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Hey friends. I wrote this blog post yesterday. Today and for the rest of the week, I’ll be at a spiritual retreat center totally unplugging. They don’t have internet or cell phone service. It’s just me, God, my Bible and my prayer journal. Please pray that God would speak clearly to me. Thanks!

 

*** Also Happy Birthday to my son, Tommy, who turns 12 today. It’s been amazing to see God work in your life over the past two years. I’m so glad we had a wonderful day of celebration  yesterday. You’re a great young man and I’m proud of you.

My kids first day of school Aug 2014

My best friend, Thomas Rose, is a worship leader in Nashville and also has a band called The Rose Factor. Here is their video of “Oceans” by Hillsong United. Let this arrangement and the graphics that go with it inspire you. Maybe consider adding a click track to the video and using it as a video track at your church? Go for it! Worship God with this beautiful song.

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I’m entering into a season of fasting and prayer for the next two weeks. I’m praying about God’s direction for my life and interviewing with some churches. I’m praying God would lead me to the right fit and my family and I to the right community. Would you join me in prayer during this season of seeking God? You can read about my transition out of Christian Media Magazine here.

I wrote about The Digital Age last week and gave you a glimpse into one of their rehearsals. Today, I want to share with you the lyric video to their song “Break Every Chain.” May you worship with this today and possibly explore using the video in your own worship setting in the future. Have a great day!

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I’ve been overwhelmed with graphic images of dead children in Iraq and men being crucified in Syria by ISIS. I didn’t ask to see them – they just appeared in my Facebook news feed. I’m at a loss for words. I’ve been losing sleep. Yesterday, God led me to read Hebrews 11, specifically the last part:

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

I’m praying for the persecuted and ask that you join me in prayer. You can also voice your outrage on social media and to your Senator and Congressman. Let’s pray that God would intervene and stop this genocide.

For thoughts on how you and your church can use social media, read THIS article by my friend Jason Ham from the UK. To read why I changed my Facebook profile picture to the one at the top of this post, go HERE.

I’m a fan of The Digital Age (the band). If you don’t know, The Digital Age is the David Crowder Band minus David Crowder. They make amazing music and they are true creatives. Their artistry, creativity and innovation inspires me.

This is a sneak peak into one of their rehearsals where they play and sing the cover song “Oceans” (by Hillsong United). I had never thought of having men sing a female song and I love what they do with it. Take a listen and watch the full video to be inspired today and give you new ideas for how to use this song in  your context.

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Many of you know I’m from South Carolina. Today, I fly back (with my daughter Grace) to speak at a worship conference there. The good news is that I’ll get to spend some time with my family, in addition to speaking at the conference Thursday and Friday.

If you’re going to be at the Christian Supply Conference this week, contact me and let me know. Also, come by my workshops. I’ll be teaching on Church Leadership Essentials and my new book Strange Leadership. See you next week!

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I was looking back on a blog I wrote over 7 years ago and I saw something I felt God speak to me during a time of powerful worship:

“When pride walks in, I walk out.”

I remember God speaking in His still, small voice like He has so many times over the years. I remember my on-going struggle with pride and that those words stung, but resonated. God help me to walk in humility. God help us to walk in humility.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” ― C.S. LewisMere Christianity

When was the last time you felt God speaking to your heart? What did He say? Are you striving to walk in humility?

Jesus Laughing

Last night I was doing my regular Thursday night thing – watching the comedy shows back to back on NBC (like I have for years). I was reflecting on how good and healthy it was to laugh and unwind. Then I was reminded of some of the best leadership advice someone ever gave me:

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Great advice and a good reminder for all of us leaders who struggle with pride and trying to always know the right thing to do. I used to always have a picture of Jesus laughing hanging on my office wall (seen above). Want to smile? Google “Jesus laughing” and look at the images here.

When is the last time you laughed so hard that you started to cry? I try to have fun moments with my family and friends where we laugh regularly. I hope you do, too. Have you noticed how good it feels to laugh hard? It’s therapeutic.

The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an article two weeks ago entitled “The Science of Laughter.” In it, they tell us:

“A positive emotional state is a benefit in helping us deal with the stresses and strains of being human. Second, having a good sense of humor helps us to rally social support around us when times are tough. Having people in your corner during tough times is very good for you. There’s clear research around that. Third, and most intriguing to me, is that making jokes about the challenges in life can fundamentally change the way we think about those challenges.”

In my travels, consulting, coaching and networking, I meet with a lot of leaders – a ton of pastors. I had coffee with a pastor yesterday and am having lunch with another pastor today. I’m constantly trying to encourage and be encouraged by other leaders.

I don’t know who I’m talking to, but I want to free you up to take a load off and laugh. Learn some jokes and try sharing them with others. I know some churches and businesses that ask you to tell a joke in their interview process. This is a test to see if you have a sense of humor and if you can be “normal.”

If you can’t laugh (and laugh at yourself), you need to do an ego check. Too many leaders are too serious and no fun to be around. Just look at the morale of their team. It’s sad to see.

So, if I can encourage you and give you one thing to work on this Summer – it’s to laugh more and have fun with your team. They’ll thank you and you just might last longer in this tough calling we call “leadership.”

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Eric Bryant has a new project that just released called A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

Eric serves at Gateway Church in Austin, and previously he served at Mosaic in Los Angeles. His previous book is called Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World (also known as Peppermint-Filled Pinatas).

Here’s more on the project from Eric:

We have the capacity for unlimited influence!

According to Jesus, no matter where we come from or what we’ve done or what limitations we may think we have, we actually can become live a transformed life and transform the lives of others. He promises that we can have a level of spiritual influence far beyond what we might imagine. We can bear fruit 30, 60, and even 100 times more than what was sown.

In the parable of the soils, Jesus explained that if we can avoid being like the first three soils, we could have a life that is described as fruitful. In other words, if we can learn to be receptive (hear God’s voice), tenacious (not give up on what we know we should do), and intentional (avoid distractions), we will be who we’ve always wanted to be.

Derived from Jesus’ parable of the soils, A Fruitful Life will help you with the following:

  • Discover your calling.
  • Make decisions using a grid for hearing God’s voice
  • Overcome the most painful moments of life.
  • Make progress in areas where you are most tempted.
  • Experience renewal and bring change to others.

 

Applying the Scriptures to our life and developing the skills derived from the parable of the soils really is life-changing.

I have seen God do remarkable things in my life, in the lives of others who went through this material in small groups, and in the lives of those who experienced the material in the context of a retreat or sermon series.

When we are spiritually receptive, tenacious, intentional, and proactive, we are in the right place for God to work in our lives and through our lives.

I think this message is more important now than ever. As a society we’ve moved from hunting to farming to working in factories into what is now called the Information Age. Seth Godin refers to this period as the time for artists to emerge.

I would like to think of this as the Age of Influence. Technology has given us the opportunity to influence people from across the planet the instant we post something online. The world is smaller and our opportunities are larger.

For a free download of the overview, go to A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

Be sure to go to the last chapter in the overview to discover how to sign up for a chance to win the entire series.

Check out this video with Eric sharing more on A Fruitful Life:

Dr. Eric Michael Bryant serves with Gateway Church in Austin as the team leader for Central and South Austin and as part of the teaching team. Known for their mottos: “no perfect people allowed” and “come as you are, but don’t stay that way.”

Eric coaches church planters and campus pastors, teaches on Post Christian Ministry, and leads a cohort for a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary where he earned his Doctorate of Ministry in Entrepreneurial Leadership. More on these opportunities can be found here.