5 Things I’ve Learned After 500 Posts

Yesterday’s post was my official 500th blog post. That’s over two years of writing. I thought I’d take a moment to pause and process some things I’ve learned after 500 posts:

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1. Dreaming of a blog is easy. Writing a blog is difficult. I’ve dreamt for years about the possibility of writing a blog. In my visions of grandeur, the writing was easy, conversation generating, and of course, heavily trafficked. And then I actually started it. All my great ideas dried up in two weeks, but I had still committed myself to write. Writing is one part creativity and inspiration and four parts discipline and hard work.

2. You never know which blog will go viral. This continues to surprise me. I’ll work on a particular blog, knowing for certain that it will take off and go viral. I’ll spend extra time to word smith and polish for when a major news outlet picks it up. Those blog posts tend to bomb. And then every once awhile, one will take off and go viral. It will get hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of hits. It’s usually never the ones I’d expect. That’s why the discipline of writing everyday is so important. You never know which blog post will go viral.

3. Anger is easy. Hope is hard. I made a conscious choice early on to avoid the angry rants that can too easily fill up a Facebook newsfeed and reinforce the negative stereotype of the judgmental evangelical. After 500 blog posts, I now see why so many blogs and Facebook rants are angry: anger is easy. It’s simple. It’s can be devoid of actual facts. Hope, on the other hand, is hard. It takes focus. It takes effort to see the silver lining through all the clouds. But more than anything I want my blog to offer hope. So I do things the hard way.

4. Sometimes I wonder if it’s making an impact. There’s honestly seasons where I just write and write with little to no feedback. Am I making a difference? Am I actually helping people, inspiring people, or simply clogging up the internet with another useless blog? It’s in those moments that God usually steers someone my way. Recently I walked into my local cell phone provider’s store and the sales associate who helped me shared how it was crazy he saw me that day because just yesterday his wife emailed him my blog post from the previous day for them to discuss together. Moments like that remind me that it’s making a difference.

5. At the end of the day, I’ve loved it. Countless hours have been put into this blog. I’ve yet to make a penny off of it (some people actually make their living off of a blog. Pipe dream!) At the end of the day I love writing this blog for two reasons: I’m continually learning new things as I teach others and I’m helping people. It’s made me a better person and a better pastor.

To all of you who are reading this, thank you! Here’s looking forward to the next 500 blogs!

* (Technically this post is #501, so only 499 to go!)

Five for Friday (11.14.14)

five red buttonHave a great weekend! #HailState

7 Truths About Marriage You Won’t Hear in Church – Harsh but true words about marriage!

10 Reasons Why Friends and Family Struggle to Believe the Gospel – This may help explain your frustration in witnessing.

Why Mississippi Hates Washington – This hits a little close to home, but helps explain the culture I live in.

Altar Calls: Are They a Biblical Approach? – This helps explain why we don’t do altar calls at Mt Vernon Church.

Why I Don’t Endorse Candidates From the Pulpit – My thoughts exactly.

Five for Friday (8.10.14)

five red buttonHappy Friday everyone! Before you head out to the football games this weekend,  check out these great articles!

 

When Your Child’s Personality Annoys You – Don’t eradicate it, cultivate it!

3 Ways to Find Contentment – Great words!

Friendless Millennials in a Digital Age – Part 1 of a great article on reaching Millennials.

The Solution to Millennial Trust Issues – Anyone trying to reach Millennials needs to read this!

Why Dating is Great for Your Sex Life – This article is for married couples!

Catalyst Conference: Day 2

Catalyst Day 2 was just as amazing as Day 1. Some incredible talks were given that challenged my way of thinking and expanded my vision of what God can and wants to do through Mt Vernon church in Columbus, MS. Here are some of my favorite quotes from Day 2:

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Limited resources + willingness to fail + increasing passion = exponential innovation.” Craig Groeschel

Failure is an event, not a person. Don’t internalize it. You fail, but you’re not a failure.” Craig Groeschel

The church should be the safest place on the earth for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.” Andy Stanley

The church must stop expecting outsiders to act like insiders while insiders act like outsiders.” Andy Stanley

Catalyst Conference: Day 1

So much great content! Like years past, sitting at Catalyst is like drinking from a fire hydrant: there’s too much to take in at once. Thankfully, I’ll be able to go back, process, and unpack what I learned today in months to come (of course stealing the best ideas and turning them into future sermon series). Here are some of my favorite quotes from Catalyst Day 1:

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You haven’t been called to change the world, but you’ve been called to change something.” Andy Stanley

Many years from now, what would you like people to line up to thank you for?” Sandra Stanley

We’ve got a bunch of Christians who want to change the world but not change themselves.” Christine Caine

Your sins will always present themselves as considerably smaller and less potent than they really are.” Tim Keller

There are things God wants to give you but won’t until you pray because you won’t know who they’re from.” John Calvin

I love science because it catches up with the Word of God.” Dr. Caroline Leaf

Comparison will constantly cloud the clarity of what God has called you to do.” Robert Madu

Your thoughts are public to the only one who really matters.” Matt Chandler

Quotes from Catalyst Pre-Labs

Yesterday I attended the Pre-Labs at Catalyst Conference Atlanta. As I’m waking up to attend day one of the conference, let me share some quotes from yesterday that struck me:

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Unless we seek God in radically different ways, the only thing we’re going to do in the next 50 years is manage the decline of Christianity in the Western world.” Jon Tyson on the topic of raising up a culture of leaders

How can a church transform a community if it doesn’t reflect the community?” Mark DeMayz on building a multi-ethnic church

We worship a place called ‘elsewhere.’ Elsewhere is a defense mechanism to keep our fists clenched.” Hannah Brencher on staying hungry in the digital age.

We no longer have to chase the right situation. All we have to do is chase the shepherd.” Carl Lentz on Psalm 23

Don’t get caught missing the supernatural because you’re chasing the spectacular.” Carl Lentz speaking to pastors

Great words! Can’t wait for this morning!

Five for Friday (9.26.14)

5It’s Friday again (whoop whoop)! Before you put your brain in cruise control for the weekend, check out these links. Never stop learning! Never stop growing!

3 Things Every Married Person Should Know – Great words for every married couple!

How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football – In the midst of the NFL’s latest crisis, Politico did a great throwback piece on how an American president stepped in to save football in its infancy.

Five Reasons McDonald’s is Falling Apart – If you ever frequent McDonald’s, these reasons will make sense to you. Great cautionary tale for anyone in business.

That Mysterious Gospel – If you’re ever involved in communicating the gospel to non-believers, then this is an incredibly thought-provoking article. Armchair seminarians will love this one!

12 Reasons Why Churches Don’t Address Decline – I hope this doesn’t describe your church!

Just for Fun: 16 Reasons You’d Probably Die at Hogwarts – for Potter fans only.

The 2 Things That Will Determine Your Career Success

Recently I watched a great leadership talk by Larry Osbourne, pastor of North Coast Church in southern California, on the topic of “Why Some Teams Win and Most Don’t.” In that talk he shared insights from a 30-year study on success and derailments in the business world. Basically, they studied those who had been “fast-tracked,” those who showed incredible aptitude and potential for leadership. They followed these leaders for 30-years and studied what factors led to their ultimate success (for some) or failure (for others).

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The results were astounding and give incredible insights for anyone wanting to be successful in their field. According to this 30-year study, the top two derailment factors for leaders were:

1). Poor relationship skills.

2). Inability to adapt.

If you can’t get along with people and you can’t adapt to a changing world, you’re going to struggle to be successful in whatever field you’re in. This study also listed common characteristics of those who succeeded long-term in their field. Unsurprisingly, the top two characteristics of those who succeeded:

1). Ability to adapt.

2). Strong relationship skills.

More than brains, more than natural ability, more than years of experience, the top two things that will determine your success or derailment in your chosen career are how well you play in the sandbox with others and how well you adapt to changing environments. Great words of wisdom! Listen to them!

 

Five for Friday (9.19.14)

5Have a great Friday!

How to Effectively Reach and Retain Millennials – Interested in impacting the next generation for Christ? This article is a great place to start.

One of the Main Ways that the Earliest Christians Distinguished Themselves from the Surrounding Culture – an important historical read with some intense practical applications for today!

 Stop Preaching and Start Communicating – a great reasoning behind why I preach the way I do.

7 Things I Learned in my First Year of Chasing a Dream Full-Time – Ever thought of quitting your day job and chasing your dream? Learn from someone who’s doing it right now!

Why I Think This World Should End. Great spoken word video that will make you think!