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.


Are visits to heaven real?

It is quite true that heaven is a place of perfect bliss—devoid of all sorrow and sin, full of exultation and enjoyment—a place where grace and peace reign totally unchallenged. Heaven is where every true treasure and every eternal reward is laid up for the redeemed. Anyone whose destiny is heaven will certainly experience more joy and honor there than the fallen mind is capable of comprehending—infinitely more than any fallen creature deserves. But if you actually saw heaven and lived to tell about it, those things are not what would capture your heart and imagination.

Yancey Arrington on What to do when you’re in a preaching funk.

It seemed every time I stepped down from the pulpit my heart was full of frustration because, in my estimation, my sermons felt chunky, cluttered, or confused. There was an aimlessness about them. Everything kept coming off flat. They weren’t, for lack of a better term, ‘clicking’ in the hearts of the congregation (or for me for that matter). I would have people speak encouraging things to me after services but they were of the generic, southern politeness, garden-variety remarks that you would get no matter what because people are kind. And even if those messages were good, I didn’t feel that way. And if you don’t think your sermons are good, it doesn’t matter what others tell us. And for quite a season, that’s exactly how I felt. It was a Sahara of preaching because I felt desolate in the pulpit. It seemed no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake it. I still look back on that season and shudder. I hated it and wouldn’t wish it on any preacher.

Carolyn McCulley on How women easily confuse what they do with who they are.

Any change in what we do can easily trigger a crisis of identity — what is the story we are now to tell others about ourselves? While I think this is true for men, I think it is different, and perhaps more pronounced, for women because our productivity choices are scrutinized more often than those of men. That’s why the most divisive terms may be the dreaded “working mothers” versus “stay at home mothers.” If it were a simple description of the location of female productivity, that would be one thing. But these phrases are loaded with guilt and judgment.

Kevin DeYoung on Celebrity Pastors.

The term “celebrity pastor” is decidedly pejorative. I don’t know anyone who would be happy to own the phrase. That doesn’t mean we can’t use it. But it means we should not attach it to pastors in a knee jerk way. A Christian with some combination of influence, social media followers, books, a large church, and speaking engagements may be a public Christian or a well known individual, but let’s not use “celebrity pastor” unless we mean to say he relishes the spotlight, has schemed his way into the spotlight, and carries himself as being above mere mortals. Does this fit some popular preachers? Probably. Does it fit all of them? By no means.

Mark Dance on Should pastors be excited about everything?

Pastors sometimes feel pressure to show equal excitement about all of the ministries in our church, lest we show a hint of favoritism.  Well meaning members and staff lobby for their ministry’s rightful place in the promotional rotation, budget and church calendar.  Some of them even pressure the pastor to give a shout-out from the pulpit.

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Top Posts of August


In case you missed them, here are the top posts of August 2013:

  1. Finding an Accountability Partner as a Pastor
  2. Q: Why Doesn’t Revolution Have a Women’s Ministry
  3. Meeting our Son who we Didn’t Know Much About…
  4. My Arms are Too Short
  5. 21 Skills of Great Preachers
  6. Marital Bliss
  7. The “Other” Celebrity Pastor
  8. The Sins of a Pastor
  9. Two Ideas that Should Change how We Think about our Bodies, Weight Loss & Food
  10. Food, Weight, The Gospel and Stop Being the Victim


The “Other” Celebrity Pastor


There is a great line in the movie Anchorman, when Ron Burgundy introduces himself and says, “I’m kind of a big deal. People know me.” This thinking sums up the thinking of many pastors, but not always the ones you think.

Many people bemoan the rise of mega-churches and talk about the “celebrity pastor” that has come because of it. It may be true true that some pastors of larger churches have created a pastor-centralized way of doing church. They strive to be celebrities.

But I’ve also met pastors of really large churches who are incredibly humble and seek to serve those around them. Large churches do not equal celebrity pastors just like small churches do not mean the pastors are not celebrities.

Now, in a small church, celebrity can be harder to see. But it is there.

You see this when…

  1. A pastor has to be at everything. Something isn’t important if he isn’t there or if he doesn’t announce it from the stage.
  2. Everyone needs to talk to the pastor or be counseled by the pastor. Talking to another elder or leader is seen as getting passed down the line.
  3. People skip church if the pastor isn’t preaching.

This problem can be deceptive because most pastors become pastors to help people. They care deeply for people, the hurts they experience and want to help them find life in Jesus. Underneath this desire for many pastors is a need to be needed. This fuels and drives many pastors to work themselves into a position where they feel they are always needed.

Here are a few ways to know this might be you:

  1. You can’t turn your phone off at night.
  2. You worry what people say about you, your sermon, or your church on Facebook. You also feel the need to comment on everything or want to know how many likes your last status update got.
  3. You have to be at every meeting, part of every decision that is made.
  4. You don’t take time off from preaching. When you go on vacation, you’re afraid someone may like the guest speaker’s sermon more than yours.
  5. When counseling or talking to someone, you do not challenge their sin for fear you will hurt their feelings.
  6. You are the bottleneck for all decisions; they must run through your office. By doing this, you say that you are keeping everyone on the same page, but really it is because you don’t trust that the culture and DNA of your church has spread, which says more about your leadership than your followers.

Pastors are needed by their people. God designed it this way and it is a good thing.

God also designed you as a pastor to find your approval and need to be needed in Jesus. You can’t fix everything. So recognize your limitations, focus your people’s attention on Jesus, and empower others to make decisions and be leaders.

Links of the Week

  1. If you lead something complex, loneliness will follow.
  2. Perry Noble on 5 core values of a declining church.
  3. Why I quit following celebrity pastors on twitter and why you should too.
  4. Ed Welch on An intrusion into the Christian bedroom. Some helpful things here.
  5. The historical reliability of the Bible. Helpful stuff.
  6. Michael Horton on Application in sermons.
  7. The gospel and marriage explain one another.
  8. Ed Stetzer interviews Scot McKnight on his book The King Jesus Gospel. You can read my review of the book here.
  9. 5 suggestions on raising boys. Love the last one, one of our dreams with our kids is to have the house their friends want to come to.
  10. Fight the funk.