Sifted: Pursuing Growth Through Trials, Challenges and Disappointments

I reviewed Wayne Cordeiro’s book back in February when I read it. But since it comes out today, I thought I’d repost my review and encourage you to pick the book up.

I was able to get a copy of Wayne Cordeiro’s new book Sifted: Pursuing Growth through Trials, Challenges and Disappointments (kindle version) that comes out in April.

This book for me came at a good time. It proved to be a good time of recalibrating for me in my thinking.

One of the most helpful parts of the book was how in each chapter there were questions for you to interact with. It is easy as a leader to skip over these and get to the content, find out what the author says. But if you skip them, you will miss much of the power of the book.

What I appreciated about this book was how real it was. As a church planter and leader; trials, challenges and disappointment are part of the territory. It takes maturity and time to see how God uses them and grows you through them. I can honestly say looking back over the last decade of working in churches, that God has used and redeemed many of the trials that I’ve experienced.

But why does this matter? Why is sifting important?

According to Cordeiro,

Sifting produces a clarity about who we are and what we do, giving definition to the work of ministry that produces long-term results and fruitfulness. The real question, then, is not whether we will face failure. It is how well we will face it. How we respond to the challenges and trials in our lives and ministries makes all the difference in the world…A sifted person is someone who is able, by God’s grace, to reflect on his experience and emerge from a time of trial with a better grasp of what matters most. He’s a person who has been tested, proven capable and mature.

Not only that, but “A sifted life is an influential life. Your greatest influence takes place after you have been sifted and have survived.” That is important to keep in mind in the midst of sifting in your life. If right now, God is working in you, sifting your heart, remember that it matters why he is doing it and how you come out on the other side.

Here are a few things that jumped to me in the book:

  • Scripture tells us that the challenges we face in life happen for a reason, and the process of sifting refines us, revealing our weaknesses, exposing our self-dependence and inviting us to greater faith in God and greater dependence on his promises.
  • When God begins a season of sifting in your life, the first thing that will be tested is the ballast of your life, which is your heart. It’s the weight beneath the waterline. You can’t see it, but any refining of your heart will affect everything else you do. The heart is not about skill, gifting, or even calling. It’s deeper still. It’s the epicenter, the core of everything. It’s where you respond to God.
  • When something challenging is happening to us, we shouldn’t spend too much time trying to figure out who is causing it. The choice we face is simple: will we trust God and look to him throughout the difficulty we face, regardless of the cause, or not?
  • Faith can be defined as living in advance what you will understand only in reverse.
  • God must first accomplish something in you before he can accomplish something through you.
  • The two greatest days in your life are the day you were born and the day you discovered what you were born for.
  • The normative Christian experience, even when we’re in the center of God’s will, is that we seldom receive a clear view out the front windshield. Usually we see much more clearly out the rearview mirror.
  • An open door does not necessarily mean smooth sailing.
  • This is one of the keys to long-term ministerial success: know how God has gifted you, know where God has called you to be, and then function faithfully in that role.
  • God will not hold us accountable for how much we have done. He will hold us accountable for how much of what he has asked us to do that we have done.
  • There is a sense in which I can truthfully say that the church does not exist to help people, to solve their problems and alleviate their disappointments. Not ultimately, at least. The primary reason the church exists is to worship God and to point people to Christ, the ultimate solution to their problems.
  • Seldom are your critics actually disappointed with you. They are usually disappointed with themselves, their lives, or God. You are simply a convenient target.
  • One of the most important keys to long-term ministry success – that you’re only as powerful as your dependence on God’s strength.
  • We are only as busy as we choose to be.
  • God will one day hold us each accountable for all the things he created for us to enjoy but we refused to do so.
  • Today it is far too easy to substitute busywork for the real work of ministry.
  • It is our unguarded strengths that become our greatest weaknesses.
  • The most important thing about you is what God says about you.

If you are a leader, you should buy this book. Definitely worth the time. This book will definitely make the list of “Best Books of 2012.”

Here’s what the publisher had to say about the book:

In this book, pastor and seasoned church leader Wayne Cordeiro speaks the truth in love, offering wisdom and insight to prepare leaders as they face the difficulties and hardships of planting and leading churches, while providing encouragement and inspiration for the journey. An experienced practitioner, Wayne shares the things he wishes he’d known when he was starting a new church. With additional stories from Francis Chan and Larry Osborne, each chapter includes a thought-provoking challenge question to develop a heart that is surrendered to God, focused on “being and becoming” versus “doing and accomplishing.” Wayne writes about a healthy integration and balance of personal care and leadership amidst the difficulties of church leadership. Instead of a “how to” book on models and methods, this is a combination of a self-assessment book that challenges leaders’ scorecards of success, encourages leaders to realize that they are not alone in what they are experiencing, and provides wisdom for the long haul to position younger leaders for a life of ministry and finish strong.

God’s Glory in our Discomfort

I was reading in John 9 today as I’m working my way through the gospels and there’s an interesting exchange that I’ve always just skipped over or missed in the past, but today it jumped off the page. It happens in John 9:1-3. Jesus’ disciples see a man that was born blind and they ask Jesus if the man sinned or his parents sinned to cause him to be born blind?

It’s an interesting question, one that in our culture we might scoff at, how rude of them, almost like a question a child would ask who doesn’t know any better. How could the man sin to be born blind? Was it his parents? Does God punish like that? Many people feel like that or believe that. Right now, if life is difficult, do you wonder if you’ve done something for God to be angry at you? Maybe you are experiencing financial difficulties, marital issues that continue to come up, a child that doesn’t get any easier, a boss you wish would be raptured, a career that won’t get off the ground and you wonder, “Did I do something? Does God hate me?”

Notice the questions we ask in those situations are usually less about “Did we sin” and more about what God and his feelings.

Jesus answers them, “None of that happened. He is that way so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Not through him, which I think is an interesting choice of words. God does use pain and struggles to draw others to Himself. He uses the pain in someone’s life to help another person find their way back to Him. Jesus says that it will be displayed in Him. The blind man will be the first one changed because of this discomfort.

Here’s the point, the discomfort was purposeful. Was it fair? Not in our mind’s or the way we see the world. But we didn’t create it and we don’t the next step of the universe. But God does. It is purposeful. No discomfort is wasted. No moment is accidental.

This Weekend @ Revolution: The Point of Pain

Easter is finally here!

We’ve talked about what we are doing on Good Friday and Easter for weeks. I hope you’ve been praying about who you will be inviting to Easter and that you’ve reached out to them. As a way to help you prepare, here is a list of 10 ways you can do to prepare for Easter weekend.

One of the biggest questions in our culture has to do with pain and suffering. When you turn on the news, images and stories of hurt, abuse, bad people getting away with things, defenseless people continuing to be hurt.

Maybe you’ve experienced this in your own life. Maybe you’ve endured the pain of a parent breaking promises, abusing you, walking out. Maybe you’ve watched a spouse walk out and say, “I don’t love you anymore.”
In those moments, we wonder, Is there a point to this pain? Can God stop it? Does he know what is going on? Does he care?
On April 7 at Revolution Church, we will look at this very question. As part of our Easter services, we will be celebrating baptisms. If you haven’t taken this step and want to, please email Mike Miller.

It is definitely a week you don’t want to miss.

So, do whatever you have to do to be at Revolution this week (and bring someone with you, you never know how a simple invite can make an eternal difference). An easy to invite someone is to send them an e-vite.

Remember, we meet at 4 & 5:30pm at 6620 E 22nd. St. See you Friday & Saturday.

Learning from Leadership Scars

Every leader has scars from being a leader, it goes with the territory. Hopefully though, as a leader you don’t waste your scars. Here are some things you can learn from leadership scars:

  1. Learn quickly what hills you will die on and which ones you must not.
  2. Learn when to build bridges and when to draw lines, and don’t get the two mixed up.
  3. Learn when to confront and when to let it die and never bring it up again.
  4. Learn that when you become a leader, you can never again get angry in public.
  5. You can never defend yourself when a staff person or leader has been hurt by your comments. The best thing to do is to being with the wash of repentance, even though it may not have been your doing. Repentance and forgiveness clean the wound. You cannot apply salve until you remove the grit which causes the pain.

From Sifted by Wayne Cordeiro.

This Weekend @ Revolution Church: When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned

It is such an exciting time at Revolution Church right now. We had our highest non-holiday attendance this past weekend. We continue to see more and more people take a step of faith and being a relationship with Jesus. So much so, that we are having a baptism on February 11th. If you’d like more information or would like to get baptized, please email Ciara Hull. There will be a baptism class on February 4th after the second service for those who are interested in getting baptized.

We launched our 8th missional community this past weekend. I’m really excited about this MC because it helps us connect with those who live in the northwest side of the city of Tucson. If you’d like more information about this MC or how to join it, please email the leaders Danny and Lauren Watton.

This week we are continuing our brand new series Weird and looking at a topic all of us at some point wrestle with: How do you handle life when it doesn’t go as planned?

At some point in your life, your life will not go as you planned for it to go. It might be in your marriage, health, finances, career, a relationship with a child or a friend. You might find yourself doubting God in ways you never thought possible.

Maybe you even find yourself hanging by a thread right now, that if something doesn’t change in your life, you’re not sure what you will do.

This can very easily lead to a crisis of faith for us. We begin to question if God causes the pain and trials in our lives. Does he care about them? Does he know how much they hurt? If he could stop them, why doesn’t he? Peter hits these questions head on. If you’d like to read ahead, you can read 1 Peter 1:6 – 12 to see where we are headed this weekend.

So, do whatever you have to do to be at Revolution this week (and bring someone with you, you never know how a simple invite can make an eternal difference). An easy to invite someone is to send them an e-vite.

Remember, we meet at our NEW services times at 4 & 5:30pm at 6620 E 22nd. St.
See you Saturday.

Top Posts of January 2011

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

  1. Where is the Gospel?
  2. Radical:  Taking Back your faith from the American Dream
  3. What Attracts People to Church
  4. What’s Challenging me Right Now
  5. Planning a Preaching Calendar
  6. 15 Ways to Improve your Marriage
  7. What Matters Most
  8. My Sermon Last Night
  9. 8 Reasons God Allows Trials in our Lives
  10. Saturday Night Mind Dump… (Sunday Edition)

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Tonight was an intense day in Tucson and at Revolution
  • It started with a shooting on the Northwest side of the city of Representative Giffords
  • We changed the flow of our service tonight to better handle the mood of the city and what was happening
  • It was a great opportunity to bring the gospel to bear on a horrible situation
  • We kicked off our brand new series Give Me Faith on the book of James
  • It was perfect timing for what many people in our church are going through and what our city experienced this weekend for me to talk about trials and why God allows storms to happen in our lives
  • I was reminded tonight how involved God is in our city and church
  • We plan our sermons 6-10 months in advance and we debated starting James in February but decided to start it in January and then today we had a horrible tragedy in Tucson
  • It was God’s perfect timing for us to talk about trials and why God allows things to happen
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to it here
  • If you didn’t pick up a study guide tonight, you can download it here
  • This is a great way to get into Scripture in 2011 and follow along as we walk through the book of James this spring
  • We kicked off sign ups for our spring small groups tonight and they are filling up fast
  • Love seeing that happen
  • We have a ton going on at Revolution in January
  • We have a child dedication on January 22
  • We have a newcomer’s brunch on January 23
  • And a partnership class on January 30
  • I’m driving up to Phoenix 2-3 times a month to be a part of the surge school leadership as part of Acts 29
  • This is something that we will start doing in 2011 at Revolution as a way of training new leaders, potential elders, church planters and other leaders at Revolution
  • It will be a seminary on-site
  • Can’t beging to tell you how excited I am about this opportunity for our church and city
  • There are so many things happening behind the scenes right now at Revolution as we prepare for what is next
  • I would covet your prayers for myself and our leaders as we seek wisdom and figure out what steps to take and what steps to not take, there are so many great opportunities right now, and God’s hand is definitely moving in our church and preparing us for some incredible things
  • I often get asked why God allows things to happen (which is what my sermon was about), here is my breakdown of some reasons why
  • I’m wiped from today and roller coaster ride today was
  • Looking forward to watching some football with some neighbors and Revolutionaries tomorrow
  • Love the challenge of living on mission (some of the things God is challenging me on through the surge school, more on that later)

8 Reasons God Allows Trials in our Lives

Tonight, we kicked off our series on the book of James and looked at trials and storms in life. I shared 8 reasons why God allows trials in our lives:

  1. To test the strength of faith.
  2. Trials are given to humble us, to remind us not to let our trust in God turn into presumption or spiritual self-satisfaction.
  3. God allows us to suffer trials in order to wean us from our dependence on worldly things.
  4. God allows trials to call us to eternal and heavenly hope.
  5. Trials reveal what we love.
  6. Trials teach us to value God’s blessings.
  7. God uses trials to develop us with enduring strength for greater usefulness.
  8. God uses trials to enable us to better help others in their trials.

 

What Pain & Trials Do

We are kicking off a brand new series on James this Saturday. In one of the commentaries I’m reading, the author made this statement which summarizes what I’m talking about on Saturday really well:

We say that we believe that God is our Father, but as long as we remain untested on the point our belief falls short of steady conviction. But suppose the day comes – as it does and will – when circumstances seem to mock our creed, when the cruelty of life denies his fatherliness, his silence calls in question his almightiness and the sheer, haphazard, meaningless jumble of events challenges the possibility of a Creator’s ordering hand. It is in this way that life’s trials test our faith for genuineness.

A Search for What is Real: The Storms of Life

Today, we started a brand new series called A Search for What is Real, which will take us through the book of James. Today we looked at how we handle storms in our lives, specifically, how do we handle trials and temptations.

You can click here to join our online discussion about it, and you can click here to listen to our podcast if you missed it.