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. How to use Evernote to keep track of everything. I love Evernote. It is the app I use more than anything else.
  2. Craig Groeschel on 4 things every leader should know about their staff.
  3. A father of 8 talks about the looks and comments he gets and what it reveals about our culture and families. I get these a lot, so I can relate.
  4. Scott Williams on The power of naps.
  5. 12 costs all leaders must be willing to pay to be successful.
  6. Jay Yarow on How 18-29 year olds view the use of technology. This is pretty eye opening and will have huge implications on life and ministry into the future.
  7. How to pray for your city.
  8. Charles Stone on 5 telling questions to ask at your next staff meeting.
  9. Sam Storms on Does God want you to be happy?
  10. Thom Rainer on How to be a better church staff member.

Sunday Afternoon Mind Dump…

  • Last night was the last night of my summer preaching break
  • It was awesome to have Brent Thomas with us from another Acts 29 Church, The Church of the Cross up in Phoenix
  • He did a great job continuing our series The Story of God by looking at the book of Ruth
  • So many great truths in that book
  • I’m so pumped about getting back and preaching this week on the book of Jonah, so many things in there that we often miss or overlook
  • Had a great creative meeting for our next series that starts August 20th
  • Seriously, you DO NOT want to miss a week of this series
  • It is going to be awesome
  • In case you missed it, Amazon is having a huge sale on their kindle books, you need to check some of them out
  • Yesterday, Katie shared an update on our adoption, if you haven’t read it, take a minute to do so
  • Thanks
  • It has been nice having my preaching break, it has given me the opportunity to work ahead on our sermon series for the fall
  • So excited about the topics and books of the Bible we will preach through
  • Planning to do Titus and Jude this fall which I think will be pretty eye opening to everyone
  • On August 25th, we are tentatively planning a special vision night at Revolution
  • This will be a huge night in the life of our church as we look to the future and how we will be a multiplying church around Tucson
  • I’m so excited to share some of the things that have been happening behind the scenes at Revolution
  • Stay tuned for more details
  • I’m going to get back to my book before heading out to a community dinner tonight

Links of the Week

  1. According to Christianity Today, being a pastor is a risky profession. This is a helpful article for pastor’s to know the dangers and for their churches to know how to support and pray for their pastor.
  2. Brent Thomas gives his favorite albums of the year so far. Admittedly, I have none of these, some were on the list, but they’re now moving up the list.
  3. How the gospel makes us generous and content with our money.
  4. Ed Stetzer on Freedom of religion has to be freedom for everyone.
  5. New Barna research on how churches are impacting their community and how they are viewed by their communities.
  6. Will Mancini on 6 ways to communicate vision every week. This is helpful and important for leaders to understand.
  7. The missional student ministry. Makes me grateful for the leadership Paul Samson gives to Rev uP.
  8. Pete Wilson Taking a digital detox. I cherish going on vacation, leaving my computer at home and handing Katie my phone so I don’t check it.
  9. Spiritual warfare in the home. This is real and you need to pray against it.
  10. Michael Hyatt on 5 reasons you need to get better at saying “No.”
  11. Instant churches. We are blessed to meet in another church, but I definitely could see us having 1 or more sites that meet in schools in the future.
  12. Charles Stone on 5 really bad ways pastors react when people compare them to more successful churches.
  13. Factors that predict multiplication of communities.
  14. R.C. Sproul on Understanding what the Bible says on homosexuality.
  15. Leadership red flags.

Summer Preaching Break

A few people have asked why I haven’t preached in the last few weeks at Revolution. One of the blessings the elders have given me each summer is a summer preaching break. Typically in the summer, I take 3-4 weeks where I don’t preach and in that time I usually go on a family vacation. We didn’t do this the first year of Revolution because I didn’t have anyone else to preach. That year I preached 50 weekends. But I’ve learned from older pastors that one of the ways they make it to the end in ministry and finish well is taking a summer preaching break. The misconception is that a pastor who has a summer preaching break is just sitting at home playing xbox, doing nothing. Other pastors may do that, but for me, my preaching break for me consists of me working, just not preaching. Steven Furtick explains well why he takes a summer preaching break.

There are a couple of benefits to this. It helps me stay fresh as preaching is tiring, mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. It gives me time to spend extended time with God, filling my tank so that I have things to say. It gives me a chance to look ahead and plan future sermon series. During this time I typically write study guides for upcoming series. On this study break I wrote the study guides for our series on Titus and Jude that we are doing this fall.

It also helps me with my family time. Giving me an opportunity to have some flexibility to go to church with my family, a rare treat. Be more focused on them as when I am preaching I am very focused on my sermons, prepping my voice, mind, heart and body for it.

It helps our church not just hear from me. I appreciate that Revolution loves hearing me preach and I love preaching, but it is healthy for them to hear other communicators. It gives a chance for new communicators in our church to get developed. One of our goals from the beginning is to fight as hard as we can against the tendency for Revolution to be built around one person. It is hard but having 8-10 weeks a year that I don’t preach is a big part of helping that to happen.

This summer, my break got moved up. It was supposed to be at the beginning of August, but I ended up getting laryngitis from my allergies at the beginning of July so we had to switch things around. It has been a challenge for everyone, but our team has been great about being flexible and making it happen.

One of the last things it does is makes me love preaching. As I said in other posts, preaching is spiritual warfare. It is hard and draining. I love every minute that I get to preach, but it is hard. I remember a preaching professor telling me that after preaching one sermon you should feel like you just worked an 8 hour day, if you don’t, you left some on the field so to speak. Now, I preach twice a week. Taking a break reinvigorates that love of preaching, keeping me focused on the prize of preaching, which is life change. Right now, I can’t wait for July 30, which is when I am back to preaching again.

But this week, I’m pumped to sit at Revolution, worship with my church family and hear Brent Thomas challenge us from the book of Ruth. Pastor, if you don’t take a break in the summer, let me encourage you to do so. You need it. Your family needs it. Your church needs it.

This Weekend @ Revolution: Finding Redemption

I am really excited about this Saturday at Revolution. We are continuing our series The Story of God and a good friend to Revolution, Brent Thomas, will be with us to preach through the book of Ruth.

Ruth has all the elements of a love story. But it is more than a love story between a woman and the only man who could provide for her and her family. It’s a story within a story. In it we see that God is weaving together His plan to redeem His people. We also learn that our life, no matter how ordinary it may seem and no matter how difficult it may be, is a part of a plan much larger than ourselves.

I know many in our community are hurting right now and walking through some incredibly difficult situations involving health, finances, children, marriage, job, housing, etc. This story is one of many in Scripture that speaks to where God is in those situations and how He redeems us in those places.

It promises to be a powerful night.

So, do whatever you have to do to be at Revolution this week (and bring someone with you, you never know how a simple invite can make an eternal difference). An easy way to invite someone is to send them an e-vite.

Remember, we meet at 4:15 & 6pm at 6620 E 22nd St.

See you Saturday.

Links of the Week

  1. Sam Storms on Paul the Pastor. This is a great article for any pastor to read.
  2. 5 organizational hazards of leading a growing church. Praying God keeps Revolution from these.
  3. Joe Holland on 8 tips to talking with kids about a sermon. They hear and retain more than you think.
  4. How Tim Keller prays. This is so rich and good, if you click anything this week, click this.
  5. Steve McCoy on Open air preaching. Challenging to think if what caused revivals in the Bible and throughout church history could do it again.
  6. Scotty Smith on Signs you are growing in grace.
  7. Brent Thomas on Rob Bell’s new book and some ways to react. Here are my thoughts on the subject. And here is what Trevin Wax had to say on it, Trevin’s comments are spot on.
  8. Kevin DeYoung on Two thoughts on the Rob Bell Brouhaha. This is incredibly helpful and insightful.
  9. Thom Rainer on How to encourage your pastor.
  10. 7 ways to avoid sexual sin and stay in ministry for the long haul. It seems every week I hear another heart breaking story of another pastor falling out of ministry. It can happen to anyone and these are some great practical tips.
  11. Mark & Grace Driscoll on How to talk with your kids about sex.
  12. Al Mohler on Why so many think same sex marriage is okay. This is helpful insight. I’ve often wondered if in our defense of heterosexual marriage, if we argue the wrong point.

Rob Bell, his New Book and the Definition of Love

The blog world went crazy today (at least among pastors). News of Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. I have been a fan of Rob Bell’s few several years, he has challenged me, pushed my thinking and helped to shape my beliefs by the questions he has forced me to ask. I try not to throw out good books because I disagree with them as many Christians seem to do. In fact, some of my greatest growth in terms of my spiritual journey and theological beliefs have come from the writings of Rob Bell and Brian McLaren with the questions they forced me to wrestle with. Depending on your maturity, how long you have followed Jesus and some other factors should go into deciding to read books that you disagree with theologically.

So, what is this all about? Bell’s new book comes out in March and his publisher released a description:

Fans flock to his Facebook page, his NOOMA videos have been viewed by millions, and his Sunday sermons are attended by 10,000 parishioners—with a downloadable podcast reaching 50,000 more. An electrifying, unconventional pastor whom Time magazine calls “a singular rock star in the church world,” Rob Bell is the most vibrant, central religious leader of the millennial generation. Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.

Now, as a speaker and filmmaker, Rob Bell is second to very few. They also released a trailer to go with the book, which is now all the rage.

While it is difficult to know what all will be Bell’s book, this gives a pretty good idea what the gist is and taking the leap from his other writings it isn’t surprising that this is the turn he is taking. Bell’s point about who knows where people stand is true. We are not the judges and all I have to go on about his book is this video, description and what I’ve heard him say in sermons before this.

Here is where I struggle with universalism. Jesus did not die on a cross to save us from God. He died on a cross to rescue us from our sin to be made right with God. Like Bell, I believe love wins, but not how he describes it. To believe in universalism, you have to toss the idea of sin, the idea that God is holy and set apart, different. You have to toss the belief that Jesus died on the cross, the beauty, glory and agony of that love. Why would he have to do that if “love wins” and we all “get in.”

Think about it as a parent, if I see that my kids are doing something destructive, will I stand by and do nothing? If they do something wrong, are there consequences I will bring to bear or natural consequences they will have to experience? Yes. It is the same with God. The idea of universalism creates this image of a God who is needy for me. Saying, “It doesn’t matter if you have spent your entire life living as if I don’t exist, in total opposition to the way I have dreamed creation to live, come spend eternity with me.”

Love does win. Love has won, but not the way Bell says it does (but I am interested to read his book).

HT: Justin Taylor

For some more helpful thoughts, check out what Kevin DeYoung and Brent Thomas had to say.

Links of the Week

  1. America, Christmas and Jesus. What Americans believe about Christmas and how they celebrate it.
  2. If you or someone you know is struggling with a porn addiction or know of a marriage that porn is destroying, here are some great resources to help with that. In the fall of 2009, Katie and I did a sermon together on porn addiction and what it does to marriages and it is still our most downloaded sermon at Revolution. You can get it here. Katie also did a series of blog posts for the wives of husbands dealing with a porn addiction that are definitely worth reading.
  3. Was Jesus really born? Here is a helpful article to answer that question.
  4. Michael Lukaszewski on Lazy Leaders. This is one of the differences between leaders who get things and leaders who don’t. Church planters, people don’t want to follow someone who is lazy.
  5. Lots of people do top 10 lists for music, books and movies at the end of the year. Here are my top 10 albums of the year. Two friends of mine, who I trust when it comes to music also posted their lists. See their’s here:  Brent Thomas and Steve McCoy.