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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The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship that Actually Changes Lives

I’ve had Pete Scazzero’s book The Emotionally Healthy Church on my bookshelf for several years and just got around to it. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long. What a great read.

At the heart of many churches and Christians is this idea that I must put up a front to please people and God. There is also this idea that the gospel only heals certain areas of our lives, but not all of them. This leads to the problem Scot McKnight points out, “We talk about the transformative power of the gospel, but many of us are very transformed.”

Recently, I have been blown away by our church. One of our dreams in planting Revolution was to create a place where you could come as you are, scars and all, find a place in a community and meet Jesus. This has begun to happen, which is amazing. With it comes amazing responsibility and pain as we walk with people who God is healing from a number of things. We are on the inside of seeing God’s transformative power. This can also be very draining, enter this book.

Because most books on discipleship and church are just about “making you a better Christian” this books looks to make you an authentic Christian. Which is actually much different, harder, more painful, but incredibly worthwhile. I told Katie the other day, I’m realizing why churches do everything in their power to create inauthentic churches, it’s so much easier.

Scazzero’s book is a great look at what the gospel can and should do, but it also helps leaders think through how to create a church for this to play out. Many churches function in a way that keep people from changing because there is no need to change. Keep pretending that everything is okay, don’t let God into those dark places of your soul, just change your behavior and things will be fine. The problem is that eventually, those dark places come out and what lies beneath the surface finds its way to the top.

The question that this book focuses on is “Why is it that most people in our churches seem to be radically different on one level from their neighbors – they pray, read the Bible, go to church, give money to church – but on another deeper level, they are very similar?”

The chapter on the gift of limits was by far the chapter that spoke to me the most. As a pastor, I want to help as many people as I can, I want to give myself so that others can get on track, this is one of the reasons I became a pastor. At the same time, Scazzero points out, you can only go so far, at some point the responsibility for change must be on the people you are helping. He describes “the powerful principle of limits as a gift from the hand of God.”

Here are a few ideas that jumped out:

  • Emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseperable.
  • The spirituality of most current discipleship models often only adds an additional protective layer against people growing up emotionally.
  • The local church becomes a place, in a very real way, where I am reparented.
  • I believe the church of Jesus Christ is to be the primary vehicle of our spiritual and emotional maturity.
  • The overall health of any church or ministry depends primarily on the emotional and spiritual health of its leadership. In fact, the key to successful spiritual leadership has much to do with the leader’s internal life than with the leader’s expertise, gifts, or experience.
  • Jesus was anything but an emotionally frozen Messiah.
  • It is not possible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.
  • Huge numbers of people are totally unaware of the dichotomy between their exterior and interior worlds.
  • In emotionally healthy churches, people take a deep, hard look inside their hearts, asking, “What is going on that Jesus Christ is trying to change?”
  • We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.
  • If God allowed us to see more than 1% of our sin, we would fall down dead!
  • The gospel says you are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, yet you are more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope because Jesus lived and died in your place.
  • The gospel can never be taught, urged, and repeated enough.
  • In emotionally healthy churches, people understand how their past affects their present ability to love Christ and others. They’ve realized from Scripture and life that an intricate, complex relationship exists between the kind of person they are today and their past.
  • Few consider brokenness as God’s design and will for their lives.
  • Understanding and respecting our boundaries and limits is one of the most important character qualities and skills leaders need in order to be long-term lovers of God and others.

The question we as a church have to wrestle through is what is changing about people? Are we changing people to become better people or is the gospel really transforming people to love God and love people authentically? Is the gospel changing all the dark places of those who walk through the doors of Revolution?

He also wrote a book for people who aren’t pastors called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, definitely worth checking out. You will hear more about these ideas in the coming months at Revolution and how they play out in our church.