Friday, October 30, 2009

happy birthday Crystal!

Today is the day we celebrate one of the greatest days in history! Lots of people celebrate lots of important days, but October 30, 1983 was a really really important day in my life.

That is the day my wife, the one God knew I was going to marry for thousands of years, was born.

That is the day the most beautiful woman in the world was born. The day the best wife ever was born. I am so blessed to be married to both of those women.

I surprised my wife for her birthday and booked 3 days at a hotel in the mountains near Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway. She's been really wanting to see the leaves changing colors in the mountains and has never been to the Blue Ridge Parkway. So, yesterday we checked in and then drove up and down the parkway just looking at the beauty.

We went to the top of Mount Mitchell - which is appropriate I guess with the same name as us. I learned it is also the highest point east of the Mississippi. Pretty tall.

Yesterday was really cool seeing all this beauty God made - the mountains, the colorful leaves, my wife...
She is as old as me today. We're celebrating all day at some pretty cool places.

I love you, Crystal! Happy Birthday!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

the "I-Heart Revolution" film

This is a quick post from Brad Lomenick who is the Director of Catalyst. You can go straight to his post HERE. I just wanted to post this for you guys because I think this is really awesome. Crystal and I are planning to go see it here in Charlotte.

"My good friend Joel Houston is leading the charge on a great project called The I-Heart Revolution. As part of this project, a feature film will be releasing next Wednesday, November 4 in 500 theaters across the US entitled “We’re All in This Together.” Blogged about this last week. You can buy tickets here.
Hear from Joel regarding the reason behind the film and what he hopes to see as a result of thousands of Churches and leaders unified together."

We're off to the mountains this morning for my wife's birthday! Hopefully I can sneak a blog or 2 in while we're away. Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway in just a couple hours from now.
Still mourning my Yankees losing last night. Confident they'll turn it around tonight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

the man cave!

I love man caves so I think what Mike and Jud is doing is brilliant. I have my very own man cave - complete with ridiculously ugly, non-matching 70s furniture, cheap outdoor carpet, pool table, poker table, foosball table, ping pong table, dart board, and rigged TV... It's a good place to be if you're a man.

When I first read Deadly Viper: Character Assassins Mike and Jud talked about their man cave and I thought it was awesome. Now they are inviting us to hang out with them in their man cave!

I've written about Deadly Viper and all Mike Foster's other initiatives SO MANY times on renown that I couldn't even begin to find them to link to them all! But you can read my review of the book Deadly Viper HERE and HERE. and in one of those posts I included a link to download the audio book for FREE!!!

Click HERE to read Mike's blog about us all being invited to the man cave!

I'm definitely going to be hanging out with them in the Man Cave tonight at 9pm (EST) HERE. It's a simple site to remember =
Starts in less than 4 hours! Talking about ALL the important manly leadership issues!
I remember back in May of '08 when they hosted "The Week of Hot Sex" on their site! It was crazy! I hyped it on my blog HERE. They even put up a summary of the week HERE. It was awesome.
Mike says they are kicking off the 1st 4 weeks of the Man Cave with this "Hot Sex" theme. It is not for the faint of heart, the home school co-op, or anyone who blushes... ever. but it is GOOD stuff that needs to be talked about. And the Man Cave is the perfect environment.

Mike and Jud are gonna have some pretty awesome guests with them too on these Tuesday nights in the Man Cave including the Haggards!
So come hang out in the Man Cave tonight and the next several Tuesday nights. Holla when you get there!

Monday, October 26, 2009

the homeless & ridge

We are a part of something that is so big. We're a part of something that is pretty much the epitome of The Kingdom. I am humbled and stoked beyond what I can explain to be a part of a community... a church that is being The Church... and bringing The Kingdom into the world.

We are a part of something that we hope will become a radical culture of generosity in the people of Ridge Church. We hope it becomes a revolution (it's already revolutionary).
We launched our NOW Project. We want to "Give away a lot of time and money to people who can't pay us back and may never attend Ridge Church... FOR GOD'S GLORY."
(Actually, yesterday when I announced that from stage I'm pretty sure I heard some people cheer... like at a basketball game = "WHOOO!!!"... I could be wrong, but I think that's what I heard.)

We want to give away at least $10,000 to families in our area who can't afford groceries or pay their electric bill, etc... 
We are also going to LOVE and SERVE the homeless in downtown Charlotte. We made bags that say "You are not forgotten" and we're stuffing them with winter survival kit stuff. We'll hand those out to hundreds of homeless peeps downtown. Plus we're feeding lunch to hundreds of homeless people on November 7th.

Our lead pastor - Chris Brown - did a series these past 2 Sundays called NOW. His talk yesterday is one of the best I've ever heard. He challenged us to attempt to "see as God sees." He talked about what John said in 1 John 3:16-18. Pretty strong stuff that I've never heard in church before & I'm betting you haven't either because most pastors wouldn't want to talk about this! Patrick's version of this passage would basically say "How can you say you love God if you're not taking care of the poor?" that's pretty hard core!

It was brilliant too! Chris set us all up with something none of us will soon forget. He "planted" a homeless man at the entrance of our church! so as everyone was pulling into Ridge Church there was a homeless guy standing there with a cardboard sign! pretty brilliant. It was awesome that a few of our Upstreet volunteers were scrounging the hallways for food and bottles of water to give to the guy. He ended up with like $50 in cash by the end of the day.

Chris brought him out on stage at the end of his talk. You should have seen all the heads of spouses and friends turning to talk to each other... "That's the homeless guy we drove past!" It was a crazy moment. Chris interviewed him about how he felt and how people responded.

It was a really amazing day and even more amazing to think that we are part of something... a revolution... that is rocking the world of the poor in our city.
If you've ever read the Bible you know how God sees the poor. I'm praying that we can all see the poor the way God does.

And then maybe when I'm old at least 2 things will be different in our world:
1) There won't be nearly as many poor people living right down the street from Christians.
2) Being radically generous and helping the poor won't seem so revolutionary... it will just be normal.

You can read Chris' thoughts on the NOW Project HERE, HERE, & HERE.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

GOD @ ridge church (from Chris Brown)

(I haven't been able to write here on renown the past 2 days because the Ridge Church staff and peeps from our volunteer leadership teams (about 14 of us total) were at Buckhead Church (North Point campus) in downtown Atlanta for N*Rich. I'll probably blog about it another time. HERE are some thoughts about it you can read now.)

*I've been wanting to post something my lead pastor (Chris Brown) wrote a couple weeks ago. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. We had some really awesome conversations about God & Ridge Church. The kind you don't soon forget. The kind that remind you that this crazy hard thing you're doing is all for the glory of God and therefore totally worth it...
His post is a little window into some of that. He says it better than me.

You can read his full post on his site HERE. OR you can read most of it below:

"I love my job because it is so much more than a job! It's an adventure. We are engaging a movement that began over 2000 years ago. The closer you get to that movement the more radical the adventure becomes.

I have been challenging my staff team to ask and re-ask the question lately "How do we define success?" Is it many people came...enough money to pay the bills and bless people? Is it excellence? Is it great, clean, helpful, content and environments? Is it relevance? Is it dispensing Bible facts? What is success? I may unfold the four or five questions that have become our filter for success later but for now I just want to highlight one that we are chasing after and still working to craft. It is still an evolving process for us:

We are asking the question "Did we invite people to experience the undeniable presence of God?" We are okay if people walk away mentally arguing with the message content from time to time but we aren't okay with people not experiencing the love, power, peace, hope, healing, even conviction that come with the presence of God. But that feels somewhat intangible...right? That's why we say "did we invite..." We can't force this one but we can invite it and create an expectation and anticipation in people."
You should also check out his most recent posts on Project NOW at Ridge Church HERE and always stay up to date HERE. I am so ridiculously stoked about this that I can't even explain it! I will attempt to do so in some soon coming blog posts about it! I can't wait... can't wait to write about it, but even more can't wait to see what God does through us in the lives of the poor for His glory!

Monday, October 19, 2009

need a laugh today?

Tripp & Tyler are hilarious. Visit their website HERE.
Here is a video they made & used it to intro Andy before his 2nd talk at Catalyst 09. ENJOY!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

an iPhone observation

My wife and I were blessed to get new iPhones a little over 1 month ago. It worked out really nicely to where we didn't have to even pay that much for them. And because my beautiful wife gets a really nice discount on the plan... we save about $30-$40 per month on our plan! (Dave would approve.)

Now that I've had my phone for a month I'll share my biggest like and biggest dislike about the iPhone:

*Biggest Like = I can work all the time!

*Biggest Dislike = I can work all the time!

I'm hanging out with the Student Impact peeps at the Corn Maze/ Bonfire/ Haunted Woods for the rest of the night. It's probably gonna be cold. Lots of awesome students connecting with peers & their leaders is gonna be awesome!
My Yankees are playing too unless they got rained out.

*Stoked about officially launching the "NOW Project" tomorrow morning at Ridge Church. You really don't want to miss that!
We're honored to get to be a part of something that will make God really happy and heap some glory on Him.

Friday, October 16, 2009

quotes of the week #13 - Catalyst 09 labs edition

these quotes are from Catalyst '09 Labs - the Wednesday that kicks off Catalyst before most people show up. Totally worth the money! But in case you missed it, here are some of my favorite quotes from the Labs I went to... (You can read my summary of Labs HERE.)

THE #1 quote of Labs:
Character will determine how far we go and whether or not we like ourselves when we get there.” – Mike Foster, author & founder of Ethur, XXX Church, the Junky Car Club, Deadly Viper, etc... [Mike is the man! His session was awesome. He has been gracious enough to interact with me the past couple years, but we finally got to meet in person last Wednesday, so we snapped a pic with Crystal, Mike, & me.)

[speaking about people living in extreme poverty and what the Church's response should be...] “Not on our shift, baby, is this going to be happening.”Alan Hirsch, author with a cool British accent [this guy was AWESOME!]

“If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go with others.” – David Gergen (via Mike Foster)
“Fame is the most toxic and dangerous drug right now.” - Jon Acuff, blogger & author [great guy & also very gracious to me in the past. HILARIOUS blog that YOU should read! It's been linked on my blog since almost the beginning = "Stuff Christians Like". oh, & not to mention, what a stellar quote!]

“There’s 2 reasons for doing everything. A good reason and the real reason.” – Mike Foster

"Sociologically, the middle class is OBSESSED with safety & security! This is the CORE of the middle class.”Alan Hirsch [and that sucks because it's true!]
"The violence that oral cultures experience when print is introduced is NOTHING compared to what happens to us in electronic culture..." - Shane Hipps, pastor and author [this guy is wicked smart. can't wait to blog about his sessions...]  

“It does more justice to gay people to not make them an issue. Make Jesus the issue.” – Bishop John Rucyhana, Bishop of Rwanda [Brilliant… we should know this naturally though.]

**"You will not replace your salary via the mission. Just follow the mission & don’t worry about the salary." Mike Foster [could have easily been the quote of the week!]
[speaking about social justice...] “You can’t make a program out of it. It’s a lifestyle.” – Chris Seay, pastor, author, founder of Advent Conspiracy

[speaking to worship leaders/worship pastors] "If no one is following you throughout the week, you're probably just a good singer." - Aaron Keyes, worship leader

“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”Warren Buffett (via Mike Foster)

“The electronic age has given humanity an ear for an eye.” – Marshall Mcluhan (via Shane Hipps)

“It’s time to put the adventure back in the venture of church.” – Alan Hirsch
"God’s will doesn’t come through 'yes' & 'no' answers… they come through wisdom & the wisdom of God’s Word!" – Mike Foster


Thursday, October 15, 2009

blog action day '09

This is a little break from my Catalyst thoughts. I signed up with these folk at Blog Action Day long ago and today is the day.

Last year it was all about poverty and I was all about that. This past summer it was about social good & I blogged a BIG one HERE.

But today is about climate change & that just doesn't get me going like that other stuff. I'll be totally honest, I really don't know jack about it! I hear about global warming and all that stuff, but I just don't know much and I don't have any time to research it.

I have friends who say it's all a load of crap and the climate is not really changing and people are making it up. Other people say it is the most dangerous thing in the world & they have that awesome movie The Day After Tomorrow to back them up!
*I tend to think it's actually somewhere in the middle of those 2 extremes. Just not sure where. I can't really imagine world leaders making up something like this just for fun & I can't imagine NYC being under water tomorrow from the polar ice caps melting either.

One thing I do know is that no matter how serious climate change is it's not as big a deal as people living in poverty, people dying without clean water, and people who NEED TO KNOW JESUS!

I feel like I may have let the people behind the movement down because I'm not writing a big emotional piece to support stopping global warming! sorry guys. If it really does drastically affect the poor and our global health, etc... then I'm all about us stopping it. I'm just not yet convinced. Next year I hope Blog Action Day is all about loving the poor or providing clean water or stopping malaria or something like that...

So since I'm somewhat ignorant on this topic, I would love for YOU to tell me more about it. I don't feel like I have all that much time to research it, but I would love to learn from your educated opinions.
What are YOUR thoughts?

(Catalyst posts are back tomorrow!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Andy Stanley at Catalyst 09

Andy Stanley is definitely one of my heroes in ministry and in leadership. I have learned so much from him. I've written about that SO MUCH and him "mentoring" me, etc... that I won't even bother linking to them... except for HERE.

Andy's nickname from the Catalyst directors & the whole Catalyst community is "Mr. Catalyst." I think it's appropriate. Catalyst started at North Point. Andy is the only speaker who gets 2 sessions. He always kicks Catalyst off by doing the 1st session and then he always ends the conference by doing the last session. He's the bookend.
*Andy is the greatest practical genius I've ever known. His last talk at Catalyst '09 evidenced that, but this opening talk was a little different... although straight up stellar!  
On Your Mark...

“What man is a man that doesn’t want to make his world better?” – (Orlando Bloom’s character in Kingdom of Heaven, one of Andy's fav movies.) Here were a few thoughts building off of that awesome quote:
-       obviously I wanna say our world was better because I was here. [I want that so bad that my heart explodes inside of me when I simply type those words. That's my heart's desire!]
-       leaders always leave a mark, the question is what kind of mark will leave?
-       I won’t really know the mark I leave until years later.
-       I don’t know the greatest mark I’ll leave yet. Who knows what it will be?

Andy read us the story about Joshua. Context = Joshua is set up to make his mark & be famous… set up for potential to be “big” on his own & not need God anymore.
Joshua 23:8-15 is the end of his life & Joshua 5:13-15 is the actual short story where the angel of God is standing there with a sword & Josh asks him "Are you for us or against us?" And in some translations the angel's reply is "NO". haha! That's awesome. He's really answering "neither. I'm not on either side."

            *It’s as if the angel of God came & said “Josh, I didn’t come to be part of your story or Israel’s story… I came to see if you wanted to be part of God’s story.” THAT is beautiful! And I think that's what God is doing with each one of us!
*This is a question few leaders wrestle with = "am I willing to submit my leadership gift to God & His story?" Joshua decided "he wouldn’t be a leader in authority, but he would be a leader under authority.” He wouldn’t be worried about who was for or against him, but he wrapped his whole identity around who he was for
**And I'm with Joshua. I've wrestled with that question and that's the whole reason I'm still in the "game." nothing to do with my story; it's all about THE story. I've gotta stop worrying about who's for me & just rest in the fact that I'm for Him!

*** “It’s not really about the mark I leave. It’s about being in a position where God can make His mark through me!” "It’s not really about who’s for me, but who I’m for."

"Our mark isn’t worth our life." That was an awesome statement and reminder!

“Living to make my mark is too small a thing to give my life to.” But to be positioned for God to make His mark through me is worth giving my life to. It is absolutely worth it!

When I settle this issue once & for all then I’ll be perfectly positioned for God to do the most extraordinary things through me.
The daily Q = “Whose mark is it gonna be?”
****I want to wake up every day and remind myself that it's all about His mark, His story, His name, His glory, His fame! I want to not be able to possibly care any less about mine.

And that was what we all needed to hear. That is what all of us leaders need to hear weekly and daily! Thanks Andy! Maybe the best talk of the conference!

What do YOU think? 
If you were there was this the best talk of the conference? If you weren't there how were you moved by these words?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rob Bell at Catalyst 09

One of my favorite leaders and communicators is Rob Bell. I think he's the man. Me and Crystal even went to Mars Hill up in Grand Rapids ("the epicentre of progressive culture" as Rob would say) a few years ago to check out what God was doing there.

You've no doubt seen or at least heard of Rob's Noomas. I think they're brilliant and think more and more people should be exposed to them. He's releasing some revolutionary new "noomaesque" stuff that will be totally free soon. More on that in another post.
I've got all his books and love them. You may have read one - Velvet Elvis, Sex God, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, or the most recent Drops Like Stars... which is also the tour Rob is currently on (came through Charlotte just 4 days ago!). (You can buy his books HERE.)
He had a talk prepared that I had actually listened to a couple weeks ago = "The Importance of Beginning in the Beginning." But he scrapped it at the last second feeling a leading to talk about something else. Something from his soul he had never talked about before in public.

Anyway, nuff said for the intro.
He started off his talk with the Q = Is bigger better? Of course we would mentally say “no,” but there’s something deeper that makes us feel differently. (We talked through some of John 6:22-66.)

"That’s not why we do things – because they’re popular. We do them because God’s doing them." Right on!

And I absolutely LOVED this = God won’t say to me “Why weren’t you more like him.” No, He’ll prolly say = “Why weren’t you more like YOU?” We all need to hear that and believe it!

He told us about a take on the 10 commandments that I guess is actually pretty old. It's what the Rabbis used to say... The 1st 9 of the 10 are externally measurable. But the last is different. *The Rabbis say the 1st 9 are commands, but the 10th is a REWARD. If I obey God (the 1st 9) then I won’t want anybody else’s life! (I won't covet.) It’s a reward. My life is just fine. I was fascinated by this thought. I'm not saying I buy into something like that the 1st time I hear it, but that's a pretty good take on it. I think it makes perfect sense.

This was a great and deeply internal searching for me = "Is there ever a deep, residing anxiety in me that I haven’t accomplished enough?" My answer would have to be Absolutely. God wants to set me free from that. Don’t let what I’m building and doing become a burdern/stress on me.
A subset of that question was "Is there any way I’ve been stressed about size?" 

I was struck by this comment Rob made = "There’s a difference in me walking a hard road and carrying a stress-inducing burden. Jesus may give us a hard road, but not a stressful burden…" I thought that was REALLY interesting considering how many pastors and leaders are probably stressed out right now! I think there's a thin line between the 2, but an important one not to cross. What I'm following God to do right now is hard, no doubt, but it shouldn't be constantly stressful for me.
That was the theme throughout the talk.

*Jesus wants to set me free to enjoy the work I’m in right now. And that is very freeing. He kept nailing it with these awesome questions he kept asking me...
"Is there anywhere or any way that I’ve neglected to take care of myself because I think I’m supposed to be going all the time?" [I’m think I’m getting better and better and figuring this out.]
Does my spouse get my very best? Or does she get what’s left over after I’ve given it all to the church. My spouse will be there the whole journey. Better keep my priorities straight.

*"Jesus wants to make sure that peeps like me who are proclaiming a gospel of peace and life are actually experiencing the peace and life of Jesus." profound.
I think it was awesome for many to hear him say "Let them have their more and you just do what God's put in front of you. Be free from the big… that’s good news."

It was an awesome talk! Definitely in my top 2 or 3 of the conference. (And awesome enough for Matt Chandler to say a couple times how good it was. Wonder what his big bro Driscoll would think of that?)
It was all great stuff for me to hear (and I'm guessing for thousands of others too). Thanks for sharing, Rob, and letting this be the first place you talked about it in public. We needed it!

What do YOU think of Rob's stuff?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell at Catalyst 09

You can read my quick summary of Catalyst '09 HERE and other thoughts on Catalyst '09 HERE.
But now is the time where I dive into my thoughts and takeaways from the conference. Speaker by speaker, session by session, and moment by moment. On today's post I'm just going to process the talk from Malcolm Gladwell.

I'll 1st say that I was STOKED when I found out Malcolm was speaking at Catalyst this year! First of all because he has PIMP hair as you can see to the right! (Although he doesn't anymore because he got a freaking haircut! I couldn't believe it. If you have hair like this why would you ever get it cut? I bet Brad Lomenick thought about canceling his invite to speak! haha, jk.)

But also because Malcolm is a pimp in the genius division. He is so wicked smart and brilliant when it comes to many things that are so relevant for every organization. I found out about him when I picked up The Tipping Point off the shelf at Borders after it had become a huge business best seller. I read it back in '07 and it blew me away! One day I will post my review and takeaways from that book. It will be like a week of posts. It is pure genius and should be used by all churches and social movements! It's all about HOW to start pandemics and that's what my life's gonna be all about...

Then around 2 years ago I picked up his 2nd book = Blink. Only I was hard up for cash at the time (so much has changed) and I couldn't afford the $20 hardback, so I was snooping through the "Cheap Crap" section at Borders and found my treasure =the Blink complete and unabridged audiobook for only $4! WHOOO! only it is on cassette tape! haha! no problem for me though, I have a tape deck in my Caddy! great book on the making split-second decisions and "the power of thinking without thinking."

And now Malcolm's latest book is of course another big hit! Outliers just released not long ago, so I haven't had the chance to even think about reading it yet. It's an in depth look at what makes organizations successful.

Gladwell talked to us 13,000 leaders at Catalyst about The Mistakes that Experts/Leaders Make.
He originally was talking in the context of our government and the "experts" that enabled this whole economic meltdown, etc...

Throughout his talk he chronicled a story of a Civil War leader named Hooker who at one point said "God Almighty could not keep us from victory tomorrow." haha, I bet Malcolm can tell a big difference when he tells this story in a religious audience because a big "GASP" went up in the Catalyst crowd!
Basically Hooker had the battle won & Robert E. Lee had NO chance, but Hooker's "overconfidence" blinded him! He was a prison to his own overconfidence and it didn't allow him to see several obvious possibilities. He lost. It was a great story to illustrate the point.

He told us about a psychiatric study that I was FASCINATED by! Basically these trainees had a patient and they were trying to diagnose him. The overseers would give the trainees more & more info about the patient each time, but it didn't seem to matter how much information they had in a difficult case. They pretty much make the same decisions no matter how much more info they have!
But these psych trainees would guess how many questions they would get right each eval... and it would increase every single time as they would get more and more info! BUT the actual amount of correct answers stayed the same! *Only their overconfidence grew! Not their effectiveness.

The technical term is "Miscalibration" = when an expert has overconfidence in his decision. You would think you make better decisions the MORE information you have, but these are mistakes because the experts have TOO much information. [and like Hooker it blinds them to other possibilities!]

I wrote down these 4 insights from Gladwell that I definitely thought were important to remember!
1  Usually we worry about  mistakes of incompetence, but that may be less dangerous because because they have no info. [interesting way of looking at it.]

2  The people who are experts make BIG mistakes because of their overconfidence. So, incompetence is irritating but overconfidence is scary.
3  We kind of like people who are overconfident. We want to hear that overconfidence! Not someone who is unsure.
4  **Overconfidence leads me to make assumptions with tiny bits of facts!

In the story, General Hooker doesn’t prepare for both possible eventualities because he’s trapped in his overconfidence! So he can’t even see changes in the world around him! This is exactly what happened in our financial world with our nation's leaders.

*Bottom line #1 for me = Don’t be a prisoner of my overconfidence because the world around me will be changing and I won’t be able to see it!
*Bottom line #2 for me = **In times of crisis we think we need daring & bold from our leaders, but what we need is humility! [I thought this was great coming from Malcolm.]

Then it was really cool when Andy came up and asked Malcolm some questions more specific to how this fits with ministry (like he did with Jim Collins last year).  Like the questions we all wanted to ask sitting out in the seats...

Q1 = "What are the warning signs for leaders who are overconfident?"
A1 = *When a leader stops listening to those around them! That's a sign we always should be looking for in every leader!
Malcolm's definition of humility = "the willingness to listen to others."

[Interestingly, Gladwell pointed out that arrogance is a subset of overconfidence but not always a part of it.]

Q2 = "Can a leader see this [overconfidence] in the mirror and catch themselves?"
A2 = He thinks he can! Props to the leaders with the balls big enough to admit it. [if we're blinded to it though, we must have peeps around us we'll listen to to point it out to us!] Malcolm said the Iraq war is a perfect example of this.

Q3 = "@hat do you say to the leader who resists accountability & team leadership?"
A3 = In business, the crisis moment is when the original leader/entrepreneur can't do it all on his own anymore. The same things don't work anymore. "Leadership has to become more collective past a certain point." 
("What got you here won't get you there." Like what Malcolm talked about in the Tipping Point = a church of 120 is way different than 180 because an organization fundamentally changes above 150 people.) 

Great stuff from Malcolm Gladwell. The guy is a genius. This is good stuff for all of us leaders to chew on. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

what's in my iPod? - Fee Band: Hope Rising

Finally this series of posts is back! - What's in my iPod? It started HERE, but I have been so busy I haven't done it in MONTHS! (It's basically my reviews of new albums)
& I've skipped reviewing tons of great stuff like the latest from David Crowder Band, Matt Redman, Mute Math, Kings of Leon, Green Day, Hillsong United, Kristian Stanfill and tons of other awesome artists I just haven't had the time to write about.

But I've got to tell you about these jams that have been in my iPod since they released on Tuesday! As I said HERE Steve Fee is one of my favorite worship leaders these days! Just a few years ago he was just leading worship at North Point and now people are singing his songs all over the world! I reviewed another Fee CD in the What's in my iPod? segment HERE.

Hope Rising released from the Fee Band this Tuesday. It's awesome! I had the privilege of worshiping with Fee with about half of these songs before they released, so I knew I was gonna love these songs! They sound awesome and as always I LOVE Fee's lyrics!

My favorite joint has to be the one that is already sweeping the church that I first heard him lead just over 1 year ago at Catalyst 08 = Glory to God Forever. It is becoming one of my favs that we sing @ Ridge too. The chorus is so simple "Glory to God forever."
But my favorite part is definitely the bridge... something wells up in me every time I sing it! Something uncontrollable. It's passion in me. They are the perfect words I want to shout to God. It goes...
Take my life and let it be ALL FOR YOU and for Your glory
Take my life and let it be Yours.

My next favorite song (and very different sounding) is the jammin' Rise and Sing that I first heard in July at Big Stuf and posted about it HERE. It is rockin' fo sho! I love it!
Our God is risen and reigning and we're elevating
the glory of our God and King
so everybody rise and sing!
Whoooaaa whoaaa/ Whoaaaa whoaaa...

If you're alive and you've been redeemed
Rise and sing, rise and sing
If you've been touched by the Mercy King
Rise and sing, rise and sing

Let the redeemed of the Lord sing Hallelujah/ hallelujah!
Let the redeemed of the Lord sing Our God reigns/ Our God reigns!

Another of my favorite on the album was the song we opened our first ever Easter service with back in April - God is Alive. It was powerful that Sunday morning with an amazing video opener from North Point. (Fee has since added a Green Day-esque riff at the beginning that's pretty sweet.) The lyrics go like this:
Let the darkness flee/ it's got no power over me
I have been set free/ God is Alive!
Death where is your sting?/ Sin has got no hold on me
I am free indeed/ God is Alive! 
We've been redeemed, so rise and sing...
Everyone, glorify the risen Son
The Holy One has overcome
Jesus is alive
The enemy is broken underneath His feet
Death is crushed in vicotry
Jesus is alive/ Jesus is alive!

Let us wake and rise
Lift your voices lift your eyes
We're gonna shout we're gonna shake the skies
God is alive!
...The empty grave is singing now and shoutin' out
He is alive, He is alive and we are free!

The thing that each of these songs have in common is that they are SO easy to learn and sing. really catchy. perfect for worship sets at church...  
Even better than that is that these are the words desperately crying out from our hearts to God in worship!

Another song I already loved was one from another North Point worship leader, Eddie Kirkland = Hands of the Healer.
Glory to the King who gave His life
Glory to the Lamb of sacrifice
Beautiful and broken
Holiness and love
Glorious the wounded hands of God

Then you got stuff like the pimp "techno-like" Promised Land that Fee just led at Catalyst this past week. Pretty intense.

Steve himself said his favorite song on the album was the 5th track - Everything Falls. Goes with the whole theme of Hope Rising. It has a really cool sound... I can definitely see it being  they type song to be on all the Christian radio stations before long...I don't mean that to be a diss on the song, because it's really good. Just that kind of popular sound. chill. almost a little hint of an R&B feel.
When everything falls apart Your arms hold me together
When everything falls apart Your the only hope for this heart

When everything falls apart and my strength is gone
I find You mighty and strong
You keep holding on...
*It's a great song.

 I love Send Me Out not so much because of the sound, but because it resonates with my heart:
"Send me out to the world to make You known...
I wanna be Your hands and feet
I wanna be Your voice every time I speak
I wanna run to the ones in need in the name of Jesus
I wanna give my life away all for Your kingdom's sake
Shine a light in the darkest place in the name of Jesus

A couple other new ones that are good are Greatly to be Praised and We Crown You.
I love this 2nd one. There is a girl singing with Steve & it goes:
"King of Kings and God of Praise (We Crown You, We crown You)

Our Redeemer strong to save (We crown You, We crown You)
High and holy lifted up, there is none more worthy Lord
We crown You Lord of all."

& Greatly to be Praised
Who is like You, none compare
There's no one like our God!

Great and greatly to be praised
Name above all other names
Powerful and strong to save
Hallelujah OUR GOD REIGNS!

The other tracks are good too. I just highlighted some of my favorite stuff.

Everything about the CD is awesome... I only wish Steve would have put his "chorus" on here that he has led a lot in the past year or so... He seems to add it into Hillsong United's The Stand. It's an amazing chorus. So awesome and goes like this:
There is no one higher, no one greater 
No one like our God
There is none more able, Christ our Savior
Great and glorious

I love that over and over. Maybe he'll put it together into a whole song some time later.

Steve Fee has such an awesome heart to lead us all in worship. God's hand is on him in writing these awesome songs for the Church! This CD will be in my iPod for a LONG time!
You should buy it HERE 

How about YOU? What are your thoughts on Steve Fee and this CD?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Catalyst 09 - a quick summary

WOW. what an amazing conference these past 3 days.
I really wanted to write about Catalyst here on renown the past 2 nights, but have been completely wiped out with no energy to write.

**I am looking forward to putting my thoughts here on renown from the amazing things I learned at Catalyst this year & the stuff God is doing in me... & I'm looking forward to us interacting and processing it all together! I'll be posting for probably the next 2 weeks about my Catalyst thoughts.

But for now I think I'll just breeze through a summary of the whole conference and give you a taste of what's to come in more detail. I already did that with Catalyst Labs that were on Wednesday... you can read that summary HERE.

Andy Stanley, pastor at NPCC (the church that planted my church), kicked off the conference with a stellar talk that I can't wait to process with you. Hilarious & impacting! He ended the conference with a talk that I have already posted my takeaways on & you can read some of my takeaways on Trust vs. Suspicion HERE.

Then the pimp genius himself Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and most recently Outliers) gave an extremely relevant talk. He's not the greatest communicator in the world, but great content! Then Andy came up & asked him 3 Qs that were specific to our ministry context! you'll want to make sure you read my post on that in a week or 2.

Shane Hipps gave what I thought was a great talk. It was a talk to make you think... it challenged assumptions. It was possibly prophetic in style. I was potentially very catalytic. I think about half the room thought he was a heretic. You can be the judge when i post my thoughts here later...

Then Shane's good friend, a guy you may have never heard of - Rob Bell tore it up! It was awesome (as Rob usually is). Extremely encouraging and timely for most of the 13K of us ministry leaders sitting there.

Superbowl winning future Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy spoke to us about some awesome leadership stuff & then Matt Chandler (always a great communicator) was so entertaining and did a PIMP walk through of "THE Story"... from Genesis to now. It was pimp. He even TWO TIMES mentioned how awesome Rob's talk was (which is interesting since the leader of Chandler's A29 network calls Bell a heretic.) Maybe Matt Chandler is above all that now? Either way, I loved his talk. & can't wait to share...

Thursday night it was a straight up worship time with Aaron Keyes & Francis Chan speaking to us and leading us in communion. awesome!
Oh, and of course the worship throughout the conference was sweet - Steve Fee & his band... leading us in a lot of the awesome songs on their new CD. Plus some other North Point worship leaders like Eddie Kirkland & Chrystina Fincher... Tons of moments that brought us so close to God & lifted Him way up!

Dave Ramsey rocked it Friday morning (as he always does). Pimp notes from that I can't wait to share with you. Priscilla Shirer spoke too in that 1st session & was pretty cool.

Chuck Swindoll received the Catalyst Lifetime Achievement Award & after a hilarious video from his sister he talked to all of us "next gen" leaders about what he learned in the last 50 years of ministry.

And then my fav guy in the whole world spoke - Louie Giglio. Awesome as always. I loved it. great stuff... all about Jesus. He's the main thing. He's the goal.

lots of other guests showed up (like Mac Powell from Third Day and Josh Hamilton) and I'll write about all that. This was just a summary to get you ready.

If you were at Catalyst '09 what was YOUR favorite moment or speaker?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Catalyst Labs

I just want to post a QUICK recap of day 1 of Catalyst - the Labs. The main conference actually starts tomorrow...
In the coming weeks I want to post some more of my thoughts about the Lab sessions I went to today. But for now I'm just posting a quick summary.

Probably the best session I was in all day was with Alan Hirsch. It was awesome! My head is still spinning from his talk. I'll probably write a few blogs JUST from the practical implications of what he presented us with -> some great anthropological and cultural insights.

I also got to hear Mike Foster whose works and organizations I've admired for years and written about and highlighted on this blog countless times. He has been gracious enough to be my online friend for a couple years and write back and forth with me many times, BUT today we got to meet in person. I never knew how crazy TALL he is. here's a pic of me & Crystal with Mike today. (He's so tall).

Shane Hipps also made our brains hurt a little. It was stellar. Looking forward to hearing him more on the main stage tomorrow.

We went to a Church Planting session during dinner and they fed us free pizza. Big thanks to Dave Ferguson at the New Thing Network for hooking us up with that. (I also got to have an extended conversation with Dave and he is SO humble and just a genuinely nice and helpful guy!) Church Planting guru & researcher Ed Stetzer led that panel discussion.

We ended with another panel discussion with Chris Seay, Dave Gibbons, and Bishop of Rwanda John Rucyhana about how the Church can bring justice to it's community.
We also stopped in for some worship with Eddie Kirkland, Christy Nockels, & Aaron Keyes.

Amazing start to this amazing conference! Catalyst '09 may be the best one yet!
I'll be posting way more stuff in the next few days...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

U2 concert tonight!

Seeing U2 live has been on my bucket list. but today I get to cross it off!

Because Crystal and I are going to see U2 tonight! They're on their "360 Tour" going to the biggest stadiums around the world. We're going to see them in the Georgia Dome tonight in the ATL! We bought our tix like 8 months ago. So, we've been looking forward to this for a long time!

I think U2 is Crystal's favorite band and they're definitely in my top 3 of all time... potentially my fav. Although, I've always heard that they are hands down the greatest concert experience ever! I hear it's pretty intense, emotional, and lots of peeps even say it's a worship experience. I guess I'll find out in a few hours.

Hopefully we'll be able to take Crystal's pimp camera in and if so she'll get some sweet pics that I'll definitely post here on renown.

Here's my HOPEFUL set list. These are the songs that I really, really, really want U2 to play tonight. These are my fav songs of U2 that I really want to see live... I'll go home happy if they play these. (I know it's a long shot, but I'll see how close I am) =
One, Pride (In the Name of Love), Stand Up Comedy, Yahweh, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Where the Streets Have No Name, Magnificent, City of Blinding Lights, Breathe, Beautiful Day, If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight, With Or Without You, Vertigo, Mysterious Ways, Desire, Get On Your Boots, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Saints Are Coming, Moment of Surrender, Sweetest Thing...

and I know this 1 is a long shot but it's just that song that Crystal and I belt out in the car together. I don't think it was every really a big hit, but it would be so cool if they do it at the concert = "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of"

That's 21 songs and I know that's probably way too many for them to play (especially since I hear the hottest band in the West - Muse is opening for them) but I'm still hoping.
Even to see them do 2 songs live in concert will be worth the trip. I can't wait.

I'm pretty sure I know what we'll be singing on the road trip to Atlanta...
"You've got to get yourself together - You got stuck in a moment and now you can't get out of it. Don't say that later will be better - now you're stuck in a moment and you can't get out of it."

& probably - "walk out into the street with arms out, got a love you can't defeat, neither down nor out, there's nothing you have that I need, I can breathe...
sing your heart out, sing my heart out. I found grace inside a sound, I found grace and it's all I found... I can breathe..."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Catalyst this week... (happy 10 year anniversary!)

It's that time again... basically my favorite conference on the planet (And my wife's fav too - you can read her original famous quote about Catalyst HERE.)

Catalyst '09 is already here! I can't believe it! It seems like it was just a few weeks ago I was at Catalyst '08. I'm so stoked.
Happy 10 year anniversary to Catalyst! I've been following for about 4 years total now... You can read some of my thoughts about Catalyst from last year HERE.

I'm going to "Labs" again this year after missing out on Labs @ Catalyst '08. Labs always rock & this year we'll get to hear from these awesome peeps at Labs:
Reggie Joiner & Perry Noble in the "Pre-Lab" + peeps like Chris Seay, Shane Hipps, Margaret Feinberg, Andy Crouch, Mark Batterson, Matt Chandler, Alan Hirsch, Ed Stetzer, Nancy Ortberg, Anne Jackson, Matthew Sleeth, Carlos Whittaker, Jeff Shinabarger, and Reggie McNeal.
*Those are just the ones I plan on trying to hit up... there are tons more on top of that. That lineup alone seems good enough to be a "main conference" lineup! But this is just the day before the conference technically starts! That's pretty stellar!

*Here's the "big boys" who are speaking on the main stage. I'm so pumped to learn from these awesome leaders:
Mr. Catalyst himself (who always speaks at the 1st & last session) - Andy Stanley, Louie Giglio (my fav), Malcolm Gladwell (with the pimpest hair! - stoked about hearing this genius!), Rob Bell (one of my favs), Dave Ramsey (they call me a "Ramsey-ite"), Francis Chan, Matt Chandler, & a couple pro sports stars = Tony Dungy & Josh Hamilton! + several other great leaders...

This conference is going to be so pimp. And I'm definitely stoked my wife is coming with me again!
I'm assuming Lanny & Reggie will be hosting again which ALWAYS renews us with tons of laughter!
Steve Fee leading us in worship again too (among many others...). The worship at Catalyst is always an amazing time of renewal & re-energizing! Fee's new CD comes out tomorrow too. (Some recent thoughts on that HERE.)

I'm looking forward to so much about Catalyst this year. I always see SO MANY friends at the conference from around the country. It's a great chance to catch up. I learn SO MUCH & am challenged in unbelievable ways.
I'm really excited this year and thankful that a friend of mine hooked me up with free tickets & again excited that some other friends are gracious enough to hook us up with a free place to stay! So thankful & looking forward to the awesome experience.
(+ Me & Crystal are going to the U2 concert in ATL tomorrow night!!! but more on that tomorrow!)

Did I mention yet that I'm stoked?

I'll definitely be posting as much as I can here on renown while I'm at Catalyst & then all my takeaways after the conference is over too - so look out for all of that! I'll be killing it on Twitter about the conference too + you can follow along with everyone with the hashtag = #Cat09

Also, check out the most recent post on Catalyst's offficial blog = Catalyst Top 10 (Things u need to know for '09) HERE.

So, are YOU gonna be there?