Wednesday, September 30, 2009
A few years ago I heard about The Bible Experience as it was about to be released. It caught my attention. It was going to be an "audio Bible", but not just ANY audio Bible. I had listened to those before and they should be illegal because the guy reading would put you to sleep while you were driving!
No, this was basically a Hollywood-quality MOVIE that you would listen to! (And it is produced by Hollywood producers.) It has all the sound effects, surrounding ambiance, the movie-like soundtrack, etc... Plus each actor plays his character throughout the entire "Story" of the Bible.
And the actors... let's just say they didn't do like the normal Christian movie producers do and get actors off the ABC Family Channel (worst actors in the world!) or get a big name star like Kirk Cameron :)
The best actors in the business came together to "reenact" the Bible! Big time award winners like = Denzel Washington, Cuba Gooding Jr., Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool J, Blair Underwood, and even my boy Kirk Franklin!
So, when the New Testament released I went out and bought it right away. It was AMAZING! I told everyone about it. The coolest thing is that it is SO REAL. It feels like your standing there on the hill listening to Jesus' sermon on the mount! It is so dramatic that you get a little scared when demons talk. In fact, riding in the car late one night listening to the gospels, Crystal made me turn it off because it got so intense!
Then last year I won the WHOLE BIBLE "Bible Experience" cds at Catalyst! That was awesome because at that time the whole thing was over $100. Plus the version they gave me also has the complete text & you can scroll/read along with it in your iPod as it is playing in your headphones! Pretty sweet. I love that it's the exact same version I read and use too - TNIV. So it's exactly the same text as what I read in the Bible.
For example, when we painted our living room 2 months ago I got to listen to the whole entire book of Isaiah in 1 day! (& Isaiah is a pretty long book!)
Driving home from ATL one time I blazed through Nehemiah, Esther, & Ezra... Awesome stories.
*And of course, as the title of this post suggests, I always listen to the Bible Experience in the shower! BUT I've never been strategic about it. I would just pop in a random cd & listen to whatever as I was waking up in the shower 1st thing in the morning.
**BUT, when we got back from vacation last month I decided to be very strategic. I just decided to go straight through the whole New Testament. I put a little Ridge sticky note on the mirror and wrote down where I left off each day. So I only listened to the Bible Experience while I was taking a shower and getting ready (brushing my teeth, etc...). I started on August 14th and finished the whole New Testament yesterday, September 29th!
So, around 1 & a half months is all it took to "read" the whole New Testament... and no extra time on my part... just while I was in the shower!
Now that's what I call a wise use of my time! The epitome of multi-tasking! I love it! And I love the intensity & "realness" of The Bible Experience.
In fact, check out a sneak peek of the experience for yourself below:
The best clip to get a feel for the whole thing is on the Bible Experience website HERE.
and if you want to see more here is a "making of the Bible Experience" video...
You can buy The Bible Experience by simply clicking HERE.
Tomorrow in the shower I am starting on the Old Testament. I wonder how long it will take me to go all the way through it? Probably a lot quicker than trying to hold a Bible and read it while in the shower!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Last week we opened up with the Barenaked Ladies hit "If I had $1,000,000" to kick off our brand new series "How to Be Rich". It was awesome. Maybe better than the original. It was really funny too.
Continuing in that vein we rocked some Weezer as the opener this week. You know which song right? "Beverly Hills" of course! C'mon, when you hear that you just can't help but belt it out right. Go ahead, have some fun here on renown too - I won't judge you... just go ahead and shout it out. here, I'll sing it with you...
"Beverly Hills, THAT'S WHERE I WANNA BE!" haha, nice...
Then at 1 point during the song Rusty rigged a machine to blow money out into the crowd in the seats! It was pretty awesome! Really cool and really fun!
There are several reasons we do that kind of stuff. I've probably talked about them before and/or will again in the future. I don't have a whole lot of time now, but I'll share maybe the most beautiful reason why = it is at least a little bit disarming for people sitting in our seats who don't go to church (and there always are lots of these peeps!).
*In fact, someone came to Ridge for the 1st time this Sunday. He doesn't go to church. at all. I think he used to when he was little, but didn't want to go back after that. He probably thinks he doesn't "belong" at church. Someone from Ridge had been investing in him for over a year and invited him. He came to Ridge carrying whatever church baggage and reasons why he didn't like church... or why church didn't like him.
He commented to the friend who invited him later - "As soon as I heard your band open up with Weezer I knew that I would be ok." That's beautiful. He knew that this would not be another place that didn't like him. Maybe he started to feel like he could belong at church?
I'm pretty stoked about the series even though I haven't gotten to listen to it all yet. Again, it's "How to Be Rich". We just figured since "Ridge Church" is often confused with "Rich Church" we may as well do a series telling people how to be rich! Seriously, for some reason when we say the name of our church people are like "Rich Church?"
Anyway, the series probably isn't about what you think it's about. It's on THIS passage. And I've written some thoughts about it before HERE. It's about really being rich! Not the kind of rich where you just have a whole crapload of money and spend it on houses and cars and crap like that. You can listen to the 1st 2 parts of the series HERE!
Again, I'm pretty stoked about hearing the whole thing... and about the fun we're having during this series. "BEVERLY HILLS..."
"money, money, money..."
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
It's from the guys at Mashable. They are the social media/web 2.0 gurus...
I would put the #3 video right here on my blog so you could see it, but I like to think of this blog as a somewhat "PG" rated space... or at least "PG-13", but just to warn you that some lingo Hitler uses in that one video (although funny) is not so much family friendly...
Just click HERE to see the top 10 Kanye parodies. hilarious!
I'll leave you with 1 of the videos... Kanye interrupting the president!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Our team pulls off some amazing stuff every single Sunday. We're part of something revolutionary. Kids are experiencing God in Upstreet and their experience is fun and awesome and exciting... just like God is. This is possible because of the amazing Upstreet team!
The world is going to be a radically different place in the future because of these volunteers. Because they're pouring their lives into the next generation. I'm so stoked about it & LOVE that I get to serve with them.
*This past Saturday we had a little party with the Upstreet team. We had a LOT of fun. It's always fun when we can just hang out together!
A little Ladder Ball broke out throughout the day in the back yard. I'm going to show you just a short clip of a Ladder Ball game but I have to set it up 1st.
**I guess it was like Small Group vs. Large Group? Angie Brown is our Upstreet Small Groups Director & the one brave enough to host this party at her house + Anne Bixler, one of our Small Group Coaches made up the blue team. The red team was our Upstreet Large Group Director, Danielle Banks + Natalie Osborne, an Upstreet production guru & creative genius!
It was NOT a close game. At least for most of it. The "small group" (blue) team went up 20-7. and you only play to 21! Each player gets 3 tosses in each round and you can get 1,2, or 3 points for each throw depending on which rung you land on. So the blue team literally just needed 1 point and the game was over.
BUT very SLOWLY but surely the "large group" (red) team crept back into it. Even as they were on their "comeback" you still just knew there was no way they would win.
This video begins as Natalie and Angie each have 2 more shots. the score is Blue=20 & Red=18.
It was a memorable moment! Did you see Natalie? She was the one jumping up and down. The sheer joy of victory. As Sam said... it should be on Sports Center! Definitely Legendary.
It was a fun party & a great chance to say thanks to an awesome team for all their sweat and hard work. They're the greatest.
I can't wait til Sunday...
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I've written about his music before a few times. You can read one article HERE.
I'm really stoked about his brand new album - Hope Rising - coming out in less than a month! It hits iTunes & stores on Tuesday, October 6th. I've already heard several of the songs that are gonna be on there and they are AWESOME! They are gonna spread through the Church and already are. You can actually pre-order the album HERE.
Below I've posted a little video from Steve leading one of these awesome new songs @ Big Stuf. I actually wrote about the song on that very night when he played it at Big Stuf. You can read that HERE. It's just a little preview of what's gonna be on the new album. I've gotta warn you that it is extremely poor quality (video & audio)... but you can get the idea!
And there's a lot more where that came from on this upcoming album - like "God is Alive" and "Glory to God Forever" that has already become a favorite at Ridge.
You can check out all the songs & artwork for the album HERE.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
"May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make His face shine on us—
May the peoples praise You, God;
may all the peoples praise You.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for You rule the peoples with equity
and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise You.
The land yields its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
SO THAT all the ends of the earth will fear Him." (Psalm 67)
this is my prayer & song to God. That is my heart's passion!
This is the only reason I want to be blessed. This is the only reason God gives blessings to me & to my wife and to us as a family = SO THAT we will take those blessings and use them for His renown!
His fame & renown in all the earth is the only reason we've been blessed with a pimp house and 2 cars and jobs and food on our table and iPhones and health and minds and speech and sight and abilities...
It's the only reason I've been blessed with this computer to write this blog and the fingers that are typing it. It's the reason I've been blessed with the breath I am taking right now. "SO THAT" all the peoples & nations & ends of the earth will know & fear & be in AWE of God's renown.
So I would be an idiot to not recognize that's what all these blessings are for. I'd be an idiot to think they're just blessings for the sake of making me richer or something...
This should remind us all of the beginning of the Story (Genesis 12) when God said His whole purpose for blessing a "people" was so that they would BE A BLESSING to the rest of the peoples! and the whole Story shows how all those blessings are SO THAT His renown would spread throughout the world!
This is still the story we're in = God is making His Name famous in all the world & He's blessing us "so that" we'll be a part of that renown-spreading story!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.
If she is getting dressed, this is half an hour. 5 minutes is only 5 minutes if you have just been given 5 more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
This is the calm before the storm. This means "something," and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with "Nothing" usually end in "Fine".
This is a dare, not permission. Don't do it. [She might even say "Go ahead, baby" to make the deception even greater!]
This is not actually a word, but a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A "loud sigh" means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over "Nothing".
This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can make to a man. "That's OK" means that she wants to think long and hard before deciding when you will pay for your mistake.
A woman is thanking you. Don't question it or faint. Just say you're welcome.
So, WHICH OF THESE "WORDS" RING A BELL? ANY STORIES?
If you liked this list of "women words", but want something with some actually good content check out 2 of Perry Noble's recent posts. Long lists about leaders & staffs, but I thought they were great. Stoked about this guy coming to talk to us @ N*Rich this year! Pretty cool.
Here's his 2 posts = 16 Signs that a Leader has lost his mind
& 18 Signs that a Staff has lost its mind
Saturday, September 12, 2009
1 year before that (2 years ago Sunday) we officially launched Ridge Church on Sunday nights. So tomorrow is the 2 year anniversary of our public launch.
This has been a really amazing 1st year & God has done so many awesome things & radically changed so many lives through the Ridge. Tomorrow we celebrate that!
I'm so honored & stoked to be a part of this. And this is only the beginning of something amazing God is doing! He is rejuvenating our vision and reminding us in fresh ways that this mission is all about His glory. That's what we've committed our lives to!
So come celebrate our birthday with us tomorrow @ either our 9AM service or 11AM service. Everyone who is there for one of our birthday services will get a freshly designed, hot off the press Ridge Church shirt!
For our birthday we're giving YOU a gift!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
It is unbelievably and inexplicably awesome when I get to truly experience it! It's a chance to take a deep breath and just rest in God for a day.
Sabbath is something I LOVE and want to be a natural part of my life, but it's so hard sometimes!
Like tomorrow for instance. There is SO MUCH work to do! but it's just going to have to wait until Saturday. that is so hard. But I've come to learn it is simply an act of worship and putting down my pride. You can read more along those lines and my "theology of Sabbath" HERE.
I really need things to remind me how important & VITAL Sabbath is for my life. Because it's easy for Friday to roll around and I just want to keep working.
I had a great reminder this morning sitting out on my porch swing watching it rain...
Here are some awesome words from Mark Buchanan in the book I've been reading - The Rest of God (double meaning intended).
"We stand ourselves down. We resist that which six days of coming and going, pushing and pulling, dodging and weaving, fighting and defending have bred into us. What we deny ourselves is all our well-trained impulses to get and to spend and to make and to master.
This day, we go in a direction we're unaccustomed to, unfamiliar with, that the other six days have made to seem unnatural to us. We do this, this traveling in the opposite direction, maybe for no higher reason at first than that God told us to do it.
But joy is found here.
The law of Sabbath is not legalistic. It is a command given to save us from ourselves."
And that's the way I feel. The past 6 days I've worked my butt off. And now tomorrow is "opposite day." It goes against every "driven" bone in my body. But it's worth it. It's non-negotiable. It's a gift from God to save me from myself."
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
We talked about WONDER. We all give our wonder to something. Every single person on earth chases after something that captures their wonder. And whatever captures our wonder, that's what we give our lives to.
In my humble opinion, the Church has done a sucky job of helping students see that God is the only One who is worthy of capturing our sense of wonder and that every other thing that WOWs us will never really satisfy us fully or make us ultimately happy. That's just the way we were created. We're missing something until God fully captures our wonder and all the other good things in life are just secondary.
I think only God can cause a student to "get" that, but I am passionate about trying everything we can to help them get there! So, we talked about it this past Sunday. They spent A LOT of quality time in their small groups talking about it more.
During my talk I read a quote from a book I read early on in my journey of "getting" the wonder of God. It's from C.S. Lewis' The Weight of Glory (and as I told the students, "yes, he did write other stuff besides The Chronicles of Narnia!"). The part at the very beginning of that book that left me breathless was this:
“if we consider the unblushing promises… in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. WE ARE FAR TOO EASILY PLEASED.”
Wow. I can still remember the 1st time I read that. I remember where I was sitting. It was a big moment. My whole life I thought that the strong desires I had for something to WOW me, to capture my wonder, to chase after something... were too strong & bad! But it was never that they were bad or that I was going after all that stuff... It was that = I was missing something even better! And if I would go after that infinite pleasure I would finally be satisfied!
I knew that quote wouldn't connect with the students like it did for me as a 21 year old, so I prayed and worked hard to contextualize it. Here's they story I came up with:
Think of your favorite band/musical artist. Your favorite one in the whole world... you have all their CDs and know all their songs. Imagine that later today someone gives you 2 free tickets to their concert! You start freaking out immediately and call your best friend to go with you to the concert because of course it's their favorite band too.
The concert gets closer and closer and the anticipation builds and builds. You are SO excited.
The day finally arrives and you and your friend walk into this HUGE stadium concert with 70,000 people! You are mesmerized by this scene. Your band comes out and starts playing the opener and you start singing along. You are so excited that you and your friend slip into 2 seats there in the back row where you walked in at.
It is an amazing night. They played all your favorite songs and you sing along with them all. You are hoarse. You took a ton of pics for Facebook. It was the night of your life. You were WOWed.
Your friend stays over at your house that night and you 2 stay up all night talking about the amazing experience at that concert. You relive every second of it together.
And then you pull the ticket stubs out of your pocket. You look at them really for the 1st time because when you got them you were so excited that you didn't bother to look closely. So, for the 1st time you notice that these tickets were for FRONT ROW SEATS! You can't believe that you didn't notice this! You could have been sitting 10 feet away from your favorite band instead of seemingly 10 miles away in the back row. You could have almost reached out and touched them. Maybe the guitar player would have tossed you a pick, or the drummer might have tossed you one of his sticks?
Then you flip the tickets over and see for the 1st time on the back that these were also BACK STAGE PASSES! They were good for an hour after the concert to hang out with your favorite band - meet them, take pictures with them, eat food with them, etc...
As awesome as the concert was in the back row, you cannot believe that you missed out on what would have been so much better!
God has given us so many good things to enjoy here on earth! They are awesome things. But when we are so WOWed by them that we miss the ultimate wonder - God - then we're like that kid making mud pies in the slum & skipping the vacation at the beach. Or we're like someone sitting in the back row when they could have been on the front row & backstage with their fav band.
So, of course students (& everyone) are going to keep chasing after "little wonders" = sex, sports, acceptance, money, clothes, popularity, drugs, etc... until we can help them see that the Ultimate Wonder is what they are missing out on and the only thing that can truly satisfy them.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I can't wait to experience it. Get all the skinny about the conference & I think you can still register HERE. Over 8,500 Church Leaders will be tuning in.
We'll all be live tweeting about it so hopefully I'll see a lot of you there...
Just for a little glimpse, here are some of the awesome leaders who are giving us 9 minutes of brilliance! = Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Reggie Joiner, Dave Ferguson, Leonard Sweet, John Ortberg, Mark Batterson, Alan Hirsch, Ed Stetzer, Dino Rizzo, Greg Surrat, Jon Tyson, and even Charlotte's very own Steven Furtick & Naeem Fazal.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Today is the "famous" (haha) quotes of the week. A little different though because they are all about this idea of fasting that I am exploring. Most of them are from Piper's book that I mentioned here.
Here are my fav quotes:
"The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with 'other things.' ... What we hunger for most, we worship." - John Piper, pastor & author.
"I believe that nothing else can compare with the supernatural power released when we fast and pray." - the late Bill Bright, founder of campus crusade
"Is fasting ever a bribe to get God to pay more attention to the petitions? No, a thousand times no. It is simply a way to make clear that we sufficiently reverence the amazing opportunity to ask help from the everlasting God, the Creator of the universe, to choose to put everything else aside and concentrate on worshiping, asking for forgiveness, and making our requests known--considering HIS help more important than anything we could do ourselves in our own strength and with our own ideas." - Edith Schaeffer, author & widow to the late great Francis Schaeffer
"The state of the times extremely requires a fullness of the divine Spirit in ministers, and we ought to give ourselves no rest till we have obtained it. And in order to do this, I should think ministers, above all persons, ought to be much in secret prayer and fasting, and also much in praying and fasting one with another... earnestly seeking for those extraordinary supplies of divine grace from heaven..." - Jonathan Edwards, Puritan pastor & leader of the Great Awakening & said by many to be the greatest American mind EVER...
"Fasting has so frequently been found a means in the hand of God, of confirming and increasing chastity, seriousness of spirit, earnestness, sensibility and tenderness of conscience, deadness to the world, and consequently the love of God, and every holy and heavenly affection." - John Wesley, another leader of the Great Awakening + father of several evangelical denominations
"Fasting is only a way which God hath ordained, wherein we wait for His unmerited mercy; and wherein, without any desert of ours, He hath promised freely to give us His blessing." - John Wesley
"Fasting can deepen hunger for God to work. Spiritual hunger and fasting have a reciprocal power. Each deepens and strengthens the other. Each makes the other more effective. - Wesley Duewel, author on prayer & President of OMS International
"To love fasting is not only possible. In the light of the facts, I will go so far as to say that the contrary appears impossible to me, to whatever degree one has truly experienced fasting. Experience fasting, and you will love it." - Adalbert de Vogue, 20th century monk.
"Fasting helps to express, to deepen and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain the Kingdom of God." - Andrew Murray, South African pastor & missionary
"If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the Great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened." - John Piper, pastor & author.
There's just a few quotes I've been pondering while reading and studying about fasting this past week.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THESE QUOTES?
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I'm in & excited about what God will do in me during these 10 days. Chris directed us to pray/fast about 2 things over these 10 days:
1) That we would be spiritually hungry - driven to God for satisfaction like I'm driven to food.
2) For God's Glory. Specifically for God to get glory through Ridge Church. Chris has said from the beginning that he only wants Ridge to be a platform that God would stand on to spread His renown.
I want to use these 10 days to develop my "Theology of Fasting" - I didn't have much of one before starting this. And I think it will help me immensely to pour out my heart from this journey here on renown. I started A Hunger for God by my homeboy Piper & will be posting some stuff I learn from that book here @ renown.
(Now, I just read in Matthew 6 that Jesus said not to be a hypocrite & jack up your face when you fast so that everyone will know. I just want to learn what God thinks about fasting. And part of this whole experience for me is having an outlet to process my thoughts. + I am far from trying to make myself look good here... I'm not even gonna do the real thing for much more than 1 day. I haven't eaten since lunch yesterday, but later today I'm gonna have to eat something (because currently my head is exploding & I may pass out any second), so for most of the 10 days I will be doing a "no meat & only water" fast. haha, which because of the carnivore that I am, I haven't really been able to think of many things to eat that aren't meat. seriously. I'm sure I'll get really creative these 10 days!) Anyway, there is no better way for me to try to figure this thing out than to talk about it.
Because of this "fast" my mind has not been able to break from thoughts about God's absolute renown in my life. that's an amazing thing.
Every freaking second this extreme hunger in my stomach is forcing my passion to rise up in me and a hunger for God to be glorified! I want it to remind me that as bad as I want food right now, I want God MORE... I want Him to use me to make His name famous in this world!
I keep shouting to myself "I've gotta have some food!" & it's an instant reminder that I want my constant shout to be "I've gotta have YOU, God." He is better than food. He is better than anything.
Later today when I down some nasty non-meat food it will be so satisfying to me! It will quench my hunger. My belly will be fully satisfied. It will be amazing.
BUT, it will be a reminder to me that God is the only One who can satisfy me fully. No thing, no food, no person, no lifestyle, no comfort, no accomplishment, no amount of money, no ANYTHING will ever fill me up & satisfy me except for God!
And when I satisfy my hunger fully in Him - He is most glorified in me!
(& now I'm off to find something vegetarians eat, haha...)