Monday Morning Mind Dump… [Late Edition]

mind dump

  • It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted my mind dump.
  • A lot has happened in that time.
  • Hence, the late edition.
  • We spent one week on vacation in San Diego and last week Katie and I were in Florida for the Acts 29 pastor’s retreat.
  • While it was nice traveling, it was nice coming home.
  • There are a ton of things happening for me right now: finishing up the rough draft of my book (which is due August 1), hiring 2 staff members at Revolution, planning our fall sermon series (Multiply on 1 Timothy and Waiting on God on Habakkuk), working behind the scenes to improve our systems of MC’s and elders as Revolution continues to grow.
  • All good and fun things.
  • I was reminded today why every pastor needs a coach after I talked with mine.
  • Having someone who can help you crystalize what you are thinking, give you pushback to improve something is so helpful for a pastor.
  • Doing the wedding of a couple in our MC this Friday.
  • Always love being a part of weddings.
  • The only problem with weddings in Tucson is everyone gets married an hour away from me on the NW side of the city.
  • The timing of the Acts 29 retreat could not have been more helpful for me.
  • This summer is all about how do we continue to grow as a church and stay healthy (or get healthier in certain areas) to shepherd and care for everyone God sends us.
  • Honestly, this is the most excited I have ever been about Revolution.
  • It is also causing me to dive deeper and deeper into prayer which is a good thing.
  • In some ways I feel like I did when we planted the church almost 6 years ago.

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Why You Need a Summer Break

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I’m my summer preaching break and as always, it has been incredibly helpful. If you are a pastor, this is something you need to put into your yearly rhythm.

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that personal health and leadership health is incredibly important to me. It seems every month I hear about another pastor burning out or running out of steam because they didn’t take care of themselves. If you burnout, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Over the last 3 weeks, I have played longer with my kids, walked on the beach and picked up seashells, took long walks with Katie, took some naps, watched the world cup, worked ahead on sermons, read some great books and spent time with friends.

Who benefits from a summer break. Literally everyone. The pastor taking it does as he is able to recharge physically and spiritually. His family does as they get some much needed down time. What many people fail to realize is that ministry can become an all encompassing endeavor. The church benefits as well from having a pastor come back more passionate and energized than when he left and they benefit from hearing sermons from other voices. It is a win-win for everyone.

Most pastors want to take a summer break, but don’t know how. If that’s you, here are some ideas on how to make your summer break successful:

  • Plan ahead. We think resting should just happen, but it doesn’t. This is especially true for your summer break. If you are taking vacation, you need to plan ahead so you can disconnect from social media, email and your job. Work out the details so everything is covered and you are not needed.
  • Disconnect early and connect early. My recommendation during your break is that you disconnect from email, social media, blogging, etc. For me, I can find myself getting angry at posts or distracted and that keeps me from recharging or doing what I should be doing on my break. Put an auto responder on your email a few days before you actually leave so you can begin disconnecting and then turn it back on a few days before you come back so you can ease in.
  • Leave town. You don’t need to be gone for your whole preaching break, but the more the better. This helps you to truly disconnect and recharge. This doesn’t have to be expensive as you can drive and visit friends or family or stay somewhere cheap. This is why planning ahead is such a benefit.
  • Don’t feel guilty. It’s summer, so don’t feel bad. Everyone is taking vacation, time off and slowing down. People go to the beach, lake, mountains, the park. Once summer hits, our mindset changes and our schedules change. This is why it is the ideal time for a pastor to take several weeks in a row from regular church activities.
  • Be purposeful. This isn’t simply about time off. Take a sabbatical for that. This is to recharge and have time off, but also to work ahead, evaluate the ministry and do things you need to do but often neglect because of the time ministry takes. By planning ahead purposefully, you make sure you accomplish what you need to. This summer I spent a lot of time talking to pastors of churches who have broken the 500 mark trying to discern what I need to know as we approach that in our next season of ministry, the kinds of leaders we need on board to break through that barrier.

In the end, a preaching break is really about the longevity of ministry for a pastor and his church. This keeps it fresh and moving in the direction God wants him to. Don’t minimize how important this is. The ones who do, end up burning out or losing passion very quickly.

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What You’re Fighting About Isn’t What You’re Angry About

bookThink about the last fight you had with someone. It might be your spouse, child, a boss, employee. If you are a pastor, think about the last angry person you met with and the reason they gave for their anger and why they are leaving your church.

Now, the thing you were fighting about, the reason someone gave for leaving your church, that isn’t what they are angry about, that isn’t what the argument was about. 

I remember sitting in a counseling class in college. It was incredibly boring and then in a moment of God’s providence, I paid attention towards the end of one class and my teacher said this, “When life is stressful, when life is out of control, when people don’t know what to do, they take their anger out on the closest authority figure in their life. If you are a pastor, that will often be you.”

For 12 years as a pastor, this has proven to be true on a weekly basis.

Here’s a way to know if this is happening to you: does the response match the situation?

Often, fights happen in marriage and are started because of a crying child, something not being put away, something not getting done, a miscommunication and then…boom.

The fight isn’t about the child, something being left out or something not getting done. It is about the underlying issue that it represents. It is about being able to trust the other person, count on them.

What couples do, is fight about the issue at hand. They then continue to have the same fight for years with no resolution. It isn’t until they have a discussion about the actual issue, and only then, will they be able to move forward.

Here’s a church example. “We’re leaving because you didn’t start this ministry that I want.” That isn’t the issue. What is the issue at hand is either a disagreement in vision and where the church is going and/or an unwillingness for this person to follow a leader. They want more power or authority than they have. Or, “We’re leaving because you don’t preach deep enough.” That isn’t the reason. What they are leaving for is without their “deep preaching” they have to take responsibility for their spiritual journey, and, with all this “shallow preaching” going around this church, we have a bunch of unchurched people who don’t know Jesus showing up and they are acting like they don’t know Jesus and that is uncomfortable.

I remember when we first planted Revolution and people were coming and going quickly, which happens in a church plant. I tried to meet with as many people leaving as I could to learn from them and what went wrong. We still do this as often as we can as a church. In each of those meetings, we talked about what frustrated them about Revolution, but 50% of what we talked about at those meetings was their frustration around their job, their spouse or their child who wasn’t growing up like they hoped.

Proving my professor right.

When life is stressful, when life is out of control, when people don’t know what to do, they take their anger out on the closest authority figure in their life. If you are a pastor, that will often be you.

The next time you have an argument with a child or a spouse stop and ask, “Are we really fighting about this? Or is something else driving this?” Are you tired? Run down? When was your last date night? Katie and I argue about the silliest things if we miss a date night.

When someone leaves your church, listen to their complaints and then try to find the heart issue with it and try to discuss that. They will probably still leave your church, but at least you’ll know why they left.

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Thoughts on Turning 35

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I turn 35 today. It is hard to believe all that has happened in my life in 35 years. If the average man lives 70 years on earth, I’m at the halfway point. That has caused me to reflect on things I’ve learned as I look forward to the next 35 years. Here you go:

  1. Pick something you are passionate about and give your life to it. I knew at 18 that I wanted to plant a church. While it took my until I was 28 to do it, everything in my life led me to that moment. I meet so many men who float through life, aimlessly wandering from one job to the next, unsure of what to do with their life. They also seem to have no idea what makes them passionate, what makes them excited, all they know is they hate their job and are miserable. They look at their life and think, “This is all there is” so they play video games, work a dead end job or look at porn. I just preached on this topic on Sunday, but find something worth giving your life to for Jesus and don’t look back.
  2. Commit to your wifeI met Katie when I was 16 and fell in love. She is everything I could hope for in a wife and more. We just celebrated 12 years and every year gets better and better. We’ve had our bumps and hard seasons but through it all, we’ve pushed through, got closer to Jesus and got closer to each other. I love laughing with her, talking with her, cooking with her, and watching her blossom in her artistic gifts. I have a number of friends on their second marriage or are getting divorced and it is so sad to watch people walk through that or see other couples settle for a mediocre marriage. That is their legacy, that they didn’t stay committed, they didn’t push through the valleys to make it to the mountain top.
  3. Protect your healthWhen you are 20, playing a sport year round, you can sleep in, eat whatever you want and probably lose 5 pounds in the process. Except then you get older. I meet a lot of guys who are starters and they start businesses and churches and then burnout in the process. They don’t exercise, sleep well, protect their finances, their calendars and their health deteriorates. I have a friend who is so burned out he has to take three 1 hour naps a day to survive. You are in charge of your health, no one else can protect it. It is hard to stay motivated to workout and eat well, but the end result is worth it (and the end result isn’t a certain body it is living well and longer).
  4. Make your kids a higher priority than they are. It is easy to make other things more of a priority than your kids. Men make their jobs, they make carting their kids to activities more of a priority than having a relationship with them (and yes you might be at their stuff, but you aren’t building a relationship with them while they do it). Each of our kids are different and like different things. It is a challenge as our family has grown for Katie and I to spend time together, have a weekly date night (because my relationship with Katie is more important to our family than our relationship with kids), have hobbies and friendships and spend time with our kids, but the investment is worth it. Make sure you are having regular daddy dates with them, doing things they enjoy with them, not just watching them do things.
  5. You are responsible for your relationship with God. No one else is responsible for this. Your pastor isn’t, you are. If you aren’t growing in your relationship with Jesus, that is your fault. Men like to pass this off to someone else, but it is on them. Spend time with God. I’m not a morning person, but reading my bible is the first thing I do when I get up.
  6. Read more. Every great leader is a reader. I don’t think this is a coincidence. While women tend to read more than men, if you are a man who wants to accomplish something, you need to keep growing. Don’t be content with what you know, push for more knowledge, more skills, hone the skills you have. If you don’t know what to read, start here and here.
  7. Make some close friends and invest in those relationships. Men are not good at friendships with other men. If you ask most men who their close friends are, you will get blank stares. The older I get the more important close friends are. I’m an introvert so I don’t have a ton of relationships, instead, I prefer to have a few close friendships with people I connect with regularly. Make this a priority. I have talked with a number of men who are in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s who have no close friends and it is tragic.
  8. Find a mentorMen need mentors. They need someone who is further in life when it comes to their career, leadership, being a father and husband, managing money, their relationship with God. Look at your life and see the areas you want to grow in and find someone who is further along in that area. I have multiple mentors in different areas. I simply ask them, “I want to get better at _____, you are better at that than I am, can you help me grow in that area?”
  9. It’s not too late to accomplish goals. If you have a goal, go for it. I have had a goal to write a book and I’m almost there. Too many men seem to have a lot of goals and hopes and never do anything. This leads men to have midlife crisis, feel aimless, have regrets as they look back on their lives. Decide today what is going to matter most in your life, how do glorify God the most and do that. Put your energy towards that.
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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • This is one of those Monday’s that I feel like I am moving through the fog.
  • Last week I spoke at Exponential in Orlando, which was incredible.
  • Walked away with a lot of ideas and was challenged personally in some good ways and had a great time speaking and interacting with other leaders.
  • Then Friday I pulled off some great surprises for Katie’s birthday.
  • Her step-mom flew out from Kansas City without Katie’s knowledge and showed up at Katie’s surprise pedicure appt.
  • Then, I pulled off a surprise dinner with some friends on Friday night.
  • Then after preaching yesterday I feel run over.
  • But in a good way.
  • Revolution Church is in a good season right now.
  • I started doing something different at the end of our services that has yielded me meeting a ton of guests each week, which is exciting.
  • I met 8 first time guests yesterday.
  • Love that opportunity.
  • I spoke about figuring out God’s will yesterday and how we often miss it because of how we think of it incorrectly.
  • It was an honor to see people stand saying they were in a desert right now and being able to pray over them.
  • If you push through the desert and pull closer to Jesus in that time, it yields a heart and character that is impossible to get without going through the desert.
  • Wish I would’ve thought of that line yesterday.
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  • I’m excited this week for our next preaching lab.
  • This is how we seek to develop new preachers and see where guys in our church are at and how they are developing.
  • We have 3 guys doing it this week.
  • So excited and honored by the leaders God is sending to us right now.
  • One of the great things about flying across country this past week was the chance to get some reading done.
  • Got through Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of YouWhat’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things DoneReplant: How a Dying Church Can Grow Again and The Heart is the Target: Preaching Practical Application from Every Text.
  • Stay tuned for some reviews coming soon.
  • I have my coaching with Brian Howard today.
  • Can’t express how much I have grown as a leader and preacher through this time with him.
  • So, so helpful.
  • Just a heads up, I turn 35 tomorrow, so get your gifts ready!
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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • I was reminded yesterday why preaching through books of the Bible is important.
  • I preached on a topic I don’t struggle with as much as other topics and one I haven’t preached a lot on, because of that.
  • I feel a blog post coming on that.
  • I preached on approval and our desire to be liked.
  • It was stretching and convicting at the same time as I realized last week I easily make my relationships about others getting my approval.
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  • Over the past week, Katie and I have been reading a book together that is so good. It’s John Ortberg’s new one: Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You.
  • Can’t recommend it enough.
  • I’m excited to be heading to Orlando later this week to speak at exponential.
  • I’m doing a breakout on how to transition a church with small groups to one with missional communities.
  • Should fun.
  • And humid.
  • Katie’s birthday is on Friday, so if you think of it, be sure to send her a birthday greeting.
  • I usually do a terrible job making her birthday special.
  • But not this year.
  • I have a lot planned for her (that is all a surprise).
  • Boom!
  • The downside for me is I’m not very good at keeping surprises from her.
  • Have to make it til Friday.
  • We had our newcomer’s lunch yesterday after church.
  • Blown away by how many people continue coming to Revolution.
  • We’ve had one every month this year and had over 20 people each time.
  • So cool.
  • I’d appreciate your prayers as we are pushing through a busy season as a church and a family.
  • We knew it ahead of time, but would still appreciate your prayers as we get closer to summer.
  • Time to finish my sermon for this Sunday and my exponential talk.
  • Here we go…
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Questions Every Blogger/Writer MUST Answer

Close up of vintage typewriter machine

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why every leader and pastor should blog. If you decide to blog, here are a couple of things you need to think through:

  1. Why. Most people struggle with what to blog about, more on that in a minute. Why are you blogging? Why is it worth your time? If your goal with blogging is to build a platform to write a book, that’s a poor reason. Do you want to help people? Serve people? Get better at writing? Be famous? It is important to have a stated goal when it comes to your blog. Not everyone should blog. If you don’t have a compelling reason to start blogging, once the fad of it wears off, you will quit.
  2. What. This is the content. For me, I blog about things I find interesting and helpful. I blog about leadership, books, preaching, family, marriage, NFL, fantasy football, crossfit. Things I like. I assume that there are others out there who are interested in what I am interested in and so far, that seems to be the case. I will share things I think will be helpful to my readers and my church, things I’m learning, things I want to rant about, things about my kids and Katie. Some blogs are focused on one topic, which is great if that’s what you want to do. You should have a focus though, a grid that helps you decide what you do and don’t blog about.
  3. How often. This right here is one reason most blogs fail. They don’t blog enough. You can read about how to design a blog, what plug-ins to use, how to connect it to social media (and you should do all this). If you don’t blog on a regular basis, your blog will not get off the ground. I probably blog too much, but that’s my choice. Some blog 3 times a week or everyday. The point is, your readers need to know how often you will blog. People will tire of checking back on your blog for new information and it isn’t there, they will give up. I would say someone should start blogging when they can do it 3 times a week.

Blogging takes work, it is a job in many ways. You will spend hours writing, working on ideas, finding pictures for posts, responding to comments, looking for links to share and doing it all over again.

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5 Things I want Katie to Say about me After 50 Years

Sunday, Katie and I celebrated 12 years of being married. It is hard to believe that the cute girl I met on a soccer field in Toronto, Canada in 1995 is my wife. I am blessed beyond measure.

This year after preaching a lot on legacy to Revolution Church I sat down and thought through 5 things I want Katie to say about me after 50 years. One thing I am convinced of is that nothing great happens without intentionality. I’m not going to magically become a great husband or father. Our marriage isn’t going to accidentally be great.

Here’s something I want to challenge you with, which is where this came from. If you make it to 50 years of marriage, you’ll probably have a big party. It is becoming so rare to make it that long. But if you do (and I hope you do), you will probably renew your vows or say something to your spouse. What will they say to you in that moment? I thought about what I would like Katie to say to me and wrote them down.

Here they are:

  1. I’m more like Jesus because of you. According to Ephesians 5, a husband is to wash his wife in the word of God, he is to pastor her, to disciple her, to give her space to grow in her relationship with Jesus and become who God has called her to be. Many women face an up hill battle because of past hurts, past relationships, possible abuse and then as they walk into marriage with their junk, they marry a man with a ton of junk of his own. It is hard to move past this and become free. One of my prayers for Katie has been that she would be freed from anything that would hinder her. This is God’s grace in action, but it also takes work on the part of both spouses. Daily I want to encourage her to spend time with Jesus. Getting out of the house on a regular basis to sit and journal and read her bible. To have space for Jesus to shape her and work on her heart.
  2. I’ve grown in my art because of you. Katie is incredibly creative, but she is also incredibly giving and will give to others at the expense of her gifts. Two years ago, we started to change this. I signed her up for a photography class, got her a camera and then this past year, upgraded all her camera and computer equipment so she could keep growing. Too many men (and I did this for years) simply take and take from their wife and never allow her to use her gifts, develop them and use her art. I love watching her art develop and use her gifts. I joke that one day she can work and I’ll retire! Seriously, it is such a joy to watch it grow and see others find value in what she does and the eye that she has for art.
  3. We really did have good times and hard times, but we made it through both. Marriage is a mix of good times and hard times. These times are sometimes short and sometimes long. We’ve had hard seasons of marriage and easy seasons. We will have hard and easy seasons ahead as well. Marriage is about lasting. It’s been said that the most important day of marriage is not your first day but your last. If we’ve made it to 50 years, that means we survived the celebrations and the pain. We’ve had joy and sorrow. We’ve laughed and cried together. But we made it together.
  4. You kept your eyes on me. Men are visual and consequently, many of the sins that entangle them stem from their eyes. I want Katie to look at me 50 years from now and say, “You kept your eyes on me. You were fascinated by me. You are entranced by me.” This is a daily choice that a husband makes. This a choice he makes as he watches a movie, gets on the internet, watches a football game when they cheerleaders come in. This is a minute by minute decision that men make. I’ve never heard a man who stayed pure, fought an addiction to porn, fought to keep his eyes for his wife, I’ve never heard that man say, “I missed out.” I’ve heard countless men who won’t fight their porn addiction, let the eyes linger on a swimsuit issue or victoria’s secret magazine say, “I have regrets. I wish I did things differently.”
  5. I’m ready for 50 more years. I hope that when we celebrate our 50th anniversary (as I’m 72 and she’s 70) that she looks at me and says, “Let’s do 50 more.” The true test of a marriage is if the couple would do it all over again. Sure they’d like to take back conversations, financial decisions, job changes or arguments, but can they look at each other and say, “I’d say yes to you all over again.” If Katie will look at me (I’m probably bald and still doing 72 year old crossfit) and say, “I’d marry you again, you oldie but goodie.” I’ll take it.
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Getting Married is Easier than Staying Married

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On Sunday, while Katie and I were eating dinner on our back porch for our anniversary she mentioned to me that I didn’t write an anniversary post or things I’ve learned about marriage as I’ve done in the past (see here). As we sat there, and having just heard the news about Pastor Bob Coy resigning over moral failing and being reminded that everyone (including me) is one choice away from wrecking their life. I was reminded of this one simple marital truth:

Getting married is easier than staying married. 

Every year, lots of people get married and every year sadly, lots of people end their marriages in divorce. Getting married is easy. You simply need someone to marry and a person to perform the ceremony. Staying married, lasting to year 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50 takes work.

Someone asked me last week who knew it was our anniversary what is one piece of advice I’d give to a young couple. It is this: Staying married is the hardest thing you will do. It will require more work than you imagine, but it will be better than you can imagine if you do. 

With that in mind, here are 5 ways to stay married:

  1. Grow close to Jesus. This may seem obvious, but if you stray from Jesus, stop reading your bible, feel your relationship with Jesus suffer, lots of things go wrong. Your desire to fight sin goes down. Your desire to serve your spouse goes down. Your desire to love your spouse goes down. Your desire to stay pure goes down. All because of one thing.
  2. Keep your relationship first (behind God). Your kids matter and you love them. Your kids come after your marriage. One of the fastest ways from going from a great marriage to being roommates is placing your kids above your spouse. One day, your kids will be gone and you will have only your spouse. At this point, most couples split because they no longer need to stay together for the kids and they have nothing in common. Don’t let that happen. This doesn’t mean you neglect your kids and not do anything with them, but it means they come after your marriage. Not sure where you stand on this, here are 10 ways to know you are putting your kids in front of your marriage.
  3. Know affection is the first thing to go and fight against that. Affection is what goes first. Kissing when you say goodbye, holding hands, snuggling. Life is busy, you know your spouse, you have them now, your kids are climbing all over you, you are running late, you are tired and want to sleep, you are worried if you snuggle he will want sex and you just want to go to sleep. All of these things happen to couples who couldn’t keep their hands off each other at one time. Fight this. When you kiss, kiss for 5-10 seconds. Throw some tongue in when you are just saying hello or goodbye. Gross your kids out. Hold hands in the car. Kiss at a red light. Snuggle at night. I’ve said this before and people tell me I’m wrong, but I’m not: the amount of sex you have, the amount of affection you have, is one of the best barometers for where your marriage is. Show me a couple with little affection and little sex, and I will show you a couple going in opposite directions.
  4. Religiously keep a weekly date night. Date night is one of the most important things a couple can do. Every week. Protect it with your life. When we first started doing a date night, we protected it religiously. Nothing interfered with that. Now that we are in the habit, we often move the night to fit our schedule. Here are some ideas for doing date night at home, some rules we have for date night and some help for when date night falls apart.
  5. Protect your heart, emotions, mind, eyes and body. Every week I hear about another pastor who has resigned because of committing adultery. I counsel couples all the time who are getting a divorce because he won’t stop looking at porn, she won’t stop reading romance novels and fantasizing, one of them cheated, one of them doesn’t want to fight for their marriage and work at it. All kinds of reasons, all kinds of excuses, and all of them are simply heartbreaking. Protect yourself. Your marriage, your family, your life and legacy matters too much for it to fall apart.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • The season that Revolution Church is in and the season that I am in personally is one of those seasons that you hope for.
  • Yesterday, Katie and I celebrated 12 years of marriage.
  • Hard to believe it’s been 12 years already.
  • It was fun reminiscing about life with her.
  • Really excited for our anniversary date day tomorrow.
  • Got lots of fun things planned.
  • We had almost 300 people yesterday @ Revolution for the 3rd week in a row.
  • Love seeing all the guests and people taking next steps.
  • Praying that we break 400 on Easter.
  • Speaking of Easter, I am so excited about the people taking the next step of getting baptized on Easter.
  • If that’s a next step you’d like to take, go here.
  • Yesterday’s sermon felt like more of a soapbox sermon for me.
  • I unpacked what Revolution Church believes about the gospel and how to share the gospel.
  • With all the talk about being “gospel centered” or “talking about the gospel enough” or “correctly” I think it’s important to define what that means.
  • Those terms while nice aren’t very helpful.
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  • I challenged our church to pray 30 minutes each day between Palm Sunday and Easter and we had 75 people take the challenge.
  • That’s 259 hours of people praying.
  • So excited to see how God will work through that.
  • I’m hoping to have an exciting announcement about my book in the next week.
  • Stay tuned for that!
  • Taking my boys to the air show next Saturday with some guys from our MC.
  • Excited to take it all in with them.
  • They are going to be blown away.
  • I’ve been making some changes to my schedule and the people at Revolution that I spend my time with so that I’m intentionally developing leaders.
  • Love the fruit that has come from that so far.
  • I’m afraid too many pastors let their schedule happen to them instead of the other way around. I know I did for years.
  • Working on my talk for exponential this week. If you’d like to give some input on it, go here.
  • I’m excited about spending a few days with Mike DeAlto in Orlando.
  • I’ve been working the last few weeks on my Easter sermon and getting ready for our next series on the book of Galatians.
  • I think it is going to be an eye opening series for our church as we talk about grace, law, legalism, moralism and how being a good person isn’t enough to make you right with God.
  • Time to get back to it…
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