Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spectrum @ Ridge!

New series starts tomorrow @ Ridge... 11AM. you've GOTTA check it out. seriously.
our pastor, Chris, is speaking and talks about it a little HERE.
(Tomorrow starts for me @ 5AM, so I'm off to bed!)

Friday, February 27, 2009

quotes of the week - from YOUR comments

This is similar to the regular "quotes of the week" here on renown (which you can read the original and rules to HERE), but very different and special in that ALL of these quotes of the week come from YOU, the readers of renown!

I wrote a post last week that stirred up a pretty good conversation. You can read that post, "do you think Jesus really cares if you... (thoughts on knowledge and action)" HERE.
What many of you wrote was much better than what I wrote in the blog originally, so I'm going to post some of your best thoughts and quotes. These are like the "best of the best". Some really great and profound stuff was said by YOU in the conversation.
If you want to interact with any of these thoughts/quotes feel free to do so here in the comments section below, OR simply join the actual conversation by clicking HERE.

"I love truth. The problem is, I don't, and never will, have it straight, nor will anybody. Our cultural lenses, presuppositions, biases, social conditioning, etc... disallow it." - Scott Grace

"Orthopraxy without the guidance and worldview of Biblical Orthodoxy can be dangerous." - ben r.

[In response to the comment directly above...] "You mentioned that Orthopraxy minus Biblical Orthodoxy can be dangerous and that it leads to man-made traditions that ignore Scripture and while that is true the exact opposite is as well- those who are dogmatic about Biblical Orthodoxy and right beliefs often become entangled in their own self devised traditions and ignore the "weightier" matters like justice, mercy and faith." - quarter circle

"our beliefs are not called into called into question on that last day, but our works" - hassanpour
"their doctrine (however striaght and narrow) is ill when it doesnt produce the kind of good works that you mention in this blog." - hassanpour

[quoting James 2] "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." - musicman

"All points thereafter, you may be wrong in your interpretation or the next guy may be, but to be divisive is counter productive to the growing of God's family. I would rather be convinced in my own heart of a thing and live it out than to be paralyzed by study and produce no fruit." - Sam

"If you don't have Orthodoxy then how can you have "Orthopraxy"?" - Lopo
[response to the comment directly above] "there's nothing wrong with your statement but if i can, I might add that you cant know your orthodoxy is any good until it produces good orthopraxy." - hassanpour

"My sense is that the point of this conversation is not to eliminate historic orthodoxy in any fashion, but to express that many have decided on what they believe, created extensive doctrinal affirmations and continue to gather on Sundays for their expository sermons and unfolding of riches in the Scriptures, yet they generally ignore their responsibility to do mercy, faith and justice toward their neighbors." - quarter circle (his "sense" is correct)

[maybe one of the weirder-worded comments, but i like it!] "knowing doctrine and so to speak, having "all your ducks in a row" which who's ever seen ducks in a row. ...anyway.....having the knowledge then not loving and serving God's children is to me like knowing how how to drive and operate a car and leaving it parked in the garage. i'd rather crash trying to make a difference and to be blunt.. i don't think you can have knowledge and not take action." - andrew welch

"TRUTH as an ideal exists, i believe, eternally unchanged. Except it must be interpreted. You and I are imperfect, thus we have imperfect understandings of truth." - Scott Grace

"He [Jesus] did not come to feed the poor, take care of the widows..." - scott in ri [wow! that's interesting considering what I read in the gospels...]

"Unfortunately, many Evangelical Christians (that is a large umbrella) have been both nurtured in and contained in a system that artificially inflates negative feelings toward good works." - quarter circle

"we can have a great doctrinal statement but unless our actions follow up that statement then it is worthless and we don't really believe it." - Jim Dahlke

What's your favorite quote?

*Thanks to everyone for joining in! The conversations only make us better! keep it coming and be ready for "sort of part 3" on Monday!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

your 2 cents...

This is just an invitation for everyone to join this ongoing conversation. The more the merrier. I wrote a post last week which you can read HERE. It's about "Do you think Jesus really cares if you..."
A LOT of people have shared their thoughts and a conversation has begun. I would love you to share your 2 cents as well. You can do that by clicking HERE.

(I kind of posted a "part 2" this week that you can read HERE. There will be Several more posts in the next 2 weeks on this topic & a partial post even was up today by accident for several hours! It even got 2 comments and it was an incomplete post! But I have several more posts coming about the same thoughts, so keep checking back to read more next week!)

Again - you can join the conversation HERE.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The 5 Spokes of Chazown (final edition)

It's been over a week since the last post in the "chazown series." This is the FINAL post of my review/takeaways from the awesome book Chazown. I hope you've enjoyed it or gained something profitable from it. I hope it inspired you to seek God & figure out what YOUR chazown/life mission is & pursue it with all you've got. If you still need the book you can buy it HERE.
And you can catch up on the first 4 posts in this "chazown series" HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

The last part of the book (Part 4) is all about the 5 little spokes of everybody's chazown. (Actually there's a Part 5 after this that's all about accountability. we all need peeps in our lives specifically to spur us on to go after our chazown...)
Here are the 5 spokes: my relationship with God, my relationship with people, my financial health, my physical health, my work.

Craig has a formula in the book to follow to reach your chazown = "Surrender my life to God and His Chazown for me + take care of the fundamentals (the 5 spokes) He puts before me + establish goals + take the next step + live with proper accountability = my God-given destiny will take care of itself!" WOW! seems pretty easy on paper. Since I read this I've been working hard to live this "formula" so that my destiny will "take care of itself."

I love the "next step" idea that works like this really cool analogy Craig wrote in his book = "When is a championship team successful? Is it only during the last seconds of the final game, when the crowd goes wild? No, that’s just the destination. The team’s true success began even before the first day of practice, when each player began building strength, stamina, and specialized skills. Every day that the team worked hard, learned to play together, listened tot the coach, grew from mistakes, won a game, or lost a game—every step of that journey was part of that team’s success."
That is SO AWESOME for me to hear... hopefully awesome for you to hear too. Andy writes a whole section about this concept of success in his book (Visioneering) that I have unofficially deemed the sequel to Chazown (you can read that idea HERE).

Since tons of books have been written on each of one these 5 "spokes", I'll just share a thought or two on each from the book.
1 - My Relationship with God = we all need to figure out WHICH PRACTICES help me BEST EXPERIENCE GOD and go after those. take away barriers that hurt those practices.
2 - My Relationships with People = Ask ourselves 4 questions -> What relationship needs to be initiated? What relationship needs to be nurtured? What relationship needs to be restored? What relationship needs to be severed?
3 - My Financial Health = there is a WHOLE LOT of good stuff in this chapter, so you really need to read it. I would just say this concerning our finanial health => 1) Give away all the money you can to God's Mission & the poor + 2) read, listen to, and DO everything Dave Ramsey has ever said! do those 2 things & you should be good to go. haha...
4 - My Physical Health = 80% of Americans 25 & up are OVERWEIGHT! WOW! & it is one of the top killers in America. SO, if you want to live your chazown, you've got to be alive to do it! exercise!
5 - My Work Life = “without a chazown for your work, God’s gift of life to you is likely to turn into one big exercise in gritting your teeth.” “When you’re doing the tasks God placed you here to do, there’s nothing you’d rather be doing.”

And that was the whole book, Chazown, in a nutshell of 5 posts on this blog. Hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to share any thoughts you have as always AND I've gota TONS more takeaways I'll be sharing from recent reads VERY soon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

what you do IS what you believe! (sort of part 2)

(You can read "sort of part 1" HERE.)
I think orthodoxy is important. I think what we believe is important. BUT I think just because we say we believe something doesn't mean we really believe it. Just because we write something in a paper doesn't mean we believe it. Just because we write a whole book about some doctrine doesn't mean we really believe it. Just because we preach something doesn't really mean we believe it is true!

Again, many Christians put too much stock in "doctrinal statements" and having the right theology. It's like if you can just "mentally assent" to this list of statements then it's all good and you're an orthodox Christian. I think it's important for sure, but we can say we believe that stuff all we want... but if we don't live it we don't TRULY believe it!

What you do IS what you believe!

and whatever you don't do & live... you don't truly believe, no matter how much you say you do and how many books you write or sermons you preach about it.
what i'm saying is, it's WORTHLESS. Just because you have a lot of knowledge about theology means jack to God. If we don't live like Jesus it's all meaningless. We may as well have a lot of knowledge about cars or medicine or wax... it's not like knowledge about one is any better than the other IF it doesn't change the way we LIVE!

For example = I can write on this blog all the time about how much I believe God wants us to love and care for the poor and orphans. I can put it in my doctrinal statement. I can quote all the Bible verses about God loving the poor and commanding us to love the poor (like "Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered." = Proverbs 21:13 and "Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses." = Proverbs 28:27 and 14:31 and 28:8 and 19:17 and 22:9 and 29:7 and on & on). I can sit and debate people for hours and convince them that God commands us to care for the poor. I could be really smart & know all the biblical teaching there is to know about this topic! BUT if I didn't love and care for the poor myself, not only would I be an idiot, but I would also prove that I DON'T REALLY BELIEVE GOD WANTS ME TO LOVE THE POOR! Because if I really believed it, I would DO it.
Because what you do IS what you believe!

In "do you think Jesus really cares if you..." which was "sort of part 1" (which you can read HERE) a lot of people brought James 2 into the discussion... and rightly so, although that specific passage never crossed my mind when I was writing that post. You can read their thoughts on that passage HERE.
Speaking of James 2, I do love the verse (19) in that passage that says "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that." haha, and I'm sure that God is very impressed with their orthodoxy!

Anyway, all the talk in the comments about James 2 made me nostalgic. I remembered the guy I used to listen to way back in the day named Rich Mullins... anybody remember him? He was different. kind of a "ragamuffin." That guy wrote some good songs. I wish he were still here and still writing.
So, there was this song I used to love to listen to by him (based on James 2). It actually didn't even have any instruments in the song. Just voices. It was kind of a goofy song honestly. but I liked it. It was called Screen Door "Faith without works is like a song you can't sing; it's about as useless as a screen door on a submarine." = Straight up worthless.

(YOUR thoughts?)

Monday, February 23, 2009

staff quote of the day

(I was going to continue thoughts along the lines of this post, but it will have to wait... Check in tomorrow to read it. For now you can join the ongoing conversation HERE.)

We - the staff at Ridge Church - have a lot of fun most days. Usually there is at least 1 quote of the day. Some days there are lots of them, but one usually rises to the top as THE quote of the day...

Today there was indeed a quote that rose to the top! It is credited to Melissa & no context is needed for this quote of the day winner:
"Other than the beard she's a pretty girl."

oh wow. Is there anything that doesn't belong in that sentence? OTHER THAN THE BEARD she's a pretty girl? haha, that's like saying "Other than being ugly, she's a pretty girl." It just doesn't work. (Although this is better than the coverups people use when they think someone's ugly = "but she's really nice" OR "she has a great personality." Just for the record I think it is always wrong to say someone is ugly... no matter how you say it.)

Haha - thanks Melissa, for the good laugh. This all took place in the midst of deep and enlightening staff conversations over burgers & fries @ Five Guys. & now I'm full.

(Tomorrow for sure will be a followup to THIS post... and like I said, you can throw in your 2 cents HERE.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

what's in my iPod? - kristian stanfill: attention

(just a quick post to let you know about this EP. I don't want to distract with a big post from the conversation that is taking place HERE.)
So, this is what's been in my iPod the past 2 weeks. I've been wearing it out. I think you'll love it too = Kristian's Stanfill: Attention
I first heard Kristian at a Passion '06 and I thought he was an amazingly gifted worship leader with the hand of God on Him. He has led me personally in worship probably like 100 times since then & I hope many many times more. He is one of they many awesome worship leaders @ North Point. This is his new EP = Attention... You can download it HERE. you can also download it on iTunes.
The full album releases on April 21st... I'll be in line to pick it up because I love hearing this guy lead with crazy energy & an awesome passion for Jesus.

You may recognize 2 of the songs from North Point's latest live album Louder than Creation which I reviewed in an earlier "what's in my iPod" post. You can read it and my big props for Kristian's awesome new song Lord of All = HERE. Every song is pretty stellar... you'll start hearing them around I'm sure.

Louie had Kristian on his Passion podcast a few weeks talking about this new EP. Just so you don't have to take my word for it. Go check it out this EP & the full length album in April.

(I'll probably be back Monday with some more thoughts on the topic below... join the conversation HERE.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Do you think Jesus really cares if you...? (thoughts on knowledge & action)

There's something about our WESTERN, MODERN, PRESUPPOSITIONAL, ARROGANT, AMERICAN evangelical, RELIGION that makes me angry. Well, I guess first of all I could say it makes me angry because it IS all those things.
Hopefully it makes you angry too that somehow the Way of Jesus has been hijacked and turned into something Western instead of Global, blinded by Modernity and a slave to it, Arrogant instead of Humble, and all these other things.

But the thing I was talking about is the western church's fascination and "sell your soul love affair" with knowledge... and dare I say it Truth.
(I hesitate to say this because I really do want people to like me and not call me bad names... but people have always called me bad names, so since this is my blog I'm going to try to say what I think.)

Somehow knowledge, being right, doctrine, truth, and orthodoxy (right belief) have become more important in this Western Christian religion we have created than LIVING, ACTION, & ORTHOPRAXY (right practice). How did this happen?

Maybe I can say it this way? Who cares if you have all the right doctrine and believe the right stuff but your life doesn't make a difference? Do you think Jesus really cares if you have all this Bible knowledge but you don't love your neighbor?

Seriously do this for me = imagine yourself talking to God at the end of your life... can you see it in your head? At that moment would you rather:
1 - have spent all your years on earth consumed with living the way of Jesus, living like He wants us to live-> loving the poor, loving our neighbors, living a revolutionary life... but some of your "doctrine" was off. you were wrong about several biblical truths. OR...
2 - have been consumed with Bible knowledge so that your "doctrinal statement" was in order. And maybe it was even SO GOOD that your doctrinal statement and God's doctrinal statement are IDENTICAL! (never happen, but we're "what if"ing here...)

OK, in that moment... which guy would you rather be? The 1st or 2nd? Which guy do you think Jesus wants you to be? I'm betting that Jesus won't give a crap that I was wrong about some biblical truths and "doctrines" if I lived as closely to THE WAY He lived as I can. I guess I can always say "my bad" on this or that doctrinal point. I can guarantee WE ALL WILL be doing that!

I'm going to try to be that first guy... I'm going to try to LIVE the things I'm sure about... I'm going to try to be HUMBLE, and be a SERVANT, and LOVE with all I've got, LOVE God and the unlovable and the outcasts and the poor and my ENEMIES, and GIVE sacrificially... GIVE til I'm broke, and try to be the BEST HUSBAND I can possibly be, and spread God's FAME across as much of this earth as I can... I'm going to try to be a revolutionary like Jesus.

That's the stuff I'm going to focus on. And if I'm wrong about some Truth & knowledge and doctrine and stuff in the Bible... then I'll be wrong. so be it.

but that's just me... What do YOU think?
[more thoughts on this later on... especially as it relates to discipleship and more. & I'm sure I'll be misunderstood, so I'm not even worried about it.]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

my new to-do list

It's not all that new. It became my to-do list in October... so, over 4 months now. It's pretty simple & it's the same every day.

1 love God
2 love Crystal
3 live the Mission

That's my to-do list. I wrote this in my journal the day in October when God gave me this to-do list = "what freakin' else is there to do!?!??? Seriously, what else matters? What else is there to do with my life? I've gotta spend 95% of my time in life doing these 3 things... help me do that, Jesus!"
(oh, and Crystal is my wife... for those of you who don't know.)

If we're honest, most of us just waste a lot of time! I'm committed not to do that anymore. If it's not one of these 3 things... I'm NOT doing it!

Obviously my #3 "live the Mission" has the potential to be very broad. So that's the trick for me - I'm narrowing it down based on my "chazown"/specific vision for my life's mission. I summed up the mission that day in my journal with 3 words = "glory, love, justice." It's going to include even more than those 3 though... (Loving people is a HUGE part of the Mission and we could all be more consumed with that. If "loving people" would have been 3rd on my to-do list then it would have been 3 "loves", but I'm confident the Mission is more than only that. Although, if we all just did that we'd be WAY better off than we are now.)

I'm still learning as I'm only 4 months into this new to-do list. Of course the cool part is I never really have to make a new to-do list... I'll never complete these projects, although I hope to succeed at each of them every single day.
I still go to "chick flicks" with my wife because that's part of #2... that's part of loving her. I still like to sit on the porch swing & chill watching the sun set while talking to God... that's part of #1 loving God for me. I'm still going to do extra jobs so I can give money to the poor & to spreading God's fame because that's part of #3 the Mission. I'm still gonna have fun and live in community and hang out watching sports with unbelievers because it's all part of the Mission. I'm still gonna work out some (not a lot - a few days a week) because I don't know if I can love God, love my wife, or live the Mission quite as effectively if I drop dead or get really fat. :)

This has definitely become my filter for everything I do now. I definitely turn down lots of stuff & I say "no" a lot because things aren't on my to-do list. It feels really good too!
It's still a work in progress, but I'm definitely diggin' it so far!

(What's on YOUR to-do list?)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chazown (finding it/mission statement)

God knew exactly what He was doing when He created you. God gave you core values, gifts, and experiences. And where those overlap is where His Chazown for your life explodes in spontaneous spiritual combustion.” - Craig Groeschel from Chazown... (Catch up on Chazown by reading my posts from the past week or so! It's an amazing book. There are links to buy it in those previous posts also.)

Your Chazown--whatever it is--will fit you. PERFECTLY!
Because it's what you were created for... God's dream, His vision for you.
Honestly this was the greatest, biggest question for me in the search for my Chazown & I think it will be a great question for you too = “If money were no object and I could do anything I wanted for the rest of my life, what would I do?

"God’s vision for you is bigger than you can imagine and impossible for you to do on your own.”** No doubt! Honestly, my 1st thought about my Chazown was = "There's NO FREAKING WAY I can do this!!!" If it were simply my dream/vision it woule be something a lot easier.

*I hope this word from Craig really pumps you up... I can't even sit down after I read it = “I guarantee that God’s Chazown, when you and He fulfill it, will make a significant impact in this world, reshaping lives according to God’s history-spanning plan.” YES! That's straight pimp.
So, I want to give myself freedom to dream big! I'm going to let my dream overtake me. And when I’ve dreamed as big as I can, I'm gonna dream bigger! If I have the ability to accomplish it without God, then it’s not God’s Chazown for me...

This is where you put your Chazown into words... write your own life mission statement.
"a mission statement is simply a one-sentence version of God’s Chazown for my life expressed in words that greatly motivate me to pursue it for Him."
This was so cool for me to do. It gives so much clarity to my life... everything I do. It's easy to say no to things. I love it.
Maybe I'll share mine with you one day, but I don't want to taint you in your pursuit of yours. I promise if you do the exercises in the book you'll have no problem figuring out God's chazown for you and boiling it down to a 1 sentence mission statement!

But you can't just have the mission statement... you gotta set goals to reach it. Reaching those short term goals helps us achieve long term victories! These goals are what I need to accomplish to make my chazown a reality. And that's what I want to spend every minute of my day doing!

There's really only 1 final part of the book & I'm gonna sum it all up in the next and final post of this review/downloading series of how Chazown has affected me. Make sure to check out that final post & then we'll be moving into a similar review of the unofficial sequel = Visioneering.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Chazown (spiritual gifts & past experiences)

(Click HERE to catch up on Chazown, Craig Groeschel, and the whole sequel idea.)
(Click HERE and HERE to catch up on the ongoing review on Chazown.)

The other 2 circles (after Core Values) are spiritual gifts and past experiences.

Craig sums up spiritual gifts nicely when he writes = “Every gift and talent you have came directly from God for a purpose. And He wants you to use them to benefit the body of Christ and be a blessing to the world.”
Then he asks these 3 questions to get you thinking in the right direction about what your spiritual gifts are:
1 What do you have a passion to do, and enjoy doing? Or, what do you suspect you might enjoy doing if you just looked into it a little more? (Consider jobs, hobbies, recreational activities, anything.)
2 What do you do that seems to have a significant impact on others?
3 What do you secretly believe you can do, but have never tried?

Do those questions seem "less spiritual" than you were thinking? I think they are perfect to really get you thinking in the right direction and then on your personal Chazown website you can take the spiritual gifts test to help you figure out what your top spiritual gifts probably are. Doesn't mean it 100% nails what your exact gifts are every time... but I think it gives you a great idea.

Here are my test results in order along with Craig's definitions =
1 Apostleship = the ability to adapt to a different culture in order to share the gospel. Essentially it is the missionary gift whereby one is enabled to minister with one's gifts and calling cross-culturally.
2 Giving = the unique capacity to comprehend the financial needs related to the growth of God's kingdom and to meet those needs by contributing eagerly and generously. Essentially it is the ability to give sacrificially to the Lord's work.
3 Administration = the ability to plan and coordinate the gifts and talents of a group of Christians to reach certain objectives. Essentially it is the capacity to organize persons and resources to meet specific goals.
4 Leadership = the ability to discern God's purpose for a group of believers, to set goals to accomplish that purpose, and to motivate others in the fulfillment of those goals. Essentially it is the capacity to inspire others with a vision of God's will.

& then the past experiences chapter was pretty moving for me actually.
What might your past have prepared you to do that you couldn’t—or wouldn’t—do otherwise?” Just think about that! It was so moving and powerful for me to think about all the ways God has orchestrated my past to prepare to do the mission He has for me!

I think if you really give some time to the exercises and questions in the book you will remember tons of past experiences that were KEY in your life to bring you to your Chazown! It's a very introspective thing and I wrote for what seemed like a few days on this...
I'll just share a few of the things from my past I think God in His sovereignty was using...

*As a kid I won all kinds of crazy speech contests & stuff at my school... like elementary school. I don't have the greatest memory of it all but I can remember standing on stage in front of 500-1,000 people giving speeches as like a 1st grader... it was natural. I never remember being nervous. I think it was a pretty cool way God maybe got me used to speaking and being on stage in front of people. It never stopped all the way through high school... speech communications minor in college... do it pretty much all the time now.

*Also starting around 1st grade I sold stuff like a MAD MAN... it's crazy when I think back on it! probably the biggest claim to fame is those yearly fundraiser candy bar sales at the elementary school. I broke all kinds of records selling freakin' ridiculous amounts of chocolate bars! As a 1st grader... and on up. I was crazy good at making people like me and having conversations, etc... Continued all through school, sold cars even as a high schooler and in college. had a couple of my own businesses selling stuff - everything from paying my way through college with a Fortune 500 company to a root beer business run out of my dorm room... haha. You might think this is weird because I don't have a career in sales... but it's always been easy for me to connect with people... with anyone really. I've never met a stranger and never want to. I guess God was using this to get me ready...

*I'm still figuring this one out, but I was an artist as a kid. Won all kinds of art contests and loved to draw ever chance I got. I haven't done this since I was 12, but I think it may be some connection to a desire/passion/need to be creative... to engage people and entertain them with whatever resources I have.

*I used to read as a kid. NONSTOP!!! I think I read every book in our school library when I was in elementary school. I took a hiatus from reading from 7-12th grade... haha. Picked it back up in college and ever since have had an unquenchable desire to LEARN!!! I can't get enough or read enough now. you will never find me without a book. Go ahead and try to catch me with out one on me! WON'T HAPPEN!

So, that was all in the interest of transparency + HOPEFULLY to get you thinking about your OWN Chazown... Can you see how your 3 circles might fit together.

Want to share any of your spiritual gifts or past experiences?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

vote for the Cliftones! (& win a prize!)

This isn't American Idol or anything like that, but a good friend of mine is in a really cool contest and I would love for all of you to vote for him!!!

Some of you may remember me writing about his band, the Cliftones, long ago HERE. In fact, it was one of my 1st 10 posts EVER! (& my 1st music review). So, I won't go into another full on review of the Cliftones and their awesome music... just read what I wrote previously HERE.

I am offering what I think is the 1st ever prize here on renown. A free Cliftones CD! It's super EASY to be in the running to win it too... here's all you do:

The Cliftones are with the Tate Music Group which represents tons of bands and artists. Of all those hundreds of artists the Cliftones are up for ARTIST OF THE YEAR!!! There are 10 finalists. YOUR votes decide who makes it into the final 5... those final 5 perform live in front of a panel of judges to decide who is the winner... the Artist of the Year.

Anyway, Scott is my good buddy... my college roommate & a groomsman in my wedding. Pretty much the most talented musician I know. He's an awesome guy and a great friend. Of course the band includes Scott's 2 brothers (twins) which you would all know if you read my earlier post.

So, when you vote for the Cliftones HERE... come back to renown and leave a comment letting us know you voted for them. After you do that you're in the pool to win the Cliftones CD - Shackles. BUT, there has to be AT LEAST 10 commenters (10 voters) for anyone to win the CD. So, 10 of you go vote, come back and post it as a comment that you did & 1 of you will win the free Cliftones CD!

Go HERE to vote. You can vote once per day through the rest of the week... please do! To come back and leave your comment that you voted just click HERE (or on the word "comments" at the bottom of this post).

Good luck Cliftones!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

carolina vs. duke

Yep, it's tonight. The 2nd greatest rivalry in all of sports (2nd to the Yankees vs. Red Sox).

Makes for an even better vacation that I get to chill on the couch with my wife tonight @ 9pm. Beautiful view of the NC mountains on my right. Beautiful view of my amazing wife on my left. And directly in front of me = a beautiful view of Carolina stomping Duke for the 4th year in a row in Duke's own gym.

*We're gonna be cheering our lungs out!

The Heels are nasty this year... beware.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

chazown = Core Values (review part 2)

[catch up HERE and HERE so you're not lost. And you can buy the amazing book Chazown HERE.]

Have I mentioned that I think Craig Groeschel is THE MAN just for writing this book (not to mention being used by God to change thousands of lives through Life Church & their like 50 crazy innovative campuses... + I love Craig for what he is doing HERE and HERE).

OK - Part 2 of Chazown is all about the 3 circles = Core Values, Spiritual Gifts, and Past Experiences. Where these 3 circles intersect is where we find God's Chazown for our lives! Pretty cool.

*I loved digging into the Core Values chapter. It helped me a ton because I had NEVER really thought about the Core Values God had created me with!
Craig said that "What I cherish at my core is what I aim at with my life." Whatever is most important in my life, the things I refuse to bend on, the things I'm willing to DIE for... God put those things in me to help me KNOW WHERE TO AIM MY LIFE! pretty cool - God put that in all of us.

Craig asks some AWESOME questions throughout the book to help me (& you) get to the bottom of things... i.e. figure out what my core values are. Here are a few = “What priorities make you turn down other highly attractive offers because you know what—for you—is indispensable?” Also - "what angers me?"/"what brings me bliss?" The answers to these questions point to the core values God put inside me.
**But here are my favorite 2 questions of this section! = “If money were no object, what would you do for the rest of your life?” (WOW!) and = “(besides ministering to your family) What do you believe is the number one, most important thing God wants to accomplish through you?” Man, these questions are perfect! Stop letting $ determine what you do!!! let your CHAZOWN determine what you spend your passion and life doing! Answer these Qs honestly & they show you a little peek of what GOD SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED YOU to do!

Or maybe this question was my favorite? = “What do you know is so important that you’ll let go of everything else in order to grasp it?” Answer that one and you're really getting somewhere!
Oh, and before you go figure out your core values... this quote really kicked me in the teeth = Claimed values. Practiced values. They aren’t always the same.” OUCH! That's the truth though for many people... I'm going to try to not let it be the truth for me.

*Oh, and one of the greatest parts about buying Chazown is that you can access your very own Chazown website. You can log into it and it keeps track of all this stuff for you as you progress through these circles, etc... There are extra exercises on there that helped me figure out my core values and relevant past experiences, + there's a spiritual gifts test of course.
Anyway - here are the core values God put in me that the site helped me figure out... (I group some of them together because they're so similar = Compassion/Generosity, Enthusiasm, Leadership, Family, Learning/Teachability/Personal Growth, Communicating, Humor (thanks Craig for teaching me that this could even be one!), Creativity, Devotion/Passion, Satisfaction/Joy.
With only this 1st circle of my chazown complete I could already see how God was designing me for something specific and awesome!

[this is getting too long already so I'll have to postpone the next 2 circles = spiritual gifts & past experiences until the next Chazown post (which probably will NOT be the very next post here on renown). I promise I'll fit them both in!]

What are some of YOUR Core Values???

Monday, February 9, 2009

chazown (some thoughts & review)

You need to read THIS POST first. It will catch you up on the whole sequel idea, etc... Just click HERE.

Craig Groeschel actually starts off Chazown with a quote from Andy's book Visioneering. (If you're already confused then like I said, click HERE.)
I read it first in Craig's book though (sorry, Andy) and I haven't been able to get it out of my heart for almost 2 years now! = “Everyone ends up somewhere. But few people end up somewhere on purpose.” - Andy Stanley

WOW. I read that and DETERMINED that I will be one of those few people who end up somewhere on purpose. THAT's exactly what this book will help you do. End up where you want to be, so at the end of your life you can look back and be happy with all you've done. I realized that I had big visions God had put in my heart, but no specific plans and goals set to help me get there! That changed after I read this book!

Craig put my fear in these words = “If we’re not careful, we can fall dreadfully behind, trying frantically to catch up, trying to accomplish…absolutely nothing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.” I'm not going to let that happen.

Let me ask you a question that Craig asked me that continues to drive me every day... What if your life continued to change the world even after you were dead?! That's been my dream for years. I can't think of many things better than that. I'm going to spend my life making sure that happens. This book will help you do the same.

So, your chazown is GOD'S VISION for your life. Once you figure it out you know why you're taking the breath you just breathed here on this earth. Great feeling. God's vision for you is HUGE. His vision for you is BIGGER than you can imagine. You just need to find out what it is and start living it.

The 1st section of the book ends with a PIMP quote from Sir Francis Drake that goes like this = “Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves. When our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little. When we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord.” Awesome stuff. I actually wrote a whole post on that quote over a year ago. Just click HERE to read it and an awesome quote from Craig with his thoughts on it.

One of the coolest parts of the whole book comes next. This was an awesome idea, Craig! You write your epitaph! haha, pretty awesome. I remember doing it 1 day and my wife asked what I was doing. I was like "writing my epitaph" very matter of factly. I wish I could post a pic of her face. She thought it was pretty morbid. It's one of the most awesome things I've ever done. I'm sure I'll post it on here at some point (but I want you to write yours first). It's pretty intense and emotional and LONG. I'll need a big tombstone, haha. But I wrote from my heart about what I want to be said of me when I'm dead, what I want to have done before I die, and
how I want the world to have changed as a result of my life.
This is SUCH a powerful exercise. I see the HUGENESS of the vision God has given me and the passion He has put in me. But that alone won't make it happen... I've got to live life on purpose to end up there. Thankfully the steps in this book are helping me do that.

My wife and I are going on a mini vacation this week for Valentine's Day week (if that's a usable phrase?), but stay tuned for some more thoughts from Chazown. But, seriously if you can BUY THE BOOK HERE!

For now, what are your thoughts? What do you want written on your epitaph?

Friday, February 6, 2009

andy & craig. Catalyst One Day. Chazown & Visioneering!

Catalyst ONE DAY is coming up again soon. February 26th. It's going to be stellar I'm sure. It's @ North Point & it's just 1 day of Andy & Craig talking about leadership & MOMENTUM!

Andy Stanley & Craig Groeschel for a whole day! What more do you want?

But I have a suggestion to propose to both of them. I think that in addition to teaming up at the Catalyst One Day events they should promote/sell 2 of their books in a combo pack as a 2 book sequel type deal! Seriously! Craig's Chazown 1st & then Andy's Visioneering as the Sequel. I'm so glad I read them in that order... worked out perfect for me.

Chazown is a book that really put some practical feet to the passion God birthed in me years ago. I read it about a year and a half ago & it is definitely in my TOP 3 BOOKS OF ALL TIME! You need to read it TODAY! Seriously, go buy it HERE & read it NOW!
It will help you figure out what you were BORN to do by figuring out your core values, spiritual gifts, & how your past experiences play into all that. I especially enjoyed writing my own epitaph! Everything changes once you know specifically why you are on earth.

(Actually, I was at a bookstore @ Concord Mills a couple weeks ago & they had 2 copies of Chazown for only $7.88! It's like $20 @ regular stores! GO BUY IT!!!)

Visioneering is Andy's personal favorite book he's ever written. I heard him say it himself. I had read like 5-6 of his books at the time & then I heard him say that. I started reading it that same day. It is the PERFECT sequel to Chazown! It takes your "chazown"/purpose & helps you work out that VISION even more specifically. Following Nehemiah's story it gives practical steps to follow until your vision - "what you think could be & SHOULD be" - happens. After you read Chazown you can buy Visioneering HERE.

All this to set up some upcoming blogs where I'll be posting my takeaways and all the wisdom I gained from these 2 books. Plus I'll share some of how I'm practically applying this stuff. Of course stuff from Chazown will be 1st & Visioneering 2nd.
***Monday will be my 1st post from Chazown. It's gonna be pimp!

(Here's Andy himself talking about the Catalyst One Day events)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

U2 @ the inauguration

I've been sick the last couple days... therefore haven't felt like posting much. Here's something cool for you to see though.
I wish I could have been at the inauguration hoopla a couple weeks ago... mainly on the Sunday when U2 performed. They are one of my favorite bands of all time. I was pretty bummed that their concert was only on HBO (which I don't get).
So, I had to resort to the next best thing... watching the concert on the internet. 

OH & btw - U2's new CD is coming out MARCH 3rd!!! I am STOKED. I'm already rocking the first song released from that CD in my iPod = "Get On Your Boots"... I think I've heard it on a couple commercials. Can't wait for the full CD!

Now I'm just praying that their next tour brings them through Charlotte! I better start saving room in the budget for that NOW.
Enjoy this mini concert from the Lincoln Memorial!

Monday, February 2, 2009

quotes of the week #6 (STAFF MEETING EDITION)

This is the 6th edition of "quotes of the week" here @ renown. You can read the original "quotes of the week", the explanation of the whole phenomenon, and the disclaimer = HERE. You can read the other 4 "quotes of the week" HERE, HERE, HERE, & HERE.

*Honestly these may be some of my greatest posts because I'M NOT THE ONE SAYING ANYTHING! Seriously, if you have time to go back and read any of these former editions, there's some really good stuff in them.

This post is a little different than my normal "quotes of the week" post which normally consists of quotes from famous people. This is "STAFF MEETING EDITION" meaning that all the quotes in today's post were said at one of our Ridge staff meetings.

I work with an AMAZING staff team (also occasionally confused for a rock band.) They're awesome & our staff meetings are pretty fun, funny, & can get pretty crazy. Because of this craziness I've had to leave some of the quotes out to protect the innocent (& not so innocent).
(You will also notice that no quotes are from me. First of all because I usually have nothing great to say. 2nd of all because all the quoteworthy stuff I've said in staff meetings is usually stuff the other staff can use against me as blackmail.)
Ok, enough, enough... here we go:

#1 quote of the week:
"We've got to be able to defend this vision and mission or else we become the thing we all left." - Chris (I don't think any commentary is needed. This was a sobering reminder for all of us. powerful.)

"That's Grody to the Max." - Melissa (to which I said "WHAT?!?" They could not believe I had NEVER heard this phrase in my whole life. Apparently I may be the only one on earth who had not. I have also since learned that it means "really gross.")

"A plumber's toilet never flushes." - Rusty (haha, this was awesome & produced a lot of laughter. This was during a discussion about our office environment. The nature of our church is focused on creating incredible and irresistible environments... but we were dissing our office environment. It was ironic. Then Rusty piped in with his wisdom.)

"You're a pile of shiznit... Twitter that." - Chris (I think the context involved my use of the word "shiznit" in place of another word with a similar grammatical structure in status updates on twitter & facebook. ALSO it was the same day that included many one-liners based on Kip's [Napoleon's Dynamite's older brother] famous line "Your mom goes to college." I think Rusty started it all.)

"If you're going to build something that lasts you've got to be willing to change what you build." - Reggie Joiner (Today was North Point's "all staff meeting" & we were piped in during our staff meeting. Reggie [who was on the original team that planted NPCC] talked about a lot of current stuff but I thought this was the best quote & it's really got me thinking.)

"What did you do with that thing in the thing?" - Rusty (this maybe isn't the exact quote, but it definitely involved 2 "things". The question was directed to Melissa & she was like "what?" It's funny because we have ALL been on both sides of a question like this [the asker & the askee].)

"When most people say they're using 'good stewardship' it really means they just produced crap." - Chris (haha, this is so true. It was in the context of an awesome conversation we had about excellence being a stewardship issue. I kept thinking about it all day. We should never use "stewardship" as a cop out to "produce crap.")

Sunday, February 1, 2009

prayer for today

This is the prayer of the Church for today (the Sunday starting the 4th week of Epiphany) from The Book of Daily Prayer I am using this year.

"Lord, You love the poor and show compassion to the weak. Let Your church set aside all claim to wealth and power, and stand with the poor of the earth."

and then the Responsorial Prayer for the day was Psalm 99:4-5 ->
"The King is mighty, He loves justice--You have established equity; in Jacob You have done what is just and right. Exalt the LORD our God and worship at His footstool; He is holy."

And reading Proverbs 31 yesterday included these words in 31:8-9 ->
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."