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.

book

  1. Tim Challies on A safe place for our kids shameful questions.
  2. A pastor looks at dads.
  3. Barnabas Piper on Why Christian leaders (like Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur) fighting is discouraging.
  4. 5 reasons people aren’t volunteering at your church.
  5. Michael Jensen on Is chastity possible?
  6. How to keep your home safe with the internet. Great insights for protecting your kids.
  7. Carey Nieuwhof on Is the pastor celebrity culture a positive or negative thing. Interesting thoughts on this subject.
  8. Sam Rainer on Why pastors neglect managing.
  9. Tim Keller on Why a covenant marriage matters. Marriage is a covenant, not a contract which our culture holds to.
  10. Thom Rainer on How pastors can develop thicker skin.

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

4 Ways to Maintain Community

Yesterday, we continued our series in the book of Ephesians at Revolution Church called Image is EverythingI preached from Ephesians 4:1 – 6 on the 4 things needed to maintain unity in relationships and community. If you missed it, you can listen here.

There is no doubt that our culture desires community. This is why Facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest and other social media sites are so popular. We even put social in the name to emphasize how much we want community from them. The problem is that these sites bring connectivity to our lives, but not community. Those aren’t always equal. It is deceptive to the point that people think because they are connected and have 1,000 facebook friends, lots of twitter followers or instagram likes, they have community. They have connection, not necessarily community.

In Ephesians, Paul lays out what the church in Ephesus knew in their heads, but struggled to know and live out in their hearts. We easily do this with community. We know what it takes to have community, know we should have community, yet we struggle to live that out. Paul gives us 4 ways to maintain unity in relationships, whether that is a church, a missional community, a marriage or family. The interesting thing he says is not to create unity, simply maintain it (Eph. 4:3). It is given to us by Jesus through our relationship in him.

Because of this change in our lives, finding our identity in Jesus alone (Eph. 4:1), we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to maintain unity through:

  1. Humility. This is the basis of the Christian life. To follow Jesus, one must humble themselves and admit they are broken and that without Jesus, they continue this way. Relationships are destroyed because of pride. Pride elevates one person over another, elevates one agenda over another. Keeps people from serving each other. Pride keeps people from receiving help when needed. I can’t tell you how many times people have complained about their struggles and when I ask who they’ve asked for help from, they say “no one.” Pride.
  2. Gentleness. This is being caring in a relationship. Not berating someone, not bringing up history in a relationship, not reminding someone what they’ve done wrong in the past. This is caring for the other person, seeking their best, not yours. This gets into how you speak to someone. If you say something and immediately have to say, “I was just kidding” that’s sin. You weren’t kidding, there’s some truth in that statement.
  3. Patience. Community will require patience. People will let you down, intrude in your life. You can’t have a relationship and always get your way. I meet so many people who are alone and the reason is because they aren’t willing to give up what they want. Patience also requires you to allow people to grow and change. If Jesus is the basis of our relationships, then we believe He is powerful enough to not only save us and those we’re in community with, but also powerful enough to change them. Stop trying to change those around you, let Jesus do that through you.
  4. Love. Biblical love is not an emotion first. In our culture that’s all love is. This is why people tell me right before they sin, “You can’t choose who you love.” Biblically, you can. Love is an act of the will (a choice), followed by an emotion. One author said, “To love means you start loving a person and on the way to loving that person, you begin to feel that love.”

While these 4 things are incredibly basic and all of us know them. They are difficult to live out. If they are lived out, the gospel is seen clearly. Community is one of the most powerful pictures of the gospel because people in our culture do not stay in relationships long. Lasting in relationship, often is one of the best ways to show the gospel has a changed a group of people.

[Image Credit]

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This Weekend @ Revolution || One

I’m really excited for this week at Revolution Church. For this reason:

  • It was great being able to sit and listen to great preaching from Pastor Mike and Pastor Dave this past week. If you missed their sermons on Ephesians 3, you can listen to them here and here.
  • We’ll be looking at what makes a church different from any other organization or group on the planet. The answer is clearly laid out in Ephesians 4:1 – 6 if you want to read ahead. We’ll look at how community and relationships are to play in a gospel-centered church, why that doesn’t often happen and how community is one of the greatest ways to evidence the power of Jesus in our world.
  • Speaking of community, our missional communities kicked off this past week. If you didn’t get into one, it isn’t too late. Go to this link to get the information you need.
  • If you haven’t “Liked” the Revolution Fan Page on Facebook, do so now. It is one of the ways we communicate and pass on resources for sermons and other ways to help serve you in your spiritual growth.
  • We’re putting the finishing touches on our Christmas offering and what that will be going to. Can’t wait to share the details of the organization in Tucson we are looking to support in their work in our city. Stay tuned.

This is definitely a week you don’t want to miss at Revolution Church. So, bring someone with you (you never know when a simple invite will make an eternal difference)

Remember, we meet at 8300 E. Speedway Blvd. at 10am

See you on Sunday!

How a Church Supports a Pastor who is Criticized

I posted yesterday about how to handle criticism as a leader. It is inevitable.

I want to talk today about what a church can do to help their leaders in the area of criticism. I was talking to a pilot once and he said, “You have people tell you how to preach, disciple people, counsel people, do marriages, how to talk to people, basically your whole church tells you how to be a pastor. If someone walked into my plane and told me how to fly I’d punch them.” While I can’t do that, think about how you would feel if someone who is not your boss looked over your shoulder and said, “I don’t like that or that and here is why.”

Being part of a church, there are some things you can do to help your pastor’s in the area of criticism:

  • If you have a problem with your pastor, or something he has said. Tell him. Don’t tell your small group, his wife or send a mass email. Go to him and tell him.
  • Be humble about it. Before bringing criticism, search your heart. Why are you criticizing him? Is it because he said something that convicted you?
  • If you have a problem with someone, talk to them. Don’t talk to everyone else. Don’t ask the pastor to fix it, he didn’t do it.
  • If you hear someone criticize your pastor, tell them, “Let’s go talk with the pastor so this doesn’t fester anymore and I don’t want to be party to your sin.” Your job as part of the church is to protect the pastor and the unity of the church.
  • Pray for your pastor and his wife. What they do is not easy. They take the arrows you never see. They walk in the muck of people’s lives. They help in marriages and hard times and then have those same people turn around and stab them in the back. Pray especially for them the night before your worship gathering as Satan is working overtime on them to distract them.
  • If the pastor does something you don’t like, takes the church in a direction you wouldn’t. As long as it is biblical, stick with him. Support him. He may end up taking you to a place you like, you just don’t know it.
  • Ask the pastor and his wife what you can do to support them and help them. Maybe you can babysit them for free to give them a date night. Maybe you can help the pastor’s wife with their kids at church as she is essentially a single parent at church because her husband is working.
What would you add? What ways have you supported your pastor and his wife?

How You Know You are Being Divisive (And Sinning)

One of the most common themes in the New Testament is unity. Jesus prays for it (John 17), and Paul writes about it in numerous places. He also talks about division and that leaders must protect the unity against division. What he says in Acts 20:17 – 38 is scary and telling:  Division, and wolves (false teachers) will come out of the churches, not come in. Meaning, those that are most divisive and will do the most damage are the ones who are in the church and who sin.

After working in churches for 13 years, I have seen a lot of divisive people. Been on divisive teams. I’ve even been divisive myself and had to repent to those I was divisive against. Often though, if you confront a divisive person about being divisive, they will tell you they aren’t being divisive, protective of the church. That may be in their mind, it is also poor ecclesiology. Elders are called to shepherd and protect the church, they are held accountable to God for this.

I put together a list of ways to know you are being divisive or are on your way to being divisive:

  • You want everyone to know why you are mad. Misery loves company and when you are mad about something at church, you want others to know. You want people to validate your opinion. You want them to know why you are hurt, why you are mad, why you are leaving. There was a couple once who left our church and they did a “farewell tour” to let people know why they were leaving. As they said, “We don’t want people to think we just disappeared into the sunset.”
  • You’ve talked to everyone about this but the elders and leaders of the church. You are mad at what the pastor said, a change that was made, the direction of the church. Instead of talking to the people who made the decision, the people who are held accountable for the decision, you talk to everyone else. You will say things like, “I want to see if I’m the only one, just getting feedback.” In reality, you are trying to get people to your side.
  • You call for accountability of the leadership. I often get asked, who holds the elders accountable. Biblically, we hold each other accountable as men and women, as Christians, but that the elders were accountable to God. This didn’t sit well, so they pressed, what about humans, what humans hold the elders accountable for their decisions. What’s funny about this, is that people think it is scary to an elder if you hold them accountable versus God. Here’s my take, if you don’t like what I do, if you don’t like me, if you are disappointed in me, if you think I’m preaching heresy, I’m not that worried about that. If God thinks those things, that’s a bad day. People in this category will ask for more than the leaders to be part of a meeting, a third party. Unless you are in a congregational church, the third party is God.
  • You say, “I’m just trying to get reconciliation” when in reality you are about winning. Divisive people don’t want reconciliation, they want to win. They are right, they know it and they want you as the leader and everyone else to know it. You can tell if someone’s goal is reconciliation by what they do. Do they talk to the leaders? Do they talk to everyone else?
  • They broadcast what is happening. Even after talking with the leaders of the church, if they don’t like the response they put up a blog post or send out an email to the rest of the church “letting them know what’s going on.”
  • They refuse to submit. They will throw out verses about being under God and he is their ultimate authority, which is true. We are also called to submit to the leadership of the church we are a part of. The elders submit to each other, everyone submits to someone in some way.
  • Pride. This one is plain and simple, divisive people have a ton of pride driving them.
So what do you do? As a leader, how do you handle this?
  • Be prepared. Know this is coming. They are coming to your church. More than likely, they are already in leadership at your church as Paul stated in Acts 20.
  • Know you aren’t the only one. Lean on other leaders, ones who have dealt with this. Gain some perspective and wisdom.
  • Remember God cares more about your church than you do. 
  • It will happen again. That probably isn’t a comfort to you, but that person right now that is being divisive will not be the last one. In fact, if your church is growing and reaching people, you can expect more and more to show up.
If you are being divisive, repent. Go to the leadership, humble yourself and put yourself under their authority. Remember that they are accountable to God for leading your church. Repent to those you tried to turn against the leadership.

This Weekend @ Revolution: Getting Along with People

All of us have people we don’t get along with. You may have some of them coming to your house this weekend. For many of us, relationships are not a joyful experience. They are hard, sometimes hurtful and often, they don’t live up to the expectations we have.

What if we miss the point of them?

The whole point of the book of Philippians is how to pursue joy and find joy in different areas of our lives. Relationships is an area many of us are left wanting when it comes to joy, but Paul lays out some clear things on how to find joy and unity in relationships.

That’s what this Saturday at Revolution is all about.

I believe that for many people, this could be a huge step in unlocking the joy that God has in store for us. What if we found joy in relationships? What if we had unity in those relationships? Would that make life different for you?

If so, you don’t want to miss Saturday night as I believe it is going to be a powerful night.

So, do whatever you have to do to get to Revolution this Saturday night (and bring someone with you who doesn’t know Jesus, you never know how a simple invitation can make an eternal difference)! And come expecting to see God move and do something huge in our lives.

Remember, we meet at 5pm at 6620 E 22nd St.

See you Saturday.

 

Links of the Week

  1. Good Friday shots from North Point
  2. Carlos Whitaker on Whether we do the right things in churches (Great post)
  3. J.D. Greear on Bart Ehrman on The Colbert Report
  4. Paul Ingram on Powerful prayers
  5. Craig Groeschel on Boundaries for a pastor (good stuff)
  6. Collide Magazine’s interview with Erwin McManus
  7. Four warnings of burnout from Anne Jackson
  8. John Piper on Unity amidst differences