Monday, August 31, 2009

ridge student ministry launch

I would've blogged about this leading up to the launch, but as you can see I took a "blogging break" since last Tuesday. More like I was crazy busy and had no time to blog about it.

Yesterday we launched our full on student ministry = Student Impact. It's during our 9AM adult worship service, but opens @8:45 for some food & Wii, chill time, etc...

The environment we created looked awesome! We'll put some pics up later.
We started a sweet series called "Rhythm". The house was PACKED! Literally. Not only no more room for students in the environment, but there were peeps in the hallway looking through the doorway + kids sitting behind me in the corner looking at my back while I was up front. You can't even call it "standing room only" because there wasn't any more standing room either. Crazy but awesome.

The foundation are our student small groups that kicked off yesterday as well. We have a group of stud adult Small Group Leaders that love these students & God is going to use over the long haul to do cool stuff in their hearts! These middle school girls grabbed a spot outside to chill & have discussion together...

This is only the beginning, but the start of something revolutionary.

*Pics coming soon of Student Impact stuff + pics of our Upstreet set for this month = LOVE - DJ/Club/dance party/disco ball/KLUV radio with our smooth DJ/MC = B-Love ... looks SWEET!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

quotes of the week #11

Read about the "quotes of the week" series & the disclaimer HERE.

1st we lead off with the #1 Quote of the Week!
“LIVE SIMPLY THAT OTHERS MAY SIMPLY LIVE.” – bumper sticker I saw the other day [this is the philosophy I try to live my whole life by. This might become a secondary life motto for me!]

Fiction has to make sense. Truth does not.”
The International, the movie, said by an old communist General with the IBBC... [I heard that and had to pause the movie! There is so much truth to that statement and so many implications on so many levels! It might be a whole blog article one day!]

HOW we communicate, lead, produce, and facilitate is as important as WHAT we communicate, lead, produce, and facilitate.” – Joel Thomas, North Point Singles Director, @ Drive '09 [churches need to hear way more of that!]

"This is the gospel: God has tossed out the books." - Rob Bell , author & pastor @ Mars Hill Bible Church [from his talk on June 21st]

“Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered./ The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”Solomon, author & King (Proverbs 21:13 & 22:9) [Can't get away from stuff like that in Scripture.]

"As culture changes many of the Questions remain the same, but the Answers don't." - Andy Stanley, pastor @ North Point [man, if we could "GET" that we would be so much more effective!]

“We decided to stop complaining about the church we saw, and we set our hearts on becoming the church we dreamed of.” - Shane Claiborne, ordinary radical [there's a way to live life!]

"All of us want to experience miracles, but we don't want to be in situations that require them. Can't have one without the other." – Mark Batterson, author & pastor @ National Community Church [this is something we can absolutely testify to at Ridge Church.]

“You can’t get too much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” – Jerry West, NBA legend & the guy whose silhouette IS the NBA logo... that's pretty big time! [haha, I can testify to this quote as well]

"If you try to live out biblical NT Christianity, you're gonna face the greatest opposition from the church." - Francis Chan, author & pastor @ Cornerstone [really sad, but seems like it might be true]


Monday, August 24, 2009

awe & joy & hope

most awesome way to start my Monday was singing this song David wrote a long time ago...

"God our Savior,
the HOPE of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,

who formed the mountains by Your power,
having armed Yourself with strength,

who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.

The whole earth is filled with AWE at Your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
You call forth songs of JOY."

- David the songwriter (Psalm 65:5-8)

beautiful. I'm stoked that God, our Savior, is the hope of all the ends of the earth! That's amazing. That's awesome. I am completely filled with awe this morning... God has captured my sense of wonder because of all his amazing wonders. This morning I am singing songs of joy. I can't hold them back.

Friday, August 21, 2009

quotes of the week VIDEO STYLE

quotes of the week were on a break while I was away on vacation, but don't worry... I'm bringing them back in full force next week.

But for this Friday, these are my "quotes of the week"... in this sweet video. (Louie's is my fav)

Hope that was inspiring & encouraging & straight up pumps you up a little.
(That was the intro video for the '08 Orange Conference.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

bad day at work? you GOTTA read this! (or even if you just want to laugh)

I love my job. well, my main job anyway... I've got like 5 & really only like the 1 I'm passionate about! With that said I think I have something that will make your day if you hate your job OR if you had a bad day at work... OR if you are anyone else! Trust me... you want to read this for a good laugh.

"When you have had one of those take-this-job-and-shove-it-days, try this.
On your way home, stop at your pharmacy and go to the section where they have thermometers. You will need to purchase a rectal thermometer made by the Q-tip Company. Be sure that you get this brand. When you get home, lock your doors, draw the drapes, and disconnect the phone so you will not be disturbed during your therapy. Change into something comfortable, such as a sweat suit, and lie down on your bed. Open the package containing the thermometer, remove it, and carefully place it on the bedside table so that it will not become chipped or broken. Take the written material that accompanies the thermometer. As you read, notice in small print this statement: 'Every rectal thermometer made by Q-tip is personally tested.'
Close your eyes. Say out loud five times, 'Thank you, oh thank you, that I do not work in quality control at the Q-tip company."

The source for that is unknown, but it was tucked in the 1st chapter of a book I'm currently reading by Mark Buchanan called The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. (awesome book btw).

I hope that made you laugh! That's good stuff. That's how I look at everything. I'm just an eternal optimist. I exude with positivity. Maybe it's just the way God wired me or maybe the way my dad brought me up - always reminding me to look at situations positively. who knows...
funny stuff though!

Monday, August 17, 2009

back to school - not THESE girls

Right now MILLIONS of kids around the world are getting ready to go back to school this week or next week. All around the world kids are buying backpacks, new cell phones, notebooks, & tons of those #2 pencils. Girls especially love "back to school" time because for many of them it means "new outfits" time! They've gotta have that pair of Meck jeans they've been eying & now they're on sale for only $129.

But there are hundreds... thousands of girls in Africa who don't even get to go back to school this year! (forget all the shopping)... We can fix that though. for only $12.
PLEASE take the time to watch this 2 minute video!

School is a CHANCE for these kids. It's a chance for a different future!
Through Blood:Water Mission YOU can help tons of girls like Jennifer have access to clean water AND get an education!

Maybe it's worth holding off on the Meck jeans & sending a few bucks to make this happen. You can click HERE to check out the "Back to School Campaign" from Blood:Water Mission & donate to help the cause.

Because "OUR" don't have to be the only ones going back to school this year!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

All In? Thoughts from a struggling servant (guest blogger Caleb Jones)

Here it is. The guest blog from Caleb Jones. You can read his intro from yesterday HERE. These are his RAW & HONEST thoughts on ministry & serving... specifically in a local church.
[emphasis below is mine]

All In? Thoughts from a Struggling Servant - by Caleb Jones

What is the point of striving in ministry if you have no help? I know that numbers aren't everything, but I still feel like after so much hard work, it would pay off! I would think that the people in my congregation would get the excitement I have and want to pitch in and help! But I'm absolutely wrong!!! Let me explain....

I graduated from college back in '06 with a Bible degree. I have such a passion for teens and young adults (as well as so many other areas of ministry). When I graduated college, many of my buddies found full time positions in churches while I got a job at GM (which is over on September 30). [Don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful for the job and I was even able to pay off all my debt... But that really doesn't have anything to do with this blog!] There was so much pressure (I felt) of "full time ministry"! Sometimes I feel that I have no clue what ministry is all about even though I know it's serving others and preaching the Gospel!
Well my dreams finally came true... So I thought! I was offered a non-paid, full-time youth pastor position at a church in Flint, MI. Over the course of a year, I had pretty much burned myself out. I was working 70 hours a week for GM, and 35 a week for the church (did I mention it was a non-paid position?). I had just become engaged to my freaking hot wife, when I started working all of these hours. Was this true ministry? I felt like I was doing everything with no help! I only made it 1 year before I resigned! Did I fail? I'm honestly confused about how ministry works in a church.

The church we are in now has been in existence for 4 years. They normally run around 70-80 people every Sunday morning. The pastor and his family are awesome! He is a great pastor and serves his church more than anyone I know!
We have been there for almost a year now and love it! Except we have been pouring our hearts out to the people to get involved! The pastor just finished a series called, "if u want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat!". We have had some good responses but not a lot of action at all! We are basically on our hands and knees begging them to help serve and to get involved, but nothing seems to work! The church has been the same size for about 2 years now!

What do we do? I feel like completely giving up and saying that this ministry is crap, but I know that people have grown in Christ through this ministry! I know that just because a church is big, doesn't make it healthy; and a small church doesn't equal weak! Numbers aren't everything, but it does mean growth! If there were even 30 people who wanted more in life than just a Sunday morning service to attend, I would be thrilled and probably wouldn't be writing this blog, but we literally have 8! That's only 10%!!!!

I'm tired of being a part of a church that's lazy and comfortable! I'm not building myself up, trust me!! The pastor and I brainstorm all the time about how to make it grow and what we (I) need to change so I'm not keeping them from growing!!! We have had long talks about ending it at the end of this year if there is no growth! We are modern in music, style, service, etc. Jesus is our focus and conversation!

So what are your thoughts and ideas? What can we change? what can I do?
Should I leave a church that seems to be never changing?

I bet this scenario is pretty common so I look foward to hearing what works/fails for you! There are too many good struggling pastors out there who need encouragement and advice.

Thanks Patrick for using your blog for the edification of the Kingdom!
- a struggling servant

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

guest blogger intro (Caleb Jones)

Yep, it's time for the next guest blog & today I'm introducing the next (& probably final for a little while) Guest Blogger... One of my really great friends, Caleb Jones.

Caleb has been a great friend of mine since college. Actually he lived in that same SWEET beat up trailer for a while that an earlier guest blogger (Kris Hassanpour) lived in. You can catch up on that story about the trailer park HERE.

I think I first met Caleb when I recruited him Freshman year and he rode with me in my famous Caddy to a network marketing meeting at like Golden Coral or something. I think he didn't join in because the guy I took him to talk to had a nasty mullet. He figured that was unprofessional. (Little did he know that guy was making $20K a month in the business & I ended up paying for my whole college doing it... but whatever.)

Caleb and I have stayed good friends through the years & still hook up often in Charlotte or Detroit (his hometown). In fact, Caleb & his just-over-1-year-bride were at our house just a couple weeks ago!

*Actually, to the right is a picture of Caleb when I asked him to be a guest blogger here on renown. He was so moved and honored and touched that he just broke down and cried uncontrollably.

I was honored to be a groomsman in Caleb & Erin's wedding last year. Great couple and great friends of ours.

Caleb says what's on his mind. He says what's on his heart. Thankfully he never learned to be politically correct or talk "like a pastor should." But whenever we get together you can guarantee that there's gonna be some late nights & some peeps doubled over in laughter.

*Be sure to check out his article that I'll post tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

can we trust the Scriptures? (guest blogger "Winston Smith")

Yesterday I introduced "Winston Smith" to you all. It's a pseudonym of course for a good buddy of mine. You can read the intro HERE. (& I even have a pic of him today like I promised yesterday.) I will also say that "Winston" is one of the smartest dudes I know... and he writes like it, so there is a certain level of HIGHER speech in this blog post than are in most of the ones you might read by me. A lot of you might love this and find it a welcomed break from my usual writing style.

Below is what he has written and I hope you will enjoy it. These are his thoughts he's laying open for us. [emphasis is mine] Read them and interact with them in the comments section.

Dear reader,

My intent over the summer has been to better understand the nature of the Bible and to process my understanding on “paper.” I have done this by reading much and conversing much (with myself and my dad who happens to be a pastor) and praying much. Below is a snippet from my processing. I admit that my views of all things are finite and are set in a “hermeneutical spiral”: a dialectical continuous process where movement of understanding is from thesis to antithesis to synthesis. I do not claim perfect understanding, as I am prone to error, misinterpretation, and finitude. So take what I have written for what it is worth, and any insight you might offer is welcomed; even if you want to call me a hellish child I would be grateful because then at least I will know that I am on the right track.

Here I begin:

I confess with the body of faithful witnesses in the now-times and in past-times that the Scriptures are true, that is, they are trustworthy and authoritative. They will not lead the seeker-of-truth into error because the Scriptures, I believe, are infallible. They are infallible in such a way that the intention and teaching of the biblical authors and editors does not lead one into theological untruth or falsehood, but rather into the way of true life and the true knowledge of the Son of God by the Spirit who gives birth to the regenerative man. So also I confess the Scriptures are divine and human. They are divine because the Spirit of God who, carrying out the will of the Father, administered his all-encompassing supervision over the text so that the witness in the pages are trustworthy testimony to God the Truth. It is this reality that encompasses and energizes the life of all faith and life of all that truly exists.

For the reason that the Bible is also a human book, that is, it has the stamp of humanness on each page, I cannot accept that the Scriptures are an exact replication of the mind of God to the degree that everything the Scriptures teach is without need of judicious interpretation and wise discernment with what has been revealed in the past. God has accommodated himself to the fallible and finite languages, and thus minds of humanity. I, nor anyone else, can say that everything revealed in ancient Scripture is fully and completely understood (even understandable) as to its historicity, namely its precision, actuality, and factuality of past events such as Jonah and the whale. The possibility of the truth of the events recorded in the book of Jonah is valid (assuming your view of nature is not a sort of natural determinism) and must be considered, but the study of ancient literature and its techniques to convey truth in “untrue” stories and human tendency to embellish past events must also be considered. Though, one must also consider the fact that either way the authority of text and the truth of the text do not change if the fulcrum of opinion swings to the non-historical end of its historical factuality and actuality. The motives for the opinion’s swing of the fulcrum must also be considered.

Because the Scriptures are also divine, to the believer and Holy Spirit-convicted hearer and doer of the word the texts are not simply “another-collection-of-religious-sayings” suspect to human doubt and skepticism, though one may in their heart look upon the text with suspicion. No, rather, the believer and Holy Spirit-convicted hearer and doer approaches the text while appropriating a spirit of humility and obedience and faith in the heart, eyes, and ears.

Those words of Scripture being written down by men and inspired by the Spirit of God are of a different kind. The difference, I believe, is that those responsible for penning the text were faithful not only in their place in history, but in their heavenly view of reality. They were faithful to God toward what they knew was real and true as revealed in their own movements of faith upheld by the graces of true faith flowing from the Spirit of God. The inspiration of the authors cannot mean (in my opinion) the authors volition and intellectual capacities were set aside so that the Holy Spirit could “write” the text without consideration of the personality, social conditioning, political and religious allegiances of the authors' places in the historic timetable. Only modern man with his drive for a sort of Cartesian knowledge seeks for certainty in facts, evidences, and data that the Biblical text is true in the sense that it is “precise” and “without error” in all matters to which it speaks, including historical and scientific knowledge.

Modern man rummages the fields of knowledge in this way: “If the Biblical text speaks to scientific scenarios (even indirectly or implicitly), and is found in error, such as a flat earth or a tri-tiered universe, then the entire corpus of texts must be unworthy of authority because it spoke erroneously of one of the most fundamental truths of the nature of the earth and the universe. Surely if the Scriptures are inspired and God knows everything, then God would know the earth was round and he would tell us so.” This is the irrational fruit of a skepticism produced by an unfortunate tree called rationalism. The only purpose this need for certain certitude appears (from my viewpoint) to be the need to remove the most precious component of religious belief, namely faith, and replace it with illusive notions of scientific and/or historic certainty. My intention is not to negate the positive abilities of biblical criticism or historicism, but to negate the modern assumptions that an ancient text (even if it is inspired) must speak to modern epistemological allegiances. Why do we think our rationalism and scientism and historicism must be the judge of eternal truth? The Holy Spirit is capable of employing the errant and finite minds of both author and interpreter of the text and to lead them from error into true testimony about the Creating-Loving-Redeeming-Retributive God. God accommodates our finitude and fallibility.

Here I end.

There is more. Hope you learned something and gained a better perspective of what it means to trust the authority of the Bible.

What do you think about what "Winston" wrote about the Scriptures?


Monday, August 10, 2009

guest blogger intro (pseudonym)

If you remember it is "Guest Blog Week" here on renown. There were 2 awesome posts with Kris Hassanpour's thoughts on the gospel which you can read HERE and HERE.

Today I am very proud and honored to introduce you to a good friend of mine who happens to be brilliant. His name is... well... he actually requested that I not use his name. He'll be an anonymous guest blogger.

So, I'm giving him a pseudonym. We'll call this friend of mine "Winston Smith".
A pseudonym is simply a fictitious name authors sometimes use. I learned about this when I was a teenager reading & devouring everything I could get my hands on from my favorite author = Stephen King. I was reading up all his books & then I discovered Richard Bachman. He was King's pseudonym. He even had a pic, a wife, and King wrote several books with his name to throw people off the trail. but of course he didn't really exist. he was fictitious. pretty cool. Maybe tomorrow I'll have a pic for Winston Smith?

I don't even want to say how I know this friend out of respect for his anonymity. I will say that I have known him for several years, but have become much better friends in the last couple years. We have similar thoughts on many things & love to talk about God & life, etc... when we get the chance.

I love to read this guy's thoughts as often as he writes, so now it's my privilege to have you read his thoughts as well. The next blog post will be his & it's his "Thoughts on Scripture." I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

missing Ridge (but swimming with dolphins)

That's right. I am missing Ridge Church today for only the 2nd time... EVER. For only the 2nd time since we launched this baby almost 2 years ago. (Really less than 1 year ago since we launched every Sunday morning.)

It feels kind of weird. Not being at Ridge this morning. I want to be there. I wish I were gonna be there. We're opening with a killer cover that I pitched to Rusty a while back. I told him it would be money to go with this talk in our "5 Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith" series. I don't think I'm spoiling anything because probably no one will read this before the band rocks it in a few hours morning (or if you do read it then maybe it will encourage you to show up and check it out @ 11AM...) - So, the opener is Typical by the one & only Mute Math! So bummed I'll miss it. I'm singing along though... ("cuz I KNOW THERE'S got to be another level, SOME WHERE closer to the other side AND I'M feelin' like it's now or never... CAN I BREAK THE SPELL... of the typical?")

& The Upstreet team is presenting something pretty cool tomorrow to all the k-5th grade kids... how to enter into a relationship with Jesus. it will be an awesome day. Wish I could be there. + only 2 more weeks until we kick off our brand new student service...

BUT, lots of wise men have told me that you can't truly have a vacation & a relaxing sabbath that will recharge you emotionally, physically, & spiritually unless you're totally away from your work... including not being there on Sunday.

So, I think I've succeeded pretty well in not working since we've been here on Seabrook. I miss Ridge today & I feel a little out of place not being there, but I'm confident everything will go down awesomely with the amazing volunteer team, so I won't have any worries.
I definitely enjoyed sleeping in & not getting up @ 5am!

We have been out to the beach here @ Seabrook almost every day! And every day we've been to the beach we've seen dolphins! It's been pretty awesome.

In fact, one day (all my days run together here, so I can't really remember which day) I SWAM WITH 2 DOLPHINS FOR ABOUT A HALF HOUR!!! It was unbelievable, so I don't even expect you to believe me. I wish we had the camera on the beach that day.
Crystal and I were walking romantically along the beach & she saw 2 of them kind of playing swimming along the shoreline. They were going about the same speed as us, so we walked and watched them for about 10 minutes. They were SO CLOSE to the shore! So Crystal was like, "why don't you go out there and try to touch one?" & I was like "OK."
I swam with them for a LONG time. I was crazy tired by the time we got back to the villa! I didn't actually get to touch one, but they were swimming all around me & I was close enough to touch them a few times. 2 times one of them almost SMACKED ME IN THE FACE WITH ITS TAIL!!! Not to be mean, it was just playing & doing flips, etc... It was wild. It was so close that it splashed water all over me those 2 times it did that! Really really fun.

We love Seabrook. It's so beautiful & secluded. Hardly anyone here. We basically have the beach & pool to ourselves. Awesome villa with a beautiful view off the deck. While spending time with Jesus out there on the deck I've also been reading Richard Foster's Devotional Classics from Renovare, which has sweet excerpts from about 100 famous dead guys from all eras.

I've actually been able to read a good bit too. Almost finished with Think Orange by Reggie Joiner. It is THE manifesto for Family Ministry. (Almost 300 pages & brand new.) I highly recommend it & it is definitely causing me to do a lot of rethinking about our family ministries @ Ridge.
+ Crystal is trying to suck me into this whole Harry Potter phenomenon, so I'm like 100 pages into the 1st book. Seriously, this lady is a pretty amazing author!
For some light reading (lol) on the beach I've been into Karl Barth's Humanity of God.

So Seabrook is the perfect balance because of all I just said above with the seclusion & the beauty & the swimming with wild dolphins, BUT Charleston is just 30 minutes aways with tons of stuff going down there. We didn't leave downtown last night til around 1AM. good times. good restaurants. pretty cool place.
So, this vacation spot kind of has the best of both worlds.

And I'm enjoying this relaxing sabbath with my wife for a few more days... peace!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thoughts on the Gospel: Part 2 (Guest Blogger - Kris Hassanpour)

You need to read part 1 HERE 1st!
You can also read my intro of Kris (this guest blogger author) HERE.

OK, now for Part 2 of Kris' thoughts on the Gospel... [emphasis is mine]

**a work in progress**

The gospel is the message of reconciliation for all people and of all things to God though Christ (2 Cor 5:19).

Some Points to Consider:
The typical version of the gospel previously mentioned has not completely failed the church. It has produced a realization of the truth for many and in many cases it has presented itself in the form of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. For that, I am grateful since I became a follower of Christ through a similar presentation of the gospel.
I might only urge that, along with the presentation of sin-wrath-cross-heaven, we include God's intention to restore all things to their original intention. This means that a re-worked presentation of the gospel might actually start with creation and end at restoration (new heaven and new earth) and include the themes of sin-wrath-cross-heaven. Even teaching that one can go to heaven when he dies fails to mention that there remains a renewal of their body and life on earth. Believers who die are ushered into the presence of the Lord; however, they are also awaiting the day when all things will be restored - including their former bodies and their former life on earth. Both of these things (our bodies and our earthly existence) are not destroyed but renewed. Salvation is not being rescued from these things but the beginning of God's work in renewing them! We should not view either of these things as insignificant. We are obligated to take care of our bodies in a way consistent with temple of God imagery in scripture; and, we are obligated to create a community of faith within the community at large in a way that is consistent with God's initial plan for mankind in the Garden of Eden and man's reflection of the Tri-unity of God (unity in diversity). Ordinary life in thankfulness to God having received Jesus Christ as King is extremely glorifying to God.

Going to heaven when we die isn't our final resting place. God will ultimately renew our bodies and restore the earth to its original sinless, deathless condition. We will once again inhabit the new heavens and the new earth in our new bodies. In other words, we should not view life on earth as meaningless or insignificant or even temporary. It is a reflection of what our future lives will be like on the new earth (what life will be like "in heaven", as though we will live forever outside of our bodies and outside of the earthly realm). We are joined with God in his mission to renew much more than the human soul. Once we are saved, we are expected to recreate the kind of community that was intended in the first place (garden of Eden) through the church. This is is the purpose of the gospel and mission of the church.

1) God was happy to create the world and everything was very good.
2) Man was given responsibilities that pertain to ordinary life - work, care for animals, care for the land, care for wife, care for God's command, etc. Man was also expected to live in relationship with God and in harmony with each other (reflecting the unity in plurality of the Tri-unity of God).
3) Because of sin, death/corruption entered into the world; and consequently, sin and death are passed from Adam and Eve down to every man and woman.
4) The sin, death, injustice, evil, apathy, inconsideration of others, etc. that we see in our world is a result of the Fall. Ultimately, sin is any deviation from man's initial responsibilities in the Garden and is the disfiguration of God's image in us (e.g., from community to individualism). It is precisely what Paul refers to as the corruption we see in nature and mankind. This disobedience/rebellion of man has resulted in God's rejection/wrath in this life and the next when we face him for judgment.
5) But God has been progressively revealing himself and his plan to recreate and renew all things. His final and truest revelation/representation of Himself is Jesus Christ (the very image of God). Jesus Christ is God in human form. He represents not only the saving of our souls in his death and resurrection, but the value of ordinary life by his life of righteousness among us before his 3-year stint in ministry. His perfect life, his death, and his resurrection provide for us the satisfaction of God's wrath and the reconciliation of God himself.
6) Faith in Jesus Christ places us in favorable standing with God through Jesus Christ and teaches us the way of life that best glorifies God - an ordinary one, in dependence upon him with thanksgiving and in community with others in unity. Teaching others this way of life is making disciples (which is what Christ actually commissioned us to do) and churches are formed as any number of these disciples gather for worship.

***Those are Kris' raw thoughts. & we would love to know what you think. Remember, these thoughts are a "work in progress" & I know he would love the discussion!



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thoughts on the Gospel (guest blogger – Kris Hassanpour)

As you can read HERE guest bloggers will be posting some awesome thoughts for you to read here on renown while I’m away on vacation! You can read my intro for Kris Hassanpour (today’s author) HERE. He also made renown’s 2nd ever “Quotes of the Week”. You can read that HERE.

***[This article will be published in 2 parts. Today is part 1 & tomorrow will be part 2. Everything below is Kris’ writing. only the emphasis below is mine.]

The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4).
Are you 100% sure that you will go to heaven when you die? Well the Bible says you can know for sure! Would you like for me to show you?
You will face a judgment after you die.
You will not fare well at this judgment because you are a sinner.
God's wrath will punish all sinners and they will go to Hell.
BUT, God has already punished Jesus Christ for your sins.
Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day.
God will accept you into heaven on the basis of your faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If you do not want to go to Hell when you die, but want to go to Heaven when you die:
1) Admit to God (agree with him) that you are a sinner.
2) Believe that Jesus Christ died in your place for your sins.
3) Confess Jesus as your Savior to God in prayer.

Some Points to Consider:
In this model, the gospel and salvation focus on the next life (after you die) and our final destination (Heaven or Hell). No one will argue that our final destination is a minor issue; however, this "plan of salvation" initially fails to mention the significance of the gospel in this life and its effects on this world. Also, in an almost Gnostic sense, this kind of dualism pictures our bodies and this wicked world as the place where evil resides and only the spirit can be redeemed. Thus, you might typically hear statements reflecting disinterest in the physical needs or injustices of the world and an interest only in the soul of man or only in "spiritual" matters.

This version of the gospel shapes theology as well as worldview in many ways. Several examples might be:
1) The gospel message of salvation pertains to one's eternal destination - whether he goes to Heaven or Hell when he dies - not necessarily focused on this present world and his relationship to its restoration/renewal. A common understanding is that after salvation our relationship with the world will become strained at best and life-transformation generally refers to our disassociation with the world... Cultural renewal, social justice, artistic creativity and ways that humans engage each other or engage society as a whole are secondary to pursuing the spiritual good, which of course is the saving of their souls and the consequent rejection of all they once enjoyed along with everyone with whom they enjoyed it. They pride themselves in no longer hanging out in the places they used to hang out in and in no longer hanging out with the people they used to hang out with... Neither of which are what the gospel calls us to do. Right doctrine with Wrong action probably means that this understanding of the Right doctrine is inadequate in some way. I might suggest it lacks the balance given in scripture to proclaim the message along with living it out in the context of community.

2) The gospel message of salvation pertains to our spiritual existence not our physical existence. Since the bodies we live in are tainted with sin and will not entirely be renewed until Christ returns for us, some have taken this to mean that our physical existence is only useful or glorifying to God when it takes on spiritual significance. Meals, vacations, sports, movies, music, home lawn care, washing your vehicles, buying a jet-ski are all considered a waste of time if no spiritual significance is given them, i.e., coupled with a bible study, used as a venue to pass out tracts, “Christian” music, “Christian” coffee houses, “Christian” martial arts, etc.

3) The scriptures indicate that the same gospel that saves us is the one by which we live. That being the case, it is possible to be saved by hearing a gospel that focuses on what happens after death and consequently view this life as a spring board into eternity - what really matters. The philosophy is that since the things of this world will be burned up, we should invest very little energy into our culture, society, hobbies, interests, occupations, families, water for thirsty children in Africa, and other seemingly trivial or temporary pursuits. We somehow imagine our heavenly existence to be quite different than our earthly experience, and as a result we place little to no value on temporary needs of others and pretend that it is possible to meet their spiritual needs without them. It is possible to lead them through the gospel presentation outlined above and get them to agree with you, but not possible to show them the true nature of God in Christ without both the proclamational and missional aspects of the gospel. How will they really understand that God wants a relationship with them? Not when we offer them a tidy presentation of the gospel and leave when they are uninterested. If God wants a relationship with them, then so must we (we are his ambassadors. what they know of God is what they see in us). The gospel message of love, hope, forgiveness and acceptance are all found in the expression of the gospel lived out in the context of our neighborhoods and marketplaces. We proclaim the gospel message to those with whom we live and we live as missionaries among them building relationships and sharing the gospel until a community of faith is built around us. This community we may appropriately and biblically refer to as a church.

- by Kris Hassanpour


Obviously, Part 1 is the 1st side of Kris’ thoughts… our former incomplete view of the gospel. Make sure you check in tomorrow to read Part 2 and what Kris will propose as a more proper view of the gospel.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


4 years ago today I married my beautiful bride, Crystal. I can't believe it's been 4 years already! They have been an awesome 4 years together.

Going downtown Charleston tonight to celebrate & have a nice dinner... maybe a sunset cruise later in the week.

Thanks Crystal for being the best wife I can ever imagine and for being my best friend. I fall more in love with you all the time. I love spending my life with you. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY babygirl... I love you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

1st guest blogger intro

As I said in the last post HERE I will be on vacation in Seabrook Island for 10 days celebrating 4 years of marriage with my beautiful bride! Therefore I've got guest bloggers lined up each day.

The 1st post will be by a good friend of mine = Kris Hassanpour. Kris is awesome and loves having some crazy fun. He lived in a sweet trailer park when I was in college in Florida and I can remember hanging out over there with some other friends living the life. Actually it was really good times after Hurricane Ivan when his whole trailer park flooded and his stuff was floating down the road like a river! I remember sneaking over there after curfew to watch Saw (the 1st one) & stuff like that...

He's married to Joanne and they have a son named Braylon.

Kris recently got his Master's degree in theology from seminary & he lives & works in Virginia Beach. He is fluent in sign language & does some sweet work with that + ministers with an Acts 29 church plant in that VA Beach area.

Kris & I have bonded because we both have the same passion for God's fame to be spread to everyone and everywhere. We've had some really awesome talks over the past few years about life and ministry. I count him as a great friend & I look forward to you reading his stuff.

*Disclaimer for ALL guest blogs = my disclaimer could really be the same as for my "Quotes of the Week" series. (You can read that disclaimer HERE.)
The disclaimer is that I support all of these guest bloggers that will be appearing here on renown over the next 10 days & we're totally on the same team! but that doesn't mean I necessarily agree with them in everything. In fact, I DO NOT agree with these guys about everything. That'd be weird if I did. In fact, I may not agree with everything they write in their guest blogs... but I'm posting it anyway because I think they're worthy to be read.

So, read them, enjoy them, disagree with them, comment on them... let's start some conversation about them! They're going to be awesome & I would love for us all to discuss them together!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

vacation! (sabbath, loving my wife, reading, Jesus, surfing)

Maybe that title doesn't completely make sense to you? Not to me. I am going on VACATION tomorrow!!! my heart is racing just thinking about it.

I will be the first to admit that I have been running at an unsustainable pace lately! A few weeks of 18 hour + work days and mix in a week of camp with teenagers + a few weddings & bachelor parties with NO SLEEP for 3 days = will really wear you out. Plus working 5 jobs at one time (& only 1 that you're truly passionate about) doesn't help create sustainable paces either. But I knew it was only for a season. I worked hard & after working for 5-6 more hours tonight & then tomorrow morning's staff meeting we are off to vacation. And I don't feel 1 bit guilty for going away for 10 days! I've worked hard to be able to enjoy it (spelled = "not work while on vacation") and I'm gonna. I work hard & I play hard... & I rest hard. I'm going to have a true 10 day sabbath.

I'm going to turn my phone off and not answer emails or even read them (unless I happen to feel like it). We're going to Seabrook Island, a really beautiful and secluded place. It's fairly exclusive and a place that's much too expensive for us to stay... but I've been playing some "hardball dave ramsey negotiating" & landed a place for just under half the usual rent price! I love Seabrook. It's amazing.

The subtitle for this blog (the part in parentheses) is basically my only agenda for this vacation.
Sabbath - REST. Relax. Renew. Sleep in. Sleep more than 5 hours per night! don't work. [If you care to read any of my more spiritual thoughts on Sabbath (furious rest) just click HERE.]
Love my wife - I'm gonna be a crazy awesome & romantic husband the next 10 days. I'm gonna rock my wife's world. I'm gonna be the husband I should be all the time, but have sucked at the last few weeks because of my stupid unsustainable pace. This week is our 4th anniversary (august 5th!) & I'm gonna make it an amazing week for her!
Reading - that's vacation for me. It's one of my fav things to do. No pressure, just reading to learn... it's for fun for me. I'll probably take at least 25 books. That's just the way I roll. I won't read them all of course. I'll actually probably type a lot of notes from some recently read books. *You can see all the books I've read recently and the ones I'm currently reading (& probably taking on vacation) over the the right side of this site.
Jesus - The ocean is probably the most "spiritually connecting" environment in the world for me. I could sit out on the sand and just stare at God's glorious ocean for hours. I like to do it in the evening when it's cool & not many people are around because I like to sing and worship God at the top of my lungs. I raise my hands and pump my fists and dance. Sometimes when people are around they stay far away. So I prefer no one to be around for their sake. I could care less honestly. Sometimes the charismatic in me comes out and I get really crazy for Jesus. I'm begging Jesus to fill me up these 10 days... for another year of loving Him, my wife, and people. I'll journal a lot & talk to him a lot. And He'll talk back to me. Audibly would be really cool!
Surfing - Yep. taking my board back to the beach for the 1st time in many years... maybe the 1st time since my knee surgeries? Even though it's the east coast I've just gotta get back out there... Now I've just gotta figure out how to fit the surf board in our Ford Focus along with 2 borrowed bikes!

Anyway, that was a little explanation of the full title. I already told you I will NOT be working the next 10 days. I've got another 6 hours or so to put in tonight and I'll wrap everything up. Then a short staff meeting & I'm out. (This will be only the 2nd Sunday ever I will be missing in Ridge Church's history! The 1st was about 18 months ago. I'll miss it, but they will rock on without me.) Another website I write articles for daily for money - I won't be writing for either... I wrote them all ahead of time for 10 days. I'm even not planning to write here on renown for the 10 days I'm gone!
***And this is where the good part for you comes in! = GUEST BLOGGERS BABY!!!

Yep, I've got some awesome guest bloggers who have written some awesome stuff for renown & for your enjoyment. I'm setting up their articles to post automatically throughout our vacation for your reading, entertainment, intellectual, conversational enjoyment! So, read them and leave LOTS of comments. Get some discussion going about what they've written. They have all warned me that what they wrote will be CONTROVERSIAL! & I know you all love that kind of stuff.

the day before each of their guest blogs appear, I will post a short intro/bio of each guest blogger to help you get to know them better!. All of these guys are great friends of mine & have been encouraging to me & great people in my life... so I hope their articles are great for your life too.

So even though I'm on vacation you are going to want to check in here at renown each day. In fact, my number of daily readers will probably go up because what these guys have to say is probably way better, deeper, smarter, and "more spiritual" than my mumbo jumbo... I hope you all enjoy! I know I'll enjoy my vacation!