Wednesday, December 31, 2008

how Upstreet is changing the world (happy new year to Eric in Kenya!)

So, I promised I would give everyone an update about our own little Advent Conspiracy in Upstreet... called PROJECT GENEROSITY. I think it's appropriate that this be my post on the last day of the year.

We challenged the kids to sacrifice in some way to be GENEROUS to someone in the world who is poor and doesn't have all the stuff they have (like food, clean water, school, doctor visits, etc...). Project Generosity was all the kids in Upstreet coming together to bring in money to be able to SUPPORT A CHILD THEIR AGE who lives in Kenya through Compassion International.

Well, it's my privilege to introduce you to the child we have sponsored - Eric Base Kiria.
He is 6 years old and in kindergarten (and has a birthday coming up on February 4th!) Through a Compassion project he gets to attend a church in his village. His favorite hobbies are ball games and singing. He lives in a small village near Meru, Kenya which is in western Africa. His home has a dirt floor, mud walls, and a grass roof. He mostly eats maize and beans. Malaria and pneumonia are big health problems in his area that has also been devastated by the HIV/Aids virus!

With the $ kids donated through Project Generosity we are able to change Eric's world. He is now going to receive medical care, hygiene education, Bible teaching, writing classes, food and clean water, and recreational activity. All for only $32 per month through Compassion International.
The cool thing is that when Eric asks WHY he gets all this stuff now, the person giving him the food, etc... will get to tell him "Because there are some kids who love Jesus and love you and want to help you like Jesus said to do."

In a small way, one child at a time, we're helping our kids be a part of God's movement to CHANGE THE WORLD. That's the kingdom, Here & Now. pretty awesome

& because of the generosity of some kids in Upstreet & Compassion International & an amazing God... 2009 will be a WAY more awesome year for Eric than 2008 was!

Happy New Year everybody & Happy New Year to Eric!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

best Christmas EVER!

This was definitely the best Christmas EVER for me. And not necessarily for the reasons you might think...

Yes, I did have a great time hanging out with my parents and grandmother Christmas morning and early afternoon. And then a good time with Crystal's family who were in town from NY and Cali later on in the day. It was a good vacation and relaxing. And yes, I ate some great food. But, none of that stuff made it the best Christmas ever.

The Advent Conspiracy I got to be a part of made it the best Christmas EVER for me! You can read more about what it looked like for me HERE and HERE.

Short Story = I always get a ton of presents at Christmas. Definitely nice stuff and things I enjoy... but honestly, do I really need MORE stuff??? That's what I asked myself and really I think if I NEVER got anything else ever again... I would be just fine and better off than like 90% of the world.

On the other hand there are MILLIONS dying around the world - Africa and Asia especially SIMPLY because they do not have clean water. Including 3,900 children dying every day JUST BECAUSE they do not have clean water to drink!!!
I don't know about you but that breaks my heart and forces me to do something about this current tragedy. It's like a tsunami or a 9/11 every single day!

So, instead of piling up more and more stuff for myself I decided to rebel against materialism... kick it in the teeth really... and politely asked everyone who was going to give me b-day or Christmas gifts to PLEASE NOT BUY ME A GIFT! But instead of a gift to donate that same amount of money to build clean water wells through Living Water International. They are a great organization and have committed through Advent Conspiracy to use every penny that is donated for taking clean water to people who don't have it in order to save their lives!

And now that Christmas is over, I've got to say I DIDN'T MISS ALL THOSE GIFTS AT ALL!!! God has still blessed me beyond imagination and I am perfectly content. but here's the cool part that made it the best Christmas ever...
People gave the $ they would have spent on my Christmas gifts to help build wells for clean water & the total from my b-day & Christmas is just under $1,000!!!

WHOOOOO!!! That's what I'm talking about! All the clean water ministries estimate that in most of these villages living in poverty it takes about $10 to give someone clean water for life.

So, that means almost 100 PEOPLE will have clean water now & LIVE because of the donations family and friends gave! HAHA, there are 100 people with BIG SMILES on their faces today! Even cooler - God has a BIG SMILE on His face today!

I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING MORE AWESOME THAN THAT FOR CHRISTMAS!

And please feel free to continue to donate to the well fund through Advent Conspiracy/Living Water HERE.

***There are also some other great organizations Crystal and I have partnered with and given to in years past that specialize in building wells and taking clean water to dying people in Jesus' name! Check out Rwanda Clean Water and Blood:Water Mission! I know a lot about them, have met the peeps that work for them, and recommend them WHOLEHEARTEDLY! (Their links have been on the right side of this blog since it began 1 year ago... hopefully you've checked them out by now.)

Thanks especially to everyone who donated to save lives and who made this the best Christmas ever for me. It's true - Christmas can still Change the World!

Monday, December 29, 2008

ridge tent event

it's coming... and you better be there!

Linkyou'll be ticked if you miss out. check it out HERE.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

happy last day of advent

advent is finally coming to a close today. It has been an awesome month for me... tracking in the Book of Daily Prayer I wrote about HERE. I'm sensing crazy anticipation about the coming of Jesus. pretty sweet. very spiritual.

*Anyway, advent may be ending, but there's still time for YOU to get in on the Advent Conspiracy. Catch up on it HERE if you're behind.

In Upstreet we had our own advent conspiracy! Kids from kindergarten - 5th grade politely (and not so politely) rebelled against their culture of wanting more & more stuff! They sacrificed their excesses to help someone who is poor and in need, just like Jesus told us to do with our stuff.
I'm really excited to tell you all more about it after Christmas, but for now I'm proud to have you meet the boy whose life they are changing = Eric Base Kiria from Kenya. He'll get a proper intro in a later blog coming up.

Enjoy your last night of advent...

Monday, December 22, 2008

rethinking christmas

(Read the previous Advent Conspiracy posts HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

So, you've joined the Advent Conspiracy and don't know how to save $ on Christmas to help others? OR you've got someone in your family who already has everything? OR it's 3 days til Christmas and you're still needing gifts?

Go HERE = rethinkingchristmas.com for some good ideas.

[don't forget... return my present if you got me one... all I want for Christmas is for you to donate HERE. Over 20 people have clean water now because of what peeps gave for my b-day this month!]

Saturday, December 20, 2008

funny story

so do you all remember the Friends episode where Phoebe's smoke detector starts beeping uncontrollably? She tried everything - changing the battery, wearing ear muffs, beating it to death, throwing it down the trash chute, etc.. etc... BUT no matter what it kept beeping and driving her crazy!

That has been our lives for the past 3 weeks or so! It was driving us so crazy we just wanted to scream!!! I went out and bought brand new batteries, took it apart, googled what to do to make it stop beeping... everything. It's been beeping so long now that we've gotten used to it & kind of don't notice it anymore. Seriously... stopped hearing it a little. (It's not a constant beep btw, just every couple minutes.)

So, today I was determined to stop it from beeping. I was up on a chair with my face right next to it and... "it" beeped! BUT... the beep seemed a little more distant than the exact proximity of my face. I was like... hmmm?
I waited a couple minutes for it to beep again. ... ...

It was NOT in fact the smoke detector, but the carbon monoxide detector that was about 2 feet away on a shelf!!! My wife actually figured that out. We thought it was the smoke detector the whole time, but it was the hidden CO detector.

that's pretty insane and I'm sure there are like  a hundred spiritual analogies, but for now... crazy ironic! I thought you all might get a chuckle out of it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

crystal's post

so i'm guest writing patrick's blog today and the best part is that he doesn't even know i'm doing it! i just wanted to say that i BEAT PATRICK IN FOOSBALL!!! so please ask him how it feels to be beat by a girl. 
Crystal

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

john & africa & joy & peace

I hung out with John today. He grew up at Alexander Graham & then Myers Park High School here in Charlotte. He's lived here all his life.
Now, he lives on the streets. John is homeless. We hung out today at my friend Todd's expression of the kingdom I've told you all about before (most recently HERE.) 

John lives behind the Circle K a few blocks from Fuel Pizza uptown. He's a real guy with real problems. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan and doesn't like the Panthers! (don't worry, I gave him a hard time about that!) He wears a really ugly Christmas sweater that I'm sure someone gave him. It looked warm though and I'm sure that will come in handy this time of year sleeping behind the Circle K... Even right now, John is probably trying to go to sleep. I'm sure it's cold and wet.

I just tried to love John today. John is a happy guy. John has more joy & peace than half the people I bump into this time of year who are making serious coin compared to John but are stressed out of their mind because of their circumstances.

Then I got home and watched this video on my friend's facebook page.


Thanks Natalie.
I lived in Africa for a few months back in '03. In Botswana. I stayed in the bush in a tiny little village called Mochudi. I lived in a little house with Charles. He and his wife had 3 kids and that was about it. I spent $50 for them at the "grocery store" one day and it was more than enough for us all for like a month. They were one of the happiest families I've ever met. and they had NOTHING.
(I need to write a lot about my time in Africa on here some time soon!)

*I met thousands and thousands of people when I lived in Botswana and even Zambia for a while. Constant joy & peace. Like crazy! Still haven't seen anything like it. This video above is right on. I'm amazed by that reality. I'm humbled. I have joy & peace tonight. How could I not. 
I am SO thankful and blessed!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

quotes of the week #5

They're back! It's been a while, but they'll be coming a lot more often. Make sure you make it to the bottom 2 quotes. read HERE to catch up on the background and disclaimer for quotes of the week.

#1 Quote of the Week!American Christianity is more American than Christian.” – Scott Grace, my friend whose blog I wrote about HERE. (What do you think about his quote? I, for one, agree that he is right on about America as a whole. )

If I should die with more than ten pounds, may every man call me a liar and a thief.” – John Wesley (no intro needed... he said this because he felt he would have betrayed the gospel if he hadn't given away his money for the gospel's sake. hmmm... what do you have to say to that?)

If you’re not a socialist when you’re young you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative when you’re old you have no brains.” – Winston Churchill, the famous British Prime Minister... (I guess I resonate with this thought from him. I feel that tension I guess... that either means I'm getting older or my capitalistic culture is causing me to lose my heart. what about you?)

God’s ways of handling money look weird when things are going up… but really wise right now.” – Dave Ramsey, My $ mentor (talking about the economic times we find ourselves in.)

I’d rather be governed by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian.” – Martin Luther, the 16th century theologian credited with sparking the Reformation... (*I find this quote VERY timely! I heard so many Christians saying a few months ago that they vote based on only 1 issue (abortion)! Really? They said if they disagreed with someone on EVERY issue but 1 they would still vote for him because of that 1 issue. They said they would vote for "Joe Shmo Christian" who is against abortion over a great leader who was for abortion. I HATE abortion... but this seems like a crazy way of thinking to me. Plus I'm not so sure they would really act on those words if the situation ever arose...)

Sometimes we speak out to try to change the world, and other times we speak to try to keep the world from changing us.” – Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor & author (I love it!)

It is not enough to be biblically sound if we are not spiritually alive at the same time.” – Clark Pinnock (pioneer theologian & author. He expounds on this idea a lot. I can't agree more with him in this area.)

I will speak ill of no man and speak all the good I know of everybody.” – Benjamin Franklin, founding father. (Man, what if Christians actually adopted this practice? Many of them wouldn't have anything to talk about! James 3 rings a bell.)

A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men.” – Thomas Carlyle, 19th century Scottish satirist (Jesus acted that way.)

"If you really want to make a lasting impact, then you need to eliminate what you do well for the sake of what you can potentially do best." - Reggie Joiner, the father of family ministry. (This is what Ridge's model is all about.)

Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.” – Abraham Lincoln, former President who ended slavery. (He said to one of his Union generals speaking about their enemies in the Confederate army. Isn't this true of the people we disagree with! Think about this one before you hate on them!)

*So, these last 2 quotes are 2 of my favorites. But I need a little preface. Obviously, I love to read... but I don't just read these guys, they become my MENTORS. I soak up everything they say. I learn from them. It's like I sit on the couch with them and they teach me. I value reading from most of these guys. Recently I've been going through 2 books that are 2 of the best I've ever read. Visioneering by Andy Stanley and Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. AMAZING. At the start of next week I'll post another quotes of the week exclusively from these 2 books. Be looking for that post! BUT, just to whet your appetite for that post, I leave you with 1 quote from each of them...

"Any vision worth pursuing will demand sacrifice and risk." - Andy Stanley, lead pastor North Point Community Church. (HUGE for me to remember)

People had taught me what Christians believe, but no one had told me how Christians live...
There were plenty of folks talking about the gospel and writing books about it, but as far as I could tell, living out the gospel had yet to be tried in recent days
.” - Shane Claiborne
, author, actor, and founder of the Simple Way community in Phily. (This guy cracks me up & ignites my heart with passion!!! he's so right on with tons of stuff he says... love this quote.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

what's in my iPod? - tomlin: Hello Love

I've had this review in my drafts to publish about this CD ever since it came out on September 2nd... I can't believe this has been in the holding tank for all these months! I figured I better write this before the end of the year or just not even bother.

Earlier this week I wrote a little prep post for this - about the label and movement that put Tomlin on the map. You can read it HERE.

(Disclaimer: I think Chris Tomlin is possibly the greatest song writer the Church has EVER seen! His songs are BY FAR the most sung in worship around the world today. I'm a big fan.)
I have to be completely honest (because this blog is built on honesty... no wait, that's marriage... ok, my blog can be built on honesty too) - this is not one of Tomlin's best CDs. And that's why I haven't been in a rush to review it for the past 2 months. honestly, it Just Now made it on my iPod. BUT, in total fairness to Chris, it is almost impossible to live up to his last 2 records + all the live stuff from Passion... that stuff was straight up AMAZING. So, when he comes out with something like this that is GOOD... it feels just mediocre.

I hope that makes sense. This CD is far from "bad", it's just not on the level of Arriving and See the Morning. Seriously, this guy has given us our words for worship this decade with stuff like Indescribable, Holy is the Lord, How Great Is Our God, Enough, We Fall Down, Famous One, Forever, Your Grace Is Enough, Not to Us, Let God Arise, and Glory in the Highest. That's quite a list!

Of course, everyone was familiar with a few songs that Tomlin had been using to lead worship for several months before the CD released such as...
Sing, Sing, Sing, Jesus Messiah, and God Of This City.
You might remember a few months ago I wrote an entire post on God of This City - you can read it HERE. The song was actually written by the band Bluetree from Ireland & Tomlin has popularized it. But again, you can read all about the amazing story behind this song HERE.

Sing, Sing, Sing has been one of the more popular songs from Tomlin at all of the regional Passion events over the past year. I'm not a huge fan of it honestly. It's great lyrics... it's just not my favorite. And then if you've been anywhere near a Christian radio station in the past year you've definitely heard Jesus Messiah. The lyrics are so true =
"Jesus Messiah/ Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer/ Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners/ The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah/ Lord of all
- I just love Tomlin's use of "Name above all names" in his worship songs. That's beautiful to me! (Think How Great is Our God from Arriving). he actually employs this phrase again in track #7 Praise the Father, Praise the Son:
"Clothed in power and in grace/ The name above all other names"

So, my favorite NEW song on the CD (excluding the ones above) is definitely the 3rd track = You Lifted Me Out. It was actually written by Chris, Redman, AND Louie. It's so catchy and upbeat & just fun. Pretty rockin'. In fact, It's the next song on the docket we're going to teach the kids in Upstreet in January!
You lifted me out/ You lifted me out
And set me dancing, dancing
Free, now I am free/ Your love rescued me
Now it's the anthem I'm singing.... (Nananananananana)

I really like I Will Rise and My Deliverer that are super simple choruses that just highlight Tomlin's extremely pure voice. Great worshipful stuff.

God Almighty has such an awesome sound in parts and also has a simple chorus praising God almighty for His holiness. There is a phat violin part that straight up rocks. Seriously you've got to hear it. And a bridge where everything drops out but the piano and it sounds sweet.

The song I was most excited to hear was track #6 = Love
I was excited because right there on the back of the CD it said this song is "with Watoto Children's Choir" from Africa. I Love listening to African Children's Choirs. LOVE it. takes me back to when I was there. love listening to this track.

So, you can go buy the CD HERE. It's definitely worth buying. good stuff to listen to over Christmas.

(Some more lyrics from this album...)
Sing, Sing, Sing
"We will sing, sing, sing And make music with the heavens
We will sing, sing, sing Grateful that You hear us
When we shout your praise Lift high the name of Jesus
What's not to love about You? Heaven and earth adore You
Kings and kingdoms bow down Son of God, You are the One
You are the One we're living for
You are the love that frees us You are the light that leads us
Like a fire burning Son of God, You are the one
You are the one we're living for"


Jesus, Messiah
He became sin Who knew no sin 
That we might become His Righteousness 
He humbled himself and carried the cross 
Love so amazing Love so amazing 
Jesus Messiah Name above all names 
Blessed Redeemer Emmanuel 
The rescue for sinners The ransom from Heaven 
Jesus Messiah Lord of all 
His body the bread His blood the wine 
Broken and poured out all for love 
The whole earth trembled And the veil was torn 
All I hope is in You All I hope is in You 
All the glory to You, God The light of the world 


I Will Rise
There's a peace I've come to know Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul I can say "It is well"
Jesus has overcome And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won He is risen from the dead
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise I will rise
There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
"Worthy is the Lamb"


LOVE
When our hope is hard to find And our faith is in decline
We need a cause to stand behind - love
We all want the way it feels Time it comes and time it steals
What remains, what is real - love
There is love There is forgiveness
There is love in times of need
When life is cold there is a promise
You will never go without... There is love
It heals the sick Comforts the weak
Breaks the proud Raises the meek
In this life no guarantees...
Love is the answer Love will find a way
When we love one another It's a brighter day
O-kwa-ga-la-kwe,
Ku-singa-byoo-na,
Bwe-twa-ga-la-na-o-lu-na-ku-lu-suu-fu


Praise The Father Praise The Son
O sov'reign God, O matchless King-
the saints adore, the angels sing and fall before the throne on grace
to you belongs the highest praise.
These sufferings, this passing tide under Your wings I will abide,
and every enemy shall flee; You are my hope and victory.
Praise the Father, Praise the Son. Praise the Spirit, Three in One.
Clothed in power and in grace the name above all other names.
To the valley, for my soul; Thy great descent has made me whole!
You word my heart has welcomed home; now peace like water ever flows.

Yours is the kingdom, yours is the power.
Your is the glory forever. Yours is the kingdom,
yours is the power. Your is the glory forever.

My Deliverer
I will wait for You to move For Your mighty hand to save
When the trouble water rise You are my hiding place
You are my hiding place
You walls are salvation Your gates are praise
My Deliverer My Deliverer My Deliverer Is the Lord
Who is like You mighty God
Who can take me from Your hand
As I walk with You in freedom
You're the Rock on which I stand

With Me
I open my mouth and You speak for me
You move the mountains and roll back the sea
I will not be afraid I will never be ashamed
For You are with me You are with me
I've seen enough to know That You're my only hope
I don't want to go If You're not with me
We open our hands and You reach for us
You are the motion of the universe


Exalted (Yahweh)
Exalted, he is exalted On high, he is exalted
Great is the Lord, let all the nations say
Exalted, he is exalted
Blessing and honor
Glory and power unto the Lord be praised
Sing with a chorus resounding before us
Holy is his name, his name 
Yahweh, holy is your name

God Almighty
Like the water's roar Is Your voice, O Lord
There is none before And none beside
You are set apart You alone are God
Your glory reaches far From sky to sky
Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning we will sing
Holy, Holy, we bow down before Thee
All Your children love to sing Your name
God Almighty
You're the breath of life You're the God on high
Your song shall rise And never pass away
O, Your Majesty Evermore shall be
The earth, the skies, the sea
Shall bring You praise
And I hide my eyes With my face to the ground
In the presence of Your Majesty
And I clap my hands And I lay my crowns
In the presence of Your Majesty


All The Way My Savior Leads Me
All the way my Savior leads me Who have I to ask beside
How could I doubt His tender mercy 
Who through life has been my guide
All the way my Savior leads me Cheers each winding path I tread
Gives me grace for every trial Feeds me with the living Bread
You lead me and keep me from falling
You carry me close to Your heart
And surely Your goodness and mercy will follow me
All the way my Savior leads me O, the fullness of His love
O, the sureness of His promise In the triumph of His blood
And when my spirit clothed immortal Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages Jesus led me all the way

Friday, December 12, 2008

finished another (& it was awesome)

"A call for extensive change will always seem extreme to those who are comfortable with the status quo. What is considered conventional wisdom to the visionary is often viewed as radical to the people in the trenches. That's to be expected. Visionaries see things differently." - Andy

* "If you are consumed with the tension between what is and what could be, if you find yourself emotionally involved... frustrated... broken-hearted... maybe even angry... about the way things are, and if you believe God is behind your anguish, then chances are you are on the brink of something divine. Something too important to walk away from.
Pay the price.
Embrace the vision.
After all, everybody ends up somewhere in life.
You have the opportunity to end up somewhere on purpose." - Andy

I'm so jacked up now I can't sleep. (the vision is beating in my head & it will never stop!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

sixsteps article in Christianity Today

I won't hesitate to say that the Passion Movement changed my life! Starting back in 2003 when I started getting immersed in it. Like I've said a lot and even in yesterday's post, I owe a great debt to Louie Giglio. The movement he leads revolutionized my soul. 

And Passion's label has revolutionized the Church's worship. I was fortunate enough to track with these guys back in the early 2000s, right after Sixsteps started. Then in '04 I got the amazing privilege to be a Rep for Sixsteps records... the most awesome record label of all time. Led by Louie & with only 4 artists! Why the name "sixsteps"? Glad you asked! Check out the story surrounding 2 Samuel 6:13. That's where Louie named his label from. David and the peeps were so enthralled with God's glory that they stopped EVERY SIX STEPS TO WORSHIP. Pretty cool thing to be known by.
It was pretty cool back in those 04/05 days when I started as a rep... NOBODY knew these guys with sixsteps records. Some peeps knew some of their songs because they sang them in church, but no one knew their names.

Oh, by the way, the 4 artists are = David Crowder Band, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Charlie Hall. So, of course now EVERYONE knows these guys. Crazy...

[Honestly, in this millenium, pretty much all worship sung in churches has been written by one of these sixsteps guys OR Hillsong, Delirious, and now some NPCC guys (Fee, Stanfill, etc...) No doubt you'll sing a mixture of these peeps' songs on Sunday.]

So, I just wanted to point everyone to a somewhat recent Christianity Today article highlighting Sixsteps Records. They don't get a lot of hype or press which is totally cool with them... they're all about spreading God's fame, not their own. But I thought the CT article was a cool highlight of this awesome label.

You can read the article HERE. [Christianity Today is a great mag by the way, that I've subscribed to for years... it's my 2nd fav to this mag. I've also got a subscription to CT Library which gives me all access to every issue EVER of Christianity Today, re:generation, Leadership, Christian History, Books & Culture, and Leadership books... WOW, that's a mouthful & a lot to keep up with. But pimp resources right at my fingertips. check it out.]

Enough with my ADD...
Last year there was also an article with Passion actually on the COVER of CT. You can read that article HERE. Good stuff about a movement that CHANGED MY LIFE dramatically since I was 20... and has since gone GLOBAL.

There's still an almost-complete blog in my drafts that's a review of Tomlin's Hello Love album that I got back on 9/2. Whoa... way behind. anyway, I'm going to post it this weekend. Maybe it will be better served now that you have some background on the the label
I've already written reviews of Crowder & Charlie Hall HERE & HERE. Redman hasn't released a new one since Beautiful News which was before I started this blog.

Still representin' boys...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

finished another book

yep, I'm a bookaholic as I know you know from posts like THIS. I LOVE to read! I constantly read & learn. I'm not happy if I'm not reading or learning in some way. So, I LOVE taking advantage of my commute time to read books... on the iPod. I keep my iPod with me everywhere I go and constantly listen to audio books and podcasts I have downloaded.

In fact I have so much on there that I filled up my 30 gig iPod (which they tell you you'll never do when you buy it btw). I've got like 1,000 podcasts on there + all my music which is a lot.

SO, I had to do something to keep the learning coming. A few years ago I bought my wife a fancy new iPod. She hardly ever uses it! She has like less than 1 gig on there. She may as well have one of those stupid little iPod minis or whatever. So, I decided to put her iPod to good use. I loaded all my books and stuff on there that wouldn't fit on my iPod anymore. 

This was working out pretty good until one day when she was going running. It went down like this:
Crystal = "Where's my iPod?"
Me = "uh... I think it might be in my car"
Crystal = "Why would it be in your car?"
Me = "uh... i uh... i just... sbfjs... hey do you want me to vacuum the living room or something?"
Crystal = ?
*I gave her the iPod back and she stuck the headphones in her ears and started to take off. I was going back in the house when she turned around and yelled in a fairly angry tone...
"what the heck is John Maxwell doing on my iPod!?!?!?!
- i was busted

That was a long story to say that I finished that John Maxwell book tonight - Developing the Leader within You. The guy leading me told me it is the best one of all the million that he's written. [If you're familiar with John you know that he's written a gazillion books & says every single book is "the best book I've ever written."]
It was a great book and I have about 15 pages of takeaways from it.

Yeah, I keep a little notebook in my car with a pen in it. While I drive and listen to the book or podcast I'm currently on I write down all the good stuff/takeaways from the book... just like I do with books I sit & read. I eventually transfer the all to the file on my computer. Maybe I'll share the best stuff from the book on this blog eventually.
*This practice is so awesome! I feel like I'm in college every time I'm in my car. I love taking advantage of this.

I finished the book on my way home from community group tonight. I still had a little drive left so I looked through all the books and podcasts & landed on a Louie talk. INSTANTLY i was reminded of something.
I need a steady diet of Louie. - there's no way around it. I just do.

I used to listen to him almost every day! I used to read every blog the hour he wrote it. I have like every talk he's ever done + I would listen to the new ones online the week they went up. Always listening to the Passion podcast. But lately I've been listening to a ton of other stuff. Great stuff. But not a lot of Louie.

It's probably been like 2-3 months since I've listened to him. TOO LONG. I was reminded of that tonight in the first 5 minutes of the talk I listened to. It was Louie's passion and intensity that dramatically changed the trajectory of my life when I was in college! That movement that I jumped on board with put me where I'm at today spiritually. Louie has been HUGE in my life. I've gotta start listening to him a lot more again.

He's just the most raw, spiritually intense guy I've ever heard. I can't get enough. He inspires me to new levels & always brings me back to the Center... what matters most... the fame of Jesus. I need a fresh reminder of that every day. Thanks Louie.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

our thanksgiving with some of my fav peeps

I'm really behind on blogging as you can probably tell as I'm just now writing what I wanted to write the day after Thanksgiving. I'm so backed up it's crazy. I've got like 35 half written blogs sitting in the edit file. I've got a CD review in there that came out 9/2. pretty ridiculous how busy life can get.

Anyway, Crystal had to work this Thanksgiving. We did get to spend the morning with my parents and my grandma though. that was really cool.

But what we got to do on Wednesday was really special. It's something I've done many times before but it was really special because my wife was with me. She had been saying she wanted to go with me and what better time than the day before Thanksgiving.
We went downtown like I do many Wednesdays to Fuel pizza where my friend Todd is EVERY Wednesday to feed as many homeless men & women as possible. Pretty awesome. I've written about it before HERE and HERE.

Todd has been running this deal for over a year. He's a great guy and goes to Ridge Church. It's not just Ridge representing there now... There are volunteers from Ridge, City Church, MorningStar (in Fort Mill), and Nexus Church. Pretty awesome.

Fuel was packed. The cool part about this day was that we had more than just pizza to give away. When Todd told everyone they would get 2 slices of pizza + a cookie and a drink (instead of the normal 1 slice & drink)
EVERYONE'S eyes LIT UP like a little kid if you told them the tooth fairy and Santa were coming to take them on a trip to Disney World or something. Crystal noticed it right away. That was a pretty cool thing.

But it was more than just food. We had bags and bags and bags of Winter coats, sweaters, shoes, socks, scarves, blankets, etc.. etc... to give away to all of these people sleeping on the streets of Charlotte in some pretty cold weather. Neither Todd or I are the most organized people in the world, so Crystal jumped in and had all the clothes organized in stacks pretty quickly and took charge to handle distributing them evenly to everyone who needed them. My wife has never looked so beautiful to me. Well, there have been a few times, but she was really hot standing there working to serve the poor! Working to serve Jesus (Matthew 25).

They were so thankful. They were so happy. I wanted to cry. Cry for joy at seeing how happy we could make them with some simple coats. I've got like 8 coats. That's ridiculous. I should never buy another coat ever again. I think I'm pretty much good to go.

There weren't that many ladies who needed stuff on this particular day, so Crystal got to hook this one woman up with like 2 bag loads of stuff! It was like a free shopping spree for her. She was grinning like crazy with the new blankets, coats, and scarves! Crystal was pretty excited.

we just straight up love them. Just like Jesus said to do. 

hmmmm... what have I done on a day off for Thanksgiving before. Watch football? play xbox? eat too much. yeah, this was WAY more fun... feeding and clothing Jesus is always pretty fun. You should come with us some time.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Upstreet is decked out

Upstreet is all about Generosity this month... like I told you HERE. But we're also all about some FUN!
Because of an amazing team of crazy talented, creative, passionate, and hard working volunteers we're able to pull this off every Sunday. Many of them show up to Ridge at 6:30AM to make this happen. That's pretty awesome. So, big props, thanks, and much love to all of them for sacrificing to change the lives of kids.

These are just some pics of what it looks like for us on Sundays this month.






Saturday, December 6, 2008

Generosity in Upstreet (a revolution)

All month in Upstreet we're talking about GENEROSITY. I think this is pretty huge for kids... and for adults. In our culture we are NOT very generous. In fact we're just the opposite.

But in Upstreet we really want God to use us to be part of a revolution to spark a new generation of kids to THINK and LIVE differently than our current culture. The tide is changing and we're doing all we can to be a part of that change. This month is one small part of the revolution. We want kids to grow up BEING generous. Right now that's revolutionary for our culture. We want it to be a normal thing.

We're challenging them to be generous in a very tangible way this month through Project Generosity. I'll let all you non-Ridgers know all about that this coming week.

This video below is for all of you amazing people who make up the Upstreet Team. You guys are awesome and are changing the world with what you do from week to week. Enjoy the overview below of what we're doing all month!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

double advent conspiracy

It's pretty cool that my birthday falls DURING advent. So, my birthday is joining up with the Conspiracy just like Christmas is. 

If you still don't know about the Advent Conspiracy you can go to their website HERE. Or you can read my initial post about it HERE.

A bunch of us are joining this movement for Christmas, but I say what could I possibly need for my birthday? I mean really... I've got so much stuff it's ridiculous. So... I only want ONE birthday present this year. (& only ONE Christmas present too...) = for a lot of people who don't currently have clean water to drink... to have clean water! I want them to stop DYING because of a problem that we can fix with pocket change.

So, if you were thinking of getting me a birthday present this year and spending 50 cents or 50 bucks then I'll make it really easy = click HERE. Just fill out the donation form and give that money to help people LIVE through Living Water International. That's my "double advent conspiracy" = my b-day & Christmas... focused presents. They all go to 1 thing. And that one thing (water) is so much better than the sweater you would get me.

And in case you haven't seen it yet, take a couple minutes out of your busy day to watch this video below.

Monday, December 1, 2008

happy advent

Advent started yesterday. Most of you probably didn't know that. To be honest I never did before this year either.

What's different about this year? Well, I'm glad you asked. I think it's important for us as believers to connect with THE CHURCH... that means God's people globally and across time. I love to stay connected with the ancient Church as well as the Church in other cultures. I think this is healthy and can keep us from a lot of error. So, a few months ago I started using a book based on ancient practices... The Daily Prayer Book. I follow it every day. It follows the "Christian Calendar" and the Christian calendar BEGINS with Advent. So, happy new year (I guess) everybody!

So, now we're in the season of Advent. What in the world is Advent? Again, glad you asked. It represents the beginning of our spiritual journey. During this month we can share in the anticipation of Israel & the longing shared by Abraham, Moses, David, etc... THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH.
For believers, Advent represents the Messiah coming at Bethlehem, but also Jesus coming at the end of the age! During Advent we look ahead to Christ to come and establish His kingdom... we long for it just like the ancient people of God. We share in their longing as the people of God together. As Advent leads up to Christmas we will be especially aware of how HUGE it was for Jesus to enter our world on Christmas.
I think by following this ancient prayer book this Christmas will be more meaningful than ever for me. I'll be experiencing Advent which goes until December 24th.

THEN Christmas starts on December 25th. Starts on December 25th? Yeah... there are 12 days of Christmas in the Christian calendar. Now you know where the song came from! 
BUT, Christmas is so much more than that! It represents the culmination/CELEBRATION of our Advent longing. All the anticipation comes to an end in Jesus coming to earth to be the Savior... the RESCUER... the REMEDY.

Unfortunately, Advent for most of us American Christians consists of spending a bunch of money on crap. And then the Christmas season... the 12 days that should be us celebrating the coming of our Messiah are consumed with EATING & hanging out with family you probably don't ever see or maybe even like! And then WORRYING about how you're going to pay for all this crap you bought & can you even return all the crap people bought for you for cash or do you have to take store credit to just trade it for more crap YOU DON'T NEED!!! sound about right?

So, I wish you all a happy Advent. Let this season be one of anticipation of a Savior who came, died, and is coming to be the KING. This Advent/Christmas worship Him fully. & Spend Less on that crap you buy everyone so you can GIVE MORE to people who really need stuff like clean water to stay alive!!! Love All like Jesus.

Enter the Story... read about joining the Advent Conspiracy on my post a few days ago HERE.

And watch this video... do something different this Advent... Change someone's life... CHANGE THE WORLD!



much more to come about this whole conspiracy in the days ahead.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

thankful

I'm thankful for a lot of things...
God, my amazing wife who is so hot & so perfect for me & my best friend, my parents who made sacrifices & were so awesome raising me, my grandmother who I got to spend Thanksgiving with, my Church that rocks, my job, my friends, the fact that God has kept me healthy and provided for me, the fact that I don't have to worry about having clean water to drink or food to eat, and tons of other stuff. I'm unbelievably blessed! Thanks, God.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(and check out yesterday's post about Advent Conspiracy)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ADVENT CONSPIRACY

Advent Conspiracy. It's something I've been excited about for 1 year. [Please watch the Video in YESTERDAY'S POST!] I'm so stoked to share it with all of you. Here's what it's about. 

The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love. So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.

And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas? What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?... Welcome to Advent Conspiracy.(ADVENT begins next week, by the way, & maybe I'll explain that in tomorrow's post.)

2 guys I love to read & follow started this thing called Advent Conspiracy. They are Chris Seay (Ecclesia) and Rick McKinley (Imago Dei Community). I have crazy respect for these men. I have followed them for years and I really believe their hearts are extremely similar to Jesus' heart. Below is a quick video of Rick explaining what the idea of Advent Conspiracy (AC) is all about.
Rick just explained it better than I ever could. Being part of the AC is all about 4 things = worship fully, spend less, give more, love all. That's what I'm going to make this Advent all about in my life in every way I can think of.

It just so happens that my birthday also falls during advent... not just Christmas. I learned about Advent Conspiracy right around last Christmas and a passion was ignited in me that was SO strong! I told Crystal that next Christmas + on my birthday I didn't want any presents for me. What do I need anything for??? Are you kidding me? I'm pretty sure if I never got anything more for the rest of my life I'd be good. I'm always going to have clean water and food and clothes. I'm way ahead of the average. I told her I wanted to make a difference and use that money people would buy me gifts with for some type of LIFE SAVING project! And here it is...

People are dying simply because they don't have access to clean water. In fact, it's the leading cause of death in under resourced countries. 1.8 million people die every year from water born illnesses. That includes 3,900 children a day. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Just because they don't have the clean water that we take for granted!!! The solution to this problem is directly beneath our feet. Drilling a fresh water well is a relatively inexpensive, yet permanent solution to this epidemic. $10 will give a child clean water for life. So, $10 will save a child's life!!! That's not an estimate. It's a fact. And here's another fact: Solving this water problem once and for all will cost about $10 billion. Not bad considering Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas last year. WOW! just spend a little less & give a little more = we really worship Jesus fully & love all in a BIG way! Our hope is that, by celebrating Christ in a new way at Christmas, the church can serve as the leading movement behind ending the water crisis once and for all.

So, for all of you who would normally get me a birthday gift or a Christmas present... (not that many of you really... probably just the same handful of people who read this blog) ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS (and my birthday on December 3rd) is for you to take the $ you would have spent on my gift and donate it to Living Water International. They will use 100% of the money (no administrative costs) to build wells in Liberia, Peru, India, and the Sudan so that dying people can have clean water & LIVE! I cannot POSSIBLY think of a gift you could ever get me that would be better than that. You can donate HERE.

much much more to come on this. I'll be sharing more tomorrow probably. Just wanted you to know early.