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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My latest blog post on the Acts 29 Blog.

When we started Revolution, our prayer was and is still, that we would die in Tucson. We wanted to give our lives to one church, to one city, to one movement and out of that church, we prayed that 1 million people would follow Jesus because of it. This commitment has helped when times are the darkest, because sometimes, your calling is all you have. You will come back to it and question it and wonder if you heard God correctly. If you commit to stay, it makes difficult situations a little easier. They still hurt and are painful, but when we hit rough patches, Katie and I would look at each other and say, “We decided to outlast them, so let’s push through.”

Kevan Lee on The best time to write, get ideas, be creative and succeed in work.

Research into the human body—its hormone  allotment, its rhythms, and its tendencies—has found that there are certain times of day when the body is just better at performing certain activities. Eat breakfast no later than 8:00 a.m. Exercise between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.Read Twitter from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. (your fellow tweeters are more upbeat in the morning).

Dave Bruskas on 4 ways a pastor can love his wife well. These apply to all men.

I have to preserve my best energy for my wife, and it often requires me to tell some really great people “no” when they request my energy. This also means disappointing them. But I would much rather live with their disappointment than miss out on knowing my wife more deeply.

12 things Carey Nieuwhof would tell himself if he was starting out in leadership today. This is pure leadership gold.

At 25 I wish I would have enjoyed life more. I probably still struggle with this. I’m driven enough to spend my hours thinking about what could be rather than enjoying what is.

Casey Graham on 3 common time management traps.

Nothing has helped me produce more results in less time than refusing to mix my days up.  I label my days.  They are either a Free Day, Buffer Day, or Profit Day.  Free days are completely work free.  Buffer days are the days to get stuff organized & ready for my profit days.  Profit days are days where I do my highest money-making activities for the business.

8 ways to spot emotionally healthy church leaders and staff’s.

Emotionally unhealthy people keep company with people who bring them down and then blame everyone else when their life isn’t how they want it to be. Conversely, emotionally healthy people don’t act as though the world owes them anything. They don’t waste their time having pity parties or feeling sorry for themselves.

Mike Leake on The shame of pornography and God’s justification of sinners.

For me there was a vicious cycle of freedom, failure, shame, depression, freedom. Over and over and over for the better part of ten years–from my teenage years until a few years into my marriage. The shame over failure only caused me to spiral into deeper despair and more sin took root.

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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.

book

Lara Croft on Depression and the Pastor’s Wife.

My struggle with depression is not the result of being a pastor’s wife. If my husband was in another vocation I believe I would still struggle. However, being a pastor’s wife intensifies this struggle. The exhausting nature of caring for the church, the temptation to carry the burdens of those who are struggling in our midst, the demands on our time and on our family, and the spiritual battle that we daily face all contribute to exhaustion and vulnerability. This exhaustion is especially intensified as we try to do all of these things in our own strength, apart from God. Therefore, finding pastors and their wives struggling with depression is not uncommon.

Kayla North on May have a compromise? Great parenting advice that we use.

When people hear our kids ask, “May I have a compromise?” they tend to look at us a bit funny. They seem completely confused when we respond to our kids as if their request for a compromise is normal. But at our house it is normal. In fact, it’s a request we hear no less than a dozen times each day.

10 possible reasons your church isn’t growing.

In the end, healthy things grow. The mission of the church at its best throughout the centuries has been an outward mission focused on sharing the love Jesus has for the world with the world.

Chad Pierce on The Religion of Crossfit.

CrossFit is demanding. It can be expensive. It takes time, commitment and a willingness to be pushed beyond your comfort zone. It does not make things easier to get more to sign up. The opposite is true. People are flocking to it because it demands much.

Trevin Wax on Why pastors should engage in social media and what they should know.

Here’s the truth: people are communicating through Tweets, Facebook, and blogs. I recommend pastors join Facebook and Twitter in order to be involved in the conversations of their people.

Brandon Hilgeman on 5 common preaching mistakes.

Being a pastor is hard work. This is especially true for those of us who carry the heavy expectation of preaching a mind-blowing, original sermon every seven days. Because of this difficulty, many pastors make simple preaching mistakes that can be easily corrected. These common mistakes can often be the difference between a memorable message and a forgettable one.

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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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Michael Hyatt on Business mastery.

Your business will not grow unless you grow as a person. If you want to lead others, you have to lead yourself first.

Rich Birch on 7 tensions of growing churches.

Leadership is about living in the middle of a number of tensions that won’t ever be resolved … in fact if you resolve the tension you end up creating a whole bunch of other problems for your church.

Andrew O’Connell on Upward mobility can be hazardous to your health.

A study of hundreds of low-income American youths shows that at age 19, those who had been rated as diligent and academically successful were less healthy than peers who had been labeled aggressive, difficult, and isolated, a team led by Gregory E. Miller of Northwestern University writes in The New York Times. Highly motivated people from low-income backgrounds often feel tremendous internal pressure to succeed, but behaving diligently all the time may leave them feeling exhausted and sapped of willpower, and they may let their health fall by the wayside, the researchers say.

Casey Graham on Anxiety attacks, depression, addictions & business.

If you have it all together, you might not want to read this post because I don’t. Hi, my name is Casey and I’m a mess sometimes.  As I’ve shared before, I have a completely addictive personality.  I’ve always been extreme.

Bill Donahue on How to help people connect to your church.

Don’t let your church miss the opportunity to connect with people who are already sitting there.

The History of Rap w/ Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake

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The Reminder’s God Gives Us

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I read this the other day:

So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord. -Genesis 13:1 – 4

Abram returned to where he built his first altar.

What I often forget about Abram is that when he started walking and following God in Genesis 12, this was brand new to him. All of a sudden (it seems anyway) a voice told him to pack up and move. That’s it. And he did.

Following this God, took him to Egypt. Where Abram failed and lied.

Why?

Because he didn’t trust God.

So he leaves Egypt and returns to where he started. To where he first heard God. To where he first built an altar.

Often, after our failures and disappointments, God brings us back to where we started. He has a way when our faith is faltering to remind us of a place where our faith was strong. When struggle to trust him, he has a way of taking us to the place where we trusted him. When we find ourselves not on fire, but fizzling out, he has a way of bringing us to the place where we were on fire.

If you are in a place today, where it is hard to trust God, hard to follow God, hard to pray or listen or move forward. Return to where it began. Return to where you trusted, where you listened, prayed and followed.

Go back to where it all began.

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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.

book

Thabiti Anyabwile on A round-up of the holy hip hop squabble.

It’s entirely possible you live in a twitter circle completely independent of my own. If that’s the case, you might have missed something of a internet-age equivalent of strong rebuke of several men participating in a National Center for Family Integrated Churches panel discussion. The segment making the rounds includes a question about holy hip hop and whether it’s appropriate. The panelists shared what can only be described as statements of escalating idiocy and implicit (at least) cultural superiority. Following the NCFIC panel segment on Christian/Reformed hip hop, a number of thoughtful brothers responded. If you missed any of it, here’s a round-up.

Cheryl Connor on The practices mentally strong people avoid.

For all the time executives spend concerned about physical strength and health, when it comes down to it, mental strength can mean even more. Particularly for entrepreneurs, numerous articles talk about critical characteristics of mental strength—tenacity, “grit,” optimism, and an unfailing ability as Forbes contributor David Williams says, to “fail up.”

Ohio State Study finds Casual sex contributes to depression and declines in mental health.

Those who had casual sex in their late teens and early 20s were significantly more likely to have serious thoughts of suicide as young adults, results showed. In fact, each additional casual sex relationship increased the odds of suicidal thoughts by 18 percent.

Timothy Paul Jones on Why celebrate advent.

Once upon a time, there was a season in the church year known as “Advent.” The word comes to us from the Latin for “coming.” The purpose of the season was to look toward the coming of Christ to earth; it was a season that focused on waiting.

When You Don’t Feel Like Preaching

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Let’s face it, if you are a pastor who preaches on a regular basis, you are going to wake up on a Sunday morning and not feel like preaching. In fact, you will have a Sunday morning, maybe multiple Sundays throughout your life, where preaching is the last thing you want to do.

I remember once getting a text from a pastor on a Saturday night asking me if I’d preach for him the next morning. I asked him if everything was okay as I thought some horrible tragedy had happened for him to send this kind of text. His response was, “Everything’s fine. I just don’t feel like preaching tomorrow.”

Now, pastors, let’s be honest for a moment. There are weeks you don’t feel like preaching. There are weeks you don’t feel like going to meetings, counseling someone or walking with someone through a hard time. Yet, it is part of your job.

So, if you are heading into this week or next week or next month and you don’t feel like preaching, here are some things you can do:

  1. Get a good night sleep Saturday night. Most people don’t sleep well before a presentation. Saturday night for pastors can be very intense and difficult. Get to bed at a decent time. Don’t eat dessert that night. Don’t watch some violent, exciting movie. Get a good night sleep.
  2. Eat a good breakfast. Eat something with protein. This will help to give you energy to last the morning so you won’t get hungry right before you preach.
  3. Exercise. If you don’t exercise regularly, you should. Pastors are notorious for being in bad shape, which does not help them in their jobs as their energy levels get low and doesn’t allow them have longevity in ministry.  
  4. Listen to worship music. Every week when I get ready to preach I listen to a regular diet of worship music. I listen a lot to the worship set we’ll play on Sunday morning to line my message up to the messages of the songs we’ve chosen.
  5. Talk to a trusted friend. If you are struggling with a situation, talk to a friend. When I have a hard week, a hard meeting or something that distracts me in sermon prep or preparing my heart for Sunday morning, I write about it. Writing it down has a cleansing effect on me and I’m able to let go of it.
  6. Pray. Spend time in prayer. You should do this anyway, but if you don’t, start. Pray for those who God will send on Sunday morning. Ask him to break your heart for the things that are weighing them down. Ask God for a heart that can feel the pain they carry, the weights that they are dragging around. To feel the bondage they feel. Preaching is a spiritual battle and pastor’s need to sense what those attending their church are dealing with.
  7. Visual yourself preaching. Visualization is a huge part of sports and more pastors need to spend time each week visualizing Sunday morning, preaching, what it will feel like, etc. This helps me to know where to look when in a sermon, the feel of the room, etc.
  8. Remember the result of preaching has little to do with you. At the end of it all, remember that the results of preaching have very little to do with you. God uses all kinds of people to reach people. While you should hone your craft, prepare as best you can, in the end, God handles the results. Give it up to him and preach with everything you have.

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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. Brian Howard on Questions every pastor and leader should answer.
  2. How to preach and captivate your congregation.
  3. Pete Wilson on Crushing narcissism.
  4. Steve Jobs and the goal of preaching. If you preach, this is gold.
  5. Ed Stetzer on Mental illness and the church. Really helpful stuff.
  6. Trevin Wax on 5 ways to avoid the drain of busyness.

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Links of the Week

  1. Christianity Today on Sex, money…pride? Why pastors are stepping down.
  2. Michael Hyatt on Why you don’t get retweeted.
  3. Discerning the idols of your heart.
  4. Guy Kawasaki on 7 reasons why your blog fails.
  5. A prayer for pastors before and after preaching.
  6. Videos from the gospel coalition conference on church planting. So good.
  7. Casey Graham on 3 mistakes pastor’s make when they talk about money.
  8. Depression claims more and more pastor’s.
  9. Jon Nielson on Why students stay in church after graduating high school. Stats are really bad in this area, but this is a great look at what keeps those students.

Links of the Week

  1. Can you convince my husband or wife to stay? I get this almost monthly from a man or a woman, it is hard and painful but only Jesus changes hearts.
  2. Mark Driscoll on The gender issue. I believe this is one of the biggest issues facing the American church today and into the future. We need to answer the questions of our culture.
  3. 5 reasons your church isn’t growing.
  4. The gospel coalition on Ministry and depression part 1 and part 2. This is a helpful series as many pastor’s deal with depression.
  5. Motherhood is a calling (and where your children rank). I’m convinced that one of the best places to figure out idols and identities in someone’s life is to look at roles in marriage and parenting. I told a pastor the other day, whenever I preach on it, my email box fills up faster than any other topic, because of the tie to identity and idols.
  6. Why you might be an ear tickling preacher (or an ear tickling church attendee).
  7. Anthony Bradley on Libel is not love. How to criticize well.
  8. Las Vegas church files for bankruptcy. This is not a great message to send. Where is the integrity of this church?
  9. Mobile stats that affect ministry. Churches need to figure out how to be more and more mobile as our world is more and more focused on the mobile web as these stats show.
  10. Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, Jonathan Leeman and Trevin Wax discuss the mission of the church. Definitely worth watching.
  11. Bob Kelleman on Facing depression with Jesus.

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Good night
  • Really different feel tonight
  • We started tonight a little differently than normal, started off a little slower and more subdued
  • Definitely fit the feel of the night and topic, but felt weird as I started preaching
  • Right now, I’m listening to the Kings of Convenience, definitely a good end to the night
  • I think the topic tonight:  balance, margin, discouragement, stress and burnout are such huge things that we need wrap our hands around them
  • It really is a faith issue
  • Whenever we push through, live stressed, worry, we are telling God, “You aren’t big enough to handle this”
  • Here is a great quote I shared tonight from Dan Allender & Tremper Longman
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to it here
  • Got to have dinner with a newer family at our church, always love meeting the people God is sending to Revolution
  • We announced an upcoming series I Want a New Marriage
  • Check out the site and spread the word to as many people as possible!
  • We mentioned our partnership class tonight, go here for more information and to sign up
  • Jennifer and the Planet Rev. team did an awesome job with getting everything done for their fall kick off tonight
  • If tonight struck a chord with you or if you want more resources on what we talked about tonight, check out Making Room for Life by Randy FrazeeThe Rest of God by Mark Buchanan and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero
  • All are fantastic books that have helped Katie and I understand margin and balance, understand how our emtions fit into our relationship with God and to find rest
  • Here is a great talk by Darrin Patrick called “The Life & Death of the Missional Leader.” Great look at how to handle depression, stress and burnout as a leader.
  • Here are some scary stats concerning pastors and burnout
  • We have our small group tomorrow night, we’re looking at what the Bible has to say about divorce, should be an interesting discussion
  • The book we are discussing has been a great study to Katie and I personally, really eye opening
  • Our group was able to serve our city last week, always a great thing to do in the context of community
  • Ava wrote her name this week, very cool milestone for her
  • Gavin turned 2 this past week
  • I posted some recent pics of the kids here
  • Crazy to think our kids are that old
  • Loved writing Gavin’s letter, one of my favorite things to do as a dad
  • This past Thursday was one of my favorite days of the year, the Steelers first game (doesn’t matter if it is the preseason, football is football)
  • This is an awesome thought, what if this was true for Revolution?
  • Thursday I start my lead pastor coaching network, really exciting about this personally, as well as what it will do for Revolution
  • I think God is going to do some huge things through it!
  • You don’t want to miss next, we’ll be ending our series with a bang:  How would you live if you found out today was your last day?