Because if this is gonna be a Christian nation that DOESN’T help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition—and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.

Because if this is gonna be a Christian nation that DOESN’T help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition—and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.
Stephen Colbert

Here’s My “Personal Classics” Suggested Reading List. What’s Yours?

I’ve decided to take a little detour from the current task of trying to shrink the stack of new books next to my bed and re-visit/re-read the books from my “Personal Classics” list. (You can see my 2011 list of books I’ve just finished or am currently reading here.)

Each of these books made a huge impact on my life. I can actually tell you where I was and what I was going through personally when I read each of these books. That’s the impact they had.

Now, I don’t agree with EVERYTHING said by the authors in some of these and other books they’ve written, but, if we only read or listen to the people we agree 100% with, we will never really grow. I want to be stretched. I want to think things I have never thought about subjects I have never thought about. Even better, I want to hear a new perspective on an old subject that I might think I know everything there is to know and am completely secure in my opinions of that subject.

Most of these books were like that for me. Ground breaking. Mindset breaking. Habit breaking. In some cases, will breaking.

Here’s my list of personal classics:

  • Mere Christianity- C.S. Lewis
  • Maximized Manhood- Edwin Louis Cole
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People- Dale Carnegie
  • The Jesus I Never Knew- Philip Yancey
  • Faith- Phil Pringle
  • How to Experience Revival- Charles G. Finney
  • In The Name of Jesus- Henry J. M. Nouwen
  • A Generous Orthodoxy- Brian McClaren
  • The Wounded Healer- Henry J. M. Nouwen
  • The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit- R.A. Torrey
  • Ever Increasing Faith- Smith Wigglesworth
  • A Tale of Three Kings- Gene Edwards
  • The Master & The Apostle- John Pollock
  • Smith Wigglesworth, A Man Who Walked With God- George Stormont
  • Moving In The Spirit- Phil Pringle

What books have made a major, life changing impact on your life? I would love to check them out. Leave a comment with the book title and author. I really will try to read every book suggested.

If you have an extra copy of the book and want to send it my way you can send it here:

Niles Holsinger
Shady Grove Church
2404 N. Carrier Pkwy
Grand Prairie, TX 75050

-Niles

Two Great Books You Need To Read.

Last month I read two amazing books that I would strongly encourage you to read.

The first was “Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom” by Stovall Weems. This was a great book to start the year off with because it’s also accompanied by a 21 day fasting plan, that you can actually sign up for online and be partnered with literally thousands of other people doing the same fast, reading the same materials and having the same prayer focus as you for that 21 days. Pretty powerful stuff.
Even if you can’t read this at the first of the year and participate in the corporate fast, you still should read this book. It really opened my eyes to some misconceptions I had about fasting, and helped my break out of some serious religious mindsets that I had and didn’t even know it. Reading this book has really lead to a new level in my prayer and fasting life, simply because it’s caused me to approach both differently.

Another book I read was by Mark Batterson called “Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny”. Mark has quickly become my favorite (living) author. I think I’ve read all of his books that are currently in print. Mark has such a great writing style and such an easy delivery system that there is literally something mind bowing and “highlightable” on every page. “Soulprint” walks through the life of King David and the choices he made to walk into his divine destiny and  helps you look at your life to  discover what you were created for. The book also has a study section that would be great for a family or church small group to go through.

There was so much great stuff in both of these books that I don’t have the time or energy to put them all down on this post, though I did out down a few highlights below.

Trust me and go get both of these books.

Here are just a few of my highlights from “Awakening” by Stovall Weems:

“True followers of Jesus are enthusiastic (not weird or obnoxious!) followers.”

“Harshness isn’t holiness, but it is easy to confuse the two”

“When you pray in the name of Jesus, it has the same power as if Jesus were praying Himself. The difference between us and Jesus is that Jesus is always in complete alignment with His Father. This is why periodic seasons of fasting are so important.”

“When the whole focus of our prayers is only our relief and happiness, not the glory of God, we will become easily discouraged when we don’t see a quick answer to our prayers.”

“Fasting is not for God; it’s for us. We are the ones who need to fast—and not to get what we want or to try and get more from God. We need to fast to go full throttle after what God wants so that we can come into full cooperation (or agreement) with His will.”

“When we are too disconnected from God and too connected to the world and its distractions, the result is always unbelief. Instead of walking in faith, we walk in unbelief, and God’s kingdom doesn’t manifest with power.”

“Prayer and fasting should be proactive, not reactive.”

Here are a few highlights from “Soul Print” by Mark Batterson:

“There has never been and never will be anyone else like you. But that isn’t a testament to you. It’s a testament to the God who created you. You are unlike anyone who has ever lived. But that uniqueness isn’t a virtue. It’s a responsibility. Uniqueness is God’s gift to you, and uniqueness is your gift to God. You owe it to yourself to be yourself. But more important, you owe it to the One who designed you and destined you.”

“God is painting a picture of grace on the canvas of your life. God is writing His-story, history with a hyphen, through your life. God is crafting your character through the circumstances of your life. To see yourself as anything other than God’s masterpiece is to devalue and distort your true identity.”

“All of us start out as one-of-a-kind originals, but too many of us end up as carbon copies of someone else.”

“I don’t know what difficulties you’ve endured, but they don’t have to define you if you simply let them refine you. That’s the choice: define or refine. And if you let them refine you, God will actually use those negative experiences to redefine you.”

“Every occupation has its ladder, and if you climb over people to climb the ladder, it’ll be awfully lonely at the top. If you skip rungs, you may get to the top quicker, but you’ll also be much more likely to fall. Without integrity, the ladder has nothing to lean against. Without integrity, you cannot fulfill your destiny, because your integrity is your destiny.”

“Just because something looks like or feels like a God thing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a God thing. Just because it’s endorsed by your closest confidants doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. Just because it seems like a golden opportunity doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity.”

“It’s the little compromises that lead to major problems.”

One Of The Cutest Things That Has Ever Happened To Me While Being Sick… Or Ever.

I woke up Thursday morning at 3am in a cold sweat with every inch of my body in pain. My head hurt, my throat hurt, my skin hurt. I think even the sheets on my bed hurt.
I don’t do sick well. When I get sick, I completely shut down. Needless to say, I hate being sick… (I’m not sure that had to be said, does anyone like being sick?)

However, this time being sick came with a perk. An adorable 4 year old perk.

On Thursday after I picked my daughter Reese up from school, we headed straight home so that I could go back to bed. When we got home, Reese noticed I wasn’t feeling well. She asked me what was wrong and I told her that “Daddy is real sick”. She jumped up, felt my head, yelled “Oh no, it’s hot!”, ran into the kitchen, brought me a wet towel, put it on my head, laid her hand on my chest and them said, “Jesus, please fix my daddy. Amen.” She then gave me a kiss on the head and went on her way playing like it was nothing.

Shes prayed for me every day since.

It’s probably the cutest thing I’ve ever experienced. I think I might be the luckiest man alive.

“You COULD Ignore It. But It Could Also KILL YOU!” Thoughts From a Conversation I Overheard.

I was thinking about a conversation I overheard today while I was at Borders Bookstore. I really wasn’t meaning to eavesdrop on the two ladies sitting next to me, but it was hard not to since they were sitting at the table almost touching mine.

The conversation was between two ladies who seemed to be in there mid to late 40′s. These two women were talking about the divorce one of them was in the middle of. A messy, painful divorce between two people who had been married a little over 25 years. (I’m not sure how long exactly, but she kept using the term “25 year plus marriage.”)

The part about this conversation that got my attention was something the divorcee said to her friend. She said, “We’ve been arguing about this since we were dating. We just can’t take it anymore.”

WHAT!?! REALLY?!? The reason behind this divorce was an issue that went unresolved for over 25 years! Since before they were married!?! It’s almost hard for me to believe. This couple, who I’m sure at one point was madly in love with each other, let something negative in their relationship fester for over 25 years. And it grew to the point of ripping their marriage apart.

I’ve been thinking about this conversation all evening and here’s a few thoughts that I had…

1) Marriage is NOT the answer.
If you’re single, dating or maybe your engaged and planning a wedding please listen to me. If there is a problem in your relationship, an issue that just won’t get resolved, GETTING MARRIED WON’T MAKE THE PROBLEM GO AWAY. Please, before going one step further in your plans or your relationship, you need to have the hard conversation, get everything on the table and work it out. And if you can’t, if you just can’t work it out on your own or you can’t find any Godly person to walk and pray you through it. DON’T GET MARRIED! Period.

2) If you’re already married, QUITTING IS NOT THE ANSWER.
I believe marriage is a covenant. A covenant not just between a husband and wife, but between a Husband, a Wife and God. Your will power to stay and fight, backed by God’s divine power, CAN and WILL restore ANYTHING. Get that thing your dealing with out in the open. Expose it to the Light. Get people around you who will pray for you and with you. FIGHT.

3) Anything left to itself will fester and DIE. YOU CAN’T IGNORE THE PROBLEM!
I could take 100 million dollars and set out to build the greatest house that money can buy. I could buy the best land, used the best material, hired the top architects, most creative landscapers and the most skilled builders, and I could build a spectacular house. But then, if I took that finished house, locked all the doors and windows, didn’t allow anyone to move in, and ignored it for 10, 20 or 50 years, eventually the wood would rot, the landscaping would grow out of control, the paint would peal, the foundation would crack and the house would eventually collapse. True of a house, true of a person and true of a marriage. We can’t allow negative issues to go unresolved in our lives. God is the redeemer. Not just of our lives, but of everything, including your marriage. A problem ignored will not go away, it will grow and overtime it WILL hurt you and possibly destroy you.

These were just a few of the thoughts I had while thinking about this conversation that I heard in the bookstore, and I thought I would share them with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

I’m sad for that couple. I’m praying for them. I hope that God does a miracle in their marriage, and in yours.

Short URL: http://bit.ly/etAMYc

A Simple Word of Encouragement: Be Yourself.

Be yourself. Quit comparing yourself to others. Just STOP. You are UNIQUE. You are RARE. You are SPECIAL. THERE IS, NEVER WAS AND NEVER WILL BE ANYONE LIKE YOU. God has a plan and a purpose for you and for this world. And His plan for this world has a job that NO ONE can do except YOU!

Quit focusing on what others ARE doing and what your NOT doing. Start focusing on what God IS doing.

Relax. Take it easy. Slow down. Wait.

Wait.

If you’ve been struggling with comparing yourself to others, or trusting that God has a plan for you, why don’t you pray this simple prayer right now:

Father, I love you. I only want what you want for me. Guide my every step down the path You have for me. And pour your peace over me as I learn to completely trust in you. Amen.

I’m praying for you.
Niles

“The Crags of the Wild Goats”… A Must Read By Mark Batterson!

I LOVE THIS! I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK…

T-minus three days till Soulprint releases. Here’s an excerpt from a chapter titled The Crags of the Wild Goats. It’s a chapter about epic integrity.

He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, “I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

I Samuel 24:3-4

David and his band of brothers are deep within the crevices of the cave when Saul shows up. Then, in a comedic scene that would have the most catatonic Broadway critic rolling in the aisles, Saul goes into the cave to relieve himself. What he doesn’t know is that David is in the stall next to him!

Now, this is where my seminary training comes in handy. This is where I dive into the original Hebrew language and ask questions like these: What does the word “relieve” really mean? Are we talking number one or number two? What do the text and context suggest? What is the scholarly consensus on the point?

Based on the amount of time spent in the cave, and leaning on personal experience, I think the evidence points to number two. Why? Because David has time to cut off a corner of Saul’s robe! I don’t think he would have time to make that maneuver if we’re talking about number one. And I think this number one vs. number two business has far more spiritual significance than we may realize.

If it had been number one, David would not have had much time to think about what he was going to do. If we’re talking number two, however, his integrity is far more impressive. David had plenty of time to kill Saul. He didn’t just resist a short-fused temptation. He had time to think about it and act on it. It had to feel like an eternity to David as he weighed his options. Do I kill the king and assume the throne that rightfully belongs to me? Or do I risk missing the opportunity of a lifetime and keep living as a fugitive?

The men who are with him certainly perceive it as a divine opportunity, but just because something looks like or feels like a God thing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a God thing. Just because it’s endorsed by your closest confidants doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. Just because it seems like a golden opportunity doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. If you have to lie on a résumé or withhold information during an interview process, then it’s not worth getting the job. If you get the job by compromising your integrity, then you’ll keep compromising your integrity. But if you are straight up right from the get-go, then either your potential employer will respect you for it and hire you because of your integrity or they’ll do you a favor and not hire you.

Read the original post on Mark’s blog, Evotional, here.

Mark Batterson is the Lead Pastor of National Community Church an AMAZING and CREATIVE church in Washington DC. He has also written several books including one of my favorites “Wild Goose Chase”.

I’m Taking a Break From the Interweb. Here’s Why.

I’ve decided, after some encouragement from the Lord to take a break from MOST things web ( I say MOST because there area a few web related areas that because of my day to day responsibilities I can’t ignore). I don’t know how long this break will last, a week, a month, a year, an hour. Who knows. But it is happening, and it’s starting the minute I press publish on this post.

Here are a few of the reasons I will be going on this extended fast from MOST things Web:

1) Because God said so.
This reason itself is enough for me.

2) Distraction-Habit-Addiction-Idol.
In EVERY area of life, in all that we do or participate in, the chain of events of Distraction to Habit to Addiction to Idol can occur. ANYTHING can become an idol. No matter what it is, no matter the intentions that started it, no matter how seemingly innocent or healthy it might be. ANYTHING can become an idol.
Here’s an example of how this could play out.
You create a Facebook or Twitter profile and start connecting with old and new friends. You’re excited and you’re having a good time, but then you start having a hard time getting work done or hitting your deadlines at the office because when you should be working your on Facebook. Right now, it’s only a distraction.
Then you move into the HABIT realm. You wake up, you check Facebook. You get in your office, you check Facebook. Your sitting on your couch watching TV, you check Facebook. You’re out to dinner with friends or family, you check Facebook. It’s become a habit.
Addiction comes in when Twitter of Facebook becomes a tool you use for venting or coping. You forget who might be watching or reading and you begin to post all of your dirty laundry, offenses, complaints, hurts, ect. Facebook/Twitter has become your confidant. Your therapist. You feel better when you “get things off your chest” on the web, for EVERYONE to see. Your moving into the ADDICTION realm.
Now finally, you wake up and the first thing you do in the morning is make a cup of coffee, check your Twitter and Facebook, check out the news, read Perez Hilton, check out ESPN online, and then, if you have time, maybe I’ll read some of the Word of God, maybe pray a little. If I have time. That’s a dangerous place to be. With anything. Anything you put BEFORE God is an Idol. Relationships, food, the Internet, your job.
You might think that I am taking all this a little too seriously. Maybe a little too extreme in my thinking about this. But, there are people every day that are throwing away marriages, losing jobs, falling into other areas of addiction and sin because of not having their guard up when it comes to there relationship with the Web.
One of the most powerful things we can do in life with anything we participate in, is to determine if we have already fallen into this pattern, if we are in it, where are we in it, and what do we need to do to break out of the pattern and get freedom.

3) Quit Talking AT People.
One of my personal priorities for this year is to listen… really listen. Listen to my kids more, my wife more, my friends more and of course my Lord more. Not listening for my turn to talk, but really listening to what others are really saying. And not only listening to what they’re saying, but being sensitive enough to the Holy Spirit to hear what He’s saying about what they’re saying.
One of the things that tools like Twitter tend to promote is talking AT people. One sided conversation. Selfish, world revolves around me kind of talk. Not all the time, but enough that we can become desensitized by it. After awhile we don’t realize that we have become shameless self promoters. Constantly talking about ourselves and wondering about what others are thinking about what I’m saying. (How many followers do I have? Did I get a RT?)

3) Killing the Noise.
There is so much noise coming at us on a daily basis, I’m amazed we get anything done at all. You can’t walk into a store, turn on the TV, drive in your car, or get a cup of coffee without someone trying to put something into your head to buy their product or try the latest thing or YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT THIS!
THERE’S ALWAYS NOISE. Some noise we can’t control. But some we can. I’m choosing to KILL some of the background noise of my life.
When I say KILL the noise, I mean it. There are some things that I am going to KILL that are going to stay dead. (I’ve written about this in the past here if you want to read that.)

So here’s what I won’t be doing:
1) Twitter
2) Facebook
3) Reading Blogs. (I currently read a little over 100 blogs on a daily basis.)
4) “Surfing the Web”
5) I won’t be reading doing my daily Bible study on anything digital. (Putting away the Iphone & Ipad Bible for one of those paper ones. Analogue baby.)
6) I won’t be opening my laptop at home unless everyone in my family is already in bed sleeping, and I have work that can’t wait until the office or work hours.

So… now that I’ve said all that, here are a few things I WILL continue to do:

1) Email.
2) The areas of my job that I’m responsible for that would require me to be on Facebook/Internet. (I oversee our church Facebook page for example.)
3) Blog. I believe that this is part of the ministry that God has called me into, and it is a key area of communication to some of the members of the church and ministries that I work with. I won’t however be posting things on a daily basis, but as the Holy Spirit directs.
4) Receive Direct Messages on Through Twitter. There are some close friends that I have that because of where they live, this is the best way for us to talk. I won’t stop that. These relationships and the encouragement I receive from them is invaluable to my life.
5) Spend the time that I am saving and spend it on my Kids, my wife and my God.

I love the Web. I love social networks like Twitter and Facebook. I think they have created a whole new world of possibilities for churches, organization and families to connect on a deeper level. But like anything, it can become too much. I don’t want anyone to think I’m anti-web cause I’m far from it. I also don’t want anyone to think that I believe everyone is in danger of LOSING THEIR SOUL to Facebook and Twitter. I don’t think that… at all. This is just a personal decision I have made and I thought I would share some of the things I was thinking about that led me to this break.

So… stay tuned for more.

-Niles

FYI: You will see my Twitter/Facebook update when I post a new blog. This is automated and I’m ok with that. I would encourage you during this time, this beginning of the new year, to take a look at the areas of your life that could use some more or maybe some less attention, and pray about if God would have you put some things on pause for a while.

Psalm 34

1 I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.

2 I will boast only in the Lord ;
let all who are helpless take heart.

3 Come, let us tell of the Lord ‘s greatness; let us exalt his name together.

4 I prayed to the Lord , and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.

5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles.

7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

9 Fear the Lord , you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.

10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord.

12 Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?

13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies!

14 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help.

16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth.

17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!

21 Calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished.

22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.