Sunday, December 30, 2012

book learnings from 2012 (part 3)

below are some takeaways from the the books i read in July and August this year. each rated with 1-5 *stars* based on how good i thought it was.

Understanding God's Will: How to Hack the Equation Without Formulas - Kyle Lake     3.5*s
i really like reading Kyle Lake. a lot. i wish i could have known him before he died.
ended up doing a whole 3 talk series on "God's will" for students & read this book as part of the prep for it. really, really good analogies & metaphors & language for understanding "God's will." i still put it in quotes because i don't know anything else better to call it.
probably the best & most helpful thing in the whole book was an excerpt from an article by McLaren back in the day. simply brilliant analogy to his son asking what his dad's "will" was for him to major in in college. dad's "will?" simply for his son to make his own decision :)
brilliant. of course, all is better in context.
best overarching metaphor is "Disciple" -- understanding God's will means to literally follow or apprentice Jesus. when we're doing that there's no need to worry so much about all this "is it God's will or isn't it" mumbo jumbo.
short story - this is a worthy (quick) read. as is everything by the late Kyle Lake.

The Performance Factor: Unlocking the Secrets of Teamwork - Pat McMillan     3*s
required for team building class. i think it was pretty good. he had like 6 steps to guarantee you've go a rockin team. none of them are coming back to me right now. that class was kind of a blur. i read this book in like a day & a half. i should probably revisit my notes on this because it's a huge NY Times best seller & all that.
i remember liking it and thinking "right on" but it obviously didn't motivate me to a lot of immediate action (consciously, anyway).

Homosexuality and the Bible: 2 Views - Via & Gagnon     4*s
i hadn't read a whole lot of books a theology of homosexuality... until i wrote a research paper on it during the summer semester. i read bits & pieces of another 20 books but this one was the best by far. also required for the class, so i read it in full.
LOVED reading these 2 scholars with very opposing views interact with the key biblical texts & flesh out their theologies on the matter.
eye opening. all of this is not as biblically cut and dry as the majority of Christians assume on the surface. i recommend this book if anyone is digging. it's a great presentation of both sides from 2 legit scholars.

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics - Robert A. J. Gagnon     2.5*s
was much better reading this Gagnon guy interacting with Via and the 2 of them being forced to go back and forth. that keeps people honest. with Gagnon writing a whole book on his own he can pretty much go off and say whatever he wants without a 2nd scholar acting as a check or balance... this one was kind of long & got boring.

Spiritual Leadership - Henry Blackaby     2.5*s
i think the whole book can be adequately summed up with the subtitle... "moving people on to God's agenda." & that's pretty much what you get out of this book. nothing bad. it's all good.
fairly elementary though.

Transforming Leadership - Leighton Ford     3*s
this is by Billy Graham's bro-in-law & i think is like a big whig at my seminary. he wrote a ton of books. this was actually really good. for some reason i just can't remember a lot of the good. i think it was basically presenting Jesus' theology of leadership. a lot of really powerful stuff. relationships. serving. vision. all the hallmarks of the incredible leadership of Jesus. kind of long. like over 300 pages & could have been 150 pages maybe.

Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World - Dennis Hollinger     4*s
Hollinger was my prof for sexual & bioethics (& just happens to be the new president of my seminary). this book was brilliant. Hollinger is absolutely brilliant at taking these very scientific and intellectual ideas and boiling them down to popular level. amazing primer on ethics in general. i would start HERE if you're diving into ethics.
begins with foundational differences in all the worldviews that ethics are built from. critiques each & even presents kind of a new way forward. also dives in practically to pretty much every ethical scenario we face today. very practical. very well written for a pop level. very engaging. really really good. (if it were under 200 pages i would be tempted to give it 5*s... but alas... it's 300.)

Why the Church Needs Bioethics - John Kilner (editor)     3*s
every chapter was authored by a different expert from a different field relating to bioethics and/or the church/education/theology. some chapters were brilliant & gripping and i couldn't put them down. others were awful. especially one by VanHoozer. i say skip that one. can't remember where he's from but he must be a leftover fundamentalist or something.
there were a few that were absolutely brilliant and make the book worth reading. now i know just enough bioethics to be dangerous. :) just kidding.
actually this book did remind me over and over of the TV show Fringe. seriously. Science is advancing at such a rate that our theology & ethics will need to go where it has never dreamed of going before! (just ask Walter Bishop)

The Meaning of Sex - Dennis Hollinger     4*s
i can't think of anything better that i've ever read on the topic?
honestly, best of all it helped me form and clarify some of my own theology/philosophy on this topic. Hollinger and i aren't very far off at all. if anything i used him as a springboard to where i landed. very thankful for this book. i would definitely recommend it. read with an open mind.
basically presents 4 "Givens" or purposes for sex. pleasure, love, procreation, and consummation. that's a foundation for viewing sex & its meaning. all that is explored & then every sexual idea is critiqued through that lens.

The Third Conversion - Scott Rodin     4*s
a 98 page fiction about a professional non-prof fundraiser.
really really good stuff on giving. it's written for professional fundraisers, but i was more affected from a giving point of view. it's really a theology of giving/blessing (2 way) and it deeply resonated with my heart & thoughts on that stuff.
HIGHLY recommend this book to basically anyone! if you give $ or don't + if you raise $.
     (side note - those authors doing fiction to make a point really have a lot more fun, don't they?)

While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks - Tim Laniak     4*s
this did something inside of me. this did something in my soul.
i read it every single morning on my porch swing for about 40 days... it was refreshing. basically short snippets of thoughts from on location in the middle eastern desert about LEADERSHIP & its connections to shepherding. 3 main ideas of protecting, guidance, and provision as role of a shepherd leader. brilliant concept. brilliantly written
beautiful thing it did inside of me.

The Future of Management - Gary Hamel     4*s
i almost give this book 4.5 or 5*s... i went back and forth. it was really really good & groundbreaking stuff. probably better than the 4 books above that received 4*s, but i couldn't bring myself to give it 5*s.
basically the future of management focuses on the EMPLOYEE NOT the customer or the system/org. + must be all about INNOVATION. every org will need to change faster than change itself, therefore people, systems, & leaders will be forced to changed lightning fast!
highly recommended for any leader.

a few more of these posts to go to make it thru all the books i read in 2012. then my top 10 list to choose out of all of these...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

book learnings from 2012 (part 2)

continuing today with my takeaways and thoughts from the books i read in 2012. read HERE for the whole setup and my explanation of the 5* *STAR* system that rates each book. you can also read my takeaways from the books i read in January-February in yesterday's post HERE.

still working through the books i read, in the order i read them during the year. these are the books i read March - May & all but 3 were required reading for classes.

Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission, and His Message - Michael Bird     3.5*s
this book was not NEARLY as good & in depth as Rediscovering Paul by Capes that i reviewed in yesterday's post... but it was a much shorter more popular version. same idea & same intent. so i enjoyed it as well.
"If the Paul we claim to know looks and sounds a lot like us, then that is probably a good indication that we do not know him as well as we think we do.” - that's a good summary from the beginning for where the book was headed.
& what this book set out to do in a very popular/readable way = "If we can be mature enough to let Paul be Paul and treat his letters as windows into his world rather than as deposits of theological dogma, then we stand a chance of meeting him anew…”  

A Concise New Testament Theology - I. Howard Marshall     3*s
as New Testament theologies go, this one is actually ok. it was nice & concise :) edited from his larger one already published, which "they" all say is the best one going right now.
the coolest part i loved about this NT theology is that it is written and proposed from the perspective of MISSION. Mission is the core, the foundation that all NT theology flows from... not the other way around. loved reading it this way. the author builds his whole theology from the assumption that the NT writings are the documents of a mission and that NT theology is essentially missionary theology.
a little surprising to hear from the top dawg NT theologian of today but very refreshing.
"In short, people who are called by God to be missionaries are carrying out their calling by the writing of Gospels, Letters, and related material.”

Dictionary of Paul and His Letters - (IVP)     4*s
this was a really sick read... this is pretty much everything of the best stuff that every top scholar has to say about Paul. over 1,000 pages if i remember correctly. took me forever to read, but really really good.
and i mean EVERYTHING from Paul on the Kingdom, mysticism, principalities & powers, universalism, Paul's interpreters through the ages, etc...
if i don't have a better grasp of Paul after that Spring semester and books like this one then that's on me.

Jesus Driven Ministry - Ajith Fernando     2*s
i mean decent, but wouldn't read it again. kind of wasted time although i'm sure there were positives from the book. just can't remember what they were. :) basically he tried to build a Jesus' leadership philosophy out of the book of Mark & walk through it chronologically. REALLY stretched some stuff & did some (imho) violence to the context. surprised me about Fernando. seemed like he just had the publishers breathing down his neck to pump out this book. didn't really disagree with much that he said, was just frowning at how he got there.
told the prof in the paper that this book was a waste of time.

Serve the Community of the Church - Andrew D. Clarke     3*
really good. took a long time to get to the really good part, but really good. essentially the majority of the book goes more in depth than anything i've ever seen to help the reader fully grasp and be immersed in he Graeco-Roman context 1st century Christian were in. much different than what we might assume. that took up most of the book & then we get the gold of conclusions at the very end. the fact that the leadership philosophy Jesus and Paul were presenting were as radically counter-cultural and rebellious as they could get. the idea of a leader being a servant was no mistake & it FORCED leaders to make a HARD break from the culturally accepted leadership mode.

The 29% Solution - Ivan Misner     3.5*s
total change of pace from all this technical stuff above. blazed through this one at my buddy Scott's house when i was there for his wedding and he was working. just plucked this off his shelf and read it. the author gives 52 specific strategies for networking. seriously, 52. broken into 8 sections/ categories like creating your own future, expanding your network, going the extra mile, etc...
really really practical stuff. a lot of the 2nd half didn't apply a lot to me, but just good practical stuff for relating to people.

A Theology of the New Testament - George Eldon Ladd     3*s
this is the famous classic NT theology from a more recently dead guy. he's the famous "kingdom of God" prof from Fuller. i've read some of his other stuff. this was pretty good. it was big and long. i preferred Marshall's for sure with it being a lot shorter and more focused and written in more modern times.
i don't think i was much in the mood for reading this one, to be fair.

The Dirt on Sex - Justin Lookadoo     3*s
i don't even know where this book came from or how it ended up on my shelf. but i saw it when i was in the middle of writing/prepping a series on sex for the student ministry at Ridge.
this book is GOLDEN for its audience (teenagers/pre-teens). EVERY teenager should read this book. if i could buy 1 for them all i would. straight up, holding nothing back, real talk about EVERYTHING sex. & done in a very relevant, chill kind of way.
i'ma hang onto this one for my kids... that's for sure. although, i'm sure it will be "out of date" by the time they're older...

Naked Spirituality - Brian McLaren     5*s
best book i've ever read.
i realize that's a big statement. it may be due to the fact of the timing of when i read it. McLaren is also my fav author in terms of his voice & writing style. he connects with me. i'm sure that helped too.
i read it sitting out on a beautiful deck overlooking an extraordinary view of the mountains and a lake...
this book is everything that's right with spirituality. it is RAW. no fake stuff here. just real. & it's basic. nothing fancy or new. just a reminder back to the raw, real, intimate spirituality.
read it.

Bioethics and the Christian Life - David VanDrunen     2*s
really disappointed at this book. bioethics class was awesome, but this book was... (YAWN)... boring. really elementary and old school. felt like Leave It To Beaver wrote a book about bioethics.
honestly i kind of felt like this guy might be worlds apart from me. like we might be starting with 2 different worldviews almost. there were a few good things i learned as always, but i was spitting out way more than i was chewing up.

there you have it. that takes us through the 18 books i read through May. really helpful for me to think back and flesh out/write out some takeaways & thoughts.
next up - books i read in the summer...

Friday, December 28, 2012

book learnings from 2012 (part 1)

this post begins my summary of learnings from these books i read this year in the order that i read them.
so today's post will be about the books i read in the 1st quarter of 2012. January - March.
& btw, every single one of these books were required reading for a spring semester class. that's how i started off the year reading - no books i chose on my own. :(

The Leader as Communicator: Strategies and Tactics to Build Loyalty, Focus Effort, and Spark Creativity - Robert Mai/ Alan Akerson     3*s
This book lays out 10 roles every leader needs to play in order to be effective. if a leader isn't playing one of these roles then the org loses out. didn't quite buy into all of it... not that i disagreed, but haven't really looked back on this one all that much. it was required for one of my leadership classes. there were some cool Evaluation tools in the book that different orgs utilized. 1 org even wrapped their peer evaluations in wrapping paper as a GIFT! because that's how peer-to-peer evals were viewed in that org culture. that's pretty cool.

The Leader's Voice: How Communication Can Inspire Action - Boyd Clark/ Ron Crossland     3*s
This was a really enjoyable book to read. it was full of great stories that were meant to inspire leaders  to throw out big vision effectively & in ways that it connects with followers. & the simple KEY to doing this is to communicate with FACTS, EMOTIONS, and SYMBOLS. most leaders don't work with all 3 because the overlook the importance of 1 or 2 of them. but it's vital because our brains are actually wired to work & think in all 3 modes simultaneously. a very creatively written book & enjoyable read.

Organizational Culture and Leadership - Edgar Schein     4.5*s
This was an incredible book. Every leader of an org should read this one. but 1st a warning - it is a VERY technical book. NOT a fun or exciting read at all... except it's fun and exciting to learn this stuff... but this Schein joker is as boring as it gets.
organizational culture is pretty much the buzz these days in leadership... or it's becoming all the rage. & RIGHTLY so because i agree with Schein = “Culture creation, culture evolution, and culture management are what ultimately define leadership. 
& THIS is the book that started it all. this is the original on organizational culture. from the head of the department at the famed MIT... this is as original & technical as it gets. foundational. great stuff.

Direct Hit - Paul Borden     1.5*s
not a good book at all. i seriously feel like i could have sat down and written this book last night. elementary stuff. basically about how to lead with vision in a church. i was dogging how elementary it was one day to a classmate & turns out the author is actually a big whig leader of his denomination and consults his church, etc...  woops.

Change is Like a Slinky - Hans Finzel     3*s
good book. very creatively written. like 30 principles of bringing change to an organization. and they ALL relate to a SLINKY. yeah, the little toy. but for real the principles are legit when leading change. very easy & fun read + very practical.

Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters, and Theology - David B. Capes     4*s
i loved this book. it's the best book yet i've read on Paul in a 
technical sense. it works wonders to help us understand the world & culture of Paul & what he was actually saying when he wrote those awesome letters. 
if we don't understand the time, culture, and world Paul was living in then it's really not possible for us to understand what he was saying. we just read what he wrote with our own contextual lens. this kind of book is paradigm shifting for understanding the epistles of the NT & Paul himself who was a pretty intriguing dude.

Paul the Missionary - Eckhard Schnabel     3*s
This was a really good book about the mission strategy & principles Paul may or may not have employed. it is a MAMMOTH book which almost makes me wanna give it 2*s because i think it was like 600 pages if i remember right. BUT if it were shorter, the quality of the book was so good i would have given it probably 4*s, so we averaged out at 3*s. 
this is a very THOROUGH book. the author wrote pretty much everything there is to know about Paul & Mission. & then he went on to apply all of it in a very relevant and practical way to today. i didn't really agree with all of his application, but thankful for all the research & info & brilliant scholarly insight that got us there. 
(btw, this guy Schnabel is a German NT scholar and 1 of the top guys in the world when it comes to NT mission... like 2 weeks after i had to read his book for a class i saw that he took a position at my seminary to be a prof there instead of chi-town. in fact, he is teaching the class now that i had to read his book for. guess i just missed out.)

Shame and Honor in the Book of Esther - Tim Laniak     3*s
i took this guy's theology of leadership & this was his own book he wrote while he was at Harvard. i'm always slightly skeptical when profs have you buy & read their own book & then write a paper on it, etc... but this one was legit. no doubt. 
Shame & Honor were CENTRAL ideas in the Hebrew culture of that era (the time of Esther) & still central in many parts of the world today. 
i was fascinated by how radically different the story reads when seen through this lens of shame & honor in its original context. one of the most disturbing concepts was that in that culture 2 opposing people cannot be simultaneously honored. 1 must be shamed and the other honored. that's how it had to work. because of this dynamic, the nation of Israel could not have been relieved of their shame UNTIL Haman was executed. pretty harsh. the book didn't seem to flinch at that accepted ethic. i don't want to be culturally insensitive or ethnocentric, but i don't think that's an OK worldview to have... and i said so in my paper.

so, Schein and Capes were the 2 really really good books i read in the 1st 2 months of 2012. next i'll post the next round of takeaways from what i read this year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

takeaways from the books i read this year

i've read just over 50 books so far in 2012. i've got a few more to go before the end of the year next week. we'll see how many i end up with.

it's become a custom for me to write here on renown at the end of the year about what i'm learning from the books i read.

i'll write a fairly short snippet about each book - maybe a brief summary of my takeaways and what the overall concept is of the book. + i like to rank the books with a STAR * system. i'll rank each book between 1-5 *s just to let you know what i thought of it.

explaining the star system:
obviously 5*s is the best and 1* is the worst but here's a little better pic of what each level means:
5*s - one of the top books i've ever read. period. not just top book of 2012, but top book ever. past books in the 5 star category for me may be ones like Visioneering, Made to Stick, Let the Nations Be Glad, The Tipping Point, etc...
4*s - a really, really, REALLY good book. even a great book. just not one of the greatest of all time. but really good. if it gets 4*s you should probably read it!
3*s - it's a pretty decent, even good book. i learned a good deal. it was helpful. but there's probably MANY books you should read before reading this one.
2*s - don't waste your time at all with 2* books. i learned something from it, but surprised i even finished it.
1* - absolute waste of time. an awful book. (hopefully there won't be any of these that i wasted my precious time reading)

i won't try to post my thoughts on all 50something books in 1 post. i'll split them up into several different posts.

and then at the end of all those i'll give my top 10 books of 2012.
(here are the links for my top 10 reads for 2011, 2010, 2009)

& just bkuz it's interesting to me to look back on, my #1 reads from the past 3 years are:
2009 = Good to Great, Jim Collins
2010 = Made to Stick, Chip & Dan Heath
2011 = Humility, Andrew Murray

so, look for my post tomorrow to begin my brief downloads of the 50something books i read this year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

colors wrapping around half the sky

i walked outside this morning when it was still kind of dark. 

the sun was just thinking about coming up.

but the most brilliant and awesome colors greeted me in the sky and clouds from my back deck as the beginnings of a beautiful sunrise were breaking through.
Pink, purple, orange wrapped around half the sky. 
i wish I could capture it in a pic to bottle it up and save & enjoy it forever. but a picture can't do it justice.
Enjoying it in the moment is what it was meant for tho. 
Somebody is famous for making that.
that's the renown i'm talking about...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

it took me a while

i was 29 years old (almost 30) the 1st time i really actually truly realized i cannot do everything.

it is an extremely hurtful realization.

and it is sweet.

i am still living in the limbo somewhere in between those 2.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

recommendations for my 2013 read list?

it's that time of year again where i build my reading list for the following year.

yes, i'm a readaholic. (maybe you would say "nerd" & that's ok with me.) i'm a readaholic & i can't break the addiction to learning, growing, improving, etc... i know, i know, i should see someone about that.

but i can only read a certain amount of books each year. which means there are hundreds and even thousands of GREAT books that i simply won't have time to read.
Because of that i choose to be EXTREMELY intentional about the books i do read.

i cannot afford to read a crappy book, an average book, or even a kind of good book! that would be a waste of time when there are so many GREAT books.

so, after Thanksgiving every year i start making my READ LIST for the following year. it is SUCH a FUN process for me. i look forward to it like crazy. i usually spend a half a day browsing a couple bookstores + looking through my own massive library + compiling recommendations.
then i narrow down the huge list based on what i need to read that year. i usually have a fairly balanced read list across many genres.

(& i should only have to take 1 more class, so hopefully my read list won't be completely dominated by required reading from professors like 2012 was.)

what are YOUR "MUST READ" books? what are the top 5 books you have ever read? what are the books that blew you away, changed your life for the better, etc...?

& no fiction, please. i only read 1 fiction book per year & i'm all set there. but any other genre.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ridge December 9th sneak peek

December 9th (this sunday) will be an epic day for Ridge Church.

for over 4 years now we've been been loading in and out every single week. This sunday we have a place to call our own. check out this sneak peek below & if you're in charlotte - Come hang out with us at 9:30 or 11!

Ridge Church Soft Launch Dec. 9, 2012 from Ridge Church on Vimeo.

Monday, December 3, 2012

the last few things to know before you hit 30

this is part 6 & the final installment of 29 Things to Know Before You Hit 30 (from the awesome book by Jason Boyett - The Pocket Guide to Adulthood). enjoy.

24  Paw-Paw and the Value of Stories 
"To know Paw-Paw is to know his story" and i think to know anyone is to know their stories. i love the reminder of the value of story in this chapter for the sake of turning "adult." guide to adulthood = value the story. 

25  Simple Home Maintenance When Dad's Unavailable
i definitely need this one. my wife is they handyman of our home. i have no idea how to do anything. you could show me over & over, it just doesn't make sense in my head.
at least this chapter told me all the home maintenance i should be doing...

26  Don't Go to Pieces: Taking Care of Your Own Bad Self
i guess it's around this age that people have to actually start taking care of themselves. it seems like up until this point "taking care of yourself" pretty much took care of itself. :)
but not anymore.
i actually did cut out coffee cold turkey in my old age. as Jason puts it, "Coffee is to sleep what live monkeys are to a liturgical church service."
& at this age, people gotta manage your time even more wisely. like management experts say to only plan for HALF of your time! wow. i guess that's the way it goes when you're old (or always really).

27  Ask for a Raise Without Coming Across As a Jerk
some fun what TO do and what NOT to do advice. & it's good to remember that being GRATEFUL for your job & still asking for a raise are NOT mutually exclusive. they can & should walk hand in hand.

28  How to Take a Photograph Like a Professional
good tips for better pictures. goes hand in hand with #24 & the stories.

29  Really Handy Index of Brief, Practical Suggestions
just like it sounds, full of advice like = how to hide nicks & scratches, keep cut flowers fresh, increase your car's gas mileage, how to remember a person's name, etc...
all stuff that we should probably know entering adulthood. :)

i hope i have been thoroughly prepared now.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

i may be old...

(i originally wrote and posted this to renown December 6, 2011.)

i hadn't heard this song in YEARS. several years. and then all of the sudden, when i woke up on Saturday (December 3rd) morning this song started blaring inside of my head. i have NOT been able to get it out since. for days it's been taunting me.

it's from one of my fav bands when i was a kid... those amazing artists from the glorious ska/punk revolution of the 90s... Five Iron Frenzy.

i guess these lyrics are just too fitting for me since Saturday. somewhat depressing to think about. at least they were writing about being old a long time ago and i just now got there. enjoy and imagine the punk/ska beating along in your head... sing along if you know it (yeah, right... like anyone would have ever heard this song... or admit to it if you have).

"I'm twenty-nine years old, still wearing the wallet chain, like I was twenty-eight. 
I'm wearing my Vans right now, so high school kids will think that I can skate. 
I've got a degree in science, yet shaking my fists in defiance.

Anyway, I'm not cliche, I hardly own any ties. 
I may be old, but at least I'm not like all those other old guys.

I'm watching MTV, for fashion tips, so I can say, that I saw it first. 
Backwards hat, tattoos, and goatee say I'm cool, just like Fred Durst. 
I pay almost all my bills, I sleep on a futon still.
Anyway, I'm not cliche, I might not even die.  
I may be old, but at least I'm not like all those other old guys."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

29 things to know before you hit 30 (part 5)

this is part 5 of 29 Things to Know Before You Hit 30. (from the awesome book by Jason Boyett - The Pocket Guide to Adulthood)

let's get right to it as our time is short & there's still 12 more to go on the list...

18  Staying in Shape is Easier than You Think
yeah, it's called straight up discipline. no, that's not really the content of this chapter. just some helpful hints to not get crazy fat, old, and out of shape like most of the rest of the Western world when turning 30...

19  Financial Procrastination Will Eat You for Lunch
we procrastinated til about 23 & 24 respectively. thankfully we didn't wait til 30. i wonder what it would take to get a mandatory "FPU" type class (or even simply reading this chapter) into every college in the nation?

20  Mystery Dumplings and the Key to Lasting Relationships
kind of a funny story, but basically the gist is = QUIT being all about yourself. that's what adults do. you can't be selfish anymore. i guess it's acceptable if you're 20something, but as an adult... grow up & be polite, courteous, generous, and shut up once in a while.

21  How to Pull Off an Impressive Job Interview
the awesome principles shared in this chapter really go for ANY human interactions/1st impressions. because really, we're always on interview for something :)
basically, you've got 30 seconds to make your mark on someone. that's it. so, be confident, dress the part, prep well, & if you have a job interview - you should seriously read this chapter 1st!

22  Romance Doesn't Always Have to Be Expensive
Really? i thought that was the number 1 rule? nope. it's not easy, but also doesn't have to be expensive. it's all about the LITTLE stuff. that's what chicks dig... so i hear. and creativity and spontaneity.

23  Buy Groceries Like You Own the Supermarket
i HATE grocery shopping. seriously can't think of many things in life i hate worse that going to the grocery store! even if just for a few things. HATE it.
*i would rather take a beating with a brick stick than have to go to a grocery store!
but, if you have to go this chapter has helpful tips on what to do while you're there. like - avoid buying the products at eye level - that's the stuff with the biggest profit margin/mark up. so, probably not the greatest deals. & all kinds of other old people stuff.

i hope i never have to go again!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

29 things to know before you hit 30 (part 4)

this is part 4 of 29 Things to Know Before You Hit 30. (from the awesome book by Jason Boyett - The Pocket Guide to Adulthood)
(you can read parts 1 & 2 HERE and HERE respectively.)

12  Prepare for the Worst with a Properly Stocked Medicine Cabinet
ok, i'll admit... i kind of skimmed this one because i'm married to a nurse. i feel like there's SO MANY (29) of these darn things you have to know before you can be an adult (30) that i should get a free pass on this one because of WHO i married!
(although i did make some notes about the suggestions of Vitamin C supplements & green tea. i guess i'll have to look into those.)

13  Blend Your Way to Happiness with a Butt-Kickin' Fruit Smoothie
i hate smoothies. straight up skipped this chapter. a smoothie will NOT give me happiness. but i did dog-ear the page for my wife because she loves smoothies & is always looking for a great recipe - which this chapter provides several.

14  Your 401(K) Should be Aggressive but Diversified
yes! another i can check off the list simply because they call me a "Ramsey-ite". in fact, these recommendations were pretty soft, imho. very thankful to have an aggressive & diversified retirement portfolio & a killer financial advisor who really hooks us up.

15  How Not to Fall Prey to Organ Harvesters or Urban Legends
some REALLY funny stories in this chapter. i think i will reject the lesson and add a few of these urban legends to my story repertoire :) hey, this happened to a friend of a friend... :)

16  Generosity is a Virtue, and Here's Why
was DIGGING this chapter! a couple cool lines like:
"Don't feel guilty for being comfortable. Nope. Feel guilty when you refuse to SHARE that comfort."      
"Materialism builds a shrine to the things we own. Generosity kicks the shrine over and gives away the parts."

love that  :)

17  How to Play Poker Like an Honest-to-Goodness Celebrity
ok, i got addicted to poker in college. played Texas Hold 'Em around the clock for a few semesters when the craze really hit big. haven't played a lot since i lost all our money in a poker tourney on our honeymoon. ok, not ALL our money... just a little.
i'm still game to play anytime anybody wants to hook it up :)

still more to come! learning all i can from this guide to adulthood, because i am about to step into it... adulthood that is.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

all i want for christmas (& my bday)

done this every year for like 5 years now, so i'll keep it short.

i don't expect anyone to buy me birthday gifts or christmas gifts. BUT if someone is going to buy me a gift - i DON'T WANT a gift... i would really just love to leverage all that money you would spend to build a well for a village in Africa that doesn't have clean water. makes way more sense than you buying me a sweater.

*So, let me be clear (this is my open letter to all of you) - I do not want anyone to buy me birthday or Christmas presents!

Crystal and i are actually pretty close to already building a well through Charity Water, SO it would be awesome if you just wanted to add cash to building our well. i can update you on where the well will go and send a link after it's done!

*or if you want to just give online you can click HERE to give through Living Water International.

i may set up a birthday thing on Facebook too, but really it would be most effective if it all would go in 1 direction. easiest would be finishing off the well Crystal and i are already working on. let me know if you have any Qs.

also, below are 4 articles I wrote a few years ago about this whole idea.
double advent conspiracy
happy advent
best Christmas EVER!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

i'm thankful for...

(i originally wrote and posted to this renown last Thanksgiving, November 24, 2011. still thankful for the same stuff. just a couple add-ons i wrote about yesterday HERE.)

today (and every day) i'm thankful for...

a God Who is the greatest Thing in the universe & loves me and has invited me into the greatest mission and story imaginable.

an amazing wife who i don't deserve but who sticks by me no matter what & who is more beautiful than i ever imagined a girl being. the perfect mate. ("you complete me... kitchen matey")

a brand new baby daughter who has completely captured everything inside of me and has introduced me to new joys and spaces in my heart that i never even knew existed!

a Mom & Dad who are the greatest parents in the world. God knew what i needed when He hooked me up to be raised by them.

1 grandmother who is still alive and gets to meet her 1st great granddaughter tomorrow.

some really awesome friends who are almost like family in many ways - who care so much about me and love on me, cheer for me, stick with me

blessings and blessings like crazy. Somebody backed up the blessing truck and has been dumping them on me for 28 years.

the responsibility to BE a blessing with the blessings i've been given. the joy of blessing others.

this amazing creation all around me that overwhelms me with awe every time i look up... created for no other reason than for us to say "wow, that's beautiful. Whoever made that is pretty awesome."

some pretty darn cool in-laws who are now grandparents that love us like crazy.

limbs and sight and hearing and a voice (that can't sing well at all)

the ability to run, jump, play after a doctor said 8 years ago that i wouldn't do that stuff again

a job that i LOVE. it's a privilege to be a part of a movement that's so much bigger than me or anyone else and the fact that i get to do something i love every single day and actually get paid to do it. doesn't seem fair.

sabbath - when i get to take a break from that work i love. that act of just being/resting

all the really cool accents in the world

the Gospels

generous people

the team of people i get to work with. they are awesome. so much better than working with a team of people that aren't awesome.

2 cars that run. are you kidding me? how freaking rich are we?

a house and neighborhood and neighbors that are all really nice.

a God who is bringing this revolution that we and all of creation longs for.

the unstoppable vision birthed in my soul to launch a movement that will change the world & the vision that keeps coming and coming for how to create the beginnings

bloomin' onion sauce

the Psalms


Ridge Church - my church, this community of people on mission together in Charlotte.


a space like renown where i can flesh out my thoughts and try to make sense of what's inside my head

the BEAUTIFUL game


wise people

good stories

teams of amazing volunteers that i get to serve on mission with



passionate people

music (except country)



great t-shirts

the oceans



different cultures



the ability to express worship

things that are funny


the ability to learn

revolutionaries - past & present

hugs from my wife


comfy chairs

the technology for double lung transplants

the ability to pass through a day without it passing me by


...and the fact that it always wins

renown, the only thing that really matters. the only renown that can satisfy. the only true unending fame.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

from one Thanksgiving to the next

wow, how things change from one Thanksgiving to the next.

i remember last year we had sped out of town a few days before Thanksgiving because my Mom received the call that lungs were on the way to Duke for her double lung transplant.

we raced to the hospital to see my Mom before the transplant, but it ended up being a false alarm. a "dry run" they call it. the lungs were no good.

we hung out in Durham for Thanksgiving and my parents got to spend time with their brand new granddaughter.

but my Mom had to wear a mask and be really careful back then around Keira.

today my Mom was playing with Keira with no such concern. :) because she has new lungs. tomorrow she and both our families will come over for Thanksgiving and my Mom will play with Keira and you would never know she had bad lungs...

wow, how things change in a year.

on my end, i'm working on getting life back to the pace it was at last Thanksgiving = sustainable.
i'm getting there.
next Thanksgiving i'll look back and be thankful i did.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Crystal quotes of the day #5 (break down pregnancy edition)

yep, Crystal quotes of the day are back.
the funniest and most popular seem to be the "pregnancy edition" quotes, of which there have been 2. you can read them HERE and HERE.

and i still have more "pregnancy edition" quotes saved up for later. really good ones :)

and i guess today can be considered a "pregnancy edition" as well because Crystal was pregnant when all these quotes took place... but add to that the fact that our car had just broken down.

*i think this took place about 1 week before Keira was born! we had just left our home & were headed out on a date. we were on I-77 about 3 miles from home when the car broke down under a bridge... and here are all the gloriously funny quotes i recorded for your laughter and mine.

    in the 1st moments of realizing we were broken down Crystal says:

CRYSTAL:  "How are we going to get home?"

ME:             "Walk? You know this is just rich people problems, right?"

CRYSTAL:  "Won't be rich people problems after we pay for this."

    i was trying to make the best of our sucky situation while we waited for the tow truck/wrecker - after deciding against walking :) it was supposed to be date night so i was trying to make the best of it... i said:

ME:             "There is nobody i would rather be broke down under a bridge with than you."

CRYSTAL:  (SIGH) "Me too... (THINKING)... except maybe somebody who could fix the car right away... But then I would trade you back."

ME:            (laughing out loud for a while in appreciation of her honesty that only a pregnant Crystal can speak with)

there were probably a lot more quotes that night but i can't even remember them now. i probably didn't write them down. maybe Crystal can remember when i ask her?

of course, we ended up waiting under that bridge for hours. but it was all good... turned about to be a fun date night after all.

big David Beckham announcement

it's all over everywhere today - David Beckham will play his last game for the LA Galaxy in MLS this coming December 1st in the MLS Cup Final.

every news outlet has picked this up, so it's definitely not gossip at this point = ESPN, LA TIMES, Bleacher Report. it seems The Mirror may have broken the story. i read soccer gossip all day long every day & half of it turns out to not be true, but this is a done deal.

i'll go out on a limb & say this could be the perfect ending for Becks. they'll probably win the Cup after a horrible start to the season. they're playing the best they've played in years right now - largely due to Robbie Keane being in possibly the form of his life.

will Becks hang it up after December 1st? who can tell. he is 37.
he's done well at that age like Ryan Giggs & Paul Scholes to keep playing at a high level. Maybe there's something in the water at that Man U schoolboy academy that keeps these guys playing for so long? ironic those 3 came up together as kids and all are still playing.

but rumor has it Beckham will keep playing after he's done with the Galaxy in a couple weeks. and actually he is even quoted as saying that he wants to experience one more challenge before he quits playing.

sounds like EVERYONE in the A-League in Australia wants him. probably just to make a quick buck. maybe join Drogba in that rich Chinese league?

OR, and this could be really interesting... there are rumors all over they place that Snoop Dogg... yes, Snoop himself, wants to buy Celtic. or at least be a major investor. then he would do everything in his power to bring Beckham to Celtic for his final season.
Celtic is the storied Scottish side who now has a straight up MONOPOLY in Scottish football after Rangers went bankrupt and were sent down to the 3rd division.
and yeah, the same Celtic who just beat Barcelona in an amazing game in the Champions League. who doesn't love Celtic after seeing that?
Beckham could fit in nicely there?

But wherever he heads next, there seems to be no doubt Beckham will be back in MLS soon - as an OWNER. yep. that was in his original MLS contract back in 07 giving him the ability to own an expansion team. my guess would be that they will add a 2nd New York team and Beckham will own it.
(although i hope they will add a team in the Southeast instead because there are NONE in this part of the country. apparently because all Republicans and rednecks believe "soccer" is some part of a liberal communist conspiracy? never quite understood that one...)

so, here's MY big question = was David Beckham a success in MLS? i think it all depends on how you view "success".
playing on the field i guess he wasn't all that. he didn't win every championship for LA. in fact, in 5 years they only won 1 supporter's shield and 1 MLS Cup (both last year). that's pretty sucky for a team so stacked with talent. (of course they'll probably win this cup in a couple weeks too.)

Beckham was injured half the time those first 3-4 seasons & kept going back to AC Milan on loan every chance he had.
the last 2 seasons have been special though. it's almost like he got better.

but let's face it - "success" for Beckham was never about winning games, trophies, goals, assists, free kicks, etc... it's been all about making this beautiful game more popular in America. it's been all about "brand awareness". taking soccer from a joke to a legit sport in this country. and i think it's taken a few steps in the right direction since 2007.

more specifically, "Success" was going to be about lifting the bar in MLS in many ways. Beckham has absolutely done that. he led the way. he was the 1st Designated Player in MLS. i'll be a bit cynical and just say he started the high profile trend of = MLS is where legends come to die.
so, in this year's MLS playoffs i got to watch David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, Rafa Marquez, Tim Cahill, etc...
those guys were all playing in AMERICA. Americans actually got to watch them on American soil. WOW.
these guys are legends. all heroes i watched as a little kid. (Except Rafa Marquez, of course. i hated his guts. still do.)

bottom line = i've watched a half dozen MLS games this year because of those guys. i still love to see the magic Robbie Keane and David Beckham can work with a ball.

i would NEVER be caught dead watching an MLS game otherwise.

so, thanks for coming over Becks. we'll see how things look in 5 years. successful for now, but my guess is that in 5 years i won't be watching any MLS games because the league will still suck. i hope i'm wrong.

as Beckham gets older and older, at some point my wife will have to land on a new man that she deems as her "sexiest man who ever walked the face of the earth." i just wonder who it will be? :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

"the biggest killer of relationships is busy"

i think i heard the quote a little differently, but i simplified it to this:
"the biggest killer of relationships is busy."

Kendra Fleming is a really great leader i've respected for several years. i've always valued any conversations or time i've been able to spend with her and always learn a lot. when she said this last week i thought it was a great bottom line summary of what our lives often look like.

"busy" is our enemy.

and we're always busy.

but you can't begin, cultivate, deepen, restore, or even ENJOY relationships in the middle of busy.

no, you need margin to do that.

i need less busy and more margin. 

and i'm getting there.

because relationships are more important than busy.

busy sucks.
busy is the enemy.

relationships are our friends. literally :)

and when we look back on life 20 years from now & 40 years from now i am CONVINCED...

relationships will make us smile
busy will make us frown (or maybe even cry)

relationships will be our greatest memories
busy will be our greatest regret

Sunday, November 18, 2012

hide the gravy

this is part 3 of 29 Things to Know Before You Hit 30.
(you can read parts 1 & 2 HERE and HERE respectively.)

another thing people need to know before they turn old (spelled "t-h-i-r-t-y")

11  Bling-free is the way to be: live beneath your means
duh. but no one in their 20s does this.
come to think of it... no one in their 30s or 40s really does this either.
but the author (Jason Boyett) made a GREAT point:
Consider the people closest to you--your friends, your fellow employees, your family. What forms the foundation for those relationships? What's the joint that keeps you together? None of us would chalk the connection up to material things: "I'm friends with Jessica because she has an awesome car." Or "I like to spend time with my sister on account of her fantastic furniture."
 great point.

+ i thought the other greatest piece of advice = Hide the Gravy. every time you get a raise, don't change your standard of living. you haven't needed it thus far, so why spend it just because it's there?
in other words, you've been used to living on $21k since you were 21, so just keep doing that & "hide" the raise...
[or better yet, i say - GIVE IT AWAY!]

Saturday, November 17, 2012

29 things to know before you hit 30 (part 2)

crazy bummed about when i will turn 30. feels like it will be crossing a huge line that i desperately don't want to cross.

but at least i will be prepared after reading The Pocket Guide to Adulthood: 29 Things to Know Before You Hit 30
thanks to Jason Boyett for putting together a guide for peeps like me closing out their 20s to help us know what we need to know to be an old person.

(i already posted #s 1-5 HERE.)

6  Being all weird about food safety is a pretty good idea
wow. i DEFINITELY learned a lot from this chapter! i was breaking ALL these rules that were shared big time. i.e. - eating pizza that had been left in my hot car for a week!
not any more - because i'm about to be an old adult.

7  How to change a flat tire like a real live mechanic
this is the one mechanical thing i actually did know already. pretty much the only thing i can do.

8  Marriage is not necessarily a rowdy sex romp, and other misconceptions
wait, for real?
wait, is that after you turn 30 or before? :)

9  How to stop worrying and be an optimist
i really love being & so thankful i'm an optimist. but i still have to battle worry like everyone else. i need to work harder at relaxing too. (oxymoron?)

10  Establish your own coolness with an amazing card trick
now this was awesome. i've never really known a card trick. i love playing poker, but i've never really known how to do a trick. NOW I DO. so, someone please - ask me to see a card trick! or do i have to wait til i hit 30?

*that's only 10 down of the 29 things you have to know to be an old 30 year-old.
more coming tomorrow.

Friday, November 16, 2012

be a student not a critic

this is something i must have heard Andy Stanley say a hundred times over the years.
"be a student not a critic"

it's something i think i've naturally tried to live out since i was 17 or 18... maybe even earlier in broader contexts.

i hope i can stay that way. every once in a while as i get all old... i sense the critic sneaking into my life. but i want to fight hard to stay the student i've always been.

because i would be a whole lot dumber if i had been a critic instead of a student all these years.
i can't even imagine all the great stuff i would have missed if i had been criticizing instead of learning.

i think this really comes down to pride for most of us. if i can stay humble, then i can probably stay a student.

but if pride takes over - that's when i'm tempted to be a critic. because i think i'm better, smarter, wiser, than the other ... therefore, i can't possibly have anything to learn from that.

what an awful way to live.

i have tried to live my life with an attitude of:
i want to learn from anybody or anything at any time and anywhere.

that's my goal and i hope i can always live that way.

i hope that even when i see, hear, experience stuff that is 95% awful... i can be a student and learn from the other 5%.

i'm not too good for it.

and i certainly never want to be a critic. somebody stop me if i turn into one.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

a reminder for all of us who are too flipping busy

i've posted this a few times to renown. it's the final sermon that Kyle Lake ever wrote, but he never got to preach it because he died a few minutes before delivering it. this was the ending of that sermon.
something i read often & i'm about to hang it up in my office...

"Live. And Live Well.

BREATHE. Breathe in and Breathe deeply. Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now.

On a crystal clear, breezy seventy-degree day, roll down the windows and FEEL the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun.

If you run, then allow those first few breaths on a cool autumn day to FREEZE your lungs and do not just be alarmed, be ALIVE.

Get knee-deep in a novel and LOSE track of time.

If you bike, pedal HARD... and if you crash, then crash well.

Feel the SATISFACTION of a job well done--a paper well-written, a project throroughly completed, a play well-performed.

If you must wipe the snot from your three-year-old's nose, don't be disgusted if the Kleenex didn't catch it all... because soon he'll be wiping his own.

If you've recently experienced loss, then GRIEVE. And grieve well.

At the table with friends and family, LAUGH. If you're eating and laughing at the same time, then might as well laugh until you puke.

And if you eat, then SMELL. The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven.

And TASTE. Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of Life.

Because it is most definitely a Gift."

(Kyle Lake, 1972-2005)