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One of the best things I’ve read in regards to being a minister. (or person really.)

“Just look for a moment at our daily routine. In general we are a very busy people. We have many meetings to attend, many visits to make, many services to lead. Our calendars are filled with appointments, our days and weeks filled with engagements, and our years filled with plans and projects. There is seldom a period in which we do not know what to do, and we move through life in such a distracted way that we do not even take the time and rest to wonder if any of the things we think, say, or do are worth thinking, saying, or doing.”

– Henri J.M. Nouwen, “The Way of the Heart”

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Books/Currently Reading Journal Reading List This

Two Great Books I Read Over Christmas


I took some time off over Christmas to do nothing but unplug, hangout with my family, and not think about anything.

I also read two amazing books. (Seriously, these are great.)

“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight
 This is the story of Nike from its first day to the day it went public in the 80’s, written by the founder Phil Knight.
 I love books like this because it reminds me that big companies like Nike weren’t instant successes. We see the big company but miss the years of hard work, doubt, failure and in some cases dumb luck that lead to breakthroughs.
 Something I did not expect from this book was how honest Phil Knight was on how empty and frustrating parts of his success has been, and what he lost along the way. (His oldest son died in a diving accident and he is really open about how he dealt with it.) I really loved this book.

“Stuff Matters” by Mark Miodownik
 Everything we use and rely on is made of something, and that something is made of something else. The screen you are reading right now is made of glass or crystal and that glass or crystal is made of other elements that is made of a combination of other elements (and so on and so on). The author, Mark Miodownik, is a material scientist and is able to explain what “stuff” like glass, paper, or concrete is made of in a very scientific yet simple way that anyone can understand and be completely fascinated by.

I literally read this book in a couple hours. It was that interesting and understandable.

So, there you go. Add these books to your 2017 reading list. (You have already started writing your reading list right?)


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

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Books/Currently Reading Journal Reading List This

My Favorite Books from 2016

Last year I listed my top 5 books as well as 8 that almost made top 5. (Check out 2015’s list here)

This year I am going to list my top 5 books of 2016, these are the books that I read and re-read that made the greatest impact on how I live and think, plus 12 other books that I had a hard time not adding to the top 5.

The “Honorable Mention” list are a few other books I enjoyed from the books I completed in 2016. (I don’t finish every book I start, if I get bored or I lose interest I don’t waste my time in finishing.)

All of these books are really amazing. Just buy them all.

Top 5 Books of 2016:

1) “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown
 2) “The Way of the Heart” by Henri J.M. Nouwen
 3) “American Icon” by Bryce G. Hoffman
 4) “Humility” by Andew Murray
 5) “Reclaiming Conversation” by Sherry Turkle

“Originals” by Adam Grant
 “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson
 “Adventures in Prayer” by Mary Jo Pierce
 “Deep Work” by Cal Newport
 “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg *Re-read from 2015 (Probably should be top 5 since it’s the second year I’ve listed it.)
 “Sprint” by Jake Knapp
 “Finding Eve” by Rita Springer
 “The Wisdom of the Desert” by Thomas Merton
 “The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Church Monks” by Benedicta Ward
 “Sacred Listening” by James L. Wakefield
 “Prayer Primer” by Thomas Dubai
 “The New York City Noon Prayer Meeting” by Talbot W. Chambers

Honorable Mention:

“Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday
 “Poets and Saints” by Jamie George
 “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” by Benjamin Franklin
 “The Leader Who Had No Title” by Robin Sherma
 “The Lives of the Desert Fathers” by Norman Russell


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

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The Christmas Story

I love this video and the perspective it gives us on Christmas.

Hearing the Christmas story my whole life, I tend to picture Mary and Joseph walking through the streets of Bethlehem with a saintly glow while people around them move aside in awe and wonder. But the reality is, they were two scared teenagers in an unfamiliar city with nothing but a promise from God to hold onto.

I wonder if this was happening today, how would I react? Would I stop and offer them help? Would I welcome them into my home and give up my bed to them? Or would I look down on them, assuming they were two kids who made some bad choices and walk away?

So many times we are looking for God only in the spectacular or miraculous and we actually miss the supernatural. We miss what God is doing around us and the opportunities He has put in front of us because they may seem small or insignificant.

I firmly believe that where it appears God is moving the least, He is actually doing the most!

The birth of Christ was an amazing day that signaled a new hope for the World, but it was not the end of the story. It was the beginning of an incredible plan God has for this World, a plan that is still moving forward, a plan that you and I have a key role to fill. You and I are the instruments the Lord has chosen to spread the truth and love behind the Christmas story. We have been chosen to take part in radically changing the world.

My prayer this Christmas season is that I would walk with open spiritual eyes, seeing the hand of God in everything around me. That I would move through this world with an open heart, ready to partner with The Lord to bring life, hope and love to the people I come in contact with.


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

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Journal This

Ministry Advice to a Young Leader

Earlier today while doing a live Periscope Q&A for my church with another one of our Pastors, we were asked what advice we would give to young leaders starting out in ministry. The video cut off right before we answered the question, so I thought I would share my answer here. (Hopefully, the person who asked the question will see this answer.)

In short, my answer is this: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

When I was starting out in ministry I took myself WAY too seriously. I thought Pastors were supposed to be serious, firm, and stoic. The COMPLETE OPPOSITE of my personality.

I like to have fun. I’m a goof-off, a smart aleck and I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth so many times I can tell you the brand of shoes you are wearing by the taste. That’s who I am. That’s who God made me to be. (Though, I am getting better about the foot in mouth thing. Sort of.)

I take the CALL OF GOD on my life VERY SERIOUSLY. I take my position as a Pastor VERY SERIOUSLY. I just try not to take myself too seriously.

I believe that one of the greatest things a Pastor can do to spread the Gospel is lighten up and have some fun.

The Gospel is literally translated “Good News”, and it is our responsibility to share that “Good News” with everyone we come in contact with. How can we effectively share the Good News of the Gospel, if when we show up, it’s BAD NEWS to everyone around us.

*This applies to all Christians as well.

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Journal This

Confidence, Arrogance and Humility

You can be confident and arrogant. You can be confident and humble. You cannot be arrogant and humble.

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On Working on a Team

One of the hardest but most important parts of working on a team, is letting go of the need to be right… and in some cases, heard.

Pride must be shelved.

A healthy team is made up of individuals who trust one another, and understand that it does not matter who has the last word, or whose idea ultimately becomes the team’s idea. What matters is the whole team working together towards the greatest result.

Unity rules.

Even if the team results in failure. Failure together can be just as powerful as succeeding alone.

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Journal This

I’m Tired of Being a Leader

When I was younger, just starting out in ministry, I desired to be a great leader. I wanted to command people, lead them into “battle”, and be respected by others for my wisdom and skill.

Leadership became something to attain. Something that positioned me over other people. It drove me to be in charge, to pursue what I thought was right even at the expense of what others wanted or needed. It lead me to become dismissive, cold in my communication, and ultimately alone in what I felt God was calling me to do.

In short, my definition of leadership was unhealthy. It fed my pride and I became a very selfish, very lonely “leader”.

Now, I’m a little older, hopefully a little wiser, and I’m much more interested in being the best team mate, the best servant I can be.

Jesus said it best in Luke 22:24-27:

Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”

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Journal This

Choosing the Long Drive

I can get from my house to my office in about fifteen minutes. I can get back home in a little over twenty depending on the traffic. But every so often I take the long way home.

The long way is full of one lane roads, stop lights, slow drivers and low-speed limits. If I hit most of the green lights I can make it home in around forty to forty-five minutes.

So why would I choose the long, seemingly inconvenient way home?

Because my wife and kids deserve to have me fully present when I get home. They don’t need to compete with the day’s frustrations, stress, unanswered questions and unfinished to-do lists.

They deserve to have all of me the second I walk through the door.

The long way has become my “decompression chamber”. It’s my time to process the days events, think about the questions I didn’t ask and plan for the things I didn’t get done. It’s also my time to pray.

I wish I could say that taking the long way home was my idea, but it wasn’t, it was my wife’s. She was the one who told me she would rather me be home late and present than early and gone.

So that’s what I do.

I choose the long way.

I choose to slow down my life for just a little bit, in order to give my family one of the greatest gifts a Husband and Father can give his family…

Himself.

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Journal This

Be Bold, Quit Worrying About What Other People Think

It is a powerful thing to be confident in who God created you to  be. To understand that you were created for a unique purpose. To boldly walk in the knowledge that the only person who can truly define who you are and what you will become is the Lord.

Well meaning people will try to “help” you discover your purpose. They will try to nudge you in a direction you should go… the direction they think you should go.

Don’t.

Be confident in who you are.

Be bold in the gifts and talents God has given you.

Don’t let people tell you who you are or what you were created to do.

Most of us can’t see past our own insecurities enough to adequately discover what the people around us where created for.

We judge each other based on our own abilities, style, opinions and purpose. And if you aren’t like us, we don’t celebrate it, we want you to change.

Don’t listen.

Be yourself.

Pursue what it is that God has called you to do, and do it with all your heart.

Discover your unique purpose.

You have nothing to prove.

Be bold.

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This

On Wisdom

Knowledge and wisdom are not the same.

We journey through life collecting all sorts of little facts. We learn all sorts of lessons. We gather all kinds of experiences. But that is not wisdom, that is just knowledge.

WISDOM comes when we take all the knowledge that we have accumulated, all those lessons we have learned, and APPLY it in a positive way to our lives. Knowledge is just accumulation. Wisdom is the application.

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Journal This

On Wisdom

Knowledge and wisdom are not the same.

We journey through life collecting all sorts of little facts. We learn all sorts of lessons. We gather all kinds of experiences. But that is not wisdom, that is just knowledge.

WISDOM comes when we take all the knowledge that we have accumulated, all those lessons we have learned, and APPLY it in a positive way to our lives. Knowledge is just accumulation. Wisdom is the application.

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A Conversation on Fatherhood in the Middle of Walmart

This morning I’m picking up a few things from the store with my Daughter Dylan in the shopping cart. As I’m grabbing what I need, I’m approached by a young man, hat cocked sideways, Vanilla Ice looking stripes shaved into the side of his head his under his hat, wearing a t-shirt of some hip-hop group I’ve never heard of walks up to me and just starts talking.

This is the actual conversation we had:

Him: “How old is she?”
Me: “Six Months.”
Him: “She’s cute.”
Me: “Thanks man.”
Him: “I got a little girl on the way. My girl’s six months pregnant.”
Me: “Man, that’s great! Congratulations! Little girls are awesome, she’s gonna change your life.”
Him: “I know, It’s crazy. It’s a big deal. Wasn’t really planning on it. Don’t think I’m ready.”
Me: “We’re never really ready. But you’ll be fine. You’ll do a great job.”
Him: “Yeah, I’m just too young though. I’m still a kid.”
Me: “How old are you?”
Him: “Twenty-Three.”
Me: “Nah, You’re not a kid.”
Him: “You know what I mean. I still feel like a kid.”
Me: “You may feel like a kid, but you’re not. You’re a man, and you’re about to be a dad. You know the difference between a man and a kid?”
Him: “What?”
Me: “A man takes responsibility for his actions. He steps up even when he doesn’t feel like it. You seem like the kind of guy who’s gonna step up. I can tell. You’re gonna be a good Dad.”
Him: “I just don’t know what to do.”
Me: “Man, I’ve got three kids and I still don’t know what to do!”
Him: “For real!?!”
Me: “Seriously! I’m still figuring it out. But you don’t really have to
know a lot. Ninety percent of being a Dad is just being there. The worst thing you could do is nothing.”
Him: “Well, I’m not gonna leave. I’m gonna take care of her.”
Me: “I know you will. But here, take this. (handed him my business card) That’s got my number and email on it. When you do feel like quitting, and you will, we all do at some point, call me.”
Him: “Ok, thanks, I will. (looks at card) You’re a Pastor? (gets an embarrassed look on his face).”
Me: “Yeah, don’t hold it against me. (My daughter starts crying) Alright man, I gotta go. She’s getting crazy. Seriously call me if you need anything.”
Him: “I will.”
Me: “(As I’m walking away) Oh hey, one more thing. Do you have a job?”
Him: “Yeah, kind of.”
Me: “Kind of? You probably need to get a job. Kids are expensive.”
Him: “(Laughing) Yeah that’s what I hear! Thanks!”

I’m not sure how it is I tend to have so many conversations like this in the middle of the most random places. Maybe I just need to open a church in a Walmart.

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You Know We Can See That?

You think it’s a small thing but it’s making a big impact on your life.
Guys, you do know that all your friends on Instagram and Facebook can see every image, video or article you “like”, don’t you?

Maybe you didn’t know that’s how it worked. Maybe you didn’t know that on the same account that we see you post how much you love God, your wife, your kids and your church. The same place where you post your favorite Bible Scriptures, pictures of your bible study notes, the small group lesson you’re about to teach, or how you can’t wait for worship this weekend, we also see every inappropriate picture or video you “like”.

Maybe you didn’t know that, or maybe you do and you just don’t care. But you should care. Because it’s a problem. Because just like the pictures you post are a window into your life, this content that you are looking at and endorsing with your “likes” is a window into your heart. And maybe you’ve convinced yourself that’s it’s “not a big deal”, “It’s just Instagram, it’s not like I’m looking at porn.”

Well, you’re wrong. It is a big a deal.

Here’s something else you may not know, it’s hurting you. It’s hurting your marriage. It’s hurting your testimony. It’s hurting your ministry. It’s hurting your potential to reach the people around you. It’s hurting your relationship with God. It’s only getting bigger and it’s won’t just go away on it’s own.

I’m not judging you. I’m concerned about you. I’m trying to help you. I’ve seen too many men lose too much, because of something they thought was so little, that became uncontrollable.

So stop right now. Take a minute and listen to the Holy Spirit. Is this for you? That offense or anger you may be feeling right now may not be anger at all, but loving conviction from the Lord.

Repent. Ask the Lord to forgive you. Ask Him to free you. Call your Pastor, a church leader, a mentor or a friend that won’t judge you but walk beside you through this process of freedom. (And if you are married, let them help you talk to your wife)

And then, delete your Instagram or Facebook. It may seem extreme, but I can assure you that what you are gaining far outweighs what you are losing.

Today could be the best day you’ve had in a long time.

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Journal This

The number one reason we shouldn’t be so quick to pass judgment on a leader who has fallen into sin…

We’re all just one bad decision away from being in the exact same spot.