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Serving Broken People Is Beautifully Messy

Broken Guy

“I’m not broken. Get off my Facebook.”

Our church uses a lot of sponsored Facebook posts. Aside from attenders bringing friends, it’s the primary way that people in Northwest Arkansas discover us and check us out on Sunday. One of our posts referenced an upcoming message about brokenness and that comment was left by someone, annoyed that our ad showed up in their newsfeed.

I’m okay with that. I don’t like annoying people so we always apologize and offer a quick instruction for removing us permanently from their content stream. But I have to respectfully disagree with the comment’s author. There are actually two kinds of people in our culture.

  1. Those who are broken and don’t know it or won’t admit it.
  2. Those who are broken and do know it.

There are no unbroken people. Of this fact, Scripture is quite clear. It may help for me to define what brokenness is all about. We’re all broken because of sin. Universally, we’ve walked away from God, which has left a crack in our identity that can only be cured by the blood of the cross via repentance. And almost as universally, most of us are also broken by the sins of others who have hurt us, intentionally or not.

Jesus was pretty clear about brokenness. Just read the beatitudes. Acknowledgement of our brokenness is the only way to get started healing.

Here’s the problem. We don’t like to talk about our brokenness. It’s painful. It’s awkward. It opens us up to judgment and criticism. If we start a conversation about it, things will get… messy.

When we start talking about brokenness and sharing authentically about our struggles, suddenly people start showing up, and they aren’t all the neatly packaged perfect people we’d prefer. And they’ll bring their friends.

And when they show up, they’ll want counseling.

They’ll look for small groups that are safe places.

They’ll expect sermons about real, actual issues with solutions found in the cross and in repentance.

They’ll want to hear from teachers who acknowledge their own imperfections.

Ministry to broken people is messy. And there’s no more beautiful ministry to be involved in! In fact, we leaders, we teachers, we pastors need it way more than we’re willing to admit. It’s the best way to extend the ministry of Jesus through the church as we “bind up the brokenhearted.”

Photo by Thomas Chevalier.

Feeling Guilty? Why We Should Embrace the Gift of Guilt

Cross On the Wall

Regret stinks. It’s an awful place to live. None of us like to feel guilty. So here’s some good news and some bad news about guilt.

The bad news is, you’re guilty. As I am. As everyone is. The Apostle Paul made it pretty explicit, quoting the 53rd Psalm,

As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies. Snake venom drips from their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace. They have no fear of God at all.”

– Romans 3:10-18 NLT

And that’s humanity. That’s all of us, and each of us, caught in our sin and depravity. Guilty.

Here’s the good news. God wants our guilt to take us somewhere. Somewhere redemptive.

One of the Bible’s greatest heroes – King David, who beat Goliath, captured Jerusalem, and led Israel’s flourishing for four decades – was also a guy who committed adultery, conspired to have a man murdered, deceived a nation, and then covered it all up for a year.

When that year ended, David came clean and later wrote about it:

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.

– Psalm 32:1-7 NLT

God’s purpose for guilt is that it leads us to confess and repent, which means to come to fully agree with God about our sin, own it entirely, and to turn away from it to find refuge in his forgiveness and grace. In other words…

Feeling guilty over my sin is a gift from God and should lead to repentance.

The Bible proclaims,

But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.

– 1 John 1:9 CEV

That verse is sweet. It means that if we agree with God about our sin, own it, and confess it honestly, then he will always, every single time, forgive us and release us from our sin’s debt. Every. Single. Time. And furthermore, he cleanses us from it. He removes the impurity of it from our lives.

THAT’s good news!

But here’s a little more bad news. We still carry guilt, even after God has forgiven us. This is what I call “guilt gut.” And it’s not healthy. It’s not right. It’s not necessary. Here’s why…

So those who are believers in Christ Jesus can no longer be condemned. The standards of the Spirit, who gives life through Christ Jesus, have set you free from the standards of sin and death.

– Romans 8:1-2 GW

Read that first sentence again… So those who are believers in Christ Jesus… can… no… longer… be… condemned…

Other people will condemn you.

Satan will whisper accusations and reminders of your past in your ears.

You will struggle with regret.

But from God’s perspective, when you’ve owned your sin before him, confessed it honestly and have turned from it, you are forgiven. Once. And for all. Forever. Never to be condemned again.

He will never bring your sin up again.

He won’t throw it in our face.

He won’t remind you of who you were.

He simply honors his own nature and his powerful promises. The best news of all about guilt is that once we embrace it as a gift and let it lead us to the cross where Jesus died for the guilty… once we have received him as the Leader and Forgiver of our lives, our guilt is gone forever as far as God is concerned. Or to put it another way…

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

– John 8:36 ESV

Are you free from guilt yet? If not, confess your sinfulness to God, believe that Jesus’ death on the cross is the one and only payment God requires for your sin, and receive the gift of his forgiveness and grace.

And once you’ve done that… walk in freedom.

photo credit: Cross via photopin (license)

38 Great Links for Leaders, Readers, and Creatives, February 21, 2015

Scary Lizzard

33 Ways Your Social Media Plan Will Make You More Successful, by Jay Baer

You already know a social media plan can really help you share your content and connect with your audience. In fact, a solid social media plan helps us at CoSchedule get 31.5 times more traffic than if we would just share our content once and forget…

12 Things that Tempt Men to Peruse Porn, by Charles Stone

Last week I began a five-week series on sex and sexuality called, The Bare Facts on Sex: God’s Best for Me. You can view archived videos of the messages at our church’s website here. This week I’m completing my message on What Porn Does to your Brain…

5 Cautions About Emphasizing Leadership Over Followership, by Karl Vaters

Leadership matters. A lot. But sometimes I wonder if we’ve elevated the value of church leadership over a much more important biblical trait – followership. Also known as discipleship.

11 Ways to Repurpose Blog Content Into New Media, by Rebekah Radice

As a blogger, you already know you need to create fresh, relevant content. What you don’t know is how to keep up with the overwhelming demand of content creation.

5 Questions Leaders Should Ask Themselves, by Joseph Lalonde

Leadership is full of questions. Especially questions leaders should ask themselves. These days it seems far too few leaders are asking themselves questions. They’re going with the flow and they’re missing the big picture.

3 Ways to Make Visual Content Shine with Multi-Image Collages, by Donna Moritz

Getting your Visual Content seen is all about standing out on the newsfeed.  It’s about getting your visual content to Shine in order to grab the attention of fans.  In this post, I show you 3 easy and creative ways to use multiple images and collages.

Five Things Every Church Planter Needs, by Derwin L. Gray

Let these sobering words sink deeply into your heart. Don’t read through it too fast; slow down and let it bother you. Nearly one-in-five American adults have no religious affiliation, according to the Pew Research Center.

10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often, by Carey Nieuwhof

It comes up in a surprising number of conversations these days. And no one’s quite sure how to respond to it. The issue? Even committed church attenders are attending church less often.

4 Reasons Every Pastor Needs a Good Pastor Friend, by Ron Edmondson

Every pastor needs at least one good pastor friend. I’m thankful to serve and have served in churches with a good number of staff members I consider not only co-laborers, but friends. It’s a blessing to do ministry with people you actually enjoy bei…

Partners in Preaching, by Jennifer Morrow and Timothy Ross

Other than being preachers, Jennifer Morrow and Timothy Ross don’t seem to have a lot in common. They’re not the same gender. They minister in different contexts. And they live hundreds of miles apart. Yet they’ve formed a long-term, fruitful preach…

How Spirituality Is Changing In the Digital Age, An Interview with David Kinnaman

In the Internet age, data has become increasingly important. Sites like Facebook and Twitter thrive off gathering and distributing specific information about users likes and habits. But sometimes it’s hard to know how data fits into the mission of t…

Sex, Porn, And God’s Design For Purity Of Heart, by Jarrid Wilson

I believe sexual impurity is an epidemic our world is facing. And while the message of The Gospel intended sex to be holy, I cannot help but realize how the world has made it a hobby. To understand the epidemic of sexual impurity, I wanted to share …

10 Very Real Reasons Your Church Isn’t Growing, by Brian K. Dodd

The best three days a senior pastor or executive pastor can spend for their own personal development is the Senior Leaders Track of the Orange Conference.

‘We Are All Messy’: Rosaria Butterfield on Loving Our Gay and Lesbian Friends

Rosaria Butterfield has watched the game from both sides. Or played on both teams. Whatever the metaphor, the atheist-lesbian-professor-turned-Reformed-pastor’s-wife has a unique vantage point—one from which we have much to learn.

My New Book Jesus Swagger Is Now Available, by Jarrid Wilson

Today is the day! I’m so excited to announce the official release of my new book Jesus Swagger. This book is something I have been working on for many years, and I cannot believe the it’s finally.

5 Spiritual Benefits from Journaling (God’s Spiritual Cross-trainer), by Charles Stone

Athletes understand that quality equipment helps them perform at their peak. A baseball player likes a broken-in glove. A basketball player prefers a leather ball. A tennis player wants a well-balanced racket. Although equipment varies from one spor…

100 Leadership Quotes I’m Memorizing by End of 2015, by Paul Sohn

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

The Arc of Company Life – and How to Prolong It, by Mark Leslie

On its 100th birthday in 2011, IBM ran a four-page ad in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and New York Times. It said: “Nearly all the companies our grandparents admired have disappeared. Of the top 25 companies on the Fortune 500 in 1961, …

5 Ways to Speak Grace into Your Kids, by Aaron Earls

Just like their parents, our children are perpetually in need of grace. But not only that, they continually need to be reminded of the existence of grace. Just like their parents. Kids who grow up devoid of grace have difficulty understanding and ac…

7 Keys to Baptizing More People at Your Church, by Rich Birch

We were recently on a leadership team retreat, taking time to reflect on what God is doing at our church. I’m honored to serve at Liquid Church and I count it a privilege to play a small part in what it’s doing.

Key 2015 Twitter Trends Every Marketer Needs, by Heidi Cohen

Do You Still Need Twitter In Your Social Media Strategy? Twitter has been getting a lot of bad press since its earnings report. Is this a sign that you should stop your Twitter marketing? The short answer: No First understand that you must create yo…

Work On Your Marriage, by Kevin A. Thompson

In his book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do About It, Michael Gerber makes a distinction between working “in” your business and working “on” your business.

How to Crush It on Facebook with Videos and Your Smartphone, by Kim Garst

In case you haven’t noticed, video on Facebook is HUGE right now. 2014 brought enormous growth in terms of video uploads and views…in fact, Facebook reports that there are around 1 BILLION video views every single day.

How to Preach on Money, by Joshua Reich

Recently, I preached on money, giving and overall stewardship. I am always amazed at the response from pastor’s and people who attend church when it comes to the topic of money. They both have fears about it and often, they are unfounded.

10 Belief Triggers that Sabotage Your Success, by Marshall Goldsmith

Some of our inner beliefs can trigger failure before it happens. They sabotage change by cancelling its possibility! Discover how to recognize these sabotaging beliefs and learn what you can do about them. I’m sure you’ve met him, or her.

6 Reasons Andy Stanley Connects With His Listeners, by Michael Lukaszewski

Michael Lukaszewski offers six compelling reasons why Andy Stanley is one of the top communicators of our time. Here are six reasons why Andy Stanley is one of the top communicators of our time.

3 Female Ghosts that Haunt the Church, by Jen Wilkin

I will never forget the first time I met my pastor. Our family had been at the church for two years before a meeting with another staff member threw me into his path. The first words out of his mouth were, “Jen Wilkin.

10 Ways Porn Damages your Brain, by Charles Stone

I just finished the message I will bring to our church in two weeks entitled, How Porn Changes your Brain (for the worse). It’s part of a larger series on sex.

Fifty Shades of Shame — The Evolution of Pornography, by Albert Mohler

The release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, timed for Valentine’s Day, is a more important and lamentable event than many Christians may realize.

36 Tried-and-True Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts [Infographic], via HubSpot

5 Ways to Increase the Odds of Your Content Going Viral, by Kimanzi Constable

It’s every entrepreneur’s dream to see their content go viral. With more than 2.5 billion people online everyday, the possibilities are exciting. Despite the staggering opportunity, there are many other entrepreneurs.

You Can Say No to Porn, by John Piper

Not all sexual desire is lust. God made sexual desire. It has its good place and it can, in fact, become an act of worship in the temple of marriage. But lust is sexual desire gone wrong. Here’s my definition: Lust is a sexual desire that dishonors …

How to Drop Your Church’s Secret Menu and Make Your Guests Feel Welcome, by Karl Vaters

Every church has a secret menu. Things we say and do that our regulars take for granted, but can be confusing and frustrating to newcomers. Here’s an example of how frustrating a secret menu can be.

Why in the World Would You Want to Go Multisite?, by Geoff Surratt

When Seacoast Church launched our first offsite campus in April of 2002 we only knew of a handful of churches around the country that were  one church in multiple locations. Many of our friends (most of whom now lead multisite churches) thought we w…

Seven Habits of Optimistic People, by Stephanie Vozza

Optimists aren’t just people who see the glass half full. They also make more money than pessimists and enjoy health benefits such as fewer colds, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and a longer life. That’s something to smile about.

5 Pendulum Swings Almost Every Church Leader Can Relate To, by Carey Nieuwhof

Ever feel like you’re two people? Sometimes when I reflect on who I am, I think I just swing from one end of the emotional spectrum to another.

The Fear of Missing Out, by Brian Gardner

Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you worked, how adeptly you networked, how much you pushed to be at every social event where everyone (who is anyone) would be — you just couldn’t keep up?

Facebook Video vs. YouTube: Maximizing Results in the Evolving Video Landscape, by Brian Honigman

 

Why You Can’t Seem to Manage Your Time

Boba Fett Keeps Me On TrackTime management. Of all the people I know who ever focus on this concept, only a small handful are confident that they’re doing it well. Most of us feel out of control. We feel that our specialty is time mis-management. Why is this so?

I believe it’s because we fail to see the bigger picture. Time management isn’t enough. It’s one small piece. Typically, when we think about managing time, we’re visualizing our to-do list, as if everything on it occupies an equal priority in our lives. When we can’t get it all done, we assume we’ve managed our time poorly.

The problem is, not everything we think we should be doing should actually be done. Some things should actually go undone on purpose. But that’s not the primary reason we can’t manage our time well. The biggest reason we struggle here is that we keep thinking of time in a merely logical way. We see every hour as equal in value to all the rest and there are never enough of them in a week.

There are actually at least four dimensions to managing time well, and we need to understand all four if we’re going to feel any better about how we’re investing the time we have.

Time Management Has a Logical Component

That is to say, managing time is a little bit mathematical. We have 168 hours in a week and 45 to 50 of those should be spent unconscious. With the remaining 115-ish, we have to divide our time among our various priorities such as family, work, friendship, rest and entertainment, etc.

This is the side of time management most of us are familiar with. Doing it well will require a calendar, a to do list, and some basic organization. But that’s not all there is to it.

Time Management Has an Emotional Component

We totally underestimate the weight that emotions have in relationship to our time. I can get more work done if I sacrifice family time, but that drains me emotionally, as it probably should. Every new task I take on brings with it a certain amount of pressure from whomever is expecting us to complete the task.

It isn’t just a question of how much can I do or will this fit into my schedule? It’s also a question of how much emotional pressure comes with this opportunity? If you really want to manage your time better, you’re going to have to become more self-aware of your own emotions as you spend your time doing whatever it is you’ve committed to doing.

[bcoxlike]

For a Christian, Time Management Has a Spiritual Component

Another layer we often overlook is the spiritual element of time management. That is, my relationship with God is affected by how I spend my time. In traditional time management, we might spend the first hour of our day knocking out email, but for a Christian, that first hour (or half hour or however much you and God agree on) is crucial for praying, listening, and journaling about what God is saying to my heart.

Furthermore, as a Christian I want my time to be invested, not just spent. Anyone can spend time, and everyone does. In fact, we often blow through time like a kid with a wad of cash at a toy store. But I want to invest my time into things that matter for the Kingdom’s sake.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians that they should “redeem the time” (5:16), which literally meant to squeeze every drop of usefulness out of every opportunity, knowing that time is limited and the clock God started, he will eventually stop. That doesn’t mean trying to work at an unsustainable pace. It means knowing what matters the most and the longest and investing our time in those things.

Time Management Has a Relational Component

One of the most profound lessons I remember learning was from Dr. B. Gray Allison, who served as President of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. He was speaking to a group of Pastors, of whom I was a part, and said, “Gentlemen, there are only two things on earth that will last forever – the Word of God and the souls of men. Give the rest of your life to these two things.”

To tweak what Dr. Allison was getting across, I would say that the single most important thing I can focus my life, my time, and my energy on would be relationships.

My relationship with God requires time spent in reading, praying, studying, writing, and listening.

My relationship with my wife requires time talking, holding hands, praying together, and enjoying each other.

My relationship with my kids requires time playing, chasing, being caught, and sharing deep truth.

My relationship with my church family requires gathering on the weekend and scattering in small groups during the week, pouring into staff members and other leaders, and studying to share life-impacting truth.

My relationship with myself matters too – not from the selfish perspective of “I need to be happy first…” but rather from the perspective of “I need to know and understand myself.” This requires time for introspection and personal growth.

Time isn’t just mathematical. It’s emotional. It’s spiritual. It’s relational. It needs to be invested, not just spent. And at the end of the day, my time is way more valuable than my money or my talent.

Husbands, Treat Your Wife Like the Treasure She Is

RingsMy wife is a treasure! She’s precious. In addition to all of the many personal qualities about Angie that make her awesome – such as her tender, sweet heart, charming smile and her beauty – there’s this, and it’s from the Bible…

The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.

– Proverbs 18:22 NLT

Here’s a blunt truth… when all a guy can talk or think about is how much of a nag or a burden his wife is, it tells us way more about him and his attitude than about her.

Let me open that up just a bit. Man, you have a choice to make about your own attitude. If you appreciate your wife, care for her, honor her, and choose thoughts about her that are good and positive, you’re going to enjoy God’s favor and marriage will be a rich and satisfying experience for you. But if you stay focused on yourself and your own wants, you’ll create a standard she can never meet.

Dude, if you’re married, she’s a gift. God has been good to you – far better than you deserve, in fact. Therefore…

  • Cherish and value her, like a found treasure.
  • Honor and respect her as a gift from God.
  • Show her off by speaking well of her and refusing to talk about her faults to others.
  • Protect her and provide for her.
  • Desire her, pursue her, and be the first to show your affection for her.
  • Listen to her heart. Then listen some more, before responding.
  • Lead her, not because you get to be the boss, but because she needs and wants you to be in front spiritually.
  • Stare at her and remind yourself how good God has been!

Here’s a tip (from a guy who is still figuring all this out myself): Make your phone’s lock screen a picture of her pretty face smiling back at you.  

All couples go through tough times, and there are times when we need to honestly confront the faults in our spouse, but our view ought to always ultimately be for her good, not for our own.

Remember, you’re responsible to God as a steward over every relationship in your life. And if you’re married, no other relationship is as important as your marriage. Someday, you’ll stand before the Creator God of the entire universe, whose name is Holy, and answer this question: How’d you treat the treasure – my daughter – that I gave you? 

Photo by Alexis Arnold.