Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year! - IMAGINE 2010

I love new beginnings, fresh starts, kicking off something new, setting goals, starting again, etc... So I love starting the new year! in just a few hours it will be 2010, so on behalf of the renown blog let me say HAPPY NEW YEAR to you!
I love being a part of Ridge Church! We're kicking off 2010 with "IMAGINE" at Ridge Church starting this Sunday - January 3rd. Our lead pastor Chris Brown will be tag teaming this series with Andy Stanley from North Point. It's gonna be an awesome time to imagine what 2010 could be like for Ridge Church.
& it's the kind church we really want to be a part of... January 3rd is going to be awesome! It's about how Jesus LOVED to hang out with non-religious people and how they LOVED to hang out with Him. The religious people did NOT like Jesus. at all.
For some reason most churches today are the opposite! why? I write about that a lot. like HERE.
At Ridge we want to be about the people Jesus was about. We want to be with those irreligious people who aren't "church people."
Come hang out with us January 3rd if you're in Charlotte with nowhere to be! 9 &11AM.

A couple quick updates:
In Upstreet we're continuing to support Erick through Compassion International again this year. We did Project Generosity again & raised money for him the past 2 months as we talked about the virtues of Cooperation & Compassion. It's been awesome to see elementary kids "GET IT" and be passionate about supporting a boy their age who lives in poverty in Kenya. We've almost got enough money to support him for another year!

In Student Impact we finished our Advent Conspiracy series. I was moved to see teenagers get the whole concept (which you can catch up on HERE). We've got a couple weeks left after Christmas to raise money for the well we want to build.

Because of being involved in those 2 Christmas initiatives through Ridge Church, Christmas is SO MUCH more meaningful these days!

I hope your Christmas was awesome and meaningful too. and again... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

looking back at the decade (in little pics)

This decade will be over on Friday! That's CRAZY to think about.

A whole lot has happened this decade. So much has changed. The WORLD IS VERY DIFFERENT than it was at the end of 1999! We can't even possibly remember everything that's happened & changed this decade.

SO... here is a little reminder from the New York Times to help us remember the big stuff from each year. They broke it down into categories for each year. If you want to see it larger at the NY Times click HERE. (or double click the image below to see it full screen.)

pretty cool, eh? You remember all this stuff?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

rough draft of my 2010 reading list (work in progress)

I wanted to set a goal to read 42 books this year, but I think my goal needs to be around 35. I am going to concentrate on putting my takeaways from the books I read into action, which means I'll need to devote more time to that instead of reading.

Each year I want to read AT LEAST: 1 book about marriage, 1 book about sex, and 1 book about money. + a lot of books on leadership, personal development, my relationship with God, theology, culture, ministry, social justice, etc...
I want to spread out the books I read into these categories. That's why I list them below in categories. Obviously many of the books overlap into several categories so I just put them in one. (I also try to read a balance of dead authors from different eras.)

*I'm so intentional about the books I read because there are SO MANY books and SO LITTLE time! So I have to be extremely strategic about the books I choose to read. I am committed to only reading the best books for me!
So, I need to narrow this below list down to about 35 books. I would LOVE your suggestions based on this initial list. If a book sucks then you can tell me and save me from wasting my time reading it! If you've read one of these & it's awesome then let me know so I'm sure to include it in my list! Or if a book definitely needs to be on my list that's not, then tell me that too!
Here are the books I'm considering reading this year broken down into categories:

Theology (18) 
Believing in the FutureDavid J. Bosch
The Mission of GodChristopher Wright
The Gospel in  Pluralist SocietyLeslie Newbigin
A New Kind of ChristianityBrian McLaren (releases in February)
The Gospel of the Kingdom – George Ladd
The Church in Emerging Culture – Edited by Leonard Sweet + Horton, McManus, McLaren, etc…
The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity - Philip Jenkins
Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches – Edited by Robert Webber + Kimball, Driscoll, Pagitt, Burke, Ward 
Perspectives on the World Christian Movement - Ralph Winter
He is There and He is Not Silent - Francis Schaeffer
The Poor Will Be GladGreer & Smith
Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
God Is the Gospel - John Piper 
Emerging ChurchesGibbs/Bolger
The Humanity of God - Karl Barth
The End for Which God Created the World - Jonathan Edwards
Justification - N.T. Wright
Culture (12)
How Soccer Explains the World: An [Unlikely] Theory of Globalization – Franklin Foer
Justice – Michael Sendel
The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
Microtrends – Penn
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
The Brothers KaramazovFyodor Dostoevsky
Das Kapital - Karl Marx
The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier - Ishmael Beah 
Walk On: U2 - Steve Stockman
Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini 
Why We Can't Wait - Martin Luther King, Jr.

My Relationship with God (8) 
The Jesus Creed – Scot McKnight
Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ - John Piper

Prayer – Kyle Lake
The Imitation of Christ - Thomas A' Kempis
Understanding God’s Will – Kyle Lake
Ragamuffin Gospel – Brennan Manning
What Jesus Demands From the World - John Piper
The Autobiography of George Muller - George Muller

Personal Development (8)
The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World - Heather Zydek
The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch
Brothers We are Not Professionals – John Piper
BlinkMalcolm Gladwell
7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey

Freakanomics – Levitt & Dubner
The Power of Words and the Wonder of God – Piper, Driscoll, etc…
Mavericks at Work - William Taylor

Money (1) 
The Money Answers Book – Dave Ramsey

Leadership/ Ministry Strategy (10)

Outliers Malcolm Gladwell

Made to Stick – Chap Heath

Tribes – Seth Godin

Killing Cockroaches - Tony Morgan
LeadershipRudolph Guiliani 

Worship Evangelism  - Sally Morgenthaler

10 Stupid Things that keep Churches from Growing – Geoff Surrat (*kindle edition)

Good to Great and the Social Sectors - Jim Collins

Developing the Leaders Around You - John Maxwell

Corageous Leadership - Bill Hybels

Marriage (4)
Love & Respect - Emerson Eggerichs

Now You're Speaking My Language - Gary Chapman

Captivating – John and Stasi Elderidge

Every Man's Marriage - Stephen Arterburn

Sex (4)
Sex and the Supremacy of Christ - John Piper

Satisfaction: The Art of... - Kim Cattrall

The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Kama Sutra – Ron Louis
Intended for Pleasure - Ed Wheat

Ok, I would LOVE your feedback & recommendations! I have to narrow this list down from 65 to 35!
Tell me your opinions!

Monday, December 28, 2009

all the books I read in 2009

I only read 21 books this year, well short of the 31 I read last year. At my pastor & mentor's recommendation I tried to spend more time on typing my notes/takeaways from the books I read & then implementing their awesomeness into my life to make me a better husband, leader, Jesus follower, etc... (I guess you can ask Jesus, the people I lead, and my wife how that all worked out...)

I'll list all the books I read but will really just comment on the books that did NOT make my top 10 list. You can read my top 10 list of books I read in 2009 and my thoughts on them HERE.

These are listed in the order of when I read them during the year.

The Secret Message of Jesus - Brian McLaren
this was tied for the #1 book I read all year.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day - Mark Batterson
This was a really great book. You can read it really fast. He says a lot of awesome, yet simple stuff. Almost "rick warrenish"... His blog is full of good little short posts that are right on. I look forward to reading his next one Wild Goose Chase & then his latest Primal. one of these days I'll get around to them.

The Truth About You - Marcus Buckingham
This was my #5 book of the year. If you've never read Buckingham then pick this one up today!

The Last Word and the Word After That - Brian McLaren
This was the final book in McLaren's awesome "New Kind of Christian" trilogy. The 1st one was the best, but McLaren is such a great writer that everything he writes is awesome. This is an awesome fiction trilogy and this finale was great. I had followed these characters through 3 books and 5 years. good stuff.

Life of the Beloved - Henri J. M. Nouwen
My friend Ryan recommended this book to me as one that might be great for peeps who weren't Christians or people who were struggling with their faith. In my opinion it was just OK. I've got a lot of Nouwen books, but maybe I'm just not used to his style yet. I haven't read a lot of books by Catholic priests, so maybe that's why I'm not used to the style? I don't know. I do know that there were several times Nouwen did a great job of helping me see the overwhelming love of God.

Choosing to Cheat - Andy Stanley
This was my #6 top book of 2009. I think everybody should read this before they get married. And if you're already married then read it NOW!

Good to Great - Jim Collins
Also my #1 book of 2009. I listened to it on my iPod and took about 20 pages of brilliant notes on the book (but lost that notebook which you can read about HERE). I guess I'll need to go back and read this one all over again & write out those notes. It's worth it though. great book.

Jesus Wants to Save Christians - Rob Bell
Tied for my #10 book of 2009. If you don't think Scripture says much about the poor and oppressed and want to keep thinking that... then don't read this book.

Crazy Love - Francis Chan 
Tied for my #10 book of 2009. Same comment as the above book.

The Seven Checkpoints of Youth Ministry - Andy Stanley & Stuart Hall
It was a good book with some good points to learn. I think it is mainly helpful as a guide for helping plan a student ministry speaking schedule. I think it's brilliant for that. Although North Point isn't even really following this plan anymore and neither are we... the principles are still good though.

The Pleasures of God - John Piper
This was my #4 best book of '09. Loved it.

Think Orange - Reggie Joiner
Probably should have been ranked higher than #7. it's so practically brilliant.

The Passion of Jesus Christ/ 50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die - John Piper
This was my "pot book" for at least 50 days. Don't know what a "pot book" is? You can read all about it HERE. Piper has a lot of great books that make for good "pot books" because the readings are so short. This one was perfect. And it's a great book.

The Rest of God - Mark Buchanan
This was #3 on my top 10 list! Great book.

The Great Emergence - Phyllis Tickle
Also tied for #10 on my '09 list. Very important history, findings, and predictions...

Advent Conspiracy - Chris Seay, Rick McKinley, & Greg Holder
The most awesome conspiracy ever finally in book form. If you don't know about Advent Conspiracy then go to the website & read the book. You can read a little about my own AC HERE.

The Spirit of the Disciplines - Dallas Willard
This book is a classic and really famous and all that. It was a really hard book to get through. I'll go back through and type my notes on it and only then find out how helpful it actually was. I was just relieved to finish the thing. It's pretty deep and Willard isn't the easiest author to read.

Death By Church - Mike Erre
Good stuff. Made #9 on my list.

Everyone's Normal Till You Get to Know Them - John Ortberg
This is the book our community group read together and talked through this past Fall @ Ridge. I've never talked through a book before as part of a small group. It's got A LOT of really good stuff. Honestly I feel like it could have all been condensed down to about half the size. But the good stuff in it is still good...

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
Greatest author/writer/storyteller of all time? Maybe. My 1st fiction book in 10 years made #8 on my list.

The Relevant Nation - edited by Heather Zydek
My "pot book" (see above and/or here - a "pot book" is simply a book you read each day on the pot.) for the past couple months. It was put out by Relevant (my fav magazine). It's basically 50 biographies of awesome leaders under 40 from all venues = church, culture, media, business, politics, social justice, the arts, etc... Another perfect "pot book". If you don't currently have one, try starting with this one. It will open your eyes to what a lot of people "our age" are doing for the Kingdom across the world...

There you have it. A little peek into the books I read this year. Very soon I'll be posting my 2010 book list!

What books did YOU read in 2009?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

my top 10 albums of 2009 (what's still in my iPod)

I love music! A lot! I’ve always loved music. I listen to it constantly and sing all the time too. I said that in my 1st edition of “what’s in my iPod” way back HERE. I’m no expert though... and acutally have no natural musical talent... just a lover of music. Here are my top 10 albums that released in 2009. (Albums in consideration were only ones that released in '09 and that I actually own.)

Honorable mentions: I will say that I love worship music. It's my favorite genre and what I own the most of. I listen to it a lot. I just want to mention 3 awesome worship albums that released this year that didn't quite cut it into the top 10.
We Shall Not Be Shaken - Matt Redman
One of the sixsteps guys & one of my favorite worship leaders. I love this guy and I love his heart and I love these songs. He writes awesome stuff and this CD is no exception. Definitely check it out.
AttentionKristian Stanfill
His first release since signing on with sixsteps. Great stuff from this North Point guy turned Passion City Church & Passion Conference worship leader... A couple songs really are really stellar.
Everyone comes away talking about this guy's amazing and genuine heart for God... so I won't bore you with more of that. He led some at Catalyst this year & did an awesome job. This is his latest CD with some really great songs (some fresh from the Psalms).

ok, now for my top 10... (drumroll...) 
#10            21st Century BreakdownGreen Day
I’m a big Green Day fan and this album will probably be average in the end. A couple songs are awesome, and some are not so awesome. Songs like Know Your Enemy and 21st Century Breakdown and 21 Guns helped this album crack into the top 10.

#9            Only By the NightKings of Leon
I like these guys’ sound a lot. It’s a fresh and original sound in my opinion. This is their 1st album I’ve ever personally owned. Some great songs on this album. No doubt you’ve heard a couple that are the big hits, but you definitely need to check out the rest of this CD too. The vocals are sweet.

#8            The ResistanceMuse
This UK band has been around for a while, but really took the world by storm this year and with this album. They toured with and opened for U2 on their most recent tour, which exposed them to new audiences. They already have a die hard following, but since The Resistance released they have more and more of a mainstream following. I can only say that these guys’ sound is completely unlike anything else. There is no band to compare them to (not in the U.S. anyway). It is the most original sound I’ve ever heard. And by now, who hasn’t heard the hit song “Uprising”? A mix of elements you would never think would fit together. The 1st time you hear it you’re like “What?” But now I love it and can’t hear it enough. I’m guessing this must be the kind of music going down in the underground clubs and rave scene in England…

#7            Church Music David Crowder Band
David Crowder is my favorite worship leader in the world! I have had my most intense and amazing times of corporate worship with the David Crowder Band leading! He will always be one of my favorites! This particular album however was not my favorite… definitely not his best. It just does not come close to the brilliance of A Collision, or Illuminate, or Remedy. But those are probably unfair standards to hold a new album to… it’s just what I’ve come to expect from Crowder. It’s still my 7th best album of the year with some awesome songs that I think will be sung in the Church for a long time.

#6            ArmisticeMute Math
WOW! I love me some Mute Math and this is their best ever. (I saw them back in like ’98 before they were even Mute Math. They were this weird band named Earthsuit and not that great. They’ve come a long way since then.) Basically every song on this album knocks it out of the park. I heard that they were wrapping up what was supposed to be this album in the studio and were really frustrated with the final product. They were sitting on the front porch of an old house talking and basically all decided together that they should either write the best stuff they’ve ever written or quit! They decided to start over and make their best music EVER! And that’s exactly what they did. They threw out the whole album they had almost finished and made this amazing album. If you haven’t heard it seriously go buy it today!

#5            AwakeNorth Point Live
This live worship album from our parent church just came out 2 weeks ago, but still makes it in the top 5 albums of the year. You can read my review of it HERE. Honestly, these 3 worship CDs in the top 5 albums of the year are really hard to separate because they are all so awesome. You should go buy them all if you don’t already have them. 

Whoa. These guys are pushing worship forward with every new song they write. I am and always have been and always will be partial to the sixsteps guys, but I have to be honest… Hillsong United is at least tied for my favorite worship band. The songs on this CD are of course already sung in churches all over the world as worship to our awesome God. Joel Houston and the gang are really anointed song writers. Your Name High (Live) is my fav song on this CD… I could sing that to God every day. And that’s just a glimpse of the rockin’ songs lifting God up on this album.

#3            Hello HurricaneSwitchfoot
The best songs ever from this awesome band in my opinion. You can read the review of this CD I just recently wrote HERE. It’s amazing. Foreman really wrote some great stuff and outdid himself this time.

*OK, these next 2 CDs really are tied for 1st place… I keep going back and forth and literally can’t decide which one is the best. They are different so it’s tough to even compare them. Both great albums that will be remembered and played in iPods for a long long time…

#1            Hope RisingSteve Fee

This is the best worship album of the year. You can read my review of it when it released back in October HERE. These songs are the words so many of us want to be saying to God to lift Him up. These songs have taken the Church by storm! We’ll be singing these to worship God for a generations I would guess.

#1            No Line On the HorizonU2
Brilliant. That’s the only word I could use for this amazing CD. Brilliant. Crystal and I saw U2 on this No Line On the Horizon tour this Fall. (You can read about that HERE.)
You can read my in depth review of this album HERE. I’m sure you’ve heard these songs by now! Louie even took a portion of his talk at Catalyst to comment on the great and authentic worship song Magnificent. I’m sure you’ve heard If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight, Get On Your Boots, Stand Up Comedy, and Breathe too. The whole CD is awesome. One of the greatest bands of all time!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from Ridge Church

These are just a couple funny videos re-telling a few of your favorite Christmas stories from the Ridge Church staff. Hope you enjoy!

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Carol

Hope that gave you a laugh for Christmas. Enjoy tonight and tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NOW project highlight video

At Ridge Church we have been engaged in the NOW Project! I wrote all about the NOW Project HERE and about Ridge serving the homeless in Charlotte for the NOW Project HERE.
I think this kind of stuff is what Jesus would be up to if He lived in Charlotte.
In November we loved and served a few hundred homeless people in uptown Charlotte. here are some highlights...

Jesus was all about the poor and the abandoned and the outcasts. I hope that at Ridge Church we are ALWAYS about helping the same people as Jesus was. We want this to become who we are.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

top 10 books I read in 2009

Jeff Henderson at Buckhead Church (a North Point campus) recently posted his top 10 books he read in 2009. You should read the post HERE. I respect the heck out of Jeff & he is an amazing leader and learner & I am thankful to learn so much from him. So I am all about reading the books he says were his top 10 of the year & then I am waiting with bated breath for him to put out his 2010 reading list.

Anyway, I'm going to post my top 10 books I read in '09. I think you should read them all! I'll post them from #10 down to my #1 best book I read this year.

(3 books tied for 10th. I know that's like cheating, but I really can't separate them.)
#10  Crazy LoveFrancis Chan
This is just classic Francis Chan! It's basically his heart in a book form. And I love his heart so I loved the book. It's an easy read. I recommend you listen to it via audiobook on your iPod with Francis reading it.

#10  Jesus Wants to Save ChristiansRob Bell (& Don Golden)
Tied for #10 is also this awesome book. I had listened to Rob's 7 part series by the same name back in '07 or maybe even '06. So, I honestly didn't plan on reading the book since I assumed I heard him say everything in that series. SO glad I read the book though! It is awesome & a great reminder of so many fundamental things. It's also an easy, quick read that we should all read ANY TIME we think we are already being generous to the poor. This will wake us back up. (Thanks for letting me borrow it, Brian!)

#10  The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why - Phyllis Tickle
Almost like a short Christian history book. The brilliance of it is how Tickle uses facts from our history to give us a great idea of where we're heading in the future. Every 500 years there is a colossal shift in the Church & even in the culture at large. We are in the middle of one now & this is a great book to read if you're unfamiliar with what's going down in the world & how Christianity is changing. The Great Emergence will be just as colossal a shift as the Great Reformation was 500 years ago!

#9  Death By Church - Mike Erre
My friend, Jason told me about his friend Mike Erre and that I should check out some of his books. This one just came out this year & I flipped through it & was very intrigued. Now after reading it I'm stoked I decided to read it!! Mike's chapters on the Gospel is worth the price of the book (and then some for me). My understanding of the Gospel is so much better after Mike's great book. I really get the connection of the Kingdom and the Church and the Gospel. The Missio Dei makes a lot more sense now. I think Mike has trouble seeing how some church "models' can advance the Kingdom and the Mission, but overall this is an awesome book!

#8  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneJ.K. Rowling
This is actually the 1st fiction book I have read since I was like 14! And I have read hundreds since then... just have had no time for fiction. But I finally decided to get with it & see what the rest of our Western culture was raving about with this amazing series and probably THE GREATEST fiction writer of our generation (I'm still partial to Stephen King from my middle school years, but whatever). We desperately need some authors in the Church who can tell stories half as well as J.K. Rowling... Hopefully they'll start writing & talking soon.

#7  Think OrangeReggie Joiner
The only reason this book isn't ranked higher is because it really fits a niche of church leaders... specifically church leaders who work in family ministry (children & student minisry). It's not necessarily a book everyone's gotta read right now. (Although I do think EVERY parent in the world should read this book, but... I just know they won't. How am I ever going to have time to read when I'm a parent?)
This is FINALLY Reggie's manifesto for Family Ministry. Finally it's all in 1 book. This is going to be the "Bible" for peeps in children's ministry & student ministry for at least a decade. It's a ground-breaking book.

#6  Choosing to CheatAndy Stanley
I needed this book. Thanks for writing it, Andy. EVERY single one of us will either cheat our spouse or our job. The choice is ours. I'm gonna make dang sure I cheat my work... not my wife. And that is hard because I am so freaking driven. I could pour myself into my ministry 24 hours a day because I love it so much. I've made some changes since reading this book. I don't ever want my wife to be stuck holding the rock. (thanks for the word pic, Andy... I think it may have made me cry?)

#5  The Truth About YouMarcus Buckingham
I am a Buckingham disciple. As much as I know how to be anyway. I am sold on his philosophy of Strengths based everything. This book though is so awesome because it's finally written on a simple popular level! ANYONE can pick this book up and read it and understand it in no time. Then you can make the changes necessary to play to your strengths all the time. It's extremely practical and he's the king of giving you action steps, etc... (Even comes with a pimp DVD and strengths note pad to carry around in order to discover your strengths.)

#4  The Pleasures of GodJohn Piper
I always have to read some Piper. I can't explain what he does for my soul. No other author connects me to the greatness and glory of God like Johnny P. He's my homeboy. This is like Piper's manifesto on God. It's crazy thick with like a million annotated footnotes... almost 400 pages. But it is a worthy read. Such an amazing theology book on God. It's essential Piper. (Probably my 3rd fav Piper book behind Desiring God and Let the Nations Be Glad!)

#3  The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul By Restoring SabbathMark Buchanan 
Sabbath has been a passion and a curiosity of mine for about 4 years now. It's like a whole new world I'm discovering. I've written about it several times like HERE & HERE. What I did not expect with this book is that Buchanan would be a flipping BRILLIANT author and storyteller. You will not want to put this book down! There's something so compelling about it. It just draws you in! Almost like a Harry Potter book. And if you don't currently enjoy a sabbath (and even if you do) you need to read this book!

(2 books tied for my #1 book of the year)
#1  The Secret Message of JesusBrian McLaren
This book was HUGE for me. I might point back to this book in 10, 20, or 30 years. After reading this I understand Jesus WAY better. I understand the Bible, specifically the Gospels WAY better. I feel like for the 1st time I really GET (not in an arrogant way) Jesus' teachings (and all the seeming contradictions, etc...) For the 1st time I really GET the Kingdom of God. I had missed it. So many of us have missed it. This book will help believers "get it" and advance the Kingdom of God in our world!

#1  Good to GreatJim Collins 
yeah, I know, I know, I just got around to reading it this year… I know it's a "must read"... but I've had SO MANY "must reads" to read. And now I can side with all of you and really proclaim that this book is a "MUST READ" for anyone who is a leader in a church or a company or a business or any kind of non-profit! I mean WOW! I took like 20 pages of notes on this bad boy. Collins is a guru at taking solid research and converting it into principles for leading an organization!

There you go... my top 10 (12 really). I might write another post about ALL the books I read in 2009 and talk a little about the ones that didn't make the top 10 list.

So, have you read any of these books? Do you have any thoughts?
And I'm most excited to know WHAT WERE YOUR TOP 10 BOOKS FROM 2009?

Monday, December 21, 2009

christmas [IS] changing the world...

Have you been hearing about Advent Conspiracy in the national media lately? (If you don't even know what Advent Conspiracy (AC) is then you can read my post on it HERE and link to the other tons of posts I've written about it.) [*Make sure you make it to the bottom & watch the video!]

AC was on the front page of Yahoo! for a couple days and it was also the most emailed story. A few of the promo videos have gone over 1 million views on YouTube! There have been a few spots on AC on CNN over the past few weeks.
+ CNN Headline News did a whole piece on AC during their prime time hour last Tuesday! In fact, they even talked to me on the phone about AC while they had Greg Holder (1 of the founders) on there for an interview. It was pretty cool to get to talk about living out the real story of Jesus at Christmas time through AC = Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All. And how getting presents is kind of pointless for me when people are dying because they don't have clean water to drink. It would be stupid for me to get a new shirt or some flashy tech toy when that same money could save the lives of tons of people!

Anyway, I think it's pretty cool that this counter-cultural, unAmerican, rebellious, revolutionary little conspiracy is getting big time national attention. I believe it's because people see how pointless their "story" at Christmas is (consumerism) and see this revolutionary side of the story of Jesus as very appealing.

We just finished the Advent Conspiracy series in Student Impact at Ridge Church. We talked about this idea for 5 Sundays + talked about it  a little one week in the adult service. We're trying to bring in enough money just from our student ministry to build a whole well for a village that doesn't have water! Pretty awesome. I've been stoked to see us fill up a water jug with wads of cash!
My heart gets so pumped when I see some of the students "getting it" & getting into the conspiracy. Some students are getting less so they can give more (they money that would have been spent on their presents) to Living Water International (through AC) to build a well for a village of people. I'm stoked that teenagers can even still sacrifice like that & put other people above themselves after we've pumped them so full of greed and consumerism and pride and the "American Dream". I'm so glad to see students understand that giving water to thirsty people is just like giving it to Jesus... and that actually motivates them to forfeit gifts of their own in order to LOVE others.

And it's really cool to see students being creative - out chopping up trees and cleaning yards to get donations to give to AC. Crazy awesome.

Throughout the AC series in Student Impact we've been talking about and asking the question "Can Christmas STILL change the world?" We know Christmas changed the world the 1st time = Jesus came to save us all. But can we live in such a way this Christmas that we can still change the world? That's up to us I guess. I am positive that we will NEVER regret $ that we donate to save the lives of children. Will we ever regret spending all that money at Christmas? Maybe...

To help me answer the question "Can Christmas still change the world?" I got a little help for this Sunday.
Some of the money for Advent Conspiracy has already been coming in from around the world and given to Living Water International. On Saturday night they sent me a video that we watched on Sunday morning. Just a week ago they were able to build a well for a village in Peru! You've GOTTA watch this video as they interview some of the long time villagers who have never had clean water... & then you get to see the 1st gush of water shooting out of the ground from this new well and the kids playing and splashing in it!

Christmas already is changing the world. And we can keep changing the world for villages like this one even more. It's up to us.

What do YOU want this Christmas? A sweater? Or to see the smiles like these on the faces of children that are dripping with clean water for the first time?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

what's in my iPod? - North Point Live: AWAKE

North Point's 3rd live album - AWAKE - released this Tuesday. I'm going to go ahead and say it's their best yet! And that's saying A LOT because their 1st 2 were awesome. (You can read my review of their 2nd live album HERE - Louder than Creation.)

Unfortunately 2 great worship leaders are missing from this live album (Chrystina Fincher & Kristian Stanfill) but it is still their best & several new voices made it on the album.

I am most excited about track 13 on this album! I actually just mentioned that chorus in my review of Steve Fee's brilliant CD - Hope Rising. You can read my thoughts on that awesome album HERE.
The song I am most excited about I figured wouldn't make it on an actual CD for a long time! So I'm doubly stoked to see it on this CD. It's just a chorus that Steve has been adding onto Hillsong United's The Stand & he calls it "No One Higher". It's amazing and I've had some intense corporate times of worship with that little chorus. It goes like this:
There is no one higher, no one greater 
No one like our God
There is none more able, Christ our Savior
Great and glorious

The other awesome worship songs on this album from Steve Fee are God Is Alive & We Crown You (both written along with Eddie Kirkland), Rise and Sing, and Glory to God Forever. I wrote about each of them HERE.

Eddie Kirkland also leads a few songs on this album that are awesome! My favorite would have to be track #2 - Bless Your Name (also written with Todd Fields and Steve Fee). It's one of my most favorite songs on the whole CD. You can almost tell it was written by these 3 awesome worship leaders! You can feel impressions from each of them in this song. I love it!
*This song really expresses what is in a passionate worshipper's heart. This song helps create an incredible worship experiecnce... I believe it's the kind of song God loves to hear.
"We have come to worship a mighty God/ We have come to lift up a joyful song 
Let us praise the King/ Let us praise the King of Glory
We will respond to love and mercy He has shown us
We will respond to all the great things He has done
Let us praise the King/ Let us praise the King of Glory
Here in this moment/ Here in our lives
Now and forever/ Be glorified
Holy, holy Lord Almighty/ All the earth is praising Your name
Holy, Holy God of Glory/ Open up the heavenly gates
As we bless Your name
With grateful hearts we enter in the presence of a faithful God
The Father of an endless love...
...You are worthy/ You are worthy
You are worthy of all our praise
You are holy/ You are holy
God of Glory we bless Your name..."
(when those 3 worship leader/song writers are leading together all the time at North Point's campuses, you know those are some amazing times!)

Another that has been out for a while and was on Eddie's Orthodoxy CD is Hands of the Healer:
"Glory to the King who gave His life/ Glory to the Lamb of sacrifice
Beautiful and broken/ Holiness and love
Glorious the wounded hands of God"

And finally Forever Changed is, in my opinion, another great reflective worship song from Eddie. It's awesome to help us sit and remember what God has done in us.
"Forever, I am changed by mercy/ Forever, my heart is alive
Forever, I am Yours my Savior/ Forever, my hope is Christ"

Todd Fields (the guy Andy taught to lead worship) also has some great new songs on the CD.
Todd wrote Nothing Can Separate Us together with Matt Redman and Christy Nockels... it actually reminds me of a Matt Redman tune. It's a great song. Right from the end of Romans 8 (I love that passage of Scripture).
"Nothing can separate us/ From the love of Jesus
Hell may come against us/ Our God will prevail
Whatever may befall us/ Our Savior reigns victorious
Nothing can separate us from His love
Not life, not death/ Nor any other power
No height, no depth Could keep us from Your love"

My fav song from Todd on this album is probably Jesus Reigns that he wrote with Eddie Kirkland.  These two led it for us at N*Rich this year and it was an amazing time of worship! (Seth Condrey is actually singing it on the CD though.) The chorus is so simple, but awesome...
"Forever our hope is in the King of Glory
Jesus reigns/ Forever Jesus reigns
Let the redeemed proclaim/ Forever Jesus reigns"

Glorious is also a great worship song that Todd wrote along with Steve Fee. What an awesome song to sing to God... just to tell Him how glorious He is, above all things, the King of glory.
"You are glorious
Above all things/ You’re glorious
We crown You King 
Lord Jesus, God with us/ You are glorious
Holy, holy/ One and Only/ You are glorious
King of Glory/ Strong and mighty/ You are glorious"

Ryan Stuart (who looks incredibly young!) leads Tim Hughes' awesome worship anthem - My Everything & does a great job with it. This is the song that will be stuck in your head and you'll be belting out in the shower days later.
My favorite part is the bridge that builds and builds in intensity. it is SO powerful!
"Christ in me • Christ in me • Christ in me the hope of glory • You are everything •• You are everything"

Cori Moon is the only female worship leader that makes it on this CD. She leads Christy Nockels' A Mighty Fortress. Cori has an awesome voice. The song is awesome with that kind of BIG voice Christy Nockels feel... awesome, God-exalting lyrics:
"A mighty fortress is our God/ A sacred refuge is Your name
Your kingdom is unshakable/ With You forever we will reign
Our God is jealous for His own
None could comprehend His love and His mercy
Our God is exalted on His throne
High above the heavens/ Forever He’s worthy"

**I am telling you that you have to go buy this CD today. It is one of the top 3 worship albums of 2009! Maybe the best

Saturday, December 19, 2009

we're back from the 18th century!

I hate not writing for a few days in a row, but that's what happens when we were away without internet access. And of course they didn't have internet access back in the 1700s which is where we've been for a few days.

Crystal & I were in Colonial Williamsburg for a quick (free) mini-vacation. Pretty fun though. Not a place we would go a lot, but we definitely had so much fun this weekend!

We got snowed on big time while walking down their main street (Duke of Gloucester) along with the red coats doing their "Fife and Drum" concert thing. Then ducking into one of the original taverns from the 18th century where George Washington and those guys hung out! Crystal was SO excited about all the snow. Really huge flakes all night long.

Great food there too. Here's Crystal going after a 7 layer chocolate cake from Trellis (some famous chocolate chef or something?).

Anyway, I had a lot of stuff I wanted to write about this week, but couldn't because of the lack of internet. Soon I'll be posting an Advent Conspiracy update, my top 10 reads of 2009, my top 10 albums that came out in '09, all the books I read in '09, my 2010 book/read list, a NOW Project update, and some funny videos from our Ridge xmas party...
that's just the stuff I was going to post this week. I'll have to figure out how to work it all in...

*Hopefully by the end of the day tomorrow I'll have a review ("What's in my iPod") of the new live CD from North Point = Awake

enjoy your last Sunday before Christmas tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

a random international, cross-cultural thought... globalism

I have so many random thoughts. I have them constantly. Seriously - the thoughts never stop. I don't write about a lot of them, but I think I am going to start more often.
That's really why I started this blog - not so much to always have these polished articles to dispense knowledge & ideas to the world [sarcasm], but as an outlet for me to think out loud! I'm going to start doing that more & this post is an example. They might make me look ignorant, but that's ok... it's my blog & I'm just thinking out loud. A lot of completely unprocessed, still-forming-in-my-brain-thoughts...

Here's my thought: If someone just wakes up 1 day and wants to go live in another country, THEY CAN'T.
isn't that weird?
Maybe it's not weird to you because that's just the world we've always known. Those geo-political boundaries are set in stone. But to me, it's really weird that if I just wanted to go live in another country... just for the heck of it... I couldn't. It wouldn't be that easy!
I would have to fill out all kinds of paperwork, make sure I have a passport and a visa if I'm staying forever... + probably a lot of other stuff I don't even know about. I couldn't just hop a plane & go. Why not?

*I haven't looked up all the rules or anything. I don't really know what the laws are going to & coming from all the other countries, so I admit, I am a little ignorant. But I figure that renown readers can probably tell me more about this than wikipedia, so go ahead and leave me a comment & explain all this if you want...

I guess it's all about keeping tabs on everyone? All our geo-political borders are so solid that countries don't want peeps from other nations slipping in unannounced. (And I am well aware that 9/11 changed the world, but these laws were the same even before that, right?)

To me it's just a weird world that we live in when we have to stay so divided. If I wanted to move to New Zealand tomorrow, or Egypt, or Germany, or Kazakstan, or Malawi, or Chile, or Indonesia, or Canada, or Mexico, or Kenya, or Ireland, or Poland, or anywhere else... I couldn't just "up & do it." That is SOOOO weird to me. What if I just wanted to move to Liberia, get an apartment, get a job, try the local restaurants, make some friends, and just live there for 5 years and then come back? not that simple.

Same with the U.S. When did it even start that if someone wanted to come live in America they couldn't just come move here? When did it become "illegal"? Maybe it has something to do with paying taxes? Or making sure we all get counted in a census? I don't know...

I just think it's weird in our world of 6 billion + that any person doesn't really have the freedom to live wherever they want.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

that's not good... (FAIL)

I try to read the Fail blog any time I need a good laugh. I just saw this pic tonight and had to post it.

that's not good!

Friday, December 11, 2009

quotes of the week #18

The "quotes of the week" are here!!! Enjoy. (Read the disclaimer here.)

#1 quote of the week:
“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”Mahatma Ghandi, leader

“Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.” – Soren Kierkegaard, 19th century philosopher, theologian, and author

"The narrower the vision the fewer decisions you have to make." – Andy Stanley, pastor and author [very true & a great thing!]

“The marriage of doctrinal purity with political loyalties is always an unholy union, even in the best of circumstances.” – Phyllis Tickle, author, scholar, & religion editor for Publisher's Weekly

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”Dorothy Day, activist & founder of the Catholic Worker Movement [wow. that is so true. we need to be reminded of that!]

“Perhaps just as it took us more than eighteen hundred years to have the courage to face what the message of Jesus meant for slavery, and another hundred to begin to ask what it meant for women, and another hundred to begin to ask what it means for the environment—perhaps it always takes time for us to be ready to see what has been there all along.” – Brian McLaren, author and pastor [maybe it does, Brian]

"It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it." AW Tozer, pastor & author

“If you’re not having fun creating, leading, and producing the experience, people probably aren’t having fun experiencing it.” – Joel Thomas, one of the pastors at North Point

All theology should be practical. What’s the point in all this theological work, if in the end, nothing changes?” – Mike Erre, pastor and author

“Leadership is like investing—it compounds” – John Maxwell, leadership guru & author

"If your kids haven't seen you worship Monday - Friday, you're a hypocrite on Sunday when you worship." - Perry Noble, pastor & very funny guy...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

marriage advice

Great Marriage advice I read today that Brian McLaren recently gave to a church planter. (via Dallas Willard & then via Richard Foster or something confusing like that?)

read it HERE.
this little diagram drawn on a kid's chalkboard might save your marriage.
(& Joel's post today is pretty good too that you can read here.)