Archives For book

To measure the impact of a book,

don’t count the pages.

Count the coffee stains that mark late nights and early mornings.

Number the highlights, underlines, notes, and scribbles.

Note the dog ears, screenshots, and Facebook shares.

Watch how your thinking shifts and your attitude morphs

as questions increase.

Notice your patience rise. Your love of life swell.

 

Life never slows down,

until you find yourself buried neck-deep in line after line,

page after page,

thought after thought,

crescendoing with an abrupt crash that leaves you marked.

It changes your world.

It whispers into your past and present.

Into the future a book beckons.

 

It’s time to wrestle your nose into a good book.

One that will challenge you to think,

to love

to grow

to change

To measure the impact of a book,

don’t count the pages.

Count the coffee stains that mark late nights and early mornings.

 

What are you reading right now?

 

This is a guest post from my friend Pete Wilson (Twitter, Facebook, Blog). Pete’s just released his latest book, Let Hope In. You can pick up a copy HERE.

If you’ve not read anything of Pete’s, please do yourself a favor and pick this book up. His writing is fresh and pointed. It’s easy to understand and apply…but the principles are difficult to live because Pete pulls no punches.

And a book about hope? Good grief, pick this book up now.

Let Hope In

____________________________

There are two very different types of hope in this world. One is hoping for something, and the other is hoping in someone.

Eventually everything we hope for will disappoint us. Every circumstance, every situation that we’re hoping for is going to wear out, fall apart, melt down, and go away. When that happens, the question then is about your deeper hope, your foundational hope, your fallback hope when all your other hopes have disappointed.

All of Scripture points to one man, one God, not because he gives us everything we’re hoping for but because he is the One we put our hope in.

For the past year I’ve been working on a new book I just released entitled “Let Hope In“. I knew from the beginning that this book would fall short of helping people find life-changing transformation if all we do is identify the problems, challenges, and painful moments of your past. Identifying these memories from your past alone doesn’t help you. If all you do is remember the source of your pain, then something has gone horribly wrong. Why drudge up the past if you can’t find healing from the pain?

And for there to be real healing, for your past to really become your past, what needs to happen here is that you discover or discern the lie that your memory contains. This is fundamental to your healing.

It is important to understand that your past is not really the problem. The real problem is the lie you believed when an event happened in your past.

The truth is that memories don’t hurt us. It is what we believe about those memories that hurts us.

Trusting in the loving care of God regardless of what has happened in my past has been an ongoing process in my journey. And it’s only when we trust his loving care that we’re able to really begin to allow the hope of Christ to shine through us. Yes, hurt people do hurt people. But what’s equally true is that free people free people. And becoming free starts with being able to fully trust the loving care of God despite what we’ve possibly been through in our past.

 

A little bonus

Ben Reed —  October 3, 2013 — 21 Comments

StartingSmall_Cover

I’m working on writing a book that I hope will help a lot of people. (in fact, it will release on November 18!) It’s grown into the culmination of the last 6 years of my life as a small groups pastor. I weave my story through strategies you can use to help get small groups started

  • for the first time ever
  • alongside Sunday School
  • in conjunction with other off-campus groups
  • in a big way
  • in a tiny way

I’ll also walk through how to keep groups going, maintaining growth over time through coaching, curriculum, and continued spiritual growth.

Starting Small also includes a bonus download section. It was originally going to be a part of the book, but the more I put in to it, the more I realized it was a separate resource that could stand on its own.

This is stuff that didn’t fit into overall flow of the book, but that I thought would be helpful. I thought it would be helpful because it’s the info I get asked about when I talk with other groups pastors. It’s

  • sign-up forms
  • leadership agreement/covenants
  • a curriculum track
  • a sermon-based small group discussion template
  • childcare ideas
  • leadership application/interview
My goal with this is to provide a helpful additional resource that answers a lot of the questions that folks normally ask about small groups, getting them started, and the processes and procedures to implement.
And I’d love your help!

Just answer one of the following questions in the comments section below. I’ll choose one person to send an advance reader copy of the book to.

What questions about small group life would you want answered in a resource like this?
What issue holds your small group back from achieving all you know it could be?
This resource could make my life easier by including ________.
What’s the most frustrating thing about your small group?
I’ll choose one of these, and include the question and answer in the bonus section of the book. I’ll also email that person an advanced copy of the book.
 

Accountability is useless

Ben Reed —  January 17, 2013 — 3 Comments
This is a guest post from my friends, Justin and Trisha Davis. They know all too well the dangers of settling for an ordinary marriage. Their own failure to recognize the warning signs almost resulted in the end of their marriage, their family, and their ministry.
Justin and Trisha are bloggers, authors, speakers and founders of RefineUs Ministries (Facebook). Sharing their story of pain, loss and redemption, RefineUs is igniting a movement to build healthy marriages and families.
They are the co-authors of their first book, Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enoughpublished by Tyndale House Publishers.
The Davises are bloggers and teachers who make their home in Nashville, TN with their three boys.
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image credit: CreationSwap user Kyle Key

When Trisha and I first got married and entered ministry in 1995, I prided myself on being a person that was accountable. I was accountable in my choices: I wouldn’t counsel with a woman behind a closed office door; I wouldn’t give a teenage girl a ride home from church without another person in the car. I wouldn’t do lunch with a female without my wife or another male at the lunch. At all costs I wanted to be accountable.

When we started the church in 2002, I knew that accountability would be of utmost importance. I sought out a guy in our core group and asked him if we could meet each Wednesday morning to “hold each other accountable.”

As a church planter, I had a church planting coach. He and I would meet every Thursday morning and he would ask me questions about my relationship with God. He would ask me questions about my marriage, my struggles, and my weaknesses. He wanted to hold me accountable. I had a group of Elders that I met with once a month that was the spiritual leaders of our church, and I was accountable to them.

What I have discovered is accountability is useless.

Accountability is only as valuable as the transparency you and I offer in the context of that accountability.

We have a unique ability as humans to BS each other. It is easy for me to fake you out. It is easy for you to lie to my face. It is easy to pretend like your marriage is better than it really is. It’s easy to come across like you don’t struggle with lust or that was something “you used to struggle with.” It is easy to offer just enough accountability to make yourself look spiritual. At the same time that partial accountability can be so dangerous because you are not only fooling me, you are fooling yourself.

The truth is you and I can meet every Wednesday and I can deceive you. The truth is that you can have several circles of accountability and unless you are 100% transparent in at least one of those circles, implosion is on the horizon.

I am not saying you should be 100% transparent with everyone, but I am saying you should be 100% transparent with someone. I have two people in my life that if I am asked a question I give 100% of the truth; I withhold nothing. I know if I am struggling or need to confess something, or am in a dark place, I can share that with these two people.

One of the biggest mistakes I made in my life, my marriage and my ministry is I substituted accountability for transparency. Accountability without transparency is useless. It is easier in the short term to offer accountability and it seems more spiritual, but you will experience more of the grace and mercy and love of Christ when you offer transparency.

In fact, when you are willing to offer transparency, you will find you don’t need to be “held accountable.”

Maybe you find yourself in a place in life right now that you never imagined being. The walls are closing around you. Your choices are catching up to you. Your half-truths are beginning to be exposed. From one pretender to another can I encourage you that there is a better way? While this way is more painful and it will cost you more, what you will have in the end is the life you’ve always wanted. You can wake up, look in the mirror, and be the person you’ve been pretending to be.

Stop comparing, stop rationalizing, stop B.S.ing and embrace transparency. It is in that moment that brokenness collides with redemption and God’s grace is experienced most.

____________

Please, pick up their new book. It’ll change your marriage!

Physical copy

Kindle copy

978-1-4143-7227-3

 

My friend, Margaret Feinberg [www.margaretfeinberg.com], has a new book and 7-session DVD Bible study called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God [www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck] (releasing Christmas Day). She describes it as “a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life.” I say that as long as that drink is coffee, we’re good. :)

I’ve enjoyed Margaret’s stuff. She has a way of writing that captures my head and my heart. That stirs me to love God, and the beauty He possesses, unlike most present-day writers. Margaret has a way of crafting language that can help you fall in love with your King all over again. In this book, she succeeds at helping you see the wonder of God in your own story.

Wonderstruck Cover Art Image

I recently received the insider’s scoop about Margaret’s new book. Here are some highlights from the interview:

Where did the inspiration for the Wonderstruck book and Bible study come from? 

Have you ever had one of those seasons where everything goes wrong, and when you think it can’t get worse, it somehow finds a way? My husband, Leif, and I had just gone through one of the roughest years of our lives. In the aftermath, as we processed the pain and loss, I had an unexplainable desire in my heart. I began praying for the wonder of God. In essence, I said, “God reveal yourself, your whole self to me. I want to know you as Wonderful. I want to know you as I’ve never known you before and see you in places I’ve never recognized you before.” God did not disappoint. 

What do you mean by “the wonder of God”? 

Sometimes talking or writing about wonder feels like tying kite strings to clouds. It’s ethereal, and you can never quite get a grip on it. But if you look in the dictionary, the two main definitions of wonder are: “being filled with admiration, amazement, or awe” and “to think or speculate curiously.” 

Those definitions come together beautifully in our relationship with God. That’s why I define the wonder of God as those moments of spiritual awakening that create a desire to know God more.

In other words, the wonder of God isn’t about an emotional experience or having some cool story to tell your friends, but the wonder of God makes us want more of God—to go deeper and further than we’ve ever been before. 

Why do you think we so easily lose the wonder? 

It’s amazing how quickly we can grow numb to the wonder of God in our lives. I think there are a variety of reasons. Paying bills. Getting that degree. Providing for a family. Raising kids. Caring for aging parents. The list goes on. 

All too often we find ourselves head down, pushing ahead, just trying to get through. Somewhere along the way, a gap begins to develop between God and us. A drifting takes place. We’re not only less aware of God’s presence in our lives, we’re less expectant. And so even when God does show up, we miss him. We pass by unaware. We’re spiritually asleep and we don’t even know it. 

Yet I believe that as followers of Jesus we’re meant to live wonderstruck. We’re invited to live on the edge of our seats in wild expectation of what God might do next. I want to live with this kind of divine expectation, that wide awake spiritual hunger, searching for God in how ever he may want to reveal himself. 

Why you do you encourage people to pray for wonder? 

This is an incredibly powerful prayer, because praying for wonder invites us to change the posture with which we live our lives. When we pray for wonder, we’re asking God to expand our capacity to see and savor the divine gifts all around and take us deeper in our journey with Christ and in the Scripture than we’ve ever been. A prayer for wonder essentially says, “God, I want more of you! Take my breath away!” And leaves us living expectant for how God will answer.  

What do you hope people will gain from the Wonderstruck book and Bible study?

My hope is that you will be awakened to the imminent presence of God in your life. We do not serve a God who is far off, but One who is near, ever present, and intimately involved in the most minute details of our lives. I think we can so easily forget this. 

So my prayer has been that you will begin seeing God in unexpected ways right in the midst of your routine, that your passion for God will be reignited, and you’ll find the Scripture coming alive in a whole new way. 

Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter [www.twitter.com/mafeinberg], Facebook [www.facebook.com/margaretfeinberg], or her blog [www.margaretfeinberg.com]. You can learn more about this great book by visiting www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck where she’s offering some crazy promos right now with up to $300 of free stuff.You can snag it for $7.95 ($14.99 retail) on Barnes & Noble [http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wonder-struck-margaret-feinberg/1110904808?ean=9781617950889] if you like to get good things on the cheap. If you don’t, go ahead and buy it for full price at your local bookstore.

 

My son loves when we read Curious George to him.  It’s one of his favorites!  But I read everything with a critical eye.  And while I don’t always appreciate that part of me, I just can’t turn that switch off and just completely read for fun.  I wish I could.

Image via MyDorchester

Yesterday, I told you about the bad parenting lessons I’ve learned from Curious George. (you can read that HERE)

But I’d be remiss to say there aren’t some great jewels of life wisdom here, too!  Even wisdom that leaders can glean.  To be honest with you, I never thought I’d be learning leadership lessons from a cartoon monkey.  But, alas…the life of a dad…

5 Leadership Lessons Curious George Teaches us

Enjoying life is infectious.

When you enjoy life, you help others to do the same.  At the end of every book, the entire cast of characters is smiling.  Not to say that life’s easy or fluffy or always happy, but looking for ways to enjoy the gifts and opportunities God’s giving you is infectious for everyone around you.

Helping people is messy work.

George’s goal throughout the series is to help people.  But in helping people, he often gets into big messes.  Before it’s all said and done, many people are frustrated with George.  Even those who love him the most (the man with the yellow hat).  Which is what you’ll sometimes, unfortunately, find in life.  Helping people change, grow, and deal with life is often messy and frustrating.  But I can’t even begin to tell you how it’s worth the frustrations.

Creativity is messy and chaotic, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it.

If you pursue creativity in life, things will get messy and chaotic.  Rarely will you find yourself in the middle of creativity and in the middle of order.  Just know, going in, that you’re going to have to put up with a bit of chaos in the creative process.  But at the end of the day, it’s worth it.  The insights, new directions, and “art” you’ll create through the process make it worth the effort.

Curiosity will get you in lots of trouble.

The more you poke around, question systems, and look for new ways of doing things, the more you will frustrate some people.  Because, often, it’s easier to leave the status quo untouched.  To assume you can “arrive” and be done growing and changing.  And the more you push for those out-of-the-box changes, the more you’ll frustrate those who are satisfied with keeping things the way they are.

Curiosity will lead you to lots of fun.

Children naturally gravitate towards creativity and fun.  But life has a tendency of breaking many of us of that.  Curiosity is a beautiful thing.  It leads to new discoveries and new adventures, as long as you’re willing to pursue it.  Don’t get so tangled up in details, systems, and processes that you forget to have a little fun along the way.  There’s an adventure around every corner if you’re willing to look.

Question:

Have you seen any of these lessons come true in your life?

 

The blog vs the book

Ben Reed —  May 25, 2011 — 10 Comments

Writing a blog may be more effective than writing a book.

I’m not convinced of this.  But here’s one thing I know.

When I’m doing initial research for a project, I don’t first ask Dewey Decimal.  I used to.  But the game has changed.

I’ve replaced Dewey Decimal with a little tool you may have heard of: Google.  And if you tell me you haven’t, I’ll tell you you’re a liar.

A Google search for a topic may lead you to a book.  But if it does, you’ll probably skip right over that to click on the link that lands you on an article you can read immediately.  And the way that search engine optimization (SEO) works, a single blog post is forever searchable.

When it comes to most of our information gathering, our culture values speed and timeliness over exhaustiveness.

Publishing isn’t dead

Books and publishers still serve our culture well.  They help sift ideas and package them in a way that helps a broad audience.  They put flesh to content that single blog posts just can’t do.  They have often spent years building trust through their platform (by publishing reputable, helpful resources), and use this as a launching pad for current and future titles.  But the publishing industry’s strengths lead them to be a slow-moving machine that’s not capable of moving as quickly as a blogger.

The days of books aren’t over.  But the days of books being the primary starting point for research is done.

Moving your idea forward

So if you want to get your idea out, start a blog.  Don’t wait for a publisher to pick you up.  If you wait for a publisher, your culture-shifting idea may take years to get into people’s hands.  Most books take years to move from initial idea to gathering dust on a shelf.

I just talked with a guy in London who had found my blog helpful in dealing with a delicate small group issue he faced in his local church.  Could he have found the answer to his questions and concerns in a book?  Certainly.  But Google is much more accessible, when problems arise, than your local library.

Write a blog post, and your content is at the fingertips of people who need it most.  In fact, consider guest-posting right here on my blog.  I’d love to feature you!  Details HERE.

I may write a book someday.  But in the meantime, I’ll keep fleshing my thoughts out quickly and efficiently right here on the blog.

Ever considered starting a blog?

What’s keeping you from posting more often?