Top 10 Posts for April 2014

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In case you missed them, here are the top 10 posts for the last month:

  1. Heaven is for Real
  2. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
  3. Getting Married is Easier than Staying Married
  4. Why Revolution Church Doesn’t Have a Women’s Ministry
  5. You’re One Choice Away from Wrecking Your Life
  6. Get the Men, Win the War
  7. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  8. Why You Aren’t a Leader
  9. Stop Giving Him an Out
  10. What I’ve Learned from Being Married for 10 Years
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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.

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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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Make a Decision (Leadership Reflections on World Vision)

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Last week, the Christian blog world exploded with the news that World Vision would change their hiring policy and hire Christians in same sex relationships. The reaction was swift and expected. Then, a day later they changed their policy back to what it was and announced they had made a mistake. Right wing Christians everywhere rejoiced and said that World Vision had gotten it right.

Church planters are faced with vision and financial decisions all the time. This situation is ripe with leadership wisdom for us as pastors and leaders. This blog is not about the decision or what the decision was about, only what leaders can learn about decisions.

In all this, I want to bring out a leadership principles.

One: When you make a decision, make sure it is the right one and stick to it. 

Did World Vision make the right decision changing their policy or changing it back? That’s not my decision or concern of this blog. I think if they are going to be a Christian organization, they should stick to what the Bible teaches on issues.

The leadership move in this was very weak. To announce a decision, one that apparently had been in the making for months and then go back on it the next day showed little backbone.

Two: Know that some decisions you make as a leader will go unnoticed and others will cause a storm. 

Leaders guess wrong on this all the time. We think we are making some monumental decision that will cause people to picket, we are going to say some controversial thing in a sermon that will make people flood our email inbox and nothing happens. Then, we say something off hand, make a small change and we are in meetings for a week. At a moments notice, a decision can create a storm. Be ready.

Three: When you make a decision, finances will be the thing that will make you want to turn back. 

Church planters know this to be true. 3 weeks after we started Revolution Church, I had a meeting with our top 4 givers and they gave me a list of things they would like to see happen at Revolution or else they were leaving and taking their tithe with them. Their giving made up almost 50% of our budget. They knew this and I knew this. I looked at the list and knew I couldn’t do what they were asking and keep the vision God had called us to. So, I handed them the list and thanked them for being a part of our church and left. They never came back.

At some point, you will have the financial test as a leader. You will make a decision that will cause you to lose donors, customers, or church members. A decision will cause tithes to go down. This is why you must make sure you are making the right choice and be willing to lose that for the greater goal.

Four: Choose wisely the hills you will die on because you will die on those hills. 

Every leader has things they will die for as a leader: it might be theology, a leadership principle, philosophy of ministry, a style of preaching or music. Everyone has them. Choose the hills you will die on carefully because you will spill blood on those hills. I’m not sure if this was a hill for World Vision. If it wasn’t, they wasted a lot of blood. The fact that they went back on their decision seems to tell me that it isn’t a hill they want to die on.

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Leadership Lessons: World Vision & Same Sex Marriage

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Yesterday, my twitter feed consisted of people reacting to the news that World Vision changed its policy and World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.

The reaction, as you would expect, was swift, vicious and all over the map.

Some tweeted about how World Vision has gone off the deep end, how they were ruining their Christian witness and going against the Bible. Others applauded the move and bashed Christians who would stop supporting children with World Vision, because “it’s wrong to say you’re okay with a child going hungry instead of a gay person having a job. That’s hate.”

The whole time I just sat there shaking my head.

In watching this unfold in the last 24 hours, reading several blogs on both sides (that were sometimes helpful and sometimes hurtful), I wanted to share some thoughts for leaders:

  1. Same sex marriage is the issue. Same sex marriage is not going away, no matter what any conservatives hope. It is here to stay. We need to learn how we will live in a culture that is okay with it and encourages it. We need to speak the gospel truth to it, love those struggling with same sex attraction, walk with those who are in relationships, be their friends (as we would a heterosexual couple living together before marriage) and share the truth and beauty of Jesus with them. Almost every person I meet who finds out I’m a Christian or a pastor asks me what I think about same sex marriage. This is the issue. A follower of Jesus needs to learn how to talk about it in a loving, gospel centered way and point to the truth so that the person listening will want to continue talking about it.
  2. Taking a stand, is a stand. I’m surprised by the number of people who seem surprised by the outrage. World Vision said “they are making a narrow policy change.” And that it “is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S. based on this single issue, and nothing more. . . . This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. . . . We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. . . . This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues.” I understand it. The reality is, any stand is a stand. Any decision, even a non-decision of silence, is a decision. By allowing this and not allowing employees to commit adultery, theft, fornication outside of marriage and other things labeled as sins in the Bible, you are saying one is okay and one is not.
  3. Christians need to stand up for other issues as well. I believe the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman. I’ve also done a lot of reading recently on this issue because in the fall we’re doing a series at Revolution called Why I’m Not a Christian on some of the main things people have against Christianity and one of the weeks will be on “Christians are homophobic.” When homosexuality is talked about in the New Testament, it is often listed with other sins such as sexual immortality, idolaters, adulterers, stealing, and swindlers (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Let’s be against those things as well. It makes no sense how Christians seem to not bat an eye at a heterosexual couple living together before marriage or having sex, or a man cheating his employer by watching March Madness at work instead of working (that’s stealing). Let’s be careful and not just be one issue. Let’s talk about them all.

Should a Christian support world vision? That’s up to you. Christians buy and support organizations all the time that hold to different values and beliefs than they do. They buy food from people in same sex relationships. I realize that Christians say it is different when it is a faith-based organization like World Vision and I understand that and can agree with that. At the end of the day, World Vision is not the only organization that does what it does, so if this is a make or break it issue for you, then support children through another organization. If you stop working with World Vision, tell them in a kind, loving way. Don’t send a mean spirited email with a long list of Bible verses. If you disagree with their decision but choose to continue working with World Vision, tell them that as well.

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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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Brandon Ambrosino on Being against gay marriage doesn’t make you a homophobe.

As a gay man, I found myself disappointed with this definition—that anyone with any sort of moral reservations about gay marriage is by definition anti-gay. If Raushenbush is right, then that means my parents are anti-gay, many of my religious friends (of all faiths) are anti-gay, the Pope is anti-gay, and—yes, we’ll go here—first-century, Jewish theologian Jesus is anti-gay. That’s despite the fact that while some religious people don’t support gay marriage in a sacramental sense, many of them are in favor of same-sex civil unions and full rights for the parties involved. To be sure, most gay people, myself included, won’t be satisfied until our loving, monogamous relationships are graced with the word “marriage.” But it’s important to recall that many religious individuals do support strong civil rights for the gay members of their communities.

Bruce Wesley on The arrogance and impatience of church planters.

The future of church planting requires a commitment to weed out arrogance and impatience in the men who plant churches. A church might get started with an arrogant and impatient leader, but it will not grow healthy with such a leader.

Jon Acuff on 4 tips for men to take better selfies.

10 things you did not know about the movie “Elf.”

The Will Ferrell holiday classic ‘Elf’ wasn’t supposed to be a hit. Despite being a heartwarming comedy released around the holiday season, it had several things going against it before the filmmakers had a chance to start shooting.

Christmas iBand

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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Josh Watt on The technology question every parent must answer.

A lot of parents are hesitant to be proactive in their children’s life of technology, because they just can’t keep up with the speed at which it’s changing. Other parents are hesitant, because they haven’t seen good parenting modeled in this area. The other reality is parents are on the front end of parenting the digital generation and frankly we are all learning as we go. Yet there is another hindrance to parents being proactive in their children’s online lives, and it is this inner struggle we all have to varying degrees: “Don’t my kids have the right to some privacy?”

What you need to know as a pastor about the new ruling from the Wisconsin judge concerning housing allowance.

The clergy housing allowance isn’t a government establishment of religion, but just the reverse. The allowance is neutral to all religions. Without it, clergy in small congregations of all sorts would be penalized and harmed.

Andrew Walker on Jesus and the same-sex marriage debate.

If Christians are to support same-sex marriage, they should do so by way of intellectual honesty and acknowledge their abandonment of biblical authority, for there is no reasonable way to deduce from Scripture an exegetical case for same-sex marriage.

Mike Niebauer on Is it actually harder to be a pastor than doing another job?

As a pastor who often hears other ministers teach and preach, I am disturbed by the number of times pastors allude to their jobs as being particularly difficult. Yes, we face many challenges—ministry may involve times of high emotional and spiritual duress—but I don’t think these difficulties merit special recognition with regard to other vocations. After all, being a pastor involves almost no manual labor, which makes it physically easier than most other occupations in history. It doesn’t require a 60- to 80-hour work week, unless you somehow equate longer working hours with more of the Holy Spirit’s presence. And although the emotional and spiritual challenges faced are difficult, teachers and social workers—to take just two examples—face similar or greater obstacles.

Aaron Armstrong on She’s done the impossible.

This weekend, Mark Driscoll broke the Internet in half. Again.

Ron Edmondson on 5 ways for an introvert to survive the holidays.

It’s the holiday season again. I love the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I really do. But, for us introverts, it can also be a very difficult season. We are far more likely to be placed in awkward, uncomfortable situations.

Tim Challies on 10 steps to preach from an iPad.

There are many ways to go about it, but I will tell you about the system I have been using for the past year or so. I have found that it works very well. You need only two programs to do this: Pages and GoodReader (or Word and GoodReader if you use a PC). While I continue to use a full-size iPad, this system will work just as well with the Mini.

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.

Top Posts of June 2013

In case you missed them, here are the top posts for the month of June, 2013:

  1. The Most Important Minutes to a Guest on a Sunday Morning
  2. 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
  3. How You Know You are Being Divisive (And Sinning)
  4. A Man Feels Called to Plant a Church but His Wife Does Not. Should He Plant?
  5. I Can’t Compete With Your Perfectly Coiffed Hair & other Perfections
  6. Should I Get Re-Baptized?
  7. Letting Go of Ministry Hurts
  8. 21 Skills of Great Preachers
  9. Creating a Personal/Family Mission Statement
  10. The 2 Kinds of People Who Like to Talk Theology

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. Barnabas Piper for those who are tired of the same sex marriage debate.
  2. Mark Hampton on 8 tips for those taking summer missions trips.
  3. Charles Stone on 4 things pastors can do to prepare for the post-easter lull.
  4. Ed Stetzer on How to not waste your Easter spike.
  5. Lou Schuler on His favorite book about weightlifting. I’m pretty interested to read this book.