3 Differences Between Powerful And Perfect Talks

Over the past six months, I have consulted with churches and communicators about the effectiveness of their messages.

Some messages are incredibly powerful, and some are not, which leads to the question, “What is the difference between a perfect message and a powerful message?”

Let me answer this question through these lenses:   Continue reading “3 Differences Between Powerful And Perfect Talks”

5 Things To Remember When Team Teaching

Recently my wife, Rene Clark, and I did some team teaching at Parkview Christian Church. Parkview is a multi-site church of 9,000 weekend attenders in the Chicagoland area where I am stoked to be a teaching pastor.

We have spent time teaching together in the past, but I have never shared any of our rhythm for preparing, praying and presenting as a team. So … here you go, friends:

Our message on LEVITICUS / “Take Me To The Cleaners” and 5 things to think about when team teaching:

1. Know your subject more than you know your notes.

I believe Carey Nuiewhof is the first person I heard talk about how a communicator should know their subject not just their notes.

This becomes even more true in team teaching because you must bounce off each other, and you alone do not have control of the flow at all times. There are times you must build a bridge in team teaching and insert something you know about the subject that appears nowhere in your notes!

2. Transitions matter.

It is much more difficult to team teach than teach alone, in my opinion. But team teaching also adds an element that a solo person teaching can rarely achieve. That being said, when you are teaching with another person you must take time to think through transitions.

You will each have different …

  • voice
  • inflections
  • intensity
  • content

And as much as possible these things need to match up when you make the hand off. This is not always easy to do as you will see in our message on Leviticus. We still have some work to do in transitions.

But we do work hard and spend much time talking through transitions so we can keep things as congruent as possible for the congregation.

3. Create space for each person to prepare on their own.

No two people prepare themselves or their message in the same way.

You should take time to prepare your sections of the message on your own … but also spend time during the preparation process bouncing ideas, intros, endings and illustrations off of each other. This is the genius of team teaching.

In addition, when it’s an hour before go time … each person prepares their heart, mind and soul in different ways.

Allow time to speak through the message together 2-3 hours before the message arrives so that when you are 30-60 minutes out, each person can come to God and prepare their heart, mind and soul in their own unique way.

4. Do a walk through.

When you are on stage by yourself … you are by yourself.

When you add another person to the often small stage space, it can make even little movements awkward. As you will see in our Leviticus “Take Me To The Cleaners” message, we had to make sure we were not stepping in front of or behind each other at odd times. This is super distracting for the congregation.

As you will see our movements were pretty choreographed as we spent time on the stage before the message actually “blocking out” our movements like a theater or dance production.

5. Know who you are talking to.

There will be three potential audiences for your message in most churches these days.

You will be talking to …

  • Each other
  • The congregation that is in the room
  • Those who are watching at a multi-site campus or online

Therefore, it is important to makes notes concerning who you are talking to during each sentence or section.

Most of the time you will be talking to those in the room or the camera that is capturing the video for the sites and online audiences. This requires that you not regularly look at or bounce off the person who is standing just a few feet from you on stage.

Then there are certainly times when teaching as a team that you want to interact mainly with the person you are teaching alongside.

This is part of the special sauce of team teaching.

Interacting with each other adds intimacy; often humor and spontaneity will make teaching as a team powerful and meaningful in ways that teaching alone can rarely match.

4 Safe Places To Admit Your Junk!

I just launched the “BAGGAGE” series at Parkview Christian Church. Parkview is a multi-site church of 9,000 weekend attenders in the Chicago-land area.  I am honored to be part of the teaching team and find myself traveling from Huntington Beach, California to be with the Parkview crew 12-15 weekends a year.

In the first 10 minutes of this message I littered the stage with about 50 FOLDERS and I told a story of an event that occurred 8 years ago and changed the rest of my life. The bottom line …


We all have crap in our past to get past.

So how do we do that?

In this message I talk about 4 safe places to admit your junk.

Check it out.



It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere

This past weekend at Parkview Christian Church in the Chicagoland area I shared this message about many world religions. Including Christianity, Jehovah Witness, Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism and Scientology.

If you have have been told by a friend or family member or thought to yourself …

  • As long as your a good person, you’ll be fine.
  • All paths pretty much end up at the same place.
  • All religions are basically the same.

I want to encourage you to watch this 40 minute message.

Truth > Sincerity


3 Tips For Transitioning Pastors

In the past few months both Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant have announced their retirements. Peyton Manning, in his press conference, referred to the number 18 he has worn on his back for the past 18 seasons. “There’s something about 18 years – 18 is a good number,” said Manning. He also uttered the words that everyone already knew …

 “You don’t have to wonder if I’ll miss it. Absolutely I will.”

Today I spend much of my time coaching pastors in transition / succession seasons of life in ministry. It is a tough season indeed, and eyes often get wet like Peyton’s did as he talked about stepping away from pro football.

Several pastors who have been at a church for 25-35 years have asked how I can possibly understand what they are going through. I then share with them my story of launching, leading and then handing off Discovery Church in Simi Valley, California.

Four years ago I transitioned away from a church that I had launched and led for ten years.  It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life.

I often ask pastors … “Is it easier to hand off a 10 year old kid or a 35 year old kid?” Continue reading “3 Tips For Transitioning Pastors”

The Up & Downside of Anger

Did you know that it’s not wrong or sinful to get angry.

You will have moments of anger enter your life. It is normal.

The command, specifically in the Bible, is not don’t ever get angry.

Paul says in Ephesians …

Eph. 4:26-27 – “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

The command is “in your anger” do not sin.

Anger is a neutral emotion.

Anger, of course, can be negative.

You are waiting for a parking space in the parking lot and you see a car with its taillights lit up! And you pull up close and put on your turn signal and wait and wait and wait.

“What are they doing in there?”

Finally, as they are pulling out and you are preparing to safely pull in … another car swoops in and steals your space.

And you lose it!
In the car … with your kids watching!

Anger can obviously be a negative emotion.

But anger can also be positive.

For instance, the Super Bowl is coming to the Bay Area of California in a few weeks. And did you know that experts say that many hundreds, or some would argue thousands, of young girls are being brought into that city for the sex trade industry.

That should make you angry.

Several years ago, in 2011, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told USA Today pertaining to the SuperBowl … “It’s commonly known as the single largest human trafficking event in the United States.”

There is what the Bible calls a “righteous” anger…

  • Children being mistreated and abused.
  • Poor being oppressed.
  • People misusing God’s name.

Friends, it is not wrong or a sin to get angry.

It is wrong and a sin to stay angry.

Eph. 4:26b – Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

The application we usually hear with this verse is in the context of married people not “going to bed angry.”

It is a good thing to stay up late and talk and resolve issues …

But there are also some issues in our lives and marriages that you cannot resolve in a few hours.

Because the anger a person feels at night is often not directly related to something that happened that day.

Here is something I have learned about anger in just the last few years …

Anger is a secondary emotion.

Anger is always a result or re-action to something else that has occurred in your life – it’s a secondary emotion.

Anger is like an iceberg where other emotions exist “below the water line.” They are not immediately obvious to you or other people. So what you are visibly angry about today … may have actually occurred days, weeks or many months ago and it’s just now coming to the surface.

You may have been “ignored” by a friend at school three weeks ago and it is just now coming to the surface today.

Your mom or dad may have “abandoned” you a decade or two or three ago and because of factors in your family, career or finances it is just now rising to the surface of your life.


So when Paul says “do not let the sun go down still while you are still angry”

He is saying … do not let today’s anger carry over into tomorrow and do not allow yesterdays anger to carry over into today.

Carry your anger as short a time as possible!


Eph. 4:27 – and do not give the devil a foothold.

When we allow anger to exist unresolved in our lives and when we carry it over from day to day, month to month and year to year these bites can turn quickly turn into bitterness.

And Paul says that we end up giving the devil a “foothold” in our lives …

The word “foothold” in the Bible is the Greek word “topos.” And it means to stake out a claim.

When we allow anger to exist unresolved in our lives … the devil stakes out a claim in our lives.

The devil owns part of your heart.

That is why Paul goes on to say …

Eph. 4:32 – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I understand that this is not easy to do. There are some of you who have experienced horrific things in your life. It is incredibly difficult to forgive. And I would suggest the only reason you can even consider forgiving others … is because God has already forgiven you through His Son Jesus!

We have all been forgiven much.

And it is forgiveness that breaks the power and grip of anger in our lives.

Realize friends the Ups & Downs of Anger …

Anger is neutral, secondary emotion that is not sinful to have, but is sinful to harbor.

Christmas At The Movies: ELF

How do we experience joy in such a crazy, hectic, often lonely and sad season?

On the weekend of December 5/6 I kicked off our “Christmas at the Movies” series at Christ’s Church of the Valley.

The following is a full HD message about the movie ELF and the topic is JOY!

Since its release in 2003, ELF has become an instant classic.

The movie is about Buddy the Elf, who as a toddler in an orphanage crawled into Santa’s bag of toys and got transported back to the North Pole, where he was raised by Papa Elf.

As Elf grows up it becomes more and more obvious that he is not an elf. He is in fact a human, and his real father, who doesn’t know him, lives in New York City. So, Buddy the ELF, played by Will Ferrell, begins a journey of finding his father and ultimately saving Christmas by convincing people Santa is real.

Buddy the Elf tells everyone he sees that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

That sounds great – but unfortunately many people don’t experience much joy or cheer this time of the year.

Christmas joy is often buried under busy calendars, wrapping paper, strained relationships and credit card statements.

As David Crabtree wrote, “Christmas Eve will find us lifting up our weary voices to sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” Then we rush from the service to get one last gift, or visit one last party. So soon it is over. We save the bows, burn the wrappings, strip the tree, and labor over our New Year’s resolutions. Too often we have missed the point. We’re like the man who goes to the coast but never sees the ocean. The threat of a holiday hijacking is all too real. Unless we engage our hearts in a true celebration of Christmas joy, we are easily caught up in a pointless and mindless holiday.”

Here is the truth …
Christmas can actually be more stressful than joyful if we are not careful.

Maybe your stressful circumstances are …

  • Physical.
  • Relational.
  • Financial.

Your Christmas season could be void of joy for any number of reasons.

I want to remind you today of two truths about joy from the Bible and the movie ELF.

1. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be joyful.

Buddy the Elf does not have a perfect life.

– He does not fit in at his house – literally.
– He feels lonely.
– He is made fun of.
– He is misunderstood.

Maybe you have been there or you are there … you don’t feel like you fit where you are. You feel lonely, misunderstood or made fun of. You don’t feel “happy” during this time of year.

Even if you don’t “feel” happy, you can still experience joy.

Happiness and joy are two very different things.

Happiness is external
Joy is internal.

Happiness hinges on what happens.

Happiness = “happenstance”

I’m happy because everything seemed to work out. Happiness is a volatile and temporary state because it depends on what happens.
In this world we live in, we will not always be happy.

I believe that’s why God also created us with the capacity to experience joy.

Joy transcends the external circumstances of our lives.

Happiness is dependent on the flesh.
Joy is dependent on the Spirit.

Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit of God.

Gal. 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

This passage is not a “to do” list … this passage is a “result” list. This passage is a picture of what walking with the Spirit can look like.

These are not the fruit of …
– The person raised in a Christian home.
– The person who comes to church every week or leads a small group.
– The person who never drinks, swears or loses his temper.

These are the fruit of the SPIRIT – you don’t earn – pull off – conjure up or produce this fruit on your own!

In order to experience joy in the midst of challenging circumstances you must allow the Holy Spirit to control your life.

If you want to move from happiness to joy –
you must move from your own flesh to being controlled by the Holy Spirit of God.

You can’t do it on your own!

The good news is that God can do it in you … the Joy of God can actually transcend the #SuckyCircumstances of your life.

When we look at the very first Christmas …

Mary the mother of Jesus did not fit in; she was certainly lonely, misunderstood & likely made fun of.

Mary’s circumstances were far from perfect. She was a teenager, somewhere between 12 & 17 years old.  She was in love & engaged and pledged to be married – yet before the wedding day came, Mary became pregnant! And it wasn’t her soon to be husband Joseph’s baby. The baby was from the Holy Spirit of God. I can promise you this is not what Mary had dreamed. This was stressful, and she had a lot of explaining to do with Joseph and others. Yet she was in tune with the Holy Spirit of God, so she was able to rejoice even in a difficult and uncertain season of her life.

Luke 1:46-49 – And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name.

Your life doesn’t have to be perfect to be joyful!

2. Joy comes from knowing “Him.”

To everyone else at the department store, this Santa looked just like another holiday hired hand. They knew every other department store would have a similar – cookie cutter – red suit – white bearded Santa. However, Buddy the Elf is not talking about just another Santa when he says, “I Know Him!”

He is talking about the REAL Santa …
– Who lives in the north pole
– Who has a real workshop
– Who helped raise him

Buddy actually knows the real – original – famous – Santa!

Which leads me to this HUGE truth today … do you know what will really bring JOY to your life this Christmas season?

Getting to know HIM!

Getting to really know Jesus this season is what will bring JOY to your life. No matter your circumstances.

You can come to know Jesus today!

Romans 10:13 – Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Romans 10:9 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

So the question, my curious friends is … Do you know Him?

Watch this short video that presents one of the greatest descriptions of who Jesus is that you will ever see!

And realize you can know Him!!!



You Believe You’re Grateful – But Do They?

This post you are about to read was inspired by a message I heard many years ago by Andy Stanley. Through the years Andy’s unique outlook on common Bible passages has inspired me. I hope this article will inspire you this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

Have you heard the story of the 10 lepers who come to Jesus for healing?  Jesus heals them all, BUT ONLY ONE RETURNS TO GIVE THANKS.

This is their story …

Luke 17:11-13 – Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

I want to pause here because to fully grip this text we need to understand a little bit about leprosy in Jesus day.

  • It would begin with pain in the joints, feeling tired all the time, lethargic, move slowly and feelings of numbness.

Some of you are thinking … that’s me!


  • A leper would also begin to lose sensation in their nerves. So they would cut their finger, ear or leg and not even feel it. There are stories of rats that would come and gnaw on their fingers and toes when they slept and they couldn’t feel it.
  • Their skin would begin to ulcerate.
  • They would get these discolored patches of flesh on body and face.
  • People with leprosy would have their vocal cords ulcerate leaving their voice hoarse and rasp.


In Jesus’ day leprosy was a death sentence. If you were a leper when you entered town ~ you were required to shout “Unclean, unclean!” Lepers would never be with their family or friends again. You were not allowed to worship at the temple. They would live in a colony outside of town left to rot and die. They were worthless.

This is the condition of the 10 men who encountered Jesus.


Luke 17:13-14 ~ They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14When he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

As they were walking ~ something happened …

  • Where their faces had been callused and disfigured … suddenly their skin was smooth.
  • Where they had no feeling .. suddenly they could feel again!

The nightmare was suddenly over. Hope had returned. They were going to live!

This was indeed the greatest day of their lives! 

Luke 17:15-19 ~ One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

This is where I especially love Andy’s insight …

Ever since I was a child I have been taught … “Don’t be like the nine!”

That is the moral and over arching principle of this story.

I mean HOW UNGRATEFUL CAN YOU BE?  These guys were just given their lives back! They were cured and cleansed. They were going to be able to embrace their children again. They were going to be able to go back to work and go to the temple to worship.

They have been given their lives back, and they didn’t even go back to Jesus. How ungrateful.

Don’t / be / like / the / nine!


Let’s be realistic, curious friends.

Do you really think these 9 guys were ungrateful?

Again, I love Andy’s insight …

I don’t think so!

I don’t think these guys were ungrateful.

These guys have just been given their lives back.

Where do you think they went after they were cleansed?

I believe they went back to their homes and instead of shouting “unclean, unclean” they shouted “I’m clean, I’m clean!”

They jumped, danced,  hugged kids, kissed wives, shook hands and no one ran from them. They were as thankful and grateful as they could be.

The problem these nine men had is not that they didn’t FEEL gratitude … their problem is that they never returned to express their gratitude!


Ten guys are grateful in their hearts and only one returned to outwardly express his gratitude.

This leads us to the HUGE relational principle that we must understand today.

Unexpressed gratitude
actually communicates ingratitude.


If you are not careful you can spend your whole life believing you are a grateful person when actually others around you view you as ungrateful.

How could this be?

It’s simple … most of us tell people how grateful we are for so and so and so and so and so and so …

But we never actually take the time to go back to tell “so and so”!

This happens all the time.

If I were to ask you who you’re grateful for in your life … you would say …

  • Parent
  • Teacher
  • Coach
  • Boss
  • Spouse
  • Kids
  • Pastor

You could make a list.

 You would exude gratitude!


But my question is … do those people know you’re grateful?

Have you expressed your gratitude to them?

Do we return our gratitude to the ones who deserve it?

Are you like the 9, or are you like the 1?

The other nine lepers no doubt expressed their gratitude to their family and friends over and over and over and over. And that is great, but Jesus was the person these men needed to go back and express gratitude towards.

Our unexpressed gratitude
actually communicates ingratitude.


I want us to realize this Thanksgiving and Christmas season that we actually have a lot in common with the 9 who did not return. It’s not that we are ungrateful.  We just don’t take time to slow down and go back and express it!

May I suggest during this season that you …

  • FEEL gratitude for you husband or wife … you just need to take the time to express it to him or her.
  • FEEL gratitude for you job … you just need to take the time to express it to your boss.
  • FEEL gratitude for your friends … you just need to take the time express it to your friends.
  • FEEL gratitude for your church … you just need to express it to your church. 

Send someone you are thankful for a text, email, snapchat or better yet a phone call or letter today.

Don’t be like the nine.

Live curious friends.


9 Characteristics Of Next Level Leaders

I am currently in the Dominican Republic with a cohort of pastors on a “Next Level Leaders Retreat” sponsored by GO Ministries.

It has been an amazing week experiencing multiple expressions
of culture shaping local ministry.

God is at work through the church plants, seminary, nutrition centers, sports teams, kingdom businesses, medical centers and local leaders that GO Ministries has raised up and empowered over the past several decades.

Part of our time together has been spent discussing this curious thing called leadership. I have been privileged to give several talks about how next level leaders live curious lives.

Here are 9 of the 15-20 ingredients we have talked about that are often mixed into the life of a next level leader.

1. They lead themselves first.

One of the most curious axioms I have learned and been forced to embrace in the past 3-4 years is …

I am the most important person I lead every week. 

That could sound so self centered and egotistical but it is not meant to be. It’s just true.

If I can’t lead myself well … I won’t be leading others for long. I am the most important person I lead every week!

2. They say NO.

“The enemy for leaders is not lack of opportunity; it’s the overabundance of opportunity.” I love this quote from my friend Carey Nieuwhof. Isn’t it true that next level leaders usually have an abundance of opportunities.

There is always someone saying, “You should be here, you should be there, you should do this, you should do that.”

It’s easy to let others SHOULD ON YOU!

Worse yet … next level leaders often SHOULD ON THEMSELVES!

And I “should” add …

Opportunity does not equal obligation.

Leaders listen, if you never say “NO” and you try to care for everything you will soon realize you do not have the capacity or bandwidth to care for anything!

You will flourish yourself to death.

What I have learned is that ministry is so comprehensive you must actually steward your energy and compassion. Jesus didn’t have unlimited energy and capacity to care – neither do you.

3. They visit the future but live in the now.

It is so easy for leaders to live in the future. After all, it is our job to lay track so the train never has to stop. Right?!?!

The problem for leaders living in the future is that they inevitably neglect the now. It’s not possible to be present in both places. And when we live largely in the future we skim life.

Thus my challenge to next level leaders is …

– Make plans.
– Lay track.
– Cast vision.
– Dream ahead.

Visit the future, but live in the now!

4. They understand their culture is their currency.

It’s a somewhat curious and count-intuitive thing but when it comes to recruiting and retaining next level leaders …

– A pay-check won’t keep them … someone will always pay them more.
– The perfect job description won’t keep them … there will always be a better job description.
– A big house won’t keep them … there will always be a bigger and better house.

So what keeps them? An infectious culture keeps them. Your culture is your currency.

5. They have a long list of “obeyed” Holy Spirit promptings.

In my estimation there is no better way to be balanced, healthy and refreshed than to have a constant string of “obeyed” Holy Spirit promptings in your life.

The Bible is also clear, throughout scripture, that the Holy Spirit gives promptings and whispers to the hearts of His people. I know that promptings are rather mystical and mysterious and I’m not sure how they fit into your theology.

Yet, doesn’t it seem true that if God lives in us by the power and presence of his Holy Spirit. He will give us promptings?

The truth is there are only two kingdoms you can build – yours and His.

If you obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God you are building HIS kingdom.

If you do not obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God you are building YOUR kingdom.


If you cannot honestly remember the last time you obeyed a Holy Spirit prompting  you had better take a really good look at whose kingdom you’re building.

If we are not daily obeying promptings we are in danger of building our kingdom not His!

6. They understand the pit falls being omni-aware.

Our world is becoming increasingly “omni-aware.” We are now aware of all the good and all the bad in the world the moment it occurs.

Think about that …

– We see every heroic act immediately.
– We see every violent act immediately.

Thus creating unintended hero’s and villains almost daily. 

When I think about our current culture – it feels like we are living in a comic book. Because we are globally aware of super hero’s and villains like never before.

Often what happens to Christians when we get a real-time look at the world we get depressed. Because frankly it often looks like the Church is losing.

I love the documentary on CNN a few years ago that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy. During this special documentary CNN interviewed two elderly men who had been young soldiers and participated in the Normandy invasion.

An infantry soldier was interviewed and said, “We landed on the beach and I made my way thru dead body after dead body … I saw my whole unit killed! I fought hand-to-hand combat paying a high price for every foot of territory. I looked all around me at all the dead bodies and I fell to my knees in defeat. And I said to myself … there is no way we can win.”

A reconnaissance pilot was also interviewed and said, “It was my job to fly over the entire area of the battle and then report back to the allied command everything I could see from my aerial perspective. And as I flew over the battle field with every hour I became more and more confident with what I saw. And I said to myself … there is no way we can lose!”

Two people viewing the same set of circumstances only from a different perspective.

I believe it’s our job as next level leaders of God’s Church
to remind God’s people about God’s view.

If we could just this world from heavens perspective we would see that the message of Christ is advancing every single day. And there is no way we can lose!

7. They leverage technology.

Technology is amoral.

It can be used for either good or bad – just like money.

We should be curios and committed to leveraging all platforms, old and new, for good.

8. They have next level friends who they can be 100% honest with.

Ministry is hard. Isolation makes it even harder.

I read a study recently that claimed 70% of pastors do not have close personal friends, and no one in whom to confide.

This just seems crazy to me but also awkwardly true as I encounter lonely leader after lonely leader. We don’t share life very well together is seems. Maybe we are too busy, jealous, preoccupied or focused on our “own thing” to care about another persons thing.

This is tragic and I’d say to all wanna be next level leaders…

Let’s be others centered not self centered. 

Let’s do our very best to live and model for others what Paul says in Romans, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” 

9. They have a killer commitment to a private devotional time.

What is it that separates you from a very charismatic, gifted, energetic, determined person who works for a Boys And Girls Club or a Chick fil A franchise or Google or some benevolent brand or non profit?

Your connectedness to God.

The greatest and most compelling thing next level leaders have to offer this world is our connectedness to God.

For many years I had a small sign in my office that said …

When you are faced with a busy day …
save precious time by skipping your daily devotions.

Don’t let satan make you so busy with “good things” that you miss the “best thing” your daily time with God.

Next level leaders have the ability to lead people closer to God because they have been close to God themselves!


There you go … a short excerpt from several of my Dominican Republic talks.

Live curious friends.


How To Experience Sabbath Rest In A Restless World

On the seventh day God rested from all His work.

Why did He do this?
Did God need to rest?
Was He tired, exhausted or burned out?

The Sabbath is something designed for every human being. Here are the R & R & R & R’s of the Sabbath!

1. Rest

God calls us to “abound” in work that is true. (Ephesians 2:10)
But God also calls us to “abide” in Him. (John 15)

If you just “abound, abound, abound” and do not take time to “abide” you will fizzle and fade.

Sabbaths don’t just happen in our culture today. You must prepare in advance for Sabbath rest.  A day of rest requires work!

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a
Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work.

~ Exodus 20:9-10

My Sabbath day off is only a day of rest if I have disciplined myself during the week to prepare for it!

2. Recreation

Todd, are you saying that I can actually get out and “do” things on the Sabbath? Yes, I believe you can. What qualifies as recreation on the Sabbath?

Authentic recreation should “re-create” you!

What re-creates you? Possibly …

  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Reading a book
  • Watching a movie with your family
  • BBQ with friends
  • Boating
  • Mowing the yard
  • Cleaning the pool
  • Washing the car

It could be any number of activities. But the key is that it “re-creates” you and adds energy to your day and honors Gods presence in your life.

3. Remember

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. ~ Ex. 20:8

The Sabbath day is certainly designed to be a important discipline that is woven into the fabric of our lives. But don’t wait for the Sabbath “day” to arrive to practice the principles of the Sabbath. You may actually experience Sabbath moments each day.

When I get home on a typical evening, before I go into the house I just sit in the car for a little bit. I reflect and speak to God about …

  • My position at my church
  • My home
  • My incredible wife
  • My friendships
  • That I get to be a dad

My mini-Sabbath time of reflection in my car sets me up to
succeed when I walk into our house.

You can do that, too. When your day is coming to a close, you can do the same thing God did in the first chapter of Genesis … reflect and remember the goodness of the day!

“Re-member” is to literally put back together broken pieces of time, events, conversations that happened during the day.

To “RE” member things means that life has been
“DIS” membered and you “RE” member it!

What I have discovered is that I live so much of my life at such a warp speed that it often becomes very difficult for me to make sense of things in “real time.” It is only by going back and “re” membering that a whole and meaningful picture can be created out the fragments of time.

SO … I sit around a lot on my “Sabbath Day,” and I think back. I “re” construct and “re” member things.

There is a great ancient liturgy called a “Prayer of Examen.” And it asks the questions …

  • When did I feel most alive / refreshed in the past week?
  • When did I feel most dead / depleted in the past week?

This prayer has been valuable to me as I RE-member my day.

4. Recalibrate

I have no problem admitting to you today that though I have been a Christian for over 20 years, I still tend to wander. I am amazed at how easily I can lose my Christian calibration.

When we spend time together on the Sabbath with God’s people and God’s Word it recalibrates us.

It reminds us of …

  • What’s true.
  • What’s right.
  • What matters.

There is no way I could live week after week after week
without a time of Sabbath recalibration. 

A picture of Sabbath recalibration might be seen in a family that is traveling on a plane during the Holiday season. They have a child who is sitting at the window enjoying her very first flight. As the plane takes off and soars over the ground the child becomes glued to the window. Gazing out the window the child soon exclaims, “Look mommy and daddy…

  • Widdle people
  • Widdle houses
  • Widdle cars

You see for the child soaring in the plane everything on the ground looks “widdle!” We know as adults that everything on the ground is still the same size. The only thing that has changed is her perspective.

Do you know what happens when we honor God and celebrate the Sabbath?

Our perspective changes!

By the time the Sabbath celebration is over we often have been recalibrated to God, and we find ourselves saying …

  • Widdle worries
  • Widdle fears
  • Widdle problems

The closer we get to a BIG God, the smaller our BIG problems appear.

Curious friends, may you decide today to submit yourself to the Sabbath and experience the rest and refreshment it brings.