Links & Quotes

Let’s celebrate others 🎉 Don’t just rattle off, “How are you?” and not even listen for the answer. Let’s ask more specific, meaningful questions to help people celebrate what’s good in their lives. Check out my latest Monday Motivation video, and then please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Dan Reiland has a great post “7 Guideposts to Lead Yourself Well.” Dan wrote an endorsement of my book Shepherd Leadership, and we share the same passion for godly leaders to lead well.

Speaking of Shepherd Leadership, I received another really nice note this week from a pastor who has benefitted from reading it. If you are a pastor (or if you love your pastor), please take advantage of the special offer I have going for my book.

This post from the Institute for Creation Research is an excellent reminder about the importance of context when interpreting the Bible. This post is specifically talking about biblical passages related to Creation, but the points in this post pertain to all biblical interpretation. You may also be interested in a previous blog post I wrote called Context Is King.

Check out my exclusive Patreon video teaching on this idea of the lessons that can be learned whether we are delivered from trials or whether we go through trials.

Book Reviews From 2022

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

I love reading, and I love sharing my love of good books with others! Here is a list of the books I read and reviewed in 2022. Click on a title to be taken to that review.

Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Cary Grant

Contending For Our All

Father Sergius

Hank Greenberg: The Story Of My Life

Living In A Gray World

Out Of The Depths

Roots Of Endurance

Simple Truths Of Leadership

Spurgeon And The Psalms

Susanna Wesley

The Holy War

The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy

The Poetry Of Prayer

The Self-Aware Leader

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

Who’s Pushing Your Buttons?

Here are my book reviews for 2011.

Here are my book reviews for 2012.

Here are my book reviews for 2013.

Here are my book reviews for 2014.

Here are my book reviews for 2015.

Here are my book reviews for 2016.

Here are my book reviews for 2017.

Here are my book reviews for 2018.

       Here are my book reviews for 2019.

Here are my book reviews for 2020.

Here are my book reviews for 2021.

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

Forgive Like You’ve Been Forgiven

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

Jesus said that the devil’s agenda was to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). We see this on full display in the aftermath of the first sin in the way relationships humans had with each other changed. 

God said to Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). Dr. Henry Halley commented, “The last two lines of this verse could be paraphrased, ‘You will now have a tendency to try to dominate your husband and he will have the tendency to act as a tyrant.’” And to Adam, God said that he would now have to work harder than ever before to harvest the food he needed for survival, which undoubtedly caused stress in his relationship with Eve. In the very next chapter, the strained relationship between Cain and Able resulted in the first homicide (Genesis 3:17-19, 4:1-8). 

In these relationships, intimacy was stolen, closeness was killed, and life was destroyed. 

An irreplaceable tool for avoiding this heartache and destruction that sin causes in our relationships is forgiveness. 

Peter asked Jesus, “How many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). In reply, Jesus told a story about a man who owed the equivalent of 20 years of a day laborer’s wages and a man who owed about three months of a day laborer’s wages. The first man who owed so much was forgiven entirely of his debt, but he wouldn’t forgive the paltry amount that was owed to him by the second man. 

To the forgiven but unforgiving man, Jesus said, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (see Matthew 18:22-35). 

That should be our standard: Not how others treat me, but how God has treated me! Not how much others owe me, but how much God has forgiven me!

Do I want God to put a quota on how many times I can be forgiven? Do I want there to be a limit on how big of an offense God will forgive in me?

Of course not!

That’s my standard. I must show the same mercy to others as I have been shown by God. 

If my forgiven sins are forgotten sins (and they are), then I need to treat my brother and sister the same way. This is why Jesus told Peter to stop counting the number of offenses. We are to treat every offense as though it was the first and only offense.

The man who owed so much money asked for more time to repay his debt. But the master did more than that: He forgave the debt—he wiped it off the books completely, as though it had never happened! 

When God forgives our sin, He separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. He keeps no record of the offense ever having occurred (Psalm 103:10-12). 

This is to be our standard too. We are to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Forgiveness will restore intimacy, closeness, and life to our relationships. 

This is difficult to do. As Peter pointed out, a brother or sister—someone close to his heart—had sinned against him. But this is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12). Or as Eugene Peterson paraphrases that verse in The Message, “Keep us forgiven with You and forgiving others.” 

May the Holy Spirit help us in this important work of ongoing, complete, and restoring forgiveness!

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

God’s Pleasure In Our Relationships

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

Last week we talked about God’s pleasure in our good work ethic and our good attitude about work. We have a God-implanted craving to do excellent work because God is an excellent Worker. 

We also said that although we would all like to have the job that was wonderful, even the crummy jobs deserve our best attitude and our best effort.  

This is very much the same for our relationships. We would all love to only have relationships in our lives that are energizing, fulfilling, and win-win. But the reality is that many of our relationships may be the exact opposite of this. 

Jesus said our love for others would show the world that we are His disciples. Oh yeah, and the love we show is supposed to be a “10” on the Jesus Love Scale (John 13:34-35). Why? Because that’s how Jesus loved us:

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His own love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. (Romans 5:7-8 AMP)

Remember we said that God is Love? But love needs to have both a lover and beloved—someone reaching out and someone receiving. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so God is Relational. The Father loving the Son and Spirit, the Son loving the Spirit and the Father, the Spirit loving the Father and the Son. All loving and promoting the Other. 

God is also Happy in this Relationship. 

Because we are created in God’s image, we have a God-implanted craving to love and to be loved, to have meaningful companionships (Genesis 1:26; 2:18). 

Remember that Jesus was all-in for us so that we could have this love relationship with God.  This same passage calls us to have the same attitude as Jesus had. But we can also back up just a couple of more verses to find out what fuels the relationships that satisfy our craving for companionship and please God (Philippians 2:1-11). Those characteristics include:

  • being like-minded in striving to find agreement with others 
  • having the same love as Jesus demonstrated  
  • being one in spirit—this unique Greek word reminds us we all have immortal souls. As C.S. Lewis reminded us, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one of these destinations.”
  • being one in purpose  
  • giving up selfish ambitions as we trade “me” for “we” 
  • not indulging in vain conceit, but thinking more highly of others 
  • being humble 
  • always striving to find the win-win 

When Alexander Dumas wrote The Three Musketeers his Musketeers have been given a famous line: “All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.” This is actually quite biblical because the Bible only has saints in the plural form, never in the singular. And the apostle Paul reminds us, “And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all the members share in the enjoyment of it” (1 Corinthians 12:26 AMP). 

God is pleased when our attitude about our fellow saints is all for one and one for all—when all the saints love and nurture the individual saint, and when each individual saint loves and supports all the other saints. 

We were created for this. We crave this. God is pleased when we live and love like this. And this is the only way we will experience the joy of God’s favor on our relationships.

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our series called Craving, you can find a list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

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Links & Quotes

Premier athletes know the value of flexibility for keeping them in the game. I think we would be wise to practice flexibility in our relationships too—this is definitely a game-changing move! Check out my weekly Monday Motivation videos on my YouTube channel

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger like, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” —Thucydides

This week we remember Columbus Day. You probably remember the rhyme: In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Many people have thought Columbus set out to prove the world was round, but the History Channel has a mini-biography that debunks this claim.

One of my YouVersion friends (Nikki) commented a great reminder: “God can do way more with my surrender than with my striving.”

Thomas Zimmerman was an influential leader in the early days of the Assembly of God fellowship’s history. “Over a 50-year period, Thomas F. Zimmerman (1912-1991) served the Assemblies of God as pastor, district official, department leader, assistant general superintendent, and general superintendent. His leadership greatly increased the influence of the Pentecostal movement in the evangelical world, as well as in the broader American religious landscape.”

I post quality content nearly every day. If you don’t have time to read all that I share, please let me read it for you. The Craig T. Owens Audio Blog is just like this blog, except you get to hear me read my blog posts. Check it out my podcast on Spotify, Apple, and even Audible.

“The word ‘hell’ is used in the New Testament fourteen times, twelve times by Jesus Himself. It is not a myth created by dismal and angry preachers. It is a solemn warning from the Son of God who died to deliver sinners from its curse. We ignore it at great risk.” —John Piper

Christian apologist and cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace wrote, “the battleground on the abortion issue is beginning to shift, and this shift is going to cause us to rethink our approach to the debate.” Pro-life advocates need to check out Wallace’s post Justifying Homicide: The Future Battleground In The Abortion Debate.

Responsibility isn’t supposed to be fatal! Exceptional leaders accept and promote appropriate responsibility, while weak leaders play the blame game. But accepting responsibility doesn’t mean “falling on your sword”! You can check out the rest of this conversation I had with my podcast partner Greg Heeres on The Craig And Greg Show leadership podcast.

Podcast: Motivated Leadership

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: 

  • [0:48] What does the dictionary say about motivation? What do we say about motivation? 
  • [2:03] Motivation comes in “different packages”
  • [3:48] How can we individualize motivation?
  • [5:53] How does coachability mesh with motivation?
  • [7:20] Is 100% self-motivation possible?
  • [7:49] Greg’s story about a leader’s frustration with unmotivated people 
  • [9:44] Does yelling ever motivate people?
  • [12:52] A teammate’s love language can give you insight into how to motivate them.
  • [13:56] How do leaders “call out” what’s in our team members?
  • [16:01] A leader’s self-assessment is key to how well we motivate others.
  • [18:23] Are company-wide benefits demotivating? How can we switch this up?
  • [20:30] Does the carrot-or-stick method of motivation actually work?
  • [21:10] Greg shares a quote about how dreams can help motivation.
  • [22:51] Great leaders don’t assume, but they ask important questions.
  • [23:53] Our coaching huddles can help you individualize your leadership motivational skills and practices.

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.

Links & Quotes

I co-host a leadership podcast with my good friend of 30+ years Greg Heeres. In an episode that came out last week, we were discussing the importance of friendships for leaders. All of us need friends that are investing in our lives. You may check out the rest of the conversation Greg and I had by clicking here.

Jonathan Woodward writes, “The right use of authority or power can make people glad. In our age, however, power is often immediately viewed with skepticism or outright disdain.” He also talks about our responsibility to the incorrect use of leadership authority: “It’s absolutely necessary to identify, challenge, and rebuke sinful leadership. It ensures that people are cared for and God is honored.” Check out The Power to Bless: Six Dimensions of Good Leadership.

More and more scientists are dissatisfied with the lack of evidence supporting the theory of evolution. ICR reports, “Indiana University Biologist Armin Moczek told The Guardian, ‘We still do not have a good answer. This classic idea of gradual change, one happy accident at a time, has so far fallen flat.’”

The churches in my hometown of Cedar Springs, MI, have partnered together to make sure students who are food insecure on the weekend are supplied with nutritious food to carry them through the weekend. If you would like to know more, or if you would like to help us, please check out the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association website.

“Because we love something else other than this world, we love even this world better than those who know no other.” —C.S. Lewis

This is one of the best interviews I have done. I so enjoyed this! And the good news is this is only part 1. We had such a good conversation that the hosts asked me to stick around to record another episode with them. Here is the first session…

“Here’s the deal: the better you get, the harder you have to work.” —Albert King, speaking to Stevie Ray Vaughan

Here is a brief clip from a teaching I did for some ministry interns. You can check out more of this by clicking here.

Podcast: Leaders Need Friends

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: 

  • [0:31] Can a leader have friends at work?
  • [1:22] Can a leader mix work friendship and personal relationships?
  • [2:25] You can’t be friends with everyone.
  • [3:21] How many true friends can you maintain?
  • [4:47] Bringing someone into your confidence can be a challenge.
  • [6:01] Tell people their story, not someone else’s.
  • [7:45] Greg talks about getting naked with your team.
  • [8:58] I explain why you need a Paul and a Barnabas in your life.
  • [10:01] Leaders need play time to recharge and refresh.
  • [11:08] I make the case for “sabbathing” to be a verb in my book Shepherd Leadership.
  • [11:55] We discuss being intentional about how you spend your time.
  • [14:31] I describe the qualities I look for in a strong leadership friend.
  • [16:45] We discuss how a “yes man” isn’t a true friend.
  • [18:12] Leaders need to be careful not to end up on an island.
  • [21:52] How do you navigate friendships through organizational groups and silos?
  • [23:20] I shares a humorous note Greg left me to illustrate the friendship tradeoff.
  • [24:22] Greg says you need a trusted friend to help you monitor your energy level.
  • [25:30] I say it’s important to thank friends for paying attention to you.
  • [26:14] We use Jesus’ relationships with His disciples to model their own friendships.
  • [27:40] We would love to be your leadership friend in our coaching huddles.

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.

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.

Who’s Pushing Your Buttons? (book review)

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

Ever since the Boundaries book by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend came to my attention, I have always tried to get my hands on anything these psychologists write. The most recent read for me is John Townsend’s Who’s Pushing Your Buttons? 

We all have experienced button pushers in our life—those folks who seem to always know how to get us riled up. Maybe you even have a button pusher or two in your life right now. Dr. Townsend’s book is not to help us avoid these people, nor even to navigate around them, but to get to a place where our relationship with these folks can become productive and healthy. 

The book begins with an inside look at what makes button pushers button pushers. In order words, there is more below the surface than we can see, and we have to begin to understand more if we are ever going to move forward. Dr. Townsend also holds up a mirror to his readers to help us realize if our button pushers are pushing our buttons because we pushed theirs first. 

Next, Dr. Townsend helps us change our paradigm toward our button pushers. It’s likely that you have already tried to deal with this relationship. The results may have been mixed or they may have been wholly unsuccessful. Dr. Townsend wants to help us move beyond the past to get a clearer vision of what could be. 

The bulk of this book is comprised of seven resources to which we all have access, and which can help us be successful in our button-pushing relationships. This is not wishful thinking, but it is the firm belief of Dr. Townsend that God can help you employ these resources to truly turn a difficult relationship into a productive relationship. 

This book is filled with enough practical insights, actual stories from Dr. Townsend’s counseling practice, and biblical principles to fortify your prayer life and personal involvement that can lead to newfound success in these difficult relationships. 

For all of us who live or work with people who push our buttons, Who’s Pushing Your Buttons? is a wonderful resource. 

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

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