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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Getting Married is Easier than Staying Married

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On Sunday, while Katie and I were eating dinner on our back porch for our anniversary she mentioned to me that I didn’t write an anniversary post or things I’ve learned about marriage as I’ve done in the past (see here). As we sat there, and having just heard the news about Pastor Bob Coy resigning over moral failing and being reminded that everyone (including me) is one choice away from wrecking their life. I was reminded of this one simple marital truth:

Getting married is easier than staying married. 

Every year, lots of people get married and every year sadly, lots of people end their marriages in divorce. Getting married is easy. You simply need someone to marry and a person to perform the ceremony. Staying married, lasting to year 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50 takes work.

Someone asked me last week who knew it was our anniversary what is one piece of advice I’d give to a young couple. It is this: Staying married is the hardest thing you will do. It will require more work than you imagine, but it will be better than you can imagine if you do. 

With that in mind, here are 5 ways to stay married:

  1. Grow close to Jesus. This may seem obvious, but if you stray from Jesus, stop reading your bible, feel your relationship with Jesus suffer, lots of things go wrong. Your desire to fight sin goes down. Your desire to serve your spouse goes down. Your desire to love your spouse goes down. Your desire to stay pure goes down. All because of one thing.
  2. Keep your relationship first (behind God). Your kids matter and you love them. Your kids come after your marriage. One of the fastest ways from going from a great marriage to being roommates is placing your kids above your spouse. One day, your kids will be gone and you will have only your spouse. At this point, most couples split because they no longer need to stay together for the kids and they have nothing in common. Don’t let that happen. This doesn’t mean you neglect your kids and not do anything with them, but it means they come after your marriage. Not sure where you stand on this, here are 10 ways to know you are putting your kids in front of your marriage.
  3. Know affection is the first thing to go and fight against that. Affection is what goes first. Kissing when you say goodbye, holding hands, snuggling. Life is busy, you know your spouse, you have them now, your kids are climbing all over you, you are running late, you are tired and want to sleep, you are worried if you snuggle he will want sex and you just want to go to sleep. All of these things happen to couples who couldn’t keep their hands off each other at one time. Fight this. When you kiss, kiss for 5-10 seconds. Throw some tongue in when you are just saying hello or goodbye. Gross your kids out. Hold hands in the car. Kiss at a red light. Snuggle at night. I’ve said this before and people tell me I’m wrong, but I’m not: the amount of sex you have, the amount of affection you have, is one of the best barometers for where your marriage is. Show me a couple with little affection and little sex, and I will show you a couple going in opposite directions.
  4. Religiously keep a weekly date night. Date night is one of the most important things a couple can do. Every week. Protect it with your life. When we first started doing a date night, we protected it religiously. Nothing interfered with that. Now that we are in the habit, we often move the night to fit our schedule. Here are some ideas for doing date night at home, some rules we have for date night and some help for when date night falls apart.
  5. Protect your heart, emotions, mind, eyes and body. Every week I hear about another pastor who has resigned because of committing adultery. I counsel couples all the time who are getting a divorce because he won’t stop looking at porn, she won’t stop reading romance novels and fantasizing, one of them cheated, one of them doesn’t want to fight for their marriage and work at it. All kinds of reasons, all kinds of excuses, and all of them are simply heartbreaking. Protect yourself. Your marriage, your family, your life and legacy matters too much for it to fall apart.

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The Problem with Being Politically Correct

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Love this as it relates to leadership and life:

The institutionalization of politically correct thinking has done more to harm operating businesses than just about any other social and/or cultural influence in recent times.

I don’t know about you, but it’s almost as if we’ve raised a generation of leaders who feel they have a moral and ethical obligation to be politically correct—wrong. Their responsibility is to be correct; not politically correct. The harsh truth is politically correct thinking is a large contributor to an increase in mediocre behavior, a decrease in workplace productivity, and of greater concern, to the moral and ethical decay of our society. Are these extreme statements? Perhaps some may think so, but being authentic to my politically incorrect self, I think not.

What’s troubling to me, and I hope to you, is that politically correct assault has invaded classrooms; the media; the work place; federal, state, and local government; the judiciary; the church; the military; and even casual discussions with friends and family. It has spread to pandemic proportions, crossing boarders and cultures, such that you’d be hard pressed to actually find organizations where tough, candid conversations frequently take place without HR mediating them.

Few things will send morale and productivity into decline faster than leadership that adopts a politically correct mind-set. Before those of dissenting (politically correct) opinions become too outraged with my position, let me be perfectly clear; I believe strongly in respect and compassion. These characteristics should be present in all human beings. They are admirable qualities so long as they don’t take precedence over, ignore, or contradict truth.

The main problem with politically correct thinking is that it confuses kindness and courtesy with bureaucratic mandates, and ends up stripping people of their real opinions. I’m not advocating being mean-spirited, arrogant, judgmental, or self-righteous—quite to the contrary. It is very possible, and preferable, to have truth and compassion co-exist without being subject to political correctness. -Mike Myatt, Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly

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7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse

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Katie and I are speaking at Pantano MOPS this morning on the topic of how to communicate and fight well. I thought I share some reasons why couples struggle to communicate with each other. Notice, they are about you (read #1 and that will make sense).

  1. You think it’s them. Most times when a person seeks out counseling or advice concerning their marriage it is to fix their spouse. If only they did this or that. The reality is, the first reason you aren’t communicating well with your spouse has nothing to do with them, but you. Stop trying to fix them. Stop trying to change them. You can’t be the Holy Spirit to your spouse, so stop trying.
  2. You have to be right. Stop trying to be right and try to see from their perspective. Things change in a relationship when you try to see what the other person is seeing. Often though, we want to be right. Because, well, we’re right.
  3. You don’t listen. Many times in a discussion, instead of listening, you simply start thinking of your response to what the other person is saying. You aren’t able to engage them. The thinking is, if you don’t have a response ready the moment they stop talking, you won’t be heard. While it makes sense in our heads, it is ludicrous in a relationship. This goes back to wanting to be right instead of to understand.
  4. You fail to see it from their perspective. If you don’t listen well, you will never be able to see anything from a different perspective. I am amazed at how often Katie and I see the same situation totally differently. And how often Katie is correct in her perception of something or someone. If you fail to see your spouses perspective, you might end up making a mistake.
  5. You don’t know how they listen best. Couples who fight often, don’t know how their spouse likes to discuss things. This was a game changer for us. Katie likes to discuss things immediately, she is a verbal processor. I on the other hand like to process things in my head. By the time I share any idea with someone (at home or at work), I have been thinking about it for months. If Katie gives me space, we often have a better discussion. Now, sometimes I need to bite the bullet on my preference and discuss it with her. Understand how your spouse processes information and work from there.
  6. You don’t know what the real issue is. This is something we’ve talked about it part 1 and part 2 of our Beautiful series. Often, when a couple has a fight, the topic they think they are fighting about is not what they are fighting about. They are fighting about what the situation reminds them of. Their spouse said something that reminds them of what their parent used to say, so they react to that. We end up punishing our spouse for what someone else did.
  7. You belittle them. Want to end a conversation with your spouse, belittle them, insult them or disrespect them. Act like they don’t do enough.

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Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

bookOne of the books I read as I prepared for our current series at Revolution was Dr. Meg Meeker’s great book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know.

To me, this is such an empowering book for fathers. We often feel unsure, at a loss of how to relate to our daughters, how to treat them differently than a son, or how to feel like we are moving forward in a relationship with them.

This book is about what a daughter needs from a father that a mother cannot give.

Here are a few things I highlighted:

  • What you say in a sentence, communicate with a smile, or do with regard to family rules has infinite importance for your daughter.
  • Friends, family members, teachers, professors, or coaches will influence her to varying degrees, but they won’t knead her character. You will. Because you are her dad.
  • Loving your daughter better might seem complicated to you, but it’s very simple to her. Being a hero to your daughter sounds daunting, but actually it can be quite easy. Protecting her and teaching her about God, sex, and humility doesn’t require a degree in psychology. It just means being a dad.
  • Fathers, more than anyone else, set the course for a daughter’s life.
  • Boyfriends, brothers, even husbands can’t shape her character the way you do. You will influence her entire life because she gives you an authority she gives no other man.
  • Being a twenty-first-century hero is tough stuff. It requires emotional fortitude, mental self-control, and physical restraint. It means walking into embarrassing, uncomfortable, or even life-threatening situations in order to rescue your daughter.
  • Whatever outward impression she gives, her life is centered on discovering what you like in her, and what you want from her.
  • The only way you will alienate your daughter in the long term is by losing her respect, failing to lead, or failing to protect her. If you don’t provide for her needs, she will find someone else who will—and that’s when trouble starts. Don’t let that happen.
  • Authority is not a threat to your relationship with your daughter—it is what will bring you closer to your daughter, and what will make her respect you more.
  • Nothing feels better to a teen or young daughter than being protectively embraced by dad’s strong arms.
  • Do a gut check on your own beliefs, and think of what sort of woman you want your daughter to be. She’ll learn not only from what you say, but from what you do.
  • If you don’t accept the authority that is naturally yours, if you don’t set high standards, if you don’t act to protect your daughter, if you don’t live a life of moral principle, your daughter will suffer.
  • The minute you waffle on your convictions, you lose stature in your daughter’s eyes.
  • Let me tell you a secret about daughters of all ages: they love to boast about how tough their dads are—not just physically, but how strict and demanding they are.
  • When I talk to daughters about their fathers, the conversations are almost always emotionally charged. They adore their fathers or hate them—sometimes they do both simultaneously.
  • Your daughter yearns to secure your love, and throughout her life she’ll need you to prove it.
  • We talked about how difficult it is for parents to be realistic about their own children. Because we want them to make good decisions, we assume they will. We want to believe our kids are stronger, more mature, and better capable of handling situations than other kids. And that’s when mistakes happen.
  • Most parents pull away from their teenage daughters, assuming they need more space and freedom. Actually, your teenage daughter needs you more than ever. So stick with her. If you don’t, she’ll wonder why you left her.
  • Daughters who feel a stronger emotional connection with their fathers feel more attached to them. And the more attached she feels to you, the lower the likelihood that she will be depressed or have an eating disorder.
  • Girls hate feeling invisible.
  • When you show a genuine interest in being with her, she feels more attached to you.
  • If you listen to your daughter attentively for ten minutes every day, by the end of the month you’ll have a completely new relationship with her.
  • Boundaries and fences are a must for girls, particularly during the teen years.
  • Remember that whatever she says, the very fact that you thoughtfully and consistently enforce rules of behavior makes her feel loved and valued. She knows that these rules are proof that you care.
  • Your daughter needs to feel unique and important in your eyes.
  • When fathers don’t teach their daughters humility—that we are all created equal and are equally valuable—advertisers, magazines, and celebrities will teach them otherwise.
  • Girls who have the gift of humility are better placed to have deeper, longer-lasting friendships. With humility, your daughter is free to enjoy people for who they are; she’ll have no haughty desire to cut people out of her life.
  • Happiness is truly found only when it is routinely denied.
  • Protect her budding sexuality and defend her right to modesty. Reiterate to her that sex isn’t a simple bodily function—it is powerfully linked to her feelings, thoughts, and character.
  • Parents are the most important influence on their teenagers’ decisions about sex.
  • Think very seriously about her as a girl growing into a woman, a sexual being. When she is three years old, think about what you want for her when she is twenty. You must, because even when she’s three you give her messages about her body—whether it’s beautiful or chubby. And all these messages count.
  • Your daughter needs you to hug her often. If you are gentle, respectful, and loving, that’s what she will expect from boys. And she needs to know—all the time—that you love her.
  • All girls from eleven years old on feel fat. They feel ugly, pudgy, pimply, and unattractive. Watch how your young teen stands. Most girls slouch if they’re tall. If they’re short, they wear platform shoes. Girls almost inevitably lack confidence in their appearance. So move in and hug her. The effect can be profound.

Here’s the short: if you are a father of a daughter or will be, you need to read this book. As soon as possible. I was so challenged and encouraged by this book in how to interact and love my daughter to become who God created her to be.

To see other book notes, click here.

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Making Room for What Matters | Live the Life You Want

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On Sunday, I finished our Breathing Room series at Revolution by looking at how to find breathing room between work, life and everything that has to get done. This week, I want to share 6 simple ways I’ve done that and you can to. I’m going to share one each day so you have time to process them and hopefully put some things into practice.

The first one we looked at was how to get a good night sleepTuesday, we talked about why you should take a break every 90 minutes. Wednesday, we looked at what electronics can do to our margin. Yesterday we looked at what will probably be the most controversial or at least, the one you think is unattainable: Pay people to do what you hate

Today is the second last one, but also one of the most important things to making room for what matters most: Live the life you want, not the one others want you to live. 

This came up in the first week of our Breathing Room series and it is a game changer for me.

Too many people live the life others want them to live, make choices others expect them to make and miss life. They leave their dreams on the table and live a life they don’t want to live.

How sad.

This can be seen in the jobs people take, the houses they live in, the sports and activities their kids do, even the people they have as friends or marry.

Think for a minute, what is it that you want to accomplish with your one and only life?

What things if you don’t do will you regret? Travel? Writing a book? Retiring early? Taking up a hobby? Starting a ministry or company?

What is keeping you from those things?

Fear stands in the way of many. What will people think about it?

So far, we have done 2 things that friends and family thought were crazy. We were told by friends and family members that planting a church was not a smart career move because of the percentage that don’t survive. We were told that adopting would bankrupt and set us back financially.

Yet, if we didn’t do those two things, we would live with regret and always wonder, “What if?”

Living with regret is not living.

Make a commitment today, not to live with regret. Live with passion and abandon.

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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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Denny Burk on Beware of self-appointed pastors.

The pastoral office is reserved for those who are gifted for the ministry and who meet a defined set of character qualifications (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). The men who meet these qualifications are not self-appointed. The church is to recognize and set these men apart for the ministry (1 Tim. 4:14). The issue is not whether one recognizes his own giftedness and qualification. The issue is whether the people of God recognize it as well.

Tim Challies on Don’t pray in circles. (Katie and I appreciated Batterson’s book for the way it challenged our prayer lives, but Tim is spot on with this.)

Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus as simply and clearly as they could: “Teach us to pray.” When Jesus taught his disciples, he said nothing about prayer circles; if anything, he said the opposite when he told them to pray privately and in a quiet place. When Paul wrote to the people he loved, he often told them how and what he was praying on their behalf, and he said nothing about prayer circles. Praying in circles is absent in any and every form.

Matt Chandler on Being engaged in the battle over abortion.

When I begin to have conversations with some of my aunts and uncles and how they wish they would have marched with King but they were just indifferent, they just thought it would work itself out. How they wish they could get back into time and fight the noble fight. Instead, they were quiet… I think [abortion] is going to be one of those issues for us. Science is already pushing the ball forward rapidly. In 1973, when Roe v. Wade occurred, there was no sonogram. We can see our babies in the womb now. There are studies now showing the baby is dreaming in the womb. Science will eventually, I believe, turn over Roe v. Wade. It will only be a matter of time.

Shane Blackshear on 5 ways to be unsatisfied with your church.

“There is no perfect church, and if you find one, don’t join it because you’ll ruin it.” I don’t know who first said that, but it’s true. All churches are strong in some areas and weak in others. Hopefully churches are always working on those weaknesses, but if we can’t settle for anything less than perfection, then we’re in real trouble.

Brian Howard on The power of positive leadership.

Have you ever given thought to how much positive vs. corrective feedback you give to your family or team? Perhaps if we focused more on teaching and encouragement rather than criticism we would see completely different results than we are used to seeing.

Carlos Whittaker on Megachurch myths.
Myth: Mega-Churches should spend their money rescuing orphans with all their dollars instead of building fancy buildings. Truth: They should rescue orphans. They should also rescue Bob the 38 year old banker who lives off of Tower Place Drive in Buckhead.
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Tuesday Morning Book Review || Letting Go of Perfect: Women, Expectations and Authenticity

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 Letting Go of Perfect: Women, Expectations and Authenticity (kindle version) by Amy Spiegel. Instead of me writing this review, my wife Katie was kind enough to share her thoughts on this book hoping to serve the female readers of this blog. You can follow Katie on twitter here or friend her on Facebook here.

I let go of perfect quite a while ago, with four kids 7 years old and under, perfect is not a word that I would use to describe my life or a standard that I strive for much anymore. A better word may be awake or present. I was excited to read this book because although the backdrop of my life is not perfection, there are times that I expect much more out of myself and life then actually happens. Those are the things that I was hoping the book would address. Letting Go of Perfect, although not entirely what I expected, covers some great topics.

From the first page of the introduction Amy Spiegel is transparent with her past and the struggle she is facing, “My life: one minute I love it and know I am right where God wants me; the next minute I loathe it and feel that I have been misplaced and forgotten.” A place that I think every wife and mother feels. Each chapter chronicles a topic in which she trying to lay hold of the freedom she knows is promised through a life in Christ.

Chapter one deals with marriage and kids, and how God uses these close relationships to sand off the rough edges and make us more like Him. “Rather then seeing them as obstacles to be removed or reshaped, we must embrace them as instruments of grace being used for our own betterment. Our identity as God’s children isn’t one of perfection, yet, but a picture of His grace. This perspective, along with a firm grasp of our own sinful nature, should humble us in the face of relational difficulties but also encourage us in the face of adversity.”

I really enjoyed the second chapter, and Amy’s spin on modesty and values. “Going to the gym or the neighborhood pool may be a challenge for men to keep their thoughts pure and lust-free. But I would venture to guess that just as many women struggle to keep their thoughts free of envy and pride.” Too often this conversation is left to the wandering eyes of men, and totally downplays the responsibility we have to other women. “I have a responsibility not to create a competitive or hostile environment for my fellow females. By dressing more conservatively, we lessen the temptation to envy and compare, allowing the spirit to overrule the flesh, so to speak. I have noticed for myself that both my inner and outward dialogue tend to be more edifying while chatting in baggy sweats rather then in my ‘skinny’ jeans.” “Whatever the focus of your vanity, there is nothing wrong with looking nice, but we need to consider our motives and the impact our actions have. …We are called to swallow our pride and vanity for the good of the body or push away our freedom in order that others might not stumble.” “I try to concentrate on whether or not this outfit makes my values look small.”

This next chapter deals with parenthood, and although difficult, we give our children what they need, not what they want or will make them happy. The author relates this to our relationship with God. “So why does God bring these hiccups and monsters into our lives if all they do is make us feel bad about ourselves and make us question whether or not He cares? Why doesn’t He simply shower us with sunshine? The answer to that goes back to giving birth. In order to bring forth the greatest blessing in my life, save Jesus and my hubby, I had to voluntarily enter a room labeled “labor and delivery.” I suppose given the choice at the time I might have been tempted to go back, to reverse course and head for the hills. But were that possible, I would have done so empty-handed. In order to get the blessings, I first had to do the labor. For it is through the pain and the blood that I was delivered.” “This is true of our spiritual labor too. But the amazing thing is that the labor has already been done for us. When Jesus groaned and suffered on the cross, He was bringing us out of death and slavery; He was paying for our lives with His own. Whatever pain we suffer here is just the extraction of our new selves from the old. The pain is real and certainly nothing to joke about, but it is fleeting and simply part of the process of giving birth to our new nature. It may hurt like heck, but it will pass. And in our agony, we are not alone. Because He suffered, we can cry out for relief and be heard. It may not stop the pain but it will give us the strength to carry on.”

Chapter four discusses the practical matter of simplifying our life. “Our life’s work is to be just that- work. I want to run into the gates of heaven out of breath and dripping with sweat not because my effort gets me in but because it is the destination I have been running for all along. May our lives reflect the words of the classic film Chariots of Fire ‘I believe God made me for a purpose… and when I run I feel His pleasure.’ While the film refers to physical running, I think it can be applied to any effort we pursue for the right reasons.”

Chapter five deals with the delicate balance we have to follow God’s commands without becoming legalistic or blasé. “The fruit we bear in our lives should blossom out of a deep trust in God’s provision, not an attempt to repay the great debt we owe.” I love her description of trying to muster change in ourselves by picking and choosing what characteristics we want to add or change in our lives. “When I attempt to take life not from its true source-my Father’s will and purpose- but my own, the results are not pretty. Like some mad Frankenstein scientist, I frantically create the person I think I should be. I look at those who I admire and respect not with appreciation for God’s work in their lives, but with green eyes of envy seeking to acquire what is not mine. I piece together all these enviable attributes and sew them on, not in the spirit but in the flesh. The result is not the new creation I am called to be but a hideous monster of rotting flesh that roars in frustration and despair. I create not a better version of myself but an enemy to my very soul.”

Friendship and relationships are the topics discussed in chapter six. She states that we can us truth to combat our feelings of ungratefulness and being left out and come to a place of gratefulness. She reminds us that it is in the hands of God that we are truly transformed and that it is often through human relationships that we are sanctified.

Chapter seven focuses on sifting through the opinions of others through books, blogs, people’s advise, etc. to find our true identity in Christ and allow the Bible and His opinion of who we should be shape us. “Keeping the goal, to glorify God with our lives… … helps us to practice discernment when processing influences and advice.”

Chapter Eight deals with relationships, a struggle everyone knows. “As Christian women, you and I desire to be defined ultimately by our relationship with Jesus but so much of our satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) with our lives comes from our earthly-rather than heavenly- relationships. …But how do we maintain a healthy balance between investing and nurturing relationships-especially with our male counterparts- and still stay rooted in our identity as brides of Christ?” This chapter delves into boundries in relationships before marriage as well as a few truths about marriage.
Chapter Nine deals with the job description of a mom. “This is when I have to remind myself that it isn’t really my kids that I am making all these sacrifices for. They are not my Employer. They are merely the tools He uses to mold me into His finished produce. Too often, I treat my relationship with Him like a union negotiation rather than a covenant based on mercy. I feel entitled to certain wages for the hours I have put in. But this isn’t Let’s Make a Deal; this is about servanthood and death to self.”

Counter culture living is addressed in Chapter Ten: “When we truly set our eyes on Heaven, it will put us at odds with the culture around us, but if we do so in humility and faith we ultimately have nothing to fear.” She lists and expounds on 3 principals in which we consider being counter cultural: stewardship, discipleship, and the importance of the mind.

Chapter Eleven starts with a lighthearted example of breaking away from addiction and the idols that we so easily turn to, specifically materialism. “I can live my live like that, filling it with so much activity that it’s hard to see God’s hand in it all. I say I am living for Him, but in the end I am just going through the motions and failing to remind myself for Whom all the motion is supposed to be. Though I wouldn’t consider myself materialistic, if I tend to value the material over the immaterial I might need to rethink that assessment.” This chapter had some bite that was appreciated and appropriate

Chapter Twelve talks through standard for yourself and family as to how you approach pop-culture. She lists some very practical guidelines for decision making. And encourages you to make your own decisions, knowing that there will be consequences to the choices that you make.

The final chapter is all about your calling as a mother and how to rest well. “True, God-focused resting might feel like self-indulgent inactivity as well, but that is far from the truth…” “Reading the Bible and praying aren’t the only ways we can seek God and the power His presence and blessing bring. The truth is like a spring of water which bubbles from God and flows in many directions. It can be found in the laughter of a friend, the witty turn of a phrase by your favorite author, a touching scene in a well-made movie. WE all need to drink from this fountain but while the water is the same, our ways of collecting it differ. A big part of maturing is coming to understand what activities or disciplines you personally find refreshing. I have friends who come back from a weekend with friends beaming with energy, having been refreshed and encouraged. I am more of a one-on-one girl and enjoy spending time doing physical activities like hiking or riding bikes.”

He whose life is one even and smooth path will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelations of God… but they who ‘do business in great waves,’ these see his ‘wonders in the deep.’ Among the huge Atlantic-waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man… your trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as he did his servant Mosses, that you might behold his glory as it passed by. -Charles Spurgeon

I appreciate the author’s desire to create an atmosphere where you feel like she is walking alongside you, but this is the part of the book that I had the hardest time with. In doing this I feel like the great gospel truths that are discussed in the book were short lived… and overshadowed in some of the stories that quite frankly came across as whining. I assume that it was in jest, but whenever anyone jokingly makes fun of someone else there is a sliver of truth to it. It really bothered me and set my teeth on edge when she called her kids barbarians. I realize that this may seem nitpicky, but God has moved mountains in my own heart to lovingly train my kids and enjoy it. And so it seems like she is belittling them through this one statement.