Links for Your Weekend Reading

bookBrian Jennings on 2 healthy habits for a family over the summer.

Summer can bring some great opportunities for families, but it can also lead to lots of frustration. Plus, it goes by so fast that I am afraid to blink. I have not enjoyed feeling like we did not get the most out of a summer. So, my wife and I decided to implement a couple of habits/rules in our house (unique from our school year routines). Our goal was to establish some routines that would promote calmness, creativity and spiritual growth.

Russell Moore on What if your child is gay?

One of the reasons this is such a crushing experience for many is because they assume that their alternatives are affirmation or alienation. I either give up my relationship with my child or I give up the Bible. The gospel never suggests this set of alternatives, and in fact demonstrates just the opposite. Every child, whether gay or straight, is oriented toward sin, and so are you. If your child or grandchild says he or she is gay, you shouldn’t act shocked, as though you are surprised your child might be tempted toward sin, or that you find your own sinful inclinations somehow less deserving of God’s judgment.

Ron Edmondson on 7 hints to make a bad leadership decision.

Paul Alexander on How to pastor your staff.

But if you’re so busy that you don’t have time to focus on discipleship, development and knowing the team then you run the risk of not only building a toxic culture on your church staff team but missing the real work God has called you to. At the end of the day the church is not a business, it’s the body of Christ.

12 Things TED Speakers do that Pastors Don’t.

Don’t use your conclusion to simply summarize what you’ve already said; tell your audience how your idea might affect their lives if it’s implemented.

Book Notes | How to be Rich

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How to be Rich: It’s not What You Have. It’s What you do With What You Have by Andy Stanley is not your average financial or giving book.

It makes the point that if you live in America, you are rich. You part of the top 4% earners on the planet. The problem is that our culture has no idea “how to be rich.” We don’t know what to do with what we have. Stanley writes to a “bunch of have’s who live like have not’s.”

The problem he says is:

Examples we read or hear don’t really prove you’re rich, they only serve to convince you that you’re not poor. My hunch is you’re a lot richer than you realize. It just doesn’t feel like it. So let me give you a few more scenarios to consider. If I told you I was offering you a job with a salary of $37,000 a year, would you feel rich? Probably not. Chances are, you wouldn’t even be interested. A salary of $37,000 would represent a pay cut for most Americans. But for 96 percent of the world’s population, $37,000 a year would be a significant increase. Maybe there was a time when that sounded like a lot of money to you. And it should. In fact, if you earn more than $37,000 a year, you are in the top 4 percent of wage earners in the world! Congratulations! You are in the 4 percent club. You are rich! Yet I’m guessing this startling realization didn’t cause you to leave the comfort of your couch to dance around the room. But you should have. On the world’s scale, you should have no problems at all, other than a handful of rich-person problems. Problems that the majority of folks on this planet would love to have. Bad cell phone coverage? That’s a rich-people problem. Can’t decide where to go on vacation? Rich-people problem. Computer crashed? Slow Internet? Car trouble? Flight delays? Amazon doesn’t have your size? All rich-people problems. Next time there’s a watering ban in your neighborhood, just remember that many people, mostly women, carry jugs on their heads for hundreds of yards just so they can have water for cooking and drinking. They can’t imagine a place where there’s so much extra water that house after house just sprays it all over the ground. Feeling guilty? I hope not. That’s not my purpose. On the contrary, I’m hoping our time together leaves you feeling grateful.

This book is a great resource for that.

Here are some things I highlighted:

  • We always had enough. But rich is about having more than enough. We had what we needed. But rich is about having more than you need. Rich is about having extra. Isn’t it?
  • Rich is the other guy. Rich is that other family. Rich isn’t just having extra. Rich is having as much extra as the person who has more extra than you do. Rich is having more than you currently have. If that’s the case, you can be rich and not know it. You can be rich and not feel it. You can be rich and not act like it. And that is a problem.
  • Most rich people aren’t all that good at being rich.
  • The richer you get, however, the more your priorities begin to separate from actual needs. When all of our basic requirements are met, our appetites for progress don’t turn off. We simply turn from the things we need to the things we want. And that’s when we enter the world of the subjective. Wants are harder to define. And easier to confuse.
  • We’re so absorbed in the effort to get rich, we no longer recognize when we are rich.
  • In our Western culture today, we observe a five-day workweek. Think about what that means. Most people have to work only five days in order to have seven days’ worth of food and shelter and clothing and health care. We take it for granted. But that’s unique to our little window in history. And it’s still not the case everywhere. What’s more, there are households of three, four, or more people that send only one person out into the workplace to earn money. And with that one person’s earnings, the entire family can amass enough money in five days to give them food and shelter for seven days. In many cultures, that’s inconceivable. Outside of work, that leaves at least fifty hours per week for nothing but leisure.
  • “Rich” is a moving target. No matter how much money we have or make, we will probably never consider ourselves rich. The biggest challenge facing rich people is that they’ve lost their ability to recognize that they’re rich.
  • People who are good at being rich are the ones who are willing to admit they are, in fact, rich. Until you relax into the reality that you are rich, you will never become intentional about getting good at it.
  • Simply possessing wealth doesn’t make you good at managing it.
  • Being good at being rich is not just a matter of deciding what to do with your money. You must also concern yourself with what your money is doing with you — or, more accurately, to you.
  • Money has an effect on its owners. And that effect, in turn, alters the way they see and handle not just money, but everything else as well. Everything. And while we’re at it — everybody.
  • The key, as the old saying goes, is to possess money without it possessing you.
  • Wealth has its own gravitational pull. It will always draw those who have it in the direction of those two things. It is in this way that wealth eventually possesses its possessors.
  • The problem with a word like generosity is that it’s as hard to define as the word rich. In fact, just as nobody thinks he’s rich, everybody thinks he’s generous.
  • When you make giving a priority, something happens inside of you. Especially when it’s financially challenging to do so.
  • Without a plan, giving is sporadic at best.

I was really challenged by this book and how I look at what I have. Good heart work for me.

To see other book notes, click here.

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The Best Books I Read in 2013

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It’s that time of year again, time to share my top lists of the year. Monday, I shared the top sermon downloads from Revolution Church. Tuesday I shared the books that almost made my “best of the year” list. And yesterday I shared the albums that almost made my “best of the year” list.

To see my list of favorite books from past year, simply click on the numbers: 200920102011 and 2012.

To make this list, it does not have to be published in 2013, I only needed to read it in 2013. As always, this list was hard to narrow down, but here are the top 13 books of 2013. Buckle up book worms:

13. How to Deliver a TED Talk | Jeremy Donavan

If you speak for a living or are a pastor, this is a must read book. Donavan takes the best and worst of TED Talks and breaks them down into do’s and don’ts for speakers. You can read my review here.

12. Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret: Why Serial Innovators Succeed Where Others Fail | Larry Osborne

I love Larry Osborne’s stuff. It is so simple and straightforward. In this book, he looks at why some churches and organizations works and others don’t. His chapter on mission statements is worth the price of this book. You can read my review here.

11. Eat Move Sleep: Why Small Choices Make a Big Difference | Tom Rath

Health books are everywhere. Good health books are hard to find. This is one of the great ones. Two things stood out in this book: One, every choice we make matters. They all impact every part of our life. Two, Tom Rath looks at how to eat, move and sleep so that those choices make the most positive impact in our lives. You can read my review here.

10. Sex & Money: Pleasures that Leave You Empty and Grace that Satisfies | Paul David Tripp

There are some authors you should read everything they write. Tim Keller is one of them and Paul David Tripp is another one. No matter the book, you should read their stuff. Tripp takes the two biggest temptations and sins in our culture and shows how they leave us empty. Definitely a convicting book. You can read my review here.

9. Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge | Henry Cloud

The primary message of this book for leaders is you get what you create and what you allow. You can read my review here.

8. Chasing Francis | Ian Cron 

I read this book one Saturday night, one of those hard, dark Saturday nights many pastors have. I could not put this book down as it resonated with me on so many deep levels. So, when you have that dark night, this is a book to read. Here’s my review of it.

7. The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the work of Christ in Your Life & Ministry | Jared Wilson

This book is very similar to Paul David Tripp’s book Dangerous CallingA challenge to pastors to apply the gospel they preach to their own lives and hearts. A great book for doing the deep dive for a pastor and confronting their idols. It also helps that Wilson is hilarious in this book. You can read my review here.

6. Discipleshift: Five Steps that Help Your Church to Make Disciples who Make Disciples | Jim Putnam, Bobby Harrington, & Robert Coleman

The effects of this book will be felt at Revolution for years to come. As we’ve moved more and more towards a missional community model, this book has helped us hone our system of making disciples. This graph has been huge for us. You can read my review here.

5. Give them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus | Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson 

If you are a parent or will be a parent, this is the one parenting book you have to read. It shows you how to parent to your child’s heart, which is the only way to change a child and see them become who God created them to become. You can read my review here.

4. Leadership as an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence | Crawford Loritts

What set this book apart was that it had very little “here’s what a leader does” advice. This book is all about what influences and shapes a leader. Ultimately, what shapes a leader will eventually come out in their actions. You can read my review here.

3. A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World | Paul Miller

This is the book on prayer.  So good. I love the idea of prayer cards and have since created them on Evernote to use. You can read my review here.

2. In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness, and Heart of Christianity | Jim Belcher

This book almost made the jump to #1, it was close. This book is part parenting book, part history, part travel, and faith. It shows the roots of Christianity and how to bring those into your family. One thing Katie and I want is for our kids to know the history of Christianity and that it is not a faith that just appeared in the last 100 years. You can read my review here.

1. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action | Simon Sinek

I love leadership books, so it makes sense that one of them is #1. A leadership book was #1 last year too. This book was insanely good. If you are a leader, this is the one book you have to read in 2014. So good. You can read my review here.

Tomorrow you’ll get my last list of the week: the top 13 albums of the year.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Start with Why

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Every 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 Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (kindle version) by Simon Sinek.

As of today, this is the best book I’ve read all year. This is a book that if you are a leader, you need to read.

The thrust of the book is what Sinek calls The Golden Circle of “Why, what, and how” (see image below).

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Most pastors struggle with this concept. They can talk all day about “what” their church does. They can even tell you the inner workings of “how” their church works. Very few can tell you “why” they do anything. And, if they are seeing the results (“what”) based off of why.

In fact, this is what many churches and pastors do at conferences. They hear a speaker talk about “what” they do a their church, go home and copy it. That church grew because they preach through books of the Bible. That church grew because of video sermons. That church grew because of louder music. Yet, they never ask “why” did that church do that in the first place? What made them have to do that? That’s what the why is.

This book came at the right time for me and was a great reminder. Revolution Church is about to turn 5 years old in a couple of weeks. We are beginning plans to plant our first church in the next year. Our missional communities are growing, more leaders are getting developed. Everything is working. We are seeing results. At this point, it is easy for a church to drift and get fuzzy as Sinek calls it.

Here’s a video of Sinek talking in this topic at TED: