The Single Most Effective Secret to Winning in Life

Let’s face it – winning is fun. I know some believe that “winning isn’t everything,” but why play the game if you’re not playing to win? That’s why I love Scripture, especially The Book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 11 is about winners. It’s God’s Hall of Fame. These were ordinary people who accomplished extra ordinary achievements. They weren’t perfect. They often failed. But they all reached their goals. One of my favorite winners listed in this book of winners is Moses.

Businessman Writing the Words "Be Yourself"

In my humble opinion, Moses was one of the greatest men in the Old Testament. He received the Ten Commandments from God, wrote the first five books of the Bible, and led the children of Israel out of captivity and slavery into the land of Egypt. Why was God able to use Moses so effectively? He understood that being yourself is one of the secrets to living an effective life.

How Doing Less Can Help You Achieve More

When is enough…enough?

Recently, I asked several people to explain to me exactly what they wanted. Guess what – NOT A SINGLE person could answer.  Knowing what you want is the best way to avoid the temptation to pursue several things at the same time.  That takes focus.

I’ve seen people get frustrated by their ministry, business, and careers because they know that they want something but they don’t exactly know what. The main reason people struggle professionally and personally is simply a lack of focus. This lack of focus can be costly because there is a subtle push to pursue more.

do less

There Will Always Be a Subtle Push to Pursue More

There’s a subtle and (if you’re not careful) sinister push that we should devote more time to building our brand/platform.  Although I’m a pastor, a writer, mentor, and speaker, I’m not exempt from this subtle push. A few years ago I discovered that there was a danger to my soul in pursuing more exposure, more name recognition, more money to be made from thinking, writing, and speaking about ministry issues. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up like King Solomon and lose focus.

King Solomon’s Dangerous Pursuit of More

King Solomon wrote an entire book (Ecclesiastes) on perilous pursuits and eventually paid a hefty price.  He lost focus and desperately pursued several unrelated goals in a vain attempt to satisfy himself (Ecclesiastes 2:1–11).  As Solomon penned these words, he was rich beyond measure, but internally empty.

He couldn’t fill the hole God placed in his heart with things or understand why he lacked contentment.  Regretfully, he tried to fill that hole with his outward pursuits of more.  Solomon eventually did narrow his focus, but it took him a lifetime and an entire book to do so (read Ecclesiastes. 12).

Solomon finally determined what really mattered and what he really wanted. I read somewhere: “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”  The danger with pursuing more is that it’s limitless. Unlike Solomon, Jesus models what happens when you’re focused.

Jesus Was Focused – He Didn’t Allow Distractions or Rejection Change His Focus

While in the synagogue, Jesus spoke from Isaiah 61 about His anointing (Luke 4:18). His cruel rejection by the people of his hometown in Nazareth is highlighted to characterize Jesus’ initial teaching ministry in Galilee. Even when His audience didn’t like what He had to say (Luke 4:28, 29), He moved on to the next town to continue His work. He would not let anything drain His anointing or distract Him from His mission.

The Most Effective Tactic I Use to Stay Focused

Schedule time on your calendar to focus on the task.

After reading Jason Fried‘s book Rework, I’ve incorporated the “Alone Zone” into my work flow.  If some asks if I am available, I reply, “I’m sorry, but I have another commitment at that time.”

Jesus was focused. How about you? Have you figured out what you want?

4 Proven Ways to Grow as a Leader

As I reflect on Easter Weekend at the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago, I want to take a few moments to share what I’m learning as a leader.

I eat, drink, and sleep leadership and my leadership vision is seeing it work without me. God allowed me to see that happen Easter weekend. Since there are many moving pieces that make Mars Hill work, I won’t name names because I know I’ll leave someone out. Now that the dust has settled, I want to share the 4 proven ways to grow as a leader.

Be Confident – Confidence is the Engine That Jumpstarts Momentum

I tell our congregation, “Attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.” Our Worship & Fine Arts Ministry decided to begin our services with a play on the BIGGEST Sunday of the year. It was an absolute hit and the audience loved it. It takes confidence to take a risk and our team did it.


“Confidence in oneself is the cornerstone of successful leadership. Only those who believe in themselves have enough optimism to see the best in those around them. “Self-confidence breeds confidence in others,” according to noted author and pastor John Maxwell.

5 Reasons We’re Launching Our Online Campus –

Every generation experiences change.

In a relatively short amount of time, the Internet has moved from an occasional tool to one of the principal ways we communicate, entertain ourselves, and do work. Staying up-to-date on emails, social media and other means of online communication is a bigger time requirement than people may realize.

New research has found that the average user spends 23 hours a week emailing, texting, and using social media and other forms of online communication. Since people are already online, we decided to launch an online campus and guess what – it’s biblical.

Android Tablet

Here We GROW Again – Easter 2015 People Reaching People #PRP

On Sunday, March 15, 2015, the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago celebrated Friends’ Day.

We had our largest attendance this year. Every seat, including two overflows were filled to capacity. I believe God gave us a glimpse of how Easter 2015 will be. Therefore, we’re adding a Saturday service for our members so we can free up space for our guests attending Easter Sunday.

Easter Flyer 2015

People Reaching People

At Mars Hill, our theme for 2015 is People Reaching People #PRP.  That means we’re encouraged to stretch ourselves and do different things to reach people.  We have to be open to new ideas, take some risks as we prepare for the overflow that God is sending us.

As pastor, I am asking our members to attend our Saturday Easter service (April 4th) at 5PM.  It will be very similar to our Sunday services and CHILDCARE WILL BE AVAILABLE TO ALL.  It’s casual so come as you are.

If you attend Saturday’s service and will attend Easter Sunday, we ask three things of you:

  1. Wear your Mars Hill T-shirt,
  2. Sit in the section for Mars Hill members, and if necessary,
  3. Be ready to give up your seat and go to the overflow or our cafe.

It’s all about reaching people this year so we have to be willing to make sacrifices.

If you are bringing guests on Easter Sunday and you need to sit with them, don’t wear a t-shirt because it is more important that our guests feel comfortable.

Easter Weekend Schedule:

Saturday, April 4, 2015

5PM – Live Worship Experience – Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago
5PM – **NEW Online Worship Experience** (Yep, it’s almost here)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

8AM – Live Worship Experience
8AM – **NEW Online Worship Experience**
10:30AM – Live Worship Experience
10:30AM – **NEW Online Worship Experience**

Remember, It’s all about People Reaching People #PRP.

The Real Reason Why You’re Not Growing Spiritually (and no it’s not the Devil)

Have you ever wondered what’s the real reason you’re not as far as you’d like to be spiritually?

We blame it on the enemy, our busy lives, our careers, children, even the church we attend. The real reason you’re not as far as you’d like to be spiritually isn’t because of the enemy, busyness, or the complexity of sermons; it’s because we’re distracted. Despite knowing that distractions hamper productivity, most people don’t realize how it affects their spiritual growth.

Barbie distracted while driving

In the few minutes it takes to read this blog post, chances are you’ll pause to check your phone, answer a text, switch to your desktop to read an email, or glance at the Facebook or Twitter messages popping up in the corner of your screen. And pastors wonder why it is people are not growing spiritually. They’re distracted!

The One Thing You Must Do When a Crisis Comes

I will never forget a couple who attended Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago for five years. They almost never missed a week. They would walk in, hear the message and the music, and walk back out.

Week after week, in and out. They never met anybody. They never established any friendships. They never got involved in ministry. They never joined. They never built a network of support.

After about five years, they went through one of those horrendous, gut wrenching, devastating crises, that shattered their world. The kind that knocks you against the wall and leaves you gasping for breath just trying to hold on.


The real tragedy was, there was nobody there to help them. They had never taken the time to get to know anyone. They had never built any relationships. They had never been there for anybody else in a crisis, and nobody was there for their crisis. That’s sad. Because it’s completely unnecessary.

They could have taken the time before the storm to establish a few key relationships that would have been there to strengthen them when they were going through tough times. So, what do you do when you’re going through one of those horrendous, gut wrenching, devastating crises that shatters your world? Drop your pride and accept help from others.

What To Do When Life Isn’t Fair

As a father, one of the most important things I have learned is that life is not fair.

Life does not always deliver equal portions to everyone. When my sons were younger, I remember trying to split a Baby Ruth candy bar in equal parts. Joshua, my youngest, began protesting because, in his opinion, his older brother had more peanuts. The first thing that came out of his mouth: “NOT FAIR! He has more peanuts than I do.”

That is exactly how life is. It is not divided into equal portions and that is when we scream: “Life is not fair!” Sometimes our portion of life does not seem right. Consequently, we are disappointed, angry, and if we are not careful, we become bitter. Bitterness is often a by-product of finding yourself stressed to your breaking point. All of us can recall moments of unfairness. We find ourselves saying “this should not be happening to me.”

Life Is Unfair

The fact is, you are going to experience pain in life through circumstances, from other people, sometimes intentionally, and sometimes unintentionally. You cannot keep yourself from painful moments. Although you cannot control your circumstances, you can control your response, your reaction, and how you choose to react to a particular circumstance or person that has hurt you. How do you respond when life is not fair?

What To Do When You’re at Your Breaking Point

What does it mean when you find yourself saying or thinking—”I cannot take this anymore?”

All of us have been there, yet these words do not mean the same thing to everyone. People reach their breaking point in different ways and if you dig deep enough, you will discover how stress plays an important role in getting us to our breaking point.  Stress is a part of life. If you do not have any stress in your life, I would like to suggest that you are probably dead.

Breaking Point

The Real Reason Why You Worry (and How to Stop)

A few months ago, I flew to Orange County, CA.  On my return flight, I experienced turbulence somewhere over the Colorado Rockies.  Sensing my nervousness, my seat mate looked at me and said, “Do not be worried, if it is your time, it is your time.” Really?  You mean to tell me that is the best thing you can say?

He gave me absolutely no comfort!  I have never received comfort from people who say, “If it is your time, it is your time.”  It does not matter if you are in a car, or on a bus or plane, if it is your time, it is your time.  What if it is the pilot’s time?  It may not be my time but it is the pilot’s time.  The truth is, at some point, we all worry.

The Real Reason Why You Worry