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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5 temptations every church leader, dad and husband face.

In the same way that almost every parent is tempted to engineer their child’s life from choosing a career, As a church leader, there’s pressure to want to engineer your child’s faith life. I have said it many times over. I want nothing more than for my children to be in a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. And you can be tempted to try to make that happen. You certainly can and should influence their decision. After all, you are the greatest influence in your child’s life. But you can’t make them love God.

Tim Challies on 4 simple steps to destroying a church.

Dave Bruskas on How to prepare a daughter for marriage.

One of the hardest moments in a dad’s life is giving away his daughter in marriage. Preparing her for that moment is even harder.

How to work ahead on your sermon prep.

Alex Chediak on Giving teens a biblical view of sex.

Sex is perhaps the most powerful God-created way to help you give your entire self to another human being. Sex is God’s appointed way for two people to reciprocally say to one another, “I belong completely, permanently, and exclusively to you.”

7 things I wish someone told me before I was a parent.

Justin Taylor on 3 reasons God cares who you sleep with.

1. Everyone cares who people sleep with, so why would God be any different?
2. If there is a God and he has a timeless ethical standard, wouldn’t you expect it to challenge every society somewhere?
3. Finally, why do we care so much whom we sleep with?

Questions you should ask if your church is not growing.

One of the best things any leader can do when they’re in a tough spot is to stop making assumptions and start asking questions. Our assumptions got us to where we are, but they won’t necessarily get us where we need to go.

 

 

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5 Steps to Wrecking Your Life

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On Sunday, I talked about the reality that everyone, man or woman, married, divorced or single, is always one choice away from wrecking their lifeIf you missed it, you can listen to it here.

The question I always wrestle with is, “How?” How is it possible for so many professional athletes to throw it all away to take PED’s? Why do so many people sleep with someone they aren’t married to and lose their marriage? Why do people gamble with their finances and go into debt in hopes of finding the quick fix? Why do people gamble or look at porn while at work and lose their jobs? The list goes on and on.

In his helpful book Impact: Great Leadership Changes Everything by Tim Irwin, he says there are 5 steps to wrecking your life, or as he would say derailing your life. They are:

  1. Lack of self-awareness. This comes when a person doesn’t know what could bring them down. They don’t know what their weaknesses are. Is it money, greed, power, sex, lust, a bigger house or car? What are they willing to trade their marriage, reputation, kids or future in for? If you don’t know that, you will be brought down.
  2. Arrogance or misguided confidence. This is when a person sees someone wreck their life and says, “That could never happen to me.” This is when a person sins once and says, “I already did it once, what is one more time?” They have supreme confidence they can stop whenever or take back control whenever they choose. Or, that it won’t destroy their life.
  3. Missed warning signals. This might be close calls in getting caught, being late to work for staying up too late, conviction from the Holy Spirit that you push away or even evidence that you might get caught.
  4. Rationalization. This is when you start to say things like, “I deserve this.” Or, “This is my only vice.” Or, you blame someone else for your situation. “If my spouse was more attentive.” Or, “If I had a little more money we could get ahead.” Or, “My kids will understand when their older why I had to work like I did.”
  5. Derailment. Eventually, with enough time, enough rationalizations, you hit the wall and derail your life.

The problem is that no one knows when derailment will hit. Some people get away with something for years.

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Making Room for What Matters

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As part of our  Breathing Room series at Revolution I shared 6 simple ways to create margin in your life so that you are able to enjoy what really matters. If you missed them, here they are:

  1. Get a good night sleep. 
  2. Take a break every 90 minutes.
  3. Control electronics instead of letting electronics control you.
  4. Pay people to do what you hate.
  5. Life the life you want, not the life others want you to live.
  6. Use your schedule for your advantage.

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Making Room for What Matters | Pay People to do What You Hate

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On Sunday, I finished our Breathing Room series at Revolution by looking at how to find breathing room between work, life and everything that has to get done. This week, I want to share 6 simple ways I’ve done that and you can to. I’m going to share one each day so you have time to process them and hopefully put some things into practice.

The first one we looked at was how to get a good night sleepTuesday, we talked about why you should take a break every 90 minutesYesterday, we looked at what electronics can do to our margin. Today I want to look at what will probably be the most controversial or at least, the one you think is unattainable.

Pay people to do what you hate. 

When I first came across this idea in Randy Frazee’s book Making Room for Life: Trading Chaotic Lifestyles for Connected RelationshipsI thought, “that’s what wealthy people do.”

Hear me out though.

Think about the things you hate to do: laundry, yard work, cleaning your house, or something else. What if you paid someone else to do it?

Unattainable? Maybe right now. Wasteful? No way.

The reason I reacted like I did when I first read this was because we had just planted Revolution church. We had 2 kids with 1 on the way. We lived on $2,000 a month and our rent was half that.

Slowly, we have begun to work some of this into our budget.

Why do this? The goal of life is to enjoy it and use it for God’s glory. Not be miserable or wasteful.

You already do some of this, you maybe haven’t been as strategic about it. Every time you eat out or go to Starbucks, you are paying someone to do something you don’t want to do. So before you tell me you don’t do this, you do. Most of the time, we don’t have a reason for it, we just do it in that moment.

Here’s something our family did, this past year as our family expanded to 5 we learned how much water costs and how much laundry we do. So, we saved up and bought the biggest washer and dryer on the market. The ones that save energy and water. Consequently, we do less laundry because the loads are bigger.

Now, could that money go to something else? Yes, but we chose it to save Katie time on laundry so she could do other things.

Don’t miss this about time: You get 24 hours. That’s it. 

Every minute you spend doing something is one minute you don’t spend on something else.

It takes a long time to clean your house? Pay someone else to do it so you can be freed up to do something else.

Now, should everyone do this?

No.

I know someone who has 1 child, the wife doesn’t work and they pay someone to clean. Not to save time but because all their friends do that.

You must be careful about motivation on this.

Some people love yard work and find it relaxing. Others hate it. Yet, it has to be done for all of us.

This might be an area to cut back on.

The point is this: is there something you do that keeps you from experiencing life that you can give away or pay someone to do?

Consider doing that.

Here’s the pushback I get: If you have that extra money, you should give it away and be more generous. 

Here’s my response, “I am as generous as I feel God has called me to be. On top of that, if I can be generous to my wife and kids, why wouldn’t I do that? It is stingy to be generous to everyone but my family.”

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Making Room for What Matters | Cut Back on Electronics

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On Sunday, I finished our Breathing Room series at Revolution by looking at how to find breathing room between work, life and everything that has to get done. This week, I want to share 6 simple ways I’ve done that and you can to. I’m going to share one each day so you have time to process them and hopefully put some things into practice.

The first one we looked at was how to get a good night sleepYesterday, we talked about why you should take a break every 90 minutes

Today I want to talk about one of the main things that keeps us from having breathing room and enjoying life: electronics. 

I’m not going to tell you that electronics are bad or evil, because they don’t have to be. But, they do need to be controlled in your life.

Why?

They waste time and sap life out of us.

There are also studies being done about how our brains are struggling to handle all the screen time we are getting.

How often have you checked your email, facebook or twitter only to get angry, jealous or frustrated?

Then why do you keep doing it?

Why do you distract yourself at night when you can connect with your kids or spouse? Let’s be honest for a minute, for many people, electronics are an escape from life. At that point, it becomes a sin. It is a way to not deal with something or someone. It is a way to get lost, to escape, it becomes a fantasy.

If you are like me, you need to cut back on electronics. Over the weekend, I don’t check my email. I spend very little time on social media on the weekend and at night. During work hours, I block Facebook on my computer so it doesn’t distract me.

When Katie and I have date nights, we have a strict no electronics policy.

One thing we’ve started to do is to put the Do Not Disturb feature on our phones after 9pm. That means no texts or alerts on our phones. Often, I’ll still pick up my phone to see if I have any alerts and remember, “Oh yeah, nothing will come through.”

Try it sometime.

Tonight, this weekend, your next vacation, sign off of social media and email.

The reason we don’t has to do with fear. Fear we will miss something. Fear that we will discover we aren’t as important as we think. And pride. Pride about how many likes and RT’s our posts get.

So, what are you waiting for?

Tomorrow we’ll look at the most controversial or at least, the one thing you will think is unattainable, yet can make an enormous impact on how much you enjoy life.

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Making Room for What Matters | Sleep

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On Sunday, I finished our Breathing Room series at Revolution by looking at how to find breathing room between work, life and everything that has to get done. This week, I want to share 6 simple ways I’ve done that and you can to. I’m going to share one each day so you have time to process them and hopefully put some things into practice.

The first one: Get a good night sleep. 

This might seem like a silly way to start. Everyone knows how important sleep is. We know how we feel in the afternoon if we don’t get a good night sleep. If you have kids, you know that you are a better parent when you get good sleep. You are a better student, boss, employee when you get a good night of sleep. You are more creative, lively and all around, more enjoyable when you get a good night sleep.

Yet, how often do you find yourself laying on the couch watching TV when you should be laying in bed? How often do you find yourself staring at a computer screen checking email, scrolling through Facebook when you should be in bed?

More than you want to admit?

Then you need better sleep.

What is fascinating to me in the Bible is how a day starts at night. When God creates things, when he establishes the Sabbath, talks about time, he starts at night. He starts at sleep.

What if you had the mindset that your day started when you went to sleep instead of when you get up?

It changes how you think about things. Talking about starting your day off right starts at 10pm.

Why 10pm?

That’s when your body begins to shut down.

When people talk about a second wind, they get that around 9:30-10pm. If you don’t go to bed then, you will struggle to fall asleep.

Don’t believe me?

Stay up past 10 tonight and see if it is hard to fall asleep. Go to bed by 10 tomorrow night and see how it goes.

Sleep matters. 

So, how do you get a good night sleep?

It isn’t taking sleeping pills (unless your doctor thinks you should, but even then it probably isn’t a good idea). Here are 5 things to do to get a restful night of sleep:

  1. Sleep in a dark room.
  2. Turn off the ringer on your phone.
  3. Don’t look at electronics before going to bed.
  4. Don’t eat after 8.
  5. Set your alarm to get up at the same time each day.

There are more things you can do, but this is a good start.

Tomorrow we’ll look at how to create margin in your day by staying alert and awake.

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Piecing Life Together when it Falls Apart

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Maybe you’ve gotten to the end of 2013 and wonder, what did I do this year?

You look back with a sadness of relationships that are broken, people who no longer speak to each other. You think back to those who you were close you last December who are no longer there.

It might be a career that has fallen off the tracks. A dream you had in school last year that doesn’t seem possible anymore.

Maybe you were given horrible health news this year. We as a church have been walking with families who were told this year, “you have cancer and it seems hopeless.”

Sometimes, life feels like a puzzle that you are putting together and you get to the end and discover that there are pieces missing. 

Yet, in one my favorite chapters in the Bible, John 21, we find that Jesus puts the pieces of our life back together.

In this scene, Jesus is on the bank of the Sea of Galilee, where Peter and his friends are doing what they love, fishing. This is what Peter does to relax, unwind. It is what he does for a living.

Peter is still reeling from the pain of denying Jesus 3 times. Watching him die and wondering what lay ahead because of the resurrection. So he fishes. It seems like the natural thing to do. When we are depressed, lost, sad or down in the dumps, we do what we know. So Peter goes fishing.

When they see Jesus, John tells us that Peter jumps in the water and swims to him. The details of John 21 are fascinating to me. He tells us how far Peter swims, how many fish they catch.

He even tells us the kind of fire that Jesus builds: a charcoal fire.

This seems like an odd detail until you remember that in John 18:18, the night Peter denies Jesus three times we are told that Peter is warming himself beside a charcoal fire.

Jesus does this to remind him. Not to rub his nose in it, but to remind him.

When we think of piecing life together, we often want to forget what is broken to move forward. That isn’t possible though. If a marriage falls apart, it is still apart. You can’t forget that. You can’t make that not true. The pieces are there, the brokenness remains, you will feel the affects of that for years, possibly the rest of your life. And so will others.

This fire is an important picture for us.

We have to know that following Jesus does not remove what is true in our lives or what has happened. But Jesus doesn’t leave us there. He transforms us. He changes us.

Then, Jesus asks Peter three times, “do you love me?”

Not because he is hard of hearing or because he wants to annoy Peter, but because Peter denied Jesus three times. He is giving Peter the chance to make things right. Not because Jesus didn’t believe him or because Jesus needed to hear it three times.

Instead, I think Peter needed to say it three times. He needed to know in his own heart that he loves Jesus more than anything.

Grace is often about how we accept it. For many, believing that God forgives them, loves them and gives them grace is a hard thing to believe.

For Peter and maybe you, it might be difficult to believe that Jesus isn’t finished with you. 

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Balance is a Pipedream

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As the holidays get closer, schedules get busier. There are parties to attend, pageants to go to, rehearsals for Christmas shows, tree lightings, decorations to buy and hang, presents to buy and wrap, food to prepare and all the while, still keeping up with everything else you do.

December 26th will roll around and most people will want to fall over in a heap of exhaustion, but there’s no time. We have to return clothes that don’t fit, clothes that are ugly, buy things that are on sale and get Christmas cards and decorations for next year because they are on sale for 80% off.

Over the next several weeks, people will quietly vent about all that they are doing and will do to friends and family, they will make resolutions in January about slowing down, eating better, working less, checking Facebook and email less, and signing their kids up for less activities. Only to find in February that they can’t wait for summer to hit so they can take a week off and sit around.

But we all know how summer goes.

In these conversations about pace, tiredness, doing too much, working too much, sleeping too little, an interesting work and concept comes up.

Balance.

Whenever someone says they are tired or doing too much, a friend with good intentions will respond, “You need to get balance in your life.” We talk about work life balance. Balancing schedules, checkbooks, planners, and activities.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, balance is a pipedream.

The next time someone tells you that you need to have more balance in your life, ask him or her what that means or looks like. You’ll get blank stares.

No one seems to know.

Yet, everyone is going for it.

Here’s a better way to think about life, work, kids, money, sleep, food and anything else you try to get balance in.

Every time you say yes to something you say no to something else.

Think about it like this. Whenever you say yes to staying up too late watching TV and eating ice cream you say no to a good night sleep, more sleep and a trimmer waist line.

Whenever you say yes to sign your child up for everyone team and activity you can throw at them, you say no to a sustainable pace, family dinners and overall health.

Whenever you say yes to work late you may say yes to a promotion and more money, but you also say no to family time, relaxing, time with friends and unwinding with a good book.

When you say yes to going into debt, you say no to peace in your life and bank account.

When you say yes to that extra piece of pie over the holidays, you say no to health.

Remember, balance is a pipe dream.

Are all these examples wrong? Not at all. You should eat some good dessert over the holidays. You should sign your kids up for fun things. You should buy nice things you can afford and bless others with nice presents. All of those are great things.

Take a minute though and remember last December, last January and February. What did you feel? Exhaustion, a longing for a break and rest that never came.

Now, the question isn’t should I do these things, it is more about, and what do you want to say yes to and say no to. Because, every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else. Every time.

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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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  1. Charles Stone on Are you a sleep deprived pastor?
  2. 3 questions to help you avoid leadership blind spots.
  3. Gary Molander on When churches lie.
  4. 7 (Honest) Postcards from Churches. These made me laugh.
  5. Dan Black on Leaders are readers. This can’t be said enough.
  6. 10 mistakes young preachers make.
  7. Trevin Wax on The holy spirit. Helpful list of quotes here.
  8. Creating a wow experience for guests at your church. This is a great insight for pastors and churches.