Friday, April 27, 2012

writing a manifesto

i basically have a manifesto due in a few days.

it's the very last thing that's due for this Spring semester... my 1st semester back in Grad school.
it's this mammoth manifesto of leadership due on Monday. & yep... you guessed it... i still haven't started.

& that's why i haven't written a blog post in the last couple days.
well, that's been my excuse anyway. stuff like "i've gotta write 20 pages today - for this paper... not on my blog." & so i don't write a blog post.

but i also don't work on my paper. i'm too busy doing all the other millions of things i've gotta do. meetings, work, life...

doesn't look like i'm gonna start on my paper today either. i guess it will have to wait until tomorrow.

i am kind of looking forward to it... forcing me to write my manifesto of leadership. my philosophy of leadership. my biblical theology of leadership.

i already wrote a research paper earlier this semester on Jesus' theology of leadership... i should probably just copy His. you know, adopt His as mine.
that's not plagiarism is it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

what kind of world are you voting for?

let me write that again and let's just let it sink in a little bit:

"every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want."

that is an insanely powerful statement.

but maybe that's a little too idealistic or "neat" for you or you don't quite believe it or you can come up with all kinds of examples of how that's not true, etc...

but let's just try to put all that aside for 1 second and assume that at some level, this statement really is true.

that the way we spend our money is voting for the way we want the world to be...

then there's some major implications. let's unpack this real quick:

if you spend money on YOU... you're voting for a world that's more about YOU. 

if you spend all your money on you... you're voting for a world that's ALL about you.

if you buy stuff for others... then you're voting for a world that's more about others.

if you spend money on God's mission in the world... you're voting for a world that's more about God's mission & His glory.

if you spend your money on the poor... you're voting for a rebellion. a revolution that says "i'm crazy blessed... and the whole point of me being blessed is to use my blessing to bless others." you're voting for a world that's BETTER.

so... what kind of world are you voting for?

Monday, April 23, 2012

a friend of a friend (repost)

(This was originally posted to renown on May 19, 2010.)

Have you ever thought about all the stories you hear that start with "a friend of a friend" or "my friend's friend"?
(i'm not just talking about the fact that the stories that follow are probably urban legends either...)

**But seriously, have you ever noticed that our friends' friends have way more crazy, fun, and interesting lives than our friends themselves? and certainly much more interesting lives than we do.

maybe the further we move out in the 6 degrees of separation the more crazy these people get?!  So, if we ever hear stories about "a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend" - then that is going to be one freaking crazy story!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

crystal quotes of the day #3

you can read the 1st "Crystal quotes of the day (pregnancy edition)" HERE.

today's "Crystal quote of the day" is a little bit more of a conversation that went like this:

Crystal:  "Can I have an advance on the baby clothes budget?"

Me:         "What do you mean? like you want next month's money this month?"

Crystal:  "Yes."

Me:         "OK, but you realize if you spend all of next month's money this month there will be none for this month."

Crystal:  "What? No, I want an advance so that I can spend the money for next month AND have that amount for next month too."

Me:         "That's not an advance... that's just extra money."

Crystal:  "Well, whatever you want to call it then. You say tomato, i say tomahto."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

you really should SMILE more

smiling is awesome. everybody likes a smile :)
actually, smiling makes us FEEL GREAT! seriously.

research proves that 1 smile can generate the same brain stimulation of eating up to 2,000 bars of chocolate. (but you don't get nearly as fat)
& a smile can stimulate the same good feelings as receiving $25,000 in cash!

did you catch that? has anyone ever walked up to you and handed you $25k in cash? well, the same kind of positive experience happens in your brain when you simply smile!

not only is it good for you, but smiles are CONTAGIOUS! 
have you ever tried to frown while someone was smiling at you? it's almost impossible!
i tried it on my daughter when she was barely even old enough to smile. all i'm doing in this short video is smiling at her & it causes her to smile back.
check how contagious it can be...

me smiling at her causes her to smile back.

i don't really know what bad can come from a smile? ever thought about that? like i've never heard a sad story or a tragedy or something bad resulting from a smile.

but for some reason in our culture we're a little stingy with a smile. that's dumb.
i say, give that stuff away man! it's free. it makes YOU feel better. it's contagious and will make someone else's day better.

maybe we'll even make a little bit better world, 1 smile at a time.

"I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish." 
- Mother Teresa

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

my Mom is out of the hospital & in rehab at Duke

just another quick update on my Mom...

in case you haven't heard she is OUT of the hospital! it's crazy!

i posted that last week, but actually set it to post before she was actually out & while i was on vacation & unplugged from the internet.
but yes, she is OUT & at my parents' home they are renting in Durham near Duke hospital.

my Mom goes to pretty intense rehab every day pretty much all day at Duke. she'll have to do that for about 6 weeks and then if all goes well and she makes some more big improvements - she could possibly come home to Charlotte at that point!

She got her new lungs on January 27th and got out of the hospital on April 9th. she was in just a little over 10 weeks.
not bad at all considering they told us in the ICU that she would be in the ICU for months & months... back when things weren't looking all that great.

she made some pretty massive improvements.

hoping for more where that came from.

so excited for my Mom. can't wait for the days ahead...

Monday, April 16, 2012

i LOVE the smell of a book

i know, i know, i'm probably really weird, but...

i LOVE the smell of a book.

i'm not talking about scratch & sniff books either.

it could be a brand new book with fancy gloss pages that has that new car smell...

or a regular average book with that regular page smell...

or even a really old old book with that kind of musty smell... like you just stumbled onto something mysterious in an old chest in an attic somewhere...

don't matter what kind of book. i love the smell.

it's ok if that makes me weird.
i love books and i even love the smell of a book as i sit down to read it. hard to explain, but i love it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

isn't she lovely?

i wish i had thought of this song 1st and written it for Keira.

it's what my heart sings every time i look at her beautiful, lovely face.

& then i sign it out loud to her. (i also wish i could sing like Stevie...
so does Keira, probably.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"rev" (repost)

(This was originally posted to renown April 7, 2010.)

A couple Sunday nights ago was a really special night. It was powerful. It was extremely meaningful. And I felt the presence of God big time!

My church ordained me and recognized God's call on my life. It was really really cool.
I'm still humbled by the whole process. Humbled that God would use me. Humbled that my church would recognize the Holy Spirit working in me and God calling me to something special. Humbled that I am nothing and can do nothing good on my own, but somehow God wants to use me for His glory.

I wrote some thoughts the night before my ordination HERE.
I've never really been to an ordination service, but I hear that this one was unlike any other.
It was also really cool to be ordained along with my boy Spanky, who is an awesome guy I have tons of respect for.

It was really cool to have a lot of special people there to be a part of the day with me!
Of course having my wife by my side was the best! She's been amazing in our journey together and I know the next 50 (or so) years together are going to be awesome. She's my greatest friend and the love of my life!

It was really special to have my parents there beside me too. I know God used them more than anyone or anything else to point me toward Him. They have loved and supported me know matter what my whole life. And they did their best to set me up so I could hear God's call when it came. I'm so thankful for their influence and the privilege of being raised by the greatest parents in the world!

My dad was a part of my ordination along with 2 other guys. My dad has been one of my #1 counselors, sounding boards, and spiritual advisors my whole life.  The 3 of them spoke some words of encouragement and counsel over me during my ordination.
The other 2 guys were:
my homeboy Ethan - we've journeyed together for almost 9 years now... figuring everything out together. Our hears are knit together with the same passions. He's one of my best friends in the world and like a brother to me. He works at Summit Church now.
& also my former pastor & boss, Dan Burrell. He has been awesome to me ever since I worked for him at Northside.

It was really special to have my wife's parents (my in-laws) there too. I lucked out in the in-law department because they are awesome. They spoke some awesome words over me that night. + my wife's grandparents and other family were there too.

I was honored to have a lot of peeps from Ridge there to support me + several peeps from Northside from my days there. It was almost like a reunion of many of the people who have played significant roles in my ministry life.

Then they all gathered around me and prayed over and for me. They prayed for Crystal and I. They prayed for our future. They prayed that God would use us for His glory. It was pretty hard core and I was loving it.

My pastor, Chris, also spoke to Spanky and I and challenged us. It was awesome. Nobody has influenced me these last 3 years like Chris has and I was honored that he sees something of the work of God in me.
He talked to us a lot about how vital it is to finish well. He said we've started great, but it's all about how we finish.
He spoke a lot to me about being a good husband to Crystal + he talked to Crystal a lot about the crazy life ahead of us. I'm so thankful for a pastor who sees the importance of us fighting for our healthy marriage.
*because of all this it was a really awesome night for Crystal and I just as a couple and in our marriage.

Ridge Church gave us some really awesome gifts that I really wasn't expecting and definitely wasn't necessary. Some other peeps did the same. Didn't know any of that was coming. Definitely a blessing.

The song that was kind of sung over me at the end is one of my all time favs. It's a prayer from David Livingstone from way back in the day, but it resounds with my heart as if I prayed it myself. I wrote about it a little the day after my ordination HERE. It was a POWERFUL moment of worship and surrender to God for me... asking Him to TAKE MY LIFE... it's all for Him... ALL of me.

we finished out the night with a freaking awesome "night of worship" for the whole church. It was intense and powerful.
can't wait to see what God does in this next chapter of my life and the next chapter of Ridge Church!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"how far we are from where you are"

(This was originally written and posted to renown March 31, 2010.)

I think this is really fascinating and relevant for what I get to be a part of (Ridge Church).

A while back I read my 1st Henri Nouwen book = Life of the Beloved
The book was written to Nouwen's friends who were - "secular", nonreligious, unchurched, postmodern, and did not see the relevance of Jesus in their lives. He wrote it to try to help them see how awesome God is and to try to show them the relevance of Jesus to their lives.

So, he intentionally wrote the book with these unbelievers in mind = trying to speak on their terms, etc...

After writing it and giving it to them he followed up with his friends. This was their response and I think it is SO HUGE for any church concerned with reaching the people in our culture who don't follow Jesus and aren't really interested... 
although you express to us what is most precious to you, you do not realize how far we are from where you are. You speak from a context and tradition that is alien to us, and your words are based on many presuppositions that we don’t share with you. You are not aware of how truly secular we are.”

Wow. I wish all church leaders could hear that. That's what we don't realize so much of the time! we have no idea how far we are from where they are and we are speaking a foreign language that is alien to them!

Here were Nouwen's thoughts on that response from his "secular" friends:
"My attempt had been to be a witness of God’s love to a secular world, but I had sounded like someone who is so excited about the art of sailing that he forgets that his listeners have never seen lakes or the sea, not to mention sailboats!” 

I think that is such a great analogy and I think that's what we too often do in church world.
I'm stoked to be a part of figuring out how to contextualize a relevant message and package and present it in a way that anyone and everyone GETS.
*I'm stoked to be a part of a church that is trying to bridge that gap that separates "how far we are from where you are..."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"like a blind man follows a seeing eye dog" (principles make life easy)

(This was originally posted to renown March 28, 2010. Of course there are many exceptions to this idea & we can't follow everything blindly... it's just an illustration of something that is truly a PRINCIPLE = the way the world works.)

I'm thankful for principles. I'm reminded today that I'm thankful for some financial principles. Because I am CONFIDENT that I am NOT smart enough to make good financial decisions on my own!

But, by God's grace & by following some principles of one of my heroes, I'm on a good financial track.

And I love Dave's principles. They're not boring. that I quote along with him every single day. My wife and dog (Jack Bauer) even quote them...

"debt is dumb."
"cash is king."

So, when I reread this today I was reminded of how thankful I am that God led me to these financial principles and somehow gave me the discipline to follow them like a blind man follows his seeing eye dog:

“I have heard every excuse, every whining reason, and every rationalization as to why you are different and you have a better way, but trust me, you don’t. The good thing about principles is that they make life easy. I have heard it said that when someone bases his life on principle, 99% of his decisions are already made.”
Thanks for all the decisions I don't have to make, Dave!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

my Mom is out of the hospital!

she should be by today, anyway!

when we left for vacation on Sunday, the Doctor told her she should be able to come home on Monday! so, surely by the time this posts she'll be home.
"home" in Durham, of course. then she'll do a few months of rehab there at Duke, but at least not in the hospital anymore.

so awesome. we're all so excited.

it's been a long journey, but God has been amazing.

so have many of you - thanks for your support and love & for praying for my Mom!

Monday, April 9, 2012

grace (repost)

(This was originally posted to renown on March 27, 2010.)

“It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between grace and karma. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I have received much more than I deserve.” 
– Bono 

*Right on, Bono. He's my favorite rock star, but sometimes (like when he says stuff like this) he's my fav person to sum up BIG, incomprehensible things... like grace for instance.
I'm right with ya too, Bono. Grace DOES defy reason and logic.  
That's why it's so beautiful and so breathtaking!
And I think he speaks for all of us when he says "I have received much more than I deserve." we all have.

I am beginning to learn (and Chris Seay has done a great deal to teach me much more recently) that we can see grace and beautiful pictures of the Gospel weaved through things in our culture... even pop culture... even things like the TV show LOST. So in Seay's book, The Gospel According to Lost, after he quotes Bono he goes on to write...

⇒ “The moment we shift our focus from entitlement (getting what we deserve) to grace (celebrating the reality that we have received forgiveness and love that we could never earn and do not deserve), we become less like the older brother [in Luke 15] and are welcomed to a great feast at the Father’s table.”

God, let me grasp GRACE as much as my finite mind is able to. And let me simply celebrate in it... even though I don't deserve it and could do nothing to earn it. 


it's so good.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

unplugging for a week

Crystal and i are leaving right now for a week...

a little impromptu vacation gifted to us. extremely thankful.

& we're going to completely unplug. no email, no internet, no computer, no social networks, no iPad, no iPhone, no nothing like that.

just me & her in the mountains. 

just chillin'. enjoying all the amazing beauty all around us.

i can't wait. it's gonna be awesome.

but don't worry - i've got something set to post to renown each day we are gone... so you'll at least have something to read :)
(i'm sure when i get back i'll have a million new & fresh things to write about... things bouncing around in my mind & my soul.)

but i won't be writing or working or doing any thing like that all week.

my philosophy of vacation =
i work hard.
& then i rest hard.

furious rest.

gonna be so refreshing!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

mentored by dead guys

(This was originally posted to renown on March 15, 2010.)

A few years ago I heard a pastor say "I need to be mentored by more dead guys." I've remembered that and tried to implement it into my reading/learning habits and read several books from dead guys each year. That's definitely the case this year as "Dead guys" was a whole category on my 2010 reading list which you can see HERE.

Right now I'm reading The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. He was born in the 1300s and wrote this masterpiece in the 1400s. He was a medieval mystic - I have read those guys before and am always rejuvenated in my devotion to Jesus when I read what they have to say!

One of the greatest things I am reminded of is how crazy busy my life is and how much better I can connect to God if I simply slow down a little, take a deep breath, and create a little space for Him to invade my soul.

I completely understand where (Steven James) the writer of the intro to this translation of Imitation is coming from when he wrote: "I've been to monasteries several times on four-day silent retreats. After about twenty minutes I've had all the deep spiritual insights I can take. I start frantically looking around for a computer to check my email. I wouldn't make a very good monk."
Haha, that's totally me!

Thomas a Kempis says "he who does not try to become the least, the servant of all, cannot be at peace for very long."
I definitely need to hear stuff like that. Most of us know that climbing the corporate ladder and pushing our way to be on top doesn't really satisfy or make us happy... but we still do it anyway. We know it doesn't bring peace... just more stress. But, for some reason it's what we pursue. Those CEOs are the ones we imitate instead of Christ.

And I really love hearing a Kempis talk about "living it" over "learning it" = "What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity?... I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without the grace of God?"

I think my heart is already beating at a slower, healthier pace and I am satisfied resting in God. I'm stoked about being mentored by this really old mystic monk! (He would currently be 630 years old!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Crystal quote of the day #2

here's what Crystal said to me just a few minutes ago that had me cracking up:

"My next husband is gonna be rich. That's for sure."

well. i guess he might as well be.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dave's tweet

i saw this tweet from Dave Ramsey a while back:

"If a dog bites you forgive him. But don't reconcile with him until he learns not to bite. You can't build a quality team without trust."

& a reply from someone else:

"so there's no reconciliation, eh?"

& then from Dave again:

"Forgiveness is different . As a person YES, keeping them as an employee, NO"

wow. how many times have we seen this with employees on a team! it feels like a tension because we've gotta forgive & reconcile with PEOPLE no matter what.

We've GOTTA forgive people, but it doesn't mean they still need to work on the team.

no matter how much you love your dog, how many times are you going to let him bite your kid? you may forgive the dog but you will not let it keep happening.

Monday, April 2, 2012

newcastle, you have made me so happy :)

i realize most people reading this will have no idea what this is talking about, but yesterday made me amazingly happy.
this payback & revenge was so sweet & the toon army are flying high.

below is a hilarious article i read about the ironies that made my day yesterday (& this morning)

A football farce

"But in this weekend of meltdowns, there is only 1 place to start as Kenny Dalglish served up more entertainment for the folk of Tyneside in 90 minutes on Sunday than he did in the entirety of his miserable spell in charge of the club back in the late 90s. This was a public humiliation of epic proportions, as a baying mob lanced the boil on years of frustration and lapped up every last strand of despair to befall the King. It was a stage show farce so acutely amusing it should get its own three-month run on Broadway.

This is the man who signed two of Newcastle's best players for a combined sum of £41 million last year but now trails them by 11 points in the table. Chief protagonist, of course, was Andy Carroll, a man so bereft of confidence he has now taken to falling over instead of taking his chances at rolling the ball into an empty net from ten yards. His feckless flop got him a rocket from the gaffer that sold him before the home fans saluted his substitution like a Papiss Cisse goal. Kenny's reward for hauling Carroll off was a bucket of sweary language. Word has it Carroll was actually aiming to head for the bench but missed and ended up striding down the tunnel instead.

But the final, gloriously funny act was still to come as a bewildered Kenny wandered onto the playing field after Pepe Reina's Eskimo kiss with James Perch only to be told to sit down and shut up by an irate Steven Gerrard. Reina staggered back onto the pitch to offer out "Perchinho" and bestow an oversized jersey and pair of gloves on Jose Enrique who sheepishly trudged into nets as 50,000 half-naked Geordies sang at him "You should have stayed at a big club."

An even heartier rendition of "You're getting sacked in the morning," bookended a desperate day at the office for a club that have now, beyond all doubt, become a laughing stock."

beaming smile from me :)
pretty much looking good to make Europe now... & only 5 points out of a CL spot with 7 left to go...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Crystal's April fool's on me

yep, this was what Crystal showed me.

i bought it.

FREAKED actually.

forgot it was April Fool's Day