Links & Quotes

Your relentless pursuit of personal improvement becomes a better resume than anything you could ever put on paper! Check out the full conversation Greg and I had about personal development on The Craig And Greg Show leadership podcast. And be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

T.M. Moore has a regular series of posts for pastors. This week he shared this, “In his training manual for pastors, Gregory the Great wrote, ‘There are some who investigate spiritual precepts with cunning care, but what they penetrate with their understanding they trample on in their lives: all at once they are teaching the things which not by practice but by study they have learnt; and what in words they preach by their manners they impugn. Whence it comes to pass that when the shepherd walks through steep places, the flock follows to the precipice’ (The Book of Pastoral Rule).” If you are a pastor, I encourage you to check out the Pastor To Pastor posts on The Fellowship Of Ailbe.

On May 22, A.D. 337, Emperor Constantine died. John Stonestreet wrote, “Many Christians think that Constantine was perhaps the worst thing to happen to the Church. They believe he made Christianity the imperial religion, thus leading the Church to compromise with pagan culture, marrying it to state power, and derailing the spread of the Gospel. The Church, they argue, was better off as a persecuted minority.” Please check out this post co-written by Dr. Glenn Sunshine that gives some better historical perspective than perhaps what you have heard previously.

The other day, a friend of mine was scammed through her Facebook page. Scams are everywhere, so you need to stay aware of the ways to protect yourself. This is a helpful overview from Capital One of various types of scams.

“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” —Duke Ellington

Jellyfish fossils point to a global Flood, like the one reported in the Bible. Because jellyfish are 95 percent water, they have to be buried quickly in order to be saved as a fossil. 

J. Warner Wallace describes how Jesus arrived at the perfect moment in history. Once again giving more evidence to the historicity of the biblical accounts.

One of the most powerful missions sermons I have heard was preached by Dick Brogden:

An important warning from Axis—What it is: The Surgeon General has issued a warning on the dangers of social media for teenagers. Why the alarm bell is reaching a fever pitch: People have been wary of social media’s impact on developing brains for two decades—so why are highly-visible tone setters, like the Surgeon General and the American Psychological Association, issuing big, sweeping statements now? Part of it could be because we are getting more quality data on how social media shapes a young person’s brain. One newer study that’s been getting some buzz suggests that individuals who received their first smartphone at a later age have better mental health as young adults. Several big bills that aim to protect minors online will be voted on this year as tech giants face increased scrutiny over their safeguards (or lack thereof), for younger users. Kids growing up even a decade from now may encounter a completely different digital landscape when it’s their turn to learn about online literacy.

Links & Quotes

When someone wants to “grow” an organization, what exactly does that look like? Is growth only numeric or is it something that’s perhaps a bit more difficult to count? The leader needs to have this clear in their mind, and they need to regularly communicate this metric to their team. I unpack this in greater detail in my book Shepherd LeadershipCheck out more of this message hereAnd be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

It appears that creativity is largely fueled by two things: proper sleep and finding your “sweet spot” each day. If you are an early bird, protect that creative time. If you are a night owl, don’t try to become an early bird to emulate someone else, but lean into your productive time. Check out this full post.

I love reading, but even I have trouble finding time to sit down with my books. But this insight from John Piper totally rejuvenated my thinking about reading. “Suppose that you can read about 250 words a minute. Now, that’s not real fast; most of us can do that—250 words a minute. And suppose that you set aside fifteen minutes a day to read a great book—a classic or some book that you’d been longing to read that would help you grow in your wisdom, your understanding. Now, fifteen minutes a day for 365 days is 5,475 minutes a year. Now, you multiply 5,475 times 250, and you get 1,368,750 words that you could read in a year at fifteen minutes a day. Now, an average book has about 300 to 400 words on a page. So we’ll take 350, which is kind of in the middle, and divide that into 1,368,750. And you know what you get? You get 3,910—almost 4,000 pages a year. An average book has about 200 pages. You see the implication of that? You could read twenty books by this time next year by setting aside fifteen minutes a day.”

An ancient Hebrew inscription consisting of 48 letters was discovered on Mt. Ebal in Israel and is centuries older than any known Hebrew inscription from ancient Israel. This is yet another archeological discovery that speaks to the historicity of the Bible.

T.M. Moore wrote one of the endorsements of my book Shepherd Leadership. His thoughts here about the role of godly shepherds is right on the mark: “The work of shepherds consists of helping the people of God to connect with Him—to know, love, fear, and serve Him in every area of their lives. This work cannot be fulfilled by one who is merely a good speaker, an effective organizer, or an inspiring motivator. This work must be done by one who truly knows the Lord. For unless we know the Lord, the Lord will not know us, and He will not honor our labors.”

You are one-of-a-kind! There has never, ever been anyone like you, and there never will be. God made you on purpose and for a purpose. And God wants to reveal the purpose He has for your life. You be you—that is how God is most glorified through you.

Links & Quotes

Unhealthy leaders don’t admit their need for help, and as a result they put a lid on their leadership potential. Check out more of this message hereAnd be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

A prominent Chinese scholar, Dr. Wang Yun Wu (1888-1979), abandoned atheism in 1924 after he witnessed the miraculous healing of his sister’s eyesight. Dr. Wang later became Vice Premier of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Check out this miraculous story in the Pentecostal Evangel.

The Culture Translator weekly email from Axis had some helpful information for Mental Health Awareness Month.

What it is: May is mental health awareness month, making mental health and suicide prevention bigger topics than ever. #mentalhealthmatters has around 42 billion views on TikTok, and #mentalhealthawareness has racked up 20 billion.

Why the conversation is changing: The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior survey showed that suicidal ideation, especially for teenage girls, is continuing on a concerning trajectory. In 2021, 30% of girls said that they had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 24% said they had an actual plan to end their life. According to data published by Mental Health America, 16.4% of youth reported experiencing a major depressive episode within the last 12 months. This news comes at a time when adults are feeling so lonely that the US surgeon general has declared loneliness a public health emergency. Stigma around mental health topics appears to be eroding, but that isn’t necessarily leading to better mental health outcomes for teens and for the population at large.

Conversation Starter: What do you think are the biggest contributors to mental health issues for your generation? (Check out our new video series on Mental Health for more help having this conversation!)

One of the things contributing to the unhealthy mental state of many people (not just teens) is the negative impact of pornography. Fight The New Drug reports how watching porn hurts self-esteem.

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” —Harry Truman

Is pain good or bad? Dr. Matthew Loftus makes the case that avoiding suffering undermines the role of medicine and also stunts our ability to feel and express compassion. Check out this full article and the thoughts John Stonestreet shared about them.

“What a sweetness lies in the little word ‘our’; how much is God’s glory endeared to us when we consider our interest in Him as ‘our Lord’ [Psalm 8:1].” —Charles Spurgeon, in Spurgeon and the Psalms

Links & Quotes

Shalom—the peace that comes from God—could be defined simply as “nothing missing.” But couldn’t it also be defined as “no one missing”? It sure could! What peace there is when no one is missing from Heaven! Check out more of this message hereAnd be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

“A good man is a God-fixated man, ever-receiving, ever-overflowing.” —Dick Brogden, in Proverbs: Amplified and Applied

“Despite the moon’s apparently simple shape, uniformitarian scientists have long had great difficulty explaining how it could form by natural processes apart from a supernatural Creator. One Harvard astrophysicist once quipped that the best explanation for the moon’s existence was observational error—the moon doesn’t really exist!” This is a very interesting post from the Institute for Creation Research.

“Do we not miss very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by a want of careful meditation before it, and hopeful expectation after it? … We too often rush into the presence of God without forethought or humility. We are like people who present themselves before a king without a petition, and what wonder is it that we often miss the end of prayer? We should be careful to keep the stream of meditation always running, for this is the water to drive the mill of prayer. … Prayer without fervency is like hunting with a dead dog, and prayer without preparation is hawking with a blind falcon. Prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit, but He works by means. God made man, but He used the dust of the earth as a material. The Holy Ghost is the Author of prayer, but He employs the thoughts of a fervent soul as the gold with which to fashion the vessel. Let our prayers and praises be not the flashes of a hot and hasty brain but the steady burning of a well-kindled fire.” —Charles Spurgeon, in Spurgeon and the Psalms

What a powerful word to pastors from T.M. Moore’s post First Things First. “Pastors sometimes complain that their people don’t seem very hungry or thirsty for the things of the Lord. Sated on the junk food of getting-and-spending, generously ladled over with pop culture, God’s people have little appetite for Christ or His Word. But what about us? Does our hunger and thirst for Christ make them long for the same? Do they see in us that earnest desire to be with the Lord that tells them they’re missing something of great importance? Loving Christ and delighting to be with Him is infectious. If the people we serve see it in us, they’ll want it for themselves, more than anything this world might offer.”

We don’t read about Jesus getting angry that often, but what usually got Him upset was when people in need were being kept from the God who could meet their needs. Sadly, it was usually man-made rules and practices that kept people away. I don’t want to make Jesus angry, so I need to evaluate anything in my life that may be standing in the way of connecting needy people with a need-satisfying God. 

“So in our broader culture, people no longer sin; they make mistakes. What about our Christian environment? In our case, sin is not denied. Instead it is often redefined to refer to the more flagrant sins of society. We tend to ignore our own sins of pride, selfishness, gossip, and the like. So, effectively, no one sins anymore. The reason is that we have lost sight of the biblical meaning of sin.  Typically, if we are not actually murderers, felons, or adulterers, we tend to think of our common sins as no more serious than a parking violation. We are so used to living with pride, selfishness, envy, gossip, and a whole host of other ‘respectable sins’ that we don’t even think of them as sin. But the fact is that, as serial sinners, we are all as guilty before God as that murderer. You and I sin every day in thought, word, deed, and motive. And whether those sins appear great or small in our own sight, in reality every sin we commit is an act of rebellion against God, a rejection and attempted negation of His sovereignty and rulership over us.” —Jerry Bridges

Links & Quotes

Our negative self-told can limit our lives. If you’re a leader, your negative self-talk is putting a life on how well and how far you can lead. Check out this full episode from The Craig And Greg Show. And be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

“Courage is the mastery of fear, not the absence of fear.” —Mark Twain

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…” (Proverbs 13:22). In his excellent book Proverbs: Amplified and Applied, my cousin Dick Brogden uses our grandfather as an example of the principle in this verse: “Good has multi-generational implications. My grandfather was an incredibly generous man, and his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have reaped the benefit. I am convinced that one of the reasons my family is so generously provided for is because our ancestor repeatedly gave significant financial gifts to his church, the Billy Graham Association, and missionaries around the world. Contrary to Shakespeare’s pessimism in the mouth of Mark Antony, the good that men do does indeed live after them, it is not interred with their bones.”

Self-care is vital. Without taking care of yourself first, how will you have any strength to take care of others? To Write Love On Her Arms has a helpful list of self-care items you can do in just 20 minutes per day.

“Knowledge follows understanding. We invert it and think that if we know facts, we are wise. In reality, it is only the wise who can rightly interpret the facts. … There is a posture of humility before God that opens the lowly to the understanding of God. This spirit of understanding becomes the filter with which we sift facts. Facts sifted by understanding lead us to accurate knowledge. Scoffers reject the reality that they need God’s help and God’s Spirit to understand facts. They foolishly think that true knowledge can be gained outside divinely enabled understanding. They have earned their PhD in ultimate idiocy.” —Dick Brogden, in ‘Proverbs: Amplified and Applied’ commenting on Proverbs 14:6

Links & Quotes

Leaders always go first. I want to develop myself so that I have something to give to other emerging leaders around me. If I’m not growing, I’m not going to be able to help others. Check out this full conversation Greg and I had our on leadership podcast The Craig And Greg Show. And be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” —Albert Einstein

This is sort of gross, but kind of cool at the same time. “A new study in the journal Scientific Reports concludes that 12 severed hands discovered in 2011 at Tell el-Dab’a (the site of the ancient Hyksos capital of Avaris) constitute the first bioarchaeological evidence of the gruesome ‘trophy taking’ practice of amputating the right hands of defeated enemies.” Read more about this find here. This is a corroboration of the ‘trophy taking’ David performed for King Saul in the Bible.

The more scientists learn about Creation, the more in awe of our Creator I am! Recently, researchers have discovered even more happening inside our cells that keep everything operating optimally. And then there’s this: “Besides the origin of the eye, Darwin had a problem with the origin of flowering plants (angiosperms—plants that produce seeds within an enclosure, i.e., a fruiting plant), known as Darwin’s abominable mystery. The biblical model of origins maintains that the first forms of life created by God were land plants on Day 3 of the creation week. Land plants were fully-formed and functional—‘in the beginning.’”

Dan Reiland encourages leaders to look at their weaknesses differently. “The chinks in your armor allow you to develop empathy and compassion. They give you insight to human nature. They help you genuinely connect with people. Without these things it’s difficult to lead with God’s heart.”

I am a proud member of the Assembly of God fellowship, so I especially loved reading this report on Breakpoint:

“According to recent research by pastor Ryan Burge of eight major Protestant denominations, only the Assemblies of God has seen a steady increase in church membership since 1987. Each of the others, mostly denominations that are fully progressive theologically and culturally, are experiencing steady decline. 

“Denominations like The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) began long ago to move away from orthodoxy and capitulate to new ideas about sex, gender, and marriage. On the other hand, the Assemblies of God (AG) remained committed to orthodoxy on matters of Scriptural authority, the Deity of Christ, the Resurrection, and on sexual matters. It supports the protection of life at all stages, marriage between one man and one woman, and it insists that the body determines identity as male and female. 

“Christians are constantly pressured, within the Church and without, to evolve on these issues or, we are told, we will die out. It seems however, that biblical orthodoxy draws people in. Maybe because it provides an anchor in confusing times.”

Links & Quotes

The Holy Spirit can speak to us through other people. Be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

“A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Every word from God comes with the power to make that word happen.” —Kevin Berry

“The question is not, ‘Should we pray for the lost people of our community?’ The question is, ‘Will we?’ Will we pray for our neighbors, our community, our nation, and our world? Will we seek the peace of the world and the wellbeing of all our fellow humans before the Lord in prayer? [Jeremiah 29:7]
“If we will not, then we must face up to the fact that we are disobeying a divine mandate, abandoning our neighbors to their folly, and stoking the fires of indifference—if not outright scorn—for the unbelieving world around. But if we will pray, who knows what God might be willing to do?
“Those prayers may be prayers of anguish and anger at times; but they must also be prayers for God to work in the hard hearts of our unsaved neighbors, just as He has worked in ours, to bring new life, forgiveness, and hope to those who now live apart from God in a world full of rebellion and sin.” —T.M. Moore

Axis is a great resource to help parents communicate effectively with their pre-teen and teenage children. In the wake of the school shooting in Nashville, Axis posted this: “We have created resources to help parents and caring adults have conversations about violence and school shootings. Consider our Conversation Kit on Violence, our Parent’s Guide to School Shootings, our Parent’s Guide to Talking About Violence, and our Parent’s Guide to Anxiety, for starters.”

This is an excellent post from Fight The New Drug on how to spot online sexual predators.

“Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.” —Hank Aaron

The Compliance Of Silence

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

A couple of weeks ago I shared a recap from my sermon called Eloquent Silence. Jesus serenely remained silent when He was being falsely accused by those who wanted Him out of the way. Yet, His silence was eloquent and convicting. 

We would do well to learn this lesson from our Savior. 

There is a flip side to this: Sometimes our silence can signal compliance or acceptance of those who are speaking or perpetrating evil. 

David wrote, “Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones? Do you judge uprightly, you sons of men? No, in heart you work wickedness; you weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth” (Psalm 58:1-2 NKJV). 

Commenting on this psalm, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “It would be well, if people would sometimes pause and candidly consider this: ‘Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones?’ Some of those who surrounded Saul were passive rather than active persecutors—they held their tongues when the object of royal hate was slandered. In the original, this first sentence appears to be addressed to them, and they are asked to justify their silence. Silence gives consent. People who refrain from defending the right are themselves accomplices in the wrong.”  

Silence does have its place. King Solomon wrote, “He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter” (Proverbs 11:12-13 NASB1995). But to remain silent in the face of evil or falsehood could also be a sin. 

Consider a few other wise words:

“No one wants to be thought of as holding to a ‘minority position’ on anything, so, rather than speak up in the face of many who are doing so, most will remain silent. This is where the Christian community finds itself at this time, trapped in a spiral of silence before a blustering but empty secular and unbelieving worldview. So it is very important that believers in Jesus Christ make the best use of every opportunity to talk about what is good and pleasing to God.” —T.M. Moore 

“Don’t be a bystander, be on stand by. I will not allow a bully to bully others. I will not laugh at his jokes, I will not remain silent. I will stand up and say ‘Enough is enough.’” —Nick Vujicic 

“As Christians we are tempted to make unnecessary concession to those outside the Faith. We give in too much. Now, I don’t mean that we should run the risk of making a nuisance of ourselves by witnessing at improper times, but there comes a time when we must show that we disagree. We must show our Christian colors, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ. We cannot remain silent or concede everything away.” —C.S. Lewis 

“Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that really matter.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

When to speak up and when to remain silent is a huge issue for Christians. This is why we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit telling us when to hold our tongues and when to speak out boldly.

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Links & Quotes

I have a series of nearly 70 posts on the topic of godly leadership. Here is the latest installment about going all in. Be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

T.M. Moore writes persuasively to Christians to encourage them to build for the future. He wrote, “For most Christians today, the Kingdom which Daniel saw, Jesus proclaimed and brought near, and the Spirit inaugurated on that first Christian Pentecost—that Kingdom is little more than a theological idea, or a distant hope. It is not a daily reality to be sought, seized, shared, and strengthened in every nook and cranny of our Personal Mission Fields. Christians today are trapped in their past or mired in their present, and they have little or no sense of what it means to build for the future so that righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit increase wherever they live, move, and have their being.”

Whether you know it as the Mesha Inscription, the Mesha Stele, or the Moabite Stone, this 1868 discovery is another piece of archeological evidence lending proof to the historicity of the Bible.

And another piece of research from both paleontologists and entomologists points to the Flood described in the Bible as historically viable. Researchers discovered fossilized giant ants in Canada where evolutionists claim they shouldn’t be. The Institute for Creation Research commented, “There is no need to postulate ants trekking across the Arctic to explain the distribution. Nor is there a need to inject short ‘hyperthermal’ episodes to allow passage from one continent to another. The global Flood explains what we observe the best. The warmer pre-Flood conditions and likely higher oxygen levels explain the large size of the ants. And their fossil distribution is best explained by their transport off the highest pre-Flood hills as the waters were receding.”

“If we were to look at Jesus’s death merely as a result of a betrayer’s deceit and the Sanhedrin’s envy and Pilate’s spinelessness and the soldiers’ nails and spear, it might seem very involuntary. And the benefit of salvation that comes to us who believe might be viewed as God’s way of making a virtue out of a necessity. But once you read Luke 9:51, all such thoughts vanish. Jesus was not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. The saving benefits of His death for sinners were not an afterthought. God planned it all out of infinite love to sinners like us, and He appointed a time.” —John Piper, Love To The Uttermost reading plan on YouVersion

Links & Quotes

There is something very important that mature leaders need to remind themselves of so that they can help emerging leaders become successful. You can watch out this full conversation about mulligans and do-overs on the most recent episode of The Craig and Greg Show. Be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

In my sermon on Sunday, I talked about the sovereignty of God over world affairs and world leaders. This is a great reminder from John Newton:

Merat Sultan was born in the shah of Iran’s palace in 1876. He became the chief of police and of the army in Tabriz, Iran. When the Russians invaded and occupied that area, they made plans to execute Sultan. How he escaped actually led him to a relationship with Jesus as Sultan became a Christian. Check out this fascinating story from the website Praying For Muslims. I would also urge you to check out their weekly prayer guide.

My wife and I are reading through the He Gets Us devotional series on YouVersion. I love this picture of Jesus that comes from He Gets Us #3: Questions Jesus Asked

“No voice. No contribution. No significance. No meaning.

“Invisible.

“That’s the way many women probably felt at the time Jesus lived. And every person with an illness—cancer, leprosy, epilepsy, mental disabilities—every one of those people were marginalized. In Jesus’ day, what careers were on the lowest rung of the corporate ladder?—fishermen and shepherds. Yet when you read every account of Jesus, who do you see Him hanging around? Fishermen, shepherds, women, and people dealing with health issues.

“Jesus wanted it that way. He took every opportunity He had to bring people in from the fringes and give them His full attention. He saw them. He listened to them. He loved them in ways they’ve never been loved before. They had never experienced anything like it.”

T.M. Moore wrote, “We are becoming so accustomed to the forsaking of traditional values, the undermining and fragmenting of long-established institutions, and the breakdown of morality and civility that we can begin to think that these conditions are the new normal, the best we can hope for in an age in flight from God. Everywhere we look in our day, the prophetic words of William Butler Yeats, in his 1919 poem, ‘The Second Coming,’ seem to be coming true: ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world./The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/the ceremony of innocence is drowned.’ But the appearances, which press upon us daily, are only a matter of perspective.” Check out the rest of his post.

When things are going well, how can we talk about our success in a way that glorifies God? John Piper had a thoughtful answer to a businessman who asked how he could talk about the success of his business and make God look great while he was doing so.

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