Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture (A simple review of the book “ReSet”)

Do you find yourself burning out? Is Monday one of the most dreaded days of the week? Are you tired all the time? Are you short-tempered with the people closest to you? Do you find yourself stressed and anxious all the time? Are you drinking too much coffee, just to get through the day?  Those are just some of the questions that David Murray asks in his latest book, “ReSet: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture.”

reset bookDavid does a phenomenal job of writing specifically to Christian pastors about the need to rest and have a take a God-ordained Sabbath. Often, we find that those who preach well about taking a Sabbath break are it’s biggest violators. By outlining the different ways that burnout shows up and how it effects our families and our ministries, David helps the reader to understand that we weren’t designed to do ministry 24/7. Even the most gifted pastor is required to take a break. Mr. Murray even accuses pastors of not trusting in the provision of God and perhaps thinking we are more necessary than we are. By accepting our limits, we are accepting his grace and can be empowered to more effective ministry. 

Reset is full of relevant information about how to disconnect and recharge in a ministry setting. The author has gone out of his way to bring relevant resources and practices to the table and write not only a convicting book, but one with a clear path forward for working the Sabbath day back into the busy routine of being a pastor. 

As one that tends to burn the candle at both ends, I am very thankful for David’s book and the reminder and practical guidelines on how to “ReSet.” I’m not all there yet, but because of David’s faithfulness to write this book, I’m making strides and growing in my ability to reclaim the Sabbath rest in my life. I appreciate David and his pastoral heart as he writes from both experience and conviction to men in the ministry.

This is a great book for anyone in the ministry and a good reminder that those of us who are leaders in the church that it is good for our congregation and good for our soul to take a break and live in the power of grace.

I’m Busy Right Now, But Check Out This Book

crazy busyCrazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung is a fascinating book about reigning in the business of life and focusing on what is most important. This book is a breath of fresh air for those who are looking for a biblical perspective on a busy life. DeYoung does not share a single time management trick in this book, rather he shares a biblical approach to a busy life. He brings a solid pastoral perspective and thus shepherds the reader to focus on the things that really matter rather than an aimless pursuit of being busy.

If the book were to have a weakness I would say that it is the author’s tedious qualifications. The tone and the tenor of the book comes across as almost apologetic at times. Indeed the whole first chapter, which serves more as an introduction than a chapter, is one giant qualification on why and how he wrote the book. Though it’s a bit belaboring to read through his qualifications, I do appreciate the clarity and brevity with which DeYoung writes (the book is 128 pages).

Overall I thought it was a fantastic and much needed book. The content was great and the authors style is engaging and helpful. It’s a short read which means that even the busiest of people can find time to read it along the way.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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5 Benefits of a Blogging Pastor

I was first introduced to the bold new concept of a blogging pastor by the book “The Blogging Church.” Much has transpired since that time, but one thing remains the same: Blogging can be an effective tool for pastors and churches if used wisely. I have a few years of blogging experience under my belt and have enjoyed reading the blogs that my Pastor and others have produced. More recently I took somewhat of a long blogging vacation (more than a year on this blog) and I noticed that I was still constantly referring people to my blog posts (not for vanity sake, but because I thought what I posted would be truly helpful them). I composed this list of five benefits of a blogging pastor not only as a reflection on how I use my blog and other bloggers have influenced me, but also as a reminder to keep blogging for the sake of those I shepherd as well as those whom I have never met.

To Help Your People Facing a Cultural Issue. Our culture is moving and changing at a rapid pace. Often times our folks have had a week at the water cooler to discuss issues before they ever walk in the door on Sunday (and that’s just your regular attendees). Many are struggling to figure out where to embrace and where to challenge culture. It’s easy to be right on an issue, but wrong on an approach. Having a blog can be a great outlet for pastors to address cultural issues from a biblical perspective. Not just being right on the issue, but also seeking to demonstrate a godly approach. I was deeply impressed and somewhat glad when my pastor posted his thoughts on issues pertaining to the Boy Scouts of America this past year. Though I don’t yet have a Boy Scout, I know his insights were helpful to those trying to form an intelligent opinion about the issues at stake.

Your Blog is Available When You Aren’t. Pastors are busy people. Much busier than most people would expect (but that’s another post). The more people that you have a charge over the harder it can be to have a conversation about important topics or issues. Having a blog is like having another preaching post. It helps put you in front of people (even when you can’t be… like at 3AM in the morning). It also provides a great place to send people who are dealing with issue. “I blogged about that last year, check out the article I wrote and then let’s sit down and talk about it over coffee.”

Share Resources with Your Congregation. Having a blog allows you to share resources with your congregation. Whether you are sharing about a good book, blogging on a cultural issue, or just sharing links to resources and posts by other authors, a blog can be a great place to house those referrals. For example if you are speaking on spiritual gifts, you can link to several other articles or spiritual gifts surveys or if you are challenging people to pray for the nations, you can link to several mission sights. Even if you write a blog post quoting from other sights and link to them, you are broadening the horizon of those who follow your blog and giving them resources they might not otherwise have had.

Deal With Issues or Questions that May be Under the Surface. Often times a pastor is aware of issues that lurk in the shadows but may have a difficult time finding the proper forum to address it. A blog allows a pastor to begin a dialogue that can lead to more personal discussion offline. I’ve found that many of my posts dealing with various issues from pornography to leading a family devotional time have allowed folks to talk more freely about issues or concerns they have offline.  Quite often I’ve heard the words, “I saw on your blog the other day…”

To Engage with A Variety of People. One of the neat things that hosting a blog has done for me is to allow me to see things from outside my box. What I mean is that I get the benefit of hearing from atheists, Muslims, people living in different cultures, places, etc. When they are generous enough to leave a comment or question on my blog I am better informed on how they perceive what I write. Opening up the conversation to those who are outside of my worldview not only tests the integrity of my worldview but also provides a unique opportunity to engage in a conversation over issues that are too often just left to insiders.

Obviously this list isn’t exhaustive. What are some of the other benefits of a blogging pastor that you have noticed? If you’re a pastor and have a blog, I’d love to check it out. Please feel free to share a link in the comments (or if your pastor has a pretty great blog, share his blog address in the comments).

Here are some links to the pastor friends that I follow:

Chris Aiken

Gerald Kirby

Unfinished Books, Unframed Pictures, and Eternity

This is a guest post by Jesse Campbell.  He is the Student Pastor at Heritage Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida and is the Director of Percussion at Tate High School.

I am a jumbled mess of the right idea and good intentions. This is probably way too much information, but the counter next to my favorite toilet is piled high with open books; each stacked precariously on another so as to keep my places in each of them simultaneously.

One is the memoirs of a Marine Lieutenant, another a dissertation on quantum physics that I don’t really understand, another John Eldridge’s latest attempt to stretch yet another book out of the same idea that spawned Waking the Dead, another Lee Strobel’s incredible The Case for Christ, and the miserably wrinkled bottom of the stack is a registry guide distributed by Wal-Mart to parents to be. How do they know when you’re about to have a baby and do we really need two Pack & Plays? In our foyer hang sepia tone pictures of complete strangers. A few rooms over, in my garage, sit dusty boxes with ready-to-assemble shelving systems and three surfboard racks that have yet to make it onto the walls. My house has quite a few half-finished projects. So did my mind until recently.

Even highly organized people will embark on a project of some sort, only to be diverted by…well, life. The unfinished projects in my head remained so for similar reasons. I never truly nailed down my stance on the whole Calvinism (the philosophy that God predetermines who will be saved) issue until this year. I carried unanswered questions regarding God’s perspective on the dimension of time through three years of vocational ministry. I couldn’t really answer the tough questions about God’s perspective on man’s prayers until I was married (which is funny because marriage is the kind of thing you pray about A LOT). Now, it’s not as though these questions were unimportant to me. Like my partially assembled garage door opener, I knew they were of great significance to my everyday life. But, the resolution of some tough questions was interrupted by my need to compose the music for Tate Drumline’s show or pull together the final details for our ski trip. This may sound extreme, but this kind of distraction is the work of Satan in our lives. It’s not that these distractions are inherently evil in and of themselves. Rather, it’s that they are not as important as the big questions in our lives.

How did the universe come to exist from absolute void? Where do you stand with God? Is Hell a real place? Do the rebuttals to the theory of evolution hold water? If so, what does that mean for you? Why do bad things happen to good people? With all the religions of the world holding claims to the truth, how do you know which one is true? These are examples of unfinished projects that even brilliant and highly educated people will carry around in their minds for decades.

Work out the unfinished projects because your soul may hang in the balance. Take the time to put these questions on the front burner and have the objectivity to follow the evidence wherever it takes you. Letting them slip into the obscurity that life can bring could be catastrophic. One wrong turn nullifies every turn that follows it and we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. So, go back and investigate as if your eternity in Heaven, Hell, or existential void depended on it because it does. Consider the risk you take by never fully resolving these issues or never giving them a fair chance in your heart. Is adherence to atheism (the belief that nothing spiritual exists) worth the risk of being wrong? Don’t take the easy way out and put a quick fix on a paradigmatic life issue. That’s like duct taping the garage door opener to the ceiling, buying the first set of tires you see, or drilling into a wall and just hoping you hit a stud…not that I’ve done one of those things. I’ve spoken with hundreds of atheists who base their beliefs about God on false assumptions or lies about Christianity. They think that science and Christianity are mutually exclusive and some have never even heard of the field of study called “apologetics.” They cite the writings of biased and bitter “former Christians” who do not personally take the very risk they so vehemently endorse. I’ve spoken with many agnostics who, by their own admission, have simply never taken the time to adequately ponder or investigate God’s existence. With these examples in mind, does my theory about Satan’s sabotage sound a little less crazy? If there is an enemy to God, then isn’t it in his best interest to keep people distracted from the big issues like Jesus and what you truly believe about Him?

I know that, if you were to really and truly put these questions on the front burner and commit to objectively follow the evidence to wherever it takes you even if that means dramatically changing your stance on something, you’d investigate your way to Jesus. Jesus said in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one can come to God except through Him.

It all comes down to what you believe about Jesus. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Would you put aside the less important things in your life to make this Jesus guy and your beliefs pertaining to Him a priority? Heaven is a real place. So is Hell. Jesus loves you and that’s eternally more important and worthy of contemplation than is the plot of the aptly titled show “LOST.”

13 Ways Updating My Facebook Status Has Changed My Life

If you are my facebook friend the odds are that at least once in our online friendship you have seen my status up date read some thing similar to “John 21.  How can I pray for you today?” I update my status everyday with a passage of Scripture I read that morning and a simple question… “How can I pray for you today?”  This simple message goes out via twitter, facebook, and to about 35 friends via text message.  Each day I am blessed to get a response from various friends about how I can pray for them or the people in their lives.  Messages come back in a variety of ways. Sometimes its a simple text,  or a Twitter direct messages,  or a facebook message, or a post on my wall under my status.  I generally get 3-5 prayer requests a day, but have had up to 20 come in, in one day before.  When I started I never thought about how sending out a simple message each morning would change my life.  The following is a list of 13 Ways Updating My Facebook Status Has Changed My Life.


1. It keeps me accountable (If I’m past 9 AM sending a message out several people will send me a text or a message and check in on me.)

2.It helps keep me in the loop on how I can pray for people in a real time way. There have been times that people have sent me back a text, called, or sent a message telling me about something they were going through in the moment that they saw my status update and they needed a friend to pray with them about something.

3. I have been blessed to partner in prayer with people who would not have thought to ask me to pray for or with them.

4. I am blessed when someone texts or messages me a question about the passage I have been reading that morning. I know other people are reading the same passage with me.

5. I have been blessed to have others ask how they can pray for me and my family.

6. I have been blessed to get updates on prayer requests from people I have prayed for. (seeing my daily post has reminded them to update me… Though not all my friends are always this polite).

7. It keeps me connected with people from the places I used to live. I may not still be there or even visit often, but I am still able to pray for God to move in the lives of others and I am blessed an honored to be able to pray for others.

8. It has become a starting place for a few of my friends who weren’t reading their bibles much before start reading with me.

9. I’ve become “that” guy. I’ll see a friend I haven’t seen for a while or someone I met and became friends with on facebook and they’ll yell at me when I see them in real life, “How Can I Pray for You!” And as I begin thinking about how thoughtful they are and start sharing my prayer requests they will yell out, “No! your facebook status!”

10. I get told on a semi-regular basis that the faithfulness of updating my status to the Scripture passage I have been reading and the “how can I Pray for You?” message has inspired others to be more faithful in reading the Scripture. (which if you think I’m faithful, check out my pastor’s blog.  He posts takeaway thoughts from his devotional every morning… check it out at http://www.chrisaikenonline.com)

11. I actually know how to pray for friends and loved ones as I pray throughout the day.

12. People who see me in person feel free to share prayer requests without having to see the invite again, they know I am genuinely interested in talking to God with and for them.

13. I have gotten to know my friends better by carrying their burdens and rejoicing together with them.

Where has the Time Gone?

When I was little Ifreeimages.co.uk photos of objects used to imagine all the free time I would have when I was a grown up and didn’t have homework.  I dreamed of all the places I would go, movies I would watch and fun I would have with all my extra free time.  I thought life would be easier as an adult.  Then came college and I quickly found my self busier than ever and I couldn’t wait to graduate.  Then I graduated and was a full-time student minister at a small church and I couldn’t wait to get married.  Then I got married and couldn’t wait to have kids.  Now I have a kid and one on the way and I remember the days of high school and college when I thought my life was busy. Now school, a half-dozen clubs, a few sports programs and a part-time job look like easy street and I wonder what I did with all my spare time.

I guess I have always had the same 24-hours in a day that every one else has had, it’s just that my responsibilities have multiplied.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  I have a beautiful wife that I love more than words can express.  I love my daughter and love to teach and train her in life.  I enjoy my job (well its really a calling to shepherd students and families).  And I really don’t have a desire to go back to high school or college.  I just remember when life was simpler and my priorities seldom ever came into competition with one another.

You see, it’s not really time that I am worried about.  It is the priories and responsibilities that compete for my time.  I don’t want to drop the ball as a husband, father, or pastor.  Really dropping the ball in any one of these areas can have a damaging effect on the others.  I guess the key is balance in spending the right time in the right area’s of my life so that I know I have given my best to God, my wife, my children and those I am given charge over.

These next few days I will be blogging on time, responsibility, and balance from a my perspective.  I will share some of the tips, insights, struggles and resources I have discovered along the way.  I realize life is a journey and I haven’t arrived yet.  Feel free to comment and share how you use the time, care for your responsibilities, balance your life or resources that you have found helpful.  I look forward to learning as well as sharing.

Grace,

Jonathan

http://www.twitter.com/pastorjonathan