Monday, June 29, 2009

top caddy memories... so far (#2-5)

You can read join the whole Caddy party & catch up on what's going down and the #6-10 of my top 10 memories HERE and HERE. This is a "blog party" honoring my caddy that is 20 years old and passed 200,000 miles!
*(& This picture to the left is NOT how many miles are suddenly on my car... that's just 200,000 miles exactly converted to kilometers. 321,868. Pretty cool! Can YOUR $300 a month car do that?)
Here are my top 5 memories in the Caddy over the last 200k...

#5 - Hurricane Ivan Trip to the Beach. [I think there were actually many hurricane/tropical storm trips to the beach in the caddy while I was in college. Those were the biggest waves for surfing of course.] This story wasn't actually during the hurricane, but a few days AFTER Hurricane Ivan! The pretty famous hurricane that you may remember. The beaches had been "shut down" and even the bridge and roads to the beach... we were dying to go though and determined to find a way to get there. My crazy roommate, Jeff and crazy next door neighbor (and later roommate), Andrew piled into the Caddy with all their beach stuff, stoked to spend a day at the beach... finally. But it took FOREVER! It was usually a 15 minute drive to the beach from campus, but this day it took a couple hours because of all the roads that were closed down + a big wreck. We sat in traffic FOREVER! [Pictured to the left are Jeff, Andrew, and I - the 3 in the middle.]
Of course we got bored. There were COUNTLESS Chinese fire drills that took place while we were inching along... but we put our own twist on them! We would actually leave the car in drive and let it keep rolling!!! the guy driving would hop out to run around the car and complete his Chinese Fire Drill by getting in the back seat... while the other guy who had just been in the back seat would hop in the passenger side, jump across and take the wheel & drive the car for a second until he jumped out... and this same scenario kept going & going... & going. haha. [If you haven't tried this, it's a lot of fun! I wonder if anyone else thought of it 1st? Maybe we should patent it?]
I think Jeff wanted a tan so bad that he got out & started walking beside the car with his shirt off. We made A LOT of fun of him! Then he found something like an OLD reel of video tape. He decided it would be fun to unravel it out the window of my Caddy as we inched along. Then we finally started driving fast as we passed the wreck and there was like a mile of video tape reel out my window flying in the wind like a kite at 60mph. good times for sure.
We made it to the beach and had a great time. We walked right in the back door of some beach houses that were wide open with 8 inches of sand in the living room and no doors or windows. Crazy.

#4 - almost arrested on... "Robert E. Lee Day"? I was driving back to college after Christmas break of our sophomore year. Crystal was already there because she had to be there a week or two early to take a class. But I had ALL her stuff in my Caddy AND all my stuff. (That is 1 cool think I haven't mentioned about the beloved caddy... It has the capacity to fit the entirety of 4 peoples' earthly belongings inside it! It has corners and crevices that would blow your mind where I can fit an inordinate amount of stuff!) Anyway... the car was LOADED with suitcases and bags and boxes of ramen noodles.
At about 2am I got off the exit for Flomaton, Alabama (More people lived in my dorm than in that whole town!) Every student from north of Florida knew this exit... It meant you were ALMOST THERE! It was only 1 hour from the college. The Caddy was tired and so was I. I was ready to get to my dorm room and sleep. As I was getting off the exit to go through Flomaton (Redneckville, USA) apparently I didn't fully stop at the red light when I made my right turn. A cop came speeding up behind me sounding his siren and flashing his lights like he was chasing down OJ. There was road construction on both sides of the road with big orange barrels totally blocking both sides so there was OBVIOUSLY no place for me to pull over. Literally, the only thing I could have done was to stop in the middle of the road. That seemed like a dumb option. So I turned on my turn signal to let the cop know I was pulling over as soon as I could and I slowed down to about 20 mph. About a half mile later I finally was able to pull into a Hardees parking lot.
That redneck cop came out of his car like a big dog chasing a wheelbarrow full of steak... he was cussing at me and yelling something about "don't city boys in blankity cadillacs know what blue blankity flashing lights mean" or something? I told him I did know what blue flashing lights mean, but thought it best to wait until I could actually pull over. Apparently me talking made him even more upset. He yelled something more about "avoiding arrest" being a major crime and not a joking matter... [avoiding arrest?]
He asked for my license and I simply reached into my pocket and handed him the card in the spot in my wallet right where my license always is (without looking at it). He threw it back at me & with a few more expletives about this not being a driver's license... as my student ID card was hitting me in the chest. My driver's license was NOT in my wallet. Then a whole crazy middle of the night ordeal ensued in which he accused me of driving without a valid driver's license (which technically I was, but he accused me of never even having one). He said I had to go to jail for that. He called in the Sheriff of the whole town and a few other cops (probably their whole station) for "backup". They grilled me about all kinds of stuff - like if I was bringing drugs into their town and on and on. The Sheriff was a jerk and really got on my nerves (so much so that a certain Bob Marley song was totally stuck in my head. jk... sort of) and actually believed that I was trying to run away from this cop when he was pulling me over. I said "Like my Caddy could even outrun you." And the cop said "You better believe you woulda been toast boy... this here cop car's got a 454 super sport in it... I coulda whooped your..." and on and on.
The Sheriff insisted on taking me to jail so they could sort all this out in the morning. I was not so into that (I've heard the stories about what goes down in these crazy off the map redneck towns... which was confirmed about these guys later) so I think I told them my license must be in one of the suitcases in the car. They looked in the bulging trunk and backseat full of suitcases and said they didn't feel like watching me going through them all night long. Still trying to make my case I pleaded "I can't go to jail, I have to register for classes tomorrow." And they thought I was lying since the next day was a holiday. I said "A holiday? Oh yeah, Martin Luther King Day." And the Sheriff said, "Nope. Robert E. Lee day!!!" oh wow. My heart started beating crazy fast and my knees shaking a little bit. I told myself "Just get out of here alive before these crazy rednecks pull out their white sheets and lynch you up or something." End of the story is they let me go, but I still had to go to court for driving without a license, "resisting arrest", & running the stupid red light. I did convince the judge that I wasn't resisting arrest in spite of what this fine deputy sheriff thought...
Good times.

#3 - Shake my Moneymaker. The Caddy has honestly been a straight up moneymaker for me! Let me shake it down for ya... A couple weeks before I turned 16 I bought my 1st car - actually it went down like this = My dad went out and found a sweet deal at an auction or something and brought home a pimp Honda Civic si with a sunroof, sweet rims, etc... He was like "What do you think about this for your 1st car?" & I was like "I LOVE it!" & he was like "Great. You owe me $1,100." Pretty good deal. I think I put about $900 more into it fixing it up. (So, $2k total.) I drove it for a year or so and traded straight up for a SHO (which I JUST heard they're bringing back!) & then another year later traded straight up for my beautiful Caddy. So really, I've got about $0 in the Caddy. that's not bad.
Here's the "moneymaker" part = It 1st started in college. There was a colossal hailstorm down there in Florida & I remember seeing some the size of baseballs!!! Crazy. I was telling my dad about it a month or so later on the phone & he was like "You've probably got hail damage on your car." I didn't think so... hadn't noticed any. But he made me go look at it at a certain angle and in the sunlight... sure enough, you could barely see tiny little bumps on the roof and stuff. To this day they're still invisible to the "naked eye." I took it to the insurance place and they cut me a $1,500 check! pocketed that. About a year or 1 & a 1/2 years ago somebody jacked my trunk! Straight nailed it. Still don't know who it was because my car was just in a parking lot and I was worshipping & serving Jesus at Ridge Church... Got paid $850 for that one. & then most recently some joker backed into the front of my car at a gas station next to my seminary. crazy hole in the front of my caddy now! He handed me $700 cash money. word. So my math says that all equals over $3,000 my Caddy has made me!!! I'm $3,000 net profit because I paid nothing for it! That's what I'm talkin' about!! How much $ has your car made you? Oh... that's right... you have a car payment. (haha, just joking, not trying to be mean. Just enjoying the party here.)

#2 - Longest Trip of our Lives. Crystal and I had just finished our freshman year of college. Understatement of the century = "we were READY to get back home to Charlotte!" We planned to leave on that Wednesday of graduation & be OUT at like noon which would put us home around 10pm after the trip & time difference. Because of some stupid things about our college I don't think we got out of there until like 4pm. Already behind. And I was playing that game in my head like most men "OK, we can still make it home by 2am." About an hour out of Pensacola, in a tiny hick town called Century (1 stop light & 1 Burger King in the whole town! same size as Flomaton.) we broke down. The Car just cut off or something and I couldn't even turn the wheel. Thankfully the ONLY mechanic shop in town was about 200 yards down the street. We rolled in & possibly the most redneck guy I've ever met came out and started talking with us. He said our radiator had busted & we needed a new one. Through a miraculous string of events we actually got a radiator! He pulled some strings with the car parts place (back in Pensacola) & a friend of mine picked up the radiator after closing time and drove it an hour all the way out to Century to this little podunk redneck place! This was like the craziest day ever! At some point while we were waiting for 2 hours on the new radiator the mechanic's wife (fully pregnant) came out... oh yeah... forgot to mention - they lived there too! This was like his shop that he owned/house! She came out saying she was in labor and was going to the hospital. She got in the car and drove off. I said to the guy... "don't you need to go to the hospital to see your baby born?!? or be with your wife??" He said, I kid you not, "nah, she'll be alright... I want to get you guys back on the road tonight." WHAT? Are you kidding me? (Later on Crystal informed me that if we ever got married - just fyi - no husband of hers would ever do something like that.)
Anyway, the lady finally showed up with our radiator. A minute or two after she left, the redneck mechanic said (ok, you have to imagine the redneck voice in your head). "You got that lady's phone number?" (me) - "Uh... why?" (him) - "Because it looks like somebody beat this radiator with a baseball bat." oh crap.
He tried to order another one from somewhere, but everything was closed for the night. Our friend (who worked for my "boss" I had worked with during the semester) came back and picked me and Crystal up. She gave us a ride back to Pensacola to my friend/boss' house. He was awesome enough to let us sleep there for the night while our car stayed at the shop in Century. He gave us a ride back to the shop the next morning. Our buddy the mechanic had the new radiator in and we were off by noon I think.
Everything was rolling great until some time later that night (can't remember what time) when we were all the way to Anderson, South Carolina on I-85... less than 2 hours from home! The car broke down again! Same thing happened. I managed to make it off the exit and ALL the lights were out in the area. Everything was closed. We rolled up into a Fireworks place with a HUGE picture of Satan or something on it. Crystal was pretty freaked... haha it was like straight out of a movie or something. SERIOUSLY... you can't make this stuff up!
I called a tow truck and we rode all the way home... the last 100 miles... in a tow truck. It was technically Friday morning when we finally made it back to Charlotte. Longest trip ever. 3 days.
(The radiator busted twice because my original mechanic screwed up my air conditioner thing so that the bolts popped off or something and busted the radiator. not cool.)

If all these memories weren't good enough, there is still 1 more to go! check out my #1 memory TOMORROW!

& If these memories inspire you, just remember that you don't need a phat nice car to have lots of fun and awesome memories! I hope you can feel that at this "blog party"... So, if you're really inspired - sell your car & drop the car payments, buy a clunker, and join the Junky Car Club & use your $ for better things than a car with a butt warmer!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the blog party continues... TOP 10 MEMORIES IN THE CADDY

The "blog party" is continuing today. Rolling on in honor of my 20 year old beautiful Caddy that just passed 200,000 miles & has too many nicknames to include in this post.

If you need to catch up on the party you can read yesterday's post HERE. Now we're going to get right to my top 10 memories of all time in my caddy!

#10 - The Day I Got It. Who knew it would be such a momentous occasion? Who knew that it would be a day that would go down in history? Who knew that day was the start of something so amazing? If I would have known, I would have taken a picture and I could have posted it here for you!
I remember when my dad brought it home and showed it to me - he was a car dealer and was always bringing home a different car every day, so I thought nothing of it. He told me he thought it would be a good car for me. I was like "huh?" "WHAT?" You see, I was 18 and my current car was "sexy." It was a midnight blue SHO. It was the shiznit! 0-100 faster than a passenger could say "Slow down!" Leather racing seats that held you in when going around curves at over 60mph. It even had back massagers in the seats! But it wasn't "practical" I was told. We were having to drop $50 on it every week it seemed for little things & I was about to leave for college, so I needed something more dependable.
I couldn't figure out if it looked like a granny car or a ghetto drug dealer's ride? But I traded my SHO straight up for it that day. I wasn't so sure then, but now I am so happy my dad brought her home that day. and now I have all these memories...

#9 - Emergency Room Breakdown. My roommate at the time (and one of my best friends) Ethan broke his toe or dislocated it or something (whatever it was it was nasty) in our soccer game during our senior year of college. The game ended at 10pm or so & he obviously needed to get to an emergency room. It would take TOO LONG to explain now but our college was crazy sketch about being off campus after 11pm (among like a million other things) so it was a great win that they even let the 5 or 6 of us leave campus for the night... because of course it took 5 or 6 of us to take him to the hospital.
The first option was to all ride in the Caddy - no doubt! Plus I think I had the closest parking spot to our dorm... somehow this ALWAYS worked out, every semester. This could be a whole blog in itself about the way I pulled off some hookups for parking spaces. Anyway, we pulled in the Caddy and got like half a mile down the road... and... it broke down! haha! It was crazy. We couldn't believe it. What timing. We ended up making it back & driving my buddy (& other roommate) Scott's car. It got us to the hospital & they broke his toe back or something in like an hour. Then we went out and "partied" all night at the Steak & Shake. good times.

#8 - Bouncing Balls. I think we did it many times & really this #8 is more of an example to represent what went down with, in, around, on, and in the presence of my car all the time. But I can vividly remember Ethan and me driving somwhere in my Caddy... down Brent Lane in Pensacola, Florida. Maybe we were driving to the beach? I really can't remember where the pimp mobile was taking us this time? Anyway - he grabs a tennis ball, rolls down the passenger window and starts bouncing the ball out the window as I'm driving. This is a 4 lane pretty major highway. Like we were driving 45mph! I think we did it a lot after that because it was pretty fun. I remember us losing a lot of tennis balls playing this game! & we tried it with a basketball too.

#7 - Spinout on 485. I was engaged to my now wife, Crystal. I think we had just graduated from college? Like still in May just 1 week after graduation. It was the 1st night of a sort of internship thing I was doing leading a middle school student ministry at the church I eventually became the children's pastor at a couple months later. We were on our way there from Crystal's house. We were on 485 & getting off the exit to hit 85 South. If you have taken that exit before then you can imagine what happened because it is a NASTY NASTY super curve. It had just rained too. There are big signs that say "SLOW DOWN AROUND THIS CURVE YOU FOOL!" But I didn't slow down enough... obviously. Because we spun around and around... It seems like a bunch of times, but it was probably only once. We spun straight off the road and straight into the tall grass field IN BETWEEN the oncoming traffic of 2 major interstates on both sides of us! Straight up miraculous & God's hand completely protecting us. Oh wow! My heart still beats out of control right now just thinking about that day as I write. Crystal was all cool & chill... I was a little shook up. She still married me. & I vowed to be a safe & cautious driver. (You can ask her how that's going.)

#6 - Wedding Breakdown. The night before our wedding. The rehearsal dinner was over. All the stuff that needed to be done was done. All us guys and girls were heading out from the wedding spot to go have a good time. I had like 6 guys riding with me (maybe more? there were tons of peeps in town staying with me from all over the U.S.). We all got in and I started my car. The thing died right there in the parking lot! It straight up died! Just shut off. It was something bad & I honestly can't remember what it was - something with the engine? It was a big weekend for me... I can't remember all those details. Anyway, like 6 of us guys all hopped in the back of my best friend from high school & groomsman, Chris' truck. (BIG truck). He gave us a lift to the party spot which was like 30 minutes away down major roads. Several more guys who had legitimate rides all thought it looked like fun, so they jumped in the bed of the truck too! Haha, it was a crazy fun night & fun riding all the way across Charlotte in the back of the truck with some of my favorite peeps. All because the Caddy broke down. Kind of odd that my caddy died right before we got married. It was running again by the time we got home from the honeymoon though. Wow... to think that she almost didn't make it into our marriage! That would have been awful.

OK, that's #s 6-10. Stay tuned for my top 5 memories of all time in the caddy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

my caddy hit 200k!!! (top 10 memories & JCC)

This is a BIG BIG celebration!

My car hit 200,000 miles this past Saturday!!! wow. what a momentous occasion.

So, basically the rest of the week here on renown is PARTY WEEK because of my car passing this milestone. I'm really proud of her that she made it this far! that's a lot of miles to drive with 1 car. (I would be interested to know if any of you are driving cars with over 200k on them?)

I mentioned before that she also turned 20 this year. She hit 200k & turned 20 all in the same year, so it's a big year for the Caddy! (Maybe this is kind of like a graduation party?) I bought the car back in 2000 from the original owner who took beautiful care of it. It had 80something thousand miles on it then. It's been an awesome car for me for the past 9 years!

Me & my Caddy are also PROUD MEMBERS of the Junky Car Club! "We live with less so we can give more" (JCC motto). [You can read more about that HERE.] We are "politely" rebelling against our culture that says "I can't give my money to take care of orphans (like Jesus said to do) because I have to pay my car payment!" REALLY? You know you would look silly saying that to Jesus right?
I guess I just think that a car is to get me from here to there, and past that why waste money on it? I am very very proud to drive my junky car that is paid for. My wife and I will never have a car payment. And I am pretty excited to use that money (that would be used to pay for a phat ride) for God’s kingdom purposes in this world. I’m positive that I will never regret this!
For this reason I’m praying that God lets my car keep going past 300,000 miles! How awesome would that be!?! I will keep driving it the rest of my life if it keeps running. I hope God will let the caddy keep running, but if it dies tomorrow I will go pay cash for another junky car for hopefully less than $1,000.

I hope this whole way of life becomes cool in our world! I hope things like the Junky Car Club becomes more popular than owning Hummers and Beamers. Because I think if God’s people rebelled against our crazy culture of consumerism that says you’ve gotta have all this unfulfilling crap – then the Kingdom would start to rock in this world, social justice would win over poverty, and God would become even more famous!
I hope lots of people throw parties when their paid for cars hit 100K, 200K, etc… and that we will all pray that our cars will last so we can use our $ for God’s kingdom.

Along those lines and in honor of this awesome celebration I am going to post my TOP 10 MEMORIES with the Caddy… so far. There is gonna be some funny stuff you will want to read! Some of you might have some memories of the Caddy over the last 9 years – if you do, send them to me ASAP! Maybe they’ll crack into the top 10?
(You're all invited to check the blog tomorrow for #6-10 of my top 10 memories in the Caddy!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

quotes of the week #7

I'm bringing "quotes of the week" back with a vengeance! Remember, this isn't stuff I necessarily read or heard this week... these are just the quotes I choose to share this week. Also read the disclaimer HERE!

*I read & learn so much good stuff that I am making it my goal to try & post "quotes of the week" once a week for at least the next 6 weeks. Let me know if you like that idea or not.

[any of my thoughts & commentary on the quotes are in these bracket things]
As always, I start off with the #1 quote of the week:
God is not glorified when we keep for ourselves (no matter how thankfully) what we ought to be using to alleviate the misery of unevangelized, uneduacated, unmedicated, and unfed millions. The evidence that many professing Christians have been deceived by Western commercialism and materialism is how little we give and how much we own.” – John Piper, pastor & author [some of my thoughts on him HERE. One of the most influential voices in my life over the past 5 years. These words that he speaks with so much passion move me deeply!]

"If you cannot celebrate the success of others it's probably because you are more about you than you are about God." – Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church & author [I love following this guy on Twitter. he brings quotes like this nonstop! His blog is full of awesome stuff too!]

We’ve allowed the way transitions look from the outside to drive our perception of what they must feel like to those going through them on the inside.” – Jim Collins, from Good to Great [I'm almost finished with this book. It's amazing. Can't believe I haven't already read it! This quote comes from the chapter on the Flywheel & is in the context of the media causing great organizations to look like "Overnight success stories"! So relevant for me to hear this. his website has awesome & endless free resources]

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”Albert Einstein (via Jeff Henderson @ Drive 09) [think about that one... pretty awesome thought!]

Every 7 seconds, somewhere in the world a child under age 5 dies of hunger, while Americans throw away 14% of the food we purchase.” / “If you have always had enough food, it can be hard to understand the shouts of those whose stomachs are grumbling from hunger.”Rob Bell, pastor @ Mars Hill & author [wow.]

Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” ~ Charles Spurgeon, old school pastor & author... dead for over 100 years. [I like having "dead mentors." I can't really talk back to them. This quote is hard core!]

**"To Lead Tomorrow, Learn Today"** - John Maxwell, the leadership guru & author [& I desperately want God to use me to be a great leader... therefore I'm learning everyday as much as I can.]

“New prophets are rising up who try to change the FUTURE, not just predict it. There is a movement bubbling up that goes beyond cynicism and celebrates a new way of living, a generation that stops complaining about the church it sees and becomes the church it dreams of.” – Shane Claiborne, author & pimp revolutionary! [we are this generation. let's become the church we're dreaming of!]

“America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior.” – Bill McKibben, author & educator [DANG! that's indicting, but I agree.]

“Your vision has not truly captured your heart until it captures your wallet.”Andy Stanley, lead pastor @ NPCC & author of some of the greatest books [This is so right on! It seems like Jesus said something similar?...]

Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.” - Bono, activist & frontman for the amazing U2 [obviously speaking of the atrocities in Africa. Millions dying simply because they don't have access to clean water. Let's do something about that!]

As always - which quotes do you like & not like?
Which is your favorite quote & why?

Monday, June 22, 2009

hangin' with an old/new friend...

A couple weekends ago I got to hang out with kind of an old friend who has recently become a better friend. So, he's kind of an old/new friend... I'll explain in a minute
Anyway, a couple Fridays ago, Ryan was coming from Dallas to the Charlotte airport. He hung around Charlotte for the day before driving to his next destination.

I actually wrote about him/his blog HERE too if you care to read it.
We have had very similar spiritual journeys but in different ways. We went to the same crazy college and found our ways out of that movement despite a lot of opposition. At the end of our college careers we were both labeled "liberals" by our peers. (he is older than me)
We were "friends" in college but definitely never really hung out a lot. Honestly, we are way better friends now through the awesome world of social media (blogging, twitter, facebook, etc...) Pretty crazy how that works out. We reconnected maybe 1-2 years ago? & now we keep up with each other often.

Anyway, it was definitely cool to hang out & talk live with this old/new friend. We hit up some Cabo Fish Taco in NoDa (one of me & Crystal's fav places to eat) - greatest fish tacos on the planet, even if you don't like fish tacos. & definitely a cool vibe. Later we shot some pool and swapped stories. I think I wasted him in pool. (I can't really remember. Neither of us were really on our game.) & then we hung out at the Starbucks uptown & just talked for a few hours.

It was good times. We have similar stories/journeys & both came from the same place.
*So, the coolest part is that there is no explanation of our past/background that has to go before conversations! It's a given. We both already know exactly what the other's experience was like. Therefore we could jump right to the good stuff. (Unless you went to the same college as us you really have no idea what I'm talking about & have no context for what I'm saying.)
We talked about some pretty intense life stuff. There was a cool honesty & authenticity for sure. He recommended a book that I actually picked up & read a week later by Henri Nouwen -> The Life of the Beloved. Not exactly what I was thinking it would be, but definitely a good read and a spiritually emotional one. (Maybe I'll post some takeaways at some point... along with like 50 other books if I ever get around to it.)

& now I would send you to Ryan's blog, but he has stopped blogging. he's "hibernating" as he calls it. but then of course he jumped back in with another blog post. So... not sure if he's back or hibernating again? Anyway, lots of good stuff on there if you want to scroll back through his past posts. You can see his blog HERE.

as nice as it is to live in a world now where no one knows where I went to college (and even if I tell them they've never heard of it...) - it's always pretty cool to hang out with similar-passioned guys who are from the same place as me... like Ryan (& these guys too).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

you really don't want to miss Ridge tomorrow!

I'm just sayin'... I seriously think you will be sorry if you miss out on this!

We're doing On Location Part 4 - ROAD TRIP!!! It's seriously going to be SO AWESOME! You can listen to the 1st 3 talks HERE in case you missed them.

Our Lead Pastor, Chris Brown, is wrapping up this series tomorrow. Actually, here's what he said about it on his blog: "**I'm making a prediction: This Sunday will be one of the best services we've ever experienced at Ridge Church. You can just hear about it later or experience it first hand. I hope you will choose the latter. See you Sunday.**"

I'm pretty sure that's worth getting up for! I know it's going to be an amazing day as we celebrate God changing peoples' lives through baptism. You'll see some awesome videos and hear the stories of how when people go "on location" in their workplace, God uses them to spread His fame and change lives! And we're celebrating this whole full circle thing tomorrow. You really really want to be there if you can!

(11am @ the Levine Center in Matthews...)

Friday, June 19, 2009

social media is changing the world!

You have to watch this video. It's a TED talk. I wrote a little about TED on Monday & you can read it HERE because I'm not gonna talk more about it now. (There are SO MANY awesome TED talks that I've committed to watching at least 1 every week.)
This is the TED talk I watched this week and I think it's so huge that you have to watch it too! So the video is below. WATCH IT! & then I have my notes, thoughts, & commentary below the video. Let me know your thoughts too.

**Before you watch I'm going to share this final line from the talk that is possibly world-shaking. Especially for all of us with passions similar to mine. This line at the end of the talk seriously made me have butterflies in my stomach and get nervous like before a big game (in a good way!) Like we are on the precipice of something major... something revolutionary.

"ANYBODY who has a message they want to have heard ANYWHERE in the world... the question we all face now is 'How can we make best use of this media? Even though it means changing the way we've always done it.'" [whoa. pretty sure I'm in that category of anybody with a message I want heard anywhere in the world!]

(btw - that talk was from Clay Shirky.)
Here are the best quotes & my thoughts from the talk:

"These tools don't get socially interesting until they get technologically boring." [so it takes a while after they "come out" before they can actually become revolutionary socially.]

"The moment our generation is living through is the largest increase in expressive capability in human history." = wow! big claim!

regarding our historical media landscape (up until end of 20th century) there was a weird asymmetry = "The media that's good at creating conversation is no good at creating groups. And the media that's good at creating groups is no good at creating conversation." [examples like phone (conversation) & TV (groups) -> but neither can really create BOTH.
***UNTIL the internet came along = the perfect medium

PLUS the internet becomes the medium for all the other media!!! (phone, movies, pictures, etc...)

I love this = consumers of this media can also become producers! That's a beautiful thing & an endless discussion right there...

Twitter has become faster than any other news medium! This is changing the way news sources deal with stuff.
[*Maybe me following Twitter so closely gets me off the hook for not watching the news or reading the newspaper?]
& Wow! China shutting down access to Twitter? r u serious?

*** "As recently as last decade most of the media that was available for public consumption was produced by professionals. Those days are over never to return."

Mature use of this social media = "convening not controlling."

**So, I really wanna hear some feedback from you on this talk. I'm jazzed about it. It's got my head spinning in all directions...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I designed the new bud light bottle!

About 1 month ago Crystal and I were strolling through the grocery store and my eyes got BIG as I stopped in the beer section. I know she thought this was weird because she knows I hate beer. I think it tastes like battery acid. In fact, since I was 14 I haven't even had soft drinks... just water... for 12 years! Almost half my life. So, of course beer tastes nasty to me.

But what caught my eye was the new Bud Light bottle. I just stared at it in amazement. I turned to my wife and said "I DESIGNED THAT NEW BUD LIGHT BOTTLE!!!"

Yep, I designed the new Bud Light bottle that just came out recently (pic above). Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say that I "helped" design it. Or maybe even better that I told the Bud Light execs that they should go with this particular bottle. However you word it, I'm pretty confident that I'm a big reason this specific bottle is on the shelf. haha, I'm just sayin'...

Here's how it went down. I do some "consulting" for several market research companies. Anyone can do it really. They pay me "big bucks" to tell them what I think about stuff for 1-2 hours. They called me once about a beer research study. The guy was like "do you like beer?" & I was like "not really." He really needed to meet his quota for 25 year old males and I had already met all the other criteria to qualify for this research study, so he started asking stuff like "do you think you could ever like beer?" & I really wanted the $200 or whatever they were paying, so I was like "yeah... maybe?" (thinking in my head "yeah, whenever you stop making it taste like crap.")

Anyway, turns out they picked me & 5 other 25 year old males from Charlotte. They wanted to get inside a 25 year old guy's head. I still didn't know what the study was about, so I was just hoping I didn't have to drink a bunch of beer because my poker face isn't that good when there's "battery acid" in my mouth.

It turned out that the big guns from Bud Light were watching and listening to our little consulting table through one of those fancy 1 way mirror/windows. A guy talked with us for 2 hours about re-branding the Bud Light bottle. They must have brought in over 30 prototype bottles.

I was by far the most vocal. It was pretty fun actually. I told them which ideas sucked and what they should and shouldn't do. I felt pretty important actually that they were paying me to tell them what they should do. And they were loving it because they were all in their 40s & 50s and wanted to get inside a 25 year old guy's head. I told them that this one stream of designs screams "I'm 25 but wanna be 35 and I will only drink this beer if I'm a banker and wearing a suit at some posh party uptown." They threw that bottle away I think.

Anyway, I feel like my fingerprints are ALL OVER this new bottle! Which, btw, is WAY better than the former BL bottle that you see pictured above.
Here are my specific contributions:
I definitely pushed for the splash of water on the bottle. They pushed against me but I was like "that's so refreshing! & fun." I was in the minority around the table on this, BUT it made it on the final bottle (as you can see), so I guess I won!
I pushed for the "BL" at top on the neck of the bottle, instead of the full "Bud Light." You can see that idea won too.
I told them to go with the lighter blue throughout instead of these deep purples and crazy reds like they were toying with.
I voted for the the swoosh/swerve on the left side.
& I pushed for them to get rid of all the words on the bottle like on the old one. I was like "some dude isn't gonna stand there and read your bottle & decide whether or not to buy it based on what he reads! are you serious? He's just gonna buy what looks cool. LOSE ALL THE WORDS." so, they did.

Anyway, I guess I was a part of something pretty significant that's on the shelves all over the country (& world maybe?) The funny part is that I've never even had a Bud Light, haha. I bet it tastes nasty though.

It was fun & I made $200. Not a bad day's work. And I have a brand new bottle that "I designed" to show for it. Well... that I "helped" design.

What do YOU think of it? What would you have done differently?
you know, so that when the CEO calls me up I can give him some ideas on future design! :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

thoughts on sabbath & furious rest

I love sabbath! (sabbath = basically a day of rest each week.) I have only truly understood it for the past 4 years or so. Louie Giglio and Rob Bell, 2 of my "mentors" helped me to "get" sabbath & dive into the awesome world of practicing it.
Thankfully those 2 men helped me understand and start practicing sabbath just a few months into my marriage. I think it was divine timing! (I had never done it before.)

[*Side note story warning] In fact, I can still vividly remember the exact time when I decided to practice sabbath rest each week. I was driving in my caddy listening to a Rob Bell talk back in '05 after we had just been married. I was in the drive thru line at the McDonald's near our house picking up dinner & his whole thing had been about sabbath & I was like "you know what... I'm gonna do it." One of the best decisions I ever made.

Basically 1 day a week I try to NOT do ANY work. (Like no work for my job). I just chill. I've done that for almost 4 years. Pretty much every Friday is my "sabbath." And it also doubles as date night with my wife, Crystal. I've written about that before HERE.

Because of a super busy schedule & some extra jobs I've taken, I haven't had a sabbath in about 2 weeks. UNTIL TODAY. a Tuesday. And WOW did I need it! (That was the 1st time I've ever gone this long without one since I started.) I can tell that life gets jacked up when I don't get a day of rest each week.
[Today I just went to a late breakfast with my wife @ Sunrise... my fav breakfast joint in Charlotte where I used to go with my dad once a week when I was a kid. Then we did a little grocery shopping. Had some fun at the house. Watched a chick flick she wanted to see & now we're going to sleep. Very spiritual day.]

When I was a little kid I thought sabbath was just a Sunday thing & we weren't supposed to mow the grass or God might strike us dead with a lightning bolt. haha... but the cool part is that God started sabbath as a favor to us.

**Take the whole "God side" out of it even... it's just common sense. You will simply work better, feel better, be happier, function better, be nicer, and enjoy life more! Seriously, try it for like 4 weeks in a row. You will be amazed. You probably won't stop.

Here's some things Louie helped me understand about sabbath:
(the parts below in "quotes" are from him...)
Sabbath is “a day to remember that He is God and we are not. Without Sabbath, we forget who we are and lose sight of who He is.” That's really the heart of it.
I committed to NOT let myself “get to the place where I truly believe the outcome of the story fully depends on me.” Because that would be laughable.

*I don't know about you, but my job NEVER ends. I could work 24/7. Literally ALL the time... and there would still be more to do. I can't leave my work at the office. So when it comes to this sabbath thing for me - there's so much pressure to work on Sabbath because there's SO MUCH to do!

BUT, Louie taught me that sabbath IS RESTING in knowing that "Everything doesn’t hinge on me. If I stop doing my part, the whole world will not fall apart. I am not in control. God made the whole world in six days without any input from me, or my assistance. God doesn’t need me to accomplish His work. I am little. God is huge. I trust Him.” I love it! Sabbath is me getting to heap glory on God through proving/showing my trust in His power & sovereignty.

*When I wake up everyday (after I stumble out of bed) I seriously try to remind myself that I’ve been invited “into an already-in-progress Story in which God was doing just fine long before my little feet ever hit the floor.”
- “Sabbath happens anywhere and everywhere we let go of the controls and lay the cares of our lives at His feet." = that's a pretty simple definition for you.
[most of those quotes are from Louie's pimp book i am not but i know I AM which you can click on to the right & buy it.]

Basically we are all (myself included) arrogant. I guess it can only be our own pride that tricks us into thinking that what happens is pretty much all up to ME. How freaking arrogant is that!??? but we totally act that way don't we!? "I can't take a day off because there's TOO MUCH TO DO!" haha... there's always gonna be too much to do, SO you may as well have a nice relaxing day of rest. :)

Sabbath. It's furious rest. It's a very spiritual thing. And I refuse to trade it for any amount of $ or extra production.

Monday, June 15, 2009

TED Commandments - rules every speaker needs to know

Today I wanted to share with all of you the "TED Commandments" - similar to the TEN Commandments in that there are 10. But not really similar in any other way.

I LOVE checking out what's going down at TED ("TED" = technology, entertainment, design, but is also SO SO much more). I bet you are gonna wanna check them out too if you haven't already. Go HERE to see all the awesome talks!
Rusty actually introduced TED to me a while back with a talk that I posted way back HERE (over a year ago but still way worth watching).

They have some really really good stuff. This isn't just some little thing either... these peeps at TED are LEGIT! no doubt. they're making waves in the world and getting MANY peeps' attention. I first saw this list on Carlos' blog yesterday & went to check it out.

Here's the list... in case you ever get to speak at a TED conference (or just for you to apply elsewhere)...
[Oh and it probably is worth mentioning that I think it's kind of funny that anyone who makes a 10 commandments list thinks it has to be written in king james english... haha]

Ok, for real this time - the list:
1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick
2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before
3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion

4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story

5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy
6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as
thy Success
7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desparate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness
8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good

9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech

10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee

*great great stuff. love to hear some of you interact with it!
obviously I don't think it's all stuff we've gotta follow like certain other commandments, BUT I think following many of these will make me and all of us better communicators. I'm diggin the list.
I'd love to hear what you think of the TED commandments! share your thoughts...

I've got so much I want to write/blog about in the next days & weeks... honestly TOO much. I just need to figure out what to write about 1st & then figure out how in the world I can find the time to sit down and write!?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Drive 09 highlight video

I just saw this Drive '09 highlight video. I thought you all might like to see it.

you can read my takeaways from the AWESOME Drive Conference HERE & HERE & HERE...
+ I'll probably have more takeaways from this conference coming in the days ahead...

Friday, June 12, 2009

my baby hitting 200k

It's coming soon. My car (affectionately known by many different names) is about to hit 200,000 miles! I think right now it's at like 199,617! pretty close.

She turned 20 this year. Almost as old as me! She's been awesome. Paid cash for her when I bought it. Awesome to have never had a car payment. You can read a little about my car philosophy and the amazing Junky Car Club in one of my 1st posts ever = HERE.

**This is just the post to get you ready... the invitation to the party, really. Because there is gonna be a BIG celebration when she hits 200k! It's like someone's 100th birthday party or something.
I'll definitely be writing a blog (or a few even) sharing my top 10 memories in the caddy... I know you can't wait.

gotta run, my wife just made an amazing dinner & some friends are coming in now to enjoy it with us. hope you all have a great weekend. Feel free to share some stories about YOUR car!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

advance 09 quotes from Driscoll - What is the Church?

I talked about Advance 09 and posted some Driscoll takeaways in yesterday's post HERE.
Actually, you can listen to every single talk from Advance 09 HERE! pretty cool. Piper is the man & is so awesome to give away basically everything he's involved with for FREE! (books, talks, content, etc...)
Lots of good stuff at this conference (as you could guess from the guys you see in the pic below). Actually in this post I simply wanted to share some of my favorite quotes from the conference. BUT, as I started typing just Driscoll's quotes from his 1st talk... there's too many to include everyone else's stuff in this post. (More stuff on Driscoll in yesterday's post HERE.) So, this will just be the best quotes from the very 1st talk of the conference = "What is the Church?" - Mark Driscoll
Here we go...
- “Ecclesiology is being redefined by technology.” This is a very cool & good thing – internet, video campuses, etc… This technology has completely changed what our conversations are in regards to the Church.

- He was saying we've gotta be sure about stuff, not just "think" we know... “Some people say 'I think Jesus is God'.” “Well, I think teams shouldn’t have a designated hitter.” haha, so sarcastic but really funny. He's a great communicator.

- Talking about planting a church he said peeps will say “It’ll never work.” Driscoll responds, “Sure it will. Jesus is alive, the Holy Spirit is poured out. The heavy lifting is already done.” I love it!

- His 8th mark of a true church (too many if you ask me... but that's for another day) = "The Church exists to reach the nations. God’s people are supposed to be a going peole/missional people." Right on!

- Too many church people think “information leads to transformation.” but they couldn't be more wrong.

- This was awesome & fits in perfectly with our small groups philosophy at Ridge Church = “You don’t need people who can teach inductive Bible study and fill in blanks for Jesus to lead your groups! Just someone who can cook a meal and ask some questions.” That's Pimp. Great summary of all you need to set up a small group for some authentic community.

- “Preaching is prominent & preeminent. It is the first & most important thing a church does.” He said it’s more important than anything else in the church. Everything in the church comes from this & flows out from this. *holy crap. That’s pretty intense! As much as I love Driscoll and think he's a great communicator & we're definitely on the same team... sometimes he says stuff like this. Where does this come from? he doesn't really back it up. I don't think you can make a statement like this. Why does he feel the need to say this? I've got to disagree with him on this. what do you think?

- This was probably the funniest (& harshest) moment of the conference. “People aren’t inviting people to your church? Probably because you still have Sunday School. Kill your Sunday School." A guy in the crowd said ‘what?’ Driscoll called him out - "Some Baptist guy didn't like that. Hey, I’m sure all 7 people who come to your church love it.” - whoa... ouch. Driscoll made his point and the place erupted in laughter because it was hilarious (but I bet that guy never listens to another word Driscoll says again).

- *“Always learn to distinguish between the Biblical principle and the cultural method!
when principles and methods get confused that’s how cults get started. You don’t even know it’s a cult until you’re drinking some koolaid.” LOL

- “Be careful that you don’t get so creative that you become a heretic. If you can be cool and faithful that’s the best! But if you have to choose, be faithful." great word. [Just for the record I don't think you have to choose.]

- "People will want to change the mission of your church. Those missions may not even be bad, but they’re not primary. And then church becomes something else." Man, sounds identical to many of our staff conversations at Ridge. You gotta fight for the mission!

When I get more $ [a raise], don’t raise my standard of living, but my standard of giving.” - that's freaking pimp. I love it. a little cliche & "cutesy" but I want to commit to live by it and hope everyone else will too.

So, that's all there is from Driscoll. A LOT of good stuff packed in there! I hope you enjoyed it & I hope it made you think! More quotes & takeaways from all the other speakers in the days ahead.

For now, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE? What are YOUR thoughts about some of these quotes from Driscoll?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Driscoll's talk @ Advance 09 (takeaways)

I was with some great friends last week @ the DPAC in Durham for the Advance 09 conference. I posted a little about our time together on Monday... you can read that HERE.
Now for some actual takeaways from the conference. It was basically a typical Acts 29 gig. + Piper who is like their "daddy" anyway. I love Piper too though as you can read about HERE.

So, Piper was there + Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, & Ed Stetzer were probably the biggest guns on the docket. + my friend's pastor from Durham = J.D. Greear & another guy from Vintage 21 in Raleigh (the Jesus video guys) & Eric Mason (crazy funny) + a couple seminary presidents (who I'm sure are great people but were less than impressive).

Today I'm just going to post some takeaways from Driscoll's 2nd talk (better than his 1st one in my opinion). (He & Piper were the only ones to get 2.) & then I'll post some more takeaways later in the week from the rest of the good stuff there @ Advance 09.
I first heard about Driscoll when I read Blue Like Jazz back in '05 & he was mentioned as that title he HATES to be known by... "the cussing pastor." I started following him in '06 when I listened to the whole Vintage Jesus series (12 weeks). It was pimp & probably his best series ever! I personally like to listen to him for my own sake even though he makes a lot of people mad. Anyway, he's the pastor @ Mars Hill Church in Seattle... least churched city in America! Pretty cool since the church now has like 6K peeps coming to 4 or 5 campuses like 15 services per weekend! God's hand is on that place!

Driscoll's 2nd talk was great & convicting for me and I think EVERYONE there! It wasn't typical Driscoll style at all though! No yelling & screaming or many crazy one-liners or cynical comedy or anything like that. It was all about Idolatry. We all know from Louie that EVERYONE is a worshipper. We all worship something. Hopefully it's God, but even if it's not... we're still worshipping. Driscoll agreed & then took it a step further to say that if we're giving the worship that belongs to God to anything else then we are IDOLATERS. agreed.
He said Worship = "Living for the glory of the Creator." Idolatry = "Living for the glory of the creation." any creation.
* "You worship your way into sin and you worship your way out." - think about that one. so true.

Funniest moment of this talk was when he was talkin about some young guys making other people (pastors) their idol... Driscoll said = "It's weird when a 20 year old guy is trying to talk like Piper. & it's even weirder when they try to dress like him." HAHA... that would definitely be messed up. (but I've definitely seen churches who make 20 year old guys do that!)

So, here was the really convicting part. He gave all of us thousands of pastors in the room 11 questions to ask ourselves about 11 different types of idolatry we might be into right now:
1 - Attendance idolatry -> Does your joy change when your attendance does? (or giving?) = "That's idolatry." WOW. ouch.
2 - Gift idolatry -> Do you feel God needs and loves you because you are so smart?
3 - Truth idolatry -> Do you consider yourself BETTER because you have more knowledge? Don't worship truth, worship Jesus! There are lots of peeps today who worship Theology and Jesus is an afterthought. That's freakin' jacked up!
4 - Fruit idolatry -> Do you point to your success as evidence that God loves you?
5 - Tradition idolatry -> Which of your traditions is stopping the progress of the gospel?
6 - Method idolatry -> Do you worship a method as your mediator instead of Jesus?
7 - Office idolatry -> Are you motivated by God's glory or YOUR title/position? Some people want to be called "Pastor" so bad. = "It matters way too much to that guy."
8 - Success idolatry -> Is winning what motivates you at the deepest level? More than God's glory?
9 - Ministry idolatry -> Do you walk with God just so you'll have a good ministry?
10 - Innovative idolatry -> Does it have to be unique? Why do you want to be unique? For your glory or God's?
11 - Leader idolatry -> Who other than Jesus am I imaging? Who do I try to be like?

Obviously many of us need to "repent" after hearing that! "Repentance is not what we preach, it's what we practice." "If you don't repent you're a heretic." & then he said "& some of you are heretics." & then he just walked off the stage! crazy moment.
[Piper actually mocked him in his talk like 30 minutes later... it was HILARIOUS! He said "Now what would Driscoll say here? IDOLATERS!... & then I walk off the stage." & then he pretended to leave, but of course came back. the place was rolling.]

Ok, so wow... crazy list of 11 questions to ask ourselves!

Monday, June 8, 2009

weekend with the Revolutionaries

This weekend was pretty awesome (beginning Thursday actually).

I got to spend a few days with 2 of my best friends in the world = Ethan & Jim. We've been tight for I guess 8 years now... like 1/3 of our lives. I'm privileged to be Ethan's best man this summer... in about 7 weeks actually. (We were together because of a conference we were all at in Durham... which you know I'll be posting my takeaways later this week here on the blog.)The 3 of us are passionate for God to be famous in our world. We have that very similar passion and are bent on changing the world in revolutionary ways. The 3 of us are striving to be revolutionaries in every sense of the word.
SO... this past weekend we had our very 1st "REVOLUTIONARY ROUNDTABLE". That's the pic you see above. We met at James Joyce Irish Pub in downtown Durham. VERY classic place for a revolutionary roundtable... (as you can see from the pic above). I mean seriously, that old time Irish pub is just the epitome of where revolutionary meetings like this must go down! it couldn't be any other way!

A girl at my seminary tonight saw the above pic & said we're like "The Inklings" (Their pub pictured to the right). haha, I don't know about that, but hopefully we will put our own mark on the world before we leave it.

What goes down at one of these Revolutionary Roundtables you ask? Gotta be some good wings 1st of all as we are all hot wing lovers. (both these guys were some of the original "Kooter Browns clan" that I mentioned in an earlier post HERE.) & we definitely had some great talks - about God, doubts, ministry, fears, changing the world, wives, the future for each of us and LIFE. good times!

But we were together for the weekend so it was really a Revolutionary weekend, not just a one night thing.
Oh, and there's ALWAYS lots of laughs when we get together. & lots of crazy stories with wild details. Unfortunately we don't get to hang out as much as we did back in the day or as much as we want to since life has led us to different parts of the country... but when we do get together it's just like old times and we don't miss a beat. From now on when we get to be together for a few days, we'll be strategic about having a little Revolutionary Roundtable.

I think these will continue for years & years. I can seriously see us in like 50 years at an old Irish Pub talking about how God has used us in crazy ways in His Kingdom and to spread His renown. That's what we're all about & I know that's what we'll be all about when our white hair is flowing & we're walking with canes.
Eventually we'll have to come from different continents to hook up for these roundtables... That'll be sweet. I bet the stories we tell then will be even crazier.

*I'm thankful for friends like these guys with identical hearts... Looking forward to revolutionizing this planet along with them. I have a feeling that this first "official" Revolutionary Roundtable might be something that turns out to be quite historic (in our lives anyway)... Looking back 50 years from now I pray that our world will be a different place because of the 3 guys sitting around that table and the God they love.