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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Tim Challies on The preacher’s cheat sheet.

Preparing a sermon is one of the most gratifying and the most difficult tasks you’ll ever face. There is joy in finding meaning in the text, in finding structure, in developing just the right outline, in discovering the perfect illustration. But there is also labor and, at times, intense spiritual warfare. 

Bob Russell looks back at 40 years of ministry and says what he would do differently and the same if he did it all over again.

If I could do it again, I’d stay in one place for 40 years and then step aside at age 62. 

Brad Lomenick on 12 tips to being a better communicator.

Drew Dyck on What hollywood gets wrong about heaven.

Did a 4-year-old boy from Nebraska really visit heaven? I don’t know. My hunch is that the popularity of such stories tells us more about our view of God than the place in which he dwells. Ultimately I believe we flock to gauzy, feel-good depictions of heaven and tiptoe around the biblical passages mentioned above because we’ve lost sight of God’s holiness. I fear we’ve sentimentalized heaven and by extension its primary occupant. I worry the modern understanding of God owes more to Colton Burpo than the prophet Isaiah. And I think this one-sided portrayal diminishes our experience of God. We can’t truly appreciate God’s grace until we glimpse his greatness. We won’t be lifted by his love until we’re humbled by his holiness.

7 things a good dad says.

I have found myself thinking back to the many models of fatherhood I have seen and admired through the years. What made these fathers admirable? What set them apart? What was it that they said to their children? From these models I have drawn seven things a good father says.

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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
  1. Seth McBee on Satan in the suburbs. Great reminder of how Satan shows up when people are on mission, yet Jesus is more powerful.
  2. 4 keys to creating momentum in your church.
  3. Nick Bogardus on The search for authenticity.
  4. Text and tweet during a church service.
  5. Tim Challies on Is a wife’s job harder than her husband’s job?

Top Posts for August 2011

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

  1. 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
  2. What Guys Think about Modesty
  3. New Series @ Revolution: The Vow
  4. What is the 30 Day Intimacy Challenge
  5. Top Posts on Marriage & Relationships
  6. Spiritual Warfare, 30 Day Intimacy Challenge and You
  7. C.S. Lewis on Idols
  8. Planning a Preaching Calendar
  9. How a Leader Should Handle Bad news
  10. 15 Ways to Destroy Your Marriage

Spiritual Warfare, 30 Day Intimacy Challenge and You

First a note on spiritual warfare. There are different opinions about it within the church.

You have the guy who sees a demon everywhere, in a Starbucks cup, in the dark and at McDonald’s. Some do not believe spiritual warfare is real and so whenever it comes up they think you are nuts.

Here is the reality, the Bible is clear about a few things:

  • Satan is real
  • Jesus is real
  • Demons and angels are real
  • There is a world we do not see, the spiritual realm
  • All of us who pray believe in this spiritual realm or else we wouldn’t pray

The Bible is also clear about what happens whenever you take a step in the direction of following Jesus and doing what He wants. In this case, the 30 day intimacy challenge. The 30 day intimacy challenge is designed to help couples raise the level of intimacy, bring them closer together and teach them to meet each other’s relational, emotional and physical needs. For those who aren’t married, it is designed to train them to have integrity, boundaries, allow Jesus to meet their needs as opposed to looking for those needs to be met by someone that is not supposed to meet them (ie. boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance’ or porn).

In case you realized it or not, doing the 30 day sex challenge is right up the alley of what Jesus wants in our lives, it is a step in the direction of living biblically. Now, you can live biblically without doing the challenge, so don’t misunderstand. But, when you decided to do the challenge, you also invited Satan to come and hang out in your life. Anytime, we take a step in the direction of following Jesus and the Bible, we invite Satan. We don’t invite him, but he comes anyway.

If you haven’t already, here is a warning. Get ready for the world you do not see to come and hang out in the world you live in.

If you are not married, over the next month as you try to have integrity and purity, as you try to live a Godly life, Satan will do everything in his power to stop that. He will do everything in his power to bring temptation into your life, make you busy so you forget to meet with God, he will do everything in his power to keep you from keeping your commitment.

If you are married. He will do everything in his power to make sure you do not connect with your spouse. Whether that is making you too tired, making sure the kids keep walking in, you will fight more in the next month than you did last month, you will find reasons why you don’t want to do the devotional guide together.

Why?

You are becoming more like Jesus.

So, have patience. When this happens, take a deep breath, pray alone or as a couple. Get another person or couple to walk with you (who is doing the challenge, in case you don’t know, a high percentage of our church is doing this) someone who can pray for you and ask how it is going.

And know this, the goal of following Jesus is to become like Jesus. The fact that Satan is taking notice means you are going in the right direction.

Links of the Week

  1. According to Christianity Today, being a pastor is a risky profession. This is a helpful article for pastor’s to know the dangers and for their churches to know how to support and pray for their pastor.
  2. Brent Thomas gives his favorite albums of the year so far. Admittedly, I have none of these, some were on the list, but they’re now moving up the list.
  3. How the gospel makes us generous and content with our money.
  4. Ed Stetzer on Freedom of religion has to be freedom for everyone.
  5. New Barna research on how churches are impacting their community and how they are viewed by their communities.
  6. Will Mancini on 6 ways to communicate vision every week. This is helpful and important for leaders to understand.
  7. The missional student ministry. Makes me grateful for the leadership Paul Samson gives to Rev uP.
  8. Pete Wilson Taking a digital detox. I cherish going on vacation, leaving my computer at home and handing Katie my phone so I don’t check it.
  9. Spiritual warfare in the home. This is real and you need to pray against it.
  10. Michael Hyatt on 5 reasons you need to get better at saying “No.”
  11. Instant churches. We are blessed to meet in another church, but I definitely could see us having 1 or more sites that meet in schools in the future.
  12. Charles Stone on 5 really bad ways pastors react when people compare them to more successful churches.
  13. Factors that predict multiplication of communities.
  14. R.C. Sproul on Understanding what the Bible says on homosexuality.
  15. Leadership red flags.

Being a Pastors Wife Part 4

Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Below is part 4 in a series of 5 posts (Go here to see part 1, part 2 and part 3)

Spiritual warfare always gets mixed reactions when you bring it up. In the church I grew up in, spiritual warfare was something we believed in, but didn’t believe actually happened. We had angels in the Christmas pageant. The pastor preached on the unseen world of angels and demons, but no one actually believe it happened. I have a friend who sees spiritual warfare everywhere. There are angels and demons behind every door waiting to pounce on you. If you get sick, that is Satan.

While I am no expert on spiritual warfare, and admittedly, I’m scared to become an expert on it because I don’t want to have to use my knowledge. But since starting Revolution, I have begun to see spiritual warfare differently than I used to. I believe that both Satan and God are active in our world. I believe they move around, can take up resident in our lives, homes, work places and churches (if you don’t believe that last one, just go to a congregational business meeting).

I also believe, from my own experience, that spiritual warfare comes into your home and family. If there is a night of the week that Katie and I are going to have a fight, it is going to be Friday night. If there is a night that our kids will decide not to sleep, it is going to be Friday night. Now, that isn’t necessarily Satan working in our home, but our own sin nature can very easily give him a foothold into our lives.

A pastor’s wife is most likely to feel the brunt of this. I remember Mark Driscoll once saying that he sees Satan going to Eve first was a testament of how important the role of women are because Satan will go to them first. It is the same for a pastor’s wife. For this reason, while both spouses must be called to full-time ministry (if they aren’t, he shouldn’t be a pastor, but that is a post for another day), he is doing most of the work, seeing the excitement, the life change, hearing the stories. She (in our case anyway) is at home with 3 kids, changing diapers, trying to get kids to eat, take naps, not kill each other and for her to not kill them.

It is easy for Satan to whisper into her ear, “This isn’t worth it.” She has to fight feelings of missing out on something, on a “normal” life, of not being appreciated by her kids, husband or her husband not being appreciated for all that he does. It is easy for her to rationalize why this is not worth their lives.

If you don’t believe me, ask a pastor’s wife. You must be aware of this as a pastor and put some things in place to fight against it. As a couple and as a family, we pray for protection over our marriage, our kids and our house. We pray for the same protection for the other elders and staff at Revolution on a daily basis. We have people praying for us.

We have friends who check in with us on Friday and Saturday night to ask how we are doing and to let us know they are praying for us. I have friends who live on the east coast who pray for us when they wake up and we are still asleep on the west coast.

Pastor’s, ask your wife how she is doing. Does she feel vulnerable? Does she need to be encouraged? Be her first line of defense. Churches, lift up your leaders on a regular basis, but especially on the weekend as they prepare for what lies ahead. I had a mentor tell me that preaching was like “reaching down onto the road into hell and pulling people back.”

So yes, Satan has a lot to say about that.

Posts on Marriage & Relationships

Over the last month during our I Want a New Marriage series I have been doing a lot of writing on marriage, dating, sex and relationships. Below are all of the posts in the order that they appeared on the blog.

  1. 15 Ways to Destroy Your Marriage
  2. 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
  3. Book Recommendations for Dealing with Baggage, Hurt and Relational Pain
  4. How You Know You are Slacking Off
  5. Book Recommendations for Dealing with Porn, Sexual Addiction, and Adultery
  6. What is the 30 Day Sex Challenge?
  7. Boundaries in Dating & Marriage
  8. Adultery Ladder
  9. “When we Get Married, He/She Will _______”
  10. Spiritual Warfare, 30 Day Sex Challenge, & You
  11. 16 Ways Not to Fight
  12. Book Recommendations for Dealing with Questions about Divorce and Remarriage
  13. Is Love a Choice or a Feeling (And Why it Matters)
  14. Looking for Love
  15. How a Wife Handles Her Husband’s Sexual Addiction
  16. Book Recommendations for Dealing with Emotional & Physical Needs
  17. Her Needs: Affection
  18. Her Needs: Conversation
  19. Her Needs: Honesty & Openness
  20. Her Needs: Financial Support
  21. Her Needs: Family Commitment
  22. Book Recomendations for Roles, Male Headship & Submission
  23. Why Male Headship Does Not Work in Homes (The Misreadings of Ephesians 5)
  24. 25 Ways to be a Servant-Leader
  25. Recommended Resources from I Want a New Marriage Series
  26. His Needs, Her Needs

Spiritual Warfare, 30 Day Sex Challenge and You

First a note on spiritual warfare. There are different opinions about it within the church.

You have the guy who sees a demon everywhere, in a Starbucks cup, in the dark and at McDonald’s. Some do not believe spiritual warfare is real and so whenever it comes up they think you are nuts.

Here is the reality, the Bible is clear about a few things:

  • Satan is real
  • Jesus is real
  • Demons and angels are real
  • There is a world we do not see, the spiritual realm
  • All of us who pray believe in this spiritual realm or else we wouldn’t pray

The Bible is also clear about what happens whenever you take a step in the direction of following Jesus and doing what He wants. In this case, the 30 day sex challenge. The 30 day sex challenge is designed to help couples raise the level of intimacy, bring them closer together and teach them to meet each other’s relational, emotional and physical needs. For those who aren’t married, it is designed to train them to have integrity, boundaries, allow Jesus to meet their needs as opposed to looking for those needs to be met by someone that is not supposed to meet them (ie. boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance’ or porn).

In case you realized it or not, doing the 30 day sex challenge is right up the alley of what Jesus wants in our lives, it is a step in the direction of living biblically. Now, you can live biblically without doing the challenge, so don’t misunderstand. But, when you decided to do the challenge, you also invited Satan to come and hang out in your life. Anytime, we take a step in the direction of following Jesus and the Bible, we invite Satan. We don’t invite him, but he comes anyway.

If you haven’t already, here is a warning. Get ready for the world you do not see to come and hang out in the world you live in.

If you are not married, over the next month as you try to have integrity and purity, as you try to live a Godly life, Satan will do everything in his power to stop that. He will do everything in his power to bring temptation into your life, make you busy so you forget to meet with God, he will do everything in his power to keep you from keeping your commitment.

If you are married. He will do everything in his power to make sure you do not connect with your spouse. Whether that is making you too tired, making sure the kids keep walking in, you will fight more in the next month than you did last month, you will find reasons why you don’t want to do the devotional guide together.

Why?

You are becoming more like Jesus.

So, have patience. When this happens, take a deep breath, pray alone or as a couple. Get another person or couple to walk with you (who is doing the challenge, in case you don’t know, a high percentage of our church is doing this) somoene who can pray for you and ask how it is going.

And know this, the goal of following Jesus is to become like Jesus. The fact that Satan is taking notice means you are going in the right direction.

Links of the Week

  1. Perry Noble nailed it on The spiritual warfare that pastors/leaders and their families often experience. This is right on.
  2. Tim Stevens on how to handle when you grow and when you don’t grow as a church. Interestingly, both can be dangerous in their own ways.
  3. Dan & Chip Heath on Why your gut is more ethical than your brain.
  4. Rick White on Addressing questions regarding gender roles. This is a great article that articulates clearly the complementarian view that I hold to.
  5. Ed Stetzer & George Barna on A church’s size and its theology. Fascinating that the larger the church, the more conservative they tend to be.

Going in the Same Direction as the Devil

Yesterday was the first meeting of the Lead Pastor Coaching Network I’m doing with Nelson Searcy. While it was more of an overview of what the year will entail, I left the time really, really excited about what lays ahead. Not only for me personally as a leader, but for what God is going to do over the next year and beyond at Revolution through this network.

One thing Nelson said yesterday has been in my head since.

He made the comment that God is going to stretch us and our churches and use leaders who want to be used to do great things. It is exciting, exhilerating, humbling to be a part of what God is doing.

The flipside of that is whenever you do something great for God, whenever you help people find their way back to God, you piss the devil off.

He said, “If as a leader and church, you aren’t experiencing warfare with the devil, you might be going in the same direction as the devil.”

WOW!

Here are some things to consider:

  • Are you as a church coming up against any opposition?
  • Are you as a leader/family experiencing any opposition?
  • Any difficulties right now?
  • Is it smooth sailing?

Perry Noble had a great post this past week of what many pastors and their families experience in this area.