Sunday, January 31, 2010

what we missed - Passion 2010

For those of us who couldn't be at Passion 2010, here's 1 last post about what we missed...

The track listing & cover art is out for the Live CD from 2010 that will release on March 9th. Just over a month away. here's a peek:
1. Awakening – Chris Tomlin
2. Say, Say – Kristian Stanfill
3. Our God – Chris Tomlin
4. How He Loves – The David Crowder*Band
5. Healing is in Your Hands – Christy Nockels
6. King of Heaven (Isaiah 61) – Charlie Hall
7. You Alone Can Rescue – Matt Redman
8. Where the Spirit of the Lord Is – Chris Tomlin/Christy Nockels
9. Rise and Sing – FEE
10. Like a Lion – The David Crowder*Band
11. Chosen Generation – Chris Tomlin
12. With Everything – Hillsong United

Also, here was a little promo video before 2010 that i meant to post & just forgot. a little description of what goes down at Passion 2010.

just a glimpse for all of us who couldn't be there. can't wait til the cd releases on march 9th!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

ridge staff retreat (snowed in)

I talked a little about being on our ridge staff retreat HERE.

We were supposed to be home by now and gearing up for Ridge Church in the morning, but we're snowed IN! Well, not exactly snowed in, but we weren't sure if we could make it all the way home and we've been hearing that Charlotte has plenty of ice on the roads.
For only the 2nd time ever we're cancelling our worship experience at Ridge.

We been having some fun here in the mountains. lovin' our time away. i feel really refreshed! hoping to head back tomorrow.

Friday, January 29, 2010

God in the Psalms

We just finished a series in Student Impact at Ridge Church called "Not That Into You" and it was all about not being into God. it's cool if you're not that into your girlfriend anymore... you just break up. But what happens when you're not that into GOD?

During one of the talks in the series we thought through some different ideas on how to fight for a relationship with God.

I just shared one of the best things that helps me stay in the fight when i'm feeling not that into God.
It's actually something I learned from Louie Giglio in The Air I Breathe (I think the book has some new title now). *Ever since I read that book in college I have been practicing his suggestion daily.

He just suggests to read straight through the Psalms. But each day just read until you come to something AMAZING ABOUT GOD. Some characteristic about Him that is awesome. Write that amazing thing about God in your journal along with the verse. and THEN dwell on that amazing thing about God the rest of the day! so simple.

I've been doing that daily for years and so have traveled through the Psalms several times now.
I just flipped through the most recent pages in my journal, for the past several Psalms and we scrolled through these awesome things about God, about who HE is on the screen as fast as we could go. I am overwhelmed by Him. 
I thought I would post these things representing His awesomeness here. This is who God is.

Love – Psalm 57:10
Glorious – Psalm 57:5 - “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.”
Worry-Catcher – Psalm 55:22 - “Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”
Reliable – Psalm 59:9-10 - “You, God, are my fortress, my God on Whom I can rely.”
Famous – Psalm 59:13
Refuge – Psalm 59:16 - “You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”
Rest – Psalm 62:1
My Hope –Psalm 62:5
Listener – Psalm 62:8 - “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out Your hearts to Him...”
Unfailing Love – Psalm 62:12 - “Power belongs to You, God, and with You, Lord, is unfailing love...”
Love better than life! - Psalm 63:3 - “Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.”
Satisfier – Psalm 63:5 - “I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You.”
Awe-inspiring/Joy-inspiring – Psalm 65:8 - “The whole earth is filled with awe at Your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, You call forth songs of joy.”
Glorious Name – Psalm 66:2
Blesser – Psalm 67
Famous – Psalm 67
Father to the Fatherless – Psalm 68:5 - “A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God...”
Burden Carrier – Psalm 68:19 - “Praise be to the LORD, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”
Gladness Giver & Great – Psalm 70:4 - “May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who long for Your saving help always say, ‘The LORD is great!’”
Rock of Refuge – Psalm 71:3 - “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go.”
My Confidence – Psalm 71:5 - “For You have been my Hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on You...”
No One Like You – Psalm 71:19 - “Your righteousness, God, reaches to the skies, You who have done great things. Who is like You, God?” [no one!]
King – Psalm 74:12 - “But God is my King from long ago; He brings salvation on the earth.”
Renowned – Psalm 76:1 - “God is renowned... His Name is great.”
Greatest God – Psalm 77:13 - “Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?
My Strength – Psalm 81:1 - “Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob.”
Advocate = Psalm 82:3-4 - “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the needy.”
Unfailing Love = Psalm 85:7
Peace – Psalm 85:8 - “I will listen to what God the LORD says; He promises peace to His people, His faithful servants.”
Abounding Love – Psalm 86:5 - “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You.”
God alone – Psalm 86:9-10
Great Love – Psalm 86:13
Compassionate – Psalm 86:15 - “But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”
Great Love – Psalm 89:1
My Dwelling Place – Psalm 90:1
Everlasting – Psalm 90:1-2 - “Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.”
Joy-Giver/Satisfier – Psalm 90:14 - “Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
Shelter – Psalm 91:1 – “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Refuge – Psalm 91:2
Glad Maker – Psalm 92:4 - “For You make me glad by Your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what Your hands have done.”
Forever Exalted – Psalm 92:9
Reigning – Psalm 93:1 - “The LORD reigns He is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength.”
Eternal King – Psalm 93:2
Mightier – Psalm 93:4 - “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the LORD on high is mighty.”
Greatest God – Psalm 95:3 - “For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.”
No One Like You – Psalm 89:5-8 - “The heavens praise Your wonders, LORD... For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; He is more awesome than all who surround Him.”

*Then I simply asked...
how could you NOT be into a God like this?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

ridge staff retreat

By the time you're reading this we're already driving to the mountains (or already there).

Yep, the staff (and our spouses) at Ridge Church are escaping to the GA mountains for the weekend. (I just hope we don't get snowed in.)

We went to the same awesome mountain house last year too. You can read a little about it HERE.

I'm so looking forward to this amazing view again and spending some time enjoying God in that view and in silence. There's nothing I love more than sitting on a deck just chillin' in God's presence with my journal, my Bible, some tunes & just enjoying Him.

Also looking forward to being away for a weekend with my wife. Stoked about that. + just having some fun with these peeps I work with every day. We've all got our shoulders under this vision from God called Ridge Church and it's awesome to just get away and play together sometimes.
Last year's blog about staff retreat I just saw that I wrote = "*And I have to say that I REALLY jacked up Chris and Rusty in Call of Duty 4." Hopefully that trend of dominance will continue... yes, I'm talking a little smack.

I won't have internet access for a few days while we're away, but don't worry renown readers... I've got some posts set up to automatically publish each day so we won't miss a beat!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

my FINAL 2010 reading list!

I finally completed my 2010 reading list! (the books I'm going to read this year.) I have been working on it for 2 months and have been extremely strategic and intentional in compiling this list!
*I divided the books I'll read into 5 categories:

1 - Theology - which is actually broken into 3 "sub-categories":
  General - just current books on God, theology, and the Church & what I'm trying to learn
  Classics by dead guys - I realized a few years ago I was reading all new books. This is my attempt to learn from all the great dead guys!
  Mission - One of the things I'm most passionate about = God's Mission (Global & local).
2 - Leadership - I desperately want to be a better leader... a great leader in fact. That's my audacious goal. So, I am trying to learn from the best.
3 - Culture - I'm reading these in an attempt to be in tune with current Western and Global culture, + read some fun books, + keep in touch with the books "everyone" has read/is reading, etc...
4 - Sex & Marriage - just like I want to be a better leader, I want to be a better husband and better at sex! I want to be great in fact, so I'm going to keep learning.
5 - Spirituality and Personal Development - These are some of my favorite types of books to read! Very practical and life changing. For my spiritual development and relationship with God + personal development to make me better at what I do.

*Below I simply list the title of the book and the author's name. (No links because that would take forever. If you're interested you can just google the book or author yourself!)

A New Kind of Christianity: 10 Qs That Are Transforming the Faith – Brian McLaren
God Is the Gospel – John Piper
Emerging Churches – Gibbs & Bolger
Grasping God’s Word - Duvall & Hays
Religion Saves: And 9 Other Misconceptions - Mark Driscoll
Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches – Driscoll, Kimball, Pagitt, etc...
Adventures in Missing the Point – Tony Campolo & Brian McLaren

Classics (by dead guys)
He Is There and He Is Not Silent – Francis Schaeffer
The Pursuit of God – A.W. Tozer
The Humanity of God – Karl Barth
The End for Which God Created the World – Jonathan Edwards
The Imitation of Christ – Thomas A’Kempis
The Autobiography of George Muller – George Muller
Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis

The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative – Christopher J. H. Wright
The Poor Will Be Glad – Greer & Smith
The Gospel in a Pluralist Society – Lesslie Newbigin
Believing in the Future – David J. Bosch
The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity - Philip Jenkins
The Emerging Church – Dan Kimball
Developing the Leaders Around You – John Maxwell
Leadership – Rudolph Guiliani
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Made to Stick – Chap Heath
Influencer: The Power to Change Anything - Kerry Patterson
Killing Cockroaches – Tony Morgan
10 Stupid Things that keep Churches from Growing – Geoff Surratt
Microtrends – Mark Penn
How Soccer Explains the World – Franklin Foer
The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 – Steve Stockman
Memoirs of a Boy soldier – Ishmael Beah
The Gospel According to Lost - Chris Seay
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Das Kapital - Karl Marx
The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
Kite Runner - Khaled Housseni

Satisfaction: The Art of… – Kim Cattrall
The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Kama Sutra – Ron Louis
The Love Dare - Stephen and Alex Kendrick

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ – John Piper
ReUnderstanding Prayer: A Fresh Approach to Conversation with God – Kyle Lake
Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
Taste and See – Piper
The Money Answer Book – Dave Ramsey
7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
Freakanomics – Levitt & Dubner
also a few "Re-reads"
I forgot to mention these. I took notes on them in my infamous "red notebook" that was lost so I'm going to re-read them and take notes again!
Good to Great - Jim Collins
Developing the Leader Within You - John Maxwell
Don't Waste Your Life - John Piper

All in all there are over 50 books and well over 10,000 pages I hope to read this year! I better get started!

I would love to hear if YOU have read any of these AND what's on YOUR 2010 reading list!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

20,000th hit!

renown had it's 20,000th hit earlier today!

That feels like a big milestone. 20,000 people have stopped by this little collection of my thoughts and musings. You can read about my 1st milestone of 5,000 hits that I celebrated HERE. it's pretty funny & ironic.

I've been writing on renown a little over 2 years and just over 400 posts it's taken to get to 20,000 hits. I think people have read the blog from pretty much every country on the planet! Hit #20K actually came from someone in the city of Leeds in the UK. (#19,999 and #20,001 both came from Charlotte, North Carolina! haha...)

And actually, if the recent reader trends continue it won't take nearly as long for the next 20,000 readers to stop by. This month renown has definitely spiked in its readership! Getting pretty close to 3,000 hits just this month.
This January I also had the most readers ever stop by in 1 day = 456 people read renown in one day. Pretty crazy.

The hits have been pretty steady in the hundreds most days this year. Which is pretty exciting for me! I know you guys and girls with the big blogs out there get thousands of hits per day, but when I see 289 hits or even 125 in one day, that's pretty crazy.

So, if some of these trends continue renown will hit it's next 20,000 visitors in just another 6 months or so.
Some of my friends are telling me I should be getting some big website designed now that there's so much more traffic. but this blog is still just about me having a place to think out loud and and for some peeps close to me to read... but if some other people want to listen in then that's awesome too! I can stick with this free blog to keep doing it...

thanks to the last 20K peeps who stopped by renown!

Monday, January 25, 2010

my top 10 most memorable Passion moments

Around the time that Passion 2010 was going on I wrote several thoughts & articles about the Passion movement and how it has dramatically changed my life. You can read some of those HERE, HERE, and HERE.
That's when I promised that I was going to share my "top 10 most memorable Passion moments". I figured this would be a great time to post them since over 20K students might be experiencing PPS (Post Passion Syndrome) right about now...

these are just off the top of my head. Spent 30 seconds thinking about this list...
So here they are:
#10 - Ethan's Explorer getting broken into in downtown Nashville & all his CDs getting stolen out of the front seat at Passion 05! We were all riding in my best friend Ethan's Explorer and came back to it at like midnight to discover glass all over the front seats!

#9 - weeping next to the Zamboni at community group in the basement of some building in Nashville at Passion 06. I can vividly remember this moment. You would remember if you were in this community group = it was in this crazy underground warehouse place... kind of freaky. The South African guy was our leader & I think Kristian Stanfill was our worship leader. God overwhelmed be that night about working for Him too much, but not enjoying His presence... I snuck over to a corner garage room where the Zamboni was parked and just poured my heart out to God and wept.

#8 - Louie's last night talk at Passion 05. It was so huge for me that night! I was carrying around such massive guilt every time I sinned. He role played me & Satan with the guilt thing. He was talking about how Satan keeps bringing up our sin and wanting to talk about it & then Louie just busted it out = "You wanna talk about my past & my sin? OK, Satan, let's look at my sin... oh, there it is, right there, nailed to the cross! how bout we talk about that for a while?!!" God freed me from a lot of guilt that night!

 #7 - One morning at Passion 05 Matt Redman led "Blessed Be Your Name" which I had probably sung hundreds of times, BUT... they had some video with all the names of God rushing at us as we sang and blessed the name of the Lord. It was completely overwhelming! It was a "God moment" where we totally focused on worshiping God for all He is...

#6 - Louie's talk the last night of Passion 06. It was his talk that was titled something like "After party for the nations". It was straight pimp. I was already all out following God to lead me to spread His fame to unreached people... this talk just made me jump out of my skin with excitement and passion though. I remember he said you might feel like God is calling you to the nations, but you'll be bombarded with all kinds of Questions from your parents, friends, etc... Like how are you going to get there? How are you going to pay for it? And Louie's response was beautiful = "I don't know where I'm going, or how I'm getting there, or how I'll pay for it... but I know who's going with me!"

#5 - John Piper's talk at One Day 03 about the Holiness of God. I never knew what it the "holiness of God" was before. I just knew He was holy... and it meant something like "set apart." I had no idea it was all about His ridiculously unique Glory. I have listened to that talk a ton of times and it has shaped my life and my view of God!

#4 - the 1st year of Do Something Now at Passion 07. That was straight up amazing and I still remember all the cool stuff me & Crystal got to be a part of! Like helping pay for a Scripture translation for an unreached people group, build a community center in Baghdad, Iraq, pay for a surgery for a child in poverty, build a well in Africa, and on and on. All in all students gave over 1 million dollars! You can read all about it HERE.

#3 - Maybe one of the most intense worship moments of my life? At the last "Late Night" session of Passion 05. It seemed like we went at it for hours... I think literally from 11pm - 2am? (Someone can correct me if I'm wrong?) This was after thousands of us had walked from across downtown Nashville in complete silence... so there was a lot of pent up energy!
Probably around 1am and we were all running on pure adrenaline, Crowder was leading us in "Our Love is Loud". On like the last chorus we were rocking the joint... literally blowing the roof off the place = "when we life our voices louder still, CAN YOU HEAR US? CAN YOU FEEL - We Love You, Lord, we love You, we love You!"
and as we sang that question it almost felt like i heard the heavens shout back "YES!" Like all the angels just shouted back = "YES! we hear you & we feel you! You are rattling the heavens!" I know it sounds crazy... but it was crazy. God was there... in the middle of us...

#2 - being prayed over by so many around me for God to send me to spread His fame to the nations... The final morning of Passion 05 Louie felt like he wanted to pray over everyone that felt like God was sending them to spread His Name to the people groups who don't know Him. I stood up with tons of others and Louie prayed over us + the hundreds in our section around each of us came in close and laid there hands on me and prayed over me. It was powerful. [I remember my college pastor at the time (who had been a missionary in Africa for like 15 years himself) praying over me and then later in the parking lot jumping up and down vertically in excitement! haha, still makes me laugh & smile.]

#1 - "You're All I Want" Do you even remember that song? (I don't even know who wrote it?) Well, we actually sang it at the 1st Passion gathering I was at back in the day. I don't remember who was leading it... but it goes like "You're all I want, You're all I've ever needed." I had sung that at my church a million times, but in that moment, and at that time in my life being so GOD-focused and satisfied in Him = I whole-heartedly meant it! I wasn't just singing a song, but that was my true heart before God... HE was all i wanted and all i needed. 
And that's my #1 moment, because i know that's what Passion is all about and it's what i want my life to be about... God is all I want and all I need... He's more than enough.  

So, there you go. my top 10 Passion moments. Some of these were personal, but i bet a lot of you might remember some of these moments!



"New Year"

We're starting our 4th week into this brand new year. This brand new year full of potential and optimism.
This is a new day too. Monday morning. Kicking off the day in style with a blog post about how I want to live this new day and this new year.
This is how I want to live each day and this new year in 2010...

"This is a new year, this is a new day to rise,
Shine, lift up your eyes
This is a new year, this is a new day to rise,
Shine, and point the way to God's great life." 

that's what i wanna do in 2010! Summed up beautifully in these lyrics from Charlie Hall. (I reviewed the CD when it came out HERE.)

I love that last line of the chorus = i simply want to "shine and point the way to God's great life."
If i can do that this year that will be success.

Shine, not with my radiance and glory, but reflecting (like the moon reflects the sun) the glory of the only One with unending fame. And in this reflection of my life, hopefully point people to the only life that matters... living for the renown of God's great life... the great life that He lives and the great life that He gives.

That's how i want to spend this new year and this new day = shining for renown.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

children's ministry on a "child-sized" budget

This is an article I wrote for "Inside North Point Kids". You can read about me writing some articles for that site HERE. And you can read this actual post on that site HERE.

Kendra Fleming (from the leadership team at North Point) asked me long ago about writing some of these articles and it just took me til now to write them!
i warned her that i probably didn't have much good to say. So, i'm just giving my opinions on what has worked for us at Ridge Church.
(I hope I don't hurt their blog readership over at Inside North Point!)

you can join the conversation over there or on this post...

Help! How can we use 252 Basics on a shoestring budget?

Many of the churches that use 252 Basics don’t have a large children’s ministry budget. How can you make Sunday mornings the best hour of every kid’s week when you have no money?

Here are a few practices that have helped us create an awesome environment while on a small budget.


If you are only planning one week ahead for each Sunday it is really hard to stay within your budget! Plan ahead and watch how much money you can save!


Bring a team of creative people around you to help you dream and create an amazing children’s ministry. Lead a creative meeting with them for each month/virtue.

In your meeting, think big and then edit! When your team has great ideas constantly ask the question “How can we do this cheaper/for free?”

You also need to surround yourself with talented people who can build, create, and make items for your environment and productions at a fraction of what it would cost to purchase the items!


We all know that the large group scripts, small group activities, and FX scripts from 252 require a lot of props! Buying all those props each month will quickly put you over budget! So, create a team of people who are willing to lend you these props! Many times people in your church will let you borrow these items for the month for free! (Hint: Moms who have a few children are the BEST for this team!)

Work together with other churches in your area and share props. Learning to share with other churches on the same mission is a beautiful thing!


Your children’s ministry will never be able to compete with Nickelodeon, XBOX, or a Miley Cyrus concert. They will always have more money than you and be better entertainers than you. BUT, they can never compete with the relationships your team can build with children! Remember that.

Don’t be discouraged that your budget isn’t as big as you would like it to be! Create the greatest environment and production you can with the money that you have. Remember that it is the relationships your team has with your children that God will use to change their lives!

What other practices have you found that allow you to prepare curriculum on a shoestring budget?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Inside North Point (& me)

You may have noticed a few links on the right side of this site for a long time now = "Inside North Point" and "Inside North Point Kids". The websites are designed to "help church leaders go further, faster."

This site is an awesome resource! On the main Inside North Point site you can find Andy Stanley's very own Leadership Blog. Brilliant as you might guess.
+ there is also a menu at the top with pages for Kids, Missions, Service Programming, Strategic Partners (what Ridge Church is), Adult Ministries, and Admin.

Kendra Fleming is the phenomenal leader who is the multi-campus Children's Director at North Point. She writes the content for the "Kids" section of this site and it is AWESOME stuff! If you're involved in working with kids you need to frequent this site!

For some reason, a few months ago, Kendra asked me about writing some articles for the Kids site. I warned her that I might not have anything helpful to add, but I wrote some articles recently and sent them to her. The writing process was actually really helpful to me. It helped me think through different processes that are effective for us that we just do instinctively. I think the process will help me be more strategic in the future.
Kendra said they would be publishing them over the next few weeks HERE.

The 1st of my articles went up yesterday and you can read it HERE. Drop a comment on the site if you think it sucks or if you found anything helpful in the article.

I plan to also post each of the articles here on renown after they show up on Inside North Point Kids. So, you can read each of the articles here too. Be looking out for them. I'll put this 1st one up later today or tomorrow.
i just hope they're helpful... it was helpful for me to write them!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

i got a new car!!!

that's the big news... the big announcement. a new ride for me!

My beloved Caddy (that many know so well and that I wrote about earlier today HERE) has not been running for almost 3 weeks now. It has been in the shop. on a Sunday after load out @ Ridge it just wouldn't start. Rusty worked on it in the freezing cold for a really long time (i was ready to give up before him & he was the one doing stuff... i was just holding the hood up). but it just wouldn't start.

If you don't know about the Caddy, I threw a "blog party" for her & you can read all about it HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. you should go back and read those... pretty fun.
It will give you an idea of how sad i was when the Caddy broke down. but then...

the next week some great friends GAVE me their car! let that sink in for a sec... gave me... for free... their car.

and this car is SWEET! it's a Nissan Maxima, which is P-I-M-P... but it's in AWESOME condition! the body looks new, the inside looks new... it's so cool. especially compared to the Caddy!

Depending on how you see things you make think this next statement is weird... but I have been praising God like crazy all week for providing this car from me!
He totally provided this car when i needed it through our friends who gave it to us!
(this is just a quick pic i snapped with my iPhone in the rain... doesn't do it justice. i'll put up more pics soon.)

it's kind of cool that this has been my prayer the past few months = "God, for Your Name's sake let my Caddy keep running past 300,000 miles. let me drive it another 10 years so that i can spend the $ that i would have to spend on a new car on Your Kingdom! Bless me by letting me drive this thing another 100K so that i can be a blessing!"

That's what I've been praying & I told Crystal this week that God totally answered my prayer, just not exactly what i was asking. He hooked me up with a car i can drive another 100K (at least), which was the essence of my prayer. He blessed me with not having to spend $ on a new car so i can be a blessing financially to others for God's Kingdom.
now, I can just do it in a phat Maxima!

(As for what will become of the beloved Caddy, stay tuned...)

on cars & the Kingdom

yesterday i found over 100 blog posts that i have partially written over the past year but never published. Crazy, eh?
they are anywhere from 5% - 95% complete. wide range.

below was the start of a thought/blog post that I wrote back in June and July during my "blog party" for my Caddy going over 200,000 miles.
You can catch up and read all about that HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

passing 200K and still driving that 20 year old Caddy provoked a celebration in my heart! And then here's what I wrote, but forgot about and never published:

*what I'm thinking on now:
I drive this junky car so that "I live with less so that I can give more." I've got to keep making sure I'm giving more!
And I do this in the area of my car, but what other areas can I live this way in???

Those were the completely unprocessed and unfiltered thoughts of my heart. That's the reason I was passionate about driving the Caddy "forever" and being in the Junky Car Club... not necessarily because i didn't have the $ to buy a new car, but because i don't want to spend $ on a new car when i could give that $ to something way more significant and important! 

in a big way for me (& why i titled the post "on cars & the Kingdom") my Caddy was FOR the Kingdom of God. I drive it for the sake of God's Name and Kingdom to advance... so the money i would spend on a car payment can be used for Kingdom purposes.

The reminder for me was to make sure i am always actually "giving more" because of God blessing me to keep driving this old Caddy. And also continually challenging my lifestyle in every area and ask = "where can i spend less on something, so that i can give more?"

Anyway, i just thought this was an appropriate intro to the post i'll write later today. it will be BIG NEWS related to the Caddy and me! big time news...
a "big announcement" we can call it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

a good "bodyguard"

"...for He guards the lives of His faithful ones..." - Psalm 97:10

that's what grabbed me early this morning. Sometimes (ok, maybe a lot of times) I worry about "life". i worry about my life and what's going to happen.

not so much that someone is going to jump me and beat me up, but just about my future, etc...

but i told God today that i just need to be consumed with being faithful to Him. & then i've got a "bodyguard" that is pretty stellar... i've got God guarding my life and my future so that i can be so confident.
pretty pimp.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

amazing people

they're all around me. I'm nothing special, but I have really special people all around me.

that's the secret. There's no way we could do what we're doing without them. I'm so thankful.

God has done amazing things through Ridge Church and i am pumped about what i know He'll be doing through us in 2010... but it's not me and my talent and ability... it's the awesome peeps around me. They are so talented, passionate, and AMAZING!

I am humbled and honored to serve with them!
(off to a creative meeting with a handful of these peeps right now...)

Do you have any amazing peeps around you?

Monday, January 18, 2010

mlk day

This is the exact post I wrote last year on MLK day. you can go and read that post HERE (there are about 7 comments on that post) or just read it below. I wouldn't say anything different than I said a year ago. I just want to echo it today!

(his b-day was actually on the 15th, but today is the holiday.
.. hence the day for the post.)
I HATE racism... with a passion. There are few other things I hate as passionately as I hate racism - things like injustice (like the fact that some don't have access to clean water... or the GOSPEL), abortion, ignorance/complacency toward the poor & dying, people who would treat my wife or family bad...

I didn't really know what racism or prejudice was until I was probably 12. I grew up in a big neighborhood where I was 1 of 2 white kids. My BEST FRIEND in the whole world from the time I was born until around 13 or 14 was Colin Lomax. He was my next door neighbor for those 13 years. We did EVERYTHING together. Every day! Colin is an African American... but I didn't really know it. That's the great thing about kids... they're colorblind.
Colin and I have since drifted as we grew up, but still keep in touch. He was at my wedding and that was pretty awesome. My oldest friend in the whole world (since I was "zero") celebrating my wedding day with me.

So, in my mind, to think differently of people with a different color skin is the most ridiculous, ignorant, and craziest thing I've ever heard. Crazier than martians and flying pigs.
I celebrate anything that destroys racism and prejudice. God celebrates that too.
I never really knew that much about Martin Luther King, Jr. growing up. (My school didn't even take the day off.) But about 2 years ago I started paying attention and reading some stuff about him here and there. Last year on MLK day I posted about it too = HERE.

I would love to let MLK speak for himself... This is something he said when they were about to take action to bring about civil rights for African Americans & politicians were telling him to "wait... just wait and let us take care of it in due time..."

We have waited three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights. Perhaps it’s easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say ‘Wait,’ but when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters… when you have to concoct an answer for your five-year-old son’s question, ‘Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?’; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading ‘white’ and ‘colored’; when your first name becomes ‘nigger’ and your middle name becomes ‘boy’… when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness,’ THEN you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” - MLK

WHOA. I hope that gives everyone a taste of the emotional background of a people with a different skin color than you. I don't think white folk can truly even imagine it.

*I was actually visiting my grandmother a few months ago in my dad's old hometown. We were driving down the main road through downtown (nothing luxurious, it's a TINY town) when I saw an old brick building (my dad later said it used to be the pool hall he used to hang out in & where he learned to be a pool shark). I was riding with my dad & yelled "STOP"... he pulled over wondering what was going on. I got out & took a picture of the building...
Yeah, no joke. Faded obviously because it hadn't been used in years, but nonetheless evidence of a HORRIBLE and INEXCUSABLE EVIL where people who simply have a darker pigment in their skin were degraded and forced to use a different entrance to buildings! Are you kidding me???

Think this kind of racism and EVIL is only a thing of the past? Think again. I just had a conversation with my mom the other day about a white girl I grew up with marrying a man who happened to be black. The girl's parents can't talk about it without crying - they're so disappointed. They were going to refuse to go to the wedding... OF THEIR OWN DAUGHTER (but apparently changed their mind). I'm sorry, but that's freaking ridiculous!

This is as insane as hating people with blonde hair! so ridiculous... such an arbitrary thing. It's just color!

I mean even the "christian" (and yes, I use the term very loosely) Bob Jones University - peeps who claimed to love Jesus were full on racists. They didn't even admit black students until 1976! what in the world!? But they would expel anyone who even thought interracial dating/marriage was ok. In 1983 they LOST in the Supreme Court case Bob Jones University vs. The United States!!! for real!!!? They lost their tax exempt status (& still don't have it back) but stood firm that their "racial discrimination was what God intended and founded in Scripture." That is SICK. I'm sure God is saying "LEAVE MY NAME OUT OF YOUR EVIL!" (To their meager credit the college lifted the interracial dating policy in 2000 because of intense media pressure and actually issued a public apology about 2 months ago. God can change anyone.)

From what I've read, I think MLK was a great man. I admire him greatly. I can't believe what he went through just so everyone could enjoy life without sanctioned hatred.
He had a vision and believed in it. Years later, I am behind his vision still:
"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." - MLK

Me too, Martin. Love Wins.

(also, you can read my MLK day post from 2 years HERE.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

i don't feel like writing...

some days i just don't feel like writing. today is one of those days.

but i want to try to write on this blog every day this year. i have heard from some wise people who are writers that writing is a discipline and you just have write anyway... even when you don't feel like it. that's what i'm trying to do now.

i'm just exhausted. completely spent. not a whole lot of processed stuff flowing out of my brain right now.
i love my wife and spending the evening with her tonight. bout to watch jack freaking bauer start an insanely long day. (at the end of some days i feel like it was a "jack bauer kind of day"...)

& i love my church - Ridge Church... i love that i get to be a part of it. i loved being there today. i loved worshipping with everyone & seeing everyone in the student and children's environments loving sundays...
i love saying to God with a big room of "Ridgers":
Take my life
All of me

Saturday, January 16, 2010

jack is back!

24 is back baby! & so is jack. kicking off with 2 hours tomorrow night.
gonna be awesome!

(some more thoughts on 24 I wrote before last season started HERE.)

love wins

in every situation. in Haiti. in the worst of situations. it always does and always will.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

want to help people in Haiti?

If you're a follower of Jesus I think our instructions are pretty clear that we are supposed to help people in need... people in poverty... people who are hurting.

I'm sure the people in Haiti are front and center on everyone's mind right now. I was just thinking about how great it would be to actually GO and do whatever I could to help the hurting people there. Even if I could just put my arm around them and let them know that I love them and God loves them more than they will ever know.

But if we can't go, we can BLESS (out of our abundance) the people there through the MANY awesome organizations who are having a major impact right now in Haiti!

Here is a short post with some GREAT organizations from the Desiring God blog that I read the other day. If you want to help, just click on a link below and do what you can! We can ALL do something!

(Click HERE to read this actual article from the DG blog):
If you're looking for an organization to channel your money through for Haiti—and you probably should be—here are some options.
  1. Compassion International
  2. Feed My Starving Children
  3. Food for the Hungry
  4. World Vision
  5. World Relief
  6. Samaritan's Purse
  7. Love a Child
  8. Northwest Haiti Christian Mission
  9. Compassion Weavers
  10. Mennonite Central Committee
  11. Water Missions International
Update: Another ministry to consider giving to is Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center. They're operating one of the only clinics near the epicenter that's open right now.

Later on DG posted another article about #3 - Food For the Hungry. You can read that article in full HERE. Here is just an excerpt:
Here is how they are describing the situation:
FH staff on the ground have indicated that food and water are not available for purchase within Port-au-Prince, and that looting is already beginning as desperate people try to obtain what they can.  Major medical facilities have collapsed, hindering first aid help for those injured in the quake. Communications are almost impossible, and a fuel shortage is cutting off transportation. FH has only been able to contact five of our 20 Haitian staff members.  Meanwhile, survivors and rescue workers are digging through rubble to reach people trapped in collapsed buildings.
 Here’s the latest on how FH is responding:
FH’s Relief Director is en route to Port-au-Prince to join the efforts of Haitian staff and to assess our next phase of response. Staff in the Dominican Republic are also standing by to join relief efforts as soon as it is possible to cross the border. 
FH’s holistic development initiatives reach tens of thousands of Haitians with HIV/AIDS and child survival programs in several of the poorest slums near Port au Prince, including Petionville, Jalousie and Bois Moquette. These areas were hit severely —the homes and other buildings in these slums are built on steep, unstable hillsides and not built to code.  During this crisis, program staff will utilize existing relationship networks to bring emergency help to these communities.

Take a second to read Matthew 25:31-46. It is as if Jesus is one of those people who is hurting in Haiti right now. What could we do to help?

If you know of any other organizations doing a great job helping the people of Haiti in this disaster comment and let us know!

Also, let us know if you can give us any insight into the impact the above organizations are making in Haiti!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Piper's talk at Passion 2010

I love John Piper. He's my homeboy. You can read some of my thoughts on him HERE.
Not many people have influenced my life greater than he has. I love to read his stuff and hear him speak.
the Passion movement connected me to Piper and he's been one of my favs ever since...
I'm going to share my thoughts and takeaways from his talk at Passion 2010. It was brilliant and so "Piperesque."
I had heard a very similar talk from him on a CD I have. I think it was from Passion '98. I've read some very similar stuff he's written along these lines too... but it never gets old!

I loved where he was going from his very opening prayer = “Grant to us a God-centeredness that is so deep and thorough and real in our hearts that we wouldn’t take offense at Your God-centeredness.”

The purpose of Piper's talk was to address the Question "Is Jesus is an ego-maniac?" And what does the center of Christianity have to do with Jesus being ego-maniacal?
This is a popular position raised by many high profile people... including Oprah.

Most of us grow up knowing 1 Corinthians 10:31 and that we should "do all for the glory of God", but no one really ever tells us that "God lives for the glory of God." And of course that's why He sounds like an ego-maniac.
Because God does every single thing for His own GLORY! this is abundantly clear in Jonathan Edwards' stuff. Piper said the most important book he ever read outside of the Bible is Edwards' The End for Which God Created the World. [So, it's on my 2010 reading list for sure!]

Piper said that “God’s God-centeredness is an unbelievably powerful test of my God-centeredness.” And that is right on, because here's the question it produces = “Do we LOVE for God to love His glory? Do we love for Him to magnify His name?”
When God says “love Me more than you love yourself.” Do we LOVE that?
Yes! We have to love that!

“Is our vaunted God-centeredness a cloak for self-centeredness by loving a God who is man-centered.” Dang. This guy has our modern evangelicalism NAILED. We typically worship the gods of being middle class and "secure" and if Jesus gives us that then, sure... we'll worship Him. As long as He is centered on our comfort.

If I’m truly a God-centered person I will LOVE God’s commitment to God. I will love it when He makes those statements like “Love me more than mother, father, life, etc… or you’re not worthy of me.” I’ll say “YES! That’s my God!”

A lot of people don’t want to go there at all. – they say “I’m God centered as long as God is me centered." Which is just another way of saying you’re me-centered.

Piper then walked us through the Bible, talking through several passages that talk about God doing EVERYTHING He does FOR HIS GLORY/For the sake of His Name/Renown! They are all throughout... more than can be mentioned, but Piper stopped on Isaiah 43:6; Jeremiah 13:11; Psalm 106:7; Isaiah 48:9-11; and Ephesians 1:4-6
[Once you realize this, you can't not see it when you read the Bible! It's like one of those 3D books... once you see the hidden image, you can't not see it!]

*So, the crux is this = God has 1 purpose = exalting Himself in the enjoyment of His people. This is His 1 purpose in eternity past, eternity future, and the center of that history (the Cross).

The awesome thing is that we don't have to choose between God getting glory and us getting joy! because (Eph. 1:4-6) the apex of our praising is joy!
Like C.S. Lewis said, we can't help but do what we delight in. the praise is the consummation of the enjoyment.

SO, whenever God says "praise Me"--since this praise is the completion of our joy it's really like He's saying, "PLEASE, come to the culmination of your joy and satisfaction and pleasure."
Then Piper followed that up with a statement that my soul echoes with all that's in me = “If that’s egomania, then bring it on! I want to be happy.”
God makes it clear that we can only be ultimately happy in seeing His greatness.

He gave some pretty cool examples of unbelievers who even get this. like in a cartoon with a couple walking out in the starlit sky and the man says to the woman = “hey, ever notice the best moments make you feel insignificant.”
+ the granola advertisement with a man at top of the peak in Yosemite looking out over amazing beauty and the line reads “You never felt more alive. You never felt more insignificant.” [it’s both. joy & insignificance go hand in hand.]
So, maybe everyone gets this to some extent. Everyone is “not made to feel significant, but made to be STUNNED with significance outside themselves.”

“We were not made to get our primary joy by thinking big thoughts about ourselves.” This is counterintuitive at 1st, but then when you scratch just a little deeper, it’s so right.
This is the best of all worlds when God says you MUST praise me (and that is your ultimate joy).

Piper went on to tie this to the cross. The playback actually cut off on me with 10 minutes left... which was a bummer. 

But the above thoughts are a big deal! It's what Piper has given his life to saying...
God is ultimate and we find our ultimate satisfaction in making His ultimateness known! or... "God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him."
I try to live every day based on this belief.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

favorite posts from 2009

i just looked back over all of renown from 2009. It's almost like a journal. i feel like i just "relived" 2009 a little!
I picked out some of my favorite articles and linked them below for you to look through if you're interested. Maybe you already read them or maybe this will be the 1st time? Either way, ENJOY my favs from renown in 2009!
(I did something similar to this for all my posts in 2008 HERE.)

let it rock your soul and Do something about it  go together. We've gotta do something in order to change the world!
The "Blog Party" for my Caddy hitting 200K! & the top 10 memories in the Caddy... so far = HERE, HERE, HERE, AND HERE.
the Upstreet revolution = how could i not love my job?
My HATRED for racism and some thoughts in happy b-day MLK
*my new to-do list that is REALLY simple. a good check up!
thoughts on the historic inauguartion day
crappy day?
what do you care about? (or are you "wicked"?)
i bet that was awesome = what if it could happen again?
vision has its price (mentored by Andy Stanley)
i've got a vision to do something about this (Africa)
TEXT - flashback - this Ridge Church series prompted a flashback...
mentored by Bill Hybels for 76 days
party people or religious people = the kind of church we want to be!
cool way to celebrate life change @ Ridge Church - Family Birthday Celebration!
thoughts on sabbath and furious rest - what i've learned about 1 of my passions
i designed the new bud light bottle! = for real!
the "sort of series" = Do you think Jesus really cares if...? 4 parts = 1) thoughts on knowledge and action (with a TON of comments, debate, and conversation), 2) what you do IS what you believe [possibly my personal fav of the series] , 3) what does Jesus think about discipleship? , 4) the division over stupid stuff
clarify the win - the 1st of 7 practices we operate by @ Ridge
hunger for what? - developing my "theology of fasting"
WONDER - our 1st ever series when we launched our student ministry @ Ridge
"so that" (stuck on it) - and i'm still stuck on it! "God blesses us so that we will spread His fame to the nations!
i read the whole New Testament in the shower! - pretty cool
U2 concert tonight! - it was awesome!
the homeless and Ridge
are you cursed? (financial advice?)
advent conspiracy - year 2
top 10 books I read in 2009
my top 10 albums of 2009 (what's still in my iPod...)


Monday, January 11, 2010

passion to learn & grow

i have an addiction to learning and growing and becoming a better leader and better at everything God has for me to do

i love being a part of a learning and growing organization - Ridge Church.

and i love the privilege to learn from and with our awesome "parent" church - North Point Community Church. Probably one of the greatest learning and growing organizations on planet earth!
i count it an awesome privilege that we were planted by North Point and are a strategic partner because we get to learn so much from them + get to participate in some awesome things.

Today I got to hang out at North Point and grow along with them at their children's staff retreat. All the Waumba, Upstreet, and Kid Stuf staff were on their 2010 retreat.

But check out who they get to learn from on their staff retreat! i got to sit in on 3 sessions with Reggie Joiner, Jon Acuff (of "Stuff Christians Like" fame), and Mrs. Children's Ministry - Sue Miller (originally from Willow Creek & now with ReThink).
It was a really awesome day of learning! worth getting up the 2nd day in a row @ 4:30am.

Thanks to North Point & the leadership for setting the bar high & being committed to being a learning & growing organization! and because of my passion for learning and growing, I'm just thankful to get to listen in...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

funny '09 Upstreet recap

Upstreet @ Ridge was awesome in 2009! God did some really cool stuff and we had a lot of fun!

This is just a short "rap" video from North Point that recaps some of the virtues and big ideas and events that the kids experienced this past year. Found it on this awesome site.

gotta get to sleep because the alarm is waking me up @ 4:30 for the 2nd morning in a row. actually driving to North Point tomorrow morning...
hope i can sleep fast

Saturday, January 9, 2010

some best of...

I started this blog renown on January 1st, 2008. So I've been writing articles on here for over 2 full years now and over 400 posts!

I think it's been a long enough time and I've published enough articles that I can "re-publish" some of my older stuff sometimes. I'll be doing that from time to time. Not a lot, but scattered throughout this year.

These "best of" articles will mainly be published on days that I don't have time to write something fresh, so I'll be re-posting some of my favorite & most read & most liked articles from the past 2 years.
(I actually have over 100 drafts of articles written just waiting to be finished and published right now. Some days I just don't have any time to finish them. But it is one of my goals to publish 300 articles here on renown this year! So, I'll be posting this older stuff for you to read.)

I'll try to stick with the older stuff that many of you may not have read, so it will be like brand new stuff for you. I think many of these will be brand new content for A LOT of you, because there are SO MANY new readers to renown that weren't tracking wtih me in those early days.

tomorrow I think I'll post links to my fav posts from 2009.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quotes of the Week - Passion 2010 edition

I have been writing about Passion and Passion 2010 pretty much all week. You can catch up on some of my thoughts HERE and HERE.

Big thanks to Passion for putting the main sessions up online. I got to watch most of them. Thankfully I'll get to watch them all soon when the videos come!

But for now I just wanted to share my top Quotes from Passion 2010. These are all from Louie Giglio, Andy Stanley, and John Piper - my favorite 3 speakers in the whole world!

Louie's top quotes (from Session 1)
"There should be no one in this city who doesn't know the Kingdom of God has come to Atlanta." [And there wasn't with the 20K towels and 65K pairs of socks students brought!]

"We shouldn't be talking, Tweeting, etc... more about people (here at Passion) than about Jesus!" [In case you think that's what I'm doing here, you should read the previous 6 posts...]

"Let's all die to everything that's less than Jesus! Forget everything the world says I need and have to have...."

"Who I become is more important than what I grow up and do."

“Generosity insures that the things you own never own you.” [where does he come up with this brilliant stuff!?!?]

"You have enough talent and passion and education to accomplish amazing things.
BUT those things have the potential to sweep us past what your character is able to maintain!" [we SO need to hear that and be reminded of it!]

“It’s always a mistake to decide what you want to do before you determine who you want to be.” [the theme of his talk]

“What you want said about you at your funeral is your personal definition of success.” – Stephen Covey (via Andy Stanley)

“Grant to us a God-centeredness that is so deep and thorough and real in our hearts that we wouldn’t take offense at Your God-centeredness.” [Piper's prayer at the beginning of his talk]

“God’s God-centeredness is an unbelievably powerful test of my God-centeredness.” [and wow is that true!]

“Is our vaunted God-centeredness a cloak for self-centeredness by loving a God who is man-centered.” [i think the answer is "yes" for a whole lot of peeps!]

“If that’s egomania, then bring it on! I want to be happy. God makes it clear that we can only be ultimately happy in seeing His greatness."

“you weren’t made to be somebody, you were made to know Somebody.”

“self forgetfulness in the presence of Greatness is the capstone of joy.” [this changed my life when i first heard Piper teach it... still changing my life years later.]

 "People are not made to feel significant, but made to be STUNNED with significance outside themselves.”
“What we delight to do we cannot help but do. The praise is the consummation of the enjoyment…” - C.S. Lewis (via John Piper)

Which is YOUR favorite quote?