Never Too Late to Be Found: Treating the Wounds of Hurting People with Grace

Lost and Found

Today’s interview is with Sarah Jakes, a businesswoman, media personality, and author of the new book Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life. This memoir is a captivating look at Jakes’ journey, including her struggles with being a teen mom and the daughter of T.D. Jakes—a high-profile preacher. This honest and vulnerable story is a reminder that God can turn even the deepest pain into his perfection. Download her memoir and call to action, Lost and Found, today!

1. You said your story is “not always pretty.” What prompted you to share the life lessons you have experienced in Lost and Found?

I never set out to write a book. When I first started writing my blog, I started it as a source of healing for me. I started it as a place to release the pain I was going through dealing with infidelity and still fighting for my marriage. I started the blog as a place I could just tell my truth, and the more I blogged, the more people responded. I then realized that by being transparent and sharing my struggles, I was able to inspire other people, and together, we all started to dream again.

2. What have been some of the detours in your life?

I have faced a few detours in my life: having my son at age 14, getting married and divorced young, and even some of the choices I’ve made. But what I learned through it all is that the detours may make things more difficult, but they don’t make things impossible. I thought I couldn’t achieve success in my life because of past mistakes. I thought I had to create a perfect picture to present to God in order for him to use me, but what I found out what exactly opposite. God is using my life as an example to others that no matter how “lost” they may be, they can still be “found.”

3. In what ways do you mean you were “lost?”

I spent many years focusing on who I didn’t want to become. I knew because of the statistics that come with being a teen mother, I would have to be determined if I wanted to break the mold. I focused so intently on who I didn’t want to become that it became the only thing I could see. Unintentionally, I became everything I hoped I wouldn’t be. The most difficult thing about being lost is knowing you should have been somewhere else. I started grieving that I could never be that person, then one day decided I still had time to find my way.

4. How did living in the public eye affect you during these challenging times?

It was certainly challenging to go through some of the things I went through under the spotlight of the public eye. My father was continually rising. He was one of the most influential pastors in the country, so it certainly made it more difficult to be his daughter, 14 and pregnant. I still remember the murmurs of the people in the church and the shame I felt as they would talk about me as they passed by. It was even more challenging to go through a divorce with the public spotlight once again on my personal life. One thing I am really hoping people get from this book is that we need to treat the wounds of hurting people with grace, rather than infecting them with judgment.

5. You mention that the birth of your son “saved” you. Will you please explain that?

I loved my son more than I loved myself. His life grounded me. No matter how tempting becoming complacent seemed, I couldn’t deny that even if I didn’t feel like I deserved more out of life, I knew that he did. He and his sister, Makenzie, constantly remind me that I can’t stay lost. I want them to have the best possible start in life and I know that begins with loving myself and God, who gave them to me, fully.

6. How did you become found again?

I had to humble myself enough to admit I was lost. We get forced into playing this game where we all pretend to have it together, but suffer silently. I opened up little by little to the people who were in my life when I once felt the most whole. It was their reminder of who I used to be that made me miss myself. I missed laughing from the heart and smiling from the soul. I retraced my steps back to when I felt the most peace and updated it to fit my new reality.

7. You write, “No matter how lost you feel, it’s not too late.” Will you please explain what that means to you?

It is never too late to be “found.” As long as you still have life, you have another chance to get it together, to change your life, and to be found. Too often, we focus on our deficiencies, what we don’t have, or what we lack! It is time for us to stop focusing on what we don’t have and start focusing on what we DO have. We also allow people to put boundaries, expectations and definitions on us. I believe that we can revolutionize the way we do things, if we revolutionize the way we think. Who says a divorcée can’t be an author? Who says a teen mom can’t be successful? I say I can, and I say I will!

8. In the foreword, your father writes that you have become “a tool fit for the Master’s use.” In what ways do you partner with your parents in ministry?

I oversee the women’s ministry at The Potter’s House of Dallas, which is a church led by my parents, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Mrs. Serita Jakes. I also serve as the senior editor of eMotions, our digital magazine. I occasionally serve as a television host on The Potter’s Touch and a speaker at our conferences. It is amazing how God works because I also wanted to work with and support my parents, but I didn’t think I could because of my past mistakes.

9. How is Lost and Found more than a memoir, and who is it for?

Lost and Found is more than a book—it’s a call to action. It’s an opportunity for us to be more aware of the ways we engage one another, or more aware of the ways we treat each other. It’s an opportunity for us to be transparent and bare our scars, but it’s also an opportunity for others to handle them with care. Lost and Found is an opportunity for people to learn that no matter how bleak the situation is, they still have another opportunity to get it right.

Lost and Found is for everyone. It’s for teen moms who are trying to navigate motherhood and carve out a future for themselves and their children; it’s for men and women who are trying to redefine their lives; it’s for people who have failed at something in life and need the courage to try again. Lost and Found is for anyone who has ever felt lost at some point in their life. In a nutshell, it’s for everyone, and my hope is that it will inspire everyone who reads it to truly start living, celebrating, and enjoying their lives.

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Learn to dream, laugh, and hope again with Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life, Sarah Jakes’ inspirational new book. Get her story today!

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Recovering Redemption: Revealing Our Weaknesses As a Church

Matt Chandler

Today’s interview is with Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church, which has grown from just 160 people to over 11,000. Chandler is also president of Acts 29, a worldwide church-planting organization, and has authored several books, including The Explicit Gospel and Creature of the Word. His latest book, Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change, is written with a pastor’s intensity and a counselor’s discerning insight, and it takes you deep into Scripture as you evaluate your personal weaknesses, anxieties, and points of shame. With this book, Chandler will show you how to find confidence, contentedness, and freedom through Jesus Christ.

1. What inspired you to write Recovering Redemption?

We wrote the book Recovering Redemption because of what we saw in the lives of people here at The Village Church, and in my travels and interactions with others: there seems to be a disjoint between people’s external struggles and their ability to track that back to heart-level issues. Recovering Redemption is about creating a biblical pathway to help people see that the issues they struggle with externally almost always have heart-level roots that need to be addressed. We’ve learned that people tend to spend all their energy and strength working on external issues, when in reality it’s the internal issues getting solved through the person and work of Jesus Christ that leads to victory.

2. How has The Village Church benefited from the lessons taught in Recovering Redemption?

When I first got to The Village Church, I had in mind a specific type of church I wanted us to be. I come from a background where there was some abuse and some neglect, so I always found a lot of Christian circles unsettling. It seemed like the church lacked an ability to be honest about weakness, and it wasn’t a safe place to be honest about struggle. So I really wanted to, as best I could by the power of the Holy Spirit, show from the Word of God that the people of God should be open and honest in their struggles.

A lot of times, our weaknesses are part of how God chisels and moves and grows our confidence in him. When I started preaching on the confession of sin and the safety found in confession, I realized that the amount of hurt, fear, anxiety, shame, and addiction in our church was overwhelming. We set out to create a discipleship program specifically for the person who was stuck in these cycles of what we called “secret sin.” From there we built out our recovery ministry.

3. Has the church lost the beauty of redemption? How?

I think the church loses the beauty of redemption the moment we think there is no more sin, no more error, to be redeemed from. I don’t think we need to fear the future, but there’s definitely an increased marginalization of believers that could cause us to say, “There is no error that we need to be redeemed from,” if we’re not rooted deeply in the gospel and the Word of God.

I think Christian history will show that—the moment we remove the atoning work of Jesus Christ from the equation, the moment preachers are motivational or inspirational speakers, rather than the heralders of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, you lose redemption all together . . . because there’s nothing to be redeemed from.

4. What kind of struggles does Recovering Redemption address?

We address fear and anxiety, guilt and shame, anger and lust, and doubt. We tackle the gamut of issues, even explaining the process of forgiveness and reconciliation, when to do that, and when to forgive but not necessarily reconcile.

5. Some churches have difficulty determining how to help people recovering from substance abuse, divorce, anger, etc.  What does Recovering Redemption have to say about this? 

I think some churches struggle with helping people in those situations because they’re difficult; they take time and are messy. I don’t know where it came from, maybe even the pit of hell, but at some point there began this idea that the church was to be this really pretty group of people. We should always be moving toward maturity, but if the church continues to see converts to Christianity, that means there are always babies around, and anyone with children knows that a house full of children is not always neat and orderly. There’s almost always a mess somewhere that needs to be addressed, training that needs to take place, conversations that need to be had. When you’re dealing with men and women who are struggling, there is an inherent messiness to all that. I think that some churches find it easier to pretend that the mess isn’t there. It’s not helpful for anyone. It’s not helpful for the people in that church who think they’re clean, and it’s not helpful for those who need to hear the good news of Christ: forgiveness and grace. That’s why it’s difficult.

What I hope Recovering Redemption does is help churches create environments where it’s OK to not be OK, while simultaneously saying it’s not OK to stay there.

6. How do we experience more of God’s love? 

Experiencing and understanding the supremacy and beauty of Jesus Christ is what ultimately conquers and overcomes the other desires of our hearts. There will be some variance in how we go about it, but here’s what should be true about everyone: we should be rightly seeing Jesus Christ for who he is and what he’s done. Once we see Jesus for who he is according to the Scriptures and understand who we are—and are honest with ourselves about who we are—we can begin to marvel at God’s long suffering with us, his grace and mercy toward us, and his love of us despite us. In that moment, we can begin to see and savor Jesus like we’ve always wanted to.

7. What’s the difference between guilt and shame, and how can we free ourselves from them?

Guilt is almost always tied to an infraction of some kind. We’ve broken a rule, so we’re guilty. But shame doesn’t necessarily work like that. In fact, we can feel shame when there is no breaking of the law at all. We can feel ashamed of where we live, or what we drive, or our education level.

Another reality is that shame can combine with guilt; breaking a rule can lead to not just guilt, but shame over the infraction. This is because shame is almost always built around identity and how I see myself. And the answer to both guilt and shame is found once again, no surprise, in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus has taken our guilt upon himself on the cross and absorbed God’s wrath toward our guilt fully so that there is not condemnation found against us. In fact, in Romans 8, Paul asks who can bring a charge against God’s elect—who can even charge me? Because my sin and guilt have been paid for, it’s not that I’m innocent as much as it is I’m forgiven and justified completely. So that takes care of guilt, and then shame can vanish when I understand God’s delight in me as his child. Not only have I been forgiven, but I’ve also been adopted and been called son. To understand God’s delight in me does a lot to eradicate and destroy shame in a way that nothing else can.

8. What do you most want to say to the church?

The thing that really burns in my heart for the big-C Church is that there isn’t anything past the gospel. So it’s the message of Christ’s wrath-absorbing death and his victorious resurrection that saves us, keeps us, and sustains us in and out of every season that comes. If you drift from the gospel, if you move on to something that you may perceive to be more important, then you will leave the safety of the ship God has given you for the storm or the calm sea that is meant to protect you, shelter you, feed you, and care for you.

Ultimately, let’s not move away from the gospel—let’s drop our anchor there and preach that message over and over and over again to ourselves, to our congregation, to our home groups or small groups. Let it inform the mission, let it inform our marriages, let it inform how we parent, let it inform how we fight, let it inform how we engage the world around us, but let us first and foremost be known as gospel people.

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Discover your areas of weakness and how to transform them into pivot points for growth and freedom: get Matt Chandler’s latest book, Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change, on Vyrso today!

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How to Revive a Dying Church

Replant

You’ve seen them everywhere—squashed in between the latest superstores, crumbling on the outskirts of the neighboring subdivision, and hiding behind tall grasses off the freeway. There are old churches scattered all throughout urban areas in the Western world that are either being slowly forgotten or have already faded into the background. Replant is the story of how those local churches can be saved—from the inside out.

Instead of a five-step guide to church revitalization, Replant describes two drastically different leaders—Mark DeVine and Darrin Patrick—who took it upon themselves to revive a dying Kansas City church and return it to its former glory. This book aims to help pastors and leaders “take risks for God’s glory, to raise your gaze to what is possible, to challenge what is comfortable, so that God’s plan A—the local church—advances.”

The book begins with DeVine, a professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, being assigned the new position of interim pastor at First Calvary Baptist Church—a classic church equipped with a beautiful sanctuary of ornate woodwork, colorful stained-glass windows, commanding organ pipes, and several decades’ worth of neglect and congregational decay. Upon seeing the church, DeVine instantly felt compelled to restore both the building and its congregation:

“The church of Jesus Christ is not a building; it is people. But First Calvary’s magnificent sanctuary was not just a building either. It commanded a historic and still-strategic outpost on the frontier of gospel advances namely within one of the increasingly secular cities of America, which are now among the fastest-growing mission fields on the planet.

I found myself unable to contemplate this declining flock with nonchalance. At stake were not mere bricks and stained glass, but the advance of the light against encroaching spiritual darkness.”

DeVine then took it upon himself to unseat the “cartel” of four long-time church members inhibiting growth, and connect First Calvary with the thriving church of a former student—that of Darrin Patrick, vice president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and pastor of The Journey. What happens once these two churches join forces? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out, but what I can tell you is that this story is one that pastors all over the world can relate to and learn from. It examines how churches suffering under the burden of shrinking congregations, crumbling infrastructure, and lack of morale can once again be revived for the glory of Christ.

“All contexts—suburban, rural, and urban—need new churches. But there is a special need for new churches in cities. By planting and replanting churches in urban centers, we have a strategic opportunity to influence the entire world, because the entire world is coming to live in, work in, and visit cities.” —Darrin Patrick

Discover their story for yourself: download this new book, Replant: How a Dying Church Can Grow Again on Vyrso today.

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The Plight of the Pastor’s Kid: John Piper’s Son on What Needs to Change

The Pastor's Kid

Today’s interview is with Barnabas Piper, an author who explores the connections between ideas, faith, and people. He writes weekly for WorldMag.com and The Blazing Center blog, and he has contributed to Leadership Journal, Tabletalk Magazine, RelevantMag.com, The Gospel Coalition blog, and DesiringGod.org. He is also the son of bestselling author and popular pastor John Piper. In his first book, The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity, Piper addresses the challenges of being a pastor’s kid (PK) first hand. With empathy, humor, and personal stories, he addresses the pervasive assumptions, identity issues, and accelerated scrutiny PKs face. Get his brand-new book for just $8.44 on Vyrso today!

1. What challenges have you faced as a pastor’s kid, and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge was an internal one. I grew up knowing all the answers about all things biblical. I knew so much I could fool the people asking the questions into thinking I believed with all my heart. The problem was I didn’t know the difference between what I knew and what I truly believed. I didn’t really overcome this, per se, so it fell apart on me. I went through a really hard time where my spiritual hollowness and the sin that had grown in my life left me broken. It was in that place of spiritual emptiness that I finally saw Jesus as the powerful, personal, beautiful savior he is. Then all those truths I knew began to come to life, like a black-and-white picture turning to vibrant color.

2. A recent Barna Group report found that 40 percent of pastors’ kids have experienced times when they seriously question their faith, and 33 percent are no longer active in the church—why do so many pastors’ kids abandon their faith and church?

People often have the assumption that a PK should not struggle with his or her faith because of dad’s spiritually influential position, but that dehumanizes PKs. We struggle like our peers do (and the statistics bear that out). The most significant difference between PKs and our peers is the intensity and secrecy of much of the struggle. PKs often don’t feel free—because of our parent’s position—to question or search openly, so the doubts get bottled up until they overflow.

3. What can the church do to support pastors’ kids?

A couple big things come to mind. First, let them be normal kids. Do not expect anything of them that you wouldn’t expect of the car salesman’s kids or the painter’s kids. Too often PKs are expected, even subtly, to be better behaved, more knowledgeable, more mature, better leaders. But we’re not. We’re kids who were born to people in ministry.

Second, don’t scrutinize them—befriend them. You might not even know you’re doing it, but I guarantee that you know 100 times more about the PK than you do that random kid in the fourth pew. When you approach the PK and ask, even innocently, about something you wouldn’t rightly ask another kid about, it just adds to the pressure on him because he knows you’re watching. Instead make it a point to get to know PKs as who they are, as individuals, the same way you would want someone to know you as a friend.

4. A recent study found that 42 percent of pastors wish they had spent more time with their kids—how can today’s church leaders make more time for their children?

It takes intentionality and a commitment to the reality that their kids are their first calling, not their church. Every pastor will have to pour long hours into the church and will miss some significant family times. That’s the nature of on-call work that serves others. But pastors need to aggressively limit those times. Maybe it means finding a way to rotate availability with other church leaders (lay or staff depending on church size and context). Maybe it means telling people “no” or “later” when they call. Or maybe it means not answering sometimes.

The other big thing is making sure you’re really present in your kids’ lives. Converse with them, know them, and let them know you. Spend time doing what they love and include them in what you love. (This means get a hobby besides reading and studying; those aren’t kid-friendly or group activities.)

5. Many pastors’ kids turn away from the church after spending most of their childhood in the front-row seat of church politics and drama. Should we be sheltering our kids from church conflict? Why?

Pastors can’t shelter their kids from conflict. It’s impossible. Kids are too smart and aware for that and conflict is too constant, even if it is trivial. What pastors can do is show their kids the profound nature of grace and forgiveness, and of loving others. They can also honestly talk their kids through (when they’re of a good age) the nature of the conflict to help them learn to navigate such matters with godly wisdom. Some situations are so toxic that the kid will get burned. Many, however, are opportunities for the PK to learn much about relationships, ministry, and what grace looks like in action.

6. What is your greatest hope for this book?

I want to see God use this to restore broken pastor-PK relationships. I want to see PKs who have struggled with pressure, faith, and identity issues find hope and a direction through something I wrote. I hope to see pastors take stock of their ministry and parenting and make some changes. Some might be encouraged by what they read; others might feel like it’s a gut punch. I’m OK with either so long as it leads to a closer relationship with their kids. And I want to see church members learn to support and care for their pastor’s family better.

7. What was it like growing up with John Piper as your dad?

He was my dad, the only one I’ve ever had so all the good things and bad things of having a dad fall to him!  He is a devoted dad, a consistent and moral man who can be implicitly trusted. What people read in his books or see in the pulpit is who he really is, albeit a bit quieter at home with fewer arm gestures. I love my dad, and we work through our differences in the healthiest ways we know how.

If you’re asking more specifically about growing up with a “celebrity pastor” as a dad, that didn’t really become full blown until I was in my teens and in college. I didn’t always respond well. I got annoyed at people’s fascination with him and the intrusions into my life, especially at the Christian college I attended, but I’ve come to realize that I’m in no position to not show grace. And most people have good motives about it and kind hearts—they’re just a tad invasive with their good motives sometimes.

8. What’s next for you?

The big thing is that I’m working on is another book, set to be released in the summer of 2015 from David C. Cook. It’s about what it means to believe. I’ll continue to write regularly for WorldMag.com and The Blazing Center and to cohost The Happy Rant podcast.

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Whether you’re a pastor, a pastor’s kid, a church member, or someone who wants to help struggling people grow—this book is for you. Discover how to relieve the pressure felt by PKs and learn to share the one thing they need more than anything else: get The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity on Vyrso today!

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Wisdom Is Learned

Seeking Daily the Heart of God

Today’s guest post is by Boyd Bailey, author of the Wisdom Hunters devotionals—on sale for just 99 cents each—as well as the founder of Wisdom Hunters Inc., a ministry that’s impacted people in over 86 countries through a daily-devotion blog and devotional books.

“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity . . .” —Proverbs 1:1–3

There is a definite educational element to wisdom. It does not happen in a spiritual vacuum or without intellectual effort. Those who excel in becoming wise learn to educate themselves in the ways of wisdom. They read the Bible and other writings that define wisdom, with a filter of faith in God. There are wise sayings outside of Holy Writ, but beyond the context of Christ, wisdom drifts into a cheap imitation in worldly wisdom.

Therefore, for wisdom to be the most meaningful, it must incubate and grow in a teachable and humble heart. A seed of corn does not germinate on the surface of hard soil—in a similar ecosystem, seeds of wisdom bring life and insight to a heart moistened by heaven’s righteous rain. Lifetime learners understand the need to always gain wisdom. Moses, upon a foundation of faith, was educated in wisdom in preparation to become one of God’s chosen leaders.

“And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).

However, it’s from an unselfish motivation and a humble attitude that the Lord’s wisdom is able to transform a life. Wisdom is not for personal gain, but for the propagation of Almighty God’s agenda. A once wise man becomes a fool, when he uses divine insight for individual advantage, instead of the good of the group. What is God teaching you? How are you growing wise in your parenting, marriage, and decision-making skills?

Educators in wisdom are all around—pray for your pastor to sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer, so his mind might be molded by the Holy Spirit’s insights and instruction. Look for wisdom from faithful saints who penned timeless words, while they worked through their suffering and triumphs, as disciples of Jesus. Wisdom comes from PhDs, village preachers, and everyone in between. Wisdom abounds where the wise are found. Remember, the less you talk, the more wisdom you gain—as you listen to learn.

“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance . . .” (Proverbs 1:5).

So, be a student of your Savior Jesus’ wisdom and you will never lack for knowledge. Wisdom is what attracts your children and grandchildren to want to be with you. The wise age well—like a robust wine—while fools flounder in insecure ignorance. Wise Christians are continually educated in wisdom, so that they can prayerfully educate others.

“. . . so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known . . .” (Ephesians 3:10a).

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For a limited time, save on 11 inspirational devotionals by Boyd Bailey, founder of Wisdom Hunters.

Get all 11 titles for just $10.89!

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Enter to Win Logos 5 and Pastoral-Leadership Resources!

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Pastoral leaders need encouragement and revitalization. That’s why we’ve put together a giveaway full of resources for just that. Refuel for church leadership with six Vyrso books to inspire the preacher and leader within, three one-year subscriptions focused on leadership and preaching, a one-year subscription to Bible Study Magazine, and a new Logos 5 Starter base package for theological and scriptural support.

Two one-year magazine subscriptions—a $44.94 value!

Bible Study Magazine brings you enriching insights and sound advice from respected Bible teachers, professors, historians, and archaeologists. Read stories from pastors and scholars who have been shaped by Scripture in both practical and radical ways. This magazine is published by Logos Bible Software bimonthly and delivered right to your mailbox.

Leadership Journal talks about current events and relevant issues as they intersect real ministry situations. Christianity Today publishes this journal to help church leaders stay ahead of the curve. This subscription will be delivered to you monthly, as well as give you access to exclusive content online.

Two one-year online subscriptions—a $199.90 value!

PreachingToday.com offers an online subscription to uniquely inspirational illustrations and articles for strengthening your sermons. This resource—with hundreds of sermons and sermon-series ideas—is brought to you by Christianity Today.

BuildingChurchLeaders.com is another entity of Christianity Today, geared toward equipping you to empower more leaders within your church. Get downloadable training tools, expert advice on handling church conflict and emergencies, and many other resources to support your church leaders in any season of life.

Six Vyrso books—a $51.94 value!

Read the most leadership-savvy books Vyrso has to offer. We’re including John C. Maxwell’s Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know, Larry Osborne’s Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page, and Dave Kraft’s Leaders Who Last.

Then get inspired for Sunday morning with Vyrso titles on preaching: Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert’s Preach: Theology Meets Practice, Alistair Begg’s Preaching for God’s Glory, and Drew Dyck’s Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying.

Logos 5 Starter—a $294.95 value!

Logos 5 Starter will save you hours of researching and referencing. Search your new library (including more than 200 resources) for a topic or passage and find exactly what you’re looking for in seconds. This base package also boasts a powerful tool called Bible Facts: search for a person, place, thing, or event to pull up every time that specific thing is referred to in your library—even indirectly or as a pronoun!

That’s almost $600.00 in prizes—and a lot of resources for one giveaway—enter for your chance to win the whole lot!

Entry closes July 31. We’ll select and notify the winner August 1. If you win and you already own Logos 5 Starter and/or any of the above-mentioned books, you’ll receive Logos.com credit in place of the prizes. The winner will need to fill out a W-9 in order to claim their prize. By entering the giveaway, you’re opting in to receive emails from Logos and promotional partners.

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Stop Chasing the Wind and Start Chasing Your Wife

7 ways to be her hero

After leading countless men’s retreats and conferences, and serving as the teaching pastor at Saddleback Church for 15 years, author Doug Fields discovered something pervasive in Christian culture: the way men talk and the issues they discuss are not properly represented or addressed in Christian relationship books. That’s why he wrote his latest book, 7 Ways to Be Her Hero: The One She’s Been Looking For, which is specifically designed for men and written how men talk.

In 7 Ways to Be Her Hero, Fields outlines a simple plan that includes seven perfectly doable actions that will transform your marriage. According to Rick Warren, “This book should storm into your living room, demand an audience, and become every husband’s best friend!” Get 7 Ways to Be Her Hero for just $9.99 on Vyrso!

Special sneak peek

7 Ways to Be Her Hero packs a powerful punch. Here’s an excerpt:

Here’s the sad truth: when our dreams fizzle, we simply learn to settle for lesser dreams. In fact, many of us settle for the crap that culture has sold to us about what men are supposed to be like: we are supposed to chase things, and we took the bait, hook, line, and sinker.

For men it turns out that the object of the chase is not the important thing. In fact, it is secondary. We can chase prestigious careers, piles of money, positions with esteem, accolades from corporate headquarters, power to control others, women to conquer . . . whatever. It is the act of chasing that is important. But every man who has ever done the chase thing knows that even if we catch whatever it is we are chasing, the chase is never over. There is always something else to chase!

It appears that a man’s drive for the chase goes back thousands of years. The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes was written by one of the most successful and prosperous men to ever live, the wisest of them all, King Solomon. Solomon appeared to have it all. In his forty-year reign over Israel, he spearheaded massive building projects, including the first temple in Jerusalem. He collected thousands of horses and chariots. He amassed great wealth and treasure. He was very much into the ladies, having seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.

Solomon was a master of the chase. Yet, reflecting upon all he had accomplished, he wrote: “But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind” (Eccl. 2:11 NLT).

Sadly, we have bought into the cultural construct of manhood. We are addicted to the chase. We are busy, and our busyness validates our sense of importance. Yet we, like Solomon before us, are chasing the wind. We are too busy to notice that the chase is killing our souls, wounding our wives, and destroying our marriages. Whenever I speak to women’s groups, I hear them loud and clear that our chase is not their chase:

• “I’d rather have him make less money and be around more.”

• “He’s so engaged with work that he’s not engaged at home.”

• “I used to think he did this for the family, but in the end, it’s more about his ego.”

Guys, you are driven to provide for the needs of your family. This is the grain-of-truth, the God-given wiring, and the sacred cog of the chase. But many of us have managed to bury the truth under layers of self-interest and self-fulfillment until the truth has been lost. The point of the chase has become the chase itself. I am not suggesting you shouldn’t work hard, but I am suggesting that if you are defining your value by the chase—by your ambition, your work, and your achievement—then you are simply chasing after the wind, and ultimately, it is meaningless . . . When we are addicted to the chase, we leave nothing to our wives but possessions and regrets. I will say it one more time, hoping that dawn will break over those with marble heads: your wife doesn’t want the presents your credit card buys or the status your busyness conveys. She wants a vital and intimate relationship with you, and this requires your presence in her life. It requires you to make a proactive choice to invest your time and energy in your (one) life together.

And here is a bit of biblical truth to drive the nail home: there is only one thing on this earth the Bible talks about being one with. It’s not your job, your kids, your ministry, your hobbies, your golf game, or your fantasy football team(s). It is your wife. And if you are chasing anything else at the expense of oneness with your wife, you are chasing the wind.

A hero is not created when a man chases the wind. A hero is created when a man recognizes he has been chasing the wrong things and realizes that his wife should be the object of his chase.

* * *

Discover the seven simple steps to establishing a happier, healthier marriage: get Doug Fields’ new book, 7 Ways to Be Her Hero: The One She’s Been Waiting For, for just $9.99 on Vyrso!

 

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Enter to Win over $1,500 in Prizes—a Worship Leader’s Dream

Proclaim_Summer_Giveaway_Banner_for_partners_630x180

Calling all worship leaders! This is the giveaway you won’t want to miss. Proclaim—an innovative church-presentation software created by Logos Bible Software—is holding a giveaway every month this summer. This month, we’ve loaded a bag with prizes worth more than $1,500.00 from Proclaim, MultiTracks, and The Worship Initiative. One lucky winner will receive all of these amazing worship resources:

One year of Proclaim and Pro Media (up to a $525.00 value)
- 10 MultiTracks (a $390.00 value)
Logos 5 Starter (a $294.95 value)
- A special package from The Worship Initiative (a $240.00 value), including:

  • Lifetime Worship Initiative council membership
  • Three-month memberships for four people to the Worship Initiative
  • Limited-edition physical album collection (10 volumes)
  • Digital copies of volumes 1–10
  • “We are WI” T-shirt
  • Exclusive invitation to annual gathering
  • Exclusive invitation to the WI family reunion

But what kind of giveaway would this be if there wasn’t an encore? We’re also giving away Louie Giglio and Matt Redman’s Vyrso book, Indescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe. This book combines Giglio’s pastoral vision, Redman’s worship-driven heart, and the undeniable scientific facts of the universe, creating a thought-provoking book about the mysteries of God’s creation. Indescribable will awaken your mind and spirit with a passion for worshipping Jesus Christ and actively pursuing the God of all creation.

Enter now—this giveaway ends June 30!

We’ll select and notify a winner July 1. If you win and already own Logos 5, you’ll receive Logos.com credit in place of the base package. The winner will need to fill out a W-9 in order to claim their prize. By entering the giveaway, you’re opting in to receive emails from Proclaim, Logos, and summer-giveaway partners.

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Authority, Discipline, and the Modern Parent: What Went Wrong (and How to Fix It)

Shepherding a Child's Heart

Today’s interview is with Tedd Tripp, senior pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania and author of the incredibly popular book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Tripp draws on more than 30 years’ experience as a pastor, counselor, and school administrator to offer unique and practical ways to instruct your child’s heart. According to John MacArthur, “Tedd Tripp offers solid, trustworthy, biblical help for parents. If you are looking for the right perspective and practical help, you won’t find a more excellent guide.” Get Shepherding a Child’s Heart for just $3.74 on Vyrso!

1. You’ve said, “Our culture has lost its way with respect to parenting. We are a rudderless ship without a compass.” Why do you feel this way?

We lack both a sense of direction and the capacity to direct ourselves. Parents are confused and often tentative in parenting. I spoke with a young mother recently who had no ready-to-hand answer to her three-year-old’s question, “Mommy, you don’t obey me; why should I obey you?” Many young people dislike authority, so we have no ability to winsomely teach our children to live joyfully under authority. If one sees authority as negative, not the blessing God’s Word shows it to be, there is little wonder that parents are not teaching their children the blessings of Ephesians 6:1–3.

2. What are the biggest differences between how children were raised 50 years ago and how they’re raised now? Are these changes hurting or helping children?

Our culture has lost any sense of hierarchy. We see authority as derived either from consent or from overwhelming force. Therefore, we can only respond with rebellion or with servility. We have lost the concept of equals willingly placing themselves under the authority structures that God has built into his world. Children raised in such a milieu see themselves as peers of the adults in their world. The incarnation of Christ and his perfect submission to the Father is an example to the submission of an equal to the authority of another for the purpose of a greater good. This idea is lost in contemporary culture—hence we do not see submission as dignified and noble; we see it as servile and foolish.

3. How can parents be both firm authoritarians and loving supporters to their children?

We must make a winsome and attractive presentation of the necessity of obedience. “Honey, there is a God in heaven who is good. In love and kindness he has put you in a family. He has given you parents who have wisdom, maturity, and life experience and who love you very much. We insist on your obedience because we know that is what is good for you. God promises if you obey and honor mom and dad it will go well with you and you will enjoy long life (Ephesians 6:1–3). We want those blessings for you. We love you and want to encourage you that you can trust God to work through your mom and dad to bring good things into your life.” Notice that obeying is not about the parent desiring control, but is about God who is good and who is full of love and kindness. I am not God; I am only God’s ambassador to my children.

4. What’s the number-one issue parents face in raising healthy, Christian children in the modern world, and how can they overcome this?

Video technology, gaming, smartphones, computer access across a variety of platforms, and the incredible amount of screen time children have are all huge challenges to raising children with wisdom and a biblical perspective. One might say that the technology is neutral, and even that can be debated at least in terms of healthy development of children both physically and cognitively, but the content conveyed is not neutral. It provides a narrative that works against everything a Christian parent wants to instill in their children. You overcome this problem by limiting access and the amount of time children spend with technology.

5. How does unbiblical parenting affect the church?

Most parents focus on getting the children to jump through behavioral hoops. The concern is far too much on control and not enough on nurture—helping my children understand their hearts and how behavior that has strayed from God’s ways reflects a heart that has strayed. When behavior is the goal, then methods to produce right behavior become the methods of choice. The problem is that it’s hard to get from controlling behavior to shepherding the heart. If my focus is the heart and attitudes of heart, then the gospel and the transformation that the gospel produces becomes the heart of my parenting. Unbiblical preoccupation with behavior leads to hypocrisy and moving kids away from their need of grace.

6. Many children end up leaving the church once they hit their early twenties—what can parents do to prevent this from happening?

I truly believe this exodus reflects the poor ways we have handled the narrative that is provided to our children by all the competing voices that influence our children. How much time is spent on providing Christians a viable alternative narrative to the one offered by culture? What structures do we provide that demonstrate to our children the Christian faith? How many families are having family worship or talking daily to their children about the wonder of who God is? How many parents are living in true integrity before their children, dealing honestly with their own sins and failures, and showing their children a life of daily repentance and faith? Children are idealistic and looking for authenticity; sadly they are not finding it at home.

7. You’ve received some backlash for your views on spanking and discipline—how do you respond to your critics?

I understand some of the reasons why people react against spanking. Many Christians were abused as children by parents who struck them excessively or in anger, and they promised themselves they would never do that. I want to stand in solidarity with those parents. I also know that the idea of spanking children is not popular in our culture. The culture makes no distinction between an angry parent who hits their children in frustration and a parent who is making timely and appropriate use of physical discipline out of a conscientious belief that this is right and something God’s Word calls them to do. I also think parents must make a clear distinction between correction and discipline. There are many things children do that require correction, but do not require discipline. For example, if my three-year-old bowls over his 18-month-old sister and takes her toy, that is not a situation for discipline; it calls for correction. My three-year-old is not being defiant—he is being impulsive. I corrective impulsivity; I don’t discipline it. If he responds to this intervention, then there is no need for discipline.

I would have never spanked my children if I had not seen physical discipline as something I was called to by the Word of God. I have three adult children and nine grandchildren with whom I enjoy very close relationships. I have seen nothing but good fruit in my family from obedience to God on this issue. People often ask, what about the studies that say children who are spanked turn out to be insecure and often abusive adults? My answer is I do not know of any study that studies what I advocate, which is very controlled and timely use of discipline. Studies of people whose parents spanked them in anger or excessively do not examine what I advocate, but rather what I speak against.

8. One of the biggest issues young people face is low self-esteem. What can parents be doing better to raise confident kids?

What children need isn’t high self-esteem, but accurate self-image. They need to understand that each of us possess strengths and weaknesses, abilities and disabilities. That is how God has made us. Our self-image does not come from thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to, but from understanding that God loves me and I am complete in Christ. I have all the abilities and strengths he gave me to be equipped for everything he called me to do. My self-image cannot come from comparing myself with others. I am who I am. God made me like this, and God doesn’t make inferior people.

* * *

Discover how you can be a better parent today: get Tedd Tripp’s bestselling Shepherding a Child’s Heart for just $3.74. Then get the accompanying parent handbook and leader’s guide for $3.74 each.

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Why You Shouldn’t Fall in Love

Dating Like Airplanes

Today’s guest post is by Caleb Breakey, former journalist and author of Called to Stay: An Uncompromising Mission to Save Your Church. Breakey’s latest book, Dating like Airplanes: Why Just Fall in Love When You Can Fly?, offers a biblical roadmap for Christians dating in the modern world, and poses the question: why just fall in love when you can fly? Perfect for pastors, counselors, and anyone in the dating world, get Dating like Airplanes for just $7.79!

 

1. For many, dating is considered a lifestyle. How can we redefine dating so that it reflects biblical principles without being legalistic? 

We get back to the why.

Why does God give us relationship guidelines? To be cruel? Or to protect us and bless us? Then we stop making “Christian dating” about what not to do and start making it about what we do.

We sit in circles and discuss the kind of Jesus love that gets to know the other in a way that’s so far beyond physical attraction (Proverbs 19:2). The kind that goes above and beyond in showing honor (Romans 12:10). The kind that radiates patience, kindness, and truthfulness to the other, always doing what lifts up (1 Corinthians 13:4–7). The kind that clothes itself in humility and makes itself a servant to helping the other progress in character (1 Peter 5:5).

The kind that builds respect by treating the other as though he or she were a brother or sister—and the very temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16–17). The kind that speaks to the other with integrity and dignity (Titus 2:7–8) and refuses to lust with its eyes (Matthew 5:27–30). The kind that does everything it possibly can to keep the other sexually pure and emotionally whole, even if it means seeking help outside of the relationship (1 Corinthians 6:18; Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 27:12). The kind that cries out for God to search itself for mixed motives and manipulative ways (Psalm 139:23–24). The kind that always plans ahead, knowing that it wants to do what’s right but far too easily chooses what’s wrong instead (Matthew 26:41).

Above all, the kind that ignites a beautiful romance by helping the other seek God first in everything (Proverbs 16:3; Matthew 6:33). The kind that sets its mind to helping the other lay up treasures in heaven, live by every word of God, and exude intimacy with Jesus (Matthew 6:19; Matthew 4:4). The kind that challenges the other to dive deeper into the abundance of Christ, gaze at his beauty, dwell on his loving-kindness, and praise him for all that he’s done (Psalm 27:4; Isaiah 63:7).

2. Do you believe there’s one special person out there for everyone? Why?

The world sells us the whimsical idea that if you just keep searching, eventually you will find your soul mate—the one person in all of creation who will fill your heart with joy, dry your every tear, and hang on your every word.

This is a lie.

Great relationships don’t happen when you find your “soul mate.” They happen when you find someone who shares your desire to fly, who wants to point to Jesus in all things, who chooses to give what’s needed most over what’s wanted now.

And this is great news.

If it were true that there were only one perfect person for you, it would be easy to question whether or not you found the right person when things got rough. In fact, you might even use this logic to justify ending a relationship and moving on to the next person you think is “the one.” This is how many people date today, always looking for the one, always hitting a snag in the relationship, and always moving on to the next person.

If you subscribe to the idea of the one, let it go. Instead focus on being the one. Focus on flying in love.

3. Many people enter into relationships believing they can change their partner—particularly if their partner isn’t a Christian, but they want them to be. What advice do you have for those people?

Going into a relationship looking to change someone is to set yourself up for extreme difficulty and pain. Relationships are not the best place for evangelism, nor are marriages the best place for trying to reform someone’s character or heart.

The entire purpose of a relationship is to discover whether or not you and your other are fit to marry. But God doesn’t want us marrying unless it’s to someone who shines with the light of Jesus (2 Corinthians 6:14). Reason tells us, then, that if someone doesn’t know Jesus, the relationship shouldn’t ever begin.

I know that isn’t easy to hear.

Perhaps you recently became a Christian but your other is not. Perhaps you’re dating a nonbeliever in hopes of introducing him or her to Jesus. And all you want is for another Christian to listen to you instead of telling you to break up.

This is a tough one, friend.

Dating someone who doesn’t know and love God is asking for a tremendous amount of heartache. If not now, then when you’re married. And if not in your early marriage, then when you have children.

So if your other doesn’t know Jesus, the very best thing you can do is break it off, surround yourself with brothers and sisters who will love you through your grief and mourning, and cling to Christ.

4. What inspired you to write Dating like Airplanes?

My wife and I traveled an unconventional road to romance. We met at ages 11 and 14—you might say that’s when we first “fell in love”—liked each other more and more as the years passed, and finally got to the point where we idolized each other. So her father separated us for two and half years—no communication allowed.

This led both of us into intense heartache and eventually extreme heart change, from each other to Jesus. And after 30 months of not knowing what it all meant for our relationship—or lack of one—her father said I could start seeing his daughter, and it was like nothing had changed between us.

At ages 19 and 17, we started dating and tried to honor God throughout our relationship. But most of the time we didn’t know how and suffered for it. That’s why writing Dating like Airplanes was so important to me. I wanted to explore how to follow Jesus in the real but raw aspect of dating so that others could do their relationship in a more Jesus-powered, beautiful way.

5. What’s the difference between flying and falling in love?

When I think of falling, I think of being out of control. There is no way to slow down. No way to navigate. Just free falling to the inevitable crash. This isn’t exactly the best image when it comes to you and the person you’re giving your heart to.

That’s when I asked, “What if you could fly instead of fall? What would that look like in a dating relationship?” The answer is that it would be steady. Controlled. Much easier to navigate and glide to wherever you want to go.

So I went to Scripture to see if flying were possible.

And it is.

I define flying as giving the other person what’s needed most instead of taking what you want now. This selfless act mirrors Jesus and is the purest expression of love you could ever embrace. The wellspring from which marriage-ready relationships flow. It’s the basis of Dating like Airplanes.

But back to the question—the difference between falling and flying is this: Falling in love breaks bones. Flying in love protects them and pursues the beautiful way of Jesus in your relationship.

6. Your book aims to ascend “to the kind of romance you so desire but doubt is possible”—what do you mean by this?

Deep down everyone wants a beautiful romance. Everyone wants a prince or princess who loves them, wants them, is committed to them, and never turns toward another person. Someone who is pure, loving, forgiving, thoughtful, humble, others oriented, and a servant.

Most people believe this is a fairytale. But that’s only partly true.

There are no perfect people out there. But there are people who believe God’s Word contains the secret to a beautiful romance, seek it passionately, and find it. In Dating like Airplanes, I try to help people get past fairytale thinking and start pursuing the beautiful way of Jesus in how they do relationships.

7. What role does the church play in someone’s dating relationship? 

When entering a relationship, you can have all sorts of resolutions and willpower. But the fact is, no one can stay strong forever. We all break. And when we do, everything falls apart . . . and trying to tie it back together is a long, tedious process.

Having the support of another in your relationship is huge. This person can be there to talk with you through your feelings and your struggles and also push you to stick to your convictions. This is where the church can play a vital role in the dating relationship.

Opening your relationship to several people who love you allows you to be bolstered with prayer, encouragement, and support. The older I get, the more I experience the amazing power of Christian community and prayer. We may never understand how it all works, but God has clearly shown us in Scripture that these aspects play a beautiful role in his economy.

Find people to pray for you and your relationship, keep you accountable to God’s standard, and be specific in your requests for help.

8. How can we equip millennials for healthy dating habits?

Talk with them about the why. Talk with them about the amazing power of reflecting Jesus—reflecting the ultimate love one person can give another—in their relationships. Discuss what they can do to set themselves up for a beautiful relationship, not just thump them with rule after rule of what not to do.

* * *

There’s never been a more important time to reevaluate how we view dating and relationships. Get a biblical perspective, with powerful and relatable advice: download Dating like Airplanes: Why Just Fall in Love When You Can Fly? for just $7.79 on Vyrso!

 

 

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