Monday Morning Mind Dump…

  • Yesterday was one of those days at Revolution that you walk away from and think, “I love that I get to do this”
  • Such a great day
  • Got to vision cast about what it means to be a community on mission and how to live that out
  • Laid out the 4 things that keep a community intact, fighting for unity in a church and family
  • After 2 weeks off from preaching, it was great to be back
  • Really excited about continuing through the book of Ephesians for the rest of the year
  • If you missed yesterday, you can listen to it here
  • Last night we had some people over from our MC to enjoy some brats with beer/cheese sauce on top while watching my Steelers win a must needed game
  • I was beginning to think we forgot how to win
  • Thankfully the Bungles and the Browns are in our division
  • Many of you have asked about what is going on with my books right now
  • I’m having meetings with publishers now, so it is much like buying a house: hurry up and wait
  • Another thing you can be praying about for us is behind the scenes right now we are preparing for our sermon series in 2013
  • January is always a big growth season for Revolution
  • Starting on January 13th, we are kicking off a brand new series on the book of Ecclesiastes called Meaning
  • It is going to be a powerful series as we look at what lasts, what matters most in life, how to be unbelievably bored and miserable in life and how to find ultimate fulfillment that will last
  • I cannot wait for this sermon series for our church
  • Really excited for this coming week at Revolution
  • I’ll be preaching out of Ephesians 4:7 – 16 if you want to read ahead
  • I’ll be talking about how each person matters at Revolution and how if everyone doesn’t play there part, we will struggle to fulfill what God has called us to
  • Really excited about walking through this passage as a church
  • Picked up this book to read through as I’m working on my sermon
  • Really excited about diving into it today
  • Speaking of books, I post a book review each Saturday, if you missed the last one you can read it here
  • You can also read my other book reviews here
  • Since Halloween is coming up, I get asked a lot about what I think about it and what we do with our family
  • I blogged about it here
  • Speaking of halloween, if you have a jr. high or high school student, check out what Rev Up is doing on Oct 25th
  • On a personal note, really excited for Friday
  • For Ava’s 7th birthday I got a groupon for her and I to go horseback riding and so we are doing that on Friday
  • Love spending time with my kids
  • Time to start my week

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Saturday (On Sunday) Afternoon Book Review: Dangerous Calling

I just finished reading Paul David Tripp’s new book Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (kindle version). Normally I publish my book reviews on Saturday afternoon, but this one seemed appropriate for a Sunday. On Sunday afternoons, pastors are spent. They are tired physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. They have very little left to give. In that moment, they have many doubts. Fears, emotions and temptations pop up that have been quiet for possibly years. Tripp’s latest book is a way to help pastors with that. A way to help them proclaim the gospel to their own hearts, the same gospel they proclaim every week to their church’s.

For me, I found this book to be incredibly helpful and challenging.

You can read the introduction and first chapter here.

I found Tripp’s book to be incredibly insightful and helpful into what it is like to be a pastor, the unhealthiness that has been created in many church cultures, the dichotomy many pastor’s have between their private life and public life, and how the gospel brings change to those areas. Tripp said, “The biggest battles of pastoral ministry are fought on the turf of the pastor’s own heart.”

He goes on:

The fundamental battle of pastoral ministry is not with the shifting values of the surrounding culture. It is not the struggle with resistant people who don’t seem to esteem the gospel. It is not the fight for the success of the ministries of the church. And it is not the constant struggle of resources and personnel to accomplish the mission. No, the war of the pastorate is a deeply personal war. It is fought on the ground of the pastor’s heart. It is a war of values, allegiances, and motivations. It is about subtle desires and foundational dreams. This war is the greatest threat to every pastor. Yet it is a war that we often naively ignore or quickly forget in the busyness of local-church ministry.

This dichotomy happens in two places, usually simultaneously. It happens in the pastor’s heart and life as he believes he must act a certain way, keeping his struggles hidden from community, never showing his hurt, pain or his need for grace. Always having the right answer, always acting put together, always seeming like everything is okay instead of a broken person in daily need of the gospel. It also happens in the minds of people who attend a church. Their expectation for their pastor to never sin, to be perfect, to always be put together, to live the life they would like to live but can’t measure up to.

Both of these expectations are impossible, which leads to disillusionment, hurt and ultimately, a lack of community and a move of the gospel in that community.

That’s why I think Tripp’s book is incredibly helpful and needed.

Here are a few things that jumped out to me:

  • No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do.
  • You are constantly preaching to yourself some kind of gospel. You preach to yourself an anti-gospel of your own righteousness, power, and wisdom, or you preach to yourself the true gospel of deep spiritual need and sufficient grace. You preach to yourself an anti-gospel of aloneness and inability, or you preach to yourself the true gospel of the presence, provisions, and power of an ever-present Christ.
  • Human beings are always assigning to themselves some kind of identity. There are only two places to look. Either you will be getting your identity vertically, from who you are in Christ, or you will be shopping for it horizontally in the situations, experiences, and relationships of your daily life.
  • Bad things happen when maturity is more defined by knowing than it is by being. Danger is afloat when you come to love the ideas more than the God whom they represent and the people they are meant to free.
  • The biggest battles of pastoral ministry are fought on the turf of the pastor’s heart.
  • The big crisis for the church of Jesus Christ is not that we are easily dissatisfied but that we are all too easily satisfied.
  • Pastor’s ministry is never just shaped by his knowledge, experience, and skill. It is always also shaped by the true condition of his heart.
  • Leadership fruitfulness or failure is seldom only about knowledge, strategy, skill or experience.
  • No one gives grace better than a person who knows he desperately needs it himself.
  • One of the most powerful components of spiritual blindness is self-deception. There is no one we swindle more than we swindle ourselves. There is no one we run to defend more than we do ourselves.
  • Many churches simply don’t expect their pastor to struggle with sin.
  • We should care about, pray for, and do all we can to work toward the constant, progressive spiritual growth of our pastors. We should not assume that it is taking place.
  • Sin inserts me into the middle of my universe, the one place reserved for God and God alone.
  • Pastor, no one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one else talks to you more. The things you say to yourself about God, you, ministry, and others are profoundly important, shaping your participation in and experience of ministry. My experience with hundreds of pastors is that many sadly function in a regular state of gospel amnesia. They forget to preach privately to themselves the gospel that they declare publicly to others.
  • The gospel declares that there is nothing that could ever be uncovered about you and me that hasn’t already been covered by the grace of Jesus.
  • Worship isn’t first an activity; worship is first our identity.
  • Could it be that many of the stressed of ministry are the result of us seeking to get things out of ministry that it will never deliver?
  • Once something is our treasure, it will command our desires and shape our behavior.
  • When awe for God is absent, it is quickly replaced by awe of ourselves.
  • The standards you set for yourself and you ministry are directly related to your view of God.
  • If your heart is in functional awe of the glory of God, then there will be no place in your heart for poorly prepared, badly delivered, functional pastoral mediocrity.
  • Preaching is not just about “this is what this means”; it is also about “this is what it means to live in light of what this means.”
  • If you are developing original content for your sermon late on Saturday evening, you have no business preaching it on Sunday.

If you are pastor, this is a book you need to read to apply the gospel to your own heart and the brokenness you experience, but often hide.

You are a Work in Progress

If you are a pastor or ministry leader, you are at the same time a person in the middle of your own sanctification. You are not yet free of sin and all its attendant dangers. You still carry around moral susceptibility. You are capable of giving way to disastrous things. You are capable of losing your way. You are capable of ungodly attitudes and dark desires. You have not been completely delivered from greed, pride, lust, anger, and bitterness. There are places where you are an idolater, where the agenda is being set by a desire for some creating thing more than it is by worship of your Creator. You do not always minister as an ambassador. There are times when you do your ministry work with the attitude of a king rather than as one called to represent the King. You do not always love God above all else. You do not always love your neighbor as yourself. You are not always kind and compassionate. You are not always patient and forgiving. There are moments when you love your little kingdom of one more than you love God’s kingdom. There are times when you love comfort and pleasure more than you love redemption. There are times when pride renders you unkind and unapproachable. There are times when you want your ministry to be about you. There are times when you’re irritated by the very people you’ve been called to pastor. You are not proud of all your thoughts. You would not want your congregation to hear all your words. You do things in private moments that you would not want seen in public. -Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling

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The Expectations of and For a Pastor

You can feel the pressure of the expectations for your future in ministry that were placed on you because you did well in seminary. You can feel a weight of responsibility to a denomination that invested in you and in your ministry. You may feel the burden of the vision of long-term and seasoned elders who have had significant impact on the culture and direction of the church. You probably carry the load of your own hopes and dreams for yourself and the vision of what your ministry could be like in the years to come. If you have the heart of a pastor, you feel the weight of the desires, expectations, and spiritual needs of the people God has called you to serve. You feel the responsibility of building the right ministry reputation before the eyes of a watching community. You feel the weight of the obligation to lead a variety of ministries that don’t always work in unison. You carry the load of needs of finances and facilities. You face a variety of voices that comment on your public teaching, preaching, and worship leadership. You are drawn into solving problems you didn’t create but must be solved. You face the burden of opposition and criticism. You have to deal with leaders who want control and are more political than pastoral. You feel the weight of all these things pulling against the enormous responsibility you have as husband and father.

All of these are legitimate concerns, but together they can result in a heart that is seldom at rest and a ministry that lacks focus, careening from one serious concern to another. There is another thing: it is right to carry the responsibility of all these things, but you must not let any of them rule your heart. All of these concerns can become seductive pastoral idolatries, and when they do, you may think that you are serving God, but your heart is ruled by something to which you have attached your pastoral identity and inner sense of wellbeing. In your ministry you can faithfully call people to submit their lives ot the lordship of Jesus Christ, and in that very same ministry surrender your heart to a whole catalog of pastoral idolatries. When this happens, you do ministry in the hopes of getting horizontally what you have already been given vertically. In ways which you are unaware, you ar asking ministry acclaim, success, reputation, etc., to be your own personal messiah. This will never work. It always leads to bad choices and never results in the inner security that you seek. Think about the insanity of this subtle ministry idolatry.

Preaching as Warfare

Preaching is warfare. It sounds outlandish to some, but if you preach or are close to a communicator, you know the truth of that statement.

I was reminded this recently at Revolution that when a pastor steps up to preach, they are stepping into battle. I know this, I’ve felt it before, but have felt the heat turn up recently as we prepare to move as a church. A good description of what is going on when a pastor preaches is found in Paul David Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling:

Every worship service is a glory war. The question of the gathering is, will the hearts of this group of poeple be captured by the one glory that truly is glorious or by the shadow glories of the created world?

I know when I preach, I am addressing the single lady who has set her heart upon the affection of a certain young man whom she thinks will deliver to her the happiness she has been craving. Sitting before me is the teenager who can’t think beyond the glories of Facebook, Twitter, and the Portal2 video game. In the congregation is the middle-aged man whose heart is captured by the glory of somehow, someway recapturing his youth. A wife is sitting there wondering if she will ever experience the glory of the kind of marriage that she dreamed about, the kind she knows others have. A man sits in the crowd knowing that he feeds his soul almost daily on the dark and distorted glories of pornography and has become a master at shifting spiritual gears. Some listening are more excited about a new outfit, new home, new car, new shotgun, newly sodden lawn, the opening of a new restaurant, a new vacation site, or that new promotion than they are about the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Of those who have gathered for worship, there are those distracted by grief, anger, discouragement, loneliness, envy, frustration, despair, or hopelessness because the glories that they have looked to for their meaning, purpose, and inner happiness have failed them once again. These glories have proven to be more temporary than they thought they would ever be. They have been more elusive than they seemed at a distance. They have blown up in their faces or dripped like sand through their fingers. And even when they were wonderful to experience, they didn’t, in fact, leave their hearts satisfied. The buzz was short and the satisfaction elusive. So they sit there empty, hurt, angry, and confused.

They come into worship in the middle of a war that they probably don’t recognize. It is a war for the allegiance, the worship, of their hearts. In ways they probably don’t understand, they have again and again asked the creation to give them what only the Creator can provide. They have looked horizontally again and again for what can only be found vertically. They have asked people, situations, locations, and experiences to be the one thing they will never be: their Savior.They have looked to these things to give them life, security, identity, and hope. They have asked these things to heal their broken hearts. They have hoped that these things would make them better people. So a war rages, and wounded soldiers sit before you. It is a glory war, a battle for what glory will rule their hearts and in so doing, control their choices, words, and behaviors.

The Heart of a Pastor

The pastor must be enthralled by, in awe of – can I say it: in love with – his Redeemer so that everything he thinks, desires, chooses, decides, says, and does is propelled by love for Christ and the security of rest in love of Christ. He must be regularly exposed, humbled, assured, and given rest by the grace of his Redeemer. His heart needs to be tenderized day after day by his communion with Christ so that he becomes a tender, loving, patient, forgiving, encouraging, and giving servant leader. His meditation on Christ – his presence, his promises, and his provisions – must not be overwhelmed by his meditation on how to make his ministry work. -Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling

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What Pastors are Called To Do

Pastors are called not just to preach exegetically correct and theologically precise sermons but also to pastor people, to walk, live, support and suffer with them. They are called to be more than local-church theological instructors; they are called to be Christ’s ambassadors, to be the look on his face, the touch of his hand, the tone of his voice. They need to feel the weight of being called to make an invisible Christ visible in the lives of people who desperately need to “see” his presence and remember his grace. They aren’t called just to teach theology to their people, but also to do theology with their people. -Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling

Sunday Afternoon Mind Dump…

  • Had a weird feel last night at Revolution
  • It was a great night, the Spirit was moving, the excitement about our next step of moving as a church was great
  • But I definitely felt the reality that preaching is a spiritual war
  • Heard the same thing from some other leaders at Revolution
  • Feeling like we are getting ready for something big as a church as we move and our target with Satan is getting bigger on our backs
  • I’ll blog more about that this week
  • I have been loving this series through the book of Joshua and looking at having fearless faith
  • Talked about praying prayers that stop the sun tonight, impossible prayers
  • Our prayer life really is about what we believe about God
  • If you missed last night, you can listen to it here
  • Got to take another step in a big prayer we are praying as a church
  • Introduced Dave and Kyra Goffeney to our church
  • They have moved here, are raising all of Dave’s salary so that he can be on staff with us and in the next 12-18 months send him out to plant a church in Tucson
  • Dave will be preaching next week about the church as a city of refuge
  • He preached back in May at Revolution that you can listen to here
  • Also shared that to kick off our move to Magee, we will be having a FREE family movie night on September 7 where we will be showing The Lorax
  • Had a great meeting last night with our Missional Community leaders
  • I’m excited that they keep growing and we are launching 10 MC’s this fall
  • We will start sign-ups for them after we move into Magee, so be on the lookout for details coming out
  • If you need some great free music for your summer playlist, start here
  • I’ve been reading this book over the weekend and the Holy Spirit is really working on my heart through it
  • Convicting and challenging
  • Having Dave preach this week means I get to spend some extra time working on my soul and preparing for our next series called Image is Everything on the book of Ephesians
  • Excited about getting away this week for a retreat day
  • Love days with just my bible, journal and the mountain
  • Need to get some final prep in before my fantasy football draft in a couple of hours
  • So excited for football season to get here