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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Denny Burk on Beware of self-appointed pastors.

The pastoral office is reserved for those who are gifted for the ministry and who meet a defined set of character qualifications (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). The men who meet these qualifications are not self-appointed. The church is to recognize and set these men apart for the ministry (1 Tim. 4:14). The issue is not whether one recognizes his own giftedness and qualification. The issue is whether the people of God recognize it as well.

Tim Challies on Don’t pray in circles. (Katie and I appreciated Batterson’s book for the way it challenged our prayer lives, but Tim is spot on with this.)

Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus as simply and clearly as they could: “Teach us to pray.” When Jesus taught his disciples, he said nothing about prayer circles; if anything, he said the opposite when he told them to pray privately and in a quiet place. When Paul wrote to the people he loved, he often told them how and what he was praying on their behalf, and he said nothing about prayer circles. Praying in circles is absent in any and every form.

Matt Chandler on Being engaged in the battle over abortion.

When I begin to have conversations with some of my aunts and uncles and how they wish they would have marched with King but they were just indifferent, they just thought it would work itself out. How they wish they could get back into time and fight the noble fight. Instead, they were quiet… I think [abortion] is going to be one of those issues for us. Science is already pushing the ball forward rapidly. In 1973, when Roe v. Wade occurred, there was no sonogram. We can see our babies in the womb now. There are studies now showing the baby is dreaming in the womb. Science will eventually, I believe, turn over Roe v. Wade. It will only be a matter of time.

Shane Blackshear on 5 ways to be unsatisfied with your church.

“There is no perfect church, and if you find one, don’t join it because you’ll ruin it.” I don’t know who first said that, but it’s true. All churches are strong in some areas and weak in others. Hopefully churches are always working on those weaknesses, but if we can’t settle for anything less than perfection, then we’re in real trouble.

Brian Howard on The power of positive leadership.

Have you ever given thought to how much positive vs. corrective feedback you give to your family or team? Perhaps if we focused more on teaching and encouragement rather than criticism we would see completely different results than we are used to seeing.

Carlos Whittaker on Megachurch myths.
Myth: Mega-Churches should spend their money rescuing orphans with all their dollars instead of building fancy buildings. Truth: They should rescue orphans. They should also rescue Bob the 38 year old banker who lives off of Tower Place Drive in Buckhead.
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My Notes from Preach Better Sermons

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In case you missed them today, here are all my notes from today’s online preaching conference, Preach Better Sermons:

Steven Furtick

The whole worship service is one thing, not separate parts, it is one thing. The service is won and lost in transitions. Preaching and a worship service communicate what your values are.

Louie Giglio

Louie’s 6 rules of preaching: (1) Have something to say, (2) Be faithful to the text, (3) Lead people to Jesus, (4) Don’t be boring, (5) Prepare, (6) Be led by the Holy Spirit.

Donald Miller

You need to show up everyday because you don’t know when creativity will strike or when something will hit.

Brad Lomenick

A great communicator moves people and inspire people.

Dave Ramsey

If an audience doesn’t laugh every 7 minutes, you lose them.

Mark Batterson

Would you rather be a great preacher or a great pray-er?

Darrin Patrick

Would your sermon work if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?

Jon Acuff

The greatest way to ruin a speech is ego.

Crawford Lorritts

You’ll never preach any better than who you are. Effective ministry always comes out of the overflow of your heart and walk with God.

Pete Wilson

When you attach your identity to the success or failure of your message, you are in for a roller coaster ride and it is dangerous.

Nancy Duarte

People should leave a sermon and feel unstuck.

Andy Stanley

The foundation of our faith is not Scripture, the foundation of our faith is Jesus.

Ed Stetzer

Maximize your study by minimize your searching.

Mark Driscoll

God’s people are on mission to see more people become God’s people.

Overall, tons of great content for preachers.

Preach Better Sermons || Mark Batterson

bookI’m watching the online conference Preach Better Sermons today and wanted to share some of the learnings I picked up. One of the speakers is Mark Batterson. Mark is the Lead Pastor of National Community Church, one church with six locations in Washington, DC. He is a New York Times bestselling author of ten books including The Circle Maker (can’t recommend this book highly enough), In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, and Wild Goose Chase. Mark holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Regent University. He and Lora live on Capitol Hill with their three children: Parker, Summer, and Josiah.

Here are some thing that jumped out from his segment:

  • There is a correlation to writing and speaking. 
  • When writing or speaking, look for the metaphor that people can latch onto.
  • Pictures, stories and metaphors are what people gravitate towards.
  • No matter how last minute you are, you must be done with enough time to pray through your sermon.
  • Preaching and prayer go hand in hand.
  • Would you rather be a great preacher or a great pray-er?

This was a really convicting session on how much I pray.

This Weekend @ Revolution: Circle Prayers

We have 5 weeks until we move to Magee middle school. Many of you have already given to our Fearless campaign, so far over $21,000 has been given. We’re asking everyone if they are giving a one time gift to do so by August 11. This helps us be as prepared as possible before we move.

This prayer that we are praying as a church goes right along with what we are looking at this week as we continue our series in the book of Joshua: praying big, audacious prayers in the face of a seemingly impossible situation. Maybe you’ve been in that spot, where it seems hopeless, as if God has abandoned you. If so, you won’t want to miss Saturday.

Here’s what is happening this week as we think about praying specific audacious prayers:

  1. Bold, specific prayers honor God. We’ll look from Joshua 6 how to pray big, audacious prayers. Prayers that trust in the bigness of God and understand our need for him in our lives. What one author calls Circling prayers
  2. We’ll also celebrate the stories of life change with baptism. We are kicking off our service with them, so be at church at 5pm so you don’t miss them!
  3. Right after church, stick around for some great food, conversations with Revolutionaries and inflatables for kids for our summer church picnic.

It’s going to be a great week that you won’t want to miss. So, I’ll see you this Saturday, at 5pm and bring someone with you to experience all that God is doing.

Remember, we meet at 6620 E 22nd St.

See you Saturday.

Lots of Cheap Kindle Books 4.18.12

There are a ton of great kindle books for cheap today:

$2.99

$3.49

$3.82

$3.99

$4.99

Top Posts of January 2012

In case you missed them, here are the top posts for January 2012:

  1. Favorite Books of 2011
  2. One of the Most Misquoted Verses in the Bible
  3. Sex, Marriage & Fairytales
  4. The King Jesus Gospel
  5. 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
  6. The Role of Men in Family
  7. The Circle Maker
  8. Why I Preach Like I Do
  9. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
  10. Stephen Colbert on a Christian Nation

The Next 100 Days

I think the next 100 days for our family will be pretty pivotal. Recently, Katie and I both read through Mark Batterson’s book The Circle Maker and really felt like we needed to be more intentional with our prayer lives, pray bigger, bolder, more specific prayers and think more through the lens of legacy.

To that end, I want to ask for your prayers over the next 100 days.

Starting this week Katie and I are reading through the Bible in 90 days, which boils down to 12 pages a day. At the end of that, we are going to do a 10 day daniel fast with the intention of clearly defining our goals at the end of that.

One of the things that Batterson talks about in his book is creating life goals. We will be making goals in 5 categories: family, influential, experiential, physical and travel. The goal of discipleship undergirds all the categories and has to be a component of the goals we come up with.

We want to think through the legacy we will leave to our grandchildren and think through how we live the rest of our days with intentionality. If we’re lucky, we are a third of the way through our lives and want to make the most of each remaining for the kingdom.

We’d appreciate your prayers as we embark on this journey. We are excited, a little scared to see what God calls us to, but excited to let him use our lives as he sees fit.

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Why Read Books on Big Faith

I was asked the other day after posting about The Circle Maker if I like books on big faith. Books like this or Sun Stand Still are always favorites of mine.

The reason is simple, I don’t have big faith.

There I said it.

While my life has often seemed like an episode that needed big faith, lots of people have lives that need bigger faith than I need. In thinking back, moving to Tucson 5 years ago was a moment of lunacy. We had family and friends try to talk us out of it. Church planting doesn’t work they said, especially in this economy. Adopting. Why spend that time and money on it? Plant more churches.

Those are just things I’ve heard in the last year.

But when I hear those, they reinforce the doubts I have, they don’t push me to have bigger faith.

Enter books like The Circle Maker or Sun Stand Still. I am always pushed by men and women who have big faith, pray crazy prayers. I think we see in Scripture that God is honored by big and small prayers. I think there is something to big prayers though that gets at the heart of God because it takes a dependency on him that small prayers don’t. Big prayers reveal his father’s heart because it reveals our heart as a son or daughter that is dependent on him.

In the course of this conversation then, I was told how much God loves small prayers, that it shows his care for the small details in life. This is true. I love how God cares about the lilies of the valley, the birds of the air. It shows how he is big enough for anything, but cares about the smallest details. I chuckled because that is my first inclination, but as I pointed out in this conversation, it reveals my lack of faith. Because that keeps me from taking a step where I have to trust for the impossible.

The Circle Maker

I started The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams & Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson the other night and have not been able to put it down.

I told Katie this morning that she needs to stop reading whatever she’s reading and read this book. It was that good and challenging. There were a few things that jumped out to me from the book.

The first was the idea of drawing circles around prayer. Praying specific prayers. I’ve preached before on this idea and find that praying specific prayers stretches my faith and I see God move in powerful ways because of it. But I like the idea of circling something. For me, I’ve begun circling places I believe God wants us to plant Revolution Churches in Tucson. So this was a great reminder.

Another point was having a vision beyond your resources. I’ve already blogged on this idea, so I won’t belabor it, but suffice to say, if you can afford or pull off your prayers or dreams, they are too small. Another was the question Mark asked, “Is there a limit to God’s power?” All Christians would say no, yet we pray as if there is. We pray small prayers, believe possible things. This is the foundational question of prayer. Is there a limit to what God can do.

By far, the most life changing idea from this book was when he said, “Stop praying for something and start praying/praising through something.” God has already given us the promise of answered prayers and power in Scripture. Start praising God for what he will do. For me, I started to think about our adoptions and that God has already chosen children for our family, so instead of asking him to complete the adoption, I’ve begun thanking him for these children and praising through it. I believe God has put on my heart the prayer of planting a movement of churches around Tucson so that everyone is within a 10 mile drive of a Revolution Church and that 1 million people will enter the kingdom through Revolution (in my lifetime or beyond), so I’m beginning to pray as if that promise has already happened and giving God the glory for it.

While all of this is good, it is easy for this idea and the way Mark communicates it for someone to walk away and think of God as a vending machine. Pray this and you’ll get more than what you prayed for. Give this and God will give you 10 times what you gave. This is a tough line to walk when it comes to faith. Mark handles it well by bringing us back to the glory of God and how that needs to be the heart of our prayers and asking. He handled this well by comparing it to John the Baptist. One of Jesus’ closest friends, John is beheaded, while others are being healed, raised from the dead, walking after years of being lame and John does not get rescued. It’s a tough place to be, it is a dark place to be, but it is also a place that pushes our faith and asks if we truly believe in God and his sovereignty and his plan. The other reality is that sometimes God tells us no and doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want them. Sometimes he doesn’t bring healing like we hoped.

Here are a few other things that jumped out to me:

  • Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention.
  • Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future. Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life.
  • The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked.
  • “God does not answer vague prayers.”
  • We usually focus on what we’re doing or where we’re going, but God’s primary concern is who we’re becoming in the process. We talk about “doing” the will of God, but the will of God has much more to do with “being” than “doing.”
  • Faith is the willingness to look foolish.
  • If you aren’t willing to be perplexed, you’ll never be amazed.
  • Many of us pray as if our problems are bigger than God. Our biggest problem is our small view of God.
  • God is great not just because nothing is too big for Him; God is great because nothing is too small for Him.
  • All of us love miracles. We just don’t like being in a situation that necessitates one.
  • Show me your vision, and I’ll show you your future.
  • The degree of satisfaction is directly proportional to the degree of difficulty.

If you are looking for a book that will stretch your faith and prayer life, this is a great book to start with.