Saturday, May 30, 2009

family birthday celebration tomorrow!

It's gonna be a PARTY & I am STOKED!

I'll probably post some pics, videos, & thoughts later. I can't wait to celebrate the life change that's happening @ Ridge Church!

Family Birthday Celebration
= tomorrow night. 6pm. Levine Center. Bring your party hat and be ready to do some dancin'...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

last weekend in uptown Charlotte

Last weekend here in Charlotte was a lot of fun.

I am pretty much the opposite of a Nascar fan. In fact I hate it. Just don't get it at all. BUT, 2 big races were here in Charlotte the past 2 weekends. The All-Star Race and then the Coca Cola 600 this past weekend. So uptown all the time was "Speed Street". Constant concerts and giveaways and FOOD and thousands and thousands of people EVERYWHERE.

I don't think I have ever seen the streets of Charlotte SOOOO crazy crowded. There was no room to walk. I was actually uptown hanging out and having fun 4 days in a row last week = Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
I saw concerts all the way from some Hip Hop groups out on the Tryon Street stage to an up and coming Country act named Jason Aldeen (not my choice, but April was a big fan!) And of course Life House & Gavin DeGraw were both there with free concerts on the big stage outside!

On Thursday, Crystal and I went with our friends Ryan & April. We went to the Epicentre for "Alive after 5" that is EVERY Thursday. That place was hoppin'! It's the 1st time Crystal and I have been since the Epicentre has been completed. It's a 3 story outdoor/indoor party hub. Tons of restaurants and always fun. Every Thursday night after 5pm there are live concerts on the 3rd story out in the open beautiful Charlotte air looking out at the city. It's just across the street from the Bank of America Building.

Two cover bands were lighting up the Epicentre this Thursday. A Rolling Stones cover band & a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band. Always fun. We hung out on the 1st floor for a while & then moved up to the 3rd open floor and jammed with the Skynyrd band. Ryan and me chilled while the girls yacked. We kept checking the score to the Canes/Penguins game on the widescreen up there.

The place was PACKED. People were constantly bumping into us. You couldn't even think about walking anywhere in a hurry. There had to be several thousand people just in the Epicentre. Me & Ryan talked about how ironic it is that most of us "well off" peeps hanging out up here have no idea about the homeless peeps that hang out at Fuel Pizza just a few blocks over and eat lunch every Wednesday courtesy of our mutual friend Todd. (I've written about this before HERE & HERE & lots more times...)

Then these 4 girls, 20somethings, came up and the "talky" girl came up & started talking to me. She said I looked... I can't even remember the phrase she used... but something compimentary I guess? She wanted me to take a pic of her & her friends. I took a couple. Then they came back again. She started getting all up on me. She told me how cute I was or something? I took another pic & said "bye." Ryan was just smiling. I was wondering when my wife was gonna jump out from behind me & kung fu kick her in the teeth?
Then the girl gave me a big hug & I wasn't really sure what to do. She just kind of draped herself on me & stayed a little longer than I was prepared for... I think she finally got the idea that I wasn't interested when I turned around and started talking to Ryan again.

I can't remember the last time a good looking girl hit on me with my wife standing right beside me? It was fairly uncomfortable & awkward & I think the girl may have been drunk, but I'll be honest = it's secretly good to know that I'm still "hit-on-able" by girls other than my wife. Might not ever happen again.
I'm Curious = What do YOU do when a girl is hitting on you and leans all up on you, hugs you, puts her hands on you?

Anyway, we went on our way to the "main stage" at Speed Street to see this guy Jason Aldean...

**On our way there were these guys on the street corner. oh wow. these guys were CRAZY. I'm posting some pics I snapped from my phone so you can see. They were shouting about how "everyone at Speed Street tonight is going to hell!" I thought about telling them a few things, but just decided to just take a pic of them with my phone & keep walking.
These guys are doing so much harm & damage & really no good. I'm wondering what Jesus would do if He were walking down the street in uptown Charlotte and saw them doing this crap? What would He do? Tell them to shut up? Yell at them like the Pharisees?

One of the craziest things is that they had that little kid with them wearing the hard hat.
We weren't sure why they were wearing the hard hats, but my best guess is so that it would protect them from the rocks thrown at their head by all the "fornicators" they were yelling at.

ah... crazy night. lotsa fun though.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

it's coming tomorrow

ok, for real. enough is enough. I'm back in the game tomorrow with a new post & I'll be posting regularly again. I can't believe I've taken this long of a break. Pretty much the longest silence ever on renown.

Tomorrow I meet with one of the directors of Living Water International, an awesome organization that builds wells for villages in poverty. I'm sure I'll post some thoughts from that some time.

Tomorrow I might share some pics and thoughts from our fun weekend mainly spent in uptown Charlotte.
Some words about the fun times, me getting hit on by a chick on the 3rd story of the epicentre, and the "Christian" guys yelling at everyone with their HUGE condemning signs and bullhorns...

oh, it's gonna be fun... Be back tomorrow.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I'm not dead.

I'm not dead.

& neither is this blog. It's just been a while because I've been really busy this week.

*But I'll be back soon (hopefully tomorrow)! Lots of good stuff comin' here on renown very soon!

Monday, May 18, 2009

TEXT - flashback

We did part 2 of "TEXT" yesterday @ Ridge. It was awesome. some pics from yesterday are scattered throughout this post. I might be posting again this week about some of the "texts" my wife and I are reading together along with the rest of the peeps from Ridge. You can catch up on my thoughts on last weeks' texts HERE & HERE. Or you can check out Chris' blog (our lead pastor) HERE. He was a lot better at blogging his thoughts every day on the different texts.

Anyway, the last text from last week was Proverbs 2:1-6. & reading that with my wife gave me a major flashback.
I have actually done a talk on that passage many times, but the 1st time ever was to a group of about 100 college guys when I was actually in college. My "WIN" for the talk was similar to Andy's unhidden agenda for this TEXT series = get peeps to read their Bible. (Mine was more specific in trying to get these guys to read Proverbs & get wisdom by doing that.)

I started out NOT by reading the text = Proverbs 2:1-6 (which you can read HERE), but by telling them I was going to give someone $10.
***Now, I don't know if you remember what it was like to be in college or not, but I do (wasn't that long ago)... & 10 bones was A LOT of money! We were BROKE college guys. These guys would do ANYTHING for $10. seriously. I mean, at the least that's laundry money for the rest of the semester. You know you're broke when you don't have a couple quarters for laundry! = which happened to my roommate on several occasions & he would wear board shorts in place of boxers & then soccer shorts & then turn his boxers inside out... not cool. That's pretty broke. [also, we all knew $10 was enough to enjoy a little piece of heaven on earth on Monday & Thursday nights at Kooter Browns! all you can eat Best Wings on earth. These are probably stories for another blog but I remember us downing 40 & 50 in a night & then not eating for 3 days. We would vow to NEVER go back again... but the next week = "anybody up for Kooter Browns?"]

Knowing $10 was on the line they were all ears. I told them there were just 4 things they had to do to win the 10 bucks. (I'll link to the text & maybe you'll catch on...)
step 1 = just accept my explanation (words) about how to win the $
step 2 = I made every single one of them YELL at the top of their lungs "I WANT $10!!!" If anyone didn't they couldn't get the dough.
step 3 = they had to all cup their ears, lean in towards me & listen super close for me to say "go"... I just barely whispered it.
step 4 = tear the room apart searching for the $10 hidden somewhere in the room!

It took them a while to find it so it was CRAZY chaotic. They were killing each other & ransacking the room to find this cash. After a kid finally found the $ I tied it all together.
Basically we saw in both Proverbs 3:15 & 8:11 that wisdom is better than ANYTHING we could want. Definitely better than money... and they definitely agreed better than $10. The question it made everyone ask & beg for an answer was "HOW DO I GET IT?"
"well I'm glad you asked", I said...

Our "TEXT" on Friday was the answer. (Proverbs 2:1-6) ->
verse 1 = accept God's Word (step 1),
verse 2 = listen intently to it & "turn your ear" to it (step 3),
verse 3 ="call out" for it [maybe like yelling "I want it"] (step 2),
verse 4 = "and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure" (step 4)
... "THEN you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." (verses 5-6)

*SO, if a bunch of college guys did ALL THAT for $10... surely we can spend a couple minutes a day doing that stuff & getting some wisdom from God's Word. After all "nothing you desire can compare."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

what do you think?

(Let me preface with this: I try not to dog people. Especially our president. I'm not one of "those" kind of peeps... at least I hope not. I don't hate anyone... I might just be ticked about what someone does. So, I don't post this in order to hate on the president.)

I've honestly gone back and forth for a few months now on whether or not to post this. Obviously now I'm posting it. I wanted to see what some other peeps think.

I don't really like to talk politics, but I don't consider this so much to be "politics". I will lay this statement out there for all to see (that some may consider to be a political statement) = I strive to be consistently pro life... just like I believe Jesus was/is.

OK, here's this video with a clip from Piper's sermon back in January. (You can see my thoughts on Piper HERE.)

What were your thoughts?

***Please read this very transparent email conversation between 2 friends of mine = Ryan & Scott. You can read their thoughts in conversation on this video HERE. I would love to hear you interact with their thoughts on this. Here is the fuller video of this portion of Piper's talk below. Maybe the ending of this video will stir up different emotions in you?

Ok. I'm not going to say much. Obviously, I wholeheartedly AGREE with what Piper is saying. But I seem to go back and forth on whether or not I agree with how he declares it... & MOST importantly, what should we (I) as believers be DOING ABOUT ABORTION???
I want to know what YOU think!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


To read about the TEXT series at Ridge Church click HERE.
We are all reading same "texts" this week.

Tonight my wife and I read Psalm 119:9-16. You can read it HERE.

My big takeaway was from verse 14 = "I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches."(David used tons of words as synonyms for Scripture such as "statutes".)

That comes from one of the greatest men ever! He is so stoked about following God's Word that it's like he just won the lottery or found a pile of cash! That's pretty intense.

Do we treat following God's Word that way? Do we even read it to figure out how to follow it? My guess is that most of us are more concerned right now with "great riches." I hope I'm a man like David who is pumped about following God's Word above getting $ and stuff.

What's YOUR takeaway from this "TEXT"?

Monday, May 11, 2009


We started an awesome new series @ Ridge this past Sunday... simply called "TEXT". The stage set looks phat (as always).

I loved being in there & worshipping with my wife! For 3 weeks in a row now we've been able to worship together at our brand new 9:30 service. It's been AWESOME! I love it & yesterday was really awesome for me.

Andy's talk was really good for me to here. It flew by. And our other Andy was our lead worshipper for the morning - rockin' some Hillsong United -> "The Time Has Come" & "The Stand" + Charlie Hall's "Closer". It was an awesome set list (put together by none other than Rusty himself).

If you missed Andy's talk - Part 1 of TEXT - go listen to it HERE. It's awesome. + plan to be @ Ridge for Part 2 next week! And we're still TEXTING our friends to invite them to TEXT.

*One of the coolest things about the end of Andy's talk is that he put together 5 passages for everyone to read together during the week. So we passed out TEXT bookmarks with the 5 passages on them to everyone @ Ridge. My wife and I started today and read the 1st passage together. I'm really looking forward to doing this together with her (along with the rest of our church) for the next few weeks of TEXT!

Today's "text" was Psalm 1. You can read it HERE. Crystal and I summed it up together like this = "For the righteous things are GOOD. For the wicked... not so much."
God says that the people who DELIGHT in His Word and think on it all the time are BLESSED. I'm pretty sure we all wanna be one of those people!

Definitely my biggest takeaway that is still sticking with me was this line at the end of the chapter = "the LORD watches over the way of the righteous..." How awesome is that? I beg God to help me be a righteous man... It's amazing to walk through what comes our "way" and know that God is totally watching over us. Deep breaths can commence.

Tomorrow we're jumping to Psalm 119, so check back tomorrow because I think I'll post my thoughts from each day's text here on renown.

Friday, May 8, 2009

the problem & andy's 2 solutions (Drive 09 takeaways part 3)

ok, here's part 3 of my Drive 09 takeaways. This is the 2nd half of Andy's 2nd main session. It was pimp. I wish you coulda been there when he started with the flip chart walking us through his org. chart...
**You can catch up on Part 1 HERE & Part 2 HERE. (Yesterday I told you I would finish up this 2nd session with the problem & Andy's 2 solutions... here you go.)

*Here's the PROBLEM = "Most organizations allow seniority to determine structure." -> Stop it! Andy says this "impedes the flow of ideas"... no doubt!
- it's great to say you want good ideas from people in your org., but until you CHANGE THE ORG. CHART, you really can't apply it! [and you don't truly believe it]
- In this kind of seniority structure "title & position, rather than insight or creativity, determine who sits at the decision-making table." [& that's no good!]
- "Eventually a seniority structure leaves the SENIORS in charge!"

*Bottom Line = a lot of you MUST change your structure BECAUSE = "Good information and good ideas are MORE IMPORTANT than your structure!" [and the success of the mission is more important than anyone's feelings or the way we're used to doing things!]

Solution #1 = "Create a system that allows you to get the brightest and most strategic-minded peeps to the decision-making table."
- here's a great question Andy asked = "Why would you not want to leverage the next generation of leaders and ideas?"

Solution #2 = "Create systems that allow you to listen DEEP into your organization." = listen all the way down the org. chart!
- Duh = "You can't learn unless you're willing to listen."
- *So cool what Andy said next = Just because your church is BIG (lotsa #s) or because you're in charge does NOT mean you are smart!!! I love it!

*All this talk about the necessity of wise counsel had a huge impact on me, especially coming from one of the greatest leaders in America. He even said = "We've never had any train wrecks with decisions because I don't make the decisions." Whoa. How many leaders of large organizations (or even small ones...) can say that? probably none!

- "You have some really smart people in your organization. Figure out how to leverage their smarts."
- REMEMBER = "Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing important to say."

More to come for sure, but
what do you all think so far?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Listening, Learning, & Leading (Drive takeaways part 2)

Andy's 2nd main session with us @ Drive 09 was awesome. So much great stuff. (You can catch up on part 1 of my raw & unfiltered takeaways HERE.)
Hope you love this stuff...

- "As Leaders, we gravitate toward the voices that tell us what we want to hear." THEREFORE it's just natural for leaders to "become insulated and isolated. And the dirty little secret is that most of us LIKE it that way!" ouch...
- Andy must have said this 10 times in the talk = "Leadership is not about making decisions on your own. It's about OWNING decisions once they're made."
** But I love this one even better & I think every leader needs to live by this! = "The responsibility of the leader is not to make all the decisions, but to ensure that all the decisions made are GOOD ones." oh man, so many implications for so many bad leaders.
& the bottom line for all this = in order to make those GOOD decisions "a leader must be surrounded by and be willing to listen to the right people."

(so, WHY is this important & HOW do I do it?) -> here you go...
*Great Leaders are Great LISTENERS!
- "You are probably NOT the smartest person in your org. You are just the leader." Oh wow... I was lovin' it when he said this. I think I tweeted it! we all need someone to say this to us.
- "What and who you listen to will determine what you do" SO, you MUST create a SYSTEM where you're surrounded by the right peeps! & Andy is a genius at doing this. He has created systems for listening to all the smart peeps in the org. no matter how new, young, or old they are!
- as a young/next generation leader I know this statement by Andy is SO true! = "Leaders are attracted to environments where their ideas & opinions are HEARD." So you gotta create this system. Most lead pastors DON'T do this! & the younger leaders LEAVE & go somewhere where they will be heard & can make a difference. CRAZY thankful to work with an awesome leader/lead pastor where I always feel heard!
1 - leaders wanna know they have a chance to "influence their own destinites."
2 - "Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing important to say." = Because all the GOOD peeps with good stuff to say will LEAVE & only the dumb peeps will come work for you! I'm just sayin... well, actually, Andy said it!

*You gotta read = Proverbs 1:5/ 12:15/ 13:10/ 19:20/ 15:22 = don't be a freakin' fool & not surround yourself with advice & counsel when making your decisions!

OK, I feel like that's overload for now... TOMORROW, you can read about the rest of Andy's talk -> THE PROBLEM with all this & 2 solutions! make sure to check it out!!!

[God, make me a godly & awesome leader like these peeps I'm learning from!]

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

drive day 3 - here we go!

WOW. this conference has been straight pimp. You can catch up a little HERE and HERE.

Some really amazing stuff yesterday (Tuesday) here @ Drive. PIMP session with Andy + Teaching that Sticks with the "Scrog Dog" (Clay Scroggins) + Memorable Experiences with Joel Thomas. *I'll be sharing takeaways from it all very soon.

& Last night was such a cool time with our whole staff and volunteer team from Ridge - sharing our takeaways with each other, growing, learning from each other, getting better, & dreaming about the future of Ridge.

More coming really soon...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Drive '09 - raw & unfiltered

Here we go. My takeaways from session 1 of Drive '09 as fast as I can type them. I hope they are helpful to you and provoke you to think!

Andy Stanley was bringin' it tonight. Pimp as always.
He talked about Leading in Uncertain Times... & I'm pretty sure those are the kind of times we're in right now! *But actually, the cool thing Andy pointed out is that = "UNCERTAINTY IS PERMANENT." No doubt it will always be around!

**"Uncertainty is why we need leaders. If things were certain, we'd just need peeps to manage the certainty." - haha, great quote. so true.
- Good reminder = the higher up i go in an org. the uncertainty grows exponentially.
- Great leaders step out into the uncertainty & then peeps follow them.

2 things we need in Uncertainty = CLARITY & FLEXIBIITY
1 Clarity - "As leaders we can be uncertain, but we can't afford to be unclear!" (i just need to remember & go back to the vision God gave me & rest there.)
*Be CLEAR about all I know... I can be uncertain about the rest (the how, where, when, etc...) = just say "I don't know, but I am CLEAR on this thing God called us to do in the first place."
- at this point Andy told a few stories that got everyone laughing... about Joshua leading the peeps to cross the Jordan. funny little reenactment. and another thing that got our row of staff & leaders laughing because it was specific to the world of load-in church, but I'll spare you...
**So the Q YOU gotta answer is "what is this vision for YOU?"

2 Flexibility - "Plans change. Visions stay the same." [that quote is straight out of Visioneering that I read a while back and have blogged about MANY times.]
- BUT peeps connect the vision to the plan! they don't separate the 2, so I have to remind them = we might have to abandon the plan, but NOT the vision!
- "It's very dangerous to attach God's name to YOUR plan." oooooh. because if GOD told you to do the plan & then the plan changes... what's up now? But, I have no problem attaching God's name to my God-ordained vision... never the plan though. The crazy successful leader, Sam Walton said, "no decision was ever sacred."
- "Only die on the hill of my vision, not my plans!" - man! every freakin' church leader needs to hear that one... & live by it.
- EVERYBODY is simply more flexible during uncertainty. it's just natural. this took Andy into a pretty hilarious exchange about NOW is the time to cut all the stupid programs your church is doing & then just blame it on the economy... haha. nice. I'd love to see if it works. Because you seriously CAN blame EVERYTHING on the economy.
- "Figure out how to leverage uncertainty for the vision."

- This was so right on for me = "prayer recenters me." it was in context of something bigger & so huge for me to be reminded of tonight.
- Andy is so awesome and really knows how to connect with each individual in the audience. He reminded us all of when we were 1st called to this gig. we signed on when we had NOTHING. so remember that! when we lose ground now, we're still so far ahead of where we were originally. it's all good. don't lose the vision. "Extraordinary clarity comes from letting God take me back to those early days when He 1st gave me the vision." yup.
(Drive '09 rehearsal pic)

*We celebrated communion together at the end. crazy powerful moments... celebrating Jesus dying & coming back to life. pimp.
**I met one of the Global X (cross cultural missions) directors @ North Point tonight. We're hooking up for lunch tomorrow and chillin' in his office. Gonna talk about some of my future in spreading God's fame in the unreached parts of Africa. pretty freakin' stoked about that.

tomorrow is gonna be a good day.

OH! & i almost forgot the QUOTE OF THE NIGHT = "All God's leaders are MAC people!" - Andy Stanley :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Drive '09 baby!

That's right, it's time for Drive again! so stoked. (you can check out my posts from Drive last year HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.)

We're headed to North Point for Drive '09 tomorrow. Only like one of the pimpest conferences in the land! It's gonna be crazy! Really stoked that our staff (minus melissa bailing on us... jk) plus a big group of our volunteer team are going!

There's gonna be TONS of takeaways from the Andy Stanley - so that's what will be on this blog for the next week or so - my takeaways from Drive. You're gonna wanna come back and see them!
I'll probably be tweeting about the conference too if you follow me on twitter.

If you're at Drive too hit me up and let me know. I'll be back home on Thursday a MUCH MUCH better and more energized leader.

Friday, May 1, 2009

the QC (nobody sent me the memo)

I'll start off by saying that I never watch the news or read the Charlotte Observer (our newspaper here in Charlotte).
*In fact [side note story warning] my wife and I used to subscribe to the Observer back when we 1st got married. This kid came by our condo selling subscriptions for like $20 a year to get the paper 7 days a week! & I was like "OK" & handed him a 20. The manager called me the next week saying the kid make a mistake on the price and it should have been like $100 for a year. He wanted to know if I wanted to pay the other $80 & I was like "no." So they let us keep that crazy cheap price for a few years. Then one day I cancelled it. They called me once a week or about a month trying to get me to sign back up offering me cheap prices like only $60 or $70 a year and every time I kept saying "no." Finally one dude asked me "WHY would you turn this down?" I simply replied - "you wanna know why? Here's why, because the ONLY time I touched the paper was when I picked the stack of 10 off the ground to throw them in the trash. Then 1o days later I would do the same thing. We DON'T need it because we DON'T read it!"
They haven't called back.

Anyway, back to the whole point of this post. Because we don't read the paper, watch the news, or listen to the radio really (why would I with 30 gig worth of awesome stuff on my iPod?) we miss a lot of stuff. Like big stories - we have no clue. Seriously. It's pretty crazy how out of it we are on stuff.

That is the preface you need before I ask this question = When did the official name for Charlotte switch from "Charlotte" to "the QC"???
I mean, I know it has always been called the Queen City, but recently no one calls it Charlotte anymore. Everyone is calling it "The QC".

*So, how far behind am I? When did this start? Did YOU get a memo and I missed it?
For the record I do think it's pretty cool. Does this mean we've finally arrived as a big top 10 city or something?