Links for Your Weekend Reading

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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Mark Driscoll on 3 pieces of advice for Easter.

Please pray for your preacher this week. This is not a normal week for them. They have already been running hard since the new year started and are exhausted, overwhelmed, and probably have a lot going on in their personal life that is taking their energy in addition to the ministry. Give them some grace and space. Encourage them. Let them know you are praying for them. Do all you can to take any other duties off of them this week.

Justin Taylor on Christianity is the world’s most falsifiable religion and has survived.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on I’ve earned my place in heaven.

The New York Times reports: But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

Russell Moore on Same sex marriage and the future.

So what should we do? Well, precisely what we should have done before and after Roe. We should recognize where the courts and the culture are, and we should work for justice. That means not simply assuming that most people agree with us on marriage. We must articulate, both in and out of the church, why marriage matters, and why its definition isn’t infinitely elastic.

Daughter Performs “Youth” (love this band)

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

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

How can a kid see God?

Have you ever considered that you may be the best chance your son or daughter has to see God?

Brian Dodd on 10 practices of maturing leaders.

We want leaders to grow up too fast.  We want them ready-made at an early age.  The reality is the best leaders are those who are seasoned.  They have battle scars and callouses on their souls.  The best leaders have made mistakes, fallen down but got back up to make a difference in the lives of people.  They have persevered.  The best leaders are developed in a crock pot, not a microwave.

Sam Storms on Should women serve as elders in a church.

I believe the NT portrays for us a consistent pattern of governance by a plurality of Elders. However, it is important to realize that even if this is not the case we can still determine whether or not women should be appointed to positions of senior governmental authority.

Matt Smethurst on Should pastors get a sabbatical?

“The stresses and strains of dealing with people—with souls—wears you down in a unique way,” he observes. Besides, he notes, even some companies in the secular world are starting to use sabbaticals. “They realize that refreshment makes a better employee.”

Mark Driscoll buys his way onto the NY Times Bestseller list. Kind of sad to read this (especially since the money came from the offerings of his church).

Seattle’s Mars Hill Church paid a California-based marketing company at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that Real Marriage, a book written by Mark Driscoll, the church’s founding pastor, and his wife Grace, made the New York Times best-seller list.

Jared Wilson has a helpful post on What’s wrong with buying your way onto the NY Times Bestseller list.

1. It’s dishonest.
2. It’s egocentric and lazy.
3. It may eventually harm your reputation and will bug you in the long run.
4. It’s poor stewardship and bad strategy.
5. It disadvantages those actually gifted.

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Top Posts of February

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February was the biggest month ever on my blog. Thanks to all the new subscribers and readers and thank you for all the shares of content on Facebook, Twitter and other places. Please keep it up.

If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:

  1. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  2. Women, It Matters Who You Marry
  3. Loving Does Not Equal Participating
  4. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  5. 7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage
  6. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
  7. Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy
  8. Before You Criticize Your Pastor
  9. How I Structure my Week
  10. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
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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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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

Al Mohler on Must Christians believe in the virgin birth?

For some, the belief that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin is nothing less than evidence of intellectual dimness. One writer for the New York Times put the lament plainly: “The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time.” Does belief in the virgin birth make Christians “less intellectual?” Are we saddled with an untenable doctrine? Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth, or is the doctrine an essential component of the Gospel revealed to us in Scripture?

The playoff scenario for my Pittsburgh Steelers.

So, you’re saying there’s a chance.

Aaron Earls on Make sure what you share on social media is true.

It can happen to any of us. It does happen to almost all of us. We see a story online that shocks us and seems just true enough. Normally, we check things out before we share them, but this is so unbelievable we need to get the news out as soon as possible. We post it on Facebook or retweet it. Before we know it, others have shared the story. Only then do we find out the truth – it was fake.

Mark Steyn on The age of intolerance.

Joseph Parker on An essential manly movie.

In creating the “essential manly movie” category, it is impossible to exclude Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. It stands as the quintessential Roman tale, its epic scale towering above that of other stories within the genre, namely The Eagle, King Arthur, and The Last Legion. All these were good (sort of), but Gladiator hit all major points of Roman culture while providing a story which highlighted the character of man torn apart by the politics of the age. So, this movie came out over eight years ago. What else can be said? Plenty and you can quote me on that.

Mike Myatt on 15 traits of great leaders.

While much has been written about the traits and characteristics that form great leaders, the truth is that leaders come in many different varieties…there is no one-size-fits-all formula for leadership. That said, all good leaders possess certain core qualities, and great leaders simply develop said core qualities to a higher level than their peers. Put simply, a leader’s shelf life will be equal to their ability to leverage their leadership traits through solid execution, and influencing their constituencies in alignment with the corporate vision with values.

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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Tony Morgan on Be intentional instead of excellent.

One of Willow Creek Community Church’s core values states, “We believe excellence honors God and inspires people.” I agree with that. This value has shaped Willow’s ministry through the decades. And, because Willow has embraced this value, many churches have followed their lead and claimed this value as well. Of course, we need to acknowledge that excellence is not a distinctive anymore–it’s expected.

Tim Challies on The dark side of Christian celebrity.

We have a love-hate relationship with celebrity culture. We who consider ourselves part of this New Calvinism hate the idea of celebrity, but have no clear idea how to avoid the reality. We say we hate a celebrity culture, yet stories about our celebrities dominate blogs and periodicals; a sure way to draw in massive amounts of traffic is to write about each new scandal connected to each of our celebrities. We see the dangers posed by a culture of celebrity, but also see that to some degree it is unavoidable. After all, there are men and women we honour and respect and look up to, who are worthy of our regard and worthy of the leadership we give them.

Al Mohler on Nelson Mandela and the Ironies of History.

When it comes to human rights and human dignity, Nelson Mandela has to be put on the side of the heroes, not only of the 20th century, but of any recent century. He is, as an ironic view of history would remind us, one of those necessary men. A necessary man who nonetheless is a man whose feet were made of clay, as his biography reveals very clearly.

3 ways to turn Christmas guests at your church into regular attendees.

Christmas visitors are not like normal visitors. Every year, a significant percentage of them will leave your Christmas services with good feelings, but no thoughts of returning. They came because it was the thing to do. They don’t expect to be back until Easter.

Michael Lukaszewski on What a pastor thinks. Totally agree with this and so do your pastor.

This post is my attempt to unpack a little bit of what goes on in the mind of a pastor.  At different times in my ministry, I’ve wrestled with each of these things.  Maybe I’m alone in my weirdness, but I have a hunch someone will relate.

Walt Mueller on 10 things to tell students about porn.

As a Christian, I am encouraged for the reason that this new push-back is testimony to the integrated nature of how God has made us. In other words, science is now telling us that something we’ve increasingly seen as benign or even virtuous is actually quite dangerous. God has indeed made our sexuality as a good thing. . . but we are indulging it out of the bounds of his plan. When we step out of the bounds of that plan, bad things happen.

Mark Driscoll on Changing trends in the American family.

The American family is changing, and it will never be the same.

Ryan Huguley on 5 ways to love your pastors kids.

Having a pastor for a dad has been a nightmare for many kids. Sadly, many pastors are careful preachers, but crappy dads. Sometimes, it is not the pastor-dad’s fault, but an overbearing, unhelpful, and hurtful congregation. My dad was not a pastor, but I had enough friends who had a pastor for a dad to know that it’s not easy. This is a critical issue for me as parent of three kids and a pastor of a young church. I want them to love Jesus. I want them to love me. I want them to love the Church. You may not attend my church, but if you read my blog, you most likely attend some church. So, here are five ways you can help love your pastor’s kids.

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. How to become as interesting as Malcolm Gladwell.
  2. Tim Challies on The art and science of the humblebrag.
  3. Rodney Stark’s Myth Busting.
  4. Mark Regnerus on A mom and dad really do matter.
  5. How to know if you are Christian celebrity wannabe.
  6. Joe Thorn on What small churches can do.
  7. How to become an optimist.
  8. Barnabas Piper on God’s justice in the tragic death of a child.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Give & Take

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 Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to success (kindle version) by Adam Grant.

I’ll be honest, I had a hard time getting into this book. But once I did, I was not disappointed that I read it.

Give and Take looks at who are the most successful people in the world: givers, takers or matchers. What he found from all walks of life, those that are givers are more successful than takers or simply matchers. This is counter-intuitive and what makes the book so good. This book seeks to answer this question:

Every time we interact with another person we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?

While our culture tends to shun givers at the beginning, in the long run according to Grant, “Those who give first are best positioned for success later.”

So what are givers? They are what Grant calls Otherish:

If takers are selfish and failed givers are selfless, successful givers are otherish: they care about benefiting others, but they also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests. Being otherish means being willing to give more than you receive but still keeping your own interests in sight, using them as a guide for choosing when, where, how, and to whom you give.

I particularly found the chapter on why givers burnout very relevant to pastors. Here’s what Grant said:

Principle of giver burnout: it has less to do with the amount of giving and more with the amount of feedback about the impact of that giving. Givers don’t burn out when they devote too much time and energy to giving. They burnout when they’re working with people in need but are unable to help effectively. Givers burnout not because they are giving too much but because they don’t feel like their giving is making a difference.

Here are a few more things that jumped out:

  • When takers and matchers network, they tend to focus on who can help them in the near future, and this dictates what, where, and how they give. Their actions tend to exploit a common practice in nearly all societies around the world, in which people typically subscribe to a  norm of reciprocity: you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. If you help me, I’m indebted to you, and I feel obligated to repay.
  • People are more likely to benefit from weak ties.
  • You should be willing to do something that will take you five minutes or less for anybody. 
  • Takers have a knack for generating creative ideas and championing them in the face of opposition. Because they have supreme confidence in their own opinions, they feel free of the shackles of social approval that constrict the imaginations of many people.
  • Here’s the definite feature of how givers collaborate: They take on the tasks that are in the group’s best interest, not necessarily their own personal interests.
  • Even when people are well intentioned, they tend to overvalue their own contributions and undervalue those of others.
  • Success doesn’t measure a human being, effort does.
  • Interest precedes the development of talent. It turns out that motivation is the reason that people develop talent in the first place.
  • In roles as leaders and mentors, givers resist the temptation to search for talent first. By recognizing that anyone can be a bloomer, givers focus their attention on motivation.
  • Givers focus on gritty people.
  • When our audiences are skeptical, the more we try to dominate them, the more they resist.
  • In teams and service relationships, powerless speech is actually more influential than powerful speech.
  • Successful givers, it turns out, are just as ambitious as takers and matchers.
  • Takers tend to care more about benefitting personally form their jobs, givers care deeply about doing jobs that benefit other people.
  • The perception of impact serves as a buffer against stress, enabling employees to avoid burnout and maintain their motivation and performance.
  • Research shows that if people start volunteering two hours a week, their happiness and satisfaction, and self-esteem goes up a year later (Pastors, use this the next time you vision cast about serving at your church).
  • People who initially give things away for self reasons begin to care about the people they’re helping.
  • Common ground is a major influence on giving behaviors (Pastors, use this idea when vision casting about giving and fundraising).
  • People often take because they don’t realize that they’re deviating from the norm.
  • When we try to predict other’s reactions, we focus on the cost of saying yes, overlooking the cost of saying no (This has enormous implications on next steps in preaching).
  • If many people believe in giving, but assume others don’t, the whole norm in a group or company can shift away from giving (How a church becomes more giving).

I saved this last quote because it has enormous implications on preaching, discipleship and next steps:

According to a study led by NYU psychologist Peter Gollwitzer, people who went public with their intentions to engage in an identity relevant behavior were significantly less likely to engage in the behavior than people who kept their intentions private. When people made their identity plans known to others, they were able to claim identity without actually following through on the behavior.

I found this book particularly helpful because many of the people who are pastors, work in ministry or volunteer at a church are givers. Grant lays out what characteristics givers have, how to encourage them to reach their potential and not burnout. A helpful book for any pastor.

Preach Better Sermons || Nancy Duarte

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 Nancy Duarte is a communication expert who has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Wired, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Economist, LA Times and on CNN. Her firm, Duarte, Inc., is the global leader behind some of the most influential visual messages in business and culture and has created more than a quarter of a million presentations. As a persuasion specialist, she cracked the code for effectively incorporating story patterns into business communications. Resonate, her latest book, spent nearly a year on the Amazon.com top 100 business book bestsellers list.

Here are some things from Nancy’s segment:

  • Contrast is crucial to a talk sticking. 
  • Stories build up tension and then releases.
  • To communicate effectively you have to like your audience.
  • Communicators need to put themselves in their audience shoes.
  • Movies that win awards for best picture also win awards for editing. Editing, cutting, crafting is what sets apart a good from a great talk.
  • The hero of a presentation is not the person talking the most, but the audience. The audience determines if your idea lives or dies. They make or break your idea.
  • People should leave a sermon and feel unstuck.

Links for Your Weekend Enjoyment

  1. How were the books of the New Testament chosen?
  2. Dave Stone on Leadership begins at home. Great post for parents. 
  3. Are Mormons Christians?
  4. Thom Rainer on Why I avoid writing negative or controversial blog posts.
  5. 4 reasons a student ministry grows part 1 and part 2. If you aren’t serving at Revolution and would like to serve in Rev Up, contact Jared Carter
  6. The best social media tip I can give you