Jesus Is NOT Really The Reason For The Season!

The reason for the season?  Who are we kidding?  We’ve made Christmas into what we want it to be.

It’s about spending, receiving, time off from work, consuming too much sugary treats, and plenty of stressful running around.


The point I’m trying to make is Jesus isn’t just the reason for THIS season.  He’s the reason, the focal point, for every season of our lives.

For those of us who are believers, we already know this.  But with the heightened awareness of ‘Christian themes’ during this holiday season you and I have a unique window of opportunity to expose lost and hopeless people to the gospel.

Have you ever received a gift you would never have thought to ask for, but afterward realized it was indeed of great value to you?  For some, Jesus is that gift.

They are missing something in their life…they simply are not aware of it!

May we (the Church) do all we can this Christmas to expose those in our community to the unique and unimaginable gift that is Christ Jesus.

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!  Psalm 96:3

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Thankfulness Determines Leadership Ability (3/3)

“Making an itemized list of everything we’re thankful for can really be an eye-opener.”

This Thanksgiving, try making an extensive list of EVERYTHING you are thankful for.  It doesn’t have to take a lot of time either.  You can even make it a fun challenge involving the whole family.  For example, simply see how many items you can list in 5 minutes or less.

* Note:  Be sure to check out part 1 and part 2 of this series on ‘Gratitude.’

OK, so how can this list exercise be an eye-opener for us?

- It forces us to think beyond the obvious.  (family, house, job, etc.)

- We are usually surprised at how many things we can actually list.

- Often we will notice things on our list that we recently viewed as trials or difficulties.

I once did this regarding our Anniversary.  I intended to list the top 21 attributes I love about my wife.  You know what happened?  I couldn’t stop.  I ended with many more simply because I took time to really think on the issue.

And this can have a profound effect on our personal lives as well as professional, especially in leadership.

“Focused gratitude allows leaders to not take things for granted.” 

Maybe you’d say to me, “I can’t do this this week.  I really don’t have anything to be thankful for.  You don’t know the year I’ve had.”  While that is true, I don’t know what kind of year you have had, I do know this.  No matter how bad a situation seems, there’s always a deeper level of ‘BAD.’  In other words, things can always get worse than they are.  So, one way to be thankful is to notice all the things have not happened yet and rejoice in those truths.

For me, I can name 3 or 4 things we’ve endured in 2014 that I hope to never go through again.  The pain and exhaustion almost crushed me.  And without God’s grace and guidance, they would have.  But, I choose to focus on the many other amazing things that have blessed me this past year.  When I do that, it overshadows all the negative.

Question:  After making your list, what was your reaction to this experience?  Leave a comment below.  
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Thankfulness Determines Leadership Ability (2/3)

Knowing the difference between being thankful and expressing gratitude will make an impact on your leadership.

Being thankful is the first step.  It’s a heart issue.  When our thankfulness stops there, however, the only people who know about your thankfulness are you and God.

In part 1 of this series on ‘Gratitude,’ I talk about how expressing thankfulness for those around us actually models healthy leadership.  Today, I want to look at ‘being’ vs. ‘expressing.’  There is a difference.

I can be the most grateful husband, father, and pastor there ever was… but without letting others know, my thankful heart benefits no one.

So, what are some practical ways to express ‘Thanks’ to others?

- Say it!  (this is the easiest one)  And me specific.  Say, “Thanks for giving up some time on your Saturday” or, “I really appreciate your attention to detail.”

- Write a Thank You note to them on social media and tag them.

- Email or text them a private, specific word of thanks.

- Post a photo on Instagram of an individual or group and say something about how they add to your life.

- Give them a hug.  (and not an emoji)

- A phone call mid-week, even on a voicemail, can add huge value to someone’s day.

- Write a simple sentence or two in a Thank You card and snail-mail it.  (yes, I mean with stamps. They still make those.)

Gender Issues | If you’re married, exercise wisdom when expressing ‘Thanks’ to members of the opposite sex.  For example, I do side hugs with women, have my wife sign ‘Thank You’ cards with me, and cc my wife on emails that are just sent to individual women.  We simply don’t want to ever send the wrong message, to them or anyone observing us.


“Expressed gratitude clarifies things of value in our life.” 

Whoever it is…whatever it’s for…and however small or large the ‘Thanks’ may be, simply let your heart of gratitude be known.  Start this week of Thanksgiving and let it be ongoing.

Question:  What are some creative ways you have either expressed or received thanks?  Leave a comment below.  

Thankfulness Determines Leadership Ability (1/3)

“Thanks so much for the phone call the other day.  I’ve actually never had a pastor call me before.”

Have you ever received a word of thanks from out of the blue?  The statement above came from a young lady who’s fairly new to our church.  I wasn’t expecting it, and the context definitely was not something I felt deserving of gratitude.  It was a simple follow up call.  But to her…it was meaningful.


I was reading one of Michael Hyatt’s blog posts today on the advantages of being grateful and it got me thinking.  Some of the most influential leaders in my life over the years have exhibited grateful hearts.

- It was easy to observe their gratefulness for the blessings in their life.

- They would constantly say ‘Thank you’ to those serving around them, especially in the Church.

In addition to the great points that Michael Hyatt makes, showing and verbalizing gratitude also rubs off on others.  This can be referred to as one aspect of discipleship.  Other circles might call it Leadership Development.

“Expressed gratitude helps attract and produce great leaders.” 

Think back.  When was the last time someone you look up to or admire complimented or thanked you?  (hopefully it hasn’t been too long ago)  Do you remember how it made you feel?  I’m guessing appreciation, honor, respect, and value are some feelings that resulted.  So this week, say ‘Thank You’ to someone….anyone.  Try to do this once a day.  You might be surprised at the results.

Question:  Who or what are you thankful for when you really take time to think about it?  Leave a comment below.  
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4 Ways To ‘Be’ The Church Outside Of Sunday

Be REAL.jpg

There are 4 tangible action steps (probably more) to be mindful of that will help give us a Kingdom mindset.  After receiving some positive feedback on a recent message, I thought I’d post a brief summary of the acronym used in my 4 points.

Message title:  Be R.E.A.L.

Relational in every opportunity | Constantly looking for opportunities to connect with others while we go about our daily lives.  Look, and be attentive of those around us and be sensitive to what they are going through.  The body of Christ is the Church’s best evangelism plan.

Excited about the things of God | When we take notice of all the incredible ways God is moving in our lives, it should show.  And when excitement shows in us, others will often enquire as to what it is.  Bingo….there’s an open door to talk about how awesome Jesus has been to you.

Active in and out of the church | Two parts here: 1. Do something to support your church home.  Get involved, serve, give, lead.  2. Do something with a Kingdom mindset outside of your church.  This helps to keep us from being an inwardly focused church and looking at the bigger picture of God’s Church around us.

Love for the lost | Pray for God to give you a deep, heart-felt compassion for the lost and for their needs.  Why?  Because compassion drives action.

You can actually listen to the full message from October 26, 2014 HERE.

Is there anything you would add?  Or, which of these I’ve listed tends to be the most difficult?

Please leave your comments below.

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Book Giveaway Winner!

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 1.39.40 PMThank you to everyone who took time to give me feedback on my blog.  As promised, I’m giving away a wonderful devotional book for leaders.

And the winner is:  Bryan Donaldson!


For everyone else, be sure to follow my blog.  I’m likely to have more giveaways for different things in the near future.

How To Know If You’re Standing In The Way Of God’s Will

Gods WillHow would you feel if Jesus referred to you as Satan?  Have you ever argued with God about where your life is heading?

Jesus had just gathered his disciples to tell them about his Father’s plan for salvation.  He explained that he was to suffer and die, and then be raised from the dead 3 days later.  This was God plan.  But Peter didn’t like how this was sounding.

...And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan!  For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  Mark 8:32-33

You see, he wasn’t literally calling Peter Satan.  Jesus was telling him that his thoughts were not in line with God’s thoughts.  Peter was allowing his human emotions and reasoning to create a potential roadblock to God’s will.

The crazy part of this story is that just moments prior to this, Peter was the first to verbalize Jesus’ identity the Christ…the Messiah.  (Mark 8:29)

“There’s a difference between knowing Jesus’ true identity in your life…and not standing in the way of God’s will.”

Can you relate to Peter?  I know I have in the past.  I’ve even told God ‘No’ a couple of times.  And like Peter, he has a stern but loving way of redirecting us.

What is God calling you to today?  And are you good with it?

Join the discussion, comment below.

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FREE Book Giveaway

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 1.39.40 PMI want your help.

I would like your input on changes I can make to my blog that would be most helpful to those connected to me on social media.

Complete this short survey of my blog and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a copy of Life Promises for Leaders, by Zig Ziglar.





A winner will be chosen and announced on this blog on November 18.

Bonus:  If you share this post (remember to tag me), I will enter you twice once you have completed the survey.

Thanks so much!

Here’s a taste of what I’ve been recently writing about:

3 Things Every Church Leader Should Produce

Do You ‘Know’ You’re Singing Out Loud

3 Ways to Continue Leading When Life Gets Difficult







Do You ‘Know’ You’re Singing Out Loud?

gymAre you as amused as I am at the things we often observe at the gym?

I started back at a regular exercise routine today.  It was just me in our little fitness room at our apartment complex until I was wrapping up.  I noticed a man enter the gym and go right to the treadmill.  Both of us had earbuds in (I was on the stationary bike). Then, I couldn’t believe what I heard.  I had to mute my music to be sure.  That guy was not only getting his groove on, but he was singing out loud to his tunes! (not exactly male vocalist of the year)

This made me wonder two things.

1)  Does he realize I can hear him?

2)  Does he know he can’t sing?

Given the situation, I would assume he would answer YES to both questions.

This entire 10 minute event made me realize something about our leadership in the Church.

-  Whether we are intentionally leading or not, someone is always watching us.  Good or bad, others are constantly learning from our actions and lifestyle.

-  Knowing our weakest abilities as a leader and still trying to develop those skills is so important.  To try something with a high chance that we might fail or embarrass ourselves models humility to those we are leading.

-  Finally, enjoy the journey.  Above all the success, failure, frustration, and victory…try to enjoy church leadership any way possible.

Ministry work is a huge calling.  Enjoy it and pace yourself, or it might just break you.


3 Things Every Church Leader Should Produce

Is there anything ‘good’ in what you and I produce as church leaders that God would consider honorable?  This passage struck me this morning.  Check it out.

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.  Proverbs 3:9 (NLT)

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Granted, this is mainly addressing our income…what we earn for our work.  But the Lord also challenged me in the second half of this verse.  What am I responsible for producing?

Here are what I would consider to be 3 main things every church leader should be producing.

1.  Disciples | This includes everyone in our churches, as well as our own kids and spouse.  I don’t know about you, but there have been many times when I have put more effort into discipling church folks more than my own family.  Ouch!  That’s not easy to put out there, but recognizing it helps to bring forth change.

2.  A strong marriage | For those of us who are married, we owe it to Jesus, ourselves, our kids, and everyone we influence to authentically model a healthy marriage relationship. Not perfect…..just healthy.  If our spouse can’t respect us in our home, how can we expect anyone else to respect us in the church or in our community?

3.  Personal integrity | As ministers and church leaders, are we being intensional about staying connected to Christ in His Word and through prayer?  Are we taking the initiative to build accountability into our lives.  Is the person others witness at church on the weekend the same person our family lives with during the rest of the week?  Difficult questions, but left unasked we will most likely not notice.

Is there anything you would add to this list?

The bigger question I am wrestling with is, “Am I truly honoring God in what I’m producing in these areas?”

Please join the discussion and leave a comment below.