Links for Your Weekend Reading

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Al Mohler on There is no “third way” when it comes to homosexuality.

There is no third way. A church will either believe and teach that same-sex behaviors and relationships are sinful, or it will affirm them. Eventually, every congregation in America will make a public declaration of its position on this issue. It is just a matter of time (and for most churches, not much time) before every congregation in the nation faces this test.

Eva Selhub, M.D. on CrossFit bashers, can you be more constructive?

CrossFit is not the problem folks, obesity is. We have an epidemic of obesity that is not only propelling the rising costs of healthcare, but also morbid problems like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars. The medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

Why one Mom says “no” to electronics for her kids.

When I tell you no to devices, I’m giving you a gift. And I’m giving me a gift. It’s a gift of relationship. True human connection. It’s precious and a treasure. And you mean so much to me that I don’t want to miss a second of it.

6 reasons Millenials aren’t at your church and 7 to draw them to your church.

LifeWay Research found 70 percent of young adults who indicated they attended church regularly for at least one year in high school do drop out of regular church attendance. That does not mean, however, they have left never to return. In fact, according to LifeWay Research, almost two-thirds return and currently attend church (within the time frame of the study). That same study found most don’t make a conscious decision to leave due to a doctrinal dispute or significant disagreement. They simply drift away because the church doesn’t seem as important to their lives as it once did. Many have looked at a church and decided it is no longer relevant.

Cross Fit by Jesus

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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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Dallas Willard on There’s no such thing as casual sex.

Al Mohler on God and the Gay Christian? A response to Matthew Vines.

Recently a new book by Matthew Vines was released claiming to present a biblical case for same sex marriage. Albert Mohler, along with James Hamilton, Denny Burk, Owen Strachan, and Heath Lambert, have produced a free eBook offering a response to the biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral issues raised by Vines’ book. To download a copy, go to sbts.me/ebook.

Hanna Rosin on Your not as busy as you think you are.

The art of busyness is to convey genuine alarm at the pace of your life and a helpless resignation, as if someone else is setting the clock, and yet simultaneously make it clear that you are completely on top of your game. 

Ed Stetzer on Why full and public repentance matters.

Pastors are held to a higher standard and must repent of sin in accordance with that standard. As such, pastors are different, not in value, but in responsibility and expectation. They are worthy of double honor and they are harder to accuse. We can see the practical reason for this– like it or not, being a religious leader attracts a higher level of criticism. If you are a pastor, you are probably already well aware of that reality.

Brian Howard on Social media wisdom for Christians and pastors.

Be wise about what you say online. More than representing Grace, you represent Jesus to the world. As leaders, you are “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1).” Take your calling seriously, and think through how your public comments, posts and “likes” will be privately perceived. If you like it or share it, you endorse it. So if in doubt, leave it out.

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Loving Does Not Equal Participating

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By now, the news of SB 1062 has spread far and wide. Living in Tucson, I’ve been asked by people what I think of it. I don’t normally write about politics on this blog, so I’m going to do my best to stick to that with this post (look at the bottom for the political side of this).

The bill has lots of holes and I’m not sure it will actually reach the goal it sets forth (if it’s signed into law). Also, to hear politicians who voted for it on TV begging the governor to veto it seems like poor leadership, but that’s for another post.

One thing stuck out to me last night watching Anderson Cooper and it is something that comes up in every post on this topic, associated with this bill or not. It gets said something like this, “Christians are supposed to love their neighbor, this is unloving.” Now, what this is depends on the situation and in some examples, Christians are being unloving. We (as Christians) also show some inconsistencies since the verses on homosexuality usually include adultery, greed, stealing, and drunkards to name a few (1 Corinthians 6:9-12) and other times it simply includes homosexuality (Romans 1:26 – 27). Biblically, they are all sins and need to be repented of and we need to fight those sins and the sins under those sins that drive us.

That being said, a lie has creeped into our culture and it is this: Loving means participating. That’s a lie.

 Loving does not equal participating. 

There is this belief that if I love someone, I participate with what they do. It would be unloving not to. That is untrue. You can love someone and not be a part of what they do. You can love someone and not go to a place with them while they sin. Now, every follower of Jesus must decide how they love their neighbor, you are called to do it. You are called to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). Does that mean attending a gay wedding or photographing one? I’m not sure.

For me, I have friends who are not Christians who are gay. I have friends who are Christians and struggle with same sex attraction and trying to figure out what that means and how they stay pure with that pull. I’ve agonized with them as we’ve discussed my take on homosexuality and the gospel truths about homosexuality.

I appreciate Tim Keller’s answer on this question (see below)

If you want some information on my opinion of homosexuality being similar to civil rights, this is a great post.

Al Mohler nails the problem of coercion in our culture as it relates to this.

And finally, Denny Burk has nailed it with these posts found here, here and here.

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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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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.

Almost the Best Books of 2013

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It’s that time of year again, time to share my top lists of the year. Yesterday, I shared the top sermon downloads from Revolution Church.

Tomorrow I’ll begin sharing my favorite albums of the year. First, the honorable mentions, then on Friday you’ll get my top 13 albums of the year.

Today’s list are the books that almost made my favorite books of 2013. To see my list of favorite books from past year, simply click on the numbers: 200920102011 and 2012.

I’ll share my favorite books of 2013 on Thursday. To make this list, it does not have to be published in 2013, I only needed to read it in 2013. As always, this list was hard to narrow down, but here are the honorable mentions for the top 13 books of 2013:

The Conviction to Lead | Al Mohler

Mohler said, “The problem is a lack of attention to what leaders believe and why this is central. If our leaders are not passionately driven by the right beliefs, we are headed for disaster. At the same time, if believers cannot lead, we are headed nowhere.” You can read my review here.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On | Jonah Berger

While this book is mostly a business marketing book, the implications for pastors when it comes to preaching and communication are enormous. When you preach, you want your topic and ideas to spread, to “catch on.” That’s the goal of this book. You can read my review here.

The Power of Habit: Why we do What we do in Life and Business | Charles Duhigg

He talks about the habit loop, which is when there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: Over time, this loop—cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward—becomes more and more automatic. You can read my review here.

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success | Adam Grant

Give and Take looks at who are the most successful people in the world: givers, takers or matchers. What he found from all walks of life, those that are givers are more successful than takers or simply matchers. This is counter-intuitive and what makes the book so good. You can read my review here.

Stay tuned for more “best of” lists tomorrow.

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.

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.