Live, Love, Lead – by Brian Houston:
Ever since the time I started attending church in the fall of 1990, I have always been a part of a church that sang worship songs that came out of Hillsong Church in Australia. From the classic Jesus, Lover of My Soul and Shout to the Lord, to the more recent Cornerstone and What a Beautiful Name, these songs have been the anthems of my journey with Jesus.
I have just finished reading the book Live, Love, Lead – written by Brian Houston, the senior pastor of Hillsong Church. And although I don’t agree with everything he teaches, I definitely found great encouragement from this book during my current season of life and ministry.
Rather than give you a book review, I am going to share with you some of my favourite quotes from this book, with the occasional commentary and thoughts on how his writing impacted me. Enjoy…
“The Christian life is a life of unexpected adventure. It’s as exotic as the Australian outback and as everyday as a cup of coffee.”
“It is my firm belief that following Jesus is the only journey in life worth taking. After seeing the way God changes hearts, meets impossible needs, heals incurable diseases, and restores people, I am convinced beyond a doubt that God didn’t create us to live mediocre, settle-for-less lives.”
“Church is not called to be an enforcer of rules but an outpost of grace. You and I are called to be dispensers of God’s grace.”
“Jesus consistently sought out people on the fringe of society, the individuals others dismissed.”
“The greater problem may be when we get stuck in our pain, when we can’t seem to find the strength to get back on our feet and continue our journey. Life is a difficult path, but it keeps going. If we stop just because we’re in pain and can’t imagine how to continue, then we will miss out on what God wants to do in our lives…”
“I found myself in a download slide toward depression, traumatized by the experience years earlier and internally declining as I tried to look after everyone but myself.”
“A number of years later, I found I could no longer get any restful sleep without taking a sleeping pill. My family noticed and began to ask me if I was okay. I told them I was and tried to keep going as long as I could, preaching and speaking, traveling and leading… However, the physical toll of this period of unrest began to manifest as my mind became scattered, and I wasn’t speaking with the same confidence I had experienced in ministry years earlier… those closest to me knew all was not well with my soul.”
“Then one day something collapsed within me. It was as if all the emotional strength in my tank had suddenly been drained. My ship was sinking, weighed down by excess baggage and other issues of life, and I found myself shattered on a great reef of jagged pain, fear and sorrow… Although my God is all-powerful, I am not. My body, mind and spirit have limits.”
Note – this chapter “A Difficult Path” was very encouraging for me, reading it right on the heels of the long dark-night-of-the-soul wilderness season that I have just come through. It was encouraging to see and know that I wasn’t the only pastor who went through seasons of depression and discouragement! All Christians, pastors, preachers and teachers go through difficult seasons, and it’s okay to not be okay all the time!
“Isn’t this how you want to live your life? Filled with passion and excitement, with the confident knowledge that you’re making a difference in the lives of others, contributing your efforts to God’s kingdom for his eternal purposes.”
One of the final chapters was also very encouraging for me – “Don’t Stop.” I could relate to this chapter because of the current season of life and ministry that I’m in. After 24 years of full time pastoral ministry, I am one year into a transitional season where I’m working at a Christian school as a guidance counsellor and (starting this fall) high school Bible teacher. Consider this:
“There are times in our life when our momentum comes to an abrupt end. A season ends and catches us by surprise, and we’re left wondering how to take the next step… If you’re currently in transition, facing the end of something, perhaps the beginning of something else, you must look at this crossroads as a battlefront.”
“When we face the end of one chapter of our lives and before we begin the next, it’s often the catalyst for a battle. You see, our enemy the devil often tries to wedge a foot in the door and catch us off guard during these times of transition. He’s hoping we’ll feel disoriented and uncertain, afraid and a bit wary… But this process can be so hard. When things come to an unexpected end, for so many people it can just build regret, disillusionment, and confusion.”
This chapter encouraged me to keep my eyes on Jesus during this transition, to bloom where I’m planted, and continue allowing the Holy Spirit to do a deep work in my heart as I am being prepared for the next season the Lord has for me. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet, but I do believe that the best is yet to come!
What a Beautiful Name – Hillsong Worship:
Death could not hold You, The veil tore before You, You silence the boast of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, The praise of Your glory, For You are raised to life again
You have no rival, You have no equal, Now and forever God You reign
Yours is the kingdom, Yours is the glory, Yours is the Name above all names
What a powerful Name it is, What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
Pastor Chris Jordan