Monday Musings (7-3-17)

– Happy Monday friends!

– I pray you had a wonderful celebration of the resurrection of Jesus yesterday!

– We certainly did at North River Church.

– I began a new sermon series through the book of Jonah yesterday.

– If you are so inclined, you can listen to the message here.

– Even though it was a holiday weekend we still had a great time of worship and a great response.

– Oftentimes, pastors can get discouraged on holiday weekends because of low church attendance.

– However, vacations are important for both the pastor and his people.

– Everyone needs an opportunity to break away from normal life and rest for a bit.

– Rest is good and rest is godly.

– Ultimately, we find true rest in Jesus.

– Vacation is not a time to rest from Jesus but in Jesus.

– Last week I did a bit of redesign work on my website.

– I cleaned up the look a bit and changed the name of the site.

– I also began reading a new book over the weekend called 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke.

– Wow!

– It is rocking my world.

– Tony’s research and biblical insight is fantastic.

– You need to read this book!

– Tomorrow is July 4th – Happy Independence Day!

– I’m looking forward to a slower day with family and friends.

– We are blessed to live in the USA.

– Enjoy your Monday!

Discovering The Joys Of Audiobooks

I love to read and try to set myself up to read a couple of books each week (as measured by a year-long approach). I typically have 6 or so books going at the same time and read about 10 pages per day in each book. I organize my reading in 6 categories: Personal Growth/Soul, Pastoral Ministry, Theology, Counseling, Fiction/Pleasure, and Christian Biography. Currently my reading list looks like this:

Personal Growth/Soul: The Rare Jewell of Christian Contentment (Jeremiah Burroughs)

Pastoral Ministry: Preaching (Tim Keller)

Theology: The Meaning of Marriage (Tim Keller)

Counseling: The Trellis & The Vine (Colin Marshall & Tony Payne)

Fiction/Pleasure: The Twelfth Imam (Joel Rosenberg)

Christian Biography: D.L. Moody: A Life (Kevin Belmonte)

I have known that audiobooks were available through a variety of sources but had never thought I would enjoy listening to a book. Boy was I wrong!! I decided to try the 30 day free trial at Audible a couple of weeks ago. They offer one free credit that allows you to download one book. You can continue the monthly subscription after the free trial for $14.95/month for 1 credit (1 book) or $22.95/month for 2 credits (2 books).

audibleBeing a bit skeptical, I decided to pick a book that I knew would keep my interest and one that I would probably not buy in hard copy. My choice: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (the founder of Nike). Let me just say I was hooked from the first paragraph. I listened to Shoe Dog while working out and while driving to and from the church office (It is amazing how much of a book I can consume in a 5 minute ride). Our family also took a vacation soon after I downloaded the book and I listened to a good bit of it while we traveled to Virginia. The book was absolutely fascinating and I was blown away by the immense struggles experience in the early years of Nike (originally named Blue Ribbon Shoes). If you are looking for a great read about entrepreneurship and tenacity then read Shoe Dog. Audible’s iPhone app is incredibly user friendly and I have already picked out quite a few books that I want to listen to soon.
librivoxblogfeatureThe only issue I see with the Audible program is that regular priced books are expensive, even with the 30% discount for members. If you are planning to listen to more than 1 book each month it pays to get the $22.95/month plan that gives you 2 credits (2 books). Since I did not want to pay for an additional book I figured I would wait until my next credit drops and then pick one out. But in the meantime I discovered Librivox. This is a website and app that offers free ebooks and audiobooks. Yes you read that right…FREE! There is one major difference between Librivox and Audible though. Librivox only has books that are available in the public domain (not copyright protected). You will not find the latest bestseller on Librivox but you will find many of the classics (you should have read those by now) and other neat works that are worth reading. Currently, I am listening to Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton.

At the moment, I am hoping that I will be able to use both Audible and Librivox to download a couple of books each month. I think 2 books/month will be plenty and the selection both services offer should give a great variety. Truthfully, there are some classics that I need to read and Librivox will push me to read them.

Sorry for the nerdy post about books but they are a huge part of my life and ministry. After all…leaders are readers. If you have never listened to a book take advantage of your free Audible trial or the free books available at Librivox. As always, I would love to hear what you think of audiobooks and which books you are currently reading/listening to!

Cookie Cutter Prayers Miss The Mark (Reading Notes)

“The life that God calls into being in us is enormously various and infinitely complex. Rote responses are not adequate to the dazzling creativity of address that is put to us by God’s word. What is required in us is not that we learn a specific answer to a specific address, but that we acquire facility in a personal language that is accurately responsive to what we hear God say to us out of his word in Scripture and in Christ in our changing situations and various levels of faith. We need a vocabulary and syntax that is sufficiently personal and adequately wide-ranging to answer everything that God says from wherever we happen to hear it within every developing stage of our pilgrimage across the entire spectrum of our lives.” (Eugene Peterson in Working the Angles)

Pastors & Prayer (Reading Notes)

“The inner action of prayer takes precedence over the outer action of proclamation. The implication of this for pastoral work is plain: it begins in prayer. Anything creative, anything powerful, anything biblical, insofar as we are participants in it, originates in prayer. Pastors who imitate the preaching and moral action of the prophets without also imitating the prophets’ deep praying and worship so evident in the Psalms are an embarrassment to the faith and an encumbrance to the church.” (Eugene Peterson in Working the Angles)

Pastor, Watch Yourself! (Reading Notes)

“Pastoral Ministry is holy, sacred work. We are heralds of a divine message. We are ambassadors for Christ. We are stewards of the gospel. We are shepherds who are charged to oversee the block of God, which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). We are servant-leaders and must be examples of Christian integrity and maturity. This requires vigilant self-watch. Paul instructs, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16). You cannot watch over the congregation if you do not know how to watch yourself. If you do not examine yourself and maintain your spiritual devotion to Christ, your ministry will become mechanical. You will go through the motions of ministry while your heart is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (H. B. Charles in On Pastoring)

Monday Musings (2-6-17)

Coffee cup on Black

  • Happy Monday friends!
  • I’m not a huge pro football fan but Super Bowl LI was incredible.
  • I would have preferred for my home state Falcons to win but it was not to be.
  • Tom Brady has ice water running through his veins.
  • He is amazing to watch!
  • I think the funniest thing I saw after the game was a meme that said, “The Falcons won the popular vote. #NotMySuperbowl”
  • We had a wonderful morning at North River Church yesterday.
  • I began working through a series on the book of Nehemiah called “Let’s Build!”
  • If you would like to listen you can do so here.
  • We are moving into an exciting phase in the life of North River Church.
  • I’m ready to see God show up and show off as we follow him in obedience.
  • It will take a lot of prayer and a lot of sacrifice for this dream to become a reality.
  • God has great things in store for our church and I am excited to see his hand at work.
  • I have read some great books over the last month that I thought I would share:
    • A Life Intercepted (Charles Martin)
    • A Change of Heart (Thomas Oden)
    • Water to Wine (Brian Zahnd)
    • Transfer of Power (Vince Flynn)
    • God is the Gospel (John Piper)
    • Survive or Thrive: 6 Relationships Every Pastor Needs (Jimmy Dodd)
  • My goal is to read 52 books this year and so far I am right on schedule.
  • There are few things I enjoy more than reading.
  • It helps me grow as a follower of Jesus and as a leader.
  • Reading fiction books also helps give my mind a break.
  • If you are not a big reader of non-fiction books you should pick one up.
  • If all you read is non-fiction grab a good fiction book and get lost in the story.
  • It’s time to get back after it!

What People Need In A Pastor (Reading Notes)

“People do not need to know that pastors are human just like them. They need to know we are godly. They need to know we are Christlike. They need to know we are humble. They need to know we are faithful. People, both within the church and outside of it, need pastors who are men of God. This has nothing to do with your title or the way you dress of how spiritual you are on the platform. Real pastors do not merely act or talk or look a certain way. They live a certain way; they are a certain way. Of course, pastors are not perfect. We are in need of God’s grace just as much as the people we minister to are. But our high calling demands a firm commitment to live godly lives. As pastors, we should live in such a way that people would not only know we are pastors if we told them. Yet once we tell them, they should not be surprised.” (H. B. Charles, Jr. in On Pastoring)