In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity

bookJim Belcher’s book In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness, and Heart of Christianity (kindle version) is one of those special books. Part history book, part travel, part journal, part parenting and marriage book. It has it all.

The book follows the Belcher family on a yearlong journey through points in Europe.

What was meant to be a sabbatical, turned into a pilgrimage through many of the most important sites in Europe and most important people to the Christian faith. They spent time in Oxford and around England interacting with C.S. Lewis, William Wilberforce and others. Then time with Van Gogh, Le Chambon and finally Corrie ten Boom. They finished their time with Bonhoeffer, the von Trapp family and Heidelberg.

As soon as I finished, I passed it off to Katie because the heartbeat of this book is the heartbeat we have with our kids: we want them to have a faith that is alive, that is rooted in Scripture, but also rooted in history. We want them to know the great people of faith who have walked before them. The people who have willingly put their lives on the line to do what God called them to do. Who used their gifts of art to glorify God and point people to Jesus. We don’t want them to have a faith that is simply intellectual or regurgitating facts, but one that is alive. One that is rooted in the beauty, goodness and glory of Christianity. 

I can’t recommend this book high enough. It was so good. Bordering on being my book of the year.

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

Thom Rainer on 11 things churches can learn from a church that died.

There was no attempt to reach the community. More and more emphasis was placed on the past. When a church loses its passion to reach the lost, the congregation begins to die.

Aubrey Malphurs on Surviving the busiest season of the year.

Psychologist Dr. Richard Blackmon finds pastors to be “the single most occupationally frustrated group in America” resulting in 30 to 40% of them dropping out of ministry altogether.

14 hints on how to add new service times at your church.

Is your church thinking about adding new service times in the future? We recently interviewed a number of church leaders within the unSeminary community who have led their churches through this change to help extract some helpful hints for you.

Kevin DeYoung on 7 thoughts for pastors writing books.

Rewind my life six years and I would tell you that one of my biggest dreams in life is to get a book published. I hoped that someday, somehow, somewhere, for somebody I would be able to write a book. I never dreamt I would have that opportunity so soon and so often. It’s much more than I deserve.

Thomas Kidd on Why homeschool.

Homeschooling is all too often treated as a monolith: Homeschoolers are either fundamentalists or anarchists, religious extremists or hippies. Rarely, if ever, is it explored as a potential educational setting for so-called “gifted” children–those looking for an academic challenge beyond that which their local educational facilities can provide.

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

Thom Rainer on Pastors and vacations.

Two years ago I spoke to a pastor about his church. After he shared with me all the areas in which he had been involved and the ministries he led, I asked him an innocent question: When do you take vacation? His answer flabbergasted me. “I don’t,” he said. I thought maybe he had misunderstood me, so I clarified. In the past six years that you have served as pastor, when did you take a vacation? “I haven’t,” he reiterated. I had heard him right the first time. This pastor had deprived himself and his family for the past six years. I anticipated burnout was not far away. Unfortunately, I was right.

A peek inside Max Lucado’s writing process.

Max is the author of almost 100 books with more than 80 million copies in print. There are probably less than five authors in the world who are that prolific—or that successful. It’s mind-boggling.

Paul Levy on Success in ministry is dangerous, accountability doesn’t work and other thoughts on falling from grace.

Recently I’ve spent some time with two friends who were in ministry but have fallen morally and so now find themselves out of a job that they loved, separated from their families and, in all honesty, struggling. I’ve showed what I’ve written to them and I wouldn’t say they were overjoyed at what I had to say but both agreed I could put this on here.

David Murrow on Holiday services and men.

Why are holiday services, which draw huge numbers of irreligious men, so ineffective at engaging them? I believe that holiday services are, by their very nature, poorly suited for men. They tend to hide the church’s greater mission under a mountain of religious tradition and ceremony. Holiday services also give men a skewed perspective on what the gospel is all about.

Kara Powell on What your calendar says about your view of God.

If I want to find out what a leader thinks about God, I don’t look at their prayer journal or their preaching. I look at their calendar. Everyone I know grapples with busyness. It’s often how we define ourselves. When someone asks us, “How are you?” our default answer is frequently one word: “Busy”. This busyness cuts across boundaries of faith, vocation, and socio-economic status.

Shawn Wood on His sermon prep system.

The job of a church planter and pastor has a lot of moving parts, but for me, the biggest of them is my time preparing to preach.

James MacDonald on When men act like men.

Everywhere you look, men are in trouble—falling to superficiality, entertainment lifestyles, sensuality, secularism, lives lived apart from God, reaping for themselves and their families the harvest of what they have sown. Someone needs to throw men a life line. Men are are sinking, and only Jesus Christ can save them. Christ Himself must invade the territory of men’s hearts and rule without rival or equal.

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. Brett Lott on Being a Christian and a writer.
  2. Eric Geiger on Is a pastor a leader?
  3. The secret to public speaking.
  4. Scott Cochrane on Why is matters how a leader invest their time.
  5. 9 things you need to know about demographic studies and trends.

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

links-of-the-week

  1. Kate Conner on 10 things I want to tell teenage girls
  2. Ron Edmondson on 7 common energy and time wasters for leaders.
  3. Thom Rainer on the 5 love languages of pastors.
  4. Epic quotes from Howard Hendricks. Great nuggets of wisdom here.
  5. Scot McKnight on Tips to be a better writer.
  6. Ed Stetzer and the Explosive growth of megachurches.

The Evolution of Mom Dancing

Links I Like

  1. The publishing process in GIF form. I can honestly say since starting to write a book, this is so true.
  2. Charles Stone on 10 questions every pastor should ask about his preaching.
  3. Greg Atkinson on Are you an evangelism or a discipleship church.
  4. Michael Hyatt on 5 ways to stop procrastinating.

Links of the Week

  1. The Role of Vision Casting in Preaching. I was talking with D.J. about this the other day. Very few pastors understand the power they have when they preach in terms of leadership and vision casting. Their preaching sets the tone for the church.
  2. “Sexual Detox” is now available. This is a great little book on porn, sexuality from a man’s perspective. If you are struggling with porn, this is definitely worth picking up.
  3. Collide Magazine on Who do you create for. This is a great question that many worship leaders and pastors never ask, let alone answer. If you don’t know who will be in your audience this weekend, how do you know who you are speaking to, what their needs are and what and how you will need to communicate.
  4. Justin Holcomb on 12 ways to make your teaching and writing anti-Christian. Sadly many pastors and churches these.
  5. C.J. Mahaney on The humbling power of cross-centered thinking.
  6. Al Mohler on Christianity and Yoga. This was a really helpful and thorough article. I practice yoga, but don’t meditate or pray or look for energy when I do it, for me it is about stretching and staying limber as I grow older. According to Mohler, “I don’t do yoga, I do stretching.” It is a helpful distinction and I think Christians need to be aware of where yoga came from and what it is really all about and be careful, but I also don’t think that it is wrong for a Christian to practice yoga.
  7. Steven Furticks book Sun Stand Still is only $6.99 on amazon. This was one of the best books I read all year and easily one of the best on the topics of faith and prayer. If you want a book to challenge to have big faith, pray big prayers and believe in a big God, this is the book.
  8. I’m hoping that Apple will block the new iPhone “pimp” app. Read more about it here and how to tell Apple to block it. This would be disastrous for the fight against sex trafficking if they allowed this app to be put on the iPhone.
  9. Ben Roethlisberger is back at practice. This makes me so happy.
  10. Men’s Health 20 Best Weight loss tips. Many of these have helped me over the last 2 years lose over 100 pounds.

Links of the Week

  1. Tim Challies recently publised two free e-books:  Sexual Detox: A Guide for the Single Guy and Sexual Detox: A Guide for the Married Guy. After our I Want a New Marriage series and the response we got for the week I preached on porn, I can’t recommend these free books any more. Download them, read them (with your wife, if married). They are great resources.
  2. Chris Brogan on How to blog almost everyday. If you are a blogger and need ways to be a better blogger/writer, this is a great list on where to find ideas. He also has a list of 100 topics to write about and 20 topics to get unstuck as a blogger.
  3. John Piper on 9 ways we know the gospel of Jesus is true.