Books, Blogs, & Resources for Church Leaders – September 16, 2016


Re-Energize Your Life

pb304801_grandeBy Rick Warren

It doesn’t matter how much you work out or how healthy you may eat, if you’re not feeding and exercising your spirit… you’re going to feel run down and tired – you’ll run out of gas. You’ve got to do more than just take care of your body. You’ve got to energize your spirit! And the best way to do that is with God’s Word! That’s why we’ve put together this new interactive guide called Re-Energize Your Life!

In this first-of-its-kind guide, created from Pastor Rick’s most practical teaching, you will learn everything you need to know to re-energize your life the way God intended. Step by step, you will begin a journey of restoration and renewal. It’s a hands-on guide you take at your own pace. No need to rush! In fact, we encourage you to stop and linger where you want to spend more time. You’ll benefit from biblical wisdom and learn how to apply it to your life in practical ways.

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Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church

Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the ChurchBy Thom Rainer

A timely guide for leaders who yearn for their ministries to make a kingdom difference. Drawing from studies, consultations, and research on over 50,000 churches, Simple Church author Thom Rainer warns that 90 percent of American congregations are losing ground in their communities and offers practical strategies for reversing the trend in Who Moved My Pulpit?. This book is especially helpful for pastors in churches where the surrounding community has changed over recent years.

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The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right

The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made RightBy Lisa Sharon Harper

Racial discord, toxic relationships, political upheaval—we live in a fractured world. How can it be fixed? Journeying from Genesis to Revelation, Harper explores the concept of shalom to show God’s original intent for creation, how brokenness manifests itself in Scripture and society, and how God will bring us to wholeness. Foreword by Walter Brueggemann.

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Watch Your Mouth: Understanding the Power of the Tongue

Watch Your Mouth: Understanding the Power of the TongueBy Tony Evans

Ever had a “tongue lashing”? Whether it’s a harsh comment, verbal explosion, or social media rant, words can destroy. What can we do to tame our tongues? In Watch Your Mouth, Tony Evans encourages you to model God’s character with your mouth, showing you how to use the power of language to bless others as you speak life into the world.

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Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny

By Christine Caine

Shame tends to wrap itself around our hearts like a net that can be hard to untangle. Wounds from childhood such as bullying, abuse, or divorce wreak havoc on our souls. But you can break free from these traps by clinging to God’s truth, dropping the baggage and living your destiny to the fullest. In Unashamed, Christine Caine shares that, in order to change the future, you have to believe that God is bigger than your mistakes, inadequacies, past, and limitations. As one who has been there, she helps women find freedom from believing they are fundamentally flawed and unworthy of acceptance, and prepares them to step into their future, confident, dearly loved, created for a divine purpose, and empowered to be shame-lifters for others.

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Chase the Lion. A New Sermon Series from Mark Batterson

Centering on II Samuel 23, Chase the Lion tells the true story of an ancient warrior named Benaiah who chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day—and then killed it. This FREE sermon series, based on the new book by Mark Batterson, will help your congregation unleash the faith and courage they need to identify, chase, and catch the five-hundred-pound dreams God has given them to reach the world.

  • A FREE sermon bundle based on the highly anticipated sequel to In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.
  • Full series kit to help church leaders put on an amazing series.
  • Promotion and multimedia materials to help you reach more people.
  • And much more!

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Why My Wife Worries About Me

This week, Pastor Pete Wilson’s name is coming up on newsfeeds after he stepped down as Pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville. Pete’s a great guy and handled his resignation in a positive way. He stepped down, primarily because of exhaustion and burnout. He’s tired. He’s broken. He’s not okay. But he is in the good hands of a good Father.

Unfortunately, over the last month or two, dozens – perhaps hundreds of pastors, have stepped down from their positions because of burnout. It’s epidemic. And that’s the point Karl Vaters addresses on his blog, Pivot, this week…

The pain of one pastor is intensified under the unforgiving glare of the spotlight, while the pain of another is ignored. Both hurt equally…

The pain of the megachurch pastor is intensified by failing under the unforgiving glare of the spotlight, while the pain of the other is amplified by failing in anonymity. Forgotten by almost everyone.

Both scenarios are toxic. They break the heart of Jesus, they damage his church, they devastate pastors’ families, they ruin ministries and they make it harder for church members to trust a pastor again – or to trust God again.

It doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way.

We have to let go of the unbiblical expectations that have been placed on pastors’ shoulders. That we’ve placed on our own shoulders.

Pastors were never meant to carry this big a burden. No one person is capable of being the preacher, teacher, vision-caster, CEO, leader, evangelist, soul-winner, fundraiser, marriage counselor, and all-around paragon of virtue that we expect pastors to pull off – many of them while working a full-time job outside the church walls.

But it’s been done this way for so many years, it sometimes feels like a runaway train that can’t be stopped.

It must be stopped.

No one can stop this runaway train but us, pastors.

We have to say no.

For some of us, that means saying no to the unreasonable expectations of our church members, deacon boards and denominational officials. But for all of us it means saying no to our own unbiblical expectations of ourselves. Saying no to a paradigm that we have built and perpetuated around a combination of our own egos and insecurities.

We are not the builders of the church, Jesus is.

We are not capable of working ourselves to the bone emotionally and spiritually without something breaking inside us.

We can’t keep pushing ourselves physically with too little sleep, too much food and too little exercise.

We can’t keep neglecting our spouses and families while we burn the ministry candle at both ends and not expect that everyone – our families, our churches and ourselves – will pay an enormous price for it.

We have to redefine what success in ministry looks like. Because too many good people are being hurt as we pursue our current, unsupportable version of success.

I was there once. My wife has had reason to worry about me in the past. After reading about Pete’s experience and knowing that he’s fourteen years into what we would deem a very successful church planting effort, she thought about that possibility that I could reach the precipice of burnout again, as I have done once before.

I’m in a healthy place at the moment – not because things are going well circumstantially, mind you – but because I’ve been discovering over the last few years the power of God’s grace, the healing found in confession and repentance, the burden-easing blessing of being vulnerable and having friends, and the enormous support that Angie is to me on a daily basis.

But I could be there. If I drift from Jesus… if I fall out of rhythm again… if I fail to tap deeper into the gospel… it could be me. It’s been too many of my friends and of our brothers and sisters serving the flock for God’s glory.

If it’s you, reach out. Talk to your spouse. Talk to a friend, a mentor, a coach, a counselor. There’s never shame in leaning on the support of those who are gifted and sent into our lives to help us bear the burden of our calling.

Read Karl’s Full Article

The Life-Changing Power of Shameless Desperation

Desperation can be a powerful tool for change. Nobody knows this better than Bartimaeus, who received a miraculous healing from Jesus because of his willingness to break social norms, reject passivity, and cry out in shameless desperation.

As Jesus passed through the crowds of Jericho, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus was hanging around, just hanging onto hope. When he heard the commotion of those following Jesus, something inside him began to cry out. The Bible says, “he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'” (Mark 10:47 NLT)

I’m an introvert. I don’t want attention (in spite of the fact that I’m a public speaker). I’d rather just blend in and go unnoticed, hanging out in the corner with a close friend or two. But there are times when keeping a low profile isn’t an option if you want all that God has in store for you.

When I was eighteen, God was calling me to a life of preaching and vocational ministry. While everything in my flesh resisted the thought of standing in front of a crowd of people and attempting to teach the Bible, I was also desperate to grasp the full blessing of God. So, I “surrendered” to ministry. It’s a funny term, isn’t it? Surrendered. But it means, against my own natural inclinations, I was giving up the right to be comfortable to pursue God’s plan instead. I was desperate to find the center of God’s will for my life, which meant stepping out of my shell and up on the stage.

The crowd around Bartimaeus sought to hush him. They shushed him and told him to be quiet so that the more important, deserving people could have their chance to meet Jesus. But Bartimaeus’ sense of desperation overwhelmed his self-protective instincts. “‘Be quiet!’ many of the people yelled at him, but he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!'” (Mark 10:48 NLT)

And Jesus healed him. Throughout the scriptures, God seems to respond to our sense of desperation by drawing near, delighting in our bold requests, and acting on behalf of those who renounce their shame to proclaim their bold faith in his favor and ability.

Really, it’s life-changing to come to the place of absolute desperation when we will settle for nothing less than the healing touch of God upon our lives. When we come to the end of our abilities and must completely rely on God’s willingness to answer our prayer, then we’re ready to see him work in marvelous ways in, around, and through us.

Are you hungry? Are you desperate? It is those who acknowledge their poverty and inability and cry out for mercy who will be able to tell the stories of the miraculous works of God among them.

Science: One More Thing You Don’t Have to Fear

I believe in God. And I believe in science. I believe what the Bible says about creation. And I believe in what science reveals about nature. Good science and good faith are consistent with each other and co-exist peacefully.

In our current cultural conundrum, we seem to be fighting over evolution and climate change the way previous eras witnessed fights over a spherical earth and an earth that orbits the sun. And we’re scared of being wrong – or at least we’re scared of the other people coming across as smarter than we are.

Ken Ham, whose evangelistic zeal I appreciate greatly, has a lot of people convinced that if you give an inch on the possibility of evolution, you’ve compromised your faith and endagered the existence of Christianity in all the earth. Bill Nye, whose command of science certainly impresses me, has a lot of people convinced that if you teach your kids about creation, you’re going to raise brainless, religious zealots. Both men and their movements are fueling unnecessary tension.

Again, this isn’t a post arguing for or against evolutionary science. Rather, it’s a post encouraging us to drop our fear. If we’re not careful, we’ll hang on tightly to error to avoid the risk of being ostracized by one side or another.

I greatly appreciated Jesse Carey’s recent article on Relevant Magazine’s blog about this. He writes,

Science, by its very definition, is based on what we can observe and what we can predict based on those observations. It’s rooted in the notion that scientific truths are provable. And the scientific method is a great way to learn about the natural world and universe. We know what science says is true, because we observed it being true. And, based on those truths, we can make predictions about how truths will repeat themselves and create theories about how they have in the past.

Religion, on the other hand, is concerned with a kind of truth that is rooted in what is unseen. Our salvation—our ability to commune with God and be in His presence—is predicated on faith. And, by it’s very nature, faith requires us to put trust in something that isn’t provable. God has chosen to remain hidden. We can’t see Him. We can’t measure Him. And, as He makes clear throughout the Bible, we can’t predict what He’s going to do. Instead, we are asked to put our faith and trust in Him no matter what happens.

You don’t have to be convinced about evolution. But you also don’t have to be threatened by it or scared of it. I especially appreciated the way Carey closed with this challenge to Christians…

We’re called to show that God exists not by proving he’s real through science, but through displaying a love that reflects His goodness. We’re called not just to “defend” truth, but we’re called to literally embody it. And we are the Body of Christ not by refuting lab results or theories that challenge our understanding of scripture, but by displaying the character and nature of Christ.

I’m not saying these issues don’t matter. I’m simply saying that the tension isn’t a threat to any faith that is real faith. We can wrestle and struggle to figure out how God brought us to our current place in history, but we can also walk with full confidence that his grand story makes sense, that his word is both trustworthy and authoritative, and that it was indeed God who crafted us in his own image.

There is absolutely nothing that science can demonstrate that threatens thes core tenets of our faith. Science – even evolutionary science – can be added to the very long list of things that cannot and do not undermine our faith in Jesus. In fact, once we approach science on friendly terms, we might just become fascinated all the more with the vastness and complexity of the universe God created.