Criticism Sucks: Don’t Listen to the Haters

Criticism sucks

Criticism sucks.

And based on my experience, criticism tends to happen whenever something goes well.  You preach a sermon you love, you get the deal you’v been waiting for, you write a blog post that blows up… and then somebody decides to rail you for it.  Anytime you share your work with the world, you run the risk of being criticized.  As I’ve preached and written many different times and plan to keep doing so, I’ve come to expect that this will inevitably happen to me.

But even when you expect it, it still sucks.

Because even when you get 100 compliments, the 1 complaint is much louder. A while ago after receiving some criticism, I was reminded of an important truth that I often like to share with others.

You are not what you do.

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Comforting Bible Verses for Times of Death

Death

If you are anything like me, tragedy causes you to question everything you say to the people you care about.  You question whether or not to say anything at all.  In order to help myself in these situations, I’ve decided to think about it ahead of time and write down some bible verses that are helpful for a variety of difficult situations in which I want to be careful no to say something stupid.

Now, doing this, remember that even when you are nervous about what to say, your presence speaks loudly.  Be present for the people you love even when you don’t have the words to say.

But given that you are like me and you want to know what places to point people to in these moments, I thought it would be helpful to consider what we can say when someone dies.

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More Than a Piece of Paper

Piece of paper

In our world it is easy to see marriage as nothing more than a piece of paper.  But marriage is about more than a simple, legal binding between two parties.  It is about two people before God, their family, and their friends making a promise.

This isn’t about negotiating a contract.

It’s not about scoring the better end of the deal.  It’s not about making sure your benefits outweigh the costs.  It’s not about making sure that you’ve made out better than the other person.  This is not about being a consumer seeking a good bargain.

Our world loves bargains and business deals.  But marriage is not one of them.

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Ideas Are Cheap. Teams Take Work.

Ideas are cheap

Ideas are cheap.

Anybody can come up with a great idea, but executing that idea is a different endeavor.  There was a season that I spent some time making some iPhone apps; one of the common occurrence during that season was a ridiculous number of people would tell me they had a brilliant app idea but they just needed somebody to help them with the app.

And I was not interested.

Because ideas are a dime a dozen.  Anybody can come up with ideas.  But executing that idea is hard work.

There’s something far more important than the brilliant idea that you wait up all not far.  And that something doesn’t happen randomly when you are on a walk or in the shower, but it happens by hard work with time.

So what’s more important than a great idea?

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What’s your worship style?

Worship styles

Imagine the disciples if they were encountered with a discussion of “worship styles.”  I can only imagine their reaction to somebody suggesting they prefer contemporary worship or traditional worship as being, “Huh?”  Or consider their confusion when worship is a genre of music and not what one does with all of their life.

There are only two styles of worship – true worship and false worship.

“The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24

Despite our best efforts to categorize worship into hundreds of categories, there is really only two.  It’s either the worship of God or the worship of something else.  Contemporary, traditional, contemplative, experiential, post-modern, liturgical, confessional, attractional, missional, contemporvant

The same confusion continues when worship is an adjective to describe something.  Worship music, worship album, worship artist.  Is there a kind of album that is not worship?  After all the person creating the music, album, or art had to be worshipping something.

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I’ve Got 99 Problems, But Karma Ain’t One

99 problems

If karma were true, we’d all be be screwed.  While some of us might not suggest that we actually believe in Karma, there are many of us who do believe it.  Because the idea that you’ll get what you deserve is an appealing way of looking at the world.  People, regardless of their faith background, like to think that if they do something good, something good will happen in return.

But the problem with Karma is that it leaves us with some crappy possibilities.

If karma is true,  everything evil that happens is because of something that we’ve screwed up.

If somebody believes in karma and doesn’t feel like things are going poorly for them, I’d suggest that they have an arrogant view of themselves.  Karma suggests that everybody gets what they deserve.  This means that if somebody is rewarded, they get the credit.  And if somebody is punished, they get the blame.

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A Cheater’s Guide to Preaching Without Notes

Preaching without notes

As a preacher, one of the most valuable tools that I find in preaching, is preaching without notes.  The idea of preaching without notes is one that I’ve loved whenever I’ve seen it done.  But the idea of doing it is quite frightening.  It is extremely nerve-wrecking to consider standing in front of a congregation without your trusty notes to guide you through.

As I’ve begun preaching regularly for our entire congregation, I’ve tried to make it a regular practice do preach without notes.

Why?

If I can’t remember what I’m talking about, how will the congregation be able to remember what I said?  Years ago, I listened to a preacher talking about communication and he suggested that giving a sermon should be like talking about your own family.  What he was suggesting is that a sermon should be something that is so deep within you that it doesn’t feel like your reading from a script or a page of notes.

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Reclaiming the Word Evangelical

Evangelical

The word “evangelical” gets a bad rap.  It’s used to describe political agendas, a style of worship, or perhaps even a backhanded way to call someone a fundamentalist, a legalist, or out-of-touch with our current world.  It’s ironic that a word which is derived from “Gospel” or “Good News” can so easily send people running.  If an “evangelical” is really one who clings to the message of Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, then evangelicals should be a group of people you’d like to be around.

But there’s a reason why Rob Bell when pressed about his identification with the word evangelical once  responded, “If An evangelical is somebody who, when they leave the room, you feel better because you heard the good news [from them], then yes.”  Because this is not what people typically think of when they think of the word evangelical.  And while I certainly don’t agree with Rob on a lot of issues, he accurately perceives that most people don’t think Good News and Evangelicals belong in the same sentence.

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How to Speak the Language of the Culture

Speaking the language

We are missionaries in our world.  We have been sent with the promise of the Gospel to our broken world and are called to go into our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces with the message of the Gospel.  When a missionary enters into a foreign country, he must become a student of that foreign culture.  The missionary must study the culture before he ever enters the country, he must learn their customs, their language, their dress, the people of influence, and even their social behaviors.

In missions what often happens for missionaries is that there is a level of excitement when entering the new culture that they have studied.  But then not long after the initial excitement about the new mission work, reality sets in.

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What are the best leadership books?

Leadership

Leaders are learners.  And learning means listening to teachers, reading books and articles, and practicing new learnings.  As a ministry leader, one of the topics that I love to read about is the subject of leadership.  Because I love to read these types of books and think that other leaders should also be reading, here is a list of my favorite leadership books.  They are in no particular order, just 20 leadership books that came to mind.

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