I recently heard Greg McKeown, the author of a book called “Essentialism,” speak at a conference.
In his book he points out the word “priority” has been around for many hundreds of years. But we only pluralized this word within recent decades. Fascinating!
Today, because of our pace of life, we have lost track of the principle of priority as we focus on multiple objectives and initiatives. And to be honest … I love this fast paced, multi-hyphenate type of life and schedule. Each week I have many lanes that I am working in which means multiple priorities in any given hour, day or week.
And if I am not careful, I can trick myself into believing and living as though there is more than one “most important thing.”
But the fact is, in my life there can only be ONE priority.
Then everything else I do can flow from the blessings
of keeping the word “priority” singular.
This past weekend in our “BACK IN THE BLACK” teaching series at Parkview I touched on this topic.
Here is one minute of the message.
A big reason I love the Bible is it doesn’t edit out the “stranger things.”
I spoke this past weekend at Parkview Christian Church in Chicagoland about what can happen when a person gets bored with their church and faith. How getting bored can cause you to “fall out” of faith and church. And that can oftentimes lead you to die.
But the good news is …
all it often takes to restore the life of a person
who has “fallen out” is for
someone to put their arms around them!
This message could be for you, a co-worker, class-mate, neighbor, kids or grandkids …
Check it out and learn the unique lessons from Eutychus in Acts chapter 20 as he “LITERALLY ” falls out of church!
We have embarked on a new adventure of helping people find peace with who they are and courage to do what God has called them to do.
WE GOT A LIFE PLAN.
As we’ve been adjusting to our current season of change (move, job change, daughter off to college, son off to a new high school), a friend suggested we get a LifePlan done. We had heard a little about the LifePlan process, but we didn’t see how it would apply to us since we felt pretty secure in the plans we had made for this season of our life. But our friend kept pressing, so we investigated a little and decided to give it a try.
Turns out, a LifePlan is exactly what we needed
to find clarity and affirmation
for this next season of our lives.
Rene and I entered the LifePlan process with Doug Slaybaugh in San Clemente, California. Our desire was to discover how to live out God’s purpose for our lives in this new season. We both came out of the LifePlan process with a clear objective on how to do that.
We are feeling a great sense of peace with who we are and how God made us. One of the things a LifePlan does is bring great clarity to a persons life purpose.
For instance, Rene discovered that one of her life’s purposes is to empower women to take steps toward God.
I discovered that I have a passion for helping high achievers be healthy.
These are things that are true to our very core.
They have always been true,
but we needed a little guidance in excavating these truths,
and our facilitator took us through a strategic process
to dig it out, name it, and get it on paper.
After experiencing the LifePlan process together in San Clemente, California, Rene booked a trip to Boulder, Colorado, and completed her training with the Paterson Center to become a Certified LifePlan Facilitator. She now has the tools and the training to come alongside women and guide them toward discovering God’s unique purpose for their lives.
A LifePlan is a two-day, intensive process of soul work.
It’s a guided exploration of your life experiences,
your passions and your talents,
getting it all on paper,
and discovering God’s unique plan for your life.
Whether you’re starting something, letting something go, or you’re somewhere in-between, you need perspective and purpose. A LifePlan will help you gain perspective on who God created you to be and find purpose in whatever God wants you to do next.
Rene would love to help you pursue your own story so that you can give your best self to the people in your life.
Are you ready for a LifePlan with Rene?
If you’re a woman in ministry, a LifePlan can help you clarify your passion.
If you’re married to a pastor, a LifePlan can give you confidence to boldly step into your calling.
If you’re a MomBoss, a LifePlan can help you find balance and purpose.
If you would like to get a LifePlan scheduled with Rene this summer, learn more at ReneClark.Com
For nearly 15 years I think I made the devil my mentor.
Here is how it happened.
When I was in college I had a weekend youth ministry in Kansas City. Each Friday after finishing my classes in Manhattan, Kansas (the little apple) I would drive to KC to spend the weekend leading junior high and high school students. It was an amazing, challenging, rewarding and exhausting season.
I can remember one Sunday evening standing in the little church kitchen and considering my drive back to school. It was 9pm, and I still had 2-3 hours of homework to complete when I got back to school for Monday classes. I also had several days of travel with the soccer team that coming week. I was feeling overwhelmed.
As I looked around the kitchen for some food to take back to college I can remember saying out loud, “I don’t think I can do this anymore!”
How could I keep giving everything to …
- My studies
- These students in Kansas City
- My soccer team / scholarship requirements
- My fiancé (that’s another story)
How could I continue living this life of zero margin where I lived in the future and skimmed in the now?
As I was considering these things my senior pastor entered the kitchen and leaned up against the old pea soup green refrigerator. He asked how I was doing, and I let the dam burst. I told him everything that was on my mind and how I felt I was spreading myself thin and giving no one the best version of myself.
And I can remember exactly what he said …
“Well Todd, the devil never takes a break.”
And I lived with that mantra of never taking a break in my mind for the next 15 years.
And you may be reading this right now saying, “Hello! I agree! That is true. Buck up, Todd. The devil never does take a break, so we can never take a break.”
And what is strange is, I agree.
The devil never seems to take a break.
The only problem with aligning our life with that truth is …
It makes the devil your mentor.
Listen friends, if you never say no to anyone and you try to care for everything, you will soon find you don’t care for anything.
We all know that we must steward our energy, time and even finances …
But did you realize you must even steward your compassion? I know that sounds so strange and almost anti-biblical. Don’t we have unlimited amounts of compassion? Doesn’t God give us energizer bunny amounts so that we can indeed never take a break in ministry?
The answer is no.
You do not have an unlimited capacity to care.
Even Jesus did not have unlimited capacity to care. Even Jesus had to steward his compassion right along with his energy and his time.
One of the strangest things I have learned in 25 years of ministry is that you must actually reserve some care and compassion for the people and things you love most.
If you make the devil your mentor you will justify “never stopping,” but you will end up “quitting.”
Knowing when to stop and rest and replenish your reserves is actually the very thing that will keep you from quitting.
Stopping something is not the same as quitting something.
So leaders, if you have spent the last few years living at peace with a completely out of balance life and saying in some form or another, “Hey, the devil never takes a break.”
If you have used that sentence as justification for almost any situation … my advice would be to realize what I realized.
It is true that the devil never takes a break.
But patterning your life after that truth makes the devil your mentor.
Ok, let’s keep this simple.
Most parents and grandparents want to create some cool memories this New Year with their kids …
Most kids want to be on their phones in this New Year …
So, let’s combine those things!
- Call a family meeting.
- Tell everyone to get out their phones.
- Open Instagram.
Give Thanks – Ask everyone to look back over the year and find one picture they are thankful for, ask them to read the caption and explain why they are thankful.
- The only pushback here is going to be your kids saying, “Just one picture?”
Offer Prayer – Look back over the year in pictures and find one person or family that your family can pray for as this New Year begins.
Send Encouragement – Find a person in your past year’s photos that you can send a text of encouragement to today.
- Maybe send them the picture, too, and let them know you are thinking about them!
To create your own 2016 Best Nine (like the photo at the top of this post) go to www.2016bestnine.com
This is the week we remember that God became man and sent us HOPE in the form of a soft skinned baby named Jesus.
It is common during this Christmas season to consider what Jesus did from the vantage point and writings of Matthew or Luke in the Bible as they tell us about Mary and Joseph, the wise men, the shepherds, innkeeper, angels and Herod.
But I would like us to consider for a moment what Jesus did at Christmas from the vantage point of heaven.
Let’s “Unwrap Hope” from the perspective of heaven.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
The question today is …
Can Jesus Christ and Santa Claus co-exist?
What part should Santa play in a Christian’s Christmas?
Would Jesus take a “selfie” with Santa?
I believe the answer to that question is …
Did your kids send you a link when you asked them for a Christmas list this year?
Do you ever call someone on the phone and in return they text you back?
Do you wear a watch on your wrist or carry a smartphone in your pocket?
The way you answer these questions and the emotion you feel illuminates exactly why communication will be tougher than ever this Christmas!
More than ever this Christmas season we are omni-aware.
We are, like no other time in the history of humanity, 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 …
creating all kinds of unintended heroes.
We see every violent act immediately …
creating all kinds of super villains.
And we have to metabolize and make sense out of all of it.
What I want us to realize is that it has not always been this way.
For instance, in 1989 I was on a bus with a soccer team from the United States sitting at the Olympic training center in Hong Kong. We were on our way into China to play a match against their national team. We sat on the bus for several hours without moving and finally were told to get off and go back into the training center. That afternoon we sat and watched uncensored television video of the tanks rolling down Tiananmen Square.
What is crazy is that what I saw in “real time” that day, much of the world did not see for days because of the censorship of television at that time.
That is not the case today … we do not even need television to be aware today.
As Leonard Sweet says, “We are living in a T.G.I.F. Culture!”
Twitter. Google. Instagram. Facebook.
These mobile technologies have made us instantaneously omni-aware of all the good and bad, evil and heroic moments that happen. And we experience all of this in real time all around the globe.
In any given day we will digest …
- An airstrike in the middle east
- A Tsunami in Asia
- A fire at a concert that kills 40 young people
- A dad who saves a boy from drowning
- A police officer who risks her life to save children at a pre-school
- A police officer that shoots an apparently innocent man
- Children who are being trafficked
- Parades for World series baseball teams
- New diseases from mosquitos
- New iPhones from Apple
When I think about our current culture, it feels like we are living in a comic book because we are globally aware of heroes and villains like never before.
And what often happens to Christians when we get a real-time look at the world is that we get depressed because it often looks like the Church is losing.
From our perspective, things do not look good for the Church.
So I give you this true story to offset the omni-aware moments.
A few years back CNN did a special from France about the 50th Anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy. This battle marked the beginning of the end of World War II. In this interview CNN interviewed two elderly men who had been young soldiers and participated in the Normandy invasion.
The first interview was an infantry soldier, “We landed on the beach and I made my way through 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.”
The second interview was a reconnaissance pilot, “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!”
As we continue to make efforts to make sense of this omni-aware world from our perspective I believe all heaven is looking down upon us saying, “If you could just see what we see! If you could see this world from our perspective you would see that the message of Christ is advancing every single day. And there is no way we can lose!”
I believe it’s our job as followers of Jesus this Christmas
to remind people about God’s view.
It is our job to help people who get to see ALL the good & ALL the bad instantaneously … to realize that God is still in control!
Yes, our world is taking on a different shape,
but God is the one shaping it.
The omni-awareness of this culture this Christmas gives us the opportunity to not only hear the “bad news” but also be a part of spreading the Good News of Jesus.