Tuesday, August 31, 2010

that's easy for you to say

has anyone ever said that to you? = "that's easy for you to say". it's usually when you're far removed from the context of a situation and say something insensitive like "oh just do A + B" and the other person who is in the middle of the situation is like "that's easy for you to say. try walking a mile in my shoes..." or something like that.

i heard something recently that made me cringe a little. & i wanted to shake the guy who said it and say "that's easy for you to say!" way too easy to say because you are so far removed.
unfortunately the comment came from a very famous/well known Christian leader (who will definitely remain nameless). i have actually met this person and believe he loves Jesus... but is misguided sometimes... like all of us are.

here's what he said:
"The only reason Jesus came was to save people from hell..." 
(WOW! that's a pretty big blanket statement right off the bat. the ONLY reason? really? he didn't stop there...)

"Jesus had no social agenda...[He didn't come to eliminate poverty or slavery or] fix something in somebody's life for the little moment they live on this earth."

my immediate reaction = "Why would he say that?!?" and then i kind of wanted to punch him because i was angry. [that was not a great reaction, but i'm just being honest.]

1st of all i find his whole theology a little ludicrous based on... well... the Bible for one. even Jesus' very 1st public message in Luke 4:14-20 tells His "reason" for coming... and it's WAY off from the above quote.

This guy is one of the most popular authors, pastors, speakers in the whole world of conservative evangelicalism. i'm not sure how he can make statements like that?

& where in the world does he get off saying "fix something in somebody's life for the LITTLE MOMENT they live on this earth."

wow. "THAT'S easy for him to say."
i wonder what the single mother of 5 living in poverty in Africa would say?

i wonder what the man with no hope dying of AIDS would say?

i wonder what the orphaned child with nothing to eat or drink dying of a PREVENTABLE disease would say? (and btw, there are 26,500 of those children who will die today.)
it's easy to dismiss the "little moment here on earth" when your little moment is nice & cushy. probably doesn't seem like a "little moment" for the billions living in poverty.

Thankfully, Jesus had A LOT to say about these people and the "little moment they live on this earth"! somehow our famous Bible scholar friend must have missed that?

OK, now i'm kind of angry again, so i better cool down. although, i wonder if statements like that make God really angry too? probably.

i'll sum up with a great quote that came to mind from a friend of mine that i think is a perfect response to this. i posted it on renown long ago in "Quotes of the Week":
"rich american white boys saying that people need the gospel more than they need drinking water is absurd unless we are willing to take our wealth and share it with our fellow humans..." - Kris Hassanpour

that's seems to be essentially what our famous author friend above was saying. although, i would just like to add that giving people drinking water who need it IS also the gospel.

Monday, August 30, 2010

ever needed bolt cutters... at church?

i don't usually repost someone else's blog post here on renown, but this one is classic.

this is what my pastor wrote about after Sunday's "experience". he wrote about it way better than i could have. i think you will laugh. (when i saw the look on his face "in the moment" he was definitely not laughing though.) you can read the whole article on Chris' blog HERE.
(i have also copied & pasted it below so you can get a cheap laugh from Ridge's pain)

"Load in Church: Like a box of chocolates...
In my last post I highlighted a few of the amazing stage sets that our production/creative team is able to pull off even though we are in a load in context as a church. To add to the already challenging task of creating appealing environments for people of all ages, we've had to learn to be creative on game day too. In the words of a great theologian--Load in church is, "...like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get."- Forrest Gump.

Bird Cage?
One morning we arrived to discover a brand new bird cage in the foyer of the facility. That's right a bird cage! First week we covered it up until we realized that all the kids loved it. Now our children terrorize those birds every week while their parents check them in. If I had to guess I would say "sippy cups" now strike fear into the heart of those birds!

Another week we arrived to find a new "defibrillator" attached to the wall right beside one of our waumba rooms (pre-school).

Today...we arrived to find this little problem:

In case it isn't clear in the picture--that is a pad lock for a door. Behind that door were all of our Waumba supplies! (preschool ministry) But thanks to Volunteer hero of the day, Matt Rich, here was the solution and result.Seriously, I bet there wasn't another church on the planet today...yes I said planet--that required the use of bolt cutters in order to pull off their preschool environment. I'm just saying...this thing is an adventure. And none of the happy people that showed up and dropped off their children in Waumba ever knew this had happened.

**To the people that work so hard, give so much, serve so faithfully, and show up with game day creativity for the sake of our mission.--THANK YOU! It matters. Peoples lives are being changed."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

unending fame...

i read this today. i am still awed by it. i hope i always will be.

"Your name, LORD, endures forever, Your renown, LORD, through all generations."
Psalm 135:13

this is what it's all about. all of life. all of Scripture. this universe. it's all about that Name that goes on forever (no other name will do that). it's all about His renown - that unending fame - that generations will still be talking about in 700 years and in 7,000 years.

when i think about that it doesn't seem like other names are worth talking about. everything else we call famous... well, it's all relative.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"...and you wanted me deported..."

no doubt Jesus' words in Matthew 25:31-46 are pretty intense. i've talked about them a lot. Those words (and many others like them in Scripture) are changing the way we see everything.

To sum up - basically Jesus said that when we help the hungry, thirsty, foreigners, poor, and prisoners it's just like we're helping Jesus Himself. When we ignore them we're dissing Jesus. it's a very sobering talk from Jesus.

Yesterday i read about half of A Hole In Our Gospel by the President of World Vision, Richard Stearns. When he was talking about this passage his paraphrase almost knocked me down. i literally had to go and sit down and write some thoughts.

After reading the passage from Matthew he gave his contemporary paraphrase:

"I was hungry
while you had all you needed.

I was thristy
but you drank bottled water.

I was a stranger
and you wanted me deported.

I needed clothes
but you needed more clothes.

I was sick 
but you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness.

I was in prison
and you said I was getting what I deserved."

*is that us? we do that right? is that me? is that you?
i'm still just letting that sink in. i hope you'll do the same.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

newcastle's back... with a vengeance

(You can catch up on my congrats post for Newcastle United being promoted back to the Premier League in yesterday's article HERE.)

so, so excited that my team is back in the Premier League this season and i fully plan on trying to watch every single Newcastle game this year.

My excitement carried me to crazy thoughts that we could at least draw with Manchester United in our 1st game back... at Old Trafford! we lost 3-0 and looked horrible.

Our 2nd game (this past sunday) was against Aston Villa. The team who had just pounded on West Ham (with new boss Avram Grant) 3-0 in their opening match. by this point i was not optimistic BUT at least we were playing at St. James' Park - the best place for soccer in the world... a place that we NEVER lost in 23 games last season in the Championship.

But, my optimism quickly ran away again when Harper slid into a forward from Villa in the box and we gave up a Penalty in the 1st 10 minutes. i was like "here we go... we give up a goal & now we won't be able to score, so we'll start off the season 0-2."

but Carew missed the PK! then what followed was a thing of beauty.
Joey Barton scored probably the most magnificent goal of the season so far! i love Joey Barton even though he has that ridiculous mustache that he promised not to shave until the Magpies win their 1st game.

Then one of my favs - Kevin Nolan scored 2 goals from midfield... and the youngster phenom (wanted by the likes of Chelsea) got a HAT TRICK. Andy Carrol is the future for Newcastle & he just scored a hat trick at 21 against Brad Friedel (one of the best keepers in the EPL). i am stoked.

i saw Alan Shearer up in his skybox taking a WAD of cash and laughing just after Carrol got his hat trick. he must have had a bet with a few people that Carroll would get a hat trick. that is awesome.

next week it's on to Goodison Park to take on Everton and another American Keeper - Tim Howard. i hope we can score 6 on him too!

i hope we can finish mid table this season (in the top 10 would be AWESOME). then next season top 7 and make the Europa league. then by 2012/13 i hope we're back in the top 4 and in the Champions League again. we're headed in the right direction... at least this week.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

newcastle's back

i have meant to write this blog ever since May. just now getting around to it.

soccer has always been my favorite sport. i love a lot of sports, but soccer is the beautiful game and there's just nothing else quite like it.

since i was a kid my favorite team in the world has been Newcastle United! i am a crazy Geordie and part of the Toon Army. Newcastle have been my boys and ALMOST won the Premier League title so many times and even qualified for the Champions League a couple times. Alan Shearer, the Newcastle native, was my favorite player & probably one of the best ever from England.

When i got married we ended up getting some channels that show pretty much all the Premier League games which has been awesome and i can watch Newcastle games!

But 2 seasons ago (08/09) the unthinkable happened! my team was relegated. They finished 3rd from the bottom of the league and were demoted to the lower division (the Championship). they missed staying up by 1 point. heartbreaking... (it takes some teams 100 years to be promoted back into the Premier League and some teams never make it back.)

i was furious and heartbroken because there was no way to watch any Newcastle games because they were playing in "the Championship" (lower division).
But thankfully, Newcastle blew away the competition and won the league outright getting over 100 points (all time record) and never ever losing a game at home the whole season at historic St. James' Park.
(btw - St. James' Park in Newcastle upon Tyne is in my top 5 places to visit on my bucket list. Home of the craziest fans on earth!!!)

so, so excited about this team that's still intact getting promoted back into the Premier League this season. Unfortunately our 1st game was AT Old Trafford against the Premier League greats, Manchester United.
but more on this season in the next post...

i just want to celebrate for 1 post that Newcastle is back in the Premier League!

Friday, August 20, 2010

I've got a vision to do something about this! (Africa) [repost]

(this is a repost from April 1st, 2009).

God's given me a vision & I've got to do something about these atrocities taking place in Africa that you'll read below.
& when I say "I've got to" I MEAN "I've got to!" I really don't think you can stop me. You can try... but there is an unstoppable and unquenchable passion in me to glorify God's awesome Name by FIXING THESE PROBLEMS!!!

In Africa...
  • Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS
  • 50,000 children will die of AIDS this year
  • 1,400 newborn Africans are infected with AIDS every day
  • There are 900,000 orphans in Nairobi, Kenya alone today, mainly due to AIDS
  • More than 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1 a day
  • Every 3 seconds a child dies of nutrition deprivation/starvation
  • More than 300 million people in Africa do not have access to clean water
  • 1 million children die of malaria each year (that's death by mosquito bite!)
  • millions of unreached people don't know how awesome Jesus is. They don't even know His name...
My vision is to see those stats go away. AIDS, poverty, disease, ALL OF IT to end! My vision is for a Revolutionary Jesus Movement (RJM I might call it, haha) to spring up across the region and in people groups. My vision is for an Unstoppable Church planting movement to spread across Africa until we can truly say there are no more unreached people groups in all of Sub-Saharan Africa! What a cool day that will be.
God will be famous.
I will probably be dead, but maybe not. Doesn't matter because it's not about me.

I'm going for the rest of my life to do something about this. Not sure when exactly it will be. Some days I feel like I can't wait another second.
God put a vision and a passion in me to let Him use me to change that continent... & sometimes I just can't help but talk about it. 

this is one of those times.

Monday, August 16, 2010

chewing, spitting, & learning from EVERYBODY (repost)

(I originally wrote and posted this on January 16, 2008. I just went back and read it and am a little surprised at how different my writing style was way back then. interesting... i still like what i said back then though, so here it is again. Gabe Lyons even commented on the original post which you can read HERE. that was pretty cool.)

I LOVE to learn! It’s one of my favorite things in the world to do. I want to say for the record that I can & will learn from everybody! I learned long ago to “chew up the meat and spit out the bones.” I’m not influenced negatively by learning from such a broad spectrum of people; I’m simply challenged and stretched. There are a lot of people who have a lot of good things to say & I want to learn from them all.

My whole life people have warned me not to read or listen to certain people because they might “win me over” to their side. I want the truth. If that person is right and has the truth then maybe we should all be “won over” to their side. If they’re wrong then I’ll spit out the bones and walk away with whatever is good. In college every time a professor told us that a certain author or book was “dangerous” or that we should stay away from it, I immediately got the book and read it. I learned a lot of good stuff from those “bad” authors.

Also, in my humble opinion, people need to stop bashing authors, pastors, etc… for what they’re teaching until they read and/or hear it straight from them. Stop reading what their enemies say is wrong with them & read for yourself what they have to say! Don’t just take someone’s word for it. There are a lot of Christians bashing other Christians right now… but very few of them have taken the time to really hear what the other side is saying. Instead they take someone’s word for it – their teacher, pastor, or friend. I don’t think my generation as a whole will be satisfied with this approach. We want to know for ourselves. I think that’s part of why some circles will die off over the next few generations (fundamentalism for example).

I don’t have to agree with everything someone says to learn from them. So, when you see me quoting people or mentioning people on this blog it’s not necessarily because I agree with everything they say… in fact, I might disagree with half of what they say, but I’ve probably learned at least one good thing from that person. So, just because you think the person I quote is a heretic doesn’t mean I’m a heretic too—hopefully I’m not.

I want to learn from all cultures, all theological traditions, and people from all socioeconomic and denominational backgrounds. So, I really don’t care if someone is democrat/republican, charismatic/cessationist, dispensational/covenant, Calvinist/arminian, Presbyterian/non-denominational, mystic/scholastic, liberal/conservative, etc… That’s why I can learn from Rick Warren one day and then read a John Macarthur (doesn’t care for Rick all that much to put it nicely) commentary the next. This is why I’ve been able to learn a lot from both Piper & Mclaren, even though the two are obviously not best buds. This is why I like reading Calvin & Edwards, but also Wesley & C.S. Lewis. I like learning from a pretty broad spectrum of people. I feel that I learn more and can be more effective in spreading the fame of Jesus when I do this. I recommend that you do the same.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

back home. next stop = Kenya

Crystal and i are back home after our getaway vacation. it was awesome.

we're catching up on everything this weekend. i'm excited we got back in the country in time to see the star of the EPL season which kicked off today. It's as exciting as the opening of the college football and college basketball seasons... even more exciting in a lot of ways.
Tottenham vs. Man City opening game was straight awesome.
unfortunately i've gotta wait til Monday to watch my all time favorite team's (Newcastle) 1st game... & unfortunately they've got Man U on the schedule... at Old Trafford.

we'll be home for about a month before we head to Kenya. We are SO EXCITED! we've been talking about it all the time. we talked about it a lot on vacation.

*We've been learning Swahili as best we can. i haven't been able to devote as much time to it as i want to, but hopefully i can spend a lot more time on it this month. At work today Crystal was talking to a patient from Kenya and he was so impressed at her Swahili. he said she was saying the words perfectly with the perfect accent and everything. pretty cool.

During our 10 days in Karima we'll be working in a school. i'm stoked about that. we're using the "Cooperation" curriculum we did in Upstreet last November in the school. that will be a lot of fun.
Then we'll go visit Peter and Erick in Meru and after that it looks like we'll get to spend 1-2 weeks working at an orphanage in Nairobi.

there's a little update on our Kenya journey. we're so stoked.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

friday the 13th...

tomorrow is friday the 13th...
it's already friday the 13th somewhere. oooh... spooky.

i'm probably just now returning home from my 2 week vacation.

maybe i'll have something brilliant to write tomorrow?...

on friday the 13th.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"What is wrong..." (guest blog)

This is a guest blog from my friend Scott Grace. (You can read "Part 1" in yesterday's post.)


"So I have said all this without introducing the point. What am I trying to say? Glad you asked.
During one of the Geisler sessions, Norm began by giving some alarming statistics on how children raised in Christian homes are leaving the church never to return. At the end of the session, during the Q/A time, one man asked “What is wrong with the church today?” Geisler answered profoundly (not really), “We are spending too much time entertaining and not enough time training.” There was a good round of applause following his answer. Little did they know that he was talking about them (We are the church)! I thought that was ironic. We all assume that the problem is with “other” people and never ourselves. That made me chuckle. Anyway, moving on.

Geisler’s answer shows where he places his emphasis: “training.” Whatever he means by “training” is a mystery since he didn’t explain, but I would venture to guess he would have everyone become apologists of the faith; he would have people become great defenders of inerrancy, cal-minianism, premillenialism, and so on. I don’t know what he meant by entertaining either, but I certainly feel that Geisler thinks the solution is raising up a generation of apologists who will save the children from the snares of this world. Well… I think he is right, but only to a small degree. We must have thoughtful, reflective, and culturally astute people, but I think he has missed something so tremendous, something so huge that only a man stuck in seminary offices and classrooms, behind grand volumes of theological literature, could miss. Certainly the church has “dumbed-down” its message to appeal to the broader culture, but is “training” (of an intellectual type) really going to save the children? I can’t imaging that is the case. Jesus never said, “Go into all the world and train.” Certainly Paul placed a heavy emphasis on knowing the Scriptures… I cannot deny that, but Paul’s reason for knowing the Scriptures was not for the sake of defending the faith, the reason was to preach the gospel to the world.

I don’t think intellectual, biblical, and theological training is the cure-all, though I cannot deny that intellectual, biblical, and theological training have influenced my life greatly and will do the same for others. But training does not fix my brokenness. It can’t, and never will. I have been “trained” and I have the ability to “defend the faith” but that is not what sustains my faith, though it certainly provides a level of support. What sustains my faith is the power of the gospel, the experience of the transforming nature of the life of Jesus Christ lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is unlike any other message in the world. It brings HOPE, RESTORATION, FORGIVENESS, RECONCILIATION, and HEALING to the world. Training can never do those things, only the preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ and the life living out the gospel of Jesus Christ on a daily basis can change the world.

If I were to answer the question (and I did not because I am not Norman Geisler) I would say that what is wrong with our churches is that we are living as though the gospel is only something we believe and not something we live. We are too comfortable. We are too easily distracted with what matters little, we are too self-centered, we have too much, we care too little, we do not grasp the nature and power of the gospel of Jesus, the Christ. God is going to restore all things and make them new. He has done this through Christ and will continue to do it through us. Our task in this life is to mimic that process in our day by day lives, in our homes, workplaces, schools, families, neighborhoods, countries, and continents. When Christians start living the forgiveness they have found then possibly the kids will see what Christianity is: a way of life rather than something we do on Sunday. We must spend less time entertaining and more time living the gospel."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the preface (guest blog)

This is a guest blog from my friend Scott Grace. (I introduced him in yesterday's post.)
This is just the "preface" or Part 1... you can read Part 2 tomorrow.

"I went on vacation this past week to Camp-of-the-Woods (it’s in the Adirondacks). In my pea-brain mind I assumed that this camp was somehow related to the famous Word of Life Camps (just over the mountains). Any how, I was wrong. Apparently the camp (Camp-of-the-Woods) is run by “The Gospel Volunteers,” an organization started by constituents who, being unhappy with the liberalizing Salvation Army, left and began their own ministry. It was started as a conservative reaction to the “social gospel” that had infiltrated the Salvation Army.

One of the perks of the camp is they invite “big name” evangelicals to come. I heard Josh McDowell, his son Sean McDowell (who was the best of the three speakers by far), and Norman Geisler. Honestly, I have never really been a huge fan of Geisler primarily because he is so “sure” about everything (sort of like John McArthur, but a little more of a gentle spirit). Long ago his book Chosen but Free made me mad during my defender-of-Calvin days. So, I was interested to hear him speak, but I had made up my mind to be skeptical of whatever he said, and I was. I guess I am too sure about my own opinions, I apologize, Dr. Geisler.

Anyway, his topic for the week was “Can we trust the Bible?” and as you can imagine he spent a full session defending his “inerrancy” position. I find his methods of philosophical deductions valuable, but I think he missed painting the whole picture to the hearers. There was no mention of the Bible as ancient expressive religious literature. He presented it as a series of propositional statements (proof texting). He left very little room for hermeneutical issues, tradition, and genre issues, but I guess when you’re dealing with a random group of people (mainly old people) who are on vacation, you don’t want to get too crazy in your study. People will get upset."

to be continued...

Monday, August 9, 2010

guest blogger - Scott Grace

i love reading Scott Grace.

i think i always will because he is a great writer. you should check out his blog HERE.

he also happens to be a friend of mine and i think we may be hanging out over the Christmas holidays up in New York. i look forward to those conversations over cups of coffee.

i wish we had been better friends in college and hung out more. i think that would have been cool, but i'm glad we're friends now.

Scott is brilliant. His brain works differently than mine. He writes differently than me.
i love Scott and i love the way he writes. sometimes he says a simple phrase that just slays me for days. he's made renown's "quotes of the week" many times.

last year when i went on vacation i asked a few of my friends to write guest blogs for renown to post while i was away. one of those guys was Scott.
for his own reasons he asked his posts to remain anonymous, so i published them under the pseudonym "Winston Smith" and even gave him a face. i introduced him HERE.

His posts were way more intellectually intense than anything ever seen before on renown and they definitely generated a lot of discussion! you can read that article and the almost 20 comments HERE.

just let that whet your appetite for Part 1 of his guest post tomorrow.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

it's been so long

when i was a kid i loved scary stuff. still do really. but as a young kid and all the way into high school i LOVED horror movies and i LOVED to read scary books. my favorite was the best, and he was so good that eventually he was the only author i read for great fiction novels!

Say whatever you like about him = sick, dimented, twisted. yep, i totally agree. but, now you have to agree that he is unbelievably gifted and at least one of THE TOP 5 AUTHORS of our generation. (i would argue 1 of the top 2.)

he's one of the 2 or 3 greatest storytellers ever. as a teenager his stories mezmerized me! i read everything i could:
The Shining
The Dark Tower whole series about that crazy Gunslinger...
Pet Cemetary
The Dark Half - the most insane thing i've ever read!
The Dead Zone
Needful Things

Misery - the last one i read around 17...
Tons more i read that i'll remember tomorrow. i think the last one i read was Misery around my senior year of high school. i haven't read one since. haven't really read fiction at all since 17 until my wife made me read Harry Potter (& i thank her for it!)

but i have been intrigued every since Stephen released his newest book about 9 months ago = Under the Dome

my wife was shopping for Christmas crap and somehow i got tricked into going to super Wal-mart with her. which meant i'm just basically walking around for hours because i'm a good husband. :)
we walked in the front door i saw King's new book as it was just released that week. i picked it up and thought "this will give me something to do."

you have to understand that i was passionate about Stephen King's books 10 years ago. now, i had long lost that passion and just picked it up to pass the time. BUT this book grabbed my imagination just like all the others and i was immediately sucked into this story that seemed like reality in a little town in... yeah, you guessed it, Maine.

i could not put that book aside for a second to see where i was walking. i bumped into like 3 aisles. i wanted to buy it really bad but it wasn't in the budget. (new release hardbacks are so expensive!)

last week i saw it was a new release in paper back and fairly cheap. i started reading reviews from the NY Times and USA Today. They were saying things like this was Stephen King's best book since The Stand AND "The best ever from the best ever."

wait a minute... the best ever from Stephen King... the best ever author. whoa. that got my attention.
i read all about how it has a major agenda and it's not just fiction. it's big time political, ecological, and of course about HUMANITY and our struggle with right and wrong, good and evil, moral choices and what mankind will do in certain situations.

i read an article Stephen himself wrote that he started writing the book in 1976 but quit after 75 pages and now he went back at it over 30 years later!

i had a Borders gift card from my ordination at Ridge Church. so the day before we left for vacation i bought it because i was just sucked into the greatness of the story from one of the greatest storytellers!

it's 1,100 pages! a BEAST. i'll never read it except on vacation when there is no work to be done. i'm reading the next Harry Potter 1st, but then i might read Under the Dome next.

Friday, August 6, 2010

my life and wife (repost)

(This is a repost from January 2nd, 2008. my 2nd post ever.)
There is at least 1 good thing they taught me in college that I still remember – “happy wife, happy life.” (because “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”) I grew up hearing Bill Wyman sing “if you wanna be happy for the rest of your life never make a pretty woman your wife.” BUT that’s some horrible advice. God hooked me up with an amazingly beautiful wife (who’s the best cook I know) + I’m happy and have no doubt I will be for the rest of my life. Sorry, Bill, it’s just not true.

I am trying to honor God and spread His renown by my relationship with my smokin’ hot wife. God says that the way I love my wife is supposed to be a picture of the way Jesus loves the church. That’s a lot to live up to. She’s comes 2nd only to Jesus and before everything else including my job, ministry, wants, etc…
And that’s pretty easy because I’ve got the greatest wife in the world. She was designed specifically to be my wife and to be able to put up with me. I can pretty much be a pain to live with, but she does it gracefully and without complaining. She is the sweetest woman I know, but if you mess with me she will jack you up!

It’s pretty awesome that we get to have a date night every Friday night & Friday also doubles as our “rest in God day” (Sabbath). We usually just go out to dinner and see a movie or hit up a pumpkin patch or camp out by the fire and watch some old episodes of Friends.

My wife is definitely the coolest. I can be myself with her like with no one else. I’m free to just be me. I don’t need to put on a show or try to be someone I’m not. And she’s cool with that (except sometimes in public when my ADD kicks in). She is honestly my best friend in the whole world. It makes me happy to make her happy!

We’ve known each other since we were 12 when she moved here to Charlotte from NY. Here’s the romantic version: when she first moved here we each happened to be out shopping for Christmas trees with our families. I was carrying our tree and her dad was carrying their tree—and the two of them somehow got tied together! No joke. The rest is history. Well, sort of. We started dating like 5 years later in High School and through college and then were married 8/5/05.

She loves her new puppy Jack Bauer (that she begged me for a year to get and I finally caved in because… say it with me = “happy wife, happy life.”) She is a Nurse at Carolina’s Medical Center – University… after being downtown for over 2 years. (She’s actually received the Nurse of the Year award 2 years running… so what if I am the only judge? Did you guys know there’s actually such a thing as Nurse’s Day??! You learn fast when you’re married to one.) She loves to help people, give people gifts, and just love people… which I think is pretty cool. She’s a 24 fan like me, but also likes dumb shows like Grey’s Anatomy, ER, & Dr. Phil. (I don’t need hate mail from all the girls that love those shows… they’re just not for me.)
God has hooked us up in crazy ways. We’re blessed with a sweet house filled with free furniture. It’s like we should be on the ghetto poor version of MTV Cribs. We both have great families and God’s given us so much and we’re so thankful for it all. I feel like I could write a book on how good God has been to Crystal and me.

We’ve jumped in with a brand new church plant called Ridge Church (which I’ll write more about later). God birthed a passion in me to spread His fame a few years ago and I’ve never been able to shake it. I feel that He is leading us to eventually start a revolution among unreached people groups (probably in Sub-Saharan Africa). God can do whatever He wants but that’s where He's leading right now - hopefully to rock a region with a revolution for His renown! I know it probably sounds pretty audacious… but more on that another time too.

Basically, my wife and life are the best. I’m lovin’ it. I’ve found… SATISFACTION… God gets all the credit for that.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

happy 5 year anniversary!!! (to us)

5 years ago TODAY i married my best friend.

and she's still my best friend.

she is an amazing wife and i love her more than life itself. i thank God and i praise Him for hooking me up with a wife like Crystal that i don't deserve in a million years!

we've been married for 5 years today! i think this is the 1st big anniversary, right?

we're in the Caribbean right now celebrating and i actually got her a pimp "journey" ring as a 5 year anniversary gift. it's sweet and has 5 diamonds representing our journey so far. i'm hiding it under her pillow so she'll find it when she wakes up :) i hope she likes it.

Crystal, i love you more today than i did that flippin' hot day 5 years ago out in that grass field with all our closest friends and family... and at this rate i know i'll love you more next year too... if that's even possible.
thanks for being my best friend and the love of my life. thanks for being my amazing wife.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

vacation reading list

still on the beach lovin' life! this is awesome.

i mentioned i plan on reading a lot. maybe you like to read on vacation and maybe you have one coming up? below are the books i'm taking on vacation this year.
(a new record! i limited the amount of books i'm taking to SINGLE digits! i'm weird with books and always take a ton because i never know what i'll feel like reading on a particular day...)

FICTION - i don't read fiction really. not since i was a 6th grader. starting last year i give myself like 1 fiction book per year to read. On the list for this year is the 2nd Harry Potter book - The Chamber of Secrets. (i read the 1st one last year.) then i'm also taking #3 in case i get hooked and just have to read the next one... (even though it's not on my 2010 list).

[i've got another fiction book i just bought that's not on my 2010 list, but i may just crack it open on vacation. i'll post about it in a couple days in a post called "it's been so long".
the rest of these books are on my 2010 reading list...]

BIOGRAPHY - i can't remember the last time i read a biography, but i'm taking one that i'm excited to read. The biography of George Muller. it's pretty thick... i think because he lived a life that demanded telling a lot of stories about. when i finish i bet he will be my new hero. (George is even rockin' a faux hawk in this pic!)

LEADERSHIP - i don't do any work while on vacation, but i am taking Maxwell's Developing the Leaders Around You with me in case i'm just aching for some leadership stuff.

[Re]Understanding Prayer - by Kyle Lake that i'm a good bit through already.
Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ - Piper
A New Kind of Christianity - the latest from Brian McLaren that i've cracked into a little.
The Next Christendom - Phillip Jenkins. i know the concept but am intrigued to read the actual book.

*Oh and 1 other important book i am bringing along that i guess would be in the tutorial or educational section.

Monday, August 2, 2010

2 great books by Luke & Matt

by the time you read this we are enjoying our vacation already in beautiful Punta Cana! i wrote about our vacation yesterday HERE.

1 of my 2010 goals was to dig and try to really understand The Gospel. the 1st part of that plan was going to read each gospel separately in 1 sitting. i think through and write out my initial thoughts after reading it like a novel and try to capture the author's heart and what he's really trying to say.

life has been so busy that i've only been able to do that with Mark and John's gospels so far. (1 on a day out at Lake Norman and 1 on a cruise to Cozumel... i really like to read the Bible around water!)

so, on this vacation i am going to be reading Matthew & Luke in 1 sitting on different days out on the beach in the Caribbean. i can't wait.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

we're going on vacation!!!

Yep, Crystal and i are going on an almost 2 week vacation. we'll be celebrating our 5th anniversary of being married! pretty crazy...

we've never been on a vacation this long, but we are SOOOO looking forward to it!

for us, vacation is a non-negotiable.
when i work, i work really hard (or at least i try to). i put everything into my work and i work a lot.

but when i rest (like on my weekly sabbath), i really go all out and do no work. So, on this vacation i won't have a laptop, i won't be checking emails or voicemails or texts... i won't have anything to connect me to work (except for my brain and i'm going to try to shut that down too).

When i can truly disconnect from work i come back to my job (which is also my passion) much SHARPER and very REJUVENATED. My ideas are better and i'm more excited to do it!
after a nice relaxing vacation i do my job way better.

+ my body just needs a vacation. very badly. my brain, my work and stress levels all need a break.
and i really just need some ALONE time with my wife. 2 weeks in a romantic place with NO agenda. that's what we need and we're excited to just be with each other 24-7 for a while with no one else around.

we're going to Punta Cana and staying at an all inclusive resort that is adults only. it's gonna be amazing. we don't even need to leave the place if we don't want to. i'm told it's somewhere out in the Caribbean. but honestly i don't care. i just want my beautiful wife and a beautiful beach to be there and i'm good.

So, on my vacation i plan to:
sleep... a lot. basically as much as i want! no more 6am alarm every day. i'm gonna be LAZY for 2 weeks so i can not be lazy for the next 50.

2  spend a lot of awesome quality time with my God and my Creator in His beautiful creation. for me, time with God on the beach is like none other. it's amazingly intimate, experiential, mystical, deep, and sometimes ecstatic.

3  spend a lot of time with my gorgeous and amazing wife. She's my best friend and i like nothing better than to spend all my time with her!

read. that's just what i like to do at the beach. read... a lot. but i'll talk more about that in tomorrow's post!

5  have fun & eat way too much.

*So, i'm out for 2 weeks. i'll talk to some of you when i return. **There will still be daily posts on renown! there will be another guest blogger + i have several articles i just wrote that are set up to post, so keep checking in daily.