When You are Most Likely to Sin

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Ever wonder why you sin? What if there was a specific time that you were most likely to give in to temptation? What if you could see negative emotions, thoughts from your past, addictions you thought you were free from coming a mile away?

You can.

In his book Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You, John Ortberg shares this:

Psychologist Roy Baumeister has coined the term “ego depletion” to describe a level of fatigue that goes beyond mere physical tiredness. People living in this depleted condition report more tiredness and negative emotions, but those are not the only effects. Depleted people who watch a sad movie become extra sad. When facing temptations like eating chocolate chip cookies, they are more likely to give in. When faced with challenges like an especially difficult assignment at work, they are more likely to fail or turn in lower quality work. The brain area that’s crucial for self-control (the Anterior Cingulate Cortex) actually experiences a slowdown.

The reality is, you and I sin at specific times. Those times are most likely going to be when we are tired, worn down, exhausted. For a pastor, that is most likely on a Sunday night or on a Monday. We are tired at other times, but follow me.

When are you most tired? What time during the day do you feel the weakest in terms of your will to fight sin and temptation?

Let me apply this to pastors and help you understand why this as. I’ve learned while pastors are good at helping others fight sin in their lives, we tend to lack self-awareness.

On Sunday night you have preached hard, led worship hard, sat with people, hugged them, cried with them, counseled them, prayed with them. You have gone to battle for them and with them. You have had hard meetings with people who told you they are leaving the church, that you don’t live up to their standards of things, that you don’t preach the gospel, use too much Bible, are too deep, not deep enough and your head feels like it is spinning because you can’t please them all.

If you aren’t a pastor, you have a day of the week that simply runs you down. You come home exhausted, barely able to stand, let alone think and certainly not up for fighting sin and temptation.

This is the moment we must be aware of.

Often, the reason we fall into sin is because we don’t see it as a battle, or, once we feel tempted we feel like we have already lost the fight with sin so we simply give in to it.

Don’t.

When you see that moment coming, go to sleep, hand your smartphone or table to a spouse, pick up a banana, turn off the TV. Fight the sin you are facing by removing the temptation in your moment of weakness.

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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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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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Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

bookOne of the books I read as I prepared for our current series at Revolution was Dr. Meg Meeker’s great book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know.

To me, this is such an empowering book for fathers. We often feel unsure, at a loss of how to relate to our daughters, how to treat them differently than a son, or how to feel like we are moving forward in a relationship with them.

This book is about what a daughter needs from a father that a mother cannot give.

Here are a few things I highlighted:

  • What you say in a sentence, communicate with a smile, or do with regard to family rules has infinite importance for your daughter.
  • Friends, family members, teachers, professors, or coaches will influence her to varying degrees, but they won’t knead her character. You will. Because you are her dad.
  • Loving your daughter better might seem complicated to you, but it’s very simple to her. Being a hero to your daughter sounds daunting, but actually it can be quite easy. Protecting her and teaching her about God, sex, and humility doesn’t require a degree in psychology. It just means being a dad.
  • Fathers, more than anyone else, set the course for a daughter’s life.
  • Boyfriends, brothers, even husbands can’t shape her character the way you do. You will influence her entire life because she gives you an authority she gives no other man.
  • Being a twenty-first-century hero is tough stuff. It requires emotional fortitude, mental self-control, and physical restraint. It means walking into embarrassing, uncomfortable, or even life-threatening situations in order to rescue your daughter.
  • Whatever outward impression she gives, her life is centered on discovering what you like in her, and what you want from her.
  • The only way you will alienate your daughter in the long term is by losing her respect, failing to lead, or failing to protect her. If you don’t provide for her needs, she will find someone else who will—and that’s when trouble starts. Don’t let that happen.
  • Authority is not a threat to your relationship with your daughter—it is what will bring you closer to your daughter, and what will make her respect you more.
  • Nothing feels better to a teen or young daughter than being protectively embraced by dad’s strong arms.
  • Do a gut check on your own beliefs, and think of what sort of woman you want your daughter to be. She’ll learn not only from what you say, but from what you do.
  • If you don’t accept the authority that is naturally yours, if you don’t set high standards, if you don’t act to protect your daughter, if you don’t live a life of moral principle, your daughter will suffer.
  • The minute you waffle on your convictions, you lose stature in your daughter’s eyes.
  • Let me tell you a secret about daughters of all ages: they love to boast about how tough their dads are—not just physically, but how strict and demanding they are.
  • When I talk to daughters about their fathers, the conversations are almost always emotionally charged. They adore their fathers or hate them—sometimes they do both simultaneously.
  • Your daughter yearns to secure your love, and throughout her life she’ll need you to prove it.
  • We talked about how difficult it is for parents to be realistic about their own children. Because we want them to make good decisions, we assume they will. We want to believe our kids are stronger, more mature, and better capable of handling situations than other kids. And that’s when mistakes happen.
  • Most parents pull away from their teenage daughters, assuming they need more space and freedom. Actually, your teenage daughter needs you more than ever. So stick with her. If you don’t, she’ll wonder why you left her.
  • Daughters who feel a stronger emotional connection with their fathers feel more attached to them. And the more attached she feels to you, the lower the likelihood that she will be depressed or have an eating disorder.
  • Girls hate feeling invisible.
  • When you show a genuine interest in being with her, she feels more attached to you.
  • If you listen to your daughter attentively for ten minutes every day, by the end of the month you’ll have a completely new relationship with her.
  • Boundaries and fences are a must for girls, particularly during the teen years.
  • Remember that whatever she says, the very fact that you thoughtfully and consistently enforce rules of behavior makes her feel loved and valued. She knows that these rules are proof that you care.
  • Your daughter needs to feel unique and important in your eyes.
  • When fathers don’t teach their daughters humility—that we are all created equal and are equally valuable—advertisers, magazines, and celebrities will teach them otherwise.
  • Girls who have the gift of humility are better placed to have deeper, longer-lasting friendships. With humility, your daughter is free to enjoy people for who they are; she’ll have no haughty desire to cut people out of her life.
  • Happiness is truly found only when it is routinely denied.
  • Protect her budding sexuality and defend her right to modesty. Reiterate to her that sex isn’t a simple bodily function—it is powerfully linked to her feelings, thoughts, and character.
  • Parents are the most important influence on their teenagers’ decisions about sex.
  • Think very seriously about her as a girl growing into a woman, a sexual being. When she is three years old, think about what you want for her when she is twenty. You must, because even when she’s three you give her messages about her body—whether it’s beautiful or chubby. And all these messages count.
  • Your daughter needs you to hug her often. If you are gentle, respectful, and loving, that’s what she will expect from boys. And she needs to know—all the time—that you love her.
  • All girls from eleven years old on feel fat. They feel ugly, pudgy, pimply, and unattractive. Watch how your young teen stands. Most girls slouch if they’re tall. If they’re short, they wear platform shoes. Girls almost inevitably lack confidence in their appearance. So move in and hug her. The effect can be profound.

Here’s the short: if you are a father of a daughter or will be, you need to read this book. As soon as possible. I was so challenged and encouraged by this book in how to interact and love my daughter to become who God created her to be.

To see other book notes, click here.

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Sustainability Questions

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I recently read Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, & Relationships that all of us Have to Give up in Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud. He had a great list of questions to help someone determine if the life they are living, whether in work, pace or a relationship is sustainable for a long period of time. Here they are:

  1. Are you in an emotional state right now that is not sustainable? I am not talking about just a “hard time” or a time that you would not want to continue forever. Life is full of difficulties, but with proper support and other resources, we can endure them if we have to and if we have a good reason to. What I am referring to is a hard time that is truly not sustainable and often continues for no good reason. Are you in a state that is eating your heart, mind, soul, or energy in such a way that you are headed for some sort of crash or burnout?
  2. Are you in a physical state right now that is not sustainable? Too much travel? Too little sleep? Too much “on the go”? Too much taxing of your physical system? For a prolonged period of time with no end in sight? Too little exercise? Too much junk food?
  3. Are you in a state right now in your relationships that is not sustainable? Is there some relationship that is depleting or damaging you? Is there a context in which you feel compromised or forced to adapt to another person’s needs and demands out of fear? Are you in a situation where someone has power over you and is slowly diminishing you?
  4. Are you in a professional state right now that is not sustainable? In your work, is something going on in the culture or in your relationship with your boss that you cannot continue long-term without some sort of damage to your drive, talents, or passion? This does not include all difficult cultures or bosses, as most people have some period of time in a setting like that, which really builds them or equips them over time, even if it is hard. What I am referring to is something that is not equipping you or causing you to grow but is slowly wearing you down or killing something inside of you.
  5. Are you in a spiritual state right now that is not sustainable? In your spirit, is something causing you to be diminished? Is hope being deferred in some way that is causing a sickness of spirit? Are you losing a sense of meaning in life? Is something happening that is causing you to feel depleted of a sense of purpose, mission, transcendence, love, or other spiritual dimensions? A diminished belief in humanity or diminished faith? Is your ability to hope being affected?
  6. Are you in a financial state right now that is not sustainable? In your business or personal finances, are your expenses greater than what’s coming in, with no end in sight? Is the curve between investment and certain returns way out of whack? Do you not know how your real, fixed, non-negotiable expenses are going to be covered in the current path that you are on? Said another way, if something does not change, are you going to run out of money and have no options? If “cash equals options,” are you on a path of diminishing options?
  7. Are your energy reserves being depleted in a way that is not sustainable? Is there something so draining to your energy that you have to make yourself keep going? Do you have to drag yourself in a particular path continually? Is there a clear drain that is causing that? • Are you letting your strengths fall into disuse in a way that is not sustainable? Are you on a course where your strengths are not available to you? Are you being cornered, at work or elsewhere, in a way that requires you to be “not you” most of the time? Is the real you slowly going to sleep? Do you fear that it may not be able to be reawakened?
  8. Do you find yourself in a situation where you are overextended in some way, one that began as an anomaly but now has become a pattern? Many times this happens with a person’s schedule or workload. What they thought was going to be a lot of work or extra hours or effort for a while has now become what is required to keep it all going, as the entity or enterprise has become shaped and formed around exactly that ingredient, all that effort from just one source—you. So what was supposed to be a season has now become a pattern, the new normal.

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A Mother’s Heart (From a Husband’s Perspective)

If men are honest, we’d like to understand our wives, we try to, but we are often left scratching our heads as to what they need, what they want and what they are trying to say. While men love to stay in the world of logic and avoid emotions at all cost, women stay right at home in emotions. For men, it rarely makes sense and if you ask women, they will tell you it doesn’t have to make sense.

Over the last month, as we’ve shared with people what is happening in our adoption, waiting to bring Judah Mamush home it has been hard to describe the agony of what it feels like. I told one guy that we’ve discussed putting Katie on a plane so she can go to Ethiopia to be with Judah Mamush until he passes embassy and he said, “Josh, you need to stop trying to control things.” I said the same thing to a couple of Mom’s and they all looked they were going to cry.

While the last month has been hard for me, it has been different for Katie. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about my wife and the heart of a mother that hopefully will be helpful to other men (whether they have kids or not).

Here they are:

  • A mother feels differently than a father. While this is true of men and women in general as I said earlier, when it comes to parenting it is even more true. A mother feels the loss of something different than a father does. I miss Judah. I can’t wait for him to be here, to play soccer with him, teach him to ride a bike, to do things with him. Katie longs to hold him, to snuggle him, hug him and tell him that he is loved. To give him a feeling he has not had in his life, a feeling of safety, of belonging.
  • Be honest with your wife about your heart. While men often get labeled as callous or insensitive because we don’t cry or feel the way a woman does, it is important to be honest with your wife about your heart. A wife always wants to know what you are feeling, what is running through your head and heart. When we left Judah Mamush on our last day in Ethiopia, he was on the ground screaming and crying because he didn’t know if we were coming back, he only knew we were leaving. He doesn’t speak English so we couldn’t say, “We’re coming back.” Katie is on the verge of losing it and I did everything in my power to pick him up and not cry. I couldn’t even talk or else I would’ve cried. I am almost crying retelling this story. As we left and over the last month, it has been important to my wife’s heart to know of my heart, to know how it hurts, to know my longing as a father for my son. To not be the man and just bottle it up and with tough upper lip. That’s why a wife thinks her husband is insensitive, because he holds back. 
  • Distance is easier for men to handle. Men can handle distance in relationships because of how we handle emotions. We are able to compartmentalize things, get busy and forget about things because we are laser focused and don’t multi-task our emotions. I can go a whole day and not think about something that Katie has thought about all day while doing 15 other things. This can create a sense for women that their husbands don’t care or don’t feel. That isn’t it at all, it is just that we push it to the back of our minds so that we can do other things. If I thought about Judah the way Katie did, I would never get any work done. She can think of him, teach our kids, have coffee with someone, make dinner and still think of Judah and post something on Facebook that isn’t related to Judah.
  • Hold a woman when she cries, don’t ask questions. This has been one of our rules in marriage from day one. Katie has told me, “When I cry, just hold me and don’t ask why.” This is just solid advice for a husband, but even more so in the moments of parenting when you as the father can’t fix a situation or do anything about it. I can’t make the Ethiopian embassy go faster or look at our paperwork. I can’t send Katie on a plane to Ethiopia to bring Judah home any faster than it is going and that is frustrating.
  • A mother’s heart is a mystery. While I’ve learned some things, a mother’s heart is a mystery to me and will remain so. It feels and responds in ways I can’t even imagine. It longs in ways that I don’t. It aches in ways that don’t even cross my mind. It is a mystery, and yet, as a father and husband I am grateful for it. It forces me to feel in important ways. I can easily be tough and not emotional, but walking with Katie through this time, meeting Judah and holding him and then the agony of having to say goodbye to him has taught me a lot about being a father and the love God has for me.

My hope with this post was to honor my wife and the beauty and power of her heart as a mother. But to also help men know how to best honor, love, care for and support their wives and the hearts that beat in them. To encourage them to be a mystery, to have emotion and to handle things differently from men.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Follow the Leader

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 Follow the Leader: The One Thing Great Leaders Have that Great Followers Want (kindle version) by Emmanuel Gobillot.

This is an important book and one very different from most leadership books. While most leadership books point out what makes a great leader, how to create a vision, strategy, develop teams, etc. Gobillot looks at what makes followers follow certain leaders. What attracts them.

The big idea of the book is: Followers make leaders.

In short, this book is about charisma without ever saying that.

Gobillot looks at how leaders have:

  • Emotional logic
  • Charisma
  • Compassion
  • Hope
  • Asperity
  • Rhetoric
  • Integrity
  • Simplicity
  • Measurement
  • Action

These are the things that attract followers to certain leaders.

Here are a few things that jumped out to me:

  • What is special about the leader or leaders you thought of, is true of all great leaders, is that they are chosen by one or more people as the person from whom they wish to take direction. It is followers who make leaders.
  • Leaders get the followers they deserve.
  • If they have stopped following it is due to the leader losing their appeal not to followers losing the will to follow.
  • Without followers there can be no leadership.
  • The most reasoned choices cannot be made without an emotional component. It is emotions that drive us to listen to reason. If reason is the vector to our actions, then emotions are the thrust that propel us to act.
  • We choose to follow who we choose to follow because it kind of feels right.
  • The people followers are attracted to are those able to ignite their emotional logic. They are the people to whom they have an emotional as well as rational reaction.
  • Charisma is indeed the best way we have found as followers to describe emotional logic in action. It is what attracts us to leaders.

Top Posts for May 2013

In case you missed them, here are the posts that generated the most traffic in the last month:

  1. 21 Skills of Great Preachers
  2. Bring our Child Home from Ethiopia & Serve a Widow
  3. My Notes from Preach Better Sermons
  4. Be Sensitive on Mother’s Day
  5. 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
  6. Is Love a Choice or a Feeling (And Why it Matters)
  7. 8 Ways to Know Your Reading is Too Limited
  8. How a Wife Handles Her Husband’s Sexual Addiction
  9. My Notes from Preach the Word 2013
  10. 3 Things Make a Sermon Great

Top Posts of March 2013

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In case you missed them, here are the top posts for the last month:

  1. 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
  2. Is Love a Choice or a Feeling (And Why it Matters)
  3. Tuesday Morning Book Review || The Power of Habit
  4. My Journey of Losing Weight
  5. Jeff Gordon Pulls a Prank
  6. How a Wife Handles Her Husband’s Sexual Addiction
  7. Jack Welch’s 6 Rules of Leadership
  8. Responding to the Same-Sex Marriage Debate as a Christian
  9. Stop Giving Him an Out
  10. Interacting with the Opposite Sex as a Pastor

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