Do you ever compare yourself today to your PRE-COVID self?

This week last year, I was preaching onsite and in a room full of people (imagine that) Parkview Christian Church in Chicagoland. I was leading a marriage retreat w/ Rene Clark for the couples at Refinery Christian Church in Arizona. And I had the privilege of preaching a few nights pre-fight for Senator @MannyPacquiao and crew in Las Vegas.

All this week, last year.

It’s hard not to compare this summer to last summer in so many ways. Right!?!? And I know that we often talk about comparing ourselves to others as it has never been easier to do.

We know when we compare what we know about ourselves to what we don’t know about others … we will ALWAYS come up short.

We know that comparing ourselves to others is unwise and only leads to either pride or jealousy.

But what about the detrimental mental effect of comparing ourselves to ourselves.

I do this daily, even though I understand it’s unfair. I hold myself today up against me last year w/ Pacquiao and Parkview and Marriage Retreats.

Here is what I do.

I compare my highlight reel to a regular day.

And when I do that, I always lose. I siphon significance from the highlight and I rob joy and beauty from the gift of today.

So, here are four things I keep reminding myself during this COVID season. Maybe these will be of value as you marinate on them this weekend.

1. Give myself some grace.
I do not have to mirror this year with last year. In fact, if I get stuck in recreating last year, I will completely miss the unique opportunities and people that God has placed in front of me today. If I surrender to mentally living in the past, I will not be present in today. And this will inevitably lead to squandered opportunities and weak memories from this whole COVID season of life. So, I will choose to honor the past, without living in it!

2. Do one good thing.
If I can do one good thing today … I am doing good. I do not have to do 39 good things today. This could sound lazy, but it’s actually very freeing and energizing. I just need to focus on doing one good thing, and being thankful for that moment and opportunity. As pastor @AndyStanley says, “Do for one, what you wish you could do for everyone.”

3. Allow myself to be a beginner.
During this strange season I can chose to be resistant or resilient. I can choose to double down on what I’ve always done or dream forward on what might one day be. I can give myself permission to not be a pro, and learn and grow in something new. I can add new tools to my belt that will allow me to repair and even upgrade what exists and simultaneously build something exciting and new.

4. This is a base camp.
A “base camp” is where mountain climbers pause to rest, get on the right gear and acclimate to the new normal so their lungs don’t explode as they continue to climb higher. Basecamps are mandatory experiences for healthy and successful climbers. I am at a base camp. Driven extroverts and Enneagram 3’s mostly hate basecamps. But I would be wise to pause and pivot. I should become aware, informed and acclimate to the new normal. I must remain open to what’s new and what God is certainly doing during these uncertain days. I need to get on the right gear and adopt the right mindset … because I / we are going to be climbing again soon!

Wash Your Hands & Then Wash The Feet Of Others!

I am pretty sure we are all washing our hands more than any other time in our lives! Our mothers would be so proud of us.

We are supposed to wash our hands for 20 seconds which can seem like an eternity! I saw a pastor suggest … “What if, while we are all washing our hands for 20 seconds (multiple times a day) we used the time we are washing our hands to pray for people.”

What if you prayed for people during those 20 seconds? Then you made a decision to not just wash your hands. But also, to go wash someone else’s feet!

Before you check out … I am not saying go knock on your neighbor’s door and say, “Hey, good to see you … would you be open to me washing your feet this afternoon?”  That would probably freak them out.

But in the Bible in John 13 we see this incredible place where Jesus showed us what it means to serve others … by doing for others … what no one else wanted to do for others.

Jesus washed his disciple’s feet.

He did something that no one else wanted to do.

This week we could decide to do some things that others really don’t want to do?

We could …
– Offer to watch someone’s younger elementary age kids who are no longer in school so their parent(s) can still go to work.
– Help an international college student who nervous and is having trouble getting back to their home.
– Make a grocery run for someone who is older and doesn’t feel safe getting out.
– Bring some of our precious hand sanitizer and disinfectant and help clean someones house so they feel safe and more at peace in their own home.

Let’s love, serve and live like Jesus.

 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. ~ John 13:3-5

How To “Pivot” During A Pandemic.

My mind is blown as I see Ford and Tesla factories making ventilators for COVID -19 patients in hospitals. Distilleries and beer companies producing alcohol for hand sanitizer, in addition to bourbon and brews.

Budweiser becomes the King Of Beer / Hand Sanitizer!

Their ability to pivot is incredible, but not un heard of.

In the Spring of 1941, Ford factories began to build B-24 bombers for WWII. Ford had never built a bomber, and experts insisted it could not be done. But Edsel Ford, Henry Fords only son, made a pivot and cranked bombers out of Detroit factories. And Chrysler built tanks.

And GM, General Motors, built he amphibious “duck” truck and tens of millions of rounds of shell casings for artillery.

The ability of nations and people to pivot is astounding.

Here are some thoughts I’ve had the past few days
on how and when to pivot.

1. Pivot, and give your full energy and attention, when you know that you have the ability and duty to bring something important and benevolent to the world.

2. Pivot when what you used to do is no longer necessary or valued and you have the creativity, resources, insight and ability to introduce something new.

3. Pivot if you can look at the same thing every else is looking at, but see something completely different and important to our nation and world.

4. Pivot as you understand the shift between what is essential and what is non-essential.

5. Pivot because you can bring new life to a depressed situation.

6. Pivot, before you have to.

Life is full of unknowns and obstacles. Our ability to pivot, or not, is what determines if those obstacles become road blocks or new road ways for our future.

HOME WORK: 19 Tips For Those Now Working @ Home

Living the dream, right? Getting up with basically zero commute. Wearing your pajamas all day. Keeping a dress shirt handy for impromptu video calls!

As most of our nation moves home to work … here are 19 things I have learned in working from home for the past 5 years.

  1. Outline this new @ home playing field with your family.
    When a storm strikes in the middle of a baseball game, the playing field needs to be re-lined. This COVID-19 is like a major storm blowing into the lives of our families that disrupts everything, including our work places and spaces. It is important to talk to your family and re-line the playing field with communication such as …
    -This is where I will be working.
    -At this time I can be interrupted for any reason.
    -Here is when you should only interrupt me if it’s an emergency.
    Making sure everyone clearly sees the invisible lines of “working from home” will serve you and your family well in this inning of the game.

  2. Realize you still need community.
    We were created for community with God and others. When you work from home, fighting for community becomes an added endeavor that was not as necessary when you went to the “office.” Loneliness and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. But even introverts need interaction. Finding group chats and connecting via video with team members can come in clutch in quarantined times. Maybe it’s time for a Netflix party!

  3. Remember flannel pajamas are comfy and fun, but only for a few days.
    Get into the rhythm of getting up and getting dressed, and you will feel more productive and positive. Wearing only flannel for a week will make even the most fit person feel fatigued!

  4. Take a real lunch break.
    Even though you are just walking 20-30ft. to a new room in the house, take time to eat a healthy lunch and let your mind marinate on things other than work. You can use an app, such as TimeOut for Mac to lock yourself out of your computer for 30 or 60 minutes. This could help you make sure you “eat up” all your scheduled lunch time!

  5. Take a walk.
    Every 2-3 hours stand up and take a quick trip around the block. Your body and mind will work better and thank you as you honor them.

  6. Schedule your work day and then work your day.
    In this work from home reality you will still need to work 6-10 hours a day, most likely. But oftentimes, you can set those hours.
    -Are you better in the morning or evening?
    -Do want to take 2 hours each day at lunch, but then work until 7pm? Use this season to be creative in setting your schedule and then stick to it! Personal time-tracking apps, such as RescueTime, let you know if you’re sticking to your schedule. They can also help you discern what times of day you’re most productive versus when you tend to get lazy or unmotivated. 

  7. Get specific with your work space.
    Working from the couch all day seems nice, but it gets old and unproductive pretty quick. Finding a space that is private and set aside for “work” will also help as you retreat out of that space to not see your whole house as an office!

  8. Be fully present at virtual meetings.
    It is easy to get distracted and show up a little late to an online meeting. What if you decided that you will amp up your energy and be even more present and on time as you move meetings online? There is no doubt that your energy and attendance will be noticed by your co-workers and organization. And this could make important emotional and relational deposits with your employer that you will only realize in the future.

  9. Tune up your tone.
    As you work from home, one of the things that can be lost is your “tone” in a conversation. When things are written or you are talking online, it can be easier to misinterpret a person’s tone. How you say what you say is just as important as what you say! Use humor when writing, and smile often when you are on video … this helps people remain positive when working remotely.

  10. Sign off in the same way each day.
    Try to wrap up the same way each day. This will help bring closure to the day. It will help you put work away. When you were at the “office,” you gathered your things, locked your door and got in your car to drive home. There was no doubt you were at the end of your day. What can you do at home that also signals the end of a work day? Getting in a rhythm of signing off the same way will …
    – Help your family know when it is again OK to approach you!
    – Help you not see your entire home as one continuous work space!
    – Help you be ready to “commute” back to the office space again tomorrow!

  11. If possible, keep your work space and your sleep space two distinct places.

  12. Keep your shoes on and your head up.

  13. Don’t drink 13 cups of coffee at home, instead of the normal 2-3 cups you would drink at the “real” office.

  14. Play some music in the background so “home” doesn’t get too quiet.

  15. Mute your microphone or use headphones during conference calls.

  16. Don’t become a vampire. Work during the day and sleep at night.

  17. Learn a new skill or hobby that you can bring with you out of this work at home / quarantine season.

  18. Exercise and stretch regularly, even if you are 26 years old!

  19. Adopt a “biggest fan” mindset, and use this time to encourage and keep your eyes on others.

Be safe and enjoy working from home!

Leaders, free COVID-19 message / resources for your family, church, school or business.

Leaders, if you are looking for a COVID-19 specific message outline to build your weekend talk and/or communication to your family, school or business … please feel free to use any of this content or stream this message as needed. 

This past weekend we made a pivot at Parkview Christian Church in Chicagoland and I rewrote the weekend message to address specific coronavirus concerns and bring perspective and hope to our community. 

We are one church, now with thousands of locations!

Leaders, I am here to serve you any way I can in this unprecedented season. If you need more messages, full series content with sermon bumper videos and graphics packages to switch up your teaching series before or after Easter … please let me know. I would be honored to connect with you and serve you.

The Online Church Is On Fire!

Yes, we are moving our gatherings and giving online … but we are staying on mission. It doesn’t matter if we are on campus or online. The Church remains on mission ether way!

Here is what I believe …

I believe we are going to be forced to learn things in the coming weeks and months about how to gather online that are going to grow Gods Church and advance His Kingdom rapidly and more comprehensively into the digital age.

And I am certain that God is not surprised by the Coronavirus! God is not looking down saying, “What … whoah … when and how did this happen?
Where did this originate?”

He knows and He has also given us the digital tools to continue meeting and growing even in these uncertain times. I believe that we are going to see God move big time in His Church around our nation and our world. Though we are separated physically, this coronavirus crisis is going to unite Gods Church globally.

I believe this because when we study the early church that grew like wildfire you see they met in “temple courts” and “house to house.”

Acts 5:42 – Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

– Temple courts … is more like our large church buildings and campuses.
– House to house … is well … our houses / our homes / our online campuses.

Gods Church can and will flourish as we gather from house to house to house to house to house to house to house.

I truly believe, even as we sit here today with some uncertainty, if we could see into heaven right now. All heaven is gathered around saying … “Oh man, watch this … watch what God is doing on earth during this uncertain season.”
– People are unleashing compassion like never before.
– People are leaning into His Word all around the world.
– People are praying and uniting their hearts in unprecedented ways.
– People are using their homes as places to gather and broadcast Truth!

Could it be … could it be … that one of the ways that GODS CHURCH is going to explode and begin to reach all nations is through hundreds of thousands of online gatherings like we are experiencing this weekend?

Could it be that the message of Jesus will spread like wildfire across the world as many thousands of churches move their message online more than any other time in the history of the world?

More people are going to have access to Gods Word, Worship and Prayer this weekend than any other weekend in human history!

As ministries move online, Gods church is going to be on fire.

4 Things To Consider When The Juice Just Isn’t Worth The Squeeze!

Recently was talking with a good friend who is considering stepping away from a marketplace job and people he has been serving and leading for over 13 years.

He said Todd, “Sometimes the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze!”

I laughed outloud. I had never heard that before, whata line!

Maybe as we enter a New Year you are also considering a change. Maybe you are feeling the squeeeeeeeze!

If you are considering a change … here are four things to consider if you want to leave a place and people well.

How you leave is how you are remembered. 

You can have an incredible season of life in a place serving people and still completely blow it in the end. I can tell you from experience … it could be five or ten years of faithful service, friendships and memories … but make no mistake how you leave is how you are remembered.

Just like preaching and public speaking … whatever you say last is usually what people remember most.

It is the same with life.   

Your words and actions are amplified 30X in your last 30 days in a place.

How you act and react determines how you will be remembered.

This a sobering truth and reminder to …

  • Make peace
  • Assume positive intentions
  • Speak well
  • Be honest
  • Be loving
  • Be patient
  • Be generous

… as you leave.

Understand not everyone will understand.

Especially if you are a follower of Jesus … not everyone will always understand how, when, where and why He is leading you.

You will not always understand how God leads you!

And in a crazy way it’s not actually your job to understand everything God is doing or leading in your life. It’s just your job to be obedient. In addition, it is not your job to make sure everyone you know understands or agrees with God’s leading in your life and family. It is your job, however, to do the best job possible when discerning God’s plans for your future.

For most of us one of the major things that keeps us up at night is worrying about what’s next … what is coming tomorrow, next week, next month and next year.

The good news is there is Good News in the Bible.

Jer. 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This verse states clearly that God knows the plans He has for you. And that’s great news!  That is great that GOD KNOWS His plans for you.

But what keeps most of us up at night is wondering how do I KNOW God’s plans for MY FUTURE?

Is it even really possible to know God’s specific plans for your life?

Here are three questions you can ask when trying to discern whether a direction is really from God:

  1. Have I taken time to pray, or am I rushing into things?

Sometimes we rush into decisions thinking …

  • If I don’t take this job
  • If I don’t marry this person
  • If I don’t make this move right now

I will miss this incredible opportunity.

And here is what I learned many years ago …

If God is in it … it can wait a minute!

God is not sitting in heaven saying, “If you don’t hurry up and take this job, buy this car, marry this person or make this move – you are going to miss out … I can’t hold this together forever!”

So … slow down and take time to get away.  Be alone and pray.

2. Do my friends and family agree, or do they think I am foolish?

Anyone who thinks they don’t need the advice of others is foolish.

When you are trying to discern God’s plans for your future, you should seek and listen to the advice of your friends and family.

However, here is what often happens …

Many of us will keep seeking advice until we find the advice we are seeking.

We must be willing to seek and LISTEN to advice even if it is not the advice we are seeking

3. Does this plan agree with scripture or contradict it?

God will never guide you to do something in the future that is opposed to what He has already said in the Bible in the past. God’s Word will never contradict God’s Will for leading in your life.

So, if you really want to know God’s personal plans for your future, here is the key …

Saturate yourself with Scripture.

And don’t read it and debate it.

Read it and obey it!

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You never show your own character so clearly as when you describe another’s.

When leaving places and people there will be those who take cheap shots at you.

Just be ready for it.

It usually has far more to say about the other person than it does about you. It is not easy for the people who are being  “left behind” even when they are very good people. And it is certianly never easy for comfortable and complacent people to watch others chase God’s dreams, be brave and live curiously!

It is far easier to stay in a safe place and critique
than it is to push away from the dock into some deep waters and create.

This is especially true in our socially connected world. Social media is like a petri dish for criticism, comparisons and commentary on the actions of others.

And there will be those who once stood by you who now want to grab your leg and trip you up as you try to step away.

Just remember … the way you speak about others says far more about you than it does about them.

Do not sell out your own character to publicly or even privately take someone down a notch.

One of my mentor pastors from years ago said …

“When you wrestle with a pig you both get muddy, and the pig likes it.”

Stay out of the mud.

Rise above.

Do not let a rough season of life characterize you for the next two months or years!

And realize the high road will never be the easy road.

Be thankful looking back and brave looking forward.

I am a nostalgic futurist.

Which means I am simultaneously looking back and dreaming forward.

When you prepare to leave places and people, take some time to look back.

Remember how good God has been to you.

And take some time to dream forward.

Remember that God has a perfect track record of faithfulness …
and He is not going to blow it on you!

The Best Thing I Heard Today – January 22nd 2020

“Sometimes the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.”

This was spoken to me today by a friend who is considering a career change after more than thirteen years at the same place.

How do you know when you should hold on tighter and when you should let go?

I have had this conversation with at least ten leaders already in 2020. I personally believe and counsel most leaders to hang on, whenever they can! I believe hanging on and choosing longevity is to be prized.

But there are times in your career where you certainly feel like the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze! (Whata line!)

If this is you … I will be posting an article in a few hours with several things to consider when considering leaving people and places. 

We Should on God – SHOULD HAPPENS – Part 4

The last should of them all …

This is why …
– The person you work with or your neighbor makes jokes, or is cynical about God.
– The person you go to school with says they are an atheist.
– Your husband, wife, brother or sister, aunt or uncle said “I’m out” and quit going to church.

It’s because at some point in life God did not act like we think He should.

Shoulding on God is not a religious thing.
It’s not a church thing.
It’s not a Christian thing.
It’s a human thing.

Everyone single person on this planet thinks they know how God “should” act.
If I do this … God will do this. It’s like He is required to do this if I do this and then He doesn’t.

And we “should” all over Him.

This message talks about how we can continue to trust God, even when we don’t understand or agree with God.

Others Should on Me – SHOULD HAPPENS – PART 3

Have you ever run out of gas in your car? You’re driving along – no problem and suddenly you’re about to be out of gas, or you are out of gas. Several years ago, I was driving my mobile office around Phoenix and I am not sure how it happened but at one moment the gas gauge read half full and just a minute later it was sitting on E.

Jetty – 1961 VW Bus / Mobile Office

My first tendency was to question the reading. This can’t be right, I was just half full a few minutes ago. How can I be on “E?” So, I ignored the reading for about 10 miles and the needle started to move below E! How can something be below E? Isn’t empty, empty? Well, to make a long story medium length … you can’t drive on “E” for long. 

Here is my question for you … have you ever run out of gas? Not in your car … but in life? Have you ever been at the place in your life where you have been going so hard for so long and doing so many things. You are caring for so many people and carrying so many other peoples burdens … that you are just running on empty? What about right now? 

Let’s say this gas gauge could register what’s in your heart, what’s it reading right now?  

Is it on “F” for full?  Or on “E” for empty? Or somewhere in-between?

If you are you less than half full and headed towards empty … what caused you to feel empty and out of gas? Maybe it was the unrealistic expectations put on you by others? 

The shoulds of others.

In this message we talk about how to kindly but confidently say “not now” to the shoulds of others. And begin to move from a should life to a good life.