Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ask andy anything

That's right - before 5pm Wednesday you can ask any of your leadership questions to one of the greatest leaders of our time - Andy Stanley.

Just click HERE. it will take you to the awesome Catalyst blog & there you can write in your questions... Next Monday they will post Andy's answers to the best/most relevant questions.

(April Fool's! that's just wrong, isn't it.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

the Upstreet revolution

We are part of a revolution - a revolution that is changing the way the next generation looks at the world. We are part of something that is changing the way this generation is growing up... it will change the way they live as kids and adults. And THAT will eventually change the world. 1 kid at a time...

I'm so stoked! Check out some of the stuff we've been talking about over the past 3 months (December, January, & February) with the Upstreet kids (k-5th grade) @ Ridge Church.

In December we talked about GENEROSITY! The Bible talks SO MUCH about it so seems like a good thing for us to talk about too. “Be rich in good deeds … be generous and willing to share.” (1 Timothy 6:18)

We wanted to put some action to our talk about Generosity for the month, so we did something called **Project Generosity**. You can read more about it HERE. But basically because of the kids' generosity throughout the month, there is a boy named Erick in Kenya who is no longer living in horrible conditions. Just thinking about it makes me jump off my couch a little. The money the kids gave will support Erick for all of 2009 with food, water, school, medical care, etc... we just got a letter from him, but more on this later.

The 1st week we talked about an awesome story! = Bigger Barns (Luke 12:13-21). This is the story Jesus told about the rich man who pulled down his barns to build even bigger ones for all his extra food and stuff. But all around him in his city were poor people who probably hadn't eaten that day. God killed the dude that night! & called him a "FOOL"... the kids all agreed with God that someone who has extra & doesn't use it to help the poor IS a fool! Sounds like a lot of "Christians" we know, doesn't it? they're not the revolutionary kind.
Bottom Line: Don’t let things become more important than people.

The 4th week was about Jesus and the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-25). This dude couldn't even follow Jesus because he was rich... he couldn't imagine being without his stuff (which in Upstreet was an iPod, xbox, iPhone, sweet clothes, etc...)
Bottom Line: Don’t let stuff get in the way of serving others and loving Jesus.

January was all about HONOR. “Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves.” Romans 12:10
My favorite story was "Dinner with Sinners" = it's where Jesus hangs out with his newest follower--Matthew--at his crib. (Matthew 9:9-13)
Matthew had a party & didn't invite all the "cool, rich, important" people... he partied with the sinners and kinds of people that everyone HATED. the "uncool" people. And Jesus went on to say that His heart was for these kinds of people! It's why He came to earth. This is the opposite of the way our culture thinks. They usually ignore the people who get left out. So, this Jesus way we're teaching the kids to live is so revolutionary!
Bottom Line: Show honor to people who’ve been left out.

February was all about FAIRNESS & we even had a "FAIR is Wheel" (lol) and an Upstreet County Fair goin' on... “Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:9

The 1st week was so awesome when we talked about the principle of fairness from James 2! God wants us to treat the poor and bad dressers just as we treat the rich. The passage even says not loving the poor is just as bad as murder. hmmm...
Bottom Line: Treat everyone fairly because everyone's important to God.
Then, one of my FAVORITE stories of all time! The parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10). I made sure I got to be an actor in this week's big production in Upstreet! It was awesome as we did a full on drama of a modern day good samaritan story + interactively told the one from Luke 10 (thanks Alan for being the donkey!)
Bottom Line: Treat everyone fairly--even those who are different
And the 3rd week was a pretty HARD revolutionary way of Jesus for all of us to live! loving our enemies? who does that? Ananias did. & Revolutionaries do...
Bottom Line: Treat everyone fairly--even your enemies.

Man... the crazy thing is that most adults don't seem to know or "get" this stuff. These kids are "getting" it & I'm so stoked about it. We've got a revolutionary group of leaders who are putting their all & leveraging their time & talents into making sure the next generation is different than our current one.
Really stoked about what's going down the next few weeks... April 19th is gonna be awesome!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I bet this was awesome

I do a lot of Bible reading in the shower... no the pages don't get wet. Every morning I usually listen to a few chapters from "The Bible Experience" - it's the straight text from the Bible, but VERY dramatic. Sometimes I even listen to a whole book while I'm getting ready. It's awesome & I highly recommend it. (You can learn more about it HERE. and you can even buy it HERE.)

the other day I was journeying through the book of Acts. This stuff all comes to life while I'm in the shower. These few verses below have been stuck in my head since I heard them. My first thought was "Man! I bet that was awesome!" Check it out...

"'Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.' After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them." (Acts 4:30-34)

WOW! That's what I want to be a part of. I'm praying God does something like this right here in the middle of us. It would be awesome for God to display His glory like this @ Ridge Church and in all of Charlotte and hopefully for the rest of my life wherever I go all over the world.

I think our "Night of Worship" tomorrow night at Ridge is going to be awesome for sure! It's at 6pm @ the Levine Center. Come worship with us. **It's going to be a Jesus thing, not a Ridge Church thing! I think God is in the middle of doing awesome stuff in us. Maybe in a couple hundred years people will look back and think "I bet this was awesome!"

Friday, March 27, 2009

andy, louie, & twitter (weekend randomness)

Louie Giglio & Andy Stanley have been best friends since Jr. High. Hearing Andy communicate often at Ridge we get to hear A LOT of "Andy & Louie" stories that are usually pretty funny!

Louie's latest post said that the next few Passion podcasts are going to be with him and Andy! you don't want to miss listening to that. The 1st one is already up... check it out HERE.

*Also, Seth Godin has one of the most popular blogs in the world. I like the guy. I heard him speak a few times & he even gave me (and 12K other peeps) a free copy of his newest book - Tribes. He wrote a post recently about the phenomenon that is Twitter. You can read what the cultural & marketing GENIUS of our decade has to say about this dominant social media trend HERE.

Some good, fresh, and reflective stuff 'bout to be served up here on renown in the next week...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chick-Fil-A, Ridge, Satan, & a broken nose

The past 2 weeks I have blogged much less than usual. That wasn't my plan, I've just been busy. Now my plan is to be back with a vengeance and writing a lot again.

Part of the blogging delay was because I broke my nose Saturday at an Upstreet event you can read about here! (The kids at Ridge are pretty hardcore!) Because of the broken nose, I currently can't breathe out of my nose. And I have to wait a week and then go back to the doctor so they can break it back into place! definitely not looking forward to that.

I read Jeff Henderson's blog a lot and I love following him no Twitter because he's such a great leader! He's the campus director of Buckhead Church in Atlanta, one of our Strategic Partners. Buckhead Church (not to be confused with Buckhead Saloon here in Charlotte) is a campus of North Point which is basically like our "parent church" that "birthed" us. We are modeled after North Point and Buckhead, so our organization functions very much like theirs. It's the greatest organization I've ever been a part of.

I think you should read one of Jeff's most recent posts. It's pretty awesome! You can read it HERE. He is basically talking about the similarities between North Point ministries and Chick-Fil-A (where Jeff used to be a "big whig" before going to work at Buckhead).
Here's the 1st part of the blog just to make you want to read it:

"Six years ago today, I walked away from the marketing department of Chick-fil-A, Inc. and joined Buckhead Church and North Point Ministries. Since that time, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is, “What is the biggest difference between working at Chick-fil-A and North Point?”

I work on Sundays,” is my usual response.

What’s interesting though, is that there are more similarities than differences between the two organizations..."

Right on Jeff! I love working for Ridge Church and Jeff mentions 7 of the many reasons why it's great to work for an organization like this in his post!

*Also! Tonight, make sure you watch (or record like me) Nightline on ABC. You've probably already heard about it, but in case you haven't = they're having Mark Driscoll (no secret I'm a big fan) on there. (He's been on national TV like 5 times over the past 2 months!) They're having a debate on Evil & Satan... Debating Driscoll are Deepak Chopra and some seemingly weird dude I've never heard of from Tulsa.

*Plus on Driscoll's team is a lady named Annie Lobert who leads a ministry called "Hookers for Jesus". A year or so ago she started following me on Twitter and her screen name is "hookers for Jesus", so I saw it and was like "what in the world?" Then my wife saw it and she was like "who is this chick following you on Twitter??!!" (haha, probably looked weird)
I researched her ministry and it's actually really awesome! You can check it out HERE. Annie is a former Las Vegas "hooker" whose life was radically changed and she now is committed to FOREVER ENDING the human sex trafficking trade along with helping girls out of the business she used to be in! Crazy awesome when I saw she was going to be in the mix for this debate!

It's gonna be so awesome to see her and Driscoll team up tonight! I'm pretty stoked!

It's a "Face Off" debate... and you can actually watch it early HERE if you think you'll miss it on Nightline tonight or you just can't wait. ENJOY!

Monday, March 23, 2009

kid venture!!!

I have the coolest job in the world.

This weekend was an awesome Upstreet event called "Kid Venture". It's simply a chance for kids to CONNECT relationally and in FUN ways with their small group leaders OUTSIDE of a Sunday morning. It's all about fun and building the relationships between kids & their small group leaders.

It was a hugely successful event! Mainly because of the AMAZING leaders in Upstreet @ Ridge Church! They are the coolest & most awesome peeps ever!!! I'm so STOKED & humbled to be on the team with them. THEY are a big reason that I have the coolest job in the world.
Every week we partner together to change the world by revolutionizing the lives of this group of kids. God is doing amazing stuff... we're happy to be along for the ride.

Like I said, this event was all about FUN & building relationships... so we figured, what's better than bouncing around for a few hours @ Pump It Up (inflatable party place) where we can all have some crazy fun? Unfortunately in the 1st 15 minutes or so I broke my nose on a kid's head! haha... fortunately no kids were injured in the whole event. I got the bleeding stopped after 10 minutes or so and went back to jumping around with everyone.

Anyway, here are just a few pics from Kid Venture. But if you're hungry for more I've got a whole album posted on facebook. You can see all the tons of crazy pics HERE.

below - me & Rusty brought the gloves out... can't remember what the disagreement was about? Chris always tells us to keep staff disagreements in the office, but I guess we just couldn't hold it anymore!

2 below - you see what the kids are doing to Clark (the curly red-haired guy) there in the pic on the left? That pretty much happened to all us adults for 2 hours. SO... the last pic on the right should make A LOT more sense! That was what we all looked like at the end of the day...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

He's still* (it's the end of the world as we know it!)

sometimes life sucks. for sure. and I don't just mean because your car broke down.

I'm talking about death. poverty. helpless children starving and dying of disease and no one does anything about it. your mom, dad, or friends are sick & dying. you lost your job. you can't pay the bills. you and your family are scared because of the current economy.

*what do you do or think when there is NO sign of God in your life at all? Or no sign of Him in all these world events from your vantage point...

You definitely wanna be @ Ridge these next 3 weeks for this brand new series hot off the press. We are going to talk about all the stuff that's going through your head.

If you miss it you WILL be sorry. I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

tourney bracket challenge

March Madness is here baby!!! whooooooo! 1 of my fav times of the year!!! The selection show just ended and the field of 65 is complete! No doubt you are already filling out your brackets in your head.

*So, why not join the "renown blog" NCAA Tournament Challenge!!!

Go to ESPN and join the Tournament Challenge by simply clicking HERE. You can sign up for a free ESPN account if you don't already have one. All you have to do is fill out the registration and then submit it. click the big button in the middle that says Create Entry. Name your entry (that will be your bracket) and click on Create or Join a Group.

Ok, now's the fun part - in the Search box type RENOWN BLOG - that's our group name. you should see a pic of a midget with a mullet playing bball (as seen to your right). Then you need to type in the group password = renown

Then you're all ready to go. Now you just have to fill out your picks for each game. Flip a quarter or use all your expertise to pick who will win each game.
Make sure you go into Group Messages too & talk some smack to everyone about your picks. ESPN keeps track of all our points for us, so at the end of the NCAA tourney we'll know who won our tourney. Feel free to invite anyone you know. I think you just need to fill them out by Wednesday. We'll have some fun over the next few weeks. (Go Heels!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Time Magazine = TOP 10 Ideas Changing the World right now!

I don't subscribe to TIME magazine, but I like to check it out every once in a while to see what they say is going on in the world. Pretty crazy article out currently called "10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now"

Are you intrigued? I DEFINITELY was! That's pretty big stuff. BUT, then I saw #3!!!
See it for yourself HERE.
The 3rd most influential idea they say is changing the world right now (according to TIME) is "The New Calvinism"!!!

WOW! That's incredible. This reformed resurgence has made the cover of Christianity Today a few times recently, and been the topic of some recent books... but now TIME magazine!!?? Now you know it's legit!

Because of Piper's big influence in my life [read a little about it HERE] especially in my early 20s I used to be FIRMLY a part of this movement. I'm definitely not against them now... just "moved on" maybe? Not sure what's the best way to define it.

Honestly, I think any movement with some decent theology and crazy passion behind it and a love for the nations and somewhat culturally relevant would have captured the heart of my generation. This happened to be the first movement to win my generation over. I am glad for it.
In my opinion, Piper got the ball rolling with this movement, although he's not "cool" or "culturally relevant" in the typical sense... I think of him as "cool" though & I don't really know why? Anyway, now some other great guys have come to the forefront as well = Driscoll [and really the whole Acts 29 network], Tim Keller, Mohler, Stetzer, Chandler, C.J. Mahaney, etc...

I used to be "Calvinist" for sure... now I think that any "theological system" is an oxymoron. If a man makes a system and puts God in it to understand Him better, it CAN'T be a "God thing" because a man made it up. That doesn't mean it's a "bad thing"... just a system some man came up with.

Anyway - you can read these couple of Driscoll's posts HERE and HERE where he shares his thoughts about the TIME article including his thoughts on the differences between this "New Calvinism" and the classic calvinism... worth reading for sure (most stuff he writes is).

[p.s. - speaking of this... I think everything Piper writes/has written is worth reading. And so does (stream of consciousness warning!) Rob Bell who said in his 1st book that all his readers should "go read everything John Piper has ever written." Anyway, as I've said before, Piper's not about the money. He makes all his books available for whatever you can afford & many of them are FREE. I already downloaded his brand new book for FREE. You can get download his brand new one - Finally Alive - HERE.]

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

you just can't stop reading a good author

On our quickie vacation a few weeks ago we stopped in a hippie coffee shop. My wife and I both LOVE these types of places. I think we like to pretend to be hippies for moments... the lifestyle is romantic, I guess. But we wouldn't do well with never washing the dirty dreads in our hair or going barefoot all day or eating all organic veggies... or smoking weed. but we like their fair trade coffee shops.

Anyway, I picked up a book off the futon in that coffee shop around Asheville, NC. It was the famous Dostoevsky (I like how his name is pronounced) novel - The Brothers Karamazov. I read the 1st chapter & then we left. It got me wanting to read a good story!

so, I turned to the guy who is one of the greatest writers in my opinion, Brian McLaren. I started on the 3rd book in his awesome trilogy... The Last Word and the Word After That. It's the 3rd & final part in the New Kind of Christian trilogy. This stuff is the only fiction I've read since like 7th grade. I just don't read fiction because I don't have time. There's too much to learn!

BUT, this is different. I learn just as much (maybe more) from McLaren's fiction as I do almost any other books! They are masterpieces... brilliant! And I try to keep a really nice balance of reading a wide variety of authors... but this guy is just SO GOOD. He's an amazing writer. So, of course he's gonna get the opportunity to bend my ear a little more because it is straight up fun reading him. [despite all the warnings to "beware" of this "heretic"... well, maybe not despite... because I always go pick up a book that I am warned against. ha, I guess it's just my nature.]

*Oh, and see who I think McLaren looks A LOT like HERE. They could be twins! don't you think?

It's a fiction novel, but I wanted to share this great stuff below just from the introduction! (just Brian's intro before the novel actually began...)

"I believe that God is good. No thought I have ever had about God is better than God actually is. ... I have never overestimated how good God is because God's goodness overflows far beyond the limits of human understanding." [very beautiful and so true. I NEED to be reminded of this much more often. this literally makes me lift my heart up in unrestrained worship every time I read it! stop & read it again... That thought is so amazing!]

"if your concept of God is radically false, the more devoted you are, the worse off you will be." [that is a great statement in SO MANY ways]

"perhaps the dysfunctions of the Christian religion can be traced not to God as God really is but to views of God..."

*** "God's justice is always merciful and God's mercy is always just."

"deep in our hearts, we don't fully love God because we are not fully confident that God is fully good."

"clarity is good, but sometimes intrigue may be even more precious; clarity tends to put an end to further thinking, whereas intrigue makes one think more intensely, broadly, and deeply." [Jesus is a great example of this.]

** "we often seek clarity at the expense of truth: we would rather have something simple and clear than continue to search beyond convention for a truth that won't resolve to a neat formula, label, category, or pat answer." [OOOOHH!!! that one really hits home these days for many people. this is so right on about all of us believers today who are products of modernity. it's not necessarily our "fault", BUT now we need to fix it & CHANGE.]

"Deconstruction is not destruction; it is hope."

***[deconstruction] "sometimes, our constructed laws get in the way of unseen justice, our undeconstructed words get in the way of communication, our institutions get in the way of the purposes for which they were constructed, our formulations get in the way of meaning, our curricula get in the way of learning." [SO ironic!!! so true. so sad.]

"one must deconstruct... in the hope that something better will appear once the constructions-become-obstructions have been taken apart."

"Is anything undeconstructable? Obviously, while God and God's mysteries would be beyond human deconstruction, it makes sense that anything constructed by humans would also be deconstructable by them--including human formulations about God and God's mysteries."
[definition] = "Perhaps deconstruction, then, could be seen as the search for God and God's mysteries when human constructions may be obscuring them: it is an endeavor hoping eventually to fail, for when it fails and reaches the Undeconstructable, it has reached the goal of it's pursuit." [beautiful]

"asking me--as people often do--whether I'm an inclusivist or a universalist is like asking a vegetarian whether she prefers steak, pork, or venison."

[Dr. Walter Brueggermann's guidelines for theological educators...]
"1 Don't tell students more than they are ready for or can handle.
2 Don't tell them anything they'll have to unlearn later on." [MAN, do we ever need to follow those guidelines!!!]

OK, now I really want to hear some of YOUR thoughts! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF SOME OF THESE QUOTES?

Monday, March 9, 2009

the division over stupid stuff (sort of part 4)

[Part 1 = Here -> "Do you think Jesus really cares if you...?"
Part 2 = Here -> "What you do IS what you believe!"
Part 3 = Here -> "What does Jesus think about discipleship?"]

I am dumbfounded and truthfully DISGUSTED that all kinds of doctrines divide so many Christians!
*Now, I'm sure that many of you just read that statement and are currently saying to yourself "Ah... this is one of those guys who thinks that if we all just love each other it doesn't really matter what we believe and what doctrine we have!" & I have to respond to what you are thinking to yourself with "no, I am not 'one of those guys.'" (although I would have to respond to my response by saying I DO think if we all just LOVED each other instead of just saying that we did - that WOULD solve a lot and would change the world!)

What we believe is absolutely important & so is our doctrine. Some of you seemed to think I was somehow saying that doctrine/orthodoxy was UNIMPORTANT by what I wrote in "part 1"... but you were reading into what I was saying, not simply reading what I wrote. A recap would simply be that how we live is definitely more important and MATTERS MORE TO GOD than our doctrine... doctrine is worthless unless we LIVE IT! (kind of a recap of part 2 too.)

Anyway, back to my disgust. I think it's stupid and maybe even sinful that Christians ("professional" Christians for sure = pastors, church staff, seminary students, etc...) base HOW THEY TREAT PEOPLE on what kind of doctrine those people have. HA! that's funny, because the last time I checked it seems like God wanted us to treat people how we want to be treated. (Luke 6:31 ring a bell?)
Why should we base friendship or how we treat anyone on what their doctrines are? That's like one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. (About half as dumb as treating people differently based on their skin color.)

Just for a random example = There are lots of people who wouldn't want to associate with Christians who "speak in tongues." Just for that one simple difference in OPINION/doctrine/belief! Who gives a crap? Paul spoke in tongues and I bet Luke didn't. But I'm pretty sure they got along just fine (or at least hung out together for years).

A lot of times I hear stupid stuff like that and say to myself "WE'RE ON THE SAME FREAKING TEAM!!!" aren't we? I'm for Jesus & His fame & kingdom. Anybody who's for that... we're on the same team!

People on both sides cause this division over stupid stuff! (I'm not saying these doctrines are stupid, I'm just saying it's stupid to divide/treat peeps differently because they believe on 1 side or the other of these doctrines!) Here's a few areas off the top of my head:
- All kinds of doctrines about the future! (I'm pretty sure Jesus said He didn't know when He was coming back)
- Calvinists and Arminians... Reformed & less Reformed peeps
- egalitarians and complementarians
- dunking vs. sprinkling (form or function? = a future blog I think)
- METHODS of ministry & other stupid arguments like worship styles, etc...
- spiritual gifts arguments, of course (from cessationists to vineyard peeps)
- dispensationalists & progressive dispensationalists & Covenenant theologians, OH MY!
- Bible version arguments
- women in ministry/women preaching (they CAN vote now, right?)
- Creation = 7 literal days, not literal, micro/macro evolution, progressive evolution, etc... (Were any of you scholars actually there?)
- Hell = trash dump, annihilation, or literal eternal fire? REALLY? is that something we wanna spend our time arguing about? (yeah, I have my opinion, but really? arguing?)

*I'll probably write blogs on this specific thought later, but let me just say that after all your years in seminary studying those topics above = you're probably still wrong on about half of your conclusions! (I'm probably wrong on at least 60% because I don't do that well with percentages.)

So, instead of picking my friends and who I'm nice to based on peeps having the same doctrine as me, I'm gonna LOVE everybody! (I mean, I can even be nice to red sox & duke fans... so of course I can love anybody!)
But beyond that, when it comes to who I align myself with and do ministry with and spend more time with... that's not based on doctrine... it's based on HOW PEOPLE LIVE.
Why would you wanna spend more of your time & work alongside a dude who believes the same as you about the milennium and hell, but is MEAN? or isn't humble? or doesn't love the poor? that's dumb... in my opinion.
I'll pick spending my time with an unbeliever who happens to live a lot like Jesus OR a believer whose doctrine is all jacked (we think), but LIVES LIKE JESUS!

I guess again I'm saying that what we DO seems to matter more than what our doctrines are. (like I said in parts 1-3.) I'm sure many of you disagree... and that's cool. But I'd still love for you to be my friend even though we have a different belief. Let's at least agree to STOP treating people like ENEMIES just because they have different doctrine!

After I originally wrote this blog I read the following that same day. I thought it was pretty awesome timing!
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them SHOW IT BY their GOOD LIFE, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." - James 3:13

As always... WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

what's in my iPod? - U2: No Line On the Horizon

WHOOOOO!!! it is finally here! I downloaded it when it released Tuesday morning. It's the only thing I've been listening to all week. It has a monopoly on my iPod. I would guess I have listened to the whole album close to 50 times so far. it is playing constantly!

It's U2's brand new album = No Line On the Horizon. YOU can still download it from Amazon for only $3.99 if you click HERE. that deal will be gone soon!

I've been stoked about this release since January! Tour Dates/Sites release MONDAY!!! oh yeah! can't wait! Seeing U2 live has been on my bucket list. my wife too. so, we both decided we're gonna do whatever it takes to see them on this tour (who knows how much longer they'll be around?) - so, we're REALLY excited about that & hope we can get good seats (& I hope they come to Charlotte again).

Ok, let's get to it - I'm so stoked to talk about these songs that are quickly becoming my favorites of all time. (Make sure you make it to the bottom song = Magnificent... it's a pretty amazing worshipful expression about our lives being to simply worship our MAGNIFICENT GOD!)

Here are my thoughts:

Stand Up Comedy = PIMP beginning. awesome electric part. SERIOUSLY. it is straight up SICK! I start dancing every time this one starts playing! Overall this is def. my fav song on the album! (for now... that could change 10 times by next week.) I love this WHOLE song, but I'll just let you have a peek at a couple of my fav sections...
I can stand up for hope, faith, love
But while I’m getting over certainty
Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady
Oh, oh, Out from under your beds
C’mon, ye people - Stand up for your love
Love love love love love
Love love love love love
I gotta stand up to ego but my ego’s not really the enemy
It’s like a small child crossing an eight lane highway
On a voyage of discovery

And I love this line later in the song: "God is love and love is evolution's very best day."
All the lyrics to this song are so brilliant... You have to AT LEAST buy this one!

I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight = might be my 2nd fav song on the whole record. It's just an awesome, happy, fun song. Reminds me of Beautiful Day a little bit... remember that one from back in the day? I think I like this one even better. This tune will be in my head for months... I love it! especially the end of that chorus = "but I know I'll go crazy if I don't go crazy tonight". Below is my favorite part of the song.
Every generation gets a chance to change the world
Pity the nation that won’t listen to your boys and girls
‘Cos the sweetest melody is the one we haven’t heard
Is it true that perfect love drives
out all fear
The right to appear ridiculous is something I hold dear
Oh, but a change of heart comes slow

It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain
As you start out the climb

Listen for me, I’ll be shouting
We’re gonna make it all the way to the light
But I know I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight

Unknown Caller = This song is DEEP... spriritually deep. but we'll get to that later. it reminds me of the old school U2 I fell in love with. with the "ooooh oooohoh"s.
This song is amazing lyrically. It's like an intimate conversation between Bono & God that is full of meaning. This song is BRILLIANT. It's like Bono's call from God... it's his conversion/life-changing experience!
"Hear Me. Cease to speak that I may speak. Shush now."
The verses are Bono's thoughts and then God speaking to him in the chorus. But Bono brings it into the 21st century with MAC lingo "Force Quit" = you only have to use this on a MAC when a program is spinning out of control as the verses indicate Bono's life was so God tells him to:
Force Quit and Move to Trash
Restart and re-boot yourself
You’re free to go Oh, oh
Shout for joy if you get the chance Oh, oh
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
Shush now Oh, oh
Then don’t move or say a thing

& then Bono actually does cease to speak. I think the band simply tries to create an instrumental worship experience while the listener simply meditates on the amazing and radical life change God has just orchestrated...

*BREATHE* = I love Breathe. It's a great song. verses are like a rock ballad and the choruses are classic U2. I love how in a song called "Breathe", Bono goes so fast that he gets out of breath like on the word "Cockatoo" in the 1st verse... I know there's brilliance in there somewhere!
Every day I die again, and again I’m reborn
Every day I have to find the courage
To walk out into the street
With arms out
Got a love you can’t defeat
Neither down nor out
There’s nothing you have that I need
I can breathe/ Breathe now

Walk out into the street
Sing your heart out
The people we meet
Will not be drowned out

Walk out, into the sunburst street
Sing your heart out, sing my heart out
I’ve found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it’s all that I found
And I can breathe/ Breathe now

I love it! - I can at least relate to Bono in that I'm an eternal OPTIMIST & love to walk out in the street (whatever circumstances surround me) & "sing my heart out." One of my fav things to do!

No Line On the Horizon
= of course the title track is awesome! vintage Bono at his finest. Great vocals... haven't figured out the lyrics yet though other than there is NO LIMIT to something he's singing about?... I'm sure there's some awesome meaning in there somewhere though.

Get On Your Boots = the song that was a hit before the album released. So, I'm sure you've heard it 10 times already. It took a while to grow on me, but now I LOVE it!!! There is some crazy deep meaning in this song. Not sure if it is talking about women everywhere standing up for African women and helping them... or what? But I feel pretty confident it's a call for woment to "Get on your boots" & stand up & go for it. Lots of social justice overtones in here... This is a pimp song for sure.
Love & community/ Laughter is eternity if the joy is real
That’s someone’s stuff they’re blowing up
We’re into growing up
Women of the future Hold the big revelations
I got a submarine You got gasoline
I don’t want to talk about wars between nations
Not right now

Moment of Surrender = Great song. Haven't had time to figure it out yet? still very moving even without the full concept of it.

Magnificent = Maybe the most amazing God-centered lyrics on the whole album! Pretty amazing! Check 'em out:
I was born/ I was born to be with you...
Only love, only love can leave such a mark But only love, only love can heal such a scar
I was born/ I was born to sing for you
I didn't have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise
Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar
Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent
(no debating here about WHO he's singing about! Right on, Bono!)

The few other songs on the record are good too - just not as good as these ones above in my opinion!
So, have YOU heard it yet? Have you listened to it 50 times like me?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

what does Jesus think about discipleship? (sort of part 3)

[This is "sort of" a continuation of my thoughts on our current unhealthy overemphasis on knowledge over life & living...
"sort of" Part 1 = HERE. "Do you think Jesus really cares if you... (thoughts on knowledge & action)"
Join the conversation/read the plethora of comments on the above post HERE.
"sort of" Part 2 HERE. "what you do IS what you believe"]

Hopefully you've read the above posts and caught up on any background you need because I'm jumping right in...

Something has screwed "our" (the Western, Modern [as in "modernity"] Church's) idea of discipleship. I'm convinced it's jacked.
It's probably jacked in more ways than I or anyone even realizes, but I am CONVINCED we are WAY OFF in our scary idolatry for Bible knowledge and our equating that knowledge of facts with discipleship!
That's a Western thing. That's a Modern thing. That's NOT a Jesus thing. [haha -> ADD alert = that old school All-Star United song "This Jesus Thing" just popped in my head when I wrote that. wow. flashback.]

Discipleship = FOLLOWING Jesus... it's LIVING like Jesus lived. (not just knowing more about Him.)

just check out John 10:10; Jesus did NOT come so we could have "doctrine" or "knowledge" or even "belief"... like we said yesterday - knowledge was never the end! It's just a doorway to LIFE & a certain way of LIVING. It's all about living!
Just like I said in Part 1 - Jesus cares about how we LIVE! That's following Him, not what we know or believe...
Then WHY is pretty much all discipleship in the U.S. NOT training to live, but basically INDOCTRINATION? It seems like all of discipleship is = "read this. memorize this. learn this system. defend this." You know what I mean?

*it's NOT about knowledge. it's NOT about checking things off a checklist! But why when someone wants to be discipled at their church do they pair them up with some dude and they hand them a workbook with 10-20 doctrines and after they learn those and check them off then *BOOM*, they're a disciple. (That's pretty close to the process that's used at most churches with slight variations.) "Just know this list & you're a disciple. The more you know, the better and deeper and more mature a disciple you are." I'll admit it, I grew up hearing/learning/breathing this in. But of course, that's crap.

All of you would have to agree that Jesus would rather us be known for the WAY WE LIVE than for our doctrinal statements! Right? I don't really know if Jesus would have a doctrinal statement if He walked on earth right now. I don't think He would need one because everybody could SEE it!

Of course I'm not saying that Bible knowledge is bad. I have a degree in theology & am in seminary for crying out loud. I'm a readaholic & gaining knowledge all the time. BUT a guy who knows all the doctrine & has all the Bible knowledge in the world and is even "discipling" (passing that "knowledge" on to others) but doesn't give generously, doesn't love His wife like Jesus loved the Church, doesn't love His neighbor, doesn't worship God furiously and passionately, isn't consumed with making God famous, doesn't love the poor, doesn't help the poor, isn't merciful or humble, etc... is NOT a disciple! not even close. And I'm sad to say that I've met A LOT of those guys! They're the ones "discipling" others.
I think that makes Jesus feel like it makes me feel = nauseous.

I definitely don't have all the answers. I'm just thinking out loud. But I'm convinced there is a better way (than is currently being practiced) for us to all become Jesus followers.
Let's talk about it! What are your thoughts?

HOPE in Upstreet


Thanks so much for all you do! Thanks for being a part of changing kids' lives & ultimately a part of changing the world!!!
I "hope" you can take a little time this weekend to watch this video about HOPE this month in Upstreet. It will give you a great overview of what we're working together to impress on the kids all month. I'm really excited! Wait until you see all the puzzle pieces in Upstreet!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"knowledge is not the end goal"

I planned to publish the next post in the "knowledge vs. action" / "Does Jesus really care if..." saga, but I am completely physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. So, I'll post it sometime soon.
For now I'll leave you with this quote I read recently to whet your appetite for more of what's coming.

"Knowledge is NOT the end goal. What really matters is what we DO with what we know." - Mark Batterson

I think from the 1st few posts in my series (HERE, HERE, HERE) you know that I wholeheartedly agree!

(The next post will be all about how jacked up our "Bible knowledge worshipping approach to discipleship is... and what Jesus thinks about it.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

the books I read in 08

Back at the end of June I wrote a post about me being a chronic Readaholic. I listed and gave SHORT reviews of each of the books I had read so far in the year (6 months). You can read that post HERE.
Now I just want to briefly look back over all the books I read last year... in 2008. Obviously the ones in THIS post I won't review again. You can read about them HERE like I said. There were 21 books included in that one & only 10 books in this one. So, 31 books in all in 08. Honestly, my goal was 42, but this is the best I've ever done in a year, so it's OK.
(Click HERE to see the 1st 21 books I read in 08...) Below are the final books I read in 08:

The Irresistible Revolution
- Shane Claiborne
Man! This was maybe my favorite read out of all these for the past 6 months. This guy is awesome! I pray that God gives me half of Shane's passion. If the church becomes even 25% as radical and passionate as Shane then we WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!!!

The Practice of the Presence of God - Brother Lawrence
This short book is a CLASSIC and only takes a couple hours to read. It's a concept we should all learn to practice... living with an awareness of God and in constant conversation with Him.

Financial Peace Revisited - Dave Ramsey
In '07 I read Dave's most recent book, The Total Money Makeover, and it changed our lives financially! This book was a close 2nd. It is AWESOME!

The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture - Shane Hipps
I thought this book would be way better than it was. Very philosophical. Built largely on the works and thoughts of the revolutionary Marshall McLuhan. I don't really recommend this one... honestly, it was fairly boring.

- Bill Hybels
This was my "pot book". You can read about that HERE. It was like Bill Hybels being my personal leadership mentor for 76 days. The stuff in this book is invaluable! You NEED to read it.

The Story We Find Ourselves In - Brian McLaren
Book 2 of the trilogy I am almost finished with (halfway through Book 3). It was nowhere as good as Book 1, but still an AMAZING read. It's a fiction that covers THE STORY of Scritpure only in a way this brilliant author can do.

Renewing the Center: Evangelical Theology in a Post-Evangelical World - Stanley Grenz
WHOA... this one took me like 2 full months to read. Written by the late great Stanley Grenz, this book is not for the faint at heart. It is an academic book on the scholarly level, but definitely helped me better understand theology in the context of our current postmodern context.

Developing the Leader Within You - John Maxwell
SO MANY takeaways from this book. So many pages of notes. I am trying to take this stuff to heart and I know it's making me a better leader. I hope I can live these principles. My pastor & mentor told me this is Maxwell's best book ever.

Visioneering - Andy Stanley
This one is definitely going to have to crack into my top 10 of all time! Not sure what spot it will land yet, but way up there! I've unoffically & playfully deemed it the sequel to Chazown... it's for Chazown graduates. This was the most practical and beneficial for me of these books I read in the last 6 months. I honestly felt like throughout the book he was talking directly to me! Andy is a pimp! (& I'm CRAZY STOKED about his new book coming out this month!!!)

God's Passion for His Glory - John Piper
*I feel like I can never read too much Piper, so I try to keep a constant diet of him in my iPod or on my reading schedule. This was only the 2nd Piper book I read all year. This book reminded me of why I love John Piper! God continually uses him to change my life & give me a bigger & greater view of Him!

In the last 2 months of 09 I've only read 2 more books =
The Secret Message of Jesus - Brian McLaren
GREAT book... probably his 3rd best book I've ever read - which is saying A LOT! It's all about the Kingdom of God! It is revolutionary.

In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day
- Mark Batterson
I love this guy's blog, have been to his church, and even got to meet him a few times... It's an easy and fun read... probably a little elementary, but a good book from a great guy that will definitely encourage you and PUMP YOU UP!

I may only read 1 book per month in ALL of 09 because I want to focus more on processing what I learn in the books I read and put them into practice. I'm also going to try to post my best takeaways on this blog! I want to share with renown readers the best things I think will be most helpful to everyone. Feel free to share your opinion on which of these books you would most like to hear more about...

(P.S. - you can usually check out what I'm currently reading or recently rad over to your right under the respective columns. I try to update them once every month or so. Obviously, I'm usually reading 15-20 books at a time. haha - maybe that's why I don't finish more of them!?)

Monday, March 2, 2009

winter wonderland

SNOW in Charlotte today! yep... only 1 month after THIS snow (I posted a little video of it HERE.)

Last night's snow was way bigger and better than the one in January. I was downtown when it started last night, and my route home was actually closed! (don't worry, I made it though.)

I think maybe 6 inches around Charlotte? The roads aren't icy enough to sled on, but tonight they are supposed to freeze again with the temp getting down to 15. Hopefully we can take the toboggan out and go sledding sometime in the next 24 hours!

For us in Charlotte this is a whole bunch of snow!

I'm most excited for my wife, Crystal! She's from New York and LOVES the snow! She has the day off today and is loving it. (hopefully my seminary will be closed tonight because the roads are supposed to be straight ice. If it closes neither one of us will have to go anywhere today.)
Enjoy YOUR snow day too!