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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My latest blog post on the Acts 29 Blog.

When we started Revolution, our prayer was and is still, that we would die in Tucson. We wanted to give our lives to one church, to one city, to one movement and out of that church, we prayed that 1 million people would follow Jesus because of it. This commitment has helped when times are the darkest, because sometimes, your calling is all you have. You will come back to it and question it and wonder if you heard God correctly. If you commit to stay, it makes difficult situations a little easier. They still hurt and are painful, but when we hit rough patches, Katie and I would look at each other and say, “We decided to outlast them, so let’s push through.”

Kevan Lee on The best time to write, get ideas, be creative and succeed in work.

Research into the human body—its hormone  allotment, its rhythms, and its tendencies—has found that there are certain times of day when the body is just better at performing certain activities. Eat breakfast no later than 8:00 a.m. Exercise between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.Read Twitter from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. (your fellow tweeters are more upbeat in the morning).

Dave Bruskas on 4 ways a pastor can love his wife well. These apply to all men.

I have to preserve my best energy for my wife, and it often requires me to tell some really great people “no” when they request my energy. This also means disappointing them. But I would much rather live with their disappointment than miss out on knowing my wife more deeply.

12 things Carey Nieuwhof would tell himself if he was starting out in leadership today. This is pure leadership gold.

At 25 I wish I would have enjoyed life more. I probably still struggle with this. I’m driven enough to spend my hours thinking about what could be rather than enjoying what is.

Casey Graham on 3 common time management traps.

Nothing has helped me produce more results in less time than refusing to mix my days up.  I label my days.  They are either a Free Day, Buffer Day, or Profit Day.  Free days are completely work free.  Buffer days are the days to get stuff organized & ready for my profit days.  Profit days are days where I do my highest money-making activities for the business.

8 ways to spot emotionally healthy church leaders and staff’s.

Emotionally unhealthy people keep company with people who bring them down and then blame everyone else when their life isn’t how they want it to be. Conversely, emotionally healthy people don’t act as though the world owes them anything. They don’t waste their time having pity parties or feeling sorry for themselves.

Mike Leake on The shame of pornography and God’s justification of sinners.

For me there was a vicious cycle of freedom, failure, shame, depression, freedom. Over and over and over for the better part of ten years–from my teenage years until a few years into my marriage. The shame over failure only caused me to spiral into deeper despair and more sin took root.

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When You Manipulate Your Husband, You Lose Him

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Over time in a relationship, couples fall into typical roles. They learn how to push each other’s buttons. They learn how to control the other, how to manipulate situations to get what they want and ultimately, how to win. This might be through force, silent treatment, being on edge, yelling, withholding sex, controlling the money or the schedule.

Men do this. Women do this.

I’ll post another time about how men do this, but for today, I want to focus on how many wives manipulate their husband and the consequences of that manipulation.

Right now I’m preaching a series through the life of Samson at Revolution Church. While the series is geared towards men, there is a ton in it for women. Like this:

And in three days they could not solve the riddle. On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. -Judges 14:14b – 17

Samson tells a riddle to the Philistines, who are ruling over the nation of Israel. He makes a bet that they can’t figure it out.

They can’t.

So, the Philistines go to Samson’s Philistine fiance and tell her to find out the answer, so they don’t look foolish.

This passage shows a few things about men and women and their default sins under stress. Samson wants to win at all costs. Samson wants to avoid looking foolish at all costs.

His fiance makes the go to move that every woman uses, and uses a lot in marriage, manipulation. 

She wept before Samson for 7 days. She nagged, complained, gave him the silent treatment.

And in the end, she won.

But she lost Samson.

Every time you manipulate your husband, you lose him. 

You may not lose him to divorce, but you lose a piece of him. Trust is damaged. He begins to wonder if you are just using him. He begins to wonder if you have his best interest at heart or if you are out for yourself, your kids or someone else (maybe your mother, his mother-in-law). He wonders if you will fight for your marriage. He wonders what will happen the next time you don’t get your way.

It might be you stop talking to him, stop responding to him sexually, withhold information, give him cold stares, talk in passive aggressive tones, make snide remarks towards him.

Men will acquiesce all kinds of things for peace and the path of less resistance.

So, while many women “win” and get their way through manipulation, much like Samson’s fiance. They lose their husband and a piece of their marriage every time.

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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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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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My latest post on The Blog of Manly: How to set goals and accomplish them.

Since we’re now into January and the luster of New Years Resolutions has begun to wear off, I felt like its time to share some ideas on how to set goals and keep them. Resolutions are just that, goals. They are hopes for the future. In December we look at our lives, the things we don’t like about them and set a goal to change that specific area of our lives.

The title makes it clear someone is really important—and that someone is you. God is Not Mad at You, Reposition Yourself, Your Best Life Now, Become a Better You, It’s Your Time… I’m noticing a trend here. Someone’s a pretty big deal, and apparently that someone is me. I feel so much better now. It’s advice that could easily be confused with the message from a fortune cookie.

Brian Howard on How to free up 8 hours in your week.

11 traits of churches that will impact the future.

To reach a changing culture, the church needs to change. Rapidly. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t need to change the message. Just the method. One is sacred. The other is not. What isn’t as clear is what the future church will look like, and what kind of characteristics will mark those churches. However, I think a few trends are becoming clear. Not all of these might be correct, but I think the following eleven traits describe the kind of churches that will have a significant impact a decade from now.

Ron Edmondson on 7 ways a wife is injuring her husband without even knowing it.

It’s an emotional injury. Sometimes those are the worst kind of hurts. The person doing the injuring: His wife. And she…most likely…doesn’t even know she’s doing it.

What one pastor would like to ask President Obama concerning abortion.

Let your husband love you. Great words for wives and moms.

I get it. The kids have been climbing on you all day. One or both of your boobs have been exposed 87% of the day and you’re sick of being clawed at, sucked on, licked, punched, kicked, pulled, snotted on, cried on, spit up on, pooped on, and peed on. You’ve wiped butts and noses and counters and walls all day. You’ve battled attitudes and arched backs and Dora the Explorer since dawn and you’re tired. So. So. Tired. I know. I really really do.

Taylor Gahm on The Gift of Inadequacy (This has a warning on language but the ideas he shares are really good)

More NFL Lip Reading (so funny)
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How to Pray for your Wife

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Here is some helpful advice for husbands from Paul Miller in his book A Praying Life:

When men do pray, they often simply want their own lives to be pain free. Men will work at making money, keeping the yard neat, or helping the kids in sports, but many don’t work or think about things that last.

A husband will rarely ask God for his wife to become more like Jesus. Let’s say she is critical of him. When he tries to talk to her about it, she says, “I wouldn’t be so critical of you if you didn’t have so many problems.” By raising the issue, he just got more criticism, so his heart quietly shuts down. He just doesn’t care anymore. She is who she is. So he moves on with life and flips on the television.

Without realizing it, he has become cynical about the possibility of real change in his wife. A childlike spirit seems naïve, like a distant memory. He is wise as a serpent, but he’s not harmless as a dove. He is surrounded by idiots, and his only choice, like the Greek stoics, is to tough it out. Low-level evil has worn him down.

To engage God in prayer about his wife’s attitude feels like opening up an old wound. Just telling this to God is frustrating because it feels so hopeless, the spiritual version of banging your head against the wall. It is simply easier not even to think about it. Mixed in with his frustration is guilt. Some of what she says is true. He isn’t sure where her sin ends and his begins.

The husband also hesitates to pray because he’s been told that he shouldn’t try to control his wife. But the point of prayer is shifting control from you to God. Moreover, doesn’t the Father want all of us to become more like his Son?

Where should the husband begin? Like a little child, he should ask God for what he wants. It might help to write down in a prayer notebook or on a card what he wants changed in his wife and to find a scripture that describes Christ in her. Then he could start praying that scripture for her every day and also invite God to work in his own heart.

This prayer request will become a twenty-year adventure. The adventure begins with asking God, Do I have a critical spirit too? Do I respond to my wife’s critical spirit with my own critical spirit? Usually, what bugs us the most about other people is true of us as well. By first taking the beam out of his own eye (see Matthew 7:1-5), the husband releases in his wife’s life the unseen energy of the Spirit. The kingdom is beginning to come.

The husband can let God use his wife’s criticism to make him more like Jesus. Instead of fighting what she says, if at all possible he can do it. We can’t do battle with evil without letting God destroy the evil in us as well. The world is far too intertwined.

Deep down, we instinctively know that God works this way, and we pull back from prayer. Like Jonah outside the city of Nineveh complaining about God’s mercy, we say, “God, I knew you would do that. As soon as I started praying for her, you started working on me.”

By taking his wife’s criticism seriously, the husband might feel he is losing his identity, becoming a Christian codependent, mindlessly trying to be good. He is not. He is simply following his Master, who “rose from supper . . . laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (John 13:4-5). Jesus’ love is so physical. Our love must be as physical as his.

The husband is not “under his wife’s thumb”; he is entering into Jesus’ life. The husband can’t believe the gospel unless he is also becoming the gospel. In other words, once you’ve learned that God loves you, you need to extend his love to others. Otherwise, the love of God sours. By extending grace to his wife, the husband is being drawn into the life of the Son. He will become Christlike.

The husband can’t leave a vacuum in his heart either. He must replace his critical spirit with a thankful spirit. One of the best ways of doing that is writing out on a card or in a prayer notebook short phrases of how he is thankful for her. By thanking God daily for specific things about his wife, he will begin to see her for who she is—a gift.

At first glance this feels like the husband is whitewashing reality. Life feels uneven, unfair. After all, the wife is the one with the critical spirit; not only is he putting energy into reflecting on his tendency to be critical (which isn’t half as bad as hers), but he’s also working at being thankful for her. The only thing he has going for him is his pitiful little prayer.

A thankful heart is constantly extending grace because it has received grace. Love and grace are uneven. God poured out on his own Son the criticism I deserve. Now he invites me to pour out undeserving grace on someone who has hurt me. Grace begets grace. This husband is taking a journey into the heart of God.

Welcome to the life of God! That’s what a life of grace feels like, especially in the beginning. That pitiful little prayer is tapping into the power center of the universe. If the husband hangs in there, he will be amazed at the creative energy of God. Grace will win the day.

Praying steadily for his wife will help him to become more aware of her as a person. Peter challenges husbands to treat their wives with “honor . . . since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). You can’t separate prayer from love.

Watch what happens over time. By getting his ego out of the way, the husband makes room for the Spirit to work in his wife’s life. God will start doing things far more effectively than the husband ever could. No one teaches like God.

Over time the husband might discover that his courage and wisdom are growing. He’ll find the best phrasing, the best timing to be gently honest with his wife. He’ll move from trying to win a battle to loving a friend. The kingdom is coming!

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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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  1. 7 things every pastor should do every week on social media. Great ideas.
  2. Brian Howard on How to organize your week.
  3. How to pray for your future husband. Great insights for single and married women.
  4. Brad Lomenick on Why every leader needs a confidant. Totally agree. Here’s how a pastor can find an accountability partner.
  5. 25 apps every leader should be aware of. I love the apps I use for leadership and ministry.
  6. Tony Reinke on God’s delight in you.
  7. How to care for your pastor.
  8. Mike Myatt on The #1 problem every leader has.

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. Rich Birch on How to evaluate a sunday service.
  2. Make sure the books you read actual have a biblical message. Just because it is a “Christian” book or written by a “pastor” doesn’t make it theologically correct.
  3. Russell Moore on How Christians should be involved in politics.
  4. Tim Challies on 18 things I will not regret doing with my wife. Great advice for husbands.
  5. A biblical approach to dating.
  6. David Mathis on Why it’s important for a preacher to find his voice.
  7. Tim Challies on 18 things I will not regret doing with my kids. Dad’s, read this.
  8. How to call people to follow Jesus without an altar call.
  9. Mark Munsey on Quit Mothering.

A Mother’s Heart (From a Husband’s Perspective)

If men are honest, we’d like to understand our wives, we try to, but we are often left scratching our heads as to what they need, what they want and what they are trying to say. While men love to stay in the world of logic and avoid emotions at all cost, women stay right at home in emotions. For men, it rarely makes sense and if you ask women, they will tell you it doesn’t have to make sense.

Over the last month, as we’ve shared with people what is happening in our adoption, waiting to bring Judah Mamush home it has been hard to describe the agony of what it feels like. I told one guy that we’ve discussed putting Katie on a plane so she can go to Ethiopia to be with Judah Mamush until he passes embassy and he said, “Josh, you need to stop trying to control things.” I said the same thing to a couple of Mom’s and they all looked they were going to cry.

While the last month has been hard for me, it has been different for Katie. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about my wife and the heart of a mother that hopefully will be helpful to other men (whether they have kids or not).

Here they are:

  • A mother feels differently than a father. While this is true of men and women in general as I said earlier, when it comes to parenting it is even more true. A mother feels the loss of something different than a father does. I miss Judah. I can’t wait for him to be here, to play soccer with him, teach him to ride a bike, to do things with him. Katie longs to hold him, to snuggle him, hug him and tell him that he is loved. To give him a feeling he has not had in his life, a feeling of safety, of belonging.
  • Be honest with your wife about your heart. While men often get labeled as callous or insensitive because we don’t cry or feel the way a woman does, it is important to be honest with your wife about your heart. A wife always wants to know what you are feeling, what is running through your head and heart. When we left Judah Mamush on our last day in Ethiopia, he was on the ground screaming and crying because he didn’t know if we were coming back, he only knew we were leaving. He doesn’t speak English so we couldn’t say, “We’re coming back.” Katie is on the verge of losing it and I did everything in my power to pick him up and not cry. I couldn’t even talk or else I would’ve cried. I am almost crying retelling this story. As we left and over the last month, it has been important to my wife’s heart to know of my heart, to know how it hurts, to know my longing as a father for my son. To not be the man and just bottle it up and with tough upper lip. That’s why a wife thinks her husband is insensitive, because he holds back. 
  • Distance is easier for men to handle. Men can handle distance in relationships because of how we handle emotions. We are able to compartmentalize things, get busy and forget about things because we are laser focused and don’t multi-task our emotions. I can go a whole day and not think about something that Katie has thought about all day while doing 15 other things. This can create a sense for women that their husbands don’t care or don’t feel. That isn’t it at all, it is just that we push it to the back of our minds so that we can do other things. If I thought about Judah the way Katie did, I would never get any work done. She can think of him, teach our kids, have coffee with someone, make dinner and still think of Judah and post something on Facebook that isn’t related to Judah.
  • Hold a woman when she cries, don’t ask questions. This has been one of our rules in marriage from day one. Katie has told me, “When I cry, just hold me and don’t ask why.” This is just solid advice for a husband, but even more so in the moments of parenting when you as the father can’t fix a situation or do anything about it. I can’t make the Ethiopian embassy go faster or look at our paperwork. I can’t send Katie on a plane to Ethiopia to bring Judah home any faster than it is going and that is frustrating.
  • A mother’s heart is a mystery. While I’ve learned some things, a mother’s heart is a mystery to me and will remain so. It feels and responds in ways I can’t even imagine. It longs in ways that I don’t. It aches in ways that don’t even cross my mind. It is a mystery, and yet, as a father and husband I am grateful for it. It forces me to feel in important ways. I can easily be tough and not emotional, but walking with Katie through this time, meeting Judah and holding him and then the agony of having to say goodbye to him has taught me a lot about being a father and the love God has for me.

My hope with this post was to honor my wife and the beauty and power of her heart as a mother. But to also help men know how to best honor, love, care for and support their wives and the hearts that beat in them. To encourage them to be a mystery, to have emotion and to handle things differently from men.

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. Duane Smets on The pruned planter.
  2. 5 questions every sermon must answer.
  3. Rich Birch on 7 signs your church is struggling.
  4. 10 things that should be on your to-do list today.
  5. Cheryl Edmondson on How to handle it when people talk about your husband, the pastor.
  6. How to write the bottom line in your next sermon.
  7. Dan Black on Benefits to breaking your normal routine.
  8. Tony McCullom on Your first 500 sermons will suck.
  9. What keeps leaders up at nights.
  10. J.D. Greear on What’s the deal with the ‘T’ in LGBT?
  11. Luke Simmons on What I admire about Mormon missions.
  12. An unknown pastor is not the same thing as an ordinary pastor.
  13. Aimee Byrd on Women preaching and blogging. Great insights here.

Stop Giving Him an Out

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One of the things I hear women do too often it seems, especially church planter’s wives is give their husband an out.

Recently, Katie and I were talking about a new book she read called The Church Planting Wife. She told me she liked a lot of it, but felt like the author kept giving her husband an out for his sin.

Here’s how it happens for couples, whether they plant or not.

He is busy. People want his time. He needs to give it. So, during dinner he answers his phone, email or text. During date night he has his phone on. I’ve sat and heard wives say, “People need him.” No they don’t. Your husband isn’t Jesus and that is sin.

Now, before you think I believe pastors shouldn’t care for people or be available, that isn’t the case. But, the reason pastor’s don’t take vacations, days off or be present with their families. The reason they schedule something every night, run themselves ragged is not because there is so much church planting work to be done, but because of sin. Because they think they have to care for everyone, be there for everyone, meet every need, be at every meeting, be involved in everything. The pastor is not the only person who can do something in a church. In fact, the New Testament shows in numerous places (take Ephesians 4 for example) that if the pastor is the only one doing something, that’s an unbiblical, unhealthy church.

Are there times you need to move something around with your family for an emergency? Yes. Should you ever skip a day off or work on it? Sometimes that happens.

If that becomes the norm, that’s when sin creeps in.

Men, if this is you and your wife makes excuses in her head for you not being present, skipping days off, feeding your idol of being needed and thinking you are Jesus. Repent. Women, if you make excuses for his sin, you need to repent of that and stop doing that.

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