situation that is off on its own.
  2. Repentance and humility are always good. When you wrong someone, apologize. Humble yourself to say you are wrong. Church planters are not good at this because by nature, many of us are type A, driven, entrepreneurial leaders. This is good, but also leads many of us to step on people and hurt the ones we are called to shepherd and lead. When that happens, make amends. I’m thankful for the repentance Mark Driscoll has shown as a leader and pastor in this letter to his church.
  3. Every leader needs to answer to someone. Pastor, elder, deacon, missional community leader, whoever. Everyone needs to answer to someone. Everyone needs someone who can call them on the carpet in their life. Too many pastors do not have this. Too many pastors are not in a small group or missional community (and don’t tell me your elder team is your small group), they answer to no one.
  4. Everything is public now. In the age of social media, youtube, and everything else, all your reactions, comments, thoughts, body language can be made public and last forever. The moment you forget this, disaster easily strikes. This also pertains to the bloggers throwing lots and lots of mud as if it is your job to police Mars Hill and its elders. It is sad to watch how unhelpful many people are online talking about how great it would be if this is the end of Mark Driscoll as a pastor, that doesn’t move the gospel forward or is it helpful to anyone. And sadly, those opinions are public and will last forever.
  5. Be a pastor first. Mark Driscoll talked about how he is canceling speaking engagements, pulling back on social media (although his team will tweet for him) and writing books to focus on being a pastor, husband and father. This is a healthy example for younger pastors. Many of pastors dream of speaking at conferences, writing books, being known outside of their church. Many are gifted and God has called them to this, but if God has called you to be a pastor first, give your best to that. Don’t mix it up.
  6. Watch your heart first. Many people question the validity of Driscoll’s heart, motives and if he is sincere. I don’t know and neither do they. Too many get caught up in playing the Holy Spirit and saying what someone means, if they are sincere or right. Too many bloggers are the theology police and it creates too many divisions in Christianity. Stop calling people heretics and making lists of people to avoid and work on your heart first. Yes, warn people you shepherd about heretics, but build up the church in the process of doing that, don’t tear it down.
  7. You are always one choice away from losing it all. As I said in my sermon on Samson and in this post on leadership and moral failure, you are only one choice away from losing it all. People who wreck their lives do not do it in one choice, they do it in several choices over a period of time. Samson took 52,000 steps from his house to wreck his life. 52,000 chances to change his direction and his mind, yet he didn’t. He kept walking.

For me, moments like these are incredibly helpful to check my heart, my motives and my leadership. They serve as a great reminder of how fragile what I do is.

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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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How can a kid see God?

Have you ever considered that you may be the best chance your son or daughter has to see God?

Brian Dodd on 10 practices of maturing leaders.

We want leaders to grow up too fast.  We want them ready-made at an early age.  The reality is the best leaders are those who are seasoned.  They have battle scars and callouses on their souls.  The best leaders have made mistakes, fallen down but got back up to make a difference in the lives of people.  They have persevered.  The best leaders are developed in a crock pot, not a microwave.

Sam Storms on Should women serve as elders in a church.

I believe the NT portrays for us a consistent pattern of governance by a plurality of Elders. However, it is important to realize that even if this is not the case we can still determine whether or not women should be appointed to positions of senior governmental authority.

Matt Smethurst on Should pastors get a sabbatical?

“The stresses and strains of dealing with people—with souls—wears you down in a unique way,” he observes. Besides, he notes, even some companies in the secular world are starting to use sabbaticals. “They realize that refreshment makes a better employee.”

Mark Driscoll buys his way onto the NY Times Bestseller list. Kind of sad to read this (especially since the money came from the offerings of his church).

Seattle’s Mars Hill Church paid a California-based marketing company at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that Real Marriage, a book written by Mark Driscoll, the church’s founding pastor, and his wife Grace, made the New York Times best-seller list.

Jared Wilson has a helpful post on What’s wrong with buying your way onto the NY Times Bestseller list.

1. It’s dishonest.
2. It’s egocentric and lazy.
3. It may eventually harm your reputation and will bug you in the long run.
4. It’s poor stewardship and bad strategy.
5. It disadvantages those actually gifted.

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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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Mark Driscoll on The 6 kinds of church services and how they impact preaching and worship planning.

Too often a church service is themed theologically, without consideration for the mood emotionally. But getting the mood right is very important. If you don’t, the sermon and the rest of the service won’t align for a journey, but collide like a car wreck.

Rosaria Butterfield on You are what you read.

Michael Hyatt on How millionaires manage their time.

I’ve been lucky enough to interview over 130 millionaires. They know the value of their time, and use it to the best of their ability. I’ve curated the top tips on their time management to help you have more time to work, and more time to play and be with your family. So how do you stay productive when faced with a seemingly endless to-do list? Here are four awesome tips for greater productivity, straight from the millionaires themselves.

The 5 most important questions a church needs to answer.

  • Question 1:  What is Our Mission?
  • Question 2:  Who is Our Customer?
  • Question 3:  What Does the Customer Value?
  • Question 4:  What are Our Results?
  • Question 5:  What is Our Plan?

4 Tips for Starting a Children’s Ministry in a Church Plant.

Church plants are becoming increasingly popular and in the midst of all there is to do, getting your children’s ministry off the ground can tend to slip under the radar. Here are a few practical tips for starting a children’s ministry in your church plant.

People Pleasing Pastors

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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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Adam Ramsey on 5 ways to bomb a sermon.

By far the most common mistake I see early on in preachers is telling your students what they ought to do, without showing them again and again what Jesus has done.

Ryan Huguley on 5 reasons why your resolutions will fail.

An estimated 92% of all people fail to follow through on the resolutions they set. Some people are critical of resolutions for this very reason. The reality is, when pursued through typical means, new year’s resolutions produce typical results – which is to say, none.

Frank Bruni on In 2014, tweet less, read more.

For more than two decades, there’s been a celebration of slow food. Over the last few years, we’ve proved receptive to slow TV. What we really need is slow debate. It would trade the sugary highs and lows of rapid-fire outrage for a more balanced diet. We’d be healthier. Probably happier, too.

Mark Driscoll on The porn brain.

As Dr. Struthers writes, “Pornography teaches its students to focus on the physiology of sexual sensations and not on the relationships for which these sensations are intended.” Ultimately porn defiles the concept of intimacy and destroys the original God-glorifying intent for sex. By consistently pursuing pornography, men “have unknowingly created a neurological circuit that imprisons their ability to see women rightly as created in God’s image,” Struthers concludes.

Don’t make a resolution, find a word.

What if one word could transform your life?

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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Al Mohler on Must Christians believe in the virgin birth?

For some, the belief that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin is nothing less than evidence of intellectual dimness. One writer for the New York Times put the lament plainly: “The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time.” Does belief in the virgin birth make Christians “less intellectual?” Are we saddled with an untenable doctrine? Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth, or is the doctrine an essential component of the Gospel revealed to us in Scripture?

The playoff scenario for my Pittsburgh Steelers.

So, you’re saying there’s a chance.

Aaron Earls on Make sure what you share on social media is true.

It can happen to any of us. It does happen to almost all of us. We see a story online that shocks us and seems just true enough. Normally, we check things out before we share them, but this is so unbelievable we need to get the news out as soon as possible. We post it on Facebook or retweet it. Before we know it, others have shared the story. Only then do we find out the truth – it was fake.

Mark Steyn on The age of intolerance.

Joseph Parker on An essential manly movie.

In creating the “essential manly movie” category, it is impossible to exclude Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. It stands as the quintessential Roman tale, its epic scale towering above that of other stories within the genre, namely The Eagle, King Arthur, and The Last Legion. All these were good (sort of), but Gladiator hit all major points of Roman culture while providing a story which highlighted the character of man torn apart by the politics of the age. So, this movie came out over eight years ago. What else can be said? Plenty and you can quote me on that.

Mike Myatt on 15 traits of great leaders.

While much has been written about the traits and characteristics that form great leaders, the truth is that leaders come in many different varieties…there is no one-size-fits-all formula for leadership. That said, all good leaders possess certain core qualities, and great leaders simply develop said core qualities to a higher level than their peers. Put simply, a leader’s shelf life will be equal to their ability to leverage their leadership traits through solid execution, and influencing their constituencies in alignment with the corporate vision with values.

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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Should atheists get Christmas presents?

Atheists don’t believe in GOD, that’s pretty simple to figure out. Take it a step further and you’ll see many have done everything possible through the courts and legislative action to “free” themselves of any mention of GOD in public places.That comes at the expense of those who do believe at the loss of their right to freedom of religion.

5 trends you won’t be able to dismiss in 2014.

As in every era, some of today’s trends will become tomorrow’s reality. Innovative leaders aren’t afraid to embrace change and to be some of the first in on the shifts they see around them.  In that spirit, here are 5 trends you’ll no longer be able to dismiss in 2014.

Geoff Surratt on The truth about video preaching.

People don’t know what will or won’t be effective until they experience it.

The 8 archetypes of leaders.

Jared Wilson on A heartfelt plea to Mark Driscoll.

I do not want Pastor Mark to fail and fall.I just want him to walk in step with the truth of the gospel.

Thom Rainer on 7 traits of joyful pastors.

Why do I think each of these pastors is joyful? More specifically, what traits do I see in them that illustrate the joy that they have? I noted seven such traits.

Matt Walsh on Politician: Let’s treat all homeschool parents like felony child abusers.

If you do not have the right to teach and raise your own children on your own terms, then you don’t have the right to free speech, religion, association, or privacy, and you are not protected from unreasonable government intrusion into your personal life.

Tweeting himself to death: The rise and fall of @prodigalsam.

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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Tony Morgan on Be intentional instead of excellent.

One of Willow Creek Community Church’s core values states, “We believe excellence honors God and inspires people.” I agree with that. This value has shaped Willow’s ministry through the decades. And, because Willow has embraced this value, many churches have followed their lead and claimed this value as well. Of course, we need to acknowledge that excellence is not a distinctive anymore–it’s expected.

Tim Challies on The dark side of Christian celebrity.

We have a love-hate relationship with celebrity culture. We who consider ourselves part of this New Calvinism hate the idea of celebrity, but have no clear idea how to avoid the reality. We say we hate a celebrity culture, yet stories about our celebrities dominate blogs and periodicals; a sure way to draw in massive amounts of traffic is to write about each new scandal connected to each of our celebrities. We see the dangers posed by a culture of celebrity, but also see that to some degree it is unavoidable. After all, there are men and women we honour and respect and look up to, who are worthy of our regard and worthy of the leadership we give them.

Al Mohler on Nelson Mandela and the Ironies of History.

When it comes to human rights and human dignity, Nelson Mandela has to be put on the side of the heroes, not only of the 20th century, but of any recent century. He is, as an ironic view of history would remind us, one of those necessary men. A necessary man who nonetheless is a man whose feet were made of clay, as his biography reveals very clearly.

3 ways to turn Christmas guests at your church into regular attendees.

Christmas visitors are not like normal visitors. Every year, a significant percentage of them will leave your Christmas services with good feelings, but no thoughts of returning. They came because it was the thing to do. They don’t expect to be back until Easter.

Michael Lukaszewski on What a pastor thinks. Totally agree with this and so do your pastor.

This post is my attempt to unpack a little bit of what goes on in the mind of a pastor.  At different times in my ministry, I’ve wrestled with each of these things.  Maybe I’m alone in my weirdness, but I have a hunch someone will relate.

Walt Mueller on 10 things to tell students about porn.

As a Christian, I am encouraged for the reason that this new push-back is testimony to the integrated nature of how God has made us. In other words, science is now telling us that something we’ve increasingly seen as benign or even virtuous is actually quite dangerous. God has indeed made our sexuality as a good thing. . . but we are indulging it out of the bounds of his plan. When we step out of the bounds of that plan, bad things happen.

Mark Driscoll on Changing trends in the American family.

The American family is changing, and it will never be the same.

Ryan Huguley on 5 ways to love your pastors kids.

Having a pastor for a dad has been a nightmare for many kids. Sadly, many pastors are careful preachers, but crappy dads. Sometimes, it is not the pastor-dad’s fault, but an overbearing, unhelpful, and hurtful congregation. My dad was not a pastor, but I had enough friends who had a pastor for a dad to know that it’s not easy. This is a critical issue for me as parent of three kids and a pastor of a young church. I want them to love Jesus. I want them to love me. I want them to love the Church. You may not attend my church, but if you read my blog, you most likely attend some church. So, here are five ways you can help love your pastor’s kids.