June 2014 Posts

5 Books That Have Changed My Life


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team 

Patrick Lencioni


This is a must-read for anyone in leadership.


In the Name of Jesus

Henri Nouwen


This was a total ambush. I never saw it coming. Nouwen exposed me to a way of thinking I would have never given myself permission to pursue. He was a Catholic priest and an educator at Notre Dame. He forsook a prolific Catholic writing and teaching career to live in a home for the mentally disabled. He wrote this book as a reflection of that time; he wrote of his own personal irrelevance, and how liberating and enlightening it was to realize how insignificant we truly are.


The Bride

Chuck Swindoll


This gave me hope at a time in my life when I was wrecked and wondering if I should quit ministry. I was poor and I couldn’t afford to buy a book, so the owner of Fresno Bible House said, “anything you want to read or use to study, read it, study it here and just put it back on the shelf.”

Swindoll gave me light in a dark time when I wanted to crawl under a rock and die; he gave me hope for what the church was supposed to be, and he reminded me of the beauty of God’s church when it’s functioning in health. A lot of our staff values – why we do what we do – came from this book.

I read one chapter at a time trying not to spill coffee on it, so I could put it back.


Ordering Your Private World

Gordan MacDonald


I read this book 10 years ago, but I’m still talking about it. Fantastic book  – especially the chapter on being driven versus being called. MacDonald makes a great comparison between the leadership style of Saul and the leadership style of David. It’s a good caution for leaders to not rely merely on talent but to rely on the calling of God. I also loved his chapter called “The Sinkhole Syndrome,” where he talks about how we can create sinkholes in our lives when it’s all output and no intake.


Spiritual Leadership

J. Oswald Sanders


If there was a 67th Book of the Bible, it would be this one. Phenomenal book on what leadership needs to be from a spiritual standpoint. The thrust of a leader is not merely his competence or his skill, but what’s going on underneath.


*plus one bonus


Laura Hillenbrand


I did get totally sucked in to one book unrelated to leadership. It’s about a World War II pilot who ends up on a blow-up raft in the Pacific with a buddy. The raft has a hole in it, and they are taking shifts overnight, blowing into the raft to keep it from sinking, while using an oar in one hand to hit the sharks on the head. We think we’re tough – these guys were studs. Ultimately, it’s a story about how this guy forgives his captor and tormentor.

What are some books that have changed your life?

The One Word I Want to Define My Life

The One Word

I had been coming home a little on edge. I was not necessarily fun to be around, from my wife’s perspective. And I was missing my kids’ soccer practices since I was so busy. So they weren’t happy with me. I was cranking, working hard, giving a lot, and under a ton of stress. I was handling things outside of my comfort zone, so I didn’t feel competent, making decisions that have huge implications on people’s lives, and I didn’t feel with certainty it was the right call. And I had to teach, and honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was teach. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die.

I prepped. And I studied. And I taught. And it felt like flesh. It felt like me. It felt like the message was a giant run-on sentence, one ginormous blah, blah, blah, blah. I finished the message, went home, and of course, I couldn’t sleep, beating myself up: You shouldn’t have said that, you should have said that, you missed that, you misquoted that, you said um 150 times. What the heck is wrong with you?

Some assume it happens over decades. I love Jesus, then not as much the next year, and then not as much the next year, and the next year not as much. But it can happen in a moment. Literally, overnight.

I go to bed and realize I have to get back with the Lord. He hasn’t gone anywhere. The problem is not the Lord; the problem is me. I’m trying to do this in my own strength, I’m trying to wrestle my life to the ground on my own – and it’s too much.

I began to look at my spiritual life. What does my time in the word look like? What does my time in prayer look like? And I realize it’s scarce, if not non-existent. So I spend good time with the Lord, and good time in prayer and good time in my Bible – and the funny thing is, my wife likes me more, and it’s fascinating how my kids want to snuggle with me now, and I actually have the time. When my life gets crazy, I get very selfish. I need this. I need that. When my life is about other people, that’s where I find joy.

I walked into OSH, and I saw this guy with his wife sitting on patio furniture. I was feeling full, so I said, “Oh dude, you have got to have it.”

“Yeah, it’s like three grand,” he said.

“Well, happy wife, happy life.”

“If I buy this, you have to come party with us later.”

“If you need a truck, let me know.” And I walked away.

Five minutes later, this guy walked up and asks, “Were you serious?”

“That’s why I bought a truck, so I could help people. Do you need it?”

“I do.”

I loaded his furniture into my truck – and while he didn’t live right down the street, but way down the street, I left with joy. And that’s what I’m talking about. That’s what I love. If I’m in myself, if I’m in the flesh, if I’m being selfish, I’m not going to offer that guy anything. I don’t have time for that guy.

Don’t forget your first love. Recognize from where you have fallen, repent, and do the deeds that you did at first (see Revelation 2:4-5). 

The challenge is to check our hearts day by day, moment by moment, and process what it means to stay connected to Him.

If there is stress, frustration, fruitlessness, then you are not abiding. You are not being filled by Him and His strength.

If there’s a word that I would like to define my life, it’s abide. Because when I abide in Him and He abides in me – and literally, abide means to sink deeply into, to remain in – when I remain in Him, and He remains in me, and when I sink deeply into Him, and He sinks deeply into me, I bear much fruit. But apart from Him, I can do nothing. Not that I can’t do some things or I’m not as effective. No. You can’t do jack without Him (see John 15:5).

Bullet Points:

  • Slow down
  • Pray
  • Go for a walk
  • Enjoy the breeze
  • Read your Bible – not for the mind, for the heart
  • And make sure what you’re doing, you’re doing out of an abiding, connective relationship with Him

Launch: The Well Northwest in Sumner, WA


Shortly after coming to faith in Christ, I realized that growing spiritually was difficult, but growing spiritually while living in a fraternity was nearly impossible. I was in a dark place and far too weak to fight the onslaught of temptations. Knowing this, Brandon Bakke, the prolific three-point shooter from our basketball team, asked me to move in with him and his three roommates, all God-fearing athletes committed to growing in their faith.

What did men of God really look like? I had read about biblical concepts but had never seen them lived out. My roommates, modeling patience and grace, helped me learn to live accountably and showed me what real friendship looked like.

They showed me I could have fun and be sober. They showed me what it meant to spend time with God, how to read my Bible and pray, how to go to church and share my faith, and how to thank God for victory and seek Him with tears when I stumbled.

One day I was reading my Bible in my room. Blown away by what I was reading, I threw open my door and shouted, “This Bible is (expletive) great!” Brandon laughed at my youthful zeal and awkwardly agreed.

His inclusive community helped me grow tremendously. I later went on to do his wedding and became a godfather to his children. And now he will help launch The Well Pacific Northwest this summer.

photo (10)

Brandon (back row in the Sumner t-shirt) and his wife Sheri (front row: third from the right) are living in Sumner, Washington with their children, Emma (front row: second from the right) and Britton (back row: second from the left). Their first Life Group is pictured here.

Rant #117: It’s Getting Dark Out Here, Where is the Light?

Rant 117

When culture gets more and more ungodly, why is the natural tendency for a Christian to run?

Why do we flee from culture instead of to culture? And why do we let it influence us, and not the other way around?

If all of the light hides itself under a basket, then we lose the influence of the light on the world. The only thing that makes light light is the exposure to darkness. So quit retreating. Engage.

What are the unknown gods in our culture? And how are we using those to get to the gospel? (See Acts 17)

You ought to know what music is popular. You shouldn’t necessarily like it, but you ought to know. What movies are popular? You may not need to watch them, but you ought to know. You need to read the news with discernment. You need to see what kids are doing and what kids are watching.

Did you know they’re taking shots of Fireball? Cinnamon flavored whisky. And the marketing is brilliant. They’re going after young people. They’re not going to get the sophisticated whisky snobs; they’re going get the young people. Did you know that?

What is the next generation intrigued by?

Does it matter? Yes. I think it does. If we anchor in irrelevance, we have no open door to speak into their life. The more we hide in the church context, the more we become irrelevant, and we just confirm what they already think, and that is: we don’t have a clue. They picture us like monks and nuns hanging out in church just waiting for heaven.

And many of us are.

I’d rather be behind enemy lines reaching out to the kids engaged in these behaviors – trying to win them to Christ.



Bullet Points

• Go sit at the mall and watch.

• Go shop at a store that you think is disgusting, and look around.

• Pull up the billboard top 100 songs on Spotify and listen. The biggest theologians of our day are the musicians who don’t have a clue about God this side of heaven, but they’re talking about all kinds of things that kids are eating up.