#PrayFirst | Day 4

Pray for Our Facilities

Welcome to Day 4 of our #PrayFirst Campaign!

For One Week, we will pray for One Minute every hour about One Topic as One Church to One God! Pray for the first 60 seconds of every hour and watch God bless the other 59 minutes! There is power when God’s people pray in unity. Join us as we answer Jesus’ prayer “May they be ONE” (John 17:21).

If you’d like to know more about our #PrayFirst Campaign, you can:

  1. Click HERE to read the overview
  2. You can read our Day One Devotional on Faith HERE
  3. You can read our Day Two Family Devotional HERE
  4. You can read our Day Three Finance Devotional HERE

#PrayFirst Facilities

For several years, we have been examining options and discerning together what role our facilities play in our mission and ministry together.  A few years ago we hired Nevin Hedlund and Associates to help us imagine what a new facility could look like and to help us assess how much it might cost.  We have not made a decision to build, but this information is very helpful as we discern that possibility. 

Vision For Our Facilities

We dream extending the reach our church through multiple campuses throughout the Chicagoland area – with beautiful, yet efficient facilities including an intimate worship center, a counseling, and prayer center, classrooms for Bible study and training; all of this designed to minister to the total person – spiritually, emotionally, physically, and socially. It will be set in a peaceful, inspiring garden setting with bright flowers, beautiful trees, and water with pools, and fountains.

Prayer Guide to Aid you in your Time with God

“This is the one I esteem:  he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”  Isaiah 66:2b

*Please Pray

. . . for an emptiness of our own wills, a holy indifference to our own opinions, so that we are able to hear God’s voice as to whether  to continue to meet in our current facility or to pursue a new one.  For a desire for nothing else but God’s will:  “nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.” * Pray as Jesus prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will,” (Matthew 26:39).

. . . that we each would “delight ourselves in the Lord” above all else (Ps. 37:4).  Likewise, ask God to make His ways, our ways . . . and His thoughts, our thoughts (Isaiah 55: 8, 9).   Also, pray that the Lord would be our very lives (Dt. 30:20), and that in Him, we would live and move, and have our beings (Acts 17:28).

. . . for wisdom, God’s wisdom, not what this world would tell us is right or best, but God’s wisdom which is “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere,” (James 3: 17).  Furthermore, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” (Ps. 111:10a), so petition God for us to have a holy fear of the Lord, recognizing who we are and our need for Him and for the knowledge of His will.

. . . to know His voice (John 10:3), to be still and listen to His voice (Dt. 30:20, Is. 55:2), and for His voice to be the loudest voice to which each of us would listen.

. . . for “our love to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that we discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God,” (Philippians 1:9-11).

. . . for God “to fill us with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. . .” (Colossians 1: 9).

. . .that we would be one just as the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father (John 17:21). Ask that we would be “brought to complete unity to let the world know that [the Father] sent [Jesus] and loves us as His own Son,” (Jn. 21:23).

Source: *Morris and Olsen in Barton’s Pursuing God’s Will Together, p. 187.

#PrayFirst | Day 3

Pray for Your Finances

Welcome to Day 3 of our #PrayFirst Campaign!

For One Week, we will pray for One Minute every hour about One Topic as One Church to One God! Pray for the first 60 seconds of every hour and watch God bless the other 59 minutes! There is power when God’s people pray in unity. Join us as we answer Jesus’ prayer “May they be ONE” (John 17:21).

If you’d like to know more about our #PrayFirst Campaign, you can click HERE. Also, you can read our Day One Devotional on Faith HERE and Day Two Family Devotional HERE.

#PrayFirst Finances

Get Rich or Go Broke Trying

Rich a subjective term. It’s an ever-moving target. It’s like trying to nail jello to the wall. Defining“rich” is as personal as taste preferences of food or fashion. Many times, even when you are considered by others to be rich, you don’t think of yourself that way.

Why? It’s all about perspective. The problem is you don’t “feel” rich. For the sake of this devotional, I won’t define rich…I’m leaving that task to you. I will, however, share a tip that’ll help you “feel” rich regardless of your income.

Fire The Jones’

We all know “that” family… the happy, perfect family who seems to have it all. Everyone has a “Jones” family on their block, and while some shrug their shoulders and don’t care that the “Jones” just brought home a new Mercedes, others feel as if they need to not only keep up but to outdo this neighbor or even friend.

Occasionally, we make questionable decisions to impress the others. The earlier we recognize our self-worth isn’t tied to our possessions, the sooner we’ll reach financial freedom. There’s no shame in driving a second-hand car with a few miles. You don’t need the pressure of working extra hours just to cover credit card payments.

Pray for Your Finances

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)

Lord, I surrender my financial affairs and concerns about money to your Divine care and love. I ask that you remove my worries, anxieties, and fears about money, and replace them with faith. I know and trust that my debts will be paid, and money will flow into my life. I have only to look to nature to see proof of the abundance you provide. I release all negative thoughts about money and know that prosperity is my true state. I commit to being grateful for all that I now have in my life. I learn to manage my finances wisely, seeking help where needed. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse of the Moment

Some of my most effective messages didn’t require twelve or twenty hours of study; I wrote them in ten minutes or less.

Every pastor, preacher, public speaker carries their “stick message” (recycled messaged that brings the house down)” everywhere they go.  However, there are times when a recycled messaged doesn’t fit the context or mood.

Woman giving a speech at a convention

College, grad school, and seminary gave me the tools for delving into the Word and coming up with a sermon. And I am reasonably confident that as the Lord guides and empowers me, I can deliver it intact.

That’s why I’m going to keep my finger on the pulse of the moment and take a lesson from Brandon Kelly’s article, “Why Preparing A Sermon in 10 Minutes Will Make You A Better Preacher.” I’m not ditching my weekly sermon prep, just adding another tool to my arsenal.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Alone in a Crowded World

How to Navigate The Season of Loneliness

People who live in Chicago know this: Our seasons are uncontrollable and unpredictable.

The same is true about life. It’s unpredictable and include good times and bad times. There are four weather seasons, but there are many seasons in the seasons of life, especially the Season of Loneliness.

Some of you are thinking, “I can stop reading now because I’m not lonely.” Keep reading because one day you’re going to need this message. Loneliness in an inevitable season of life. You will go through it many, many times.

guy in mask in venice

What Causes Loneliness

It is not good for man to be alone. Gen. 2:18

Genesis 2:18 says God made us to need each other, that we are made for relationships. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, He had every single thing he could want.  There were no stress or problems. God looked at Adam and said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” The very first thing that God said is not right about the earth is loneliness.

So You’re Stuck in Traffic?

How to Turn Your Commute into a Classroom

Time is an unrenewable commodity. Once it’s gone, you can never replace it.

The real question is what are you doing with your time?

Each day the average American spends between one and two hours driving to and from work. Yearly we spend well over 300 hours of our lives in our car. It’s the equivalent of 38 work days of driving. Another way to look at it is 13 straight 24 hour days.

Traffic jam

We Spend a Lot of Time Commuting

The average commute in the U.S is 45 minutes, with New Yorkers having the longest trek to work with an average 73-minute commute. Chicagoans came in second spending 64 minutes a day commuting, followed by San Francisco residents with 56 minutes, while those in Los Angeles have an average 55-minute commute, according to CNN Money.

What to do When You Don’t Like Your Job

In Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study, 70 percent of those who participated described themselves as “disengaged” from their work.

Translation: 70 percent of Americans don’t like their jobs. Yikes!

Depressed and exhausted working

There’s a reason King Solomon is considered one of the wisest men who ever lived. Thousands of years ago, he posed a question that’s even more relevant today. He wrote:

What do people really get for all their hard work? Ecclesiastes 3:9

King Solomon is asking, “Why do you work?”

Do you work to pay your bills? Do you work to get rich? Do you work so that you can retire? Since studies show you’ll spend 40% of your life working, maybe it’s time to think about the real reason you work.

Let me put it another way: If you’re an average American, you’ll spend about 150,000 hours of your life at work. That’s a long time considering how many people don’t like their jobs. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time understanding why people spend their lives doing something they don’t like.

Again I ask, “Why do you work?”

What to do When Your Friends Have More Than You

How to Put Envy to Rest for Good

You’ve seen them before.

It’s the person at your job that everyone loves to hate. Everything always goes right for them. They get the promotion, has the biggest salary, the perfect family, and just returned from a two-weeks vacation.

Do you have that picture in your mind yet? Good!

Now, Imagine you’re on your way to work and by pass a police officer giving someone a ticket on the shoulder of the road. You take a double look and discover that the person getting the ticket is THAT person from your job. What are you feeling inside right now? Do you smile and whisper to yourself, “got ‘em!”

Welcome to the wonderful world of envy.

Illustration depicting an illuminated neon sign with an envy concept.

What Is Envy

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. Galatians 5:25-26

Envy is resenting God’s goodness in others’ lives and ignoring God’s goodness in our own life. In today’s society envy is encouraged. Take today’s commercials, they have nothing to do with the actual product, but more so, the product of selling envy. They’re subliminally saying, “buy our product and you will be envied! You’ll be the envy of everybody else!”

How to Trust Your Struggle

How do you profit from your struggle?

What comes to mind when you hear the word, “Struggle?”

It’s a touchy subject that one rarely wants to discuss, let alone dwell on. If you’re breathing, at some point in life, you will inevitably have to confront it, deal with it, get through it and learn from it.

In every struggle, there’s a lesson and we must learn how to leverage it and profit from our struggles. “When God wants to send you a gift, He wraps it up in a problem. The bigger the gift – the bigger the problem,” according to Norman Vincent Peale.  

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of TED Talks and it’s not uncommon to come across a life-changing message. Zain Asher, national business and personal finance correspondent for CNN, challenged listeners to “Trust Your Struggle.” Check it out:

After watching Zain’s talk, I came away with two valuable lessons:

  1. Seek the valuable lesson in every problem or difficulty. Every setback you face contains 1-2 lessons that have been sent to you to help you become more successful. Failures feel sorry for themselves when things go wrong. Successful people look for the valuable lesson they can learn. 
  2. Focus on what can be done now (solutions) instead of who’s to blame. Ask: “What’s the good in this situation?”

When you look for something good, you’ll always find something good. Like Zain said, “I don’t believe in competing for what I want, I believe in creating what I want”

Are you trusting your struggle?



How to Stop Procrastinating in 10 Minutes or Less

Why You Procrastinate, and How to Stop It.

I have a confession to make: I waited until the very last minute to write this blog post.

Why? I work best under pressure. Really? That’s just another excuse I tell myself but in reality, it’s procrastination. No matter how many productivity tips I discover, procrastination still stalks me from time to time.

Stop Procrastinating Sign Painted, Open Hand Raised, Isolated on White Background.

Procrastination is a Universal Problem

Most of us know what we need to do, we just put it off. The problem with procrastination is that it becomes a way of life, a lifestyle. The more you do it, the better you become at it. Some people are professional procrastinators. They are very, very good at it.

The Bible has something to say about procrastination.

Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. James 4:17

I know the things I ought to do, and I don’t do them. Here’s why:

What To Do When You’re Overwhelmed

3 Reasons Why Self-Care is Urgent Care

When my children were younger, I frequently traveled for my work as a senior pastor of a growing church. When they grew older, they became active in sports and other activities.  Consequently, flying slowed down dramatically.

Now that my children are older and living their lives, I’m flying again. When I board the plane and take my seat, I find myself paying more attention to an old familiar message from the flight attendant.

In the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before assisting others.

During past trips, I never actually paid attention to the flight attendant’s message.   On this particular day, I did, and it hit me like a ton of bricks: You must take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Let that sink in for a moment. What does it mean? Simply put: If you don’t put your mask on first, you won’t be there for others when they need you. You will be unconscious.

Oxygen Mask

Our natural tendency is to do for others, because we are caring, loving, nurturing, responsible, supportive and competent people. However, just like the oxygen mask, we need to take care of ourselves so we can effectively take care of the people we love.