Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Gospel Coalition web site is live!

The Gospel Coalition now has their web site up and running and chock full of great content. There is audio and video of the conference speakers. There are numerous articles to be read. This is a great resource, and one that I'll be adding to my links on my side bar for regular future reference.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Desiring God Ministries Book Sale!

This is just a reminder that June 27-28 Desiring God Ministries is holding a book sale, where ALL BOOKS ARE $5.00!!!

No that is not a misprint. It is possible the guys over at DGM have lost their minds, but I suspect not. They just want to get this fantastic material into as many hands as possible.

The only way to get these resources cheaper is to steal them, and then you have that whole sin thing and your conscious thing going on.

So spread the word!

I'd suggest buying books like these:
Desiring God (read this to understand who John Piper is)
Don't Waste Your Life
Brothers, We Are Not Professionals (especially if you are a pastor!)
What Jesus Demands of the World
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (which I reviewed HERE)
Sex and the Supremacy of Christ (which I reviewed HERE)
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
The Justification of God (heavy read, but worth digging through)
The Supremacy of God in Preaching
Beyond the Bounds (understand the danger of Open Theism)

I have read all of the above books (as well as almost all of Piper's Devotional books) and still have a couple more Piper books to go. I've started Future Grace twice now, but have yet to finish.

Buy these for yourself. Buy them for friends, family members, neighbors, pastors, and strangers. Give them as gifts. Birthdays, anniversaries, job promotions, graduations, baptisms, holidays and bar mitzvahs.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Life Manifesto - by Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson shared his life manifesto on his blog today:

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.
Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream
that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking
questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out
problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and
start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks.
Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find
every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today
is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with
you keep you from worshipping what’s right with God. Burn sinful
bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about
what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who
you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit
holding back. Quit running away.

Chase the lion.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Mark Batterson on Vulnerability

While I was away on vacation (and probably while I was reading his interesting book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day) Pastor Mark Batterson did a podcast with Rick Warren on vulnerability.  Batterson followed that up with a very helpful list on his blog of how pastors can become more vulnerable (in the good way) in their ministry.

from The Batterson Blog - Thoughts on Life and Leadership by Mark Batterson

I did a podcast interview with Rick Warren on Friday. Thought I'd post some thoughts on the topic: "How Vulnerability can make your ministry more effective."

I'll post the link as soon as the interview goes live.

One of my all-time favorite movie scenes is in Tommy Boy where Chris Farley says: "Let me tell you why I suck." A good pastor has a little Chris Farley in them. Did I just say that? One of the things that I loved about Farley, besides the fact that he was ridiculously funny, is that he didn't take himself too seriously! In my experience, people who are more vulnerable are more lovable! I just think that spiritual leaders really struggle in this area. We feel like we have to have this holy persona that is beyond sin. What we really need is the courage to share our failures and foibles!

All of us love a good success story, but pastors need to share their failure stories too. But do it in a redemptive way. Success stories inspire us. But failure stories help us catch our psychological breath. When we hear how someone else has messed up, it helps us feel normal. When I speak at conferences, I often share about our failed church plant attempt before we came to DC. It is amazing how many people come up to me and thank for me sharing that story. When I share a "failure story" it is like people breath a sigh of relief.

Here are 10 Random Thoughts on Vulnerability:

#1 People will only be as vulnerable as their leader!

The leader sets the vulnerability standard. They will only be as open and honest as you are.

#2 Embrace your imperfections!

Part of us wants to hide what's wrong with us. But our imperfections are connection points! I'm always reminding NCCers that I'm a work in progress. And I have a little mantra I repeat as well: as soon as I'm omniscient I'll let you know. I don't have it all figured out. I don't have it all together. And I never will. We each have to deal with our thorns in the flesh!

#3 The happiest and healthiest people laugh at themselves the most!

It might have been Plato who said, "Laughter is the shortest distance between two people." That is so true. I think laughter is one of the purest forms of vulnerability.

#4 The greatest freedom is having nothing to prove!

#5 Cry in public.

Jesus wept. It's the shortest verse in the New Testament. But I think it speaks volumes about Jesus! Real men cry. Last week I shared a story about an NCCer who shared about her experience with human trafficking. I couldn't get through it without crying! And a guy came up to me afterwards and said, "You just gave every guy in this place permission to cry." Crying is a little embarrassing. But it is a form of emotional vulnerability.

#6 The best apologetic is authenticity!

It's not how much you know. It's how real you are!

#7 Quit trying to be a pastor and try to be yourself!

One of my most memorable conversations was with a pastor friend about a year ago. He decided to leave his church. His reason? "I just don't feel like I can be myself." Life is too short to pastor a church where you can't be yourself.

#8 Jesus was holy, but he wasn't holier-than-thou.

#9 Be open to correction!

How you handle criticism will determine how healthy your spirit is. You can't afford to listen to criticism that doesn't pass through the filter of Scripture. But you also can't afford to tune out godly correction. Don't become a self-validating closed-system. Allow people to speak into your life!

#10 Hang out at wells

Part of vulnerability is accessibility. Jesus didn't hang out at synagogues. He hung out at wells. Wells were natural gathering places in ancient culture. Coffeehouses are postmodern wells! That is why we built Ebenezers. It is so easy to get quarantined as a pastor. At the end of the day, vulnerability is all about incarnation!

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Extreme Deal!! Desiring God Ministries Book Sale!

Abraham Piper just announced the following on the Desiring God Blog:

Every book in our store will be $5 on June 27-28,
Wednesday and Thursday next week.

No limits, so spread the word.

(This sale is online only.)

Indeed, spread the word, this is an outstanding opportunity to expand your library with some great resources!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A "Big Idea" opportunity

Join us on Tuesday, June 26 at 10:00 a.m. CST for an online experience where you’ll have the opportunity to interact with the authors of The BIG IDEA, Dave Ferguson, Jon Ferguson and Eric Bramlett. Listen in and log on as they discuss the ‘Genius of the AND’ and discover the benefits of creating The BIG IDEA in your own context. Also, receive a $20 registration discount on the brand NEW BIG IDEA Practicum at Community Christian Church on September 17-18, 2007.

System Requirements

PC-based attendees

Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista

Macintosh®-based attendees

Required: Mac OS® X 10.3.9 (Panther®) or newer

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That's Quotable

Churches typically grow as much as their structure will allow. This
makes sense to contractors and engineers but there is no building code
when it comes to building church staffs. A lot of churches aren’t able
to grow because of self limiting structure.

--From the Access Elevation Blog

Friday, June 08, 2007


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Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Scott Rodgers is the Mesa Campus Pastor for LifeChurch. He writes the following on the Swerve Blog


* Why do we do that?
* How can we do it different?

When was the last time you threw those questions out on the table for discussion? Church is too predictable for me. I’m looking for something remarkable, something memorable; and so are your first time guests. I had a club sandwich at Houston’s the other night and told three people the next day how great it was. Most people love to have a story to tell; a story about their experience. As a church, we need to give people a story to tell.

In addition to what God does by impacting or perhaps changing someone’s life, what are we doing to make a person’s experience memorable, remarkable, worthy of telling someone else about? I used to think of innovating in the church to be all about lights, videos, and gadgetry. Houston’s didn’t have intelligent lighting, just a great club sandwich. In-N-Out burger doesn’t have big video screens, just someone standing in the drive thru personally taking my order during lunch and asking me if I want my burger in a bag or if I am going to eat it on the road. If I am eating on the road, they wrap it half open, ready to be consumed. That’s cool. I tell everyone about In-N-Out because of that.

Innovation isn’t about communicating like Ed Young or Andy Stanley, or Craig Groeschel; innovation starts with the small things. I call these touch points. Identify every place a guest interacts with something or someone else and make it memorable.

* Why do greeters just shake hands?
* Why are church bulletins all about information and getting people to sign up for something?
* Why do we do four songs, a 25 minute talk, and announcements; in that order?

How about one hundred greeters mingling through your parking lot and opening doors, carrying babies, handing out drinks, and passing out stickers to the kids? How about doing our boring announcements on video in a fun way, after the second song when everyone is fully engaged? Oh gosh, we can’t do that; can we? It would hinder the flow of worship. Really? Change it up and get creative.

Identify touch points. Create memorable experiences. Step outside the norm. Do it regularly. That’s innovation. Give your people a story to tell around the water cooler on Monday morning. That’s it from me; I’m heading to In-N-Out to get a half wrapped burger.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

We came, we saw, we GRADUATED!

Wow, what a weekend! It might take me a few days to just catch my breath.

Friday evening I started the weekend off by shopping with my parents for all the food, beverages and plate ware we would need for the whole weekend. We got some really good grub!

Communion Service
Friday evening was our Communion Service in Benson Great Hall. We sang quite a bit, and then got a really solid message from my favorite seminary professor, Dr. Peter Vogt. I had Dr. Vogt for both Hermeneutics as well as Genesis to Ruth (he is primarily an OT department guy). Dr. Vogt managed to tie in hermeneutics, his OT background, his service in the Navy, and his own personality into an engaging message. Unfortunately he was working with only about 25% of his voice as a virus of some sort has been ravaging his body the past week or so. He said that while it might sound bad, it doesn't hurt him to talk, so not to worry about it.

We also received a servant's towel reminding us who we are to be going forward from this day. The professors and seminary staff then paired up and prayed for those of us who were graduating while everyone else completed taking communion. Theology professor Dr. Kyle Roberts and my former classmate and Greek professor Holly Beers both prayed for me.

Dr Leland Eliason, Executive Director and Provost of the Seminary then concluded with a very passionate and emotional message from his heart. I love listening to Dr. Eliason, he is a very gifted communicator.

Following the Communion service, my wife and myself, along with my parents and in-laws all went for dinner at Famous Dave's. Famous Dave's has a bit of history with my family, but this time no major announcements were made. The six of use shared the All-American BBQ Feast -
a full slab of spareribs, a whole chicken, ½ pound of either Texas beef brisket or Georgia chopped pork, coleslaw, Famous Fries, Wilbur Beans, four corn bread muffins and four corn-on-the-cob. We added some extra corn and corn bread muffins and all left completely full.

Saturday morning I had to be back at school bright and early for the practice run for graduation. That went very smoothly, and we were in and out in far less time than I expected. We did get to hear a message from a graduate of the 1957 class of Bethel Seminary (there were 5 men in total honored this weekend for their 50 years of ministry from that class). The list of their accomplishments was remarkable, and their diligence, perseverance, and dedication is and example to us all.

Commencement and Investiture
The 2007 graduating class is the biggest in the history of Bethel Seminary. We had 144 graduates from our main campus, and another 30 or so from Seminary of the East and San Diego. Our Keynote Speaker was Gordon MacDonald, and his message was timely and meaningful. He prefaced his message with the warning that he couldn't remember any of the messages someone else gave at any of his graduations, so he wasn't expecting us to remember much either! What he did talk about was the critical transactions in our lives, and especially in our ministry in helping people step into faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. His message was spot on, and far better than any other at this type of function than I have previously heard.

Following a brief reception on campus, all my friends and family in attendance made their way over to our house for the real part. We BBQ'ed huge burgers and cheddar brats. Had some great fruit salad, potato salad, corn, tons of various beverages, cheese and crackers, and carrot cake. I'm sure there was more food than that (my fridge is still full!) but you get the idea. We ate and conversed for the next 4 hours. It was wonderful to have everybody over and to be able to relax and enjoy their company. Special recognition goes out to my brother Chad who drove up from Sioux Falls, SD. Chad got caught up in the mess created by having 35W shut down South of downtown Minneapolis all weekend. Chad managed to drive up Cedar Ave. from the Airport and found his way to Bethel without a map and only sketchy directions over the phone from me. He even made it on time! After grilling all the meat and hanging out for a few hours, he turned around and drove back to Sioux Falls! That's a great brother.

After everyone left my parents and my wife and I relaxed on our driveway around a campfire eating S'mores and enjoying the only time all weekend it didn't seem to be raining.

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