Monday, February 25, 2013

proceed

sometimes i wonder & wrestle with the idea that i might not always have the purest motives.

like am i really doing this with 100% humility or is there a tiny little bit of pride in me somewhere?

am i really doing this 100% for that person's good, or is it a little bit for my benefit too?

what's in my heart when i say that, do that, give that, write that...?

i wonder about my motives sometimes. because i desperately want them to be pure. i agonize over it sometimes. i talk to my wife about it and probably worry too much that i'm getting "off." all because i want to be genuine in my motives.

then i read this awesome quote a while back.
"Don’t worry about purifying your motives. Simply know that they aren’t pure, and proceed.”
– David Steindl Rast

i guess that's one way to look at it. :) 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

it's not what you think...

people think a whole lot of different things when they hear the word "christian."

i do too. usually not good things.

i posted earlier this week that i have these kinds of conversations a lot...

but all these crazy things that "christians" are today is never what it was meant to be like.
so, i don't blame you... i wouldn't want to be a part of a movement like that either.

so check out this other movement. it's also called "christian"...

but it's not what you think


NEW Series "Christian" Starting Sunday February 24, 2013 from Ridge Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

why do you let it happen?

i originally wrote & posted this to renown on September 20,2010 from Kenya, Africa.

"Where someone is born should not determine whether they live or die."
that's something else that's not OK and it's something i think about all the time. the thought was made famous by Bono, but i'm sure someone was saying it before He was.
I think God says something similar to US daily... so maybe Bono was just quoting God.
ironically, when serving in a community like Karima, this is something that many of us could tend to say to God. or ask the question = "why did you let them be born in a place that would determine whether they live or die?"
and of course the real question is God asking us "why would YOU let there be places on this earth where that is the case? that's not OK."
Karima is SO FAR off the beaten path. 
Tiffany (from our Ridge team) really connected with this lady named Lucy the very 1st day in Karima. She took us to church yesterday. (& she was part of another story i'll have to tell you some time.)
Lucy said that Karima is basically a forgotten village. They are so far out of the way that even the Kenyan government has FORGOTTEN them. that breaks my heart.

Thankfully, Karima is not forgotten by everyone. thankfully some Jesus followers don't think it's OK that they would die of preventable stuff and haven't forgotten the people of Karima.

BUT, i can't even guess at how many other villages in the world are FORGOTTEN... villages that we have never been to and just because someone is born there they will die because they don't have basic needs.

we - our generation - can do something about this.
we can change it.
we can make this quote irrelevant.

and because we can - we must.

"Where someone is born should not determine whether they live or die."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

is there room for more than 1 Fuhrer?

to choose to be a part of "The Way" in the 1st century was no joke. we don't really have a concept for what how crazy rebellious it would be to have been a Jesus follower in that 1st century.

utterly counter-cultural.

about a year ago i read an awesome story that i think partially captures the feel and emotions of what it would mean to spout “Jesus is Lord” in the 1st Century Roman Empire:

“Imagine it is the late 1930s and you are in a lavish hotel in Berlin for a sumptuous dinner with a cohort of German industrialists, bankers, barons, university lecturers and officers from a German SS Panzer division. The evening is relatively cheerful and the mood jovial; conversation revolves around the weather, advice on financial investments, holiday plans in Austria and the latest operas. Then an SS officer taps his glass and proposes a toast to the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, to his health and the new Germany, and everyone raises their glasses. And then you, being the committed Christian you are, propose another toast and bellow out in your best German, ‘Jesus ist Fuhrer!’ Now what manner of reaction do you suppose it would prompt from those SS officers? Do you think they would even entertain the idea that Germany has room for 2 Fuhrers, the other being a Jew?”
 
wow. hopefully that hits home like it did for me.

and over the past year it has prompted MANY more thoughts. hopefully i'll get to write about them and flesh them out.

mainly... that we in the West and yes, in America are in a similar situation in many ways.

there is still only room for one Lord. one King in this culture.

it's just that for most Christians that "fuhrer" is certainly not Jesus.

because that would require us to, in essence, stand up in the middle of our version of that German dinner and declare something with our lives that is so counter-cultural... so anti-everything socially acceptable & dare i say... American... (as it would have been anti-German)

that may be too far to go for most.

& so we settle back into our nice, neat, socially acceptable lives.

i'm sure that will change the world.

(thanks to scholar Michael Bird for the fictitious German analogy)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

how i know what i believe

i've written many times on why i write. (HERE, HERE, etc...)

here is an awesome quote that resonated with me so deeply. & it's from arguably one of the greatest writers of our era. so, she knows a thing or 2 about writing.
"I know what I believe because of what I have written."
- J.K. Rowling

can't even remember where i saw this quote so i won't even pretend to know the context. therefore, i may butcher her intended meaning, but that's ok... 

i resonated with this so deeply because i feel this way every time i write & every time i read what i've written (which are both pretty often).

i work out what i believe when i write. writing is the way i figure out what i really believe/think, etc... 

actually in the writing.

NOT figure out what i believe & then write about it, but literally writing as a way to figure out what i believe. all in the process.

so when i look back on what i've written, the writings often serve as hallmarks of what i believe. 

there it is - all my beliefs... worked out in blog posts & journal entries, etc...
and so, i too know what i believe because of what i have written.

although, what i believe about a lot of stuff changes quite often. it's pretty fluid. so i guess my writings just need edits from time to time.

thanks for the quote, J.K., it is a helpful way to articulate how i feel.

Monday, February 18, 2013

drop your script

most people are actors.

we've been given a script by our culture, or our job, or our religious or political affiliation (or all of those things) & we simply memorize the lines & ACT.

not very genuine.

that's something that an actor is not. an actor is the opposite of genuine - literally portraying something they are not.
that's fine for an actor in a play or movie.

but so not cool for a human in life.

in fact it's great for an actor. that's what makes a great actor & a great movie.
but it makes for a really bad life.

i see a lot of Christians doing this for sure. & that's a bummer.
it's a bummer because when we become actors we just memorize the lines & follow the script. it looks good.
if you're a really good actor it looks REALLY GOOD.

but it is detached from the heart. from who YOU really are. again, not very genuine.

the only people who DON'T get caught up in this are CHILDREN.

because children don't really know a thing about acting.
they haven't yet learned to create an impression that's not really there.

whatever is in their heart is what you see.

whether it's good or bad, for better or worse, what is in their heart is what they live out.

i think that's beautiful. natural. raw. genuine.

most adults are incapable of that because we're following the script. we're actors.

*Keira, for example, moves through every second of every day completely ENGROSSED in that moment! it's unbelievable.
there is no script she is following, she is just flinging herself at the adventure of life, head first.

**For example, watch a child laugh some time. seriously. pay attention. it has never crossed their mind what they look like, sound like, or appear like to others as they are laughing.
they are simply... laughing.
that is they are completely immersed in the moment. full enjoyment.
and not just laughing - watch a child having any sort of fun. they are abandoned to the fun... to the moment. nothing else. no one else's opinion of them matters. they are LIVING their life.

that's how Keira does it anyway, & i think that's how all children do. until we teach them otherwise.

i want to learn how to do this again from my daughter. and then help her never lose that as she grows up and starts rubbing shoulders with all the other actors & screen writers out in culture.

no one has given my daughter "the lines" yet. she has no preconceived ideas yet about how to "do life." no template from culture, peers, christianity, etc...

Children only know one way to be.

THEMSELVES.

children don't know how to ACT interested, or curious, or nice, or sympathetic, or pious, smart, or any other thing.
they simply ARE or they AREN'T.

you feel me? trackin' with what i'm sayin?
children aren't really conscious of the fact that they could be coming across in a certain "negative" way (ignorant, selfish, etc...)

of course, it's not really practical for us to all drop our scripts & costumes & truly be ourselves, right? right?...

i do think that it is the SCRIPT, the lines, the ACT that is so so dangerous when it comes to whatever style of spirituality you embrace.
because at that point, YOU aren't actually involved anymore. you're just an actor playing some other guy who is a little more humble and a little more religious than you.

& it's really hard to follow Jesus if you aren't the one following.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

we agree

we're starting a new series at Ridge that i am pumped about. here's what we sent out as a little teaser/invite:

if you think those things then you are absolutely right. we agree. and we're as bummed about that as you are. hopefully we are MORE BUMMED than you are.

we don't think it should be that way and in fact we're trying to change that.

but there's no doubt that's not what Christians were originally known for and not what they're supposed to be today. it's all been warped.

& God is the most bummed one of all.

let's discuss it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

my last First day of class

Yesterday was my last First day of class. that was a great feeling.

this is my last semester completing a Master's Degree that i started what feels like ages ago. after a long break i decided to start back and wrote about that HERE.

i'm taking my last 2 classes this semester. i already started 1 of them earlier in the Spring semester and my FINAL class began Friday & Saturday.
it feels pretty surreal. just knowing this is my last class for this degree. the last first day of class i'll sit in.

then there's just the small matter of a thesis to knock out.

i know that i'll be an intense lifelong learner. whether that means i'm ever a formal student again or not... who knows?
maybe i might as well get a doctorate. that really comes down to time and money though. and there's not really any extra of either laying around right now.

last class. you always look at those students with envy when you're in class with them and hear it's their last class... now it's me.
don't envy me though. i think that's one of the 7 deadly sins?

Friday, February 15, 2013

my "other" valentine's day

yesterday was Valentine's Day & Crystal and i had an amazing day together from start to finish. i planned a lot of fun surprises & a "pampered" kind of day for her along with some creative stuff.
in fact, she said it was our best Valentine's Day she can remember... (which might not be saying a whole lot because she doesn't have that great of a memory.)

but on Tuesday of this week i had another valentine's day. this time with a much younger girl... my 15 month old daughter, Keira.
Wednesday i posted a little of my philosophy of parents' TIME spent for their kids. the time that counts & time that counts less. you can read that HERE.
below is just one attempt by this Dad to use my time for my daughter in ways that she will remember. (obviously she won't remember this specific night--she's too young. i'm just setting the stage.)

Tuesday was the day we chose to celebrate "our" valentine's day & here's some of the fun we had...


we went on a date to Chick-Fil-A which is pretty much her favorite restaurant. i forgot to take a bib... oops, but all the better to see her Valentine's shirt...

[i will say i have  a new found respect for my wife and all the moms out there who take babies out to eat. i was exhausted just making it all happen :)   ]

of course we hit up the play place in CFA next. she loves that place and walks all around and giggles so excitedly as she plays. the only bummer is when you have to slow down long enough to pose for a pic with your Dad...

then we held hands and walked all the way down the sidewalk, across the parking lot to Harris Teeter. surprisingly this was actually her favorite part of the night. she just smiled and looked up at me the whole way - with this pride on her face that seemed to say "this is the best day of my life. i think i'm a big girl now walking a very long way holding my dad's hand..." 

we walked to Harris Teeter for Keira to pick out a V-day balloon. i even let her walk around the store holding my hand. she loved it. once she picked out her fav balloon, i made her sit on the curb outside and pose for a pic with her new gift.

and then we posed for some pics together...
sometimes she just sits in my lap and looks up at me as we talk
and then we start laughing...

when we got home it was way past her bed time, but as always she just HAD to wear daddy's hat for a little while. she thinks it's the funniest thing in the world.
on actual Valentine's Day i did have a trail of valentine's cards waiting for her leading to a rose of her favorite color on her favorite desk to sit at... had to save 1 last Valentine gift for the day of :)

just another day of making some memories that count.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

what your kids will remember

in the back of my mind (since i was in college) has always been an unofficial life motto = "work hard. play hard."

both are meant to be experienced to the full in life. i don't want to go halfway on either.

i also want to live by Jim Elliot's motto = "wherever you are, be all there."

in recent months i've been changing my life more and more to reflect that desire. so that every moment of every day i am fully engaged with whatever i am doing.

so, when i read this thought below on Twitter a couple months ago - it resonated with me deeply. and as Moms and Dads are about to go home from work in the next few hours, i thought it would be an appropriate idea to post:

When you see your kids today - play hard.
When they grow up they won't remember you worked hard for them.
They will however remember you played hard with them.

i hope my words at the beginning of this post are enough to convince everyone that i'm not advocating for lazy working fathers or parents who cheat their workplaces, dreams, or jobs.

but i am saying we should be careful not to get sucked into the lie that our culture sells us = that our kids need us to OVERwork & neglect spending time with them for their sake.
the lie that we need to spend less time with them and be slaves to our work so that we can provide for them.

provide WHAT exactly?

a way of life that again, is a lie our culture sells to us as necessary.

no, YOUR kids need YOU.
they need you ALL THERE. ALL IN. 

your kids need you to stop using work as an excuse - as if working excessive amounts of time to make $ to buy them stuff is ultimately important.

they won't remember those long extra hours you spent at the office killing yourself "for them" (i.e. a paycheck)

they will remember YOU

fully engaged

all there

rolling on the floor with them, finger painting, piggy back rides, pushing them on the swings, talking about life, drawing pictures, singing, dancing, wrestling, LAUGHING, and
pouring your life into theirs.

that is what they will remember.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

that's NOT OK! (me & John)

i originally wrote & posted this to renown September 18, 2010. just revisiting some of our time in Kenya...

[i’m thinking about only trying to tell 1 main story per day even though i have like 50… we’ll see how well i stick to that.] Today's will mainly focus on my new good friend John.
[if you are friends with Crystal on Facebook you can see her awesome recap of the day. better job than i would do of recapping... even though i also may post a recap at some point.]

When we arrived in Karima this morning we danced for a while in the clearing where the brand new well is. that's when i met John.
i hung out with John and he taught me the dances and the words to the songs. You know how when we’re singing a song we rock an AIR GUITAR? well, these peeps in Kenya rock the AIR ACCORDION instead. seriously.
Then John taught me the exact moment when to yell "WHOOOO!" each time during one song & dance, so we became fast friends.
I hung out with John most of the day. Our whole team from Ridge/410 Bridge walked about 1 mile down the one road through Karima. The people pointed out their homes and farms to us + the 5 churches in the village. (pics to come later - maybe when we get home?)

I just walked and talked with John the whole time. He has lived in Karima since 1963 (must have been young at the time because he doesn't look very old to me). He is now the chairman of the village council for Karima. That's a pretty big job.

I asked him how many people live in the village and he said almost 4,000. I asked how many of them he knew personally? 1,000? 2,000? he said - almost 4,000! he knows pretty much everybody! wow. (a man after my own heart... haha.)
 Karima has BEAUTIFUL mountains all around it. the temperature is perfect and it is just a straight up beautiful place to be. i told John that and asked if he ever climbed them. He told me about going to the top of the mountains in 1978 and the experience he had.
John has a son named Patrick! how cool is that? he is 30 years old and getting married next month. 

We talked for a long time and then John took us to 3 of the 4 water tanks throughout the village and the brand new clean water well that Karima has now! MZURI! he explained to me how the whole thing works.

as we were walking to one of these water tanks I asked John how the people got drinking water before this well. He said "we would just collect it from the rain or walk to the river." and almost indignant i responded - "but that water isn't clean, right? that makes you very sick..." 

John said, "yes, i know."

it was the way he said it that jacked me up. i was already jacked that these people have been drinking dirty water all their lives - because that's all they have access to... AND they are dying from it!
BUT - he said "yes, i know" and it was as if he were saying "that's just life. that's normal. that's all we've ever known. we need water or we die. but when we drink the water... we die." there was nothing abnormal about this for him... like it was almost "OK".

THAT'S NOT OK! there is no freaking way that this should be happening. it jacks me up so much. 
for some reason, most of the "rich" in our world live like it is OK. (i want to write a lot more about it but every time i think about this all day long i get so passionate that i just tear up, well up, choke up... so, maybe some other time i'll dive in more intensely.)

Thankfully - 410 Bridge & Living Water International (another awesome org. i've written a lot about via Advent Conspiracy etc...) teamed up to make sure these 4,000 people have clean water. The well & water are working and good to go as of this month! + hopefully this week they'll get the electricity to send the water down the pipes to the "areas" where the homes are.

Check out this SHORT (20 second) video of John talking about life in Karima before & after this clean water! (i lowered the quality because the HD video would take up all my MB, but i will post the full version later. sorry for the other loud voices in the background... just try to listen to John.)
video

i shot a video of a community leader in Karima pointing out the graves of two people he knew who died before they got clean water. i personally don't think that should be happening ANYWHERE in our world today. Thankfully in Karima, it doesn't have to anymore.

This is Danson (on the far right). i met him today. he's 6 years old and see if you can check out the logo on his sweatshirt. He is rocking a CHARLOTTE HORNETS sweatshirt! i tried to explain to him that that's where i lived and that was the team that used to be in our city, etc... but i'm pretty sure he didn't get it. (i have other thoughts on this incident from a 30K foot view, but more on that later.)
i also met Richard today. i could tell right away that Richard is a really smart kid. he's 9 years old & as you can see has an awesome smile. he loves playing soccer (kandanda), so we hit it off. we already plan to play some kandanda together later on this week.

*Here's what i get excited about:
Richard and Danson were born in Karima and will probably live the rest of their lives in Karima. They will grow up and live the rest of their lives always having CLEAN WATER! For my friend John, he only knew dirty water. but now for Danson and Richard, it's a new era.
Their children will never even know what it's like to drink water that kills instead of water that gives life.

that makes me so happy and excited. that makes Jesus so happy and excited. That's God's kingdom breaking through and coming to earth. that's the kind of revolution i want to spend my life being a part of.
Why? because God died for these amazing people. He didn't die for them so they could die because of something preventable. he died for them so they could know Him and know His Name and be satisfied in Him. Jesus died for them so His name could be famous in Karima. He died for them because He wanted their worship. 
and there was a ton of worship going down today. 
dead people don't worship. people who die from drinking dirty water don't worship.

but God, the God who gives water... and life... and satisfaction... and salvation... and joy...
is being worshipped in Karima today. John and I worshipped God together today and celebrated His renown in a tiny little village in some mountains of Kenya.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

1st WHO then what

this is a Jim Collins idea - that great organizations follow a "1st WHO then what" policy...

1st get the right peeps on the bus, the wrong peeps off the bus, the right peeps in the right seats, & then, only then decide where to drive the bus!

Collins had 3 big principles for leaders, but i especially dig the last 2...

2 important principles for Leaders
1          If you have the right peeps on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away. 
*The right people simply don’t need to be managed or motivated. They’ll be self motivated by their inner drive and desire to create something great.

2          If you have the wrong peeps, it won’t matter if you have the right direction! You still won’t have a great organization!
            ***“Great vision without great people is irrelevant!”

*Just focus on injecting an endless stream of talent into the organization. (maybe even with no specific job description in mind)

& that's the surest way to create a great organization = lots of great people.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

there's a difference

there's a difference between hiring and recruiting:

“Hiring is what you do when you let the world know that you’re accepting applications from people looking for a job.
Recruiting is the act of finding the very best person for a job and persuading them to stop doing what they’re doing and come join you.” 
Seth Godin

1 sounds exhilarating, ambitious, and fulfilling. the other not so much.

1 is a pretty exciting challenge. the other is easy and doesn't require much finesse.

1 leaves you one day with an organization full of amazing people. the other... not so much.

maybe we all need to start recruiting and forget this hiring nonsense.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

insatiable need to know more

i originally wrote and posted this to renown on November 18, 2010.

i want to do big things with my life. i want my years on earth to count in big ways. there's a certain renown i want to further... and it's not mine.

sometimes i get frustrated because there are a lot of abilities and qualities i don't have that seem to be the ones people need to accomplish big things. 
but... i was encouraged when i read this:

 

“The people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more.” 
– Michael Gerber, in E-Myth Revisited 

(we read this book and discussed it in the leadership coaching network i was in. Gerber was writing specifically for business people, but the principles in the book - including this one - apply to any type of organization.)

for the record, i think "insatiable" is a great word.

that sentence GRABBED me! because thankfully... that's ME! 
not necessarily the "good in business" part... but God has blessed me with an "insatiable need to know more". which some days i have felt like it is a curse. but i know it's not. it's a blessing. i hope i can steward it well.

i do not know a whole lot but i have this undeniable entrepreneurial spirit inside me coupled with an insatiable need to know MORE. it's not just a "desire", but a need that i can't do anything to squelch. i hope that can combine with all my shortcomings and imperfections to produce big things.


Monday, February 4, 2013

WHO not WHAT

Crystal and i have thought and talked a lot about parenting the past year and a half. understandably so.
i think about it constantly because we want to help shape Keira into the amazing person God made her to be.

this is a thought i was pondering recently:
*it SEEMS to me that many parents focus on WHAT their children will be when they grow up. as in what they will DO. what profession they will choose.
or maybe most parents don't really start with that focus, but that is pretty much the grid our Westernized American culture sees everything through. maybe parents just migrate their.

so the focus becomes helping my child become the WHAT - a profession. parents want their children to become good WHATs. help them get into a good profession.

*as if there is any such thing. as if there are some good professions and some bad ones.

i don't think there are.

i think there are good salesmen and bad ones.
good pastors and bad ones.
good janitors and bad ones.
good teachers and bad ones.
good missionaries and bad ones.
good doctors and bad ones.
good lawyers and bad ones.

a profession is just a WHAT. the person is a WHO and that's what really matters.

so, Crystal and i definitely take a different approach as parents. we are ALL about WHO Keira is going to be.
we focus on the person she is BECOMING.
WHO she is going to be when she grows up.
NOT what kind of profession she will have -- because, WE COULD NOT CARE LESS.

we do care immensely about the kind of person she will become.

that's why we chose 5 values before she was born that we would always focus our parenting around. these 5 values represent the kind of person we would love to help her BECOME. (and within each of the 5 values are a few more descriptive values that make up the main 5 values for us. 20 words in all... those sub-values are in parentheses.)
when we think about the end we have in mind for Keira, this is it:

Love - knowing she is loved, overwhelmed by that, & then LOVES all people. (respectful, welcoming)
Generous - GIVING (thankful, blessing, selfless)
Revolutionary - far from status quo (passionate, stories, dreamer, corageous)
Trust God - no matter what. unwavering faith. radical trust (positive, humble, wise)
Renown - everyone lives for a renown, my prayer is that Keira figures out the only one worth living for... (Joy, Live it, unique)

this is the grid we want to think and parent through. keeping these values at the forefront.
if Keira is an adult who lives that kind of lifestyle, i won't even worry about what she "does" for a profession.

Friday, February 1, 2013

talking to ourselves

i originally wrote and posted this to renown November 27, 2010.

a lot of the time we're just talking to ourselves. and that's about as useless as it sounds.


this week i finished Francis Schaeffer's classic - He Is There and He Is Not Silent.

This sentence was so simple, but so profound and practical for most Christians:
"You have to preach the simple gospel so that it is simple to the person to whom you are talking, or it is no longer simple."

That is brilliant. Whether you're talking to a middle schooler or a person who has never been to church or a true post modern... simple to them is WAY different than the way most people generally explain the gospel "simply".

"So why have we as Christians gone on saying the great truths in ways that nobody understands? Why do we keep talking to ourselves, if men are lost and we say we love them."
- Francis Schaeffer

Why do we keep talking to ourselves? Because it's just easier? Because we never really think about it?