Links & Quotes

“But friendship is precious; not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life.” —Thomas Jefferson

“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” —Abraham Lincoln

“Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue.” —Augustine

When you praise God, despite your surroundings, you magnify Him. And when you magnify God, you invite others to magnify Him with you!

“Manhood first and then gentleness.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have blogged quite a bit about the historicity of the Bible. The Bible Archeology Report has a very informative post of the top 10 historical references to Jesus outside the Bible. These sources are from the first or second century AD, and specifically mention Jesus of Nazareth, not just Christians.

Dan Reiland wrote, “Church leadership always carries with it seasons of success and setbacks, momentum and grind, joy and discouragement. Yet, we all do better through those seasons when we have learned the rhythms of resilience—the lifelines we need.” Check out the 6 sustaining lifelines for leaders that he shared.

The Institute for Creation Research reported, “Two separate studies claim massive tsunamis and earthquakes from an asteroid impact profoundly affected the rock record. … [Yet] these global phenomena are better explained by the global Flood described in Genesis.”

“Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor.” —Francis Bacon

Links & Quotes

Don’t rush through your Bible reading time. Slow down to savor the good stuff. And if there’s something you don’t understand, ask the “Chef”—the Holy Spirit loves to make God’s Word clear to you.

On a recent Breakpoint broadcast, John Stonestreet reported, “Even while many nations pump the brakes on radical transgender ideology and healthcare practices, Americans at both the state and federal level continue to push culture-wide affirmation, social transition of minors, hormone therapies, and harmful surgeries. Advocates frequently claim that so-called and misnamed ‘gender-affirming’ treatments—including surgery—‘save lives,’ that gender dysphoria is a permanent condition even among minors, and that regret by those who undergo such treatments are minimal or non-existent. Increasingly, research suggests otherwise.”

“Hazael’s historicity has never truly been in doubt; there are far too many inscriptions from the ancient world testifying to his existence.” Check out this archeological biography of King Hazael who appears several times in the Bible.

Dan Reiland notes, “Leaders navigate within the realm of pressure; it’s part of the landscape. It’s how we handle the pressure that makes all the difference.” Dan shares four ways the pressure of leadership is needed and helpful.

Be careful with non-biblical rules! I went much deeper with this idea in an exclusive video for my Patreon sponsors. If you want to get access to these exclusive lessons, it’s just $5/month. Check out my Patreon page to subscribe → https://www.patreon.com/craigtowens.

John Piper explains that there are three levels of how to live with material things. He then dives deeper into what the purpose of prosperity really is.

T.M. Moore has a stern word for pastors: “If we are faithful in telling the whole truth of the Gospel, not everyone will be thrilled with our preaching. We need to make sure Jesus is. When it comes to sin, let’s not mince words, and let’s not act like it’s not the big deal it is. No progress in faith can be made where sin is not consistently and thoroughly confessed, repented of, and forsaken.”

Links & Quotes

“Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don’t anymore. I realized it was killing conversation. When you’re always trying for a topper you aren’t really listening.” —Groucho Marx

I don’t know about you, but it gets my attention when a physicist says that “dark matter makes up 25 per cent of the Universe and we have no idea what it is!” I love some of the discoveries that are being made and theories that are being proposed concerning black holes. None of this in any way shakes my belief in a Creator who spokle everything into existence. If you would like to consider the  beginning of the universe from a different perspective, check out Starlight And Time.

A reminder from a class I recently taught: you don’t have to go to a church building to be the Church of Jesus Christ—

“When the Holy Spirit is ignored or rejected, religious people are forced either to do their own creating or to fossilize completely. A few churches accept fossilization as the will of God and settle down to the work of preserving their past—as if it needed preserving. Others seek to appear modern and imitate the current activities of the world with the mistaken idea that they are being creative.” —A.W. Tozer

Entomologists have discovered powerful antibiotics in their [paper wasps’] venom, and there is also an indication the venom may be used as a possible cancer treatment.” Whoa!

Dr. Kristin Collier is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan and director of the school’s Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion. In a recent keynote address to medical students, she had some wise words: “The risk of this education and the one that I fell into is that you can come out of medical school with a bio-reductionist, mechanistic view of people and ultimately of yourself. You can easily end up seeing your patients as just a bag of blood and bones or human life as just molecules in motion. You are not technicians taking care of complex machines, but human beings taking care of other human beings. Let’s resist a view, of our patients and ourselves, that strips us of our humanity, and takes away from the very goal of why we went into this profession in the first place: to take care of human beings entrusted to our care in their moments of greatest need.”

The power of trusting God for our daily needs—

Dan Reiland shared a great post for leaders: 5 steps on a lifelong path to spiritual authority.

This is a short clip from a full-length video I provided exclusively for my Patreon supporters. Would you prayerfully consider supporting this ministry for just $5/month? All new supporters through the end of September will get access to both my content and access to all of the content I have already published.

Links & Quotes

Dan Reiland shares 7 practical questions for leaders to create their best strategy.

A powerful story of a life radically transformed. How Bruno Frigoli went from fascism to a relationship with Jesus Christ and became an Assemblies of God leader in Bolivia.

Scott Klusendorf wrote, “If Roe and Casey are struck, it will be a truly historical moment, and pro-lifers should indeed celebrate. Nine unelected judges on the Supreme Court will no longer have sole legal authority to determine abortion policy. Rather, the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, along with those in the individual states, will now decide how the practice is governed. Put simply, the American people—your friends, your classmates, your coworkers, and your family members—will now determine if unborn humans enjoy the same legal protections as you and I, or get relegated to the dumpster.” This is a fascinating article about how pro-life Christians should prepare for a post-Roe America.

Even the pro-abortion research firm The Guttmacher Institute reports “an estimated 100,000 children are killed after the first trimester of pregnancy each.” Let that sink in: 300 lives are snuffed out every day by burtual, inhumane abortion techniques!

Dr. Tim Clarey at the Institue for Creation Research explains how the dinosaurs in the Juassic Park series are “imaginary dinosaur science.” He then lays out the facts.

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case detective. His investigation into the biblical claims of the death and resurrection of Jesus led him to become a Christian. In this video he explains his thought process as an atheist—

Links & Quotes

Dan Reiland shares 5 reasons leaders stumble and fall.

Max Lucado addresses the sickening news of sexual abuse coverups in the church. He wrote, “[Jesus] defended the weak, stood up for the forgotten. The idea that His church would be unsafe for His sons and daughters disturbs Him deeply. And you can bet your Bible that He’ll turn a few tables. If history teaches us anything it is this: Jesus will not sit idle while His church drifts from His cause. ‘I will rescue My flock from their mouths,” He declared through a prophet. ‘It will no longer be food for them’ (Ezekiel 34:10). 

“Repentance is necessary; heartfelt, tear-stained, face-on-the floor repentance. By all of us in positions of leadership. Will we see it? I pray so. Regardless, I pray that you will pursue the difficult path of seeking Christ in spite of Christians who have let you down. His pastors have failed to pastor. But when they don’t, He still does. Let Him pastor you.”

Darren Carlson wrote, “Healthy pastors experience the fullness and complexity of their emotions, and then hold them up against the sinlessness of Christ. How might Jesus respond to the pain and loss and victory and neediness in front of me? We grow emotionally as leaders by studying the heart of Jesus as he walks among sinners and sufferers.” His post ‘Healthy Pastors Have Emotions: How to Test and Cultivate Your Feelings’ is an excellent read. I explore the emotional health of shepherd pastors in my book.

Nicky Cruz’s story is a fascinating one. His message for America today should be heeded!

My friend Greg Heeres and I had a helpful discussion about leaders and forgiveness on our Craig And Greg Show podcast. Here is a brief snippet:

Links & Quotes

C.S. Lewis identifies one of the harmful effects of pornography. “For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival.” —C.S. Lewis

“Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship; it is a consequence.” —Eugene Peterson

Dan Reiland has an excellent post for leaders entitled 4 Layers To Gaining Wisdom.

In my personal devotional time, I came across a sobering idea in the book of Amos about God’s love. I am reading through the Bible in Halley’s Study Bible, where I also read this: “The basket of ripe fruit [Amos 8] is another symbol that the sinful kingdom was ripe for ruin. And Amos reiterates the causes: greed, dishonesty, and merciless brutality toward the poor. Over and over, through many images, the Bible makes it plain that there is no possible way to escape the consequences of persistent sin.” —Dr. Henry Halley

The Institute for Creation Research has a powerful post explaining how seafloor spreading matches Creation predictions.

J. Warner Wallace wrote, “The historic development of language and communication prepared the way for the birth of Jesus. God orchestrated this timing, along with the development of roads, postal services and a 200-year period peace within the Roman Empire (known as the Pax Romana) to prepare the world for the arrival of Jesus.”

Our church is taking time on Fridays to fast and pray. Here is a reminder of the expected results that I shared with our church family—

Links & Quotes

I love the humanitarian work of Convoy of Hope wherever there is a need. They are on the front lines of Ukraine right now. If you are looking for a good organization to support financially, please check out their current efforts and click the Donate button on their page.

Dr. Roy Spencer always brings clarity to the climate change debate. Here is a post looking at the numbers behind the claims that climate change is largely man-made.

I love following the archeological and paleontological discoveries as they come to light. The Institute for Creation Research shares some enlightening news that comes from the discovery of a human vertebra.

Dan Reiland shares about 5 enemies of the soul that hurt your church.

Cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace talks about the evidence that makes the resurrection of Jesus a reasonable conclusion:

“For the diligent the week has seven todays, for the slothful seven tomorrows.” —Anonymous

In light of all the uncertainty around us, this quote is a good reminder. “I want you to pray about world events and pursue peace as you are able. However, it’s crucial to recognize what you can change and what you cannot. Fretting about things that are beyond your control will drain your energy and discourage you. Instead of this hurtful focus, endeavor to fix your thoughts on Me. … Remember that I am a God of justice and I know everything. Eventually I will right all wrongs. So be still in My presence—trusting in Me with a steadfast heart while waiting for Me to act.” —Sarah Young, in Jesus Always

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.

Links & Quotes

In 1 Timothy 3:1, Paul writes, “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop [overseer], he desires a good work.” T.M. Moore commented on this verse—

“The Greek word for ‘bishop’ translates literally to ‘overseer.’ Overseers—pastors, elders, anyone in a leadership role in the congregation—is charged with watching over the souls of God’s people for good (Hebrews 13:17; Acts 20:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). While the primary duty of watching over the Lord’s flock falls on pastors and elders, all who serve with them function in a role of overseeing, that all the members of the congregation might benefit from the continuous care and shepherding of those who lead them.”

I am so grateful for T.M.’s endorsement of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter in which I expound more on this 1 Timothy verse, and talk about how shepherd leaders should be raising up more leaders around them.

Our church purchased a building to use as our new homebase for ministry in our city. I am super excited about the possibilities!

Tiny bacteria declare loudly the genius of the Creator. This new study on the ability of bacterium to protect its own DNA from mutations is fascinating!

Dan Reiland says, “Good character takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy.” Dan shares 5 practices that build leadership character to last for a lifetime.

Amenhotep I was the second pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, and ruled from ca 1525-1504 BC during the time the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Using 3-D CT scans, Amenhotep has been unwrapped for the first time in over 3000 years!

How are you supposed to follow God when obedience feels impossible? John Piper explains in this post

Craig And Greg Talk Shepherd Leadership

I have known Greg Heeres for almost 30 years. During that time we have grown as close as brothers, partnering on numerous projects, both personally and professionally. One of our shared passions is developing leaders. Out of this passion we began a video and audio podcast called The Craig And Greg Show. 

We switched up our format just a bit in a recent episode so that Greg could interview me about my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. 

I was also thrilled to receive an endorsement from another church leadership blogger that I greatly admire: 

“In his new book, Shepherd Leadership, Craig T. Owens gets to the heart of pastoral ministry and caring about people with great wisdom. Jesus sets the example for us as the good shepherd, and Craig delivers practical principles for healthy leadership that allows you the opportunity for freedom as God intended, joy in serving, and ultimately experiencing the full blessing of God.”Dan Reiland, Executive Pastor, 12Stone Church, Lawrenceville, GA

You may listen to the audio-version of Greg’s interview of me on the player below, and I’ve also shared the link to watch the video of this interview.

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