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

I love Charle Spurgeon’s definition of godliness: “God Himself is the power of godliness. The Holy Spirit is the life and force of it. Godliness is the power that brings a man to God and bind him to Him. Godliness is that which creates repentance toward God and faith in Him. Godliness is the result of a great change of heart and reference to God and His character. Godliness looks toward God and mourns its distance from Him. Godliness hastens to draw near and rests not till it is at home with God. 

“Godliness makes a man like God. Godliness leads a man to love God and to serve God. It brings the fear of God before his eyes and the love of God into his heart. Godliness leads to consecration, to sanctification, to concentration. The godly man seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and expects other things to be added to him. Godliness makes a man commune with God and gives him a partnership with God in His glorious designs. And so it prepares him to dwell with God forever.”

Viz.Bible has a great way of portraying the data of the Bible in very picturesque ways. Check out this link to see an overview of the Bible like I have bever seen before!

The folks at Axis Ministry provide some amazing insights for parents (and youth pastors) of pre-teens through the early college years. I would highly recommend subscribing to their free weekly email. Here is their Parent’s Guide To Teen Emotions, which is a free PDF for you to download.

Podcast: Leaders Lead At Home First

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • [0:15] Leaders need to use their leadership skills at home 
  • [0:46] Home should be where leaders get replenished 
  • [2:12] Work comes and goes, but family can be our lasting legacy 
  • [2:30] How do effective leaders think about success at home? 
  • [4:09] A sad story of misplaced priorities 
  • [4:45] How I helped my church board learn how to make family a priority 
  • [6:31] Greg learned some parenting insights from one of his clients 
  • [8:20] God equips leaders to lead well with their spouse and kids 
  • [9:43] Greg shares a quote about sacrifice, investment, and ROI 
  • [10:16] We share habits and practices that have helped us lead at home 
  • [13:07] How do leaders create a legacy of success in our families? 
  • [15:14] Greg explores how leaders can even lead their parents 
  • [16:14] What do you want on your tombstone? 
  • [17:14] I share a poem from my son Brandon 
  • [18:30] Legacy is determined by what our family says about us 
  • [19:56] How leaders can set family leadership goals for the New Year

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Poetry Saturday—He’s Here To Keep

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

BrandonMy Dad’s out of town
I feel alone
I’m feeling really down
He can’t reach the phone
All of a sudden the phone rings
My heart sings
I pick up the phone
He said only one more day
And in his voice was a great tone
He said what I wanted him to say
One more time of sleep
And then he’s here to keep —Brandon Owens (4th grade poetry assignment)


Holy Sexuality And The Gospel (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

I’m not sure there could be a more timely book for our current generation than Christopher Yuan’s Holy Sexuality and The Gospel. 

My wife was reading Dr. Yuan’s memoir, which he co-wrote with his mother, called Out Of A Far Country, and she continually raved to me about the powerful message in their story. As I began to look at that book, I saw his more recent release—Holy Sexuality—and immediately got pulled into its timely message. 

It appears dialogues about sexuality, sexual orientation, and what God condones or condemns regarding sex are taking place everywhere. Dr. Yuan clearly addresses these issues by taking us back to the foundational truths of the Scripture. 

Dr. Yuan’s clear message is not about heterosexuality or homosexuality, but about holy sexuality. That is, what does God say about sexuality, and how does this tie in to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? This book is unabashedly Bible-centric, but it’s presented in concepts and language that everyone can grasp. 

In my opinion, this book is a must-read for pastors, youth pastors, and parents who engage the younger generations in conversations about sexuality. Pop culture has a message they are promoting in every movie, TV show, and music album, so thoughtful, loving Christians need to be armed with the truth from God’s Word on how to get to the root of both the cultural message and the biblical message. Dr. Yuan will help you be more attuned to the message in our current culture, as well as how to have loving and meaningful conversations about what is a very sensitive subject for many people. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

Poetry Saturday—The Mother’s Prayer

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Starting forth on life’s rough way,
   Father, guide them;
Oh, we know not what of harm
   May betide them;
‘Neath the shadow of Thy wing,
   Father, hide them;
Walking, sleeping, Lord, we pray,
   Go beside them.

When in prayer they cry to Thee,
   Do Thou hear them;
From the stain of sin and shame
   Do Thou clear them;
‘Mid the quicksands and the rocks
   Do Thou steer them;
In temptation, trial, grief,
   Be Thou near them.

Unto Thee we give them up;
   Lord, receive them.
In the world we know must be
   Much to grieve them—
Many striving, oft and strong,
   To deceive them;
Trustful in Thy hands of love
   We must leave them. —William Cullen Bryant

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

Poetry Saturday—An Owens Haiku

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Craig loved Betsy first.
Then came three lovable kids.
All five love Jesus.

Then God sent us west.
To the town of Cedar Springs.
We all love our church.

God added spouses.
Lovable mates for our kids.
The blessings increase. —Craig T. Owens

Faith Of Our Fathers (book review)

I almost want to quote George Santayana every time I post a review about an historical book, but for Faith Of Our Fathers compiled by Eric Buehrer it is especially appropriate. So allow me to quote two sage pieces of wisdom from Santayana—

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” —AND—  “A child educated only in school is an uneducated child.” 

I am flabbergasted at how little time is spent in public schools educating our kids on the founding of our country. And frequently when it is taught, the lessons seem to go out of their way to not mention the biblical principles that went into crafting our nation’s founding documents. 

I have become a big fan of Gateways To Better Education. The founder of Gateways, Eric Buehrer, has put together a very helpful book for parents to help their children learn about the Christian faith of our Founding Fathers. 

Eric has given us a very short biography of our Founders, a quote attributed to them, Bible verses that undergird that Founder’s quote, and then some discussion questions for the family. Parents, please make full use of this great resource! 

And best of all: You can download the PDF version of this book FREE by clicking this link.

Book Reviews From 2019

Consequences For Children

Dr. Kathy Koch has some great insights in her book Start With The Heart for anyone who works with children.

“Rather than using the words ‘rewards’ and ‘punishments,’ I recommend using the word ‘consequences.’ This small change helps children own their responsibility in changing negative behavior and maintaining positive behavior. Rewards and punishments are things we give children. Consequences are what children earn because of their choices.” —Dr. Kathy Koch

Check out my book review of Start With The Heart by clicking here. You can also read some other quotes from this book here and here.

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