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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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.

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Nick Roen on An alternative script for same-sex attraction.

“There is nothing wrong with living a gay lifestyle. In fact, if you repress who you are, you will never live a happy, fulfilled life. Be true to yourself!” This is the overwhelming message of society regarding homosexuality. Mark Yarhouse refers to this as “the gay script,” the blueprint for how homosexuals are to live. “Embrace who you are,” a swelling number shout, “and you will find happiness!” I disagree.

Fast Company on 10 surprising stats about social media that will make you change your social media strategy.

Tom Ascol on 35 lessons from being a pastor for 35 years.

Thirty-five years ago this month I began serving my first church as pastor. The Rock Prairie Baptist Church in College Station, Texas took a major risk on a senior Texas A&M student by issuing me a call to be their pastor. It was my happy privilege to serve them for nearly two years before being called to the Spring Valley Baptist Church in Dallas. I am currently in my twenty-eighth year of serving Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida. As I recently reflected on the last thirty-five years I wrote down some lessons learned and convictions I’ve come to or continued to hold.

Thom Rainer on Pastors and christmas gifts.

I asked a simple question on Twitter: What do you do for your pastor at Christmas time? For pastors, I asked what their congregations gave them at Christmas. Though my survey was not scientific, it was nevertheless revealing. I am truly concerned about how congregations treat pastors. I thought the issue of the Christmas gift would at least be an indicator of such concern.

Matt Walsh on Men, your porn habit is an adultery habit.

I know a guy who cheats on his wife. He cheats on her every day. He cheats on her multiple times a day. He’s a husband and a father and a serial adulterer.

Mark Driscoll on How many people should go on the honeymoon?

In the absence of any cultural definition of gender or marriage, let alone any restriction on sex, relationships in our society will only get cloudier. We will see polygamy legalized in my lifetime, perhaps even in the next twenty years.

Michael Lukaszewski on Why people don’t do what you preach.

Your content was carefully researched, outlined in detail, and prayed over it multiple times. You put in hours of study on an important topic and you communicate your guts out, only to have people walk out the door and forget everything by lunch or kickoff. You delivered a faithful, accurate, truthful and well-written message. And nobody did anything.

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

Top Posts of March 2012

In case you missed them, here were the top posts for March 2012:

  1. How a Wife Handles Her Husband’s Sexual/Porn Addiction
  2. Preach Better Sermons
  3. The Next 100 Days
  4. Book Recommendations for Dealing with Porn, Sexual Addiction, and Adultery
  5. The Role of Men in the Family
  6. What Attracts People to Church?
  7. 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
  8. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
  9. Truth
  10. Q: Preaching to Believers & Seekers

Interacting with the Opposite Sex when You’re Married

In honor of preaching on the topic of marriage at Revolution this past Saturday and this coming Saturday, I thought I’d repost some of the more helpful things I’ve written on the topics of marriage, dating, sexuality, roles, communication and others topics related to marriage.

Couples who commit adultery don’t just happen to do it. It is something that happens over time, not all at once. One of the reasons for this is a lack of boundaries.

I often get asked about the boundaries that Katie and I have for our relationships with the opposite sex in our church. In fact, it has caused some people to not understand and to get upset at me. But as a pastor, I have seen too many church leaders who did not have boundaries or discretion fall in ministry, lose their wife and kids and lose the call God had on their life. I refuse for that to happen, all of those things are way to important for me.

When we were in Wisconsin, it was winter and probably about 5 degrees outside. We were having some of our leaders over and a single woman was the first one there and Katie was at the store. I was alone with Ava. So I gave Ava to this leader to hold, grabbed my jacket and went outside to wait for someone else to get there. Some people scratch their heads at this, but it shows to Katie and to my church, my integrity, my marriage is really important.

Pastors, your integrity is more important than anything. I have never read a book on leadership that didn’t say something to this effect, “Lose your integrity, lose your leadership and following.” (Usually, more elegant than that)

Saddleback Church in California has what they call their 10 Commandments and it has been incredibly helpful for me over the years. Now as a Lead Pastor with people under me, this is how all pastors at Revolution (now and in the future) will interact with the opposite sex. Here they are:

  1. Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.*
  2. Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.*
  3. Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.*
  4. Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.*
  5. Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, and thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. Refer them.
  6. Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.
  7. Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with an attender of the opposite sex.
  8. Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, instant messages, chatrooms, cards or letters from the opposite sex.
  9. Thou shalt make your co-worker your protective ally.
  10. Thou shalt pray for the integrity of other staff members.

(*The first four do not apply to unmarried staff.)

Thanks for the link Ed.

How a Wife Handles Her Husband’s Sexual Addiction

In honor of preaching on the topic of marriage at Revolution this past Saturday and this coming Saturday, I thought I’d repost some of the more helpful things I’ve written on the topics of marriage, dating, sexuality, roles, communication and others topics related to marriage.

At Revolution, we’ve never been afraid to talk about hard topics. One of the topics we’ve talked about is porn, sexual addiction and adultery. It is a hard topic, but one almost every couple is dealing with. Either the actual issue or the aftermath. You can listen to the most recent sermon on this topic here.

In the message, I was very honest and open in my talk about our journey. When I was 10, I was at a birthday party and the guys dad thought it was time for all of us 10 year olds to learn about sex and women, so he brought down a box of porn. That began for me an addiction that lasted until I was 22.

My talk came out of the journey that Katie and I experienced as we tried to heal, move forward, understand the reasons why (ironically, this is the last thing people talk about, the why, but I believe until you understand that you will have a difficult time finding freedom), and how to heal our marriage and find trust, integrity and purity.

I can honestly say, this was the hardest thing we have ever done, but worth doing. What came out of this journey is a stronger relationship, honesty, trust, purity. We put many different boundaries and protections in place in our lives to keep us pure. We have accountability we didn’t have 7 years ago because our marriage is worthwhile.

The most common questions we got after the talk were, “Is it possible to be free?” and “What does a wife do, how does she handle it?”

Yes, it is possible to be free. It will take a lot of work, prayer, some drastic changes in your life, but you can find freedom and have eyes only for your wife. Our life is a walking example. Like any addict, we celebrate 10 years of freedom!

To answer the second question, Katie did something that I am very proud of her for doing. She walked through our journey, her journals, her heart and shared them on her blog. These are must reads for any guy who is addicted to porn and any wife who suspects or knows her husband is and she is trying to find answers or healing.

Here are the posts:

If you need some more resources to help you through this journey, here are some that have been incredibly helpful to us.

One thing I learned through preaching on this is that enough churches do not talk about this. Statistically, over 80% of the men in your church are dealing with this. The stats are crazy and the church needs to step up to the plate, call men to integrity, help couples find freedom and answers and healing.

I’m going to step off my soap box now.

Top Posts of 2011

In case you missed them over the last 11 days, here are my top 11 posts of 2011:
  1. My Review of Love Wins
  2. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
  3. Sin, Adultery & Falling out of Ministry
  4. Having Too Many Kids
  5. Practicing Greatness
  6. Living in Gospel Centered Community on Mission
  7. My Journey of Losing Weight
  8. Leadership & Criticism
  9. How You Know You are Being Divisive (And Sinning)
  10. Gospel Intentionality Everyday
  11. How Do I Get my Husband to Lead? (And Some Other Things Katie I learned in 9 years of Marriage)

Top Post of 2011 – #3: Sin, Adultery & Falling out of Ministry

Over the last 11 days of 2011, I’ll be posting the top 11 posts of 2011. Here is #3: Sin, adultery & falling out of ministry.

It seems every mont I’m hearing about another pastor who has fallen out of ministry for committing adultery or some other shot at his integrity. Usually, it is pastors no one has heard of, but sometimes, it is someone known. Someone from a large church, a charismatic leader doing some great things. Almost 2 years ago, I wrote about Gary Lamb and how that shaped my thinking.

Yesterday, another leader I followed on twitter and on his blog announced that he was stepping down. Immediately, a flood of emotions run through your mind. I started scrolling through twitter and there is person after person calling them out, saying horrible things about them, their sin and those involved.

Here are a few thoughts on this in general:

  1. If you think you can’t fall, you are a moron. Straight up idiot. I think this is the first step to falling. You think it can’t happen to you. To destroy your ministry and set a church back, he just needs one leader to fall. It ruins the name of the gospel, Jesus and that church. It doesn’t even need to be the lead pastor, it can be an elder, the worship pastor, student pastor, a wife. Anyone.
  2. Throwing rocks doesn’t help anyone or move the gospel forward. When someone admits to sinning, confesses and says they want to restore themselves and their marriage. Give grace. I often wonder where we would be in life in Jesus gave us the grace we give. Imagine going to the cross and Jesus saying, “Do you know how horrible that sin was? Do you? Do you really feel bad? Do you?”
  3. Put some boundaries in place. I have blogged about this before, but here are a few ideas:  don’t meet alone with someone of the opposite sex (if you are married), don’t ride in the car alone, don’t be in a house alone, don’t be in an office with the door closed and no window alone with them. Have a male assistant or an older, unattractive woman.
  4. Listen to your spouse. If your wife or husband (depending) is uncomfortable with someone, listen up. When Katie tells me a woman makes her uncomfortable or seems to have ulterior motives, my antenna goes up and I listen.
  5. Don’t be physical with someone you aren’t married with. As a pastor, you need to shepherd people, but you need to be careful. Physical touch can be appropriate and needed, but be careful. Side hugs are good ideas and safe.
  6. Close loops. Don’t interact with old flames. Don’t be friends on facebook. Don’t email. Don’t follow them on twitter. Don’t call them. Get them out of your life. All of them.
  7. Pursue your spouse and make it your most important human relationship. If you want your marriage to last, if you want sex to be exciting and you want this relationship to be life giving. Put time and effort into it. Have a weekly date night. Get away for a night every year. Whenever people say, “I don’t know how you have time for a weekly date night.” I wonder, “How do you not have time for the most important relationship you have on the planet?”

In the end, whenever I read or hear about pastors or leaders or anyone committing adultery or leaving their spouse I get angry and sad. It also pushes me to purity and to the cross. I know that by the grace of God, it isn’t me. The thought of losing everything:  my integrity, my ministry, the call on my life, my family, kids, trust. It pushes me to have boundaries, to stay pure, to stay close to the cross and my wife.

I hope it does the same for you.

Preaching a Balanced Diet

One of the dangers of preaching is repetition. Repetition in one sense can be good because people need to hear things several times before they understand it or get it, and a church should have a nice flow of guests coming in that need to hear specific things about Jesus and faith.

Repetition can also be dangerous because communicators can get into the habit of saying the same thing over and over, always finding a way to make a passage about their soapbox, or just repeating sermons. I knew of one church planter that repeated his sermons, really repeated them, every 18 months.

One of my jobs at Revolution is setting the preaching calendar, what topics we will study, what books we will preach through, etc. I submit those ideas to the elders to make sure that we are in agreement on what our church needs to hear, get feedback on topics from them, etc.

Here is what makes me excited about the next 18 months at Revolution, we will study a wide variety of topics. Such as:  Jesus, the trinity, mission, evangelism, community, marriage, dating, being single, heaven, hell, the afterlife, the wrath of God, predestination, free will, election, suffering, does God cause suffering, hospitality, prayer, money, generosity.

We will touch on books like Malachi, Daniel, Jonah, Ephesians, Proverbs. We will preach through Titus, Jude, and Romans.

Pastors, one of your jobs is to make sure your church is getting a balanced diet of Scripture. Do you have a plan for that? Do you know what topics you will cover over the next 12-18 months? What books you will preach through? How will you make sure you don’t just preach from the New Testament or the gospels?

The Next Series at Revolution: The Vow

I’ve been asked what we are preaching on next at Revolution when we finish up The Story of God

We are going to do a 4 week series on being single, dating and marriage called The Vow. We will get into what a man (single or married) is supposed to be, what a woman is supposed to be, if everyone should get married, how you should date, what the Bible says on sex before marriage, outside of marriage, how to communicate to your spouse, love languages, and a whole lot more.

Here is what the series looks like:

August 20: A Good Man (Ephesians 5:22 – 33)
August 27: A Good Woman (1 Peter 3:1 – 6)
September 3: Breaking Free from Our Broken Families (Ephesians 2:13 – 22)
September 10: Enjoying Your Marriage (Proverbs 5:1 – 20)

Start praying and thinking about who you can bring with you for this series.