Practical Health Questions

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

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff wanted to know if I had a favorite chapter in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. That’s an easy question to answer because it is the chapter I didn’t write—the Preface of the book was written by Dick Brogden and sums up my book better than I could have on my own. 

But there is a chunk of five chapters in Shepherd Leadership that I keep going back to quite frequently. This section is also one that has resonated with other leaders who coach and counsel pastors. 

Dr. Luke summarized the wholly healthy development of Jesus in just one verse: And Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God, and in favor with men (Luke 2:52). I think this gives us the perfect pyramid for our healthy growth—

  • It starts with our mental health (wisdom) 
  • Which helps us make good decisions for our physical health (stature)
  • Which creates an ideal environment for our spiritual health to flourish (favor with God)
  • Which is ultimately realized in our relational health (favor with men) 

This is why, when I am coaching other pastors that are struggling with relationships with their board or parishioners, I start with…

  • …mental health questions like: What are you reading? What are you meditating on? 
  • …physical health questions like: Are you getting enough sleep? Are you exercising? Are you eating right? 
  • …spiritual health questions like: What did you read in your personal devotions today? Are you setting aside enough time to have a meaningful conversation with God every day? 

Oftentimes the answers to these questions reveal a deficit in mental, physical, or spiritual health that is preventing a breakthrough in strong, healthy relationships. As soon as health is being restored at the lower levels of this pyramid, positive changes in spiritual and relational health begin to blossom as well. 

Pastor, please pick up a copy of my book to help you get into the healthiest place you can be. You cannot give health to the flock under your care if you are not at optimal health yourself. 

If you want to catch up on some of the other clips I’ve already shared from this interview, you can find them here. I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

“With-ness”

…fellowship… (four times in 1 John 1:3, 6, 7)

The word “fellowship” is the Greek word koinonia. It means intimacy of relationship.

All of the apostle John’s books carry this key theme: Jesus loves us so this is how we should live differently because of that love. 

Koinonia means giving all I’ve got to someone else, and graciously receiving all they have to give to me. This creates a… 

  • … oneness
  • … togetherness
  • … with-ness

Our with-ness creates a visible witness of God’s love. 

John says that fellowship with God can’t help but be expressed in fellowship with others. And then fellowship with others stimulates us to a deeper relationship with God. This love dance is itself a picture of the Ultimate Koinonia of the Trinity—“I am in You, Father, and You are in Me. These followers of Us are in Me and I in them,” said Jesus.

Don’t try to pursue a relationship with Jesus on your own, but find people that you can be in fellowship with and then watch how that deepens your fellowship with God!

Close To God

Imagine being close enough to hear God’s voice—Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21)

Here’s a great question I recently heard: “What if God doesn’t want to give us answers, because He wants to give us His presence?” 

Perhaps if God showed me my whole path, I might just take off down the path as fast as I could. Maybe I’d even say something like, “Thanks, God, I’ll take it from here!”

But God wants me close to Him. He wants me to hear His voice at every single step saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” 

The model prayer that Jesus taught us is all about that closeness and total reliance on God’s close presence: 

  • Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name [close enough to worship Him intimately],
  • Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven [close enough to know His heart].
  • Give us today our daily bread [close enough to rely on Him for all of my daily needs].
  • And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors [close enough to know His forgiving love for me and for others].
  • Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one [close enough to His strength to say “no” to temptations that would entice me off of His path].
  • For Yours is the kingdom, and the glory, and the power forever [close enough to bask perpetually in His glory and His power].

God wants us THAT close to Him—to rely on Him, to lean into Him, to be empowered by Him, to be protected in Him. 

A good question for all of us to ponder: How close to God am I?

Poetry Saturday—Walking With God

Alas, my God, that we should be
Such Strangers to each other!
O that as Friends we might agree,
And walk, and talk together!
Thou know’st my Soul doth dearly love
The Place of Thine Abode;
No Music drops so sweet a Sound,
As those two words, My God.

I long not for the Fruit that grows
Within these Gardens here;
I find no sweetness in their Rose
When Jesus is not near:
Thy gracious Presence, O my Christ
Can make a Paradise;
Ah, what are all the goodly Pearls
Unto this Pearl of Price!

May I taste that Communion, Lord,
Thy people have with Thee?
Thy Spirit daily talks with them,
O let it talk with me!
Like Enoch, let me walk with God,
And thus walk out my Day,
Attended with the Heavenly Guards
Upon the King’s High-way.

When wilt Thou come unto me, Lord?
O come, my Lord most dear!
Come near, come nearer, nearer still;
I’m well when Thou art near.
When wilt Thou come unto me, Lord?
I languish for Thy Sight;
Ten Thousand Suns, if Thou art Strange,
Are shades instead of Light.

When wilt Thou come unto me, Lord?
For, till Thou dost appear,
I count each Moment for a Day,
Each Minute for a Year.
Come, Lord and never from me go,
This World’s a darksome Place;
I find no Pleasure here below,
When Thou dost veil Thy Face.

There’s no such Thing as Pleasure here;
My JESUS is my All;
As Thou didst shine or disappear,
My pleasures rise and fall.
Come, spread Thy Savour on my Frame,
No sweetness is so sweet;
Till I get up to sing Thy Name,
Where all Thy Singers meet. —Thomas Shepherd

9 Quotes From “40 Days With Jesus”

Sarah Young does a masterful job in helping us hear Jesus speak to us in the first-person, as she weaves Scripture together so beautifully. Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Taste and see that I am good. The more intimately you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness.” 

“Follow Me one step at a time. … Keep your mind on the present journey, enjoying My Presence. Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Me to open up the way before you. … I set the pace in keeping with your needs and My purposes.” 

“Walking in the light of My presence blesses you in many ways. Good things are better and bad things are more bearable when you share them with Me. As you bask in My Love-Light, you are better able to love others and enjoy fellowship with them. You are less likely to stumble or fall because sins are garishly obvious in My holy Light. As you walk in this Light with Me, I encourage you to exult in My righteousness.” 

“Although your new self is being conformed to My image, this process does not erase the essence of who you are. On the contrary, the more you become like Me, the more you develop into the unique person I designed you to be.” 

“Holiness is letting Me live through you. Since I dwell in you, you are fully equipped to be holy. Pause before responding to people or situations, giving My Spirit space to act through you. Hasty words and actions leave no room for Me; this is atheistic living. I want to inhabit all your moments—gracing your thoughts, words, and behavior.” 

“Talk with Me about every aspect of your day, including your feelings. Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me. A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day.” 

“Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life. Instead, ask My Spirit to guide you moment by moment.” 

“Exceeding Joy is for both you and Me. I delight in you now, but this Joy will be astronomically magnified when you join Me in Glory. The Joy you will experience in heaven is so far beyond anything you have known on earth that it is indescribable. Nothing can rob you of this glorious inheritance which is imperishable and will not fade away.” 

“Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables you to communicate intimately with Me.” 

8 Quotes From “Defiant Joy”

For anyone going through a trying time, Stasi Eldredge has given us a timely reminder of how we can tenaciously and defiantly cling to the joy the God gives us. Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Ignoring reality does not breed joy. Pretending that what is true does not exist is not holy defiance. The seeds of joy can only be firmly planted in the pungent soil of the here and now while at the same time being tethered to eternity. Joy is fully rooted in the truth. Joy embraces all the senses and is fully awake to the laughter, the wonder, and the beauty present in the moment as well as the sorrow, the angst, and the fear. Joy says, ‘Even so, I have a reason to celebrate.’” 

“Defiant may not be a word we would normally associate with the living God, but it can actually be quite fitting. Defiance means resistance, opposition, noncompliance, disobedience, dissent, and rebellion. And when it comes to things that would destroy our souls, that is exactly the right response.” 

“Joy is not happiness on steroids. It is not happiness squared. … Joy is connected to God and reserved for those who are tapping into His reservoir, who are connected to His life. Joy is rooted in God and His kingdom, in the surety of His goodness, His love for us. It is immovable. Unshakable. Joy is available at all times, day and night, because God and His kingdom are always available to us. … Joy is the heartbeat of heaven, the very light that emanates from Jesus’ heart, so as we grow closer in relationship with God, we’ll also grow in joy.” 

“Joy and breakthrough are not opposed to suffering But are available in the midst of it. Suffering is not a failure of faith on our part; its presence does not mean the absence of the presence of God. We can live with suffering and joy simultaneously.” 

“Joy is deeply rooted in the availability of God and His kingdom right here, right now. Sometimes we find breakthrough. Sometimes we find a deeper knowing of God in our suffering.” 

“Here is the truth we must remember in the middle of this sometimes painful healing process: we matter to the heart of God. He hasn’t taken His eyes off us. He thinks of us constantly. He has hopes and dreams for us. God planned on us before He made the stars, and He planned on us being His. He planned on us sharing our lives with Him on this wild adventure. And His plans are good.” 

“God drops things in our laps at just the right time. He puts barriers in our paths that look like roadblocks but are really gifts in disguise, beckoning us to take a closer look at what’s going on inside of us. We can either step over them or choose to pick them up and examine them for the potential they may hold.” 

“When the sadness refuses to be silenced and the feelings arise that this is not the life we had signed up for, we can either go to shame or go to God.” 

I’ll be sharing more quotes in the near future, so stay tuned…

The 5 Love Languages For Him/Her (YouVersion review)

Couples that can learn together can definitely grow together! 

A feature I thoroughly enjoy on YouVersion is shared reading plans. When a plan is shared, no one else sees what plan you are reading, and the comments you write at the end of each day’s readings are only visible to the other people in your group. My wife and I have taken advantage of this to use YouVersion reading plans as a springboard to discuss ways to make our relationship even stronger. 

If you have ever heard anyone talk about his/her “love language,” they are more than likely talking about Dr. Gary Chapman’s outstanding series of books on our five basic love languages—words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving, acts of service, and physical touch. When we can discover and speak someone’s love language to them consistently, it fills that person’s “love tank” and strengthens the relationship. 

YouVersion offers two 5-day reading plans that leverage Dr. Chapman’s insights on our love languages, and support his insights with passages from the Bible. These plans are The 5 Love Languages For Him and The 5 Love Languages For Her. 

I would highly recommend married couples to read these plans together. It’s not necessary for you to have read The 5 Love Languages book in order to glean some very helpful insights that you can immediately apply to your marriage. These reading plans will help you and your spouse to be able to dialogue about both what’s struggling and needs to be fixed, and what’s going right and needs to be amplified. 

Your marriage will benefit from this 10-minute investment you make for just a couple of weeks. 

10 Marriage Tips For Guys

Guys, here’s how to add heat to your marriage (regardless of its current temperature)—

  1. Let the Holy Spirit continue to develop His fruit in you—this is the only way to become a truly exceptional lover.
  2. Pray for your wife, and pray with your wife.
  3. Say “I love you” every day. 
  4. Learn her love language and speak it regularly. 
  5. Hold her hand. 
  6. Compliment her privately—not just for how she looks or what she does, but for who she is. 
  7. Praise her publicly in front of her friends, family, and coworkers.
  8. Find ways to assure her that she is your #1 priority. Every single day.
  9. Take her out on a date that you have planned. 
  10. Repeat steps 1-9.

“The most joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, trustworthy lovers are Spirit-empowered lovers.” —Craig T. Owens

Strengths-Based Marriage (reading plan review)

Normally on Tuesdays, I post book reviews here, but I’ve been reading a couple of YouVersion reading plans with my wife this summer that I felt I must share with you. Both of them are by Jimmy Evans—One: A Marriage Devotional and Strengths-Based Marriage. 

If you are unfamiliar with YouVersion Bible, there is both a web-based site and a mobile app that you really should check out. I spend a lot of quality time in the Scripture using the app on my iPhone each day. One of the cool features YouVersion has recently introduced is the ability to read devotional plans with friends. This offers:

  • accountability with your reading partners 
  • a set schedule of reading assignments
  • access to all the biblical texts that correspond with the day’s devotional reading
  • a place to share your thoughts just with your reading partners, and inaccessible to anyone else on YouVersion

Strengths-Based Marriage focuses on exactly what the title leads you to expect—the strengths in you and your spouse. Instead of trying to “fix” something in your spouse, Jimmy Evans turns your attention toward the God-implanted strengths in your spouse, and then gives you some practical counsel for calling out those strengths. 

For example, in one of the devotions he wrote, “Each of us is remarkably unique, and to minimize that irreplaceable uniqueness is to rob the world of a contribution that cannot come any other way.” And in another devotional he says, “You cannot separate your treasures from your passions. In other words, you will always be most passionate about the people, pursuits, and places where you are investing the best of your life. Your passions will always follow the investments of your time, energy, and strengths.”

One: A Marriage Devotional is a much more daily nuts-and-bolts approach to our marriages. In this devotional he shares relationships principles, and then gives us a “Talk It Out” and a “Walk It Out” assignment to put into practice. 

In one of these devotionals he writes, “God created marriage to operate as the most important human relationship in our lives, and it only succeeds on that level. … Priority must be proven daily in real terms and not just in words. Good intentions mean very little in marriage. The only thing that matters is what you do and continue to do consistently. For your marriage to work, you must establish it as the first priority and be willing to protect it against good or bad things that try to distract you.”

Whether your marriage is in need of urgent attention, it could use some minor improvements, or it’s already pretty great, both of these devotionals will give you practical tips, time with your spouse in God’s Word, great conversation-starting questions, and some highly practical tips you can use right now. 

9 More Quotes From “The Wisdom Of God”

The Wisdom Of God is a collection of never-before-published sermons from A.W. Tozer, in which he makes the case that true Wisdom is a Person to be known not a quality to be gained. 

“Wisdom and power cannot be separated from the Cross. If we do not obey, we blind ourselves, and we become dependent upon our own intellect, which will be in no way sufficient to teach others.” 

“Today, Christians need to learn how to worship, and instead of having all this religious claptrap and modern entertainment to hold people together, have the fire of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit, which, by the way, will be enough.” 

“The one thing God has to offer us and the only thing we absolutely need is His wisdom. Flowing from that wisdom is the solution to all the problems that we could ever face. To know the wisdom of God in its fullness is to experience life as God intended it to be.” 

“Our relationship with God must be based upon God’s ways and not our ways.” 

“To fear God, out of which flows wisdom, is to submit myself to God unconditionally and without any personal agenda. When I come to God as He invites me to come, I will have what God intends for me to have.” 

“This effusion of superior wisdom is a gift imparted by God in addition to the gift of wisdom that He gives the birds so they know to fly south and that which He gives man to invent a spaceship or an electric light. This effusion of superior wisdom is something you either have or you don’t. It does not come gradually to anyone. So a man is either born or he is not. He is either born-again or he has not been born again; he cannot come into that gradually. The doctrine of gradualness is from the devil to keep the church of Christ from going forward.” 

“For wisdom dwells with God and He pours her out upon all His works in the degree they are able to absorb it, and the wisest man is the one who turns to the Lord in repentance and faith.” 

“Christ is that ancient, most excellent wisdom incarnated in our nature and making atonement for all our moral infamy. Any emphasis that makes sin less infamous than that is not biblical. Any interpretation of grace and mercy that allows sin to appear even reasonably excusable in the eyes of God is not a proper interpretation. Any doctrine, any view of sin that allows it to be excused in anyway is not biblical. It is not God’s way of looking at it, for God looks at sin as alienation. … God sent His only Son to make atonement for our infamy and saves those that turn to the wisdom of the just through repentance.” 

“We Christians are a strange crowd. We make a more of the invisible than the visible. We talk constantly to Someone we cannot see. We act as if thing were real that people do not believe are real and waive aside things that some people attach great value to. We sing about a Man who was rejected and crucified, and we say, ‘We find the yoke easy.’” 

You can read my review of The Wisdom Of God by clicking here. And be sure to check out some other quotes from this book here. 

%d bloggers like this: