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What all of our ministries really need
“We’ve got a lot of ministries going on in my church. Preaching, worship team, children’s ministry, small group ministry, men’s ministry, women’s ministry, sound ministry, projection ministry, and, perhaps most importantly, the coffee ministry…”

20,000 Tweets
What’s the point of tweeting 20,000 times? Timmy Brister gives us five of them.

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament
Christianity Today interviews Nancy Guthrie on her latest Old Testament Bible Study book.

Ligon Duncan on Lloyd-Jones
If this challenging and edifying summary doesn’t make you buy Preaching & Preachers, you probably shouldn’t be preaching.

The Window Seat
I’m with Greg here. I still ask for the window seat. I still look out the window. And I still get a worshipful thrill every time we take off. But as Greg goes on to say: “As amazing as sitting in a chair 35,000 feet in the sky with a peripheral view of the planet seems to be, there is something else that stuns me as I gaze out the window: God has used the story of a severely disabled, non-verbal, autistic boy to reach so many different people with the good news of His hope, that I have to fly on an airplane to go see all of them.”

Children’s Bible Reading Plan (66)

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

The first 6 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.

A Divine Invitation to Pastoral Rest

Pastor Greg Lubbers, a graduate of Puritan Reformed Seminary, preached a wonderful Chapel message for us yesterday on a theme that has become very dear to my own heart. I’d love for every over-worked Pastor to hear and obey this precious and gracious invitation.

Just the day before listening to this, my wife pointed me to a passage in Anthony Selvaggio’s excellent book, A Proverbs Driven Life. He argues that the sins of sloth and workaholism are very similar sins, both resulting from pride, self-centeredness, and idolatry.

Today, I believe Christians are actually more likely to become workaholics than they are sluggards, simply because the idolatry of workaholism is more socially respectable. In fact, it is so widely praised that many Christians don’t even consider it a sin! As a pastor, I certainly became a workaholic . . . and my idolatry won me praise! People often commended me for my ability to multi-task and get things done. I often allowed the boundaries between work and rest to be blurred. There were so many “good things” to do with my time: preach, teach, counsel, discipline, go to the soccer games and plays of the children in my congregation, teach at seminary, teach at college, speak at conferences and write books. In serving “24/7,” I was trying to build God’s house without his help by shouldering all the responsibilities for his church myself.

In the final analysis, we can stop working and rest because God is sovereign. He is in control, not us. If we are not pursuing his priorities—which include rest as well as a broad range of responsibilities—our efforts will ultimately be futile, no matter how hard we work. But as we embrace a balanced life that includes work, rest, and proper attention to all our responsibilities, he will provide all we need to accomplish his will.

It’s extremely liberating to recognize that God gives us enough time to finish everything to which he has actually called us. Here are some of those things: devotional time with God; relationships and service in your  family, church, and community; and matters of stewardship over your material goods. If any of these areas are suffering because of the amount of time you spend doing other things, take a close look. Perhaps you are becoming—or became long ago—a workaholic, an idolater who has foolishly dethroned God by believing that his ways, so plainly presented in Scripture, are inferior to your own.

Both Sins the Same
The sin of the sluggard is serious, but so is that of the workaholic. In fact, they are very similar sins. The man or woman who builds all of life around work is every bit as proud and self-centered as the sluggard. At either extreme we worship an idol called “Doing it My Way.” Perhaps the Bible spends a lot more time on sluggards and a lot less on anything we would call “workaholism” because the workaholic is really just a variety of sluggard by another name. Both are interested in avoiding responsibilities that don’t interest them. The workaholic simply avoids things by a different technique—crowding them out of his calendar. And where the sluggard is sure to suffer economic loss, the workaholic suffers losses that are often more relational than monetary, but nevertheless real, lasting, and painful.

Work, whatever form it may take, is a core activity of each of our lives, taking up most of our waking moments. What a tragedy to despise it like the sluggard, and live for those times when we are not doing it. to worship it like the workaholic, as we strive to deify ourselves in our little kingdom; a tiny god over a tiny world, as if we had created that world ourselves, or sustain it ourselves, or even understand its true workings.

A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio.

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Adulteress-proof your marriage
Want to know what an adulteress looks like? And how to stop her in her tracks?

Ask better questions
Tim Challies proposes some substitute questions for the all-too-common “How many go to your church?”

Transparency and the violation of privacy
Kim’s right. This is a bit of a rant. But it’s a really good one.

Four steps to better meetings
Involves robbing a bank.

A picture worth 66 books
One of the first books I read when I was converted was Human Nature in its Fourfold State. Not exactly Joel Osteen, but it was exactly what I needed.

The Heart of the Reformation Bible College
This is the only thing that makes me wish I was 18 again.

10 Digital Commandments

Yesterday I posted the Digital Dictionary I compiled after reading Erik Qualman’s Digital Leader. Today I want to give you the ten most important digital commandments that I took away from the book. (The brackets give the Kindle page location). Erik blogs at Socialnomics.

1. Thou shalt repeat every day: “Nothing is confidential.”
Digital footprints are the information we post about ourselves online, while digital shadows are what others upload about us. Collectively, these two items have changed the world forever, and as current or aspiring leaders it is necessary to adapt to this new reality….With the advent of radical and accessible technology, each one of us, for the first time in history, is creating an influential mark forever—we are all mini-digital celebrities and heroes to someone. The fact that what we do today will be recorded for eternity is new to most of us and it can be downright overwhelming (95-101).

Rather than becoming an expert on privacy policies, the best approach is to assume that everything you do digitally will be found out by the person you least want to find out. Taking that one step further, everything that you do offline will be digitally discoverable as well (880-881).

2. Thou shalt not multitask
A study at The British Institute of Psychiatry showed that checking your email while performing another creative task decreases your IQ in the moment by 10 points. This decrease is the equivalent of the effects from not sleeping for 36 hours—and exhibits more than twice the impact of smoking marijuana. In a study of 1,000 of its employees, Basex, an information-technology research firm, found striking data showcasing inefficiency. It was determined that 2.1 hours per day is lost to interruptions. This figure indicates over 26 percent of the average workday is wasted due to multitasking and unwanted interruptions. Jordan Grafman, chief of the cognitive neuroscience section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, explains, “There’s substantial literature on how the brain handles multitasking. And basically, it doesn’t …what’s really going on is a rapid toggling among tasks rather than simultaneous processing”  (250-257).

Multitasking is junk food for the brain (2582). [My favorite quote in the book!]

3. Thou shalt be optimistic
Offline complaints will permeate your digital communication, opening a doorway to a seemingly infinite audience. To be a leader in the changing modern world, it is imperative to break this habit (635-636).

Aross all conversations there is a ratio of 1 to 6 in terms  of encouragement to criticism. So for every one “good job” there are six “why can’t you be more like your brother?” “he doesn’t listen,” “when you do that it gets on my nerves,” “you never,” “they don’t get it,” or “you can’t” type statements. For the next week pay close attention to who in your life is constantly harping. As a baseline, the average person complains 15-30 times per day (639-644).

The best way to improve other people’s lives around you is to ensure that you are happy—your positivity will influence others.  (662-663).

We don’t want a trail littered with complaints and negative comments…If you habitually complain you will either a) have your followers leave you since people like to follow individuals that inspire hope, or b) have a legion of chronic complainers. Neither of these resulting scenarios will benefit you and you will cease being an effective digital leader  (672-677).

4. Thou shalt distinguish between reputation and integrity
Integrity is what you do when no one is watching; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage. Integrity is keeping your word. Integrity is that internal compass and rudder that directs you to where you know you should go when everything around you is pulling you in a different direction. Some people think reputation is the same thing as  integrity, but they are different. Your reputation is the public perception of your integrity. Because it’s other people’s opinions of you, it may or may not be accurate. Others determine your reputation, but only you determine your integrity (Tony Dungy, 853-857).

Integrity does not come in degrees—low, medium, or high. You either have integrity or you do not”  (Tony Dungy, 869-870).

The best way to handle this new digital age in regards to your reputation is to maintain your integrity and treat everyone you engage both online and offline as if he is the last person you might ever to speak to. People will, in return, influence your leadership capabilities and legacy  (1074-1076).

5. Thou shalt simplify your life
Almost everyone has too much to handle in this complex, digital age. The average person receives 41.5 texts per day and sends/receives 141 email messages per day. However, complexity is often caused by us! This situation is great, though, because it means complexity can be easily removed by us as well. If you simplify, you will be able to stand out from the crowd, influence others, and reduce stress  (1203-1206).

6. Thou shalt say “NO”
Embrace the powerful habit of saying or typing “no thanks.” Often our ultimate success is determined by what we decide NOT to do, as much as by what we decide to do. Get in the practice of initially saying no. If an opportunity does not inspire an immediate “I have to do this!” reaction, it will not be missed  (1210-1212)

By saying yes to everyone, you say no to everyone….Trying to help everyone often results in helping no one. We get more and more requests digitally since it’s much easier to ask people for a favor via the safety of a keyboard than looking them eye-to-eye. Hence, the ability to say no, strongly and politely, becomes more and more important in the future. By all means, you should help people; that is really why we are all on this planet. However, we suggest going “long and deep” rather than “fast and vast.” (1253-1288).

Try answering all digital items in two sentences or less (1419).

7. Thou shalt be personal
Personal is powerful. For many of us, the thought of having others know more about our passions and personal lives can be daunting, especially in the digital, online realm. If you become comfortable with this form of sharing, however, it can be powerful for anything you are trying to accomplish…Remember that personal isn’t about revealing that you have a tattoo on your left shoulder, it’s about letting people know about the passions and principles in your life that you stand by. When they know this information about you, personal becomes powerful (1988-1990).

8. Thou shalt have a technology Sabbath
Starting now, pick one day during the week when you will completely unplug from technology. That’s right, no email, mobile phone, texting, tweets, etc. If this seems impossible, then you need this even more! If you can’t go cold turkey, even for a day per week, start slow by selecting one day per month (2736-2738).

9. Thou shalt have a digital mentor
Determine a leader you admire. Spend at least 20 minutes a day watching his or her activity. Pay attention to: Who is he conversing with? What topics does she post and in what tone? Why does he post? When does she post? Where does he post and what tools or sites does he use? The best digital mentor is generally someone that is in your industry or shares similar interests—someone that you find intriguing. Learn from these mentors and practice what they are doing (3231-3240).

10. Thou shalt share information
With the digital revolution, you actually gain more influence as a leader when you share information. Remember that influence has surpassed information in terms of importance because information is cheap and easily accessible (3601-3603).

If you were to take only one thing from this chapter it is simply this: you will attract more followers digitally in two days than you will in two months if you show interest in them versus trying to get them interested in you (3814-3818).

Digital Leader by Erik Qualman.

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How to receive criticism
Dane Ortlund gives us two wrong ways and one right way

Equipping Counselors for your Church
You’ll find lots of helpful free resources here to use along with Bob Kellemen’s Equipping Counselors for your Church. They include: (1) A twenty-five page detailed teaching outline of the entire book; (2) Five PowerPoint presentations that develop and illustrate the teaching outline; (3) All 17 Appendix Documents as free PDF downloads; (4) A sample Class Syllabus (that can easily be re-worked for various settings).

How fun is your workplace? Home?
Gretchen Rubin argues that levity = productivity!

The Amish Project
A young man tries to reclaim his life by disconnecting from the digital universe. (Very appealing)