#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 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.

The Best Kept Leadership Secret Hidden In Plain Sight

I recently discovered why I’m feeling flu-like symptoms…It’s because the election season is almost in full swing.

Soon we will be inundated with endless commercials persuading us to vote for a particular candidate. Honestly, I am not interested in hearing another narcissistic self-serving pitch.

I’m more interested in hearing how they’ll get back to serving the people. The world doesn’t need new leaders cut from the same self-serving cloth. We need to help them discover the best kept leadership secret in plain sight – Servant Leadership.

Couple hiking help each other silhouette in mountains, sunset and ocean. Male and woman hiker helping each other on top of mountain climbing, beautiful sunset landscape.

The Best Kept Leadership Secret Hidden In Plain Sight – Be a Servant

Being a servant is often frowned upon. Instead life is all about being successful and that doesn’t quite equate to being a servant. The world tells you to have ambition and drive so you can one day lead as CEO. But self promotion seldom results in effective leadership.

If you are only focused on what you want, if you rise up through manipulation and power play, only you benefit. As a result, that leadership is seldom influential. A truly effective leader is defined by a different heart attitude.

It reflects in the success of the people that they work with and manage. It is evidenced in the organizations they lead, and it impacts dramatically on a business’ bottom line. Their secret is simply that they lead people by being a servant to them.

If You Want to Grow Others, Grow Yourself First

33 Leadership Lessons from The One Day Summit with Dr. E. Dewey Smith

I love adding value to church leaders, pastors, and marketplace leaders.

In an effort to add value to their lives, I decided to attend Pastor E. Dewey Smith’s One Day Leadership Summit in Atlanta, GA.

It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of John Maxwell. In fact, his 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, along with Bill Hybels’ Leadership Axioms travel with me everywhere I go. Attending conferences that equip me to influence the influencer fulfills John Maxwell’s 15th Law – The Law of Contribution – Growing Yourself Enables You to Grow Others.

One Day Summit Pic

I must confess that in the beginning, my motivation for personal growth was selfish. I wanted to grow, so I could be successful. There were goals I wanted to accomplish and milestones I wanted to achieve. But along the way, I made a life-changing discovery. My progress in personal growth also opened the doors for others.

Therefore, I’d like to share the top leadership lessons from one of the greatest leadership minds in Christianity, Dr. E. Dewey Smith, Jr.

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:

How To Deal With People Who Don’t Like You

Rejection is powerful.

When I counsel people, sometimes I hear them say, “I don’t care if people like me, as long as they respect me.” When they say that, it’s an “emotional wall they use to block the hurt of rejection,” according to psychologist Marcia Reynolds.

God created us to be social, and if we’re honest, all of us care if people like us. “The feeling of love, affection, and belonging is necessary before we can reach the highest levels of consciousness and wisdom,” according to psychologist Abraham Maslow.  Maslow is saying we all need people to survive. So, how do keep from withdrawing when dealing with someone who doesn’t like you?

Closeup on business woman showing thumbs down

Fortunately, you’re not the only one who’s had to deal with this problem. After Nathan had anointed David as the future King of Israel, Saul became his bitter enemy. Like David, all of us, at one time or another deal with people we don’t like and who don’t like us. Perhaps you have people who want to do you harm and see you fail. This is where David found himself in 1 Samuel Chapter 24.

I believe you have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate. That’s actually a serious point. If you’re going to do something that’s never been done before – which is basically what innovation is – people are going to misunderstand it just because it’s new.

Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of Amazon.com (BusinessWeek.com April 17, 2008)


(Jeff Bezos, April 17, 2008)

What To Do When There’s No Time

5 Blog Posts to Help You Manage Your Time More Effectively

Someone once said, “time flies when your having fun.”  I’d like to suggest that time flies whether you’re having fun or not.  In fact, time never stops.

It seems that everyone’s busy these days. And life shows no sign of slowing down. There are an endless number of apps, books, planners, and software all designed to help us manage our time more effectively.  Since life has no intention of slowing down, are your efforts effective? Or do you sometimes feel like you’re spinning your wheels?

Orange Time Management Button on Computer Keyboard. Business Concept.

“Time flies whether you’re having fun or not.” -CE Stowers

Now more than ever, we seem to have more work than time to do it.  Everyone has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. So since we can’t increase the amount of time we have, we need to learn how to control our use of it.

Here are my five favorite blog posts to help you grow in the area of time management.

Why You Can’t Seem to Manage Your Time – Brandon Cox

Time management. Of all the people I know who ever focus on this concept, only a small handful are confident that they’re doing it well.

Source: Why You Can’t Seem to Manage Your Time

Time Management System – Ron Edmondson

If you aren’t doing so already, I want to encourage you to plan your week for efficiency.  Every Monday (or Sunday night if you prefer), as the first thing you do, consider the week ahead.

Source: Time Management System – Ron Edmondson

3 Essentials for Time Management – Artie Davis

As you grow as a leader, your time becomes the most valued gift you can invest in others.

Source: 3 Essentials for Time Management

Top 10 Ways Leaders Waste Time – Carey Nieuwhof

When was the last time you complained about not having enough to do and more than enough time to do it in? Exactly. Almost every leader I know struggles with finding the time to get it all done. I do too. So what helps? And what hurts?

Source: Top 10 Ways Leaders Waste Time (And 10 Time Hacks to Help You) – Carey Nieuwhof

14 Tips for Time Management – Chuck Lawless

I make no claim to an expert at time management. What I am is a seminary dean, education consultant, church consultant, and local church pastor who has been forced to learn how to budget time. Here are some time management tips that have worked for me:

Source: 14 Tips for Time Management – ThomRainer.com

Heartsill Wilson said,

God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it – or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it!

When you open your eyes tomorrow morning, remind yourself that it holds incredible possibilities. You can allow that day to slip away from you, or you can use it to make things happen. The choice is yours.

What other time management techniques have worked for you?

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?