Saturday, March 31, 2012

vision casting that makes you want to paint your face blue

vision casting is essential for any leader of any movement.

vision casters have this crazy burning passion for the world to be different and they actually have a clear picture of how the world could be and should be... and they paint this picture for others to see & invite them to be a part of.

every time i watch Braveheart i am blown away by the vision casting skill of William Wallace. there are tons of examples throughout the movie, but here's a brief one:

every single time i hear his vision casting speeches like this one it makes me wanna stand up, pump my fist, & sign up to go fight in the Scottish army.

and i'm not even Scottish.

but i'm like "Give me a sword and some blue face paint and let's go!"

that's what a powerful vision caster can do. they can spark something in the hearts of people. they can paint a picture of a preferred reality that's so clear it compels people to rise up for the cause.

i want to be a vision caster half as good as William Wallace.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"God, Whoever You are..."

maybe when we talk to God we should start by addressing Him -
"God, Whoever You actually are..." & then continue...

just as a "footnote" to denote we really don't know who God is... we're just fumbling for different representations in our minds of Who He is.
the name "God" is of course inadequate for Who He actually is. it's just the best we have (for now).

This was actually C.S. Lewis' footnote to all prayers:
"He whom I bow to ONLY knows to whom I bow"
[wow. He is the ONLY one who knows WHO He is... none of us truly do. how could we?]

so since we don't know exactly who "He" is, we...
"embrace in heart Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art."
– C.S. Lewis, “Footnote to All Prayers” (a very short poem you can read HERE.)

yes, pray in confidence and talk to God as if He is sitting next to you on the couch. because He is. & that's how i talk to Him.
as long as we realize this is an appropriate footnote (to keep in the back of our minds) to every prayer.

i can remember in 1 of my 1st theology classes in seminary, my prof said something like this the very 1st day... "remember - theology is just our best attempt to say something about God. it's not really who God is... it's just our educated guess."

i loved David Crowder's analogy for his album a while back A Collision. Sixsteps sent me some promo stuff back then and part of it was an explanation of the discography that you see pictured to the left. Crowder talked about that diagram of the atom. it's just a diagram. that's not REALLY what an atom looks like. it's just our best idea. our best representation.
& that's exactly what our worship is doing. it's our best effort to lift up who God is. Who we think He is at least. 

theology is our best representation too. even the name "God".

it's the best we can do.

so, when we pray we use familiar symbols (like Lewis and Crowder mentioned) - like Father, God, King, Lord, and so on. 
but we must be careful with this because, we may falsely assume that our idea of God is identical to God. 
that the real God ‘out there’ is no bigger and no different from the idea we have ‘in here’ in our heads.

so, our symbols & familiar language carry with them our own distortions—concepts of God that are partial at best, misleading at worst.

we have to remember that our best symbolic representations [just like the atom] are in the end merely "frail images" of God, images that "cannot be the thing" that God is.

[but we still desperately need these images. and we need LOTS of different ones. but more on that another time.]

(thanks to Brian McLaren for giving me better articulation for this idea i've felt in my heart for a long time.)

“Whatever the reality actually is to which the word or name ‘God’ points, we know that God’s reality must always be far higher and greater and other than our concepts and images of God—even our best concepts and images.” 
- Brian McLaren

yes. YES. YES! that sums it up perfectly.

and that makes us feel really good.

because it puts us in our place.

it makes us feel so small as we realize our best efforts to understand who God is are simply cracking the tip of the iceberg.

and that realization will do wonders in your soul.

it has in mine.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

cut my hair off (repost)

(This was originally posted to renown February 25, 2010 - just a little over 2 years ago. i stumbled onto this post and was remembering that day. i wonder if it's almost time to grow it long again? get my power back?)
There's a story in the Bible about a guy named Samson who has awesome power from God... as long as he doesn't cut his hair! When his hair was cut off he lost his strength.

I hope I'm not like Samson because I didn't have any power or strength to begin with! And now I got my hair cut short!
I think it's been a couple years since it was short.

Here's what I looked like when Amy started cutting:

& here we are after most of it was cut off!

I don't have a pic handy of the final product, but I think my wife does. I'm sure you'll see me soon enough.

I definitely look pretty different. Almost weird. it will just take some time to get used to. Right now I look like a little kid.

& while we're making changes, I took the piercing out of my eyebrow + I'm thinking about shaving off my chin!
(But whenever I take stuff away like that you know there has to be some additions, right!?)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

crystal quotes of the day (pregnancy edition)

my wife is straight up, no doubt about it, flipping hilarious.

daily she says stuff that cracks me up so hard i have to stop whatever i'm doing just to laugh. she's just being raw & real... usually not necessarily trying to be funny... she's just funny.

so, lately i've been trying to write that kind of stuff down. if i can, i've actually been trying to Tweet it or post it to Facebook or something, but that's only 1% of the time... maybe.

And half of the funny stuff would just be inappropriate to put out there on the world wide web. not bad by any means... just not appropriate, although i WISH i could blog about it because it is so funny.

for the other 50% of the funny stuff, i'm gonna give it a go to post it here regularly. i'm introducing a new segment on the ol' blog called "Crystal Quotes of the Day". it may not be something she said that particular day, but it's the funny quote or quotes i'm choosing to share that day.

and of course, sense of humor is always relative. we say to each other all the time "at least we make each other laugh". and i'm thankful for that. but what i think is funny, others may not find all that funny. oh well.

i actually started writing the quotes down when Crystal was pregnant... something with pregnancy made her say more funny stuff :)  BUT i couldn't Tweet it at the time because we still hadn't told anyone we were pregnant yet. so FINALLY i get to share some of this stuff.

without further adieu, i give you the very 1st Crystal quotes of the day... all from when she was pregnant:

*after eating at Olive Garden i turned around for 2 seconds and when i looked back my mint on the table was gone:
me:         "Did you eat my mint?"
Crystal:  "I mean, I ate a mint and the baby had one, so I guess the waiter just didn't bring you one."

*David Beckham was on TV & Crystal made some comment about his hotness:
me:         "You think he would make a better Baby Daddy than me, don't you?"
Crystal:   (reassuringly) "He wouldn't make a better Baby Daddy. He would make a better story."

*Last St. Patrick's Day:
Crystal:   "Let's go to a pub crawl. The baby wants beer."

*1 day when the pregnancy was having some ill effects on Crystal:
Crystal:   "After all this, this baby better be frickin' cute!"

*1 conversation when she was about 7-8 months pregnant & it ("pregnancy") had really taken full control of her emotions:
me:         "Why don't you leave and come back when you have a better attitude?"
Crystal:  "Why don't YOU leave and come back when I have a better attitude?"

not the same reading them as hearing them, but i hope they make you laugh like they did me!

Monday, March 26, 2012

church was yesterday - here's what 1 pastor said

yesterday was Sunday & Sunday means "church", eh? lots of different stuff was going on in lots of different churches. Lots of stuff was said & taught in the name of Jesus.

of course, probably lots of stuff was said in the name of Jesus that pissed Jesus off.
For example, here's what 1 Protestant Pastor from Macon, GA had to say:

"African Americans are exceptions to the common brotherhood of man and are sensual and stupid, lazy, improvident, and vicious... an ignorant, degraded, indolent people... who could never be equal with the white man. The inferiority of the negroes was designed by their creator."

yeah, go ahead and blurt some expletives. i'm guessing God is right there with ya.

in case my intro was misleading, these words weren't preached in a church yesterday, but written by Pastor Ebenezer Willis Warren in 1864 in a book called Southern Slavery and the Bible: A Vindication of Southern Slavery from the Old and New Testaments (full book title/cover pictured to the right)

i barely brought myself to write the above excerpt from the book and the hundreds more like it i have in front of me would make you sick to your stomach... and again, i believe God would be nauseated right there with ya.

And this isn't a singular example of Pastors using the Bible to preach that not only was slavery right, but an incomprehensible view of the color of one's skin making one "better" or "less than".

so, it boggles my mind (as i'm sure it does yours) that a Pastor wrote this book & thousands more were preaching and teaching this stuff as biblical doctrine.

it makes me so angry that i can barely continue to put sentences together.

so, let's move on to the real point of my post before i have an anuerysm. (seriously as i write this my heart rate is going crazy and i'm all worked up.)
we all know that this Pastor and those like him are so wrong, in so many ways, on so many (every) point that we wouldn't even know where to begin to address all the jacked up problems. so, we won't even waste our time.
& that's not why i'm writing.

here's the point: it boggles my mind that Pastors were saying this stuff and were convinced this was what the Bible taught/God said. and that was just 150 years ago. (and really the same "theology" continued into the 1960s... and unfortunately, probably even today.) i'm sure this boggles your mind too.
the humbling question is what will boggle the mind of Pastors 150 from now about what i write/say/teach in the same way that this boggles my mind now?

i resolve to not be so arrogant & think that won't happen.
i'm trying to be humble enough to hold most everything in an open hand. because an entire culture was duped & deceived into thinking something we see as incomprehensible was actually God-honoring. they were somehow blinded to it.
(other examples of this same sort of thing could go on and on - the Crusades, executing heretics, etc...)

who are we to think we're not blindly doing something like this right now? what if we're participating in, defending, even preaching as biblical and God-honoring something that will soon be obvious to everyone as totally anti-God (like racism).

I’ll go ahead and say that 25% of the stuff I say & attempt to write/teach/preach even from the Bible is straight up wrong. and I can’t even tell you which 25% it is. [of course, if I could tell you that I just wouldn’t say it in the first place.]

and 25% is a pretty conservative estimate.
Just sayin.

the older i get, i'm becoming more and more EXTREMELY cautious of anyone without this kind of attitude.

***Here's the really big Question i would LOVE to know the answer to = what, specifically, will cause someone to be repulsed with what i said in 150 years? What will cause them to be repulsed by what you said? 
Mr. Pastor, what did you say in church yesterday that will be oh so obvious to a future generation that it's gut-wrenchingly wrong?


that should hurt.
that should be a big of a slap in the face and a wake up call.

if it's not... if we can read this and just think "oh, i would never believe and promote something that awful."
if we find ourselves saying something like that... uh oh.

that's the kind of arrogance that will get us into big trouble.
that's the kind of arrogance that will cause us to miss all the abolitionists shouting "God created everyone EQUAL. what you're saying is SO jacked up. you're WRONG!"

So, Mr. Pastor Ebenezer from 100 years ago… I’m hatin on you knowing that I will probably be hated on 1 day too.

i just pray that what i'm jacked up about is not about something as horrid as what you were jacked up about.

(ok, that probly wasn't a very fun post to read. i'll be sure to post something light & fun tomorrow.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

i don't think it used to be this way?

in the spirit of thinking about all this Daddy & Daughter mushiness like i've written about the past 3 days...

i get the feeling that back in the day, Dads weren't this way with their daughters.

just my impression, but in my brain it feels like a newer phenomenon for Dads to be wrapped around their daughters' fingers. like within the last 50 years?

and i get the impression that maybe 20-30 years ago there wasn't this kind of freedom.
the freedom as a Dad to embrace being the Daddy of your daughter and loving it.

i don't know. i could be wrong.

either way, i'm thankful i feel the freedom
because this is the best thing ever!


another miracle for my Mom

i just learned earlier this week about another miracle in my Mom's lung transplant journey.

all along the BIG problem and worry was my Mom's new lungs working. there were all kinds of breathing problems, etc...
when she was on that ECMO machine especially - it was... is she even going to live?

but a while back they noticed she couldn't really move her legs. she had severe muscle atrophy + something else a lot worse that i definitely can't pronounce or even attempt to spell... it affects the nerves and messes them up.

to me at the time this seemed like a very minor issue. like, who cares if my Mom can't walk right now... she needs her lungs to work so she can live. we can worry about walking later.

well, come to find out the Doctors & Physical Therapy team said back then that there was a decent chance my Mom would never walk again.


i had no idea.

and here now she is walking laps around her hospital unit.


thanks God.

props to You.

more renown all up on You.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

for dads of daughters (part 3)

i am loving these "Rules for Dads of Daughters" from Michael Mitchell. you can read his whole original post HERE.
i've been picking out my Favs & you can read part 1 & my setup HERE & part 2 HERE.

& here we go... the final portion of my favorite Rules for Dads of Daughters:

36. Few things in life are more comforting to a crying little girl than her father’s hand. Never forget this.
[works like a charm]

37. Introduce her to the swings at your local park. She’ll squeal for you to push her higher and faster. Her definition of “higher and faster” is probably not the same as yours. Keep that in mind.

38. When she’s a bit older, your definition of higher and faster will be a lot closer to hers. When that day comes, go ahead… give it all you’ve got.

41. Take it easy on the presents for her birthday and Christmas. Instead, give her the gift of experiences you can share together.
[i am definitely all about this! spend less. give more.]

42. Let her know she can always come home. No matter what.
[yes. no matter what, Keira. no matter what you've done or how long it's been. you are ALWAYS welcome home. and absolutely nothing could ever change that.]

43. Remember, just like a butterfly, she too will spread her wings and fly some day. Enjoy her caterpillar years.
[definitely enjoying with everything i've got!]

44. Write her a handwritten letter every year on her birthday. Give them to her when she goes off to college, becomes a mother herself, or when you think she needs them most.
[i absolutely LOVE this idea & i think i'm gonna do it!]

47. When your teenage daughter is upset, learning when to engage and when to back off will add years to YOUR life. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

49. This day is coming soon. There’s nothing you can do to be ready for it. The sooner you accept this fact, the easier it will be. [surely this day is a LONG way away for me.]

50. Today she’s walking down the driveway to get on the school bus. Tomorrow she’s going off to college. Don’t blink. 
[trying to keep my eyes WIDE open.]

Friday, March 23, 2012

for dads of daughters (part 2)

i set up these "Rules for Dads of Daughters" in part 1 yesterday HERE. you should definitely go back and read it if you haven't.

here's the middle portion of my favorite Rules for Dads of Daughters:

17. Learn to say no. She may pitch a fit today, but someday you’ll both be glad you stuck to your guns.
[Crystal and i have ALREADY identified me as the "Softy" in the family... this will be really really hard for me to ever tell her "no".]

18. Tell her she’s beautiful. Say it over and over again. Someday an animated movie or “beauty” magazine will try to convince her otherwise.
[yes! i resonate with this one so much. i already tell her every day, all day long. i want her to know it's the truth and that those magazines don't define her identity.]

20. Take her camping. Immerse her in the great outdoors. Watch her eyes fill with wonder the first time she sees the beauty of wide open spaces. Leave the iPod at home.

22. She’s as smart as any boy. Make sure she knows that.

23. When she learns to give kisses, she will want to plant them all over your face. Encourage this practice. 
[i am def ready for this to start happening]

25. Letting her ride on your shoulders is pure magic. Do it now while you have a strong back and she’s still tiny.

28. She will eagerly await your return home from work in the evenings. Don’t be late. 
[can't wait for this. she greeted me at the door when i got home just this week. it was the most amazing feeling! :)]

30. Never miss her birthday. In ten years she won’t remember the present you gave her. She will remember if you weren’t there.

32. Let her roll around in the grass. It’s good for her soul. It’s not bad for yours either.
[i LOVED rolling around in the grass! i wonder why we ever stopped? i guess society told us we had to.

34. Somewhere between the time she turns three and her sixth birthday, the odds are good that she will ask you to marry her. Let her down gently.

the final rules are coming in Part 3 tomorrow! they are some of the best!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

for dads of daughters (part 1)

i NEVER thought this would be me.

i never ever in my wildest dreams thought i would be the daddy of a daughter.

even if i thought about being a dad one day i never figured i would have a girl! ha... just automatically assumed i would have a boy. crazy how my brain worked that way.

now, i think girls are the best. i LOVE being a dad to an awesome little girl.

& i am absolutely, 100% committed to being the best Dad to Keira that she could possibly have. i'm passionate about that and am making it a priority. don't even know what all that will mean just yet... but i'm committed to figuring it out.

Crystal sent me a blog by this guy & it is AWESOME. i'm definitely gonna read what he has to say more often. This post was called 50 Rules for Dads of Daughters. you can read the whole thing HERE & i'll just be posting my FAVS from the list over the next couple days.
[my personal commentary/thoughts are in brackets]

(The author, Michael Mitchell, is an (almost) thirty-something dad who blogs daily tips and life lessons for dads of daughters at )


1. Love her mom. Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection. When she grows up, the odds are good she’ll fall in love with and marry someone who treats her much like you treated her mother. Good or bad, that’s just the way it is. I’d prefer good.
[RIGHT ON to this. i'ma do my best. Crystal & i have already agreed that (like Andy says) the best gift we can give our kids is a healthy marriage!]

2. Always be there. Quality time doesn’t happen without quantity time. Hang out together for no other reason than just to be in each other’s presence. Be genuinely interested in the things that interest her. She needs her dad to be involved in her life at every stage. Don’t just sit idly by while she adds years to her life… add life to her years.
[YES! i will  freaking do this! no matter what. i'll drop a lot of balls and miss out on a lot of things but this time with my daughter is 1 thing i refuse to miss out on. like i said HERE.]

3. Save the day. She’ll grow up looking for a hero. It might as well be you. She’ll need you to come through for her over and over again throughout her life. Rise to the occasion. Red cape and blue tights optional.

4. Savor every moment you have together. Today she’s crawling around the house in diapers, tomorrow you’re handing her the keys to the car, and before you know it, you’re walking her down the aisle. Some day soon, hanging out with her old man won’t be the bees knees anymore. Life happens pretty fast. You better cherish it while you can.
  [stupid Stephen Curtis Chapman song about dancing with Cinderella or something... never even heard the words before. now i sing it while Keira and i dance together... as i remind myself that there will always be time to work, but this time with her will be gone before i know it!]

5. Pray for her. Regularly. Passionately. Continually.
[i pretty much pray for her so passionately that it's a sob fest every single time. not sure why. that's just the way it goes down with me. so sappy i guess. my heart bursts with passion. i hold her and pump my fist with these crazy desires as i beg God to rock her world & rock the world through her. 1 day i'm sure she'll think this is weird and i may stop... stop doing it in front of her, at least... the fist pumping that is]

7. She will fight with her mother. Choose sides wisely.

9. Of course you look silly playing peek-a-boo. You should play anyway.
[yep. sure will. but it's all good. i've always been one to be cool with looking "silly". i'll own being daddy of a little girl well. i hope.]
10. Enjoy the wonder of bath time.
[yep. bath time is her fav... therefor it's my fav too.]

12. It’s never too early to start teaching her about money. She will still probably suck you dry as a teenager… and on her wedding day.
[she is in trouble because they call me a "Ramsey-ite"]

14. Buy her a pair of Chucks as soon as she starts walking. She won’t always want to wear matching shoes with her old man.

15. Dance with her. Start when she’s a little girl or even when she’s a baby. Don’t wait ‘til her wedding

The rest of my favs from the list coming tomorrow, so check back then.