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

Jill Popp on Having kids when you aren’t ready for them.

God doesn’t give us children when we are old and wise and mature, but when we are young and ignorant and need to grow. In other words, he gives us children in the middle of the sanctification process; and our children, in turn, become a significant means of producing growth in our lives.”

Art Rainer on 4 Reasons Why Churches Need Good Directional Signage.

One of the most common mistakes I noticed as a church consultant was the lack of directional signage in churches. It’s as if churches expected people who had never been in their building to know exactly where to go on their first visit. Obviously this is a problem. Art shares four reason why your church should not only have directional signage, but good directional signage.

Brian Dodd on 7 practices of growing churches.

Joe McCormick on 3 communication tips for leaders.

Choose your words carefully and economically. Effective leaders today are mindful communicators, aware of the needs of their audience as well as the message they are trying to get across, briefly.

Ronnie Floyd on How Should You Respond When You Do Not Meet the Expectations of Others?

As a pastor, people will have unreasonable expectations of how you are to lead the church and fulfill your pastoral duties. Ronnie shares how to respond when it happens.

Rick Warren on How to Stay Relevant

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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

  1. If you want to be a great leader, you must have vision.
  2. Donald Zimmerman on How to structure your worship ministry. This makes me appreciate Paul Ingram all the more.
  3. Personal branding for introverts.
  4. Tim Challies on Do you have a personal relationship with Satan?
  5. Great leaders are rarely normal, well-adjusted people.
  6. Garrett Kell on How to destroy your marriage before it begins.
  7. Hannah Joiner on Secrets for dads with daughters.
  8. Stop trying to date yourself. Great word for singles.
  9. Chan Kilgore on What he wished he would’ve known about leadership, parenting and satanic attacks when he started pastoring. If you are a pastor or thinking about it, this is a great series of blog posts.
  10. Will people have a chance to repent after they die?
  11. Trevin Wax on When your kids say “Dad, I know all the bible stories.”
  12. What one pastor wish he would’ve known about critics and parenting when he started pastoring.
  13. Thom Rainer on 7 tips for introverted pastors.
  14. The most important interview Rick Warren has ever done. I watched this last night and was blown away while watching it. Really a moving interview.
  15. How to not make a hiring mistake.

An Awkward Interview on a New book

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

  1. Anthony Bradley on Millennials leaving the church.
  2. Brian Howard on How to build the perfect church staff.
  3. Rick Warren’s first sermon since his son’s suicide.
  4. Steven Furtick on Fences bring freedom.

How to write a worship song:

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

  1. Ben Reed on 18 things you should never, EVER, say to a woman. Solid stuff to keep in mind.
  2. Mark Driscoll on Rick Warren, critics and the hope of God’s Son.
  3. What to say when someone says, “All religions are basically the same.”
  4. Ron Edmondson on What every leader at the top knows, but those in the second chair don’t.
  5. What happens when you don’t manage your time well.
  6. John Piper on Regrets and retirement as he looks back over 33 years of pastoral ministry.
  7. 25 leadership quotes from Catalyst Leader. Really excited to read this book.

How Animals Eat their Food

Interacting with the Opposite Sex when You’re Married

In honor of preaching on the topic of marriage at Revolution this past Saturday and this coming Saturday, I thought I’d repost some of the more helpful things I’ve written on the topics of marriage, dating, sexuality, roles, communication and others topics related to marriage.

Couples who commit adultery don’t just happen to do it. It is something that happens over time, not all at once. One of the reasons for this is a lack of boundaries.

I often get asked about the boundaries that Katie and I have for our relationships with the opposite sex in our church. In fact, it has caused some people to not understand and to get upset at me. But as a pastor, I have seen too many church leaders who did not have boundaries or discretion fall in ministry, lose their wife and kids and lose the call God had on their life. I refuse for that to happen, all of those things are way to important for me.

When we were in Wisconsin, it was winter and probably about 5 degrees outside. We were having some of our leaders over and a single woman was the first one there and Katie was at the store. I was alone with Ava. So I gave Ava to this leader to hold, grabbed my jacket and went outside to wait for someone else to get there. Some people scratch their heads at this, but it shows to Katie and to my church, my integrity, my marriage is really important.

Pastors, your integrity is more important than anything. I have never read a book on leadership that didn’t say something to this effect, “Lose your integrity, lose your leadership and following.” (Usually, more elegant than that)

Saddleback Church in California has what they call their 10 Commandments and it has been incredibly helpful for me over the years. Now as a Lead Pastor with people under me, this is how all pastors at Revolution (now and in the future) will interact with the opposite sex. Here they are:

  1. Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.*
  2. Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.*
  3. Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.*
  4. Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.*
  5. Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, and thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. Refer them.
  6. Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.
  7. Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with an attender of the opposite sex.
  8. Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, instant messages, chatrooms, cards or letters from the opposite sex.
  9. Thou shalt make your co-worker your protective ally.
  10. Thou shalt pray for the integrity of other staff members.

(*The first four do not apply to unmarried staff.)

Thanks for the link Ed.

Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches

Ever since Katie and I got married, we’ve talked about adoption. It was something that was in our mind, something that we would do someday. We always knew it would happen, we just didn’t know when. A few weeks ago, we were at a conference at Saddleback and they brought up adoption.

We started talking to a few friends and family who had adopted, sharing with them what we felt God was calling us to do. All of them told us to read Russell Moore’s book Adopted for Life. Before reading the book, I was committed to adoption and moving forward. After reading the book, I was dead sold. It was a done deal what God had done in my heart.

A lot of thoughts run through my mind about this book and what it has confirmed and stirred within my heart. This book not only lays out the practical side of adoption, some of the logistics a family will have to figure out, the finances, the questions you will get. But it also lays out the doctrine of adoption, that all of us, as followers of Jesus are adopted into the family of God. Adoption is the gospel. It takes that idea and marries them to the mission of the church. I’m not sure how I missed the simple connection as I read theology books, thought about the doctrine of adoption and being missional.

I have been amazed about the response to what God has stirred in our hearts since we started sharing it a few weeks ago. We’ve had people be excited, ask questions (oh the questions) and we’ve had people question it. Because we are looking into Africa the question people ask is what we will do since the child will look different. Yes, we are aware. The anti-adoption people who have commented on twitter and on this blog really blow my mind (just an fyi, if that is you, your comment will not be approved). It has also been cool to hear from other couples who are considering adoption but never said anything or were able to ask questions. Can’t wait to see how this changes those families and the life of our church.

The most interesting response is from Christians that used to be my response. Why would you adopt? I had someone ask me, “But you have 3 kids, why would you adopt?” To be honest, this was my thought. Adopting for us, is not about having another child, it is about the gospel and what we are called to (James 1:27).

To be honest, the more I have read about adoption, the conditions on the other side of the world, the hopelessness and the more I have discovered God’s love for me through adoption (see the books of Ephesians and Galatians to see how God’s adoption of us plays out), my heart has been broken.

When Katie and I got back from Saddleback, I was bothered. I didn’t sleep, I was grumpy. After 4 days of this she asked me if anything was wrong or I wanted to talk about anything. I brushed it off because I didn’t want to get into it. I didn’t want to say out loud what God was doing in my heart. Finally, we sat down and I told her, “I think it is time for us to adopt.” I was a moment I will remember because it was the moment that I let out how God had broken and soften my heart. Not something I do often, but the gospel changes you. Especially, when you come face to face with it and realize you have been adopted.

I realize that most of my book reviews actually review the book and I’ve told you very little about the book. Here is why. Whether or not you are considering adopting, you need to read this book. If you are a follower of Jesus, a church leader, elder, deacon, pastor. You need to buy this book. Period. The church needs to be more a part of adopting kids nobody wants.

I remember having a conversation with a friend who is pro-choice and he said to me, “I don’t understand how Christians can say they are pro-life and want women to have the babies they don’t want if they aren’t willing to adopt them.” I realize there is a lot in that statement and can easily open up a can of worms in an argument, but the point is there.

So, that’s what is stirring in us. What God is moving in us. We’d ask that you pray for us because we have no idea what the next 12 – 18 months will be like as we fill out papers, do a home study, prepare our kids, fly to Africa, raise almost $30,000 and welcome a new child into our family. A child who may not be born yet or who maybe is, but a child that God has picked out for our family that we can love and raise, laugh and cry with.

Radicalis Notes

We left Radicalis a day early. We wanted to get back to our kids, get ready for church on Saturday and we were just overflowing with information. But, in case you missed my notes, you can get them all below.

Main Sessions:

Individual Learning Track: Preaching for Life Change w/ Kerry Shook & Tom Holladay:

Radicalis Session 6b: Radical Church Planting (Ed Stetzer)

Ed Stetzer finished up session 6 on mission by focusing on church planting.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Only 3% of churches in America are engaged in church planting
  • We need to be involved in church planting because the church matters (Ephesians 3:10)
  • You can’t love Jesus and ignore his wife
  • The church is not the center of God’s plan, Jesus is, but the church is central
  • The mission of the church is joining Jesus on his kingdom mission
  • We need to be engaged in church planting because the lost matter (Luke 15, 19:10)
  • Too many churches don’t plant churches because they see large church plants and think, “I could never do that”
  • Our churches are not supposed to be a cul-de-sac on the highway of the kingdom of God
  • We need to be engaged in church planting because multiplication matters (Matthew 13)
  • God has a new math, it is about multiplication, not addition
  • When everything mulitply, it changes the whole dynamic
  • All healthy things reproduce
  • If healthy things reproduce, many churches are on some powerful birth control
  • We need to be engaged in church planting because transformation matters (Luke 18)
  • We need to be engaged in church planting because the nations matter
  • The nations mean, “people who are different from us”
  • If you call yourself a missional church, you should be involved locally, planting nationally, adopting a people group internationally
  • Every church is called to be a world outreach center
  • Multiplication costs something
  • When you multiply, it is amazing how much God provides

Radicalis Session 5: Radical Compassion (Rick Warren)

Rick Warren spoke on Radical Compassion in session 5 of Radicalis. He talked from Luke 4:14 – 21, in this passage, Jesus is quoting from the book of Isaiah.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Don’t practice what you preach, preach what you practice
  • To have a Christlike ministry, we need to focus on the people that Jesus focused on

Who Jesus came to help:

  • The poor: the have nots
  • Types of poverty:  material, moral, and spiritual (the worst kind according to Mother Teresa)
  • The brokenhearted: the let down in life (Psalm 69:20)
  • Causes of broken heartedness:  disappointment, rejection, resentment
  • The imprisoned: the locked up people in life
  • Types of prison:  addictions, compulsions, secrets, lack of education, ignorance, fears
  • The blind: the shut out
  • Types of blindness:  physical, relational, spiritual
  • The oppressed: the kicked around
  • Types of oppression:  political, cultural, spiritual (depression, stress, worry)

What Jesus came to do (Luke 4:18):

  • Ministry is all about hurting people
  • Preach to the needs and the hurts of people
  • John 13:14 – 15
  • To help people in my city, I must minister to them the way Jesus did
  • Jesus expects you to preach good news
  • A Christlike ministry must be evangelistic
  • The best thing we can do is not ease someone’s pain but to give them the good news
  • Jesus expects you to heal the brokenhearted
  • To minister to people, you need to slow down
  • Everybody has a hidden hurt
  • Jesus expects you to proclaim freedom
  • You have to deal with the trapped people all around you
  • Revealing your feeling is the first step to healing
  • To overcome fear, you stay close to Jesus
  • Jesus expects you to help the people who are taken advantage of in life

P.E.A.C.E. Plan

  • Plant churches/promote reconicliation
  • Equip servant leaders
  • Assist the poor
  • Care for the sick
  • Educate the next generation

To have radical compassion

  • We must care about what Jesus cares about
  • Jesus cares about the world (John 3:16)
  • The way you see the crowd tells a lot about your heart
  • We must be indifferent to what Jesus is indifferent to
  • Jesus didn’t worry about impressing others
  • We must love what Jesus loves
  • We must be angry about what Jesus gets angry about
  • We must sacrifice for what Jesus sacrificed

Radicalis Individual Track: Preaching for Life Change Session 3

At Radicalis, they are having individual learning tracks. The one I am doing is on “Preaching for life change” which is lead by Tom Holladay & Kerry Shook.

I love being with other communicators. It is great to be with other people who understand the weight of preaching (and the joy) and the preparation it takes, how hard it is and how to evaluate yourselves. The stories (both good and bad) are exciting to hear and push me forward as a preacher.

Session 3 started off where Session 2 ended, you can also see my notes for session 1 here. We are walking through how to C.R.A.F.T. a message.

Here are some thoughts from session 3:

How do you categorize what you collect?

  • Look for similarities between verses
  • Look for recurring themes in verses

Research and Reflect (Ecclesiastes 12:9)

  • Research is studying with my mind and listening with my heart
  • Important questions:  What does it say? and What does it mean?
  • Reflect:  let the scripture soak into your life

How do you reflect on God’s word?

  • Reflection is another word for meditate (Psalm 119:99)
  • Meditation is focused thinking
  • You cannot rush reflection
  • Your most creative thoughts will come after a time of rest
  • I listen to what God is saying to me (Psalm 119:27)
  • I record any insights I have

How do you Apply a sermon?

  • Application answers to important questions:  So what? and Now what?
  • There is a personal and corporate application to every sermon
  • Always aim for a specific response
  • Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific
  • The most important question after we study the text is What specific response that I am going to ask for?
  • You are preaching for an action, a verdict, a commitment
  • You want people to do something because of what you said
  • What do I want them to feel? What do I want them to think? What do I want them to do?
  • Model application by applying it to your own life (1 Corinthians 4:6)
  • Ask penetrating questions (Matthew 18:12)
  • Give specific action steps
  • Give practical examples (1 Corinthians 10:11)
  • Offer people hope
  • Tell people how it could be, not just how it is
  • Make your applications your points (the secret to preaching for life change)
  • Put a verb in every point
  • Put God or Jesus  in the point (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  • Personalize the points with I or me or you
  • When we preach about God in an impersonal way, we take the power of it and God has to speak in spite of our outline
  • We need to use simple language, not complex
  • Suggest a practical assignment  (Luke 10:37)
  • Smart assignments that lead people to life change (Specific, Motivational, Attainable, Relevant, Trackable)

Questions for Application

  • Who are the people in this passage and how are they like us today?
  • What is the setting and what are the similarities to our world?
  • What is happening, is there any conflict or tension, and how would I have acted or felt in that situation?
  • What was the intended message for that audience? What is the purpose of the passage? What did God want them to learn or feel or do?
  • What are the timeless truths?
  • How is this relevant to our world today?
  • Where does this truth apply to my life?
  • What needs to change in me?
  • What will be my first step of action?

12 Questions to ask about every text

  1. Is there an attitude to adjust?
  2. Is there a promise to claim?
  3. Is there a priority to change?
  4. Is there a lesson to learn?
  5. Is there an issue to resolve?
  6. Is there a command to obey?
  7. Is there an activity to avoid or stop?
  8. Is there a truth to believe?
  9. Is there an idol to tear down?
  10. Is there an offense to forgive?
  11. Is there a new direction to take?
  12. Is there a sin to confess?

How do you Arrange your sermon?

  • The text should determin the substance of the message, but the way people hear and learn should determine the structure of your message
  • Life change needs to determine the structure of our message
  • Too many sermons have content, content, content, and then application at the end (the problem is that no one is with you when you get to the end)
  • A better outline is application w/ content, application w/ content, application w/ content
  • The purpose of the point and the strength of the message is that lives can be changed by Jesus
  • If the point of the message is application, then my applications should be my points

How to arrange your outline for maximum impact

  • Keep it simple
  • If it takes too long to explain it to people, then it is too long
  • Someone should be able to read your outline and know what you were talking about
  • Beware of alliterations
  • It is more important to be clear than cute
  • State your points in complete sentences
  • What is your outline saying
  • What is the point, is it worth saying
  • Make sure your points have unity and balance
  • Your message must have movement if you want to move people
  • Have a plan for your message and where it is going
  • Offer hope in your message, you can do everything I am saying with the power of God
  • Call for commitment
  • Arrange your points to climax with a commitment
  • What do you want them to do and then ask them to do it!
  • Arrange your points to use tension and release
  • Consider how your points sound when arranging them
  • If you use fill in the blanks, make sure they matter