Links for Your Weekend Reading

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Don’t preach simply, preach richly.

Thom Rainer on An autopsy of a burned out pastor.

The pastor would not say “no” to requests for time. Being a short-term people pleaser became a longer-term problem.

Chuck Lawless on 10 Questions for a spiritual check-up.

It’s hard to believe that almost ½ of 2014 is now gone. Rather than worry about days past, though, let’s focus on preparing for the rest of the year. Use this list as a spiritual checkup to evaluate your walk, and then let us know how we might pray for you.

Denny Burk on Should you allow your kids to go to a sleepover?

The day of sleepovers has passed. There are simply too many risks involved. Parents, therefore, should be wary of allowing their children to participate in what for many of us was a very common part of our growing-up years.

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

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5 things that won’t make your church start growing.

The trap most leaders fall into is believing that a change in form will be an adequate substitute for a change in substance.

Dan Dumas on 7 reasons you should buy “On Preaching” by H.B. Charles.

H.B. believes in preaching. You’ll put down this book not only informed about preaching but excited about it.

The 12 stages of burnout.

When we push our creativity and productivity to its limits, we can easily find ourselves teetering on brink of burnout. And there’s a fine line between being in the zone and falling down the slippery slope of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. 

How to stop working 7 days a week.

In those moments, remind yourself that what feels like an emergency to them might not actually be an emergency.  Their marriage didn’t get terrible overnight, it’s been sliding for years. Ask one more question, and you might discover that X has been in the hospital for a week and will be there for another week.

How to enter a room like a boss.

In reality, there are many things we all do, unintentionally, when we enter a room or gathering of new people that equates to walking into a room with our fly open. In other words, we’re killing our best chances at success with our own bad habits, mistakes, or simply ignorance. The stakes here are high.

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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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Carey Nieuwhof on If you’re the leader, you are the lid.

Over time, the team and organization you lead will never grow past where you’ve grown. If you stop growing in an area, people who want to grow past that point will simply find another leader to follow.

Did Jesus have a wife?

Last week, the Harvard Theological Review released a much-delayed series of articles on the fragment. After a series of investigations undertaken by diverse scholars, the general judgment claimed by Professor King is that the fragment probably is not a forgery — or at least that it dates back to ancient times. The analysis suggested that the fragment dated from about four centuries later than Professor King had first suggested. This would place the fragment, if authentic, in the context of eighth-century Egypt — hundreds of years after the New Testament was written and completed…In her major article released last week, Professor King defended the fragment’s authenticity, but acknowledged that — all previous sensationalism aside — “It is not entirely clear, however, how many women are referred to [in the fragment], who they are, precisely what is being said about them, or what larger issues are under consideration.”

Thom Rainer on The narcissistic Christian leader.

Narcissism should not be said in the same breath as Christian. The former is love of self; the latter is love of God in Jesus Christ. The world of narcissistic Christian leaders is complicated by the fact that these leaders rarely recognize their problem. And the disorder may not be readily apparent to those who see them from a distance. They can appear, at least on the surface, to be brilliant and charismatic.

Tim Challies on Help my kids are looking at porn.

By looking at pornography your children have violated your trust and shown themselves unworthy of it. That trust will need to be earned and regained over a period of time as they prove themselves responsible and obedient. You will need to be actively involved in training your children to use their privileges well and to use the Internet and their digital devices without this kind of behavior. You need a plan that will account for their devices and their lack of Christian character. 

Brian Howard on How to avoid burnout.

 Burnout might seem to come out of nowhere, but it really doesn’t. Burnout is often the by-product of poor choices on the part of a leader. There are patterns that lead to Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Collapses. These patterns involve not paying attention to what your body and soul really need.

Three kinds of shame.

Sin is muddy. When it splashes, we rightly want to clean it up. But sometimes our zeal to clean causes us to oversimplify sin’s muddiness by seeking trite answers for complex situations.

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How to Know You’re Too Busy

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I was talking with some pastors the other day and the topic of burnout, being too busy and doing too much came up. This seems to be a common thread among people, no matter what they do.

Here are some of the things they asked:

  • How do you know if you are close?
  • Are there warning signs that you are getting too busy?
  • How do you know that your busyness is not just a season, but becoming a way of life?

I know in my life, there are warning signs when I am doing too much or taking too much on. Sometimes I adhere to them and make changes, other times I bulldoze through and pay the price.

Here are some warning signs to be aware of:

  1. What is normally easy is now hard. This is one of the first things that happens. For me, it centers on preaching, sermon prep, reading leadership books. Whenever I find myself not feeling motivated in one or all of these areas, I know I am past the point of running too fast in life. To combat this, I take periodic breaks from preaching (I try to not preach more than 10 weeks in a row) and I work in books that have nothing to do with sermon prep or church ministry to give my brain a break.
  2. Sleep is hard to come by. For many Americans, sleep is hard as it is. We go to bed too late, we don’t take enough naps, spend too much time on technology and get worked up. I try to get to bed by 10:30, I try to not look at social media or texts after 8pm so that my brain is able to take a break. I’ve read studies about how using a smartphone after 9pm can be harmful to sleep and productivity. If you have to take sleeping pills, watch TV to fall asleep or find yourself going to bed at midnight or staring at the clock at midnight, you need to work on your sleep.
  3. It is hard to get going in the morning. Some people are morning people and can’t wait to get going, others are not. I’m not a morning person. But, when I find myself having a hard time getting going in the morning, needing multiple cups of coffee to stay awake or to focus, that’s a warning sign. Think about this morning, how hard was it to get out of bed? The harder it was, the closer you are to burning out.
  4. Motivation is hard to come by. It is true that you are more motivated and alert at certain parts of the day. For me, it is first thing in the morning, which is why I reserve that for sermon prep and not meetings. It is when I am most creative and I need to give that mental time to the most important part of my job: preaching. When I find that motivation not there, I know I have a problem.
  5. You get angry fast. When you are tired, you tend to get angry fast. Your fuse is shorter with those closest to you: family, friends, coworkers.
  6. You use things to calm down. This might be food, sex, porn, exercise, drugs, smoking, alcohol. While these things calm you down and all of these are not necessarily sins, when used to calm us down or help us relax or sleep or “take the edge off” we have a problem. If you think, “I just need ____ to calm down or feel better” you have a problem.
  7. You don’t laugh as much or have fun. This is connected to what we’ve already said, but if you can’t remember the last time you laughed and had fun, that’s a problem. When you are tired, the last thing you have energy for is fun or community.
  8. You have pulled back from community. When you are tired, especially if you are an introvert, the last thing you want is to be around people. Ironically, one of the things that can be the most helpful to warding off burnout and helping to bring you out of unhealthy patterns is community, being around people who care about you.

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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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Dorie Clark on Why we can’t stop working.

The ROI of work is immediately apparent. You get instant feedback and, oftentimes, instant gratification in the form of raises, promotions, new contracts, or general approbation. The arc of family life is different. In the moment, it can be banal, boring, or discouraging.

Perry Noble on 7 ways to be rich.

Give it TIME…what we spent years messing up will most likely not be fixed in three days, or even three weeks!

Dave Bruskas on 4 priorities for pastors from Christmas to Easter.

Christmas, with all its ministry demands, has come and gone. You’ve had a few days off. But you are still very tired as you approach the long run to Easter. How should you prioritize your time and energy? What can you do to recover?

Will Mancini on Ministry trends of 2014 leaders can’t ignore.

Sometimes you can dismiss a trend as a fad. Like Crocs, the Harlem Shake, or flash mobs. At other times to dismiss a trend is just a mistake. As in every era, some of today’s trends will become tomorrow’s reality. Innovative leaders aren’t afraid to embrace change and to be some of the first in on the shifts they see around them. In that spirit, here are 5 trends you’ll no longer be able to dismiss in 2014.

Tony Merida on 9 benefits of expository preaching.

Expository preaching is an approach that is founded on certain theological beliefs, such as the role of the preacher according to Scripture, the nature of the Scripture, and the work of the Spirit. Therefore, many of the benefits for doing exposition are hard to measure. However, nine practical-theological benefits are worth noting.

If you miss your family, you miss everything.

7 crippling parenting behaviors that keep your kids from becoming leaders.

I was intrigued, then, to catch up with leadership expert Dr. Tim Elmore and learn more about how we as parents are failing our children today — coddling and crippling them — and keeping them from becoming leaders they are destined to be. Tim is a best-selling author of more than 25 books, including Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their FutureArtificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenges of Becoming Authentic Adults, and theHabitudes® series. He is Founder and President of Growing Leaders, an organization dedicated to mentoring today’s young people to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Ed Stetzer on 5 ways to teach your kids to hate the ministry.

To put it bluntly, a lot of pastors’ children hate the ministry. My team interviewed 20 pastors’ kids who are adults now. They provided some insights that were both inspiring and disturbing. Children with a pastor-parent can grow to hate the ministry for many reasons, but there are five guaranteed ways you can make sure they hate being a pastor’s kid (PK).

OK Go “This too Shall Pass”
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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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Tim Challies on 6 deadly enemies of marriage.

Marriage is under attack. Marriage has always been under attack. The world, the flesh and the devil are all adamantly opposed to marriage, and especially to marriages that are distinctly Christian. Marriage, after all, is given by God to strengthen his people and to glorify himself; little wonder, then, that it is constantly a great battleground.

Thom Rainer on 11 things I learned from pastor’s wives.

The number one challenge for pastors’ wives is loneliness. That issue arose again and again. Many of these ladies have no true confidants. Some have scars from bad relationships. More than a few have experienced depression. Some still are.

Ann Voskamp on The cure for burnout.

The only way to lead a symphony is to turn your back to the crowd, the critics, the court.

Busy all the time: over-scheduled kids and the freedom of the gospel.

As a suburban youth pastor in a context where nearly all of my students attend college, I witness every day the madness and fallout from the frenetic, overloaded schedules of these children. Parents feel helpless and trapped in this lifestyle, while kids are flat-out exhausted and overwhelmed. Three terms capture the tone of statements I hear from parents when they lament over the busyness of their family: robbery, obligation, and inadequacy.

Kevin DeYoung on Yes, we are judgmental, but not in the way you think.

Evangelical Christians are often told not to judge. If there is one verse non-Christians know (after, perhaps, some reference to the “least of these”) is that’s Jesus taught people, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). Of course, what the casual Christian critic misses is that Jesus was not calling for a moratorium on moral discernment or spiritual evaluation. After all, he assumes five verses later that his followers will have the wherewithal to tell what sort of people in the world are dogs and pigs (Matt. 7:6). Believing in the sinfulness of sin, the exclusivity of Christ, and moral absolutes does not make one judgmental. Just look at Jesus.

Jim Gaffigan on Parenting 4 kids

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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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Tim Kimberley on Should a Christian couple live together before getting married.

You are counseling a couple, who claim to be Christian, that are sleeping together and believe they are “married in their hearts”. They would like to become members of your church. Describe how would you handle this couple, including how you would address the issue of being “married in their hearts?”

Brian Dodd on 8 practices of great churches.

Are you looking to build an enduring church?  Are you looking for a level of ministry  success which can be sustained for a decade?  Are you looking to build something of lasting value?  Of course you do.

7 signs your church is making inroads with unchurched people.

Just because a church is growing doesn’t mean it’s filling up with unchurched people. How do you know you’re really making inroads with the unchurched?

Jon Acuff on Dear Church, 11 signs your burning out your staff.

I love the church and for the part I’ve played in these problems, I apologize. If you work at a church thanks for doing what you do. My kids, my marriage and my town need you.

Marci Preheim on Gospel centered sex.

If a couple consistently applies the implications of the gospel to the marriage bed, they will inevitably have a healthier marriage.

What does it mean to be gospel centered?

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. Trevin Wax on Don’t give your child a trophy for losing. Couldn’t agree with this more.
  2. Regular bedtimes help kids behavior.
  3. John Piper on Hijacking your brain from porn.
  4. Thom Rainer on 7 reasons your church needs to go on a diet. Being simple is the one of the defining characteristics of Revolution Church.
  5. Ryan Williams on 8 things I learned as a young lead pastor.
  6. 10 productivity tips for pastors.
  7. Ron Edmondson on 5 tips to be a better dad this week.
  8. Sleep & productivity.
  9. Mark Driscoll on 7 sabbath killers.

Elevation Creative: I Have Decided

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. Brad Lomenick on What not to do as an emerging leader.
  2. The real reason your church isn’t growing.
  3. Carey Nieuwhof on 9 signs you are burning out and how to come out of burnout.
  4. When is the royal baby a fetus? Great discussion on abortion and when life begins.
  5. Thom Rainer on How many hours should a pastor work?
  6. Michael Hyatt on What’s your favorite leadership book and why. Great list of books worth reading.
  7. What seminary did not teach me about preaching.
  8. Russell Moore on What’s at stake with internet pornography.
  9. Online porn blocked in England.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Chasing Francis

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Chasing Francis (kindle version) by Ian Cron.

I read this book in less than 24 hours. I literally could not put it down.

I’m not sure why it had such a profound effect on me, but this book grabbed me in a way a book hasn’t for awhile.

The story is a novel of sorts about a pastor who is tired and burned out. He feels like his faith is stale, that the things he used to be so sure of are now becoming wobbly. Mostly because he is leading a church that is all about programs and getting bigger simply to get bigger and be more prestigious. He melts down in the middle of a sermon and because of that, his elders give him a 2 month break. He takes this break and goes to Italy and learns about St. Francis of Assisi.

Now, here is where things get a little weird for me. Some of the history and theology of Francis I am not sure of in the book. His talking to animals and things like that seemed weird and made me wonder if they are true.

But, keep in mind, this is a novel. If you do that, the story is great. If you want a history book on St. Francis, I’d pick one up, this isn’t it.

Here are a few things that jumped out to me:

  • A pilgrimage is a way of praying with your feet. You go on a pilgrimage because you know there’s something missing inside your soul, and the only way you can find it is to go to sacred places, places where God made himself known to others. In sacred places, something gets done to you that you’ve been unable to do for yourself.
  • The Bible is less about ideas or doctrines than it is a story about people and their up-and-down relationships with God.
  • The Bible is the story of how God gets back what was always his in the first place.
  • Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible
  • True holiness is so often swaddled in the simple.
  • You’ll never be able to speak into their souls unless you speak the truth about your own wounds. You need to tell them what Jesus has come to mean to you in the midst of your disappointments and losses. All ministry begins at the ragged edges of our own pain.
  • Churches should be places where people come to hear the story of God and to tell their own.
  • Jesus draws very near at the Eucharist, and that can be unnerving. But think of it as a homecoming celebration. In the Eucharist, we’re united with God.
  • The church is realizing there is an awareness of God sleeping in the basement of the postmodern imagination and they have to awaken it. The arts can do this. All beauty is subversive; it flies under the radar of people’s critical filters and points them to God. As a friend of mine says, ‘When the front door of the intellect is shut, the back door of the imagination is open.’ Our neglect of the power of beauty and the arts helps explain why so many people have lost interest in church. Our coming back to the arts will help renew that interest.
  • Forgiveness is not something you do; it is something that gets done to you.
  • How we live together is what attracts people to faith.

This is a book that if you find your faith is stale and not robust, or, a pastor that is tired and burned out, you should definitely pick up. I found myself relating to so much of the story from past experiences while at the same time being challenged for my faith to grow and be more and more robust.