Why Blogging Makes Me Better (and you too)

The Top 10 Reasons Why I Blog

Imagine a life without hobbies. I can’t.

Hobbies are often thought of as activities for people who lead quiet, relaxed lives. However, people with full, busy, even stressful lives may need hobbies more than the average person, and benefit greatly from having hobbies in their lives. Hobbies bring many benefits that usually make them more than worth the time they require, according to Stress Management Expert Elizabeth Scott.

I have a few hobbies but none of them have changed my life or brought me as much satisfaction as blogging. In almost too many ways to count, it has changed me and the way I live my life.

In fact, I love blogging so much that I regularly recommend it to others. I started blogging because writing in a journal wasn’t very appealing. But somewhere along the line, my journaling became less about me writing the story and more about the story changing me.

why blog question handwritten on the school blackboard

I started blogging “unofficially” on MySpace as a hobby (remember them). Now it’s a vital part of my professional portfolio. I write on personal development, leadership, finance, relationships, inspiration, and motivation.

Why You Should Be Working on Your Dream NOW!

Living in Chicago is, as Charles Dickens says in the Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

It is the best of times (at least for Christians) because there’s a dark political, moral, and corrupt cloud hovering begging for light (Matthew 5:13-14).  It is the worst of times because we’re witnessing some activists, politicians, glory-seekers, and even preachers/pastors clamoring for the spotlight to build their platform. It’s sickening.

Dream Big, Set Goals, Take Action, concept, tags on the table.

Watching this tragic drama unfold reminds me of Tony Gaskins’ quote:

If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.

According to this quote, if don’t wake up and begin pursuing your dreams, someone will recognize your abilities and recruit you to help build theirs. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong, improper, or illegal about helping others fulfill their dreams, remember God has something He wants you to accomplish that only you can accomplish.

However, it’s possible to work on both at the same time. Everyone has the same thing in common: 24 hours in a day. Since time is passing, why wouldn’t you be working, at least, part-time, on your dreams.

The good thing about seasons:

They have a beginning and an end. Be encouraged…You’re going through a season: Though God may seem distant, He is never far. Though God may seem silent, he is never still.

Going through a season

What to do When There’s Bad Blood

Mars Hill Mobile App
November 15, 2015

Bad Blood is defined as having unpleasant feelings or animosity between people.

No matter how badly you want peace, there are some relationships that may never be fully restored. But doing this one thing can help you find peace about any relationship.

Bad Blood

Photo Credit: Twibbon

If you’ve ever experienced “Bad Blood” in a relationship and want to know what to do, find a quite place and listen to “Bad Blood.”   You will laugh, think, and come away with a solid strategy. You can CLICK HERE to listen NOW!

I’d love to hear your thoughts?

#MotivationalMoment: The Danger of Comparisons

The Real Reason Why Comparisons are Dangerous and Useless

We all do it: we look at what others are doing and wish we were doing that too.

Truth be told, you cannot be happy and envious at the same time. In fact, one of the greatest secrets of having happiness in your life is learning how to eliminate comparisons.

Why Do We Make Comparisons

Our brains have a natural tendency to make comparisons as a system of developing logic and reasoning. And all the ways we compare ourselves to others are the same ways we find value in our lives. The answer isn’t to stop making comparisons, but to remember what God thinks about us.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

David, the author of this Psalm, declared that God is present at conception and birth.  Since we are made in the image of God and God has a special purpose for each person who is born. We live in and with our bodies all our lives, and we know how amazing they are. God formed us as He wants us to be, and we must accept His will no matter how we feel about our genetic structure, our looks, or our abilities.

Made in the Image of God

God’s character goes into the creation of every person. When you feel worthless or even begin to hate yourself, remember that God’s Spirit is ready and willing to work within you. We should have as much respect for ourselves as our Maker has for us.

Check out today’s #MotivationalMoment: The Real Reason Why Comparisons are Dangerous and Useless.

#PrayFirst | Day 8

Pray for F.O.C.U.S. (Follow One Course Until Successful)

Welcome to Day 8 (the FINAL day) 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).

Copy of #PrayFirst Focus

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
  5. You can read our Day Four Facilities Devotional HERE
  6. You can read our Day Five Fulfillment Devotional HERE
  7. You can read our Day Six Family Devotional HERE
  8. You can read our Day Seven Devotional on Finishing Strong HERE

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves…Really?

Although it sounds great, it’s not in the Bible.  No matter how good it sounds, if we demonstrate some effort to improve, God will give us a little push in that direction.  So we decide to make it by sheer willpower and discipline.  The problem is, we run out of steam and lose focus.

Next year, millions will make and break resolutions because they’re trying to solve a spiritual problem through earthly means.  The challenge we all face is that we want to be transformed.  However, we tend to look within ourselves for the solution.  The solution resides outside of ourselves.  The solution is God.

Transformation is a problem that we cannot solve.  That’s why God sent Jesus!  Apart from him, we can do absolutely nothing!  In Galatians 3:3, Paul reminds the Galatians that God has given them His Spirit and with this – combined with their faith, they can make it.

Who Does God Help?

God doesn’t help those with themselves.  God helps those who abide with Him and those who walk with Him in faith (John 15:1-5).  Our efforts were never the impetus for God’s transforming grace.  Nor will they be the impetus for our changed hearts.

The Bible says that we are justified by faith.  We don’t need willpower or self-effort as much as we need faith that God will accomplish in us and for us what we can’t do ourselves.  He is the source of what we long for and need.  Willpower and self-effort can only take us so far in our desire to change.

What’s The Point?

 Change is Possible

Focus is Required

Dependence on God is Foundational

Focus requires discipline. As the famed personal finance guru Robert Kiyosaki defines it: Follow One Course Until Successful.

follow-one-course

Prayer of F.O.C.U.S (Follow One Course Until Successful)

Lord, right now, eliminate all distractions for the time it takes me to complete my priorities. Help me to turn off the wifi, silence cell notifications, and schedule F.O.C.U.S. time with you. Help me to stay on task and Follow One Course Until I’m Successful. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

#PrayFirst | Day 7

Pray That You May Finish Strong

Welcome to Day 7 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).

Copy of #PrayFirst Finishing Strong

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
  5. You can read our Day Four Facilities Devotional HERE
  6. You can read our Day Five Fulfillment Devotional HERE
  7. You can read our Day Six Family Devotional HERE

Finishing Strong Requires a Proper Motivation

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (3:14)

Paul said that his goal was to know Christ, to be like Christ, and to be all Christ had in mind for him. This goal took all of Paul’s energies. This is a helpful example for us. We should not let anything take our eyes off our goal—knowing Christ. With the single-mindedness of an athlete in training, we must lay aside everything harmful and forsake anything that may distract us from being effective Christians.

What’s Holding You Back?

Paul had reason to forget the past—he had held the coats of those who had stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:57, 58, Paul is called Saul here). We have all done things for which we are ashamed, and we live in the tension of what we have been and what we want to be.

Because our hope is in Christ, however, we can let go of past guilt and look forward to what God will help us become. Don’t dwell on your past. Instead, grow in the knowledge of God by concentrating on your relationship with him now. Realize that you are forgiven, and then move on to a life of faith and obedience. Look forward to a fuller and more meaningful life because of your hope in Christ.

Pray That You May Finish Strong

Jesus, help me to finish the race and to make my life a testimony to Your grace.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

Lord, help me to rejoice in hard times because that shapes perseverance, character, and hope in me.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

Lord, help me to live my life in such a way that I will be victorious in You and find You in eternity.

Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24b-25

#PrayFirst | Day 6

Pray For Your Family and Friends

Welcome to Day 6 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).

#PrayFirst FAMILY

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
  5. You can read our Day Four Facilities Devotional HERE
  6. You can read our Day Five Fulfillment Devotional HERE

#PRP – People Reaching People

At the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago, our theme for 2015 is People Reaching People (#PRP). Jesus commissioned the church to continue His ministry of reconciliation to the lost; and He both modeled and taught a strategic formula that would facilitate that great endeavor. Scripture has a word for this – Evangelism (Outreach).

Evangelism (Outreach)

Evangelism is the act of telling the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. It’s derived from the Greek word euangelion, meaning “gospel” or “good news.”

The verbal forms of euangelizo, meaning “to bring” or “to announce good news” occur some 55 times (Acts 8:4,25,35; 11:20) and are normally translated with the appropriate form of the word “preach.” Evangelism has to do with the proclamation of the message of good news.*

From the beginning, God has consistently focused on a specific group, as his initial target for evangelism. That is, He primarily perpetuates His Kingdom through those close relational connections that we all have, those eight to fifteen people He strategically placed around each one of us.

Throughout the New Testament, whenever God’s Spirit changed a life, a world changer was born. Whether it was a demon possessed man, a swindler named Zacchaeus, a royal official with a dying son, a tax collector named Matthew, a Centurion named Cornelius, a businesswoman named Lydia or a recently unemployed Philippian jailor, they all were sent back home to their close relational connections. Again, Scripture has a word for this – Oikos.

Mars Hill’s Outreach Strategy

Oikos, the Greek word for “extended family,” encompasses our relational worlds—anywhere from eight to fifteen people, on the average, whom God has supernaturally and strategically placed in our circles of influence. And, if those relationships frame our primary evangelistic targets, then that reality must frame the strategy for our church.

Pray for Your Circle of Influence – Family and Friends

Make a commitment to pray daily for your circle of influence – your family and friends. Write their names down and pray:

LORD, I pray that they (CALL THEIR INDIVIDUAL NAMES) would sense God’s presence in their lives and that You would draw each one to You. Lord, I offer myself to You every day as an instrument in this process. In Jesus’ name. Amen

*G. William Schweer, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), s.v. “EVANGELISM,” WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

#PrayFirst | Day 5

Pray For Fulfillment of the Vision

Welcome to Day 5 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
  5. You can read our Day Four Facilities Devotional HERE

#PrayFirst Fulfillment

Vision Requires Focus

A vision statement is a preferred picture of what could be and what should be in the life of our church. Additionally, it’s a plan for Mars Hill to accomplish the goals we set. Vision shapes our identity and crystallizes principles that are important to us. It supplies a foundation on which to build a preferred picture of the future. In short, it communicates who we are and what we plan to accomplish. Our vision statement is based on our mission.

Our Mission

The Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago exists to turn the unchurched into fully devoted followers of Christ.

The mission of our church is summarized in a single sentence based on two key scriptures: “We believe a great commitment to the great COMMISSION and the Great COMMANDMENT will Grow a great church!”

The Great Commandment

Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart…soul…and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.  Matthew 22:36-40

The Great Commission

Jesus said, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20

Our Vision

We dream of a place that help people find their way back to God. We dream of a place where the hurting, the hopeless, the discouraged and depressed, the frustrated and confused can find life, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness, guidance, and encouragement.

We dream of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with hundreds of thousands of residents in the Chicagoland area.

We dream of thousands of members growing together in spiritual maturity through Bible studies, seminars, retreats, and fellowship –loving, laughing, and learning together.

Vision Prayer

LORD, thank you for the Church, for its mission, and for calling us to be part of what you’re doing in the world!

Your Word notes that in the last days your people would dream dreams and see visions. We would be a people who have a picture of the future!

I pray that our picture of the future would not be limited to our own hopes, ideas, and agenda, but that they would ultimately come from you. Birth your vision in the hearts of your people!

Help us to be passionate about the vision you give us. And help us to be willing to pay the price of the vision.

May the pursuit of your vision be all for the glory of God, and may it bring honor to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen.

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.