Friday, December 31, 2010

top 10 books of 2010

Here is a simple list of my top 10 books i read in 2010. i won't say anything about them because i already gave short little reviews of all of them HERE and HERE.

we'll start with the 10th best and move down to my #1 book of the year. (This time i'll include subtitles and pics.)

#10 - The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations
Dan Kimball

#9 - Developing the Leaders Around You: How to Help Others Reach Their Full Potential
John Maxwell

#8 - The Poor Will Be Glad: Joining the Revolution to Lift the World Out of Poverty
Peter Greer and Phil Smith

#7 - Outliers: The Story of Success
Malcolm Gladwell

#6 - The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
Lesslie Newbigin

#5 - The Last Lecture
Randy Pausch

#4 - A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions that are Transforming the Faith
Brian Mclaren

#3 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
J.K. Rowling

#2 - Kite Runner
Khaled Housseni

#1 - Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Dan and Chip Heath

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

50 books (the 2nd 25)

i recently posted the 1st 25 of the 50 books i read this year. You can read that HERE. Today's post is a quick review of each of the last 25 books i read this year.
i also give them a 1-5 star rating after the author's name (5 stars being the best, of course).

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling     *****
My 2nd step into the world of Harry Potter. I think the 1st book was better, but this has still got to be the best fiction ever written. Absolutely amazing. I lose myself in another world every time I dive in and I can’t rip myself away from this book.

(Re)Understanding Prayer – Kyle Lake     ****
Kyle died in a 2005 baptism accident and I’ve heard from so many people that he was an such a unique guy! I learned a lot about prayer from this book. Kyle was one authentic and transparent pastor.

Developing the Leaders Around You – John Maxwell     ****
This had the practicality of and usefulness of a business school text book but was also easy to read. Excellent must read for anyone leading a team! So good i'm going back through it to start putting into practice all that i learned.

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ – John Piper     ***
Good book to read to renew our awe in Jesus. really short and easy read.

How Soccer Explains the World­ – Franklin Foer     ****
This was a really interesting book and fun for me to read. It's basically a study in Globalism via the soccer cultures all over the world. Brilliant! The last chapter was the best as it was a breakdown of why conservative Americans have an agenda of hatred for soccer... eye opening and brilliant! Anyone who is interested in soccer and world culture will love this book.

A New Kind of Christianity – Brian McLaren     ****
I always love reading McLaren. He is one of my favorite authors. This is perhaps the most challenging of all his books. Challenges all my assumptions and many things we're taught in theology classes in seminary. i also love his heart and his reason for challenging the status quo in search of truth. i recommend this book, but would recommend starting with some other McLaren books 1st.

Good to Great and the Social Sectors – Jim Collins     ****
What an awesome idea. Since all of us churches and non-profits already strive to follow Collins' Good to Great principles anyway, why not give us our own book? That's exactly what this book is. It takes the genius principles and tweaks them for the social sectors. every social leader should read this.

Made to Stick – Chip and Dan Heath     *****
Probably the best book i read this year! it is amazing! i couldn't get enough of it and it is extremely relevant for everything i do and will do in the future. it's basically great principles for how we can consistently make our ideas stick in people's minds and help them actually act on them!

God is the Gospel – John Piper     ***
I'm a big Piper fan, but this definitely was not the best of his books. Maybe the worst? It felt like he wrote it in a weekend from some random notes he had around the house. it was just "ok" for me.
Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches – contributors include Mark Driscoll, John Burke, Doug Pagitt, and Dan Kimball    ***
Finally got around to reading this while we were in Kenya. I really liked this conversational style book with the authors talking back and forth as they wrote. This book will make you think for sure. Unfortunately, Driscoll is the dark spot in the book... sounds like they invited a mean old fundamentalist pastor to contribute.

The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown     **
Decent story. Decently written. i wanted to see what all the hype with Dan Brown has been about. i must have missed it.

Angels and Demons – Dan Brown     *
If the above book was just decent, then this book was no good at all. waste of time and not really even that entertaining.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey     ***
i can see why it's a classic. Very practical and helpful. i need to be putting these habits into practice!

The Next Christendom - Phillip Jenkins     ***
The concept is awesome & something we all need to be aware of. It is written more as an academic book though and fairly boring. Basically, the bottom line is that the Global Church and Center of Christianity is moving SOUTH. This will change things dramatically as the Southern Church will be driving things and not the American/Western church. I would love a 25 page summary of this book instead of having to read the whole thing.

He is There & He is not Silent - Francis Schaeffer     **
I have never actually read a Francis Schaeffer book, so this one seemed like a good one to start with as he was "the man" for a couple decades. He had good stuff to say, but it was obvious that he was a champion writing for modern people still in the modern era. Unfortunately, most of his major points are now irrelevant in this new postmodern era (imho).

Emerging Churches - Eddie Gibbs & Ryan Bolger     ***
Started reading this back in 06 and i finally finished. the 1st half of the book is GREAT! the 2nd half dragged on. Great job by these authors to pull together the main distinctions of emerging churches. a very helpful book overall.

LOVE – Mother Teresa     ***
The best of Mother Teresa all in 1 book. Very inspiring. what an awesome lady.

The Power of Positive Thinking - Norman Vincent Peale     **
Straight from my late grandfather's shelf. Didn't know what to expect from this guy that my grandfather read religiously. Some of it was good stuff and some of it felt more like heresy.

The Hole in Our Gospel - Richard Stearns     ***
Good, simple book from the President of World Vision. Nothing new, but all good reminders. Pretty recent facts, stats, and stories.

BELIEVE – Desmond Tutu     ***
Great stuff from Tutu. This guy is always inspiring.

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch     *****
One of the best books i read this year. Audio book on the way up to NY for Christmas. This Carnegie-Melon professor had terminal cancer and a few months to live. So he wrote this book of everything he would want to say to and pass down to his young children. FULL of practical wisdom. It felt like i was reading a modern day Proverbs (although pretty sure this guys isn't a follower of Jesus).

The Emerging Church - Dan Kimball     ****
My parents gave me this book as a birthday gift when i was back in college. i started it then and finished it just this week. Great stuff from 5 years ago from Kimball. Level headed guy who gets it. A VERY simple intro to postmodernism and how the church can react to it.

The Cost of Discipleship - Dietrich Bonhoeffer     ***
Classic. Many would say a top 10 Christian book of all time. I wouldn't rank it that high, but it was definitely a great book about living "radically" from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. After that part of the book it kind of drug on and didn't feel very relevant.

Das Kapital - Karl Marx     ***
So close to the Way of following Jesus and the life of Jesus. Yet, SO FAR away in the end. Without Jesus this gets pretty jacked up. I see what Marx was getting at and it could be a beautiful thing... instead he just made it ugly with the killing people thing and all.

Grasping God’s Word - Duvall & Hays     ***
I read most of this for a hermeneutics seminary class but finished it this week and it's a lot of great practical stuff for understanding reading the Bible.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

quotes of the week #30

day after Christmas & last day of the weekend... quotes of the week #30

#1 quote of the week:
“One always picks up a bit of whatever it is that one opposes simply by virtue of wrestling with it.” – old axiom of folk wisdom (via Phyllis Tickle in The Great Emergence)

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt; just how we play the hand." - Randy Pausch in The Last Lecture

“Innovation is born out of limitation.” – Craig Groeschel, pastor & author

“The day that we as a staff stop being bothered by the lostness of people is the day we need to go find something else to do for a living.” – Chris Brown, my pastor

“The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” – Mike Foster, leader and author

“Never put problem-solving before decision-making. Decide WHAT God wants you to do & WHY, then later God will show you HOW.” – Rick Warren, pastor and author

“If you are not actively asking others how you can grow and develop as a leader and person, you're probably not growing.” – Carey Nieuwhof, pastor in Canada, eh?

“What does the color of one’s skin tell us that is of any significance about a person? Nothing, of course, absolutely nothing. It does not say whether the person is warmhearted or kind, clever and witty, or whether that person is good.” – Desmond Tutu, archbishop of Rwanda

“We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace. We need love and compassion.” – Mother Teresa

"Your success as a leader is determined by your successor. So spend time growing people who will succeed you." – Howard Hendricks, prof & author

Saturday, December 25, 2010

an unexpected christmas

A little final video of Ridge Church banding together to change the lives of a family... not just 1 day, but for a long time.
it was an unexpected Christmas for this family.

An Unexpected Christmas from Ridge Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

50 books (the 1st 25)

Yesterday i mentioned that i met my goal and read 50 books this year. That is the most i've ever read in 1 year! That was my goal at the beginning of the year and i met it.

Over the next 2 blog posts i'm just going to list the books i read this year and write a few thoughts about each of them. Maybe a recommendation of the book (or not). Maybe you'll want to pick up a couple and read them?
i also give them a 1-5 star rating after the author's name (5 stars being the best, of course).
(I'm just posting the books here in the order that i read them during the year. the most recent 25 i read coming up in the next post.)

Believing in the Future – David J. Bosch    ***
The 1st book I read this year and it was a brilliant way to kick off a new decade. Bosch wrote this last decade before his early death and really predicted the post modern shifts that are continuing to happen and he told us what the church should be ready to do about it.

Crazy Love (re-read) – Francis Chan    ****
I read this last year and took a bunch of notes on it, but had to re-read it after I lost my notes. This is classic PASSIONATE Francis Chan. Very raw and authentic. This will always be a good read no matter how many times I’ve read it. It renews my sense of awe in a BIG God and kicks me into gear to live a radical life following Him.

Blink – Malcolm Gladwell     ****
I don’t think Malcolm is able to write a book that isn’t amazingly brilliant. He never ceases to amaze me. This book is all about the split second decisions we have to make with no info. It explores our prejudices we don’t believe we have and the world of predictions, snap judgments, and how our brain works.

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society – Lesslie Newbigin     ****
A classic from the father of missional theology for western society. This guy basically laid the foundational theology for what is today the emerging & emergent church… or really any church seeking to be missional in western culture. This was a really great book with so so many great chapters and concepts. Plus he is from Newcastle upon Tyne… home of the Magpies :)

The Humanity of God - Karl Barth     *
You can start to see my commitment to read more dead guys. Barth is one of the most famous German theologians since Martin Luther, not to mention the main name you think of when you hear “modern theology.” Honestly this book was just OK though.

Kite Runner – Khaled Housseni     *****
The best fiction I’ve read besides Harry Potter in a really long time. Maybe it’s even just as good as Harry… just different. An amazing story of childhood friendship, betrayal, redemption. It’s a very emotional story and a book that you literally cannot put down. I stayed up all night one night to read it.

The Imitation of Christ – Thomas a’ Kempis     *
Another dead guy. This one must not have been so great because I really can’t remember much about it. I’ll have to look back at my notes.

Good to Great (re-read) – Jim Collins     *****
Another one I lost my notes on so I had to re-read it and take notes again. It is a simply awesome book! It was in my top 5 in 2009. EVERY leader needs to read this book. I would recommend reading it twice like I did.

The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Doestoevsky     **
I was trying this classic work of fiction and it was LONG. Like 1,200 pages. REALLY really long. And it was a complicated story to follow at times with so many characters with unfamiliar names, etc… They would go into these long dialogues off subject and totally lose me. I guess it was a good story but could have been told in less than half the pages.                                   

The Gospel According to Lost - Chris Seay     ***
Now this was a FUN book. If you’re a LOST fan and a follower of Jesus then this is a must read. Seriously. It is amazing to see into the brains of the writers of the show and how they worked in endless theology, biblical imagery, and philosophy. The classic battle between good and evil + determinism and free will rage on in this show and this book makes sure you don’t miss any of the hidden meanings.

Religion Saves: And 9 Other Misconceptions – Mark Driscoll     ***
I love Mark Driscoll. He is awesome and entertaining. Although on other days I dislike Mark Driscoll very much. If you can appreciate that kind of tension then you’ll love this book. It’s basically his 10 week sermon series based on the top 10 questions peeps in his church asked. He’ll make you laugh and tick you off back to back. 1 guarantee is that you will NOT get bored reading this book.

Don’t Waste Your Life (re-read) – John Piper     ****
Most of you know I love John Piper. I read this one a few years ago and the same great stuff was still there this time. I won’t lose my notes on it this time. You gotta read this to make sure you’re not going to waste your life! It’s too important to waste it. And if you’re just going along with the flow of culture then I can pretty much guarantee you’re wasting it.
The Dip – Seth Godin     ***
“Quitters never win and winners never quit.” – Vince Lombardi. * “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.” Great little book. I think I read it in an hour. Basically the advice is either GO FOR IT and see it all the way through after having counted the cost or just quit now and don’t waste all that initial effort.

A Long Way Gone – Ishmael Beah     ***
The subtitle accurately describes this book = “Memoirs of a Boy Soldier”. It is a heart breaking book. Don’t read this book lightly. I would read it at night as I fell asleep and I would wake up in the morning depressed from what I read. There was a heavy, horrible feeling suppressing me. This book is full of sadness and no hope is really offered (Other than the kid is rescued… against his will that point). I would still read it again because of the eye-opening bluntness of the power of rebel wars in Africa and the atrocity that is the recruiting of child soldiers. It is real and it should not exist in our world. What are we gonna do about it?

The E-Myth Revisited – Michael Gerber     **
This book is all about entrepreneurs. About entrepreneurs and for entrepreneurs. A lot about how to start successful companies and orgainizations. It’s very helpful and very practical. It is honestly kind of boringly written, but still a huge best seller if that tells you how helpful it is.

Developing the Leader Within You (re-read) – John Maxwell     *****
I think this is Maxwell’s best book ever. It is an extremely helpful book for me continuously trying to improve as a leader. There are so many great ideas, principles, and practical tips to help us all develop as better leaders.

Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis     **
Another classic. Maybe one of the most famous Christian books of the last century or 2? The 1st part was pretty good. It was a classic apologetic argument for God and Christianity (which is questionable as to whether that is effective at all for a postmodern generation). But the rest of the book, for me, was struggling. I found myself counting down how long til the book was finished. Just sayin…

Killing Cockroaches – Tony Morgan     ***
This was probably the 2nd best “pot book” I’ve ever read. It’s the perfect layout – short little 1-2 page articles on leadership and ministry. And there were a LOT of great, practical articles. Good leadership stuff from Tony.

Satisfaction: The Art of Female Orgasm – Kim Cattrall and Mark Levinson     ***
Really valuable practical advice! Really important stuff. Shoots straight with you. I would guess that everybody needs to read this.           

The Money Answer Book – Dave Ramsey     ***
Another great “pot book” I read this year. All of Dave Ramsey’s wisdom condensed down into a tiny little book. If you don’t follow Dave’s financial advice, but are scared of reading a big long book then just start with this one! You should retire as a multi-millionaire and shouldn’t have any money stress if you follow Dave’s advice.

The Forgotten God – Francis Chan     ***
I listened to this audiobook and was definitely convicted several times. We’ve basically forgotten the Holy Spirit.

The Pursuit of God – A.W. Tozer     ***
This was my grandmother’s book, so it was special to read this copy of the book that she once read even all these years after she has been gone. Tozer is a good author and says a lot of good stuff in this book. Louie recommended it to me too.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Kama Sutra – Ron Louis     ***
This was way better and easier to read than the real/original Kama Sutra! I guess that’s why they call it the idiot’s guide. Really simple and practical.

The Poor Will Be Glad – Peter Greer and Phil Smith     ****
Introducing (to many of us) the world of micro-finance and micro-enterprise that will change the world for Good. Just $100 will radically change a family’s life and lift them out of poverty forever by empowering them to start a small business! This is something I want to be a part of for the rest of my life.

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell     ****
This book is so fascinating – as are all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books. This one is all about Success and what makes people successful/how they become successful. And it’s NOT what you think! A lot of it has nothing to do with what they can do. It’s factors that they have no control over that make them successful. BUT, some of us will be in positions to manipulate these factors for the common good and to make it possible for more and more people to be successful.

**There you have it. 
have you read any of these books? how many stars would you give them? Are there any of these you've been thinking about reading?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

50 books

My goal at the beginning of 2010 was to read 50 books and i nailed it.
There were a few times i didn't think i would make it, but for the 1st time i read 50 books in 1 year.

Next year will be very different. i'll only set out to read about 12 books and i'll explain my strategy later.

Tomorrow i'll try to write a little blurb about the 50 books i've read...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

quotes of the week #29

my top 10 quotes to share with the world this week.
The 1st one is my #1 quote of the week & very appropriate considering my last birthday. feeling a little "dead" these days. As far as I can see from most men in the world, Twain is right on.

"Most men die at 27, we just bury them at 72." - Mark Twain

"God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives." – Bono

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms: a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” – GK Chesterton

“God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.” – Billy Graham

“Don't confuse the difference between PATIENCE and PROCRASTINATION. Often the difference simply is... FEAR.” – Corey Errett, my friend and a pastor in NY

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

“If you're thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you're embarking on something which will take the whole of you.” – C.S. Lewis

“There’s a difference in reducing the budget & reducing the vision.”Chris Brown, my pastor. [this statement is right on.]

"Only he who believes is obedient. Only he who is obedient, believes." – Dietrich Bonhoeffer [we hate to hear this, but i think it's true.]

“Some leaders have more wishbone than backbone.”Mike Foster

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the american dream

(this is a repost from July 2, 2008. Seemed like an appropriate "repost" for this time of year.)

I guess I'll just come right out and say it because I'm in that kind of mood today. I hate the American Dream! & I'm pretty sure Jesus hates it too. I think the American Dream is probably one of the biggest contributors to wasted lives!!! And most peeps are wasting their lives these days. Living for their own name and glory.

You may not be aware of this, but I think the American Dream has slowly changed from what it used to be. The great philosophers Nickelback poetically describe the current American Dream in their song "Rockstar". Read the lyrics below, but I'm sure most of you know it so go ahead and sing along in that raspy voice that leaves your throat scratchy and asking for some water. It really is a catchy song...

"I'm through with standing in line to clubs we'll never get in
It's like the bottom of the ninth and I'm never gonna win
This life hasn't turned out quite the way I want it to be

(Tell me what you want)
I want a brand new house on an episode of Cribs
And a bathroom I can play baseball in
And a king size tub big enough for ten plus me

(So what you need?)
I'll need a credit card that's got no limit
And a big black jet with a bedroom in it
Gonna join the mile high club at thirty-seven thousand feet

(Been there, done that)
I want a new tour bus full of old guitars
My own star on Hollywood Boulevard
Somewhere between Cher and James Dean is fine for me

(So how you gonna do it?)
I'm gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
I'd even cut my hair and change my name

'Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we just won't eat
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger's gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny with her bleach blond hair
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar"

Ok, for real... did you sing it? It's one of those that may very well be stuck in your head for a few days.

This is a little different than the original American Dream that went something like this: a nice, big house, 2 nice, new cars, 2 nice kids, a big TV, a comfy job where you have climbed the corporate ladder to (imagined) "security", a pretty wife who doesn't talk back or a husband who doesn't drink beer or hang out with "the boys" too much, a nice vacation or two every year. and of course, a really fat retirement account so we can retire @ 65 (or earlier) and "live the life" on a beach somewhere or in the mountains playing golf til we kick the bucket.
If you wanted a "Christian" version of this just throw in a nice church with lots of people like you who have a nice, big house & 2 new cars + a lot of time to spend with the family... maybe something like the wife not having a job and the husband making sure he spends lots of evenings with the kids.

Obviously I'm not saying any of that stuff is bad. And I'm not saying the new American Dream is any better or worse than the old or the "Christian" American Dream, but I am convinced that both "American Dreams" are wasting peoples' lives. I feel like the American Dream and the false hope & trust in imagined security and comfort that go along with it are trying their best to hijack the Missio Dei, the Mission of God. Thankfully, God's Mission cannot be hijacked, but the American Dream is taking a pretty good swing at it.

I really don't know what to do about it either. Maybe you can help me think of something. You can be sure that with God helping me I'm not gonna get sucked into it & let it waste my life. I'm only gonna waste my life for Jesus. If you ever see me veering into this wasted life/American Dream then I give you permission to call me on it. I'm gonna do all I can to protect my kids from this way of life that will waste their lives. And I guess I will promote the satisfaction that comes from politely (and not so politely) rebelling against this culture of consumerism we live in & living our lives for one Name. I guess that's a start.

Monday, December 13, 2010

funniest video ever?

i needed a laugh this morning, so i thought i would share it with you.

this is like 1 of those movies where you can't even finish laughing at 1 joke because you haven't even had sufficient time to process the full funniness of it - and then here comes the next laugher. You laugh so hard that it hurts.

There are so many things wrong with this 5 minute clip that i won't even attempt to address any of them. it's just pure entertainment. all laughs!

Friday, December 10, 2010

quotes of the week #28

On this 28th version of "Quotes of the Week", i think our #1 quote of the week points to the importance of these posts...

"The people you listen to are the preview of the future you." - Jeff Henderson, Campus Director @ Buckhead Church (And a crazier reader than me)
***We ALL need to be listening to awesome people! i try to listen to TONS of them. that's why i jot down awesome things they say here and there... as i go through my week... then i share the best ones with all of you guys. i would like to take the best from a lot of people and maybe that will eventually be the future me? i think Jeff's quote could be like the "motto" for "Quotes of the Week" here on renown.

"Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you." - Jim Collins, author

"What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say."Ralph Waldo Emerson, late author

“You have permission to mess up. If you’re not messing up you’re probably not risking enough.”Chris Brown, pastor [it's very liberating having a leader telling you these kind of things! he followed up with = “I want us to make mistakes, I just don’t want us to make the same ones every time.”]

"Some people are so invested in their fear and hatred that peace is the most threatening thing they can imagine." - Dalia Hassan, from the final season of 24

“Why are we going to save for potential future need when we are surrounded by present need?”David Platt, pastor & author 
[this is an absolutely GREAT question! and in a moment of transparency with you... i can't come up with a good answer. other than "Dave and the generation before me tell me i should." i wonder if that answer will fly?]

“Kids don't understand that other kids starve. They learn it's true as teens & learn not to care as adults. The world numbs us to hurt.”John Acuff, a usually humorous author... but a serious one on this day

"The best thing a leader can bring to their team is their energy." - Bill Hybels, pastor and author [that's why i can't have meetings on Monday mornings & why i have to go to bed early like a little kid on Saturday nights.]

"I would try desperately to think about my childhood, but I couldn't. The war memories had formed a barrier." - Ishmael Beah, former child soldier and author of A Long Way Gone 
[many haunting memories from reading this book. i literally woke up in the mornings feeling scared and afraid and depressed. i can't imagine how these "former children" must feel.]

"When you hear that a house is in foreclosure, don’t think “deadbeat”; say a prayer instead." Matt Rich, a smart guy and a friend
[why are we so quick to judge people and not just love? when was the last time we prayed for someone in a tight financial spot instead of think about what they could/should have done. we're so arrogant we don't even care to know their circumstances!]

"the narrower the vision the fewer decisions you have to make." - Andy Stanley, author, pastor, and strategic genius

"I learned I needed to trust God more than my theology about God." - Brian McLaren, former pastor and author
[many of us need to let that sink in for a few days]

Monday, December 6, 2010

THIS is amping my productivity

i stumbled on a great article from the 99% blog the other day. i love their tag line = "It's not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen."

the article was a 1 step idea to be extremely more productive. i took the challenge and it's working! i'm loving it. it's a principle that i believed and followed in theory, but now i have a much better handle on it because of the tips you can read below + i'm making it work for me. if you are someone who likes to accomplish things - any goals, if you have any vision or dreams, etc... then you MUST read this!
(i have edited down the article to make it shorter. *Don't miss the really helpful list of hints at the bottom!) you can read the full great article by Jocelyn K. Glei HERE.
[my thoughts are in these brackets!]

 The 1-Step Plan for Super-Productivity

"[speaking of highly productive people...] So what is the secret ingredient in their productivity regime? It’s simple: They get up early. To take a (very) random sample of creative luminaries from the wonderful Daily Routines blog, Charles Darwin, Toni Morrison, Le Corbusier, Stefan Sagmeister, Benjamin Franklin, Emily Post, Gerhard Richter, and William Wegman all make (or made) a habit of getting up early.

A recent study conducted by Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education at Heidelberg, backs up the theory that early risers tend to have a more proactive – and thus productive – mindset:
 [Randler] surveyed 367 university students, asking them when they were most energetic and willing to change a situation. It was the morning people who were more likely to agree with statements such as “I feel in charge of making things happen” and “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself.”

The data makes sense: If you’re getting up early, you probably already have a good idea of what you want to accomplish that day – otherwise it would be hard to motivate to get up in the first place. Being an early riser also indicates a natural affinity for ritual and discipline – both key traits of especially productive people.

[When getting up early] You accomplish tons of meaningful work before most people even get started – allowing you to coast through the rest of your day with a sense of achievement and significantly less anxiety. [this is perhaps what i enjoy most about it!]

What if you’re not naturally an early riser? Or just hate the idea of it?
[this is definitely ME! i am this person!]
I’ve talked to loads of folks who insist that their most productive time is late at night – their creative energy naturally peaks when everyone else is asleep. And, to a certain degree, our ingrained biorhythms are a factor. Some of us are predisposed to late-night creation, while others naturally wake with the sun. Age is also a factor. (How many elderly people do you know that sleep in?)

Like it or not, most of the world works on a 9-to-5 schedule, which naturally provides the early riser with a certain advantage. In a great piece Cal Newport wrote on the habits of successful professional writers, he notes that they all get up early, adding: “Several [writers] did mention that they might also be efficient working very late at night (and sleeping through the day), but that this seems incompatible with being a productive member of society.”

Certainly you can be a productive night owl, but when it comes to the business details we all have to attend to – the emails, the scheduling, the negotiations – there are definitely benefits to being on a daytime schedule.

In a recent conversation with energy management guru Tony Schwartz, he argued that less than 10% of the general population possess the unchangeable biorhythms of the die-hard night owl. In short, most of us can re-train ourselves to become early risers if we’re motivated.

So how can you become an early riser?
Getting up early is like most any habit that makes you a more productive creative: It’s hard at first. Here are a few tips to get you started:  [GREAT tips that work for me, i might add!]

1. Set an exact time to get out of bed.
If you normally get up at 11am, it’s unrealistic to start abruptly getting up at 6am. Think about what time you’d like to be getting up in the morning, and work up to it. Try to wake up 30 minutes earlier every week, until you get to the desired time.

2. Move up your bedtime in sync with the time you plan to get up.
Seven to eight hours of sleep is the recommended dosage for maximal productivity (with a few super-human exceptions). So if you’re getting up at 6am, you’ll want to go to bed by 11pm at the latest. If you try to go to bed at midnight and get up at 5am, you’re eventually going to run into some problems.

3. Get out of bed immediately.
The moment that you start procrastinating – read: hit the snooze button – it’s very easy to convince yourself of a multiplicity of reasons why you wouldn’t want to get out of bed yet. Don’t even allow those thoughts to kick in – just get up!  
[my new rule = my feet have to be on the floor before i turn off the alarm!]

4. Expose yourself to sunlight. [unforunately, this one is impossible this time of year.]
Sunlight is key to adapting your circadian rhythms. If you’re having trouble getting up, don’t close your blinds all the way, so you have some natural light as your wake-up call. Once you’re up, a short walk (or run) outside helps reinforce the message with your body.

5. Develop a routine for your morning.
Whether it’s taking in the sunrise, brewing a cup of tea and reading the paper, or walking to the cafĂ© down the street for a cup of joe, you’re more likely to continue to get up early if you develop a brief routine that is, in itself, a reward. 
[this has worked marvelously for me! i think about that "reward" as my feet are hitting the floor]

6. Stick with it.
Know going in that it’s going to take some time to adapt to waking up early – probably about 30 days. Don’t expect to feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from Day 1. But if you stick with it, getting up early is likely to become one of your favorite rituals.

It’s a lot better to sail into your business day feeling like you’ve already crossed a finish line, than to put off your vital creative work until after you’ve devoted your best energy to other people’s demands. As designer and early riser James Victore said in a recent 99% interview, “I get more work done by 9am than most people do in a full day.”
and that sums up EXACTLY how i feel since i've been doing this. i feel like i've knocked out A LOT by the time everyone else wakes up and starts moving. it's a great feeling and removes all the pressure. i don't feel rushed anymore!

Friday, December 3, 2010


i've been on earth for 28 years today. that's a pretty long time. feeling pretty old.

the next 28 years are going to be big. i'm going to leverage them with all i've got for some big stuff. big stuff for the kingdom. big stuff for Jesus' fame. big stuff for the poor. all the stuff God cares about.
that's the only way i can look back in 28 years and be happy.

that's what i'm dreaming about on my birthday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

happy birthday = clean water

my birthday is almost here & i definitely don't want any gifts. (just read HERE or HERE.)
same for Christmas. you're invited to join the conspiracy.

But you can even give gift cards now to help build a well = HERE.

Monday, November 29, 2010

let me go ahead and get this out of the way... again

'tis the season again. So, this is just your friendly reminder to please not write me a letter about writing "xmas" and how I joined Target in some kind of conspiracy to overthrow the world... just read this 1st.
merry xmas!
(This was originally posted on November 24th, 2009 HERE.)

OK, I thought it might be easier to just say this once and get it out of the way.

It is a lot easier and faster for me to write "xmas" than "Christmas". There, I said it and it's out of the way now.
So, when I am typing something quickly = a blog post, an email, a text, etc... I'm probably going to write "xmas" instead of "Christmas". (So don't be offended when you get an email or text from me with "xmas" in it.)

Lest you think I am some heartless atheist (or a devil worshipper) - it has NOTHING to do with "taking Christ out of Christmas" as lots of people say. It's not some "liberal" agenda to hijack this "Christian nation". It is simply 5 less letters to type. It's easier. That's all. I don't hate Jesus. In fact I love Jesus and am radically following Him as best as I know how.

In case you're curious "X" is actually the abbreviation for "Christ". Therefore xmas instead of Christmas. It's not "taking Christ out of Christmas", it's simply abbreviating.
* "X" is the 1st Greek letter in "Christ" (Xristou). That's why "X" is the abbreviation for Christ.
And that's why I hope you can understand that I'm not a devil worshiper just because I write "xmas".

And actually I think it's interesting in light of this topic that the ancient Hebrew scribes used to write YHWH to abbreviate God's Name because they wanted to revere His holy name and didn't think themselves worthy to even write all the letters - Yahweh... (we think).
[i wonder what they would think of us... actually writing the WHOLE name out. Would they think us irreverant or blasphemous? or even part of a conspiracy to overthrow the world?]

So, again, just to clarify = I'm going to write "xmas" instead of "Christmas", but not because I hate God, just because it's faster.

What about YOU? Do you write "xmas" or "Christmas"?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

advice from 95 year olds

(This article is a repost from February 5, 2008.)

I enjoy learning from a guy named Tony Campolo. I listen to his podcast a lot & have read a few of his books. I'm currently in the middle of about 50 books right now & one of them happens to be Adventures in Missing the Point which Tony co-authored with Brian Mclaren. I really like the book and it has a lot of interesting stuff that really pushes my presuppositions.

At some point in the last year or so I heard Tony talk about a really cool survey he did. In staff meeting on Monday morning our lead pastor Chris talked about this survey & it was an awesome reminder for me. I'm so glad Chris talked with us about it. Basically, Campolo polled a bunch of 95 year olds!!! & asked them this question:

"If you could go back and live your life differently, what would you change?"

WOW! What a great question. When those 95 yr. old dudes started talking I bet Tony was on the edge of his seat! They've got the best perspective for a 25 yr. old like me who will be in their shoes one day. Here were their top 3 answers:

1) I would have reflected more
I don't think any of us do enough of this. We're too busy. We're too scared. We're too satisfied with our current situations and productions. I want to constantly reflect and evaluate the job that God is giving me another breath to do.

2) I would have risked more
Man, I'm gonna be a risk taker! I never want the fear of the risk to hold me back from doing something pimp for God's kingdom!!! I'm not holding back. I can handle coming to the end of my life and saying, "I made some really stupid mistakes." But I will not look back and think "I wish I wouldn't have been so careful and safe... I wish I would have went for it."

3) I would have invested more in things that would live on after I'm dead
WHOOOOO!!! This what I'm all about. I am going to live my life doing stuff that will continue to spread Jesus' fame 100 & hopefully 1,000 years after I'm dead! One of my best friends Ethan and I wrote our epitaphs a while back... I know that sounds pretty freaky, but it was an awesome exercise recommended in a book YOU NEED TO READ - Chazown. I want my epitaph to say that I was part of sparking a revolution that continued to spread God's renown for hundreds of years after I've kicked the bucket.

***Pretty cool Tony, thanks for doing the survey.
What will YOU say when YOU'RE 95? Will you have one of these 3 regrets? I hope not. What are you gonna do about it NOW?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

talking to ourselves

a lot of the time we're just talking to ourselves. and that's about as useless as it sounds.

this week i finished Francis Schaeffer's classic - He Is There and He Is Not Silent.

This sentence was so simple, but so profound and practical for most Christians:
"You have to preach the simple gospel so that it is simple to the person to whom you are talking, or it is no longer simple."

That is brilliant. Whether you're talking to a middle schooler or a person who has never been to church or a true post modern... simple to them is WAY different than the way most people generally explain the gospel "simply".

"So why have we as Christians gone on saying the great truths in ways that nobody understands? Why do we keep talking to ourselves, if men are lost and we say we love them."
- Francis Schaeffer

Why do we keep talking to ourselves? Because it's just easier? Because we never really think about it?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

happy thanksgiving Quotes of the Week (repost)

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

(repost from Thursday, November 26, 2009.)
This is the Thanksgiving edition of quotes of the week. They are not all about turkeys or "thanks" but they struck me as appropriate quotes of the week for today.

“What fascinates me so much is that every time we decide to be grateful it will be easier to see new things to be grateful for. Gratitude begets gratitude, just as love begets love.” – Henri Nouwen

"When we see anything as birthright, it ceases to be gift." - Mark Buchanan

Bread exists to help you know what it is like to be satisfied in Jesus." (John 6:35) – John Piper

"Never confuse your value with your valuables, nor your net worth for your self-worth. The greatest things in life aren't things." – Rick Warren

“Better to get up late and be wide awake than to get up early and be asleep all day.” — Anonymous [I definitely thought this was appropriate for today (and maybe especially tomorrow)]

“Worship is bragging about God to God.” – Mark Batterson

“He [God] has more of a right to ask us why so many people are starving.” – Francis Chan

* “Consumerism’s great risk is that we might get exactly what we want.” - Chris Seay & Rick McKinley (in Advent Conspiracy)

“God gives power and blessing so that justice and righteousness will be upheld for those who are denied them. This is what God is like. This is what God is about. This is who God is.
To forget this, to fail to hear the cry, to preserve prosperity at the expense of the powerless, is to miss what God has in mind.” – Rob Bell
“Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my Savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken…” – Rich Mullins

I hope you enjoyed these... & HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

how i learned about radical forgiveness from an orphan

Forgiveness is a hard thing to give - a lot of times for most people.
Jesus was all about radical forgiveness. i want to be about that kind of radical forgiveness too. Forgiveness no matter what. i wonder if i could forgive someone who screwed me over BIG TIME. i got a lesson in radical forgiveness from an unexpected source.

This is Nyaga. he is an orphan we have sponsored through Compassion International since 2007. We've always known he was an orphan because Compassion told us, but we never knew what happened to his parents.

Crystal and I got to meet Nyaga this September and you can read about that HERE. We heard the story about how his mother died when he was about 2-3 years old. His oldest brother tried to take her to a hospital a couple hours away but it was too late. Japhet, his oldest brother became "dad" to all the kids (including Nyaga) when he was only 20.

We found out that his Dad had just got up and left some time before that day. never came back. never communicated with them.
just gone.
dead for all they knew.

so, when Nyaga's mom died he was an orphan. no mom, no dad.

Well, Nyaga's dad heard that Crystal and I were coming to visit and probably heard we were bringing lots of gifts, etc... so he showed up. after 7 years he just waltzed right back into his village... into his family's land. All day he just kept his distance from everyone, didn't say a word to anyone... just watched. he looked like he may have been drunk.

This made Crystal and I SO ANGRY! i seriously wanted to walk up to him, grab him, and shake him + shout (probably through my angry tears) "WHAT KIND OF MAN ARE YOU!?!? How could you ditch your family like that?!" how could a man leave his poor defenseless family?

He knew that his wife had died too. He just left his oldest son Japhet to step up and be the man for all the kids. Japhet had to put his life on hold. he never finished school. he has a wife and kid of his own now... not to mention 4 little brothers and sisters that are like his kids. He works his butt off for this "inherited kids" and they all live on about $7 a month!
$7 a month!? 
"You left all your kids without a parent to live on $7 a month!?!?"

i felt like it was righteous anger that was rising up in me making me want to punch this guy in the face. but then something happened.

i was randomly videoing Nyaga as we gave him a bag of candy. Then he started to share it with everyone around which i thought was pretty cool so i kept videoing.
Then something happened that i totally didn't expect. Just watch for yourself.

(fyi - Nyaga's dad is the man sitting by himself way off to the right by the trees.)

that's powerful.

i was absolutely shocked. i couldn't believe what i just witnessed.
if i were Nyaga there is no way i'm sharing my candy - this prized commodity i just received for once in my life - with the man who pretty much ruined my life.

i mean orphaning your own kids is pretty much the worst thing i can imagine. when you get screwed over like that then it would really take RADICAL forgiveness.

i probably fought back tears when i witnessed that moment. my heart melted. it completely changed my heart and my thoughts about what i could/would/SHOULD do in a similar situation.

later Crystal and i were talking about how angry we were at his dad for having the audacity to even show up. then we talked about how if Nyaga can forgive him then surely we can forgive him too.

then i got to thinking that if Nyaga can forgive his dad then surely i can forgive anyone who ever does anything to me.
but where does that kind of radical forgiveness come from? how can someone even do that?

i'm convinced it's just Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate Radical Forgiver. He started it. He asks us to follow by turning the other cheek. pretty radical.
without Jesus i have no idea where this radical forgiveness could come from? it's hard enough with Him.

Monday, November 22, 2010

advent conspiracy year 3

It's time for my favorite thing of the year again! = Advent Conspiracy! (In order to save some time in this blog you can read what I wrote about Advent Conspiracy HERE, HERE, HERE, & HERE. If you read those I won't have to repeat myself a lot.)

Here's a short video that will give you the scoop too:

So that's what we're about in this conspiracy. It's a conspiracy because it is sooo counter-cultural. It's a rebellion really. We're trying to take Christmas back!

Here's the bottom line if I can summarize it really quickly:
Dirty water is killing more people than anything on earth! People just don't have access to clean water. 5,000 children die every day because they don't have water to drink! That's 1 child dying every 15 seconds because they don't have something we take for granted. That does something in my soul. That makes me outraged and devastated all at the same time.
Jesus SAID that if we see someone thirsty and give them water it's just like we gave the water to Him! And if we don't give them water it's like we refuse to give water to Jesus when He's thirsty. not cool. (Matthew 25:31-46)

It would cost $10 billion to give everyone on earth clean water... & just in America we spend $450 billion on Christmas crap every year!!! Something is jacked up with that & you know Jesus agrees.
So, 2 years ago I jumped in on this advent conspiracy. For my birthday (december 3rd) & Christmas all I've asked for was for people to take the $ they would have spent on buying me a gift AND GIVE IT TO ADVENT CONSPIRACY, so that Living Water International could use it to build wells so people could have clean water! People did it and in 2008 almost $1,000 was given to build a well! It went to rebuild a well in Nicaragua and over 450 people in the San Rafael village of Leon now have clean water! - All because of this little Christmas rebellion!

Last year I did it again. I was feeling really rebellious. I also invited all of my friends in Student Impact (our student ministry at Ridge Church). It was awesome.

So, we're cranking it up again this year with Student Impact.
It would be so awesome for us as a student ministry to say in a couple months - "Because we did Christmas differently this year, we helped a whole village have clean water!"
I know... that's a pretty audacious goal for a handful of broke middle school and high school students. But I think we're up to the challenge!
& that's advent conspiracy in a nutshell.

*So, let me be clear (this is my open letter to all of you) - I do not want anyone to buy me birthday or Christmas presents! The only gift I want is for you to give money for Advent Conspiracy so that Living Water International can build a well with it! SO THAT people can drink clean water and stop dying from dirty water.
You can click here and donate or you can give it to me & I will add it to our water cooler in Student Impact to help us build a well.

In case you missed it at the top, below are 4 articles I wrote last year about advent conspiracy. check them out!
double advent conspiracy
happy advent
best Christmas EVER!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

quotes of the week #27 - HARRY POTTER edition (part 2)

In honor of the newest Harry Potter movie coming out this weekend - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1... here are part 2 of some of my favorite Harry Potter quotes! (You can read Part 1 - the best quotes - HERE.)

"Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth." - Professor Albus Dumbledore (Half-Blood Prince)

"As much money and life as you could want!  The two things most human beings would choose above all - the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them." - Dumbledore (Sorcerer's Stone)

"Fear makes people do terrible things." - Professor Lupin (order of the phoenix)

"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." - Dumbledore (Sorcerer's Stone)

"Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open." ~ Dumbledore (Goblet of Fire)

"Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike." - Dumbledore (Order of the Phoenix)

"We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on." - Dumbledore (Half-Blood Prince)

"It was, he [Harry] thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high.  Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew - and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents - that there was all the difference in the world."  ~ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

"The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with caution." - Dumbledore (Sorcerer's Stone)

any favs?

Friday, November 19, 2010

security doesn't exist

there's no such thing.

security does not exist. it's a myth. a lie we've been told.

and that's just fine with me. i don't like being secure anyway... especially when it's false.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

insatiable need to know more

i want to do big things with my life. i want my years on earth to count in big ways. there's a certain renown i want to further... and it's not mine.

sometimes i get frustrated because there are a lot of abilities and qualities i don't have that seem to be the ones people need to accomplish big things. 
but... i was encouraged when i read this:
“The people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more.” 
– Michael Gerber, in E-Myth Revisited 

(we read this book and discussed it in the leadership coaching network i was in. Gerber was writing specifically for business people, but the principles in the book - including this one - apply to any type of organization.)

for the record, i think "insatiable" is a great word.

that sentence GRABBED me! because thankfully... that's ME! 
not necessarily the "good in business" part... but God has blessed me with an "insatiable need to know more". which some days i have felt like it is a curse. but i know it's not. it's a blessing. i hope i can steward it well.

i do not know a whole lot but i have this undeniable entrepreneurial spirit inside me coupled with an insatiable need to know MORE. it's not just a "desire", but a need that i can't do anything to squelch. i hope that can combine with all my shortcomings and imperfections to produce big things.