Links & Quotes

T.M. Moore wrote, “It’s not likely John the Baptist would be welcomed in many pulpits today. Even though Edwards used him as a model of ‘The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister,’ few and far between are the shepherds today who would even think of adopting his example.

“Edwards wrote, ‘He also shone bright in his conversation, and his eminent mortification and renunciation of the enjoyments of the world; his great diligence and laboriousness in his work, his impartiality in it, declaring the mind and will of God to all sorts without distinction; his great humility, rejoicing in the increase of the honour of Christ, though his honour was diminished, as the brightness of the star diminishes as the light of the sun increases; and in his faithfulness and courage, though it cost him his own life.’

“These days many pastors secure their ‘honor’ in subtle but significant ways. They go by ‘Reverend’ or ‘Doctor.’ Have reserved parking places and their name on the church sign. Adopt fashionable garb and speech. Try hard to be friends with all the right people. Such shepherds want to advance their honor; John worked to have his honor diminished, that the honor of Christ might increase.”

I share T.M.’s passion for shepherd in the Church, which is why he graciously wrote an endorsement for my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.

Vaughn Shoemaker (1902-1991) was an American editorial cartoonist. He won the 1938 and 1947 Pulitzer Prizes for Editorial Cartooning for his work with the Chicago Daily News. He was the creator of the character, John Q. Public, and a faithful Assemblies of God layman. I am a fourth-generational Pentecostal in the Assembly of God fellowship, so I love studying more about the men and women who have made this such a robust missions-minded fellowship! Read more of this amazing man here.

Dan Reiland has an important list for leaders: 11 Leadership Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs.

This is a radical call for us to look hard at our present lives to see if they are shaped by the hope of the resurrection. Do we make decisions on the basis of gain in this world or gain in the next? Do we take risks for love’s sake that can only be explained as wise if there is a resurrection?” —John Piper

“Jesus will do the things we ask for if they make God’s greatness known. So how do we ask this way? We must ask from right relationships (Mark 11:24-25, 1 Peter 3:7), with right motives (James 4:3, Proverbs 16:2), through right living (James 5:16, Proverbs 15:29), in good faith (James 1:6-7), according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). In short, if you think Jesus would put His name on it, and it will make His Father famous, then ask and believe! But remember, we’re here for Him—He’s not here for us.” —Craig Groeschel, in Twisted 

For parents and anyone else who works with students, this is a segment from the Axis ministry’s Culture Translator newsletter:

In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl writes that “success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself… Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

An idea like that would likely seem counterintuitive to many of the students in Professor Santos’ classes—students who have been raised from young ages to pay careful and constant attention to their academic viability. Students like these grow up with a hope and an expectation that achieving perfection (whether academic, relational, spiritual, or other) will finally yield the happiness, satisfaction, and recognition they’ve been looking for. But after achieving perfection, the next source of anxiety is maintainingperfection. As Christopher Fry once put it, “What, after all is a halo? It’s only one more thing to keep clean.”

Jesus concludes Matthew 5 by saying to his hearers, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It’s a verse most Christians may not want to touch, and one that anxious overachievers might point to as justification for their continual striving. But as C.S. Lewis points out in Mere Christianity, Jesus’ words presuppose our dependence on Him. He writes, “The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command… The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.”

In other words, our betterment is in partnership with our Creator, and happiness is merely a by-product of our total surrender. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

Favorite 2016 Posts

Book Reviews From 2016

4 Tips For Making Better Goals

1 Corinthians 10.31I have noticed a lot of similarities between the September back-to-school rush, and New Year’s Day. Except instead of resolutions, in the fall most people set new goals, or try to readjust their schedules to take advantage of a new season.

This is an excellent idea, and the perfect time to do it.

In a psalm written by Moses, he tells us to understand the value of our days, and be as wise as we can with what we do with each day God has given us (Psalm 90:12).

The Apostle Paul echoes these thoughts:

Be very careful, then, how do you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

One way for us to make the most of every day is to wisely set some goals. Here are four tips that I’ve discovered to help me.

(1) The fewer the goals, the better.

Craig Groeschel said, “To do more things, do less things better.” I totally agree. I would suggest limiting yourself to just 1-2 goals at a time. Then put these one or two goals on your calendar first. In other words: Don’t prioritize your schedule, but schedule your priorities.

(2) Don’t fall into the sacred/secular trap.

So many people—even Christians—think that there are spiritual goals and non-spiritual goals. But the Bible says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Every goal you set is a spiritual goal, because every goal should help you live your life wisely, in a way that honors and glorifies God.

(3) Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.

You may have heard these before, but I really like to use them. Make your goals:

  • Specific—not “I want to eat better” but “I want to eat two servings of fruits or vegetables each day.”
  • Measurable—have a way to track your progress toward your goal. How many pages did you read? how many calories did you eat? how many minutes did you work out?
  • Achievable—don’t set a goal to run 5 miles a day if you’ve only been a couch potato. Ramp your goals up little by little in a way that’s achievable for you.
  • Relevant—I like to ask a “so that?” question about each of my goals in make sure it’s moving me forward. “I want to exercise for 20 minute three times per week, so that my blood pressure comes down, so that I can live medicine-free, so that I can….” I think you get the idea. Keep going to make sure your goal is relevant for your life.
  • Time to review—set a date to revisit your goals and see if you need to adjust anything.

(4) Make a “stop doing” list.

You cannot do everything, so focus on the important, not the urgent. And remember not everything can stay on your calendar. For instance, if you want to read more in the evenings, you may have to eliminate some TV time; if you want to exercise in the mornings, you may have to eliminate that second cup of coffee.

Just a couple of verses after Moses challenges us to make the most of every day God has given us, he asks God for His helpMay the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for usyes, establish the work of our hands.

May God give you wisdom as you make new goals, and may He bless the work of your hands as you implement your new strategies.

The 10 Commandments Of Using Social Media

#strugglesI found a ton of great content in Craig Groeschel’s latest book #struggles. This book focuses on the proper balance between technology and personal relationships. Near the end of the book, Craig shared his 10 Commandments for Christians to use social media in a God-honoring way…

  1. Put God first in all you say and post.
  2. Love others as you want to be loved.
  3. Use social media to facilitate, not to replace, real relationships.
  4. Use social media instead of being controlled by it as an idol.
  5. Turn your virtual other cheek to posts that offend you.
  6. Do not post out of emotion.
  7. Always reflect Jesus, loving God whether online or off.
  8. Do not use social media to fuel temptations.
  9. Form your own opinions; do not follow the crowd.
  10. Do not base your identity on what people think.

You can read my book review of #struggles by clicking here.

I also shared some quotes from #struggles here and here. I also shared a special set of quotes from this book directed at online gossip, which you can read here.

Craig Groeschel On Online Gossip

#strugglesI love technology! I love how social media and my iPhone can keep me in touch with family and friends. But one of the dark sides to this easy access to technology is the ease with which people can gossip—or even slander!—people publicly online. In his book #struggles, Craig Groeschel has some good counsel for avoiding gossip.

“God is crystal clear on how He feels about gossip. Solomon said, ‘There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him…a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community’ (Proverbs 6:16, 19). What a perfect way to describe a gossip: ‘A false witness who pours out lies,’ and someone who ‘stirs up conflict in the community.’ God hates that.”

“The people being gossiped about hate it, and God hates it. So before you post, comment, or link, consider three sets of questions to keep yourself gossip-free online.

  1. Is what I’m about to say helpful or hurtful? Will this build others up or tear them down? What’s my intention behind what I’m about to type? [Ephesians 4:29]
  2. Am I making private matters public? Am I about to share something that would be better handled privately? [Proverbs 11:12-13]
  3. Am I permitting—maybe even encouraging—others to gossip? It’s not only wrong to dish it out; it’s also wrong to eat it up. Notice that this verse [Proverbs 17:4] doesn’t say that only gossipers are wrongdoers. No, it says wrongdoers are also those who ‘listen to gossip.’ It’s not just wrong to spread gossip; it’s wrong to consume it. Why? Because what you permit, you promote.”

You can read my review of #struggles by clicking here. I have also posted other quotes from this book here and here.

11 More Quotes From “#struggles”

#strugglesCraig Groeschel nailed the tension between technology and relationships in his timely book #struggles. He doesn’t advocate getting rid of technology, but he does make a great case for not allowing technology to diminish our flesh-and-blood relationships. You can read my review of #struggles by clicking here. Below are some more quotes that caught my eye from this book.

“The highest percentage of consumers of pornography our children aged twelve to seventeen.”

“We have access to many opportunities online that—without accountability—can turn technological blessings into curses.”

“Over time and with repeated use, technology is eroding both our moral beliefs and our commitment to acting on what we believe. According to one study, ‘Roughly two-thirds (67 percent) of young adult men and one-half (49 percent) of young adult women now believe that viewing pornography is acceptable.’ … Times have changed. But that doesn’t mean morality should.” 

“If you want to live in a way that honors our Savior—if you want to follow Jesus in a sin-saturated, selfie-centered world—then you will have to be different. … Our convictions must be guided by God’s timeless principles, not by the ever-eroding popular opinion on whatever happens to be acceptable now.”

“Most people I know you don’t plan to ruin their lives. I don’t know anyone who thinks, ‘If I can connect with an old boyfriend on Facebook, I can totally wreck my life. I can almost guarantee an ugly divorce full of expensive lawyers helping us fight over custody rights for the kids. I can devastate my husband and drop a nuclear bomb of pain into my kids’ lives. And I can spend the next years of my life trying to forgive myself, rebuild my life, and regain my name.’ No one plans like that, but these things happen every day. Same with pornography. I don’t know a single man who wanted to crush the wife he loves when she discovered his ‘little secret.’ But one glance followed by another click often leads to an addiction that seems impossible to overcome.”

“When you think about it, no one stumbles into righteousness. People fall into sin and every day. But no one just falls into holiness. It requires making deliberate, prayerful choices and walking an intentional path.”

“Here’s what many people miss: when we misuse technology, we’re robbing ourselves of the peace we so desperately crave, because even the momentary escape is followed by waves of intense guilt. We want to numb the pain, but on the other side of our binge, the pain is still there, only worse. We love the momentary distraction, but then reality screams at us and our responsibilities pile up. We love the thrill of the lust, but the fear of getting caught haunts us and robs us of sleep and peace. Like a person dying of thirst who gulps salt water, that which is supposed to satisfy only intensifies our need. So life goes on as usual. More stress. More anxiety. More worries. And less peace.”

“Now is a great time to be brutally honest. Are you addicted to something online? Looking lustfully? Spending uncontrollably? Surfing endlessly? Playing continually? Gambling consistently? Scrolling incessantly?”

“If you are checking multiple times a day to see what people are saying about you, let’s call that what it is: idolatry. If your identity comes more from who follows you, who Likes you, what they say and what they think about you rather than who God says you are, it’s time to take this issue to God.”

“When our minds are idle, we’re not thinking about anything meaningful, and when we’re not intentionally living, it can be so easy to shift into neutral. When we don’t have a specific destination in mind, any road will do. And if our time and our resources aren’t precious, if we’re not doing anything important, it can be so easy to just pick up our phone, unlock the screen, and wonder aimlessly through cyberspace, wasting our time and our thoughts.”

“Maybe it’s time to power down and take a cyber Sabbath. Maybe it’s time to remember what life is like without your phone, tablet, or laptop. Maybe it’s time for your soul to rest.”

You can check out the other quotes I shared from #struggles by clicking here.

10 Quotes From “#struggles”

#strugglesCraig Groeschel has given us a great reminder to keep technology in its proper place. Check out my book review of #struggles by clicking here. Below are a few quotes that caught my attention.

“We were created not for earth but for eternity. We were created not to be Liked but to show love. We were created not to draw attention to ourselves but to give glory to God. We were created not to collect followers but to follow Christ.”

“Make the time to love people face to face, not just keyboard to keyboard.”

“Make sure that the person you’re with is the most important person in the world when you’re together.”

“Pictures aren’t the only thing we’re becoming used to controlling, thanks to technology and social media. We have the luxury of sending an article, text, tweet, or email to virtually anyone we want to communicate with. And we can edit and revise as much as we want before we hit send. The problem, however, is that many of us have filtered our messages so much that we are no longer comfortable with the real, unscripted, spontaneous conversation. We’ve become so used to the luxury of being able to edit the things we say that some of us really struggle when we have to have normal, everyday conversations with and in front of real, live human beings. Technology has given us tools that are unprecedented in human history, but an entire generation is growing up uncomfortable in conversations they cannot control.”

“Many of us are making life choices just to create a string of social media moments, and all because we want to show some imaginary life that we think people want to see.”

“Being authentic is not about being brutally honest and confrontational about everything on your mind. But by all means—at the right time, with the right people, and when you’re face-to-face—drop the veil completely. If you don’t, you’ll always be longing for something more. When you put on the veil and post something hoping for Likes, hoping for affirmation, even if you receive it, you’re still going to feel empty because you’re not being real with people about yourself. But the place to be vulnerable is where God wants you to be vulnerable: in the context of private, life-giving, healthy, God-honoring relationships.”

“We want so badly to connect with others, and we think the best way to do so is by showing off our strengths. But it doesn’t work that way. Here’s why: we actually connect with people through our weaknesses. We may impress them with our strengths, but we connect through our weaknesses.”

“Social media encourages us—I say it even trains us—to become more narcissistic, more full of ourselves.”

“Compassion is not just an emotion, not just some feeling you have that eventually passes. True compassion demands action.”

“Clicking doesn’t change anything. Caring is not Liking a post; it’s loving a person.”

More quotes from #struggles coming soon…

#struggles (book review)

#strugglesDo you love technology? I do! Do you love what technology does to relationships? I don’t! If you’re with me on these points, you’ll love this book. Craig Groeschel once again gives us some timely counsel that addresses a very real set of #struggles—following Jesus in a self-centered world

Right from the beginning Pastor Groeschel expresses what many of us feel about technology’s impact on our lives—

“I have a love-hate relationship with technology. Most of us are well acquainted with this feeling, but we can’t quite put our finger on why. We know we’re obsessed with our devices, but we don’t know how to manage the challenges that come with using them, challenges that continue to multiply. We’re busy, but bored. We’re full, but empty. We’re connected, but lonelier than ever.”

So #struggle by #struggle, this book leads us through topics like recovering #contentment, restoring #intimacy, revealing #authenticity, resurrecting #compassion, reviving #integrity, remember #encouragement, reclaiming #worship, and replenishing #rest.

#struggles is not an either-or book. In other words, we’re not told to get rid of all our devices and return to the pre-internet days. Instead we are given very practical steps for keeping technology in its proper place.

“If we want to be good stewards of the amazing capabilities that technology affords us, we have to navigate very carefully. Social media allows us to connect with others in so many unique and often meaningful ways. But if we spend all our time and energy online, we lose true intimacy with the people around us. … We have to make sure technology is enhancing our relationships, not replacing them. (emphasis added)

A great read for our current culture!

I am a Zondervan book reviewer.

12 More Quotes From “Purple Fish”

Purple FishMark O. Wilson had some great heart-stirring thoughts on evangelism in his book Purple Fish (you can read my full book review by clicking here). He also did a great job incorporating thoughts from others in his book. Here are some of the quotes he cited in Purple Fish.

“Christians and non-Christians have something in common: we are both uptight about evangelism.” ―Becky Pippert 

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” ―Brennan Manning

“If you change how you see people, the people you see will change.” ―Rick Warren

“God wants us to have an encounter, so that we become an encounter, so that others can have an encounter.” ―Kevin Dedmon

“Prayer is the supreme way to be workers together with God.” ―Wesley Duewel

“Prayer evangelism is talking to God about our neighbors before we talk to our neighbors about God.” ―Ed Silvoso

“Nothing has done greater damage to our Christian testimony than our trying to be right and demanding right of others.” ―Watchmen Nee

“There is no point trying to size people up because souls defined measuring.” ―Ann Vovkamp

“Like it or not, you represent the entirety of Christianity to that person in that moment; that’s a lot of responsibility.” ―Christian Piatt

“If your weakness troubles you, cast yourselves on God. And trust in Him. The apostles were mostly unlearned fisherman, but God gave them learning enough for the work they had to do. Trust in Him, depend on His providence; fear nothing.” ―Francis de Sales

“You don’t fail when you invite people to repent and follow Christ and no one response. You fail when you don’t invite people to repent and follow Christ.” ―Craig Groeschel

“I define evangelism as ‘nudge’ and evangelists as ‘nudgers.’ Evangelism is awakening each other to the God who is already there. Evangelism is nudging people to pay attention to the mission of God in their lives into the necessity of responding to that initiative in ways that birth new realities.” ―Leonard Sweet

I also shared some quotes from Mark Wilson in a previous post, which you can read by clicking here.

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