Friday, June 29, 2012

a friend of a friend

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!

(This was originally posted to renown in June, 2010.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

it just enables

"Money enables what's in a person's heart."
- Matt Krol

i heard this quote 4 or 5 years ago and have always found that it is TRUE.

a lot of people say stuff like "when i have more money, then i'll _______ "
fill in the blank with whatever you want.

basically they're saying they will live differently when they have money. things will be different then and money will be the game changer.

but i say that your heart is the indicator. money is just the enabler.

so if people say - "when i have money, then i'll be generous." they only need to ask 1 question = am i generous now?
because money will simply enable what's already in your heart.
if you live for yourself now... if you're greedy... spend all your money on yourself now... 
then, when you have more money you will just do more of the same.

if you are generous now... giving your money away... blessing others... not spending it all on yourself...
then, when you have more money you will just do more of the same.

if you spend your money on YOU now, but you say you will be generous when you have more money...

no you won't.

because having more money won't make you generous.

money just enables what's already in your heart.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

how well can you do this?

“Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another and to cherish one another and seek the greater good of the other.”
- Desmond Tutu 
Bishop Tutu always has a way of helping us get back to reality. back to the place we need to be.
so, how well do you do this?
how well can you continue to LOVE and cherish & seek good for the person who you drastically disagree with?
because what i see most is people not being able to handle it when other people disagree with them. if someone has a different ideology or different belief about something peeps get all bent out of shape. they can't continue to love that person and want good for them.
what i see is that people are judged by how much they can agree with the one doing the judging.
what i see is people's value being based on how little they disagree with your viewpoint.
it's crazy to me that so many people can seem to hate people because of their disagreements.
i think the Bishop is right. our maturity is judged by this. and i don't think most of us are scoring too high on the maturity ranking.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

only 49% save for retirement

there's a new survey out saying that only 49% of Americans are saving anything for retirement.


so what are the rest of you doing? the other 51%?
what could you possibly be doing with that money?

and a better question - what are you going to do when you get old?
what are you going to do when you retire?

ooooooohh... you're NOT gonna retire. i gotcha.
you're just gonna keep working.

well that's cool. because i don't really believe in retirement either. i plan to keep working my whole live long life too. so, i'll be right there with you.

but 1 more question - wouldn't it be nice to not HAVE to work for money when you're old. like, wouldn't it be nice to just work for FUN for FREE - whatever you wanna do.
but not have to work a crappy job just to buy food and live indoors?

i'm all for not retiring - yeah, let's use years 65 til whenever to do something that matters instead of move to the beach and collect seashells and play golf or tennis or bingo...

but it would be cool to not need a paycheck at that age just to put gas in your car.

ooooooohh... you're gonna have rich successful kids & they're gonna take care of you when you're old.

i hate to break it to you & i'm def not trying to be mean... but if you're one of the 51% not saving for retirement...
your kids probably won't either. & it's probably good chances they won't be rich & successful and be able to be your retirement when you're old.

just sayin.

so, to the 51%... just take 15% of your next paycheck and put it into a Roth IRA or something like that. and when the next paycheck comes... do that again. and do the same thing the next time.
you won't even notice the 15% is missing. just do it.

and when you're 65 you can have fun giving away millions of dollars + have tons more money to live on and do whatever you love.

just sayin.

leave the 51% and join the 49%.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

my 1st blog from 30,000 feet

i've never thought to write a blog on a plane.
actually, i don't really know how long they've even made WiFi available on airplanes.

but here's my 1st one.
(& i would guess the 1st of many.)

Crystal & i are flying to New York WITH Keira. She's done awesome so far (knock on wood).

speaking of writing in the air... i remember writing for a long time in my journal in the airport on my 1st trip to Africa.

i was about 19 and had been in London for a few days hanging out with a friend. he had just dropped me at the HUGE London airport and i was flying to Jo-burg, South Africa where a guy i had met once was going to pick me up and take me to Botswana where i would spend the next few months.

i can remember sitting in that huge airport in London waiting to go to Africa "all by myself" for a really long time.

i can remember sitting there and watching all the people go by & not knowing anyone.

i remember sitting there thinking about going to spend the the next few months of my life really far away from home with no one that i knew.

airports can be lonely places.

that moment for me seemed like it would be a lonely moment.

but i didn't feel lonely. i didn't feel alone.

i wasn't alone.

there was a Presence with me.
real and almost tangible.

i can still remember it. i wrote to God in my journal for hours sitting there in London waiting for my flight.

i can still remember the song playing on my "discman" (remember those?) - Shane & Shane's Be Near.

i remember thinking that if i didn't feel alone in a moment like that... in fact, since i felt the opposite of alone (completely KNOWN and in the presence of Someone who knew me well)... then i probably shouldn't need to feel alone anywhere ever.

i need to go back and find that particular journal in my stack of journals. i need to find that entry. maybe i'll post some of it.

anyway, ever since that day, airports have been kind of like a spiritual place for me.
in the middle of all the hustle & bustle... the rushing, stressed out people... all the frustrated people...
it's still a peaceful place for me.

for some reason (because of that day in the London airport) i have a heightened sense of the Presence of God in airports. & it causes me to slow down and be aware of it.

it's almost like an airport is a thin place for me.

anyway, just a thought for my 1st blog post from 30,000 feet.

Friday, June 22, 2012


brave heart trans(plant (plant)ers wart hog tied stick ball & chain saw IV all american made service plan(ters wart remover (ver)ve pipe cleaner (nir)vana smells like teen spirit guide post hole digg(ers (irs)kine California girls they're undenia(ble (bull) fighter pilot light ning show boat shoes off the bed bugs bite sleep tight jea(ns) (ns ns ns ns) "what is love?", court(ney (knee) jerk reac(tion (shun)ned from home of the brave

can you dig it?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

my wife is the awesomest!

no, it's not really that kind of post.

i mean, i've known for a long time that my wife is the awesomest. she is amazing!

but this week she has pulled out all the stops.

she has outdone herself.

just when i thought she couldn't amaze me anymore...
she went and did it again.

all week long we've been at Big Stuf in Daytona Beach. it's been awesome. there are 30 of us from Student Impact at Ridge Church. crazy fun all week long + God is doing some really awesome stuff.

but my wife has been the CHEF. she has prepared 3 meals a day for 30 people! most of whom are teenagers who LIKE to eat. and it has been amazing. seriously, REALLY good food. so much so that other churches are complaining about the meal plan they paid for. (would have cost our kids an extra $200 per person.)

oh, and did i mention my wife has done ALL this cooking/prepping meals IN A TINY LITTLE HOTEL ROOM.

and that tiny little hotel room also served as the buffet line.

oh... and if that wasn't enough - all of this WITH AN 8 MONTH OLD BABY IN HER ARMS!

& pretty much no help.

i mean, i knew my wife was awesome. but this proves once again that she's the awesomest.

i guess there's some other peeps who think so too... (just a BIG card all the students made & signed)

somehow, it's stuff like this that make her look even more beautiful to me.
because she's helping these students have an awesome experience this week. and hopefully a week that changes their lives forever.

thanks, Crystal.
"you da you da best..."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

thirsty? (repost)

(i originally wrote and posted this to renown on June 30, 2010.)

These 2 people live in Bulgeta, Ethiopia. i don't know their names. They are getting water to drink. Every single person in the town drinks the water from this pond.

I showed this picture to my wife and she had no idea it was even water. She said she thought the people were playing in a sand box. that made me want to cry.

There is no reason anyone in our world should still be dying from unclean water... but several died from unclean water since you've been reading this. that's messed up.

Thankfully some other people thought it was messed up too. They gave to Charity:Water (an awesome org. that i love) and they built a clean water well in Bulgeta! These 2 people never have to visit this pond again. People from this town won't die from unclean water anymore.
*Because some people were generous. They thought the future for this town should be different so they did something about it.

you can read more about this town and water project HERE and there are even links that will take you to the google earth coordinates to see these villages who have been helped in Ethiopia!

Would you be willing to be generous so that an entire town would have clean water instead of drinking from that "sand box"?

Friday, June 15, 2012

my favorite thoughts about RENOWN

recently i posted my 1,000th article on this blog.
it got me thinking about my favorite things i've written ABOUT the idea/essence of the word "renown" itself.

below are 5 of my favs that i landed on in a quick search:

summing up renown HERE

"so that" (stuck on it) [Psalm 67] HERE   

renown the 100th HERE  

unending fame [Psalm 135:13] HERE

1st ever renown blog HERE

i love hearing what people think about this stuff, so

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

this is my 1,000th blog post

that's a pretty creative & original title for this post, don't you think?

it's crazy, but 1,000 times i have written some thoughts from my brain and posted them here on renown.

i started thinking about that and realized that there aren't all that many things that we discipline ourselves to do 1,000 times. (i can remember shooting 1,000 free throws in a day in middle school & high school... but it didn't happen all that often.)
so, in part, i'm celebrating today. celebrating the 1,000th post to this site i call renown.

i've learned i'm not all that great at celebrating personal stuff. i don't like to waste time thinking about something i've already done. i want to get on with it... do the next thing.
so, my 1st thought today is just to get on with it. tomorrow will be post # 1,001 and so on...
i decided to pause for just a moment today and celebrate these 1,000 articles i've written. it is a milestone. i do feel a little sense of accomplishment.

so, HAPPY 1,000 to me! to renown.

there. i did it. can we move on now? :)

many parts of the last 4 & a half years of my life are recorded on this site. i go back and look through it somewhat often. it's an easy way to remember certain times. to see what i was doing or thinking about back then. to see how much i've changed.
because i've written about all kinds of things - life, passions, what i'm learning, who i want to become, theology, philosophy, ideas, etc... etc...

it's easy to look back and see where i've been, how i've changed, etc...
i read some of my old articles and think "what was i thinking when i wrote that? that is so bad."
and others i read and think "man, that was really really good. did i really write that?"

i'm most happy that all this writing has given me an avenue to really "work stuff out". writing forces me to flesh my thoughts out... or else i might just let stuff stay in my head forever and never be forced to land on what i really think about some important stuff.

i started this blog for 1 main reason. the same 1 main reason i live my life.

hence, the name of the blog.

everybody pretty much lives their life for renown, whether they know it or not. they live their life for the FAME, honor, glory, and renown of SOMEBODY or SOMETHING.

i intentionally choose which renown to live my life for. the only one that matters because it's the only one that is TRULY renown.
because renown is ultimate and unending fame. there is only 1 fame that is ultimate and unending.

and i just said that i wanted this blog to simply be a reflection & an outlet for a life attempting to live for God's renown.

but there has been a really cool "by-product." i take joy in the fact that some of these 1,000 posts have along the way AFFECTED people. i don't want to be so bold as to say it has "changed" people, but no doubt these 1,000 writings have AFFECTED people... MOVED them maybe?
and these are their words not mine. these are things tons of people have told me. i would like to think it has also affected tons more who have not told me.

i'll stop for a moment today and celebrate that too.
but now i'll move on and keep writing with the secondary hope that the next thousand posts can affect even more people and move them even more deeply.
move them in a direction that i hope this blog is also moving me = to live our lives for the only renown that matters.

i wrote and published these 1st thousand articles in just under 4 & a half years.
there's 1,000 more in the bag (my head and halfway on paper) and coming quickly. hopefully it will only take about 3 years for the next thousand to land on renown.

maybe then we'll have a "happy 2,000" party?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

what is love?

unfortunately i can't ask that question -- "What is love?" -- without dropping an 80s club beat box & singing that really annoying Haddaway song from back in the day... "What is love? baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more." (& then i think about Will Ferrell & that SNL skit they always did with this song...)
hopefully that won't be stuck in your head the rest of the day like it will be mine.

1st John is a pretty sweet book that actually answers the question. it was the first book i ever translated from Greek to English in my first Greek exegesis class in college. it was a beast of a project, but really rewarding because 1st John is so rich and amazing.

Recently i was reading 1 John 3 (in English of course... i can't remember very much Greek these days) and i remembered how many STRONG and BOLD statements John makes.

try this one on for size:

"If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you?"
- 1 John 3:17

wow. that's pretty intense.

how can the love of God possibly be in you if you don't LIVE your love out for others?
literally - if you see a fellow human in NEED and that doesn't MOVE you to do something about it... how can you possibly say the love of God is in you?
it's a rhetorical Q with the obvious answer being "the love of God is NOT in you." 
we probably better check ourselves.

and we can assume pity doesn't just mean "feel sorry for them in your heart."
if you look at John's rhetorical Q in the whole context it's obvious. Check it:

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us NOT love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
  - 1 John 3:16-18

YES! don't "love" with your cheap words... because that's not love! LOVE WITH YOUR ACTIONS! which is the only true way to love.

this is a way of life, not just something we talk about or mentally assent to.

and it seems to me like John is laying the foundation by saying = "HERE is our example of love --> JESUS died for us. so, if we really love people we will give up our lives for them!" 
maybe not literally, but in every way. we will put their lives ahead of our own.
THAT is what love is.

that doesn't sound too familiar to me. i don't see many Christians doing this.

but i do see a lot of people "loving" with their words.

i say, save your breath. because you're just wasting it.

and i think John is saying the same.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"you taught me..."

years ago i met this really awesome guy. our 1st real conversation was over a fairly large disagreement.

he was old enough to be my dad and i worked at the church he attended. we were talking about something and i saw his eyes got really big and it quickly became obvious that he needed to convince me that my way of thinking was wrong and his was right.

it was funny because he wasn't getting anywhere in the "argument" because i didn't need to be convinced one way or the other. to me they were just 2 different preferences... we had 2 different ways of doing and thinking about the same thing.

but he was very convinced. i think he was intrigued with me even way back then because i didn't line up in all the right categories for him.
so just a couple months later (after we had just met) he actually flew me across the country and paid for me to go to a certain conference. i think his "secret" hope... or maybe not so secret - he may have straight up told me (can't remember?)... was to sway me to his way of thinking basically on how church was supposed to be, etc...

he even asked me if i would be willing to go. "SURE," i said. i knew the conference. i knew the speakers. they were all pretty famous. i liked a lot of what they said. i'm never afraid to be convinced of something different than what i currently think. go ahead and convince me. :)

but i wasn't convinced. i did like the conference & like all those guys & really did learn a lot and it was really good for me. but my friend and i still differed over these overarching styles.

*but something interesting happened as we hung out together for an entire week.  

we became good friends.

all week long we just talked. and not just about the stuff we differed on (i didn't really care about that anyway)... but we just talked about our lives, our interests, what we loved, & we talked about God, etc...

i really, genuinely LIKED this guy + he really, genuinely liked me. we started talking a lot and really hit it off.
the funny part is that we could not be more opposite.

other people even laughed about it and wondered why we got along so well?
opposite generations, opposite in all of our styles - dress, talk, interests, etc..., opposite in most of our theology and certainly our philosophy of how to do church, etc...

but here we were - getting along great. 
i really think that he was perplexed by me. here's a kid who seems to love Jesus, but he's "way out there." and i think he must have figured that if i really loved Jesus then i would come around to his side eventually (to his "style" & preferences. You know, the "correct" way).

years later, after we went our separate ways and were a part of different churches, etc... i was getting ordained at Ridge and i invited this guy to come. he had definitely been an awesome encouragement and influence to me through those early years of me being in "ministry" and i wanted him to be there. 

he came and it was an awesome night. a really powerful and meaningful night for me. i wrote about that HERE.

but at the end, before he left, he pulled me aside. pulled me aside like... no, we're not going to talk here in the middle of everyone... we're going to have a private conversation because i have something important to say. that kind of pulled me aside.

he physically put both his hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eyeballs to make sure he had my full attention. then with full on sincerity he said...

"you taught me to look past the piercings, past the long hair, past the clothes," etc...

and then he said


i immediately started joking around with him like "man, OF COURSE we both love the same Jesus! and you should get something pierced too..." or something like that. that's just what i do - probably joke around too much.

but then i realized what a serious moment this was.
this is a guy who probably never dreamed he would be taught by a guy like me.

and i wasn't ever trying to teach him anything.
i almost wanted to say to him - "i don't remember teaching you that. i don't remember us ever having a conversation about this."

i just lived my life.

hey renown reader, just live YOURS.

people will learn.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"i beg you with my whole heart"

i do think about war a lot. i just don't want to talk about it or write about it. it kind of fits in that realm of "politics" that i try to stay away from.
not because i'm scared but because people get scary when they talk about politics and i just like to avoid it.

and war is a double whammy. people are pretty opinionated about war already plus it's politics. i'm not scared to talk about it, not scared to talk about what i'm thinking --> i just find it unwise. not sure any good would come from talking about it with most people because of how upset they tend to get over these types of topics.

but i do think about it a lot.
"just war" theory. (& is there even such a thing or is it an oxymoron?)
the "holy war" mentality that seems to be pretty popular in America.
war for the sake of stopping genocide.
but most importantly - what does Jesus think about war? what would He say today?

anyway, none of us will probably ever solve all this either. but none of this is my point for this post.

no matter where you land with your opinions about war, surely we can all resonate with this letter that Mother Teresa wrote to the leaders of 2 warring countries years ago:

“I beg you with my whole heart to work for, to labor for God’s peace and to be reconciled with one another… In the short term there may be winners and losers in this war that we all dread, but that never can, nor never will justify the suffering, pain, and loss of life which your weapons will cause… please choose the way of peace… You may win the war but what will the cost be on people who are broken, disabled and lost.”
            -  letter to President Bush & Saddam Hussein in January, 1991

that's all i really wanted to post.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

thougths from somebody way smarter than me

i know, i know, i've been writing about money a lot lately. HERE's one post in case you missed it.

but these thoughts about money aren't my own. these are just some of my fav from Andy Stanley's book Fields of Gold. you should definitely go get it and read it. you can even borrow it from me if you want.


“Any fear associated with giving to God’s kingdom is irrational. It’s on par with a farmer who, out of fear of losing his seed, refuses to plant his fields.”

American Christians give less today to the church than we did during the Great Depression! 
[WHAT!? holy crap. that's crazy. how is that even possible?]

**The thing to fear isn’t giving away too much, but giving too little.

“If you truly believe everything belongs to God, then you have nothing to fear after all. And if God is the source of all wealth and He controls the comings and goings of your money, then there’s no reason not to give.”
[just think about that for a minute]

“So whenever God blesses us with more than we need, we see it as an opportunity to insure our future or to guarantee our next meal, while all along, God meant it as an opportunity for us to give more.”

i love this phrase that Andy uses = "FEARLESS giving." i like it.

*Andy thinks the amount of money entrusted to you in your life often depends on how well you steward what you have. i agree in principle.

“I’m afraid to sow my seed because then I won’t have the seed anymore.” = insane
“This is powerful news for anyone who’s afraid to give because of financial insecurity. It suggests that the wisest move we could make financially is to begin sowing our financial seed. When we do, God gets involved in our finances. And that’s the most financially secure place we could be.”

Andy asks an AWESOME Question – “why in the world would God drain you of your resources and then not replenish them to accomplish what He’s committed to doing?”

while reading this book i was inspired to do something i hadn't done very often = PRAY and ask God to be involved in our finances!

this is SO SIMPLE! God doesn’t give us a % or amount to give. No pressure. Just “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
God eliminates giving reactively or out of guilt. In other words, if that’s how you feel about giving, God says, “That’s OK, you just keep it. I’ll use somebody else’s.”
AWESOME = just so nobody can possibly pressure you into it!

great little book. i hope you enjoyed the highlights.

Friday, June 8, 2012

conversation with the postman

i've written a few thoughts about money lately. HERE & HERE (& even HERE within the context below.)

so, when i was reading my buddy Scott's blog recently i was really intrigued by his post. it's about money, but it's changing the subject from what i've been writing about money. it's a different kind of conversation. and it is brilliant (in a sneaky sort of way).

Scott is a brilliant guy. getting his doctorate right now, but that's not what makes him brilliant. he could be teaching those classes. this guy's brain works in fascinating ways.

he's a great writer too. he has written posts here on renown several times. his writing style is different than mine and obviously more polished, but he has an ability to be transparent, raw, and authentic at the same time.

btw - i asked Scott for permission to post this, of course, but in the conversation i never asked if the postman is a literal postman or even a literal, real person or not. i guess you can attempt to interpret that for yourself.
hopefully i'll actually get to sit down with Scott up in NY this month if our schedules sync up. maybe we can talk more about this.

maybe you have found yourself having these types of conversations with a "postman" of your own?

Postman by Scott Grace

The postman told me that money can’t buy happiness. 

I told him I sure doubt that’s the case. 

I have yet to see a rich person sad for having come upon a large sum of money. The only crying is a happy sort of crying. 

The postman assured me that with more money comes more problems, 

but I assured him that if my worst problems were what to do with all my money then I would be ok with that. 

The postman never seems to care that money is what pays for his service and his service pays his rent and buys his food and cares for his young children. The postman always seems to preach that life is not measured by the number of zero’s in your bank account. I have never seen more than five zero’s in my bank account including the cents, but I promised the postman that if there was a time in my life when I saw ten zero’s in my bank account then I would certainly feel a measure of satisfaction and perhaps some sort of success. 

The postman assured me that money is like a bird, and soon flies away. 

But I told the postman that I would much rather watch money fly away than never be able to watch it fly away. 

I guess the postman thinks that money is somewhat overrated. 

I kind of sympathize with the postman, but I sure would like to know money problems, how much happiness money can buy, and how it feels to see a lot of zero’s in my bank account. 

I trust the postman though, seems to have a good sense of things, especially when it comes to money.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

money money money

i think (& Scripture teaches pretty plainly) God likes to fund His mission through people.

He doesn't have to, but that's the way He works it.

He blesses people with the money that He gives to them SO THAT they will be a blessing & bless others with that same money. so that they will be a blessing by funding God's mission in the world with that money He blessed them with.
then He blesses them with even more money. and so they give away more. and then God blesses them with more. and they give away more. etc... etc...
this all seems pretty straight forward to me.

i'm not a fan of the prosperity gospel. in fact i'm the opposite of a fan. whatever that is. i think it's not the gospel. i've made my thougths about that pretty clear before & i echo THIS on that topic.
but i realize that what i'm saying here & what the Bible teaches throughout borders on the line of "prosperity gospel".

i'm saying & i believe that Scripture teaches that God blesses me based on how i give. God blesses me with money in proportion to how i bless others with the previous money He blessed me with.

and i know the televangelists & prosperity gospel peeps may sound eerily similar as they get on TV & tell us to send them $1,000 and God promises to send them back $2,000 or something like that.

& maybe there's not a lot of difference between the 2 other than that Scripture seems to be talking to people who aren't trying to get rich off of giving back to God. it seems to be more about the motive in the heart. a desire to be a blessing. a heart like "sure, ok, You want to bless me more... then i'll just give away more." if you're giving for the purpose of getting rich... to exploit this system God has set up... i just don't know that it works that way.
pretty sure it doesn't.

but i'll be honest - i've been trying it out for a long time now - and still taking steps forward. i read God's promises about that and think "really, God? how far are you gonna go with this?" because so far the more we give, the more God backs up the dump truck of blessings and dumps more on us. you better believe that gives me the confidence and courage and faith to keep giving more and more... knowing that God promises to bless with more and more.

*but don't take my word for all this. it's a principle that God established. it's how God designed His world to work.

Paul writes about it eloquently. the context for this passage below is all about Paul talking to these peeps in Corinth about giving their money to the poor... funding God's mission in the world... blessing others with their money. as he's talking to them about giving he just wants to remind them about a principle...

6 "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“They have scattered abroad their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, people will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else."
(2 Corinthians 9:6-13)

i don't think i can say it any more clearly than that.

it's as simple as SEEDS. if you have 10 seeds and plant 5 - do you have less or more than you started with? well, you have MORE of course. whatever you planted is going to grow and produce tons more of those seeds.
Paul says God designed giving & planting seeds to work the same.


obviously we don't believe that. or we would give like we planted.
how often do you see a farmer or a gardener plant 10% of his seeds and keep 90% for himself? he would be an idiot.
just sayin'

you PLANT seeds because that's what they're FOR. 
and you give away money because that's why you've been blessed with it. that's what it's FOR.

so, i just can't picture someone giving away all their money to bless others/fund God's mission & then God not blessing them with more to give away.
that's how He likes to fund His mission in the world.

everyone reading this blog is rich. no doubt. don't even argue. if you're sitting in front of a computer or phone or iPad with an internet connection reading this then you are RICH. and Paul says that the whole reason you've been made rich is "SO THAT you can be generous on every occasion!"

AND it's something that actually "accompanies your confession of the gospel." is that confession a little worthless without this generosity to accompany it?

i love the way Luke puts it:
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

i can remember my Mom and my Dad talking about this one a lot when i was a kid - they would compare it to the way you fit the most leaves into a trash bag. you can fit way more when you press it down, shake it together, etc... "you can't outgive God" they would say.

i don't think it matters how much money you have. just give. you've been blessed. bless others with it.
whether you make $100 a week or $1 million a week - be generous. give it away.

we are MESSED up when it comes to money. we are MESSED up bad.

it's good to make money. it's just dumb to keep it. who do you think God is going to bless with more money? the person blessing others/funding His mission with it or the person using it on themselves?
just sayin'.

as always, renown is a place for me to hash out some thoughts. take ideas and things in my head and actually process them. i fully recognize that i'm probly wrong about a lot of stuff. i would really like to know if i am WRONG in my thinking about this?
am i way off here?
i'm actually asking someone to point that out if i am. tell me.

(i'm not asking - do we live like we think this is true? - because NO! of course we don't. when we truly believe this we will give 90% and live on 10%.)

i'm just wondering if i'm crazy? i don't think so, but the crazy person never thinks he is.
do you feel me?
or you hatin?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

pointing out the good

words are SO powerful as i've pointed out recently HERE & HERE. they literally have the power to give & save life!
something i have noticed that is almost completely absent in our culture is POINTING OUT THE GOOD. You know praising something about or IN someone else. giving a sincere compliment beyond "i like your hair" (or as Pedro might say "i like her bangs"). noticing something GOOD in someone else & then taking that most important step of saying it out loud to them!

i've noticed the power of this and i'm trying to discipline myself to do it. recently i was reflecting on WHERE i learned to do this and the answer is actually from a few things/people.

soccer is a prime example in my life for learning this. yes, soccer.
     [and i do know my audience and realize that we live in the only tiny corner of the world that is totally separated from the other 7 billion on planet earth for whom soccer is a part of life... but there's really not another sport that works in the example. no way for me to contextualize for you. + it's a personal experience story for me, so i can't make something up.]
i've played A LOT of other sports and this just doesn't happen in them. i'm not saying it doesn't happen at all in other sports... just not constantly built into the game itself. i guess it happens a little in basketball too... but way less. i grew up playing on the street. streetball everyday for the 1st half of my life & pointing out the good just doesn't happen as much. trash talk is the more dominant theme. it's just a way different culture.
basketball is awesome... there's just not as much pure beauty as in "the beautiful game."

(i'll just speak for me at least)
when i walk onto a basketball court, there is an automatic switch that flips into a certain mode. it's smack talk mode. i need to outdo this chump guarding me so i can tell him what's up & put him in his place. it's trash talk mode.
when i walk onto a soccer field, there is also an automatic switch that flips... but it's into "praise talk" mode. there's a constant "pointing out of the good" in others' game.
*i'm not saying there's no trash talk in soccer or no praise talk in bball... but these are just the dominating trends.

so, growing up playing soccer year around until the cartilage was gone from my knees - there is a certain culture of "pointing out the good" that's inherent on a soccer field which was imbedded into my DNA.

There is a constant complimenting, a praising of teammates AND even opponents.

walk onto the sideline of any soccer field with at least a somewhat high level of play and just stand and listen. here's the kind of stuff you'll consistently hear:
"nice ball"
"good switch"
"great 1st touch" 
"hell of a strike"
"beautiful through ball"
"that was sick"
"nice through ball"
"perfect weight"
"pretty cross"
"good effort" 
*and even when the intended doesn't come off you'll often hear = "right idea" or "nice thought" or you'll see a breathless teammate give a quick thumbs up to the guy who tried to link up with him across the field.

even if you're the one who gets beat with a nice move... you still find yourself complimenting the guy who burned you. that's just the culture.

that's a big time place of encouragement & praise. 
if you have something good in you, you are going to hear about it because others point it out.

everyone is an admirer of the beauty in front of them. they appreciate it & then praise it.
i guess this is the key... everyone appreciates the beauty. it's highly valued.
so in life... if we highly value a certain way of life, a talent or trait someone has, etc... we'll call it out, shout it out to them.

my Dad taught me this too. he lived it & taught me maybe without even knowing it. my Dad was (is) a positivity guy. his whole worldview is one of positivity and optimism. he would always say the good. he never held back the good. he just said it. he made sure to point out the good in others... in me... when he saw it.

our culture is VERY opposite. as a culture we like to speak negatives and keep positives to ourselves. as a culture we HOLD BACK speaking powerful and positive words to people... we just leave them in our head.
i think it's because of our PRIDE. if we point out the good in them it somehow LOWERS people's view of us. it's a way of lifting that person above ourselves. (maybe we should read this?)

i can look back and notice the difference this made in me personally when my Dad pointed out the good in me. i think that's made me value it and try to do it myself.

then there's Spanky Rouse who also taught me this. i learned this from Spanky much more recently... over the past 3 years or so. and like with my Dad, i learned because i was on the receiving end of this. Within a few month period it seemed like every time i talked to Spanky he was powerfully pointing out something good he saw in me. over and over. stuff i didn't even notice myself. 
i can literally remember thinking "wow. who does this? most people are so arrogant and want to be perceived as 'better' than others they would never dream of doing this." or better yet "who has TIME to do this?"
it made an impact on me. i was blessed by it. it encouraged me big time. sometimes on days i needed it.
actually, it made such an impact that for about 3 years now, at the very top of my weekly to do list it says this:
*bless peeps with my words. It's a big deal. (like S.R.)

i wanted a constant reminder in front of me, every time i look at my to do list, that this is one of the most powerful things i can be doing.
and maybe it has worked? recently a good friend pointed out to me that me doing this is really powerful and makes a difference.
i guess it worked.

it REALLY pumps me up to see it in action. i love how I see others light up sometimes when i point out the good in them. it's never fake. always fully genuine.
what a POWERFUL thing we have at our disposal every day.         

thanks to my Dad, Spanky, & the beautiful game for helping me learn this. 
*the crazy part is maybe one day i'll affect some people to live like this. then maybe they will too. and on and on. then the world will change. it will be a different place.
one word at a time.

i love Eugene Peterson's interp of Paul's words from Ephesians 4:29 in The Message & i'll end with them...
"Watch the way you talk... Say only what helps, each word a gift

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

what is money for anyway?

(i originally wrote and posted this to renown on June 15, 2010 but the thoughts and sentiments are still current & constant.)

i'm going to try to let my heart leak out a little bit in this post. just some raw thoughts.

i've written a lot about money the past few posts. i think the ultimate and greatest purpose of money is the Glory of God and to Bless others. i think those are 1 and the same... not 2 different purposes.

i think God has blessed me with money so that i can be a blessing to others... so that i use HIS money (ultimately it's His) for His name's sake... not for my own sake.
i think God has blessed all of us with money for that same purpose. i think He makes it deafeningly clear in the Bible that He wants us to GIVE to the poor/to His Kingdom!

i think most of us Americans are ridiculous. it's freaking apalling that most of us are living paycheck to paycheck barely paying our car payments and for our fancy dinners and for our fancy bottled water when a lot of the world doesn't even have an option of having any of these things.

i really can't comprehend how we spend our money. my pulse and blood pressure are all jacked up right now and i have a headache thinking about how stupidly we use our money. i can't fathom how we spend $19 billion every year playing golf and $16 billion each year on ice cream in America and it would only take $10 billion to give everyone in the world clean water for the rest of their lives.
unclean water is the biggest killer in the world. and that's what around 1 billion people are drinking every day.
Around 10 children died from a lack of clean water since you have been reading this post! 
that should bother you. & that's just 1 example. it should bother us and make us think when we go to buy a new pair of shoes. if we ever even flirt with buying a new car we should think about that first. all the crap we buy should make us think - "is this really the way i should be spending this money?"
i think we're all insane to justify how we spend our money. lots of purchases i have made bother me... and i don't really spend money. i certainly don't spend money on expensive stuff very often! Our 2nd day after Thanksgiving together we bought a big fancy TV for like a fourth of what it usually costs... but it was probably still enough to help lift 8 families out of poverty. did i really need an iPhone? do i need 3 pairs of shoes? do i need more than 7 shirts (1 for each day of the week)? 
we're so freaking rich and we give so freaking little.
1 of our goals is to be able to give away half of everything we make to God's Kingdom - missions, the poor, etc... we're definitely not there yet, but everything in me wants to be there soon... and then move beyond it.
but that sounds radical doesn't it? that sounds weird doesn't it? downsizing. doing without "necessities". 10% is all we need to give right?
but if i'm being honest from my heart... giving away half of what we make is pretty sad. why can't we live on a lot less than half?
we are blinded and ruined by our crazy consumeristic culture. we have to "keep up". everyone has 2 cars and a house payment and cable and an iPhone right?
Everyone drops $200 or $400 or $600 a month on a car payment right?
this makes me so angry and i know God is FURIOUS. not that we have nice things but that we spend all our money on ourselves! that's ludicrous and... i'm going to go ahead and say it... sinful.
& i'm guilty. i spend way too much money on me. i get sucked into my own culture and i'm selfish.
i want God to use the money He has blessed me with for His glory... to radically change lives among the millions of unreached people who have never even heard His name... to save lives of people who would otherwise be dead because of the poverty they were born into.

Monday, June 4, 2012

belong - behave - believe

The world as "we" (Modern West) have known it for the past couple hundred years has operated in a pretty similar pattern for most Groups:

believe - behave - belong

my experience is mainly with the Church & specific churches, but i am speaking more broadly about groups in all parts of our culture.

this is generally the way things have worked when you are going to be a part of some group or organization. DEFINITELY this is the way it has worked in churches.

if you want to be a part of "us", 1st you need to BELIEVE. you need to believe what we believe. that comes 1st.
specifically in churches, you need to believe in Jesus. you need to believe that and maybe even some other important doctrines before you can even begin to THINK about belonging to our group.

This couldn't possibly be any clearer as most churches pretty much straight up say, if you want to be a member of our church you must 1st BELIEVE. that's the very minimum requirement.

but really there was another step in this system in Modernity. you couldn't just believe and then you belonged... really you had to BEHAVE before you could belong.

you need to act, dress, talk, walk, understand, fit in, and generally BEHAVE like the rest of the in group BEFORE you could be "in." before you could truly belong.

anyone alive who has ever been a part of a church knows this. this is just how it works in the Modern religious world. you don't truly belong unless you behave a certain way - like all the rest of us. then we'll let you belong.

<*MAYBE some in the Modern Church would argue it was more like "believe - belong - behave." in that a person was truly accepted into belonging after they believed something and then they could take their time in learning to behave. i respectfully disagree.>

but once you finally make it... once you finally believe the right stuff & then behave the right way... You're in! you're finally in. you belong now. and you also become one of the "in crowd" to forever perpetuate this system.

i happen to think that's all pretty jacked up.

especially because it perpetuates forever. that is, as long as Modernity sticks around as the dominant way the world operates.

but things are changing. some would say they've already changed... there are just Modernity's fragments hanging on in corners of the Western world. but no doubt, postmodernity is coming.

and postmodernity doesn't quite embrace INDIVIDUALISM the way that Modernity did. the individual will not be king in this new world. there will be a huge priority on BELONGING.

in that old system of believe - behave - belong someone maybe wanted to belong, but there were just too many barriers.
the world will necessarily change though.

this is what the new system will be (if it hasn't changed already when we weren't looking)  :

belong - behave - believe

yep. exactly the opposite.
when someone wants to be a part of some group in this new world - they will simply be welcomed. the group, organization, or whatever will welcome them in.

then eventually they'll start to "behave" - look, act, dress, talk, etc... like everyone else in the group. & eventually, they will believe. believe that certain things are important - the same things that the rest of the group believes are important.

then they're "in." but they felt "in" long ago... because they belonged. 
and being able to first belong actually ENABLED them to then behave and believe!

the Church will follow suit. no longer will you need to behave and believe a certain way to "belong" to a community in a local church. you will be welcomed with open arms and you will BELONG simply because you are. simply because you are curious, or because you have a desire to "belong" in community.

the beautiful thing is that this new way of the world will enable TONS of "outsiders"... people who don't believe and behave like Christians in the church to BELONG first. slowly, they'll begin to see that the way the others in this community are behaving is very attractive. it appeals to them. this Jesus way of life actually appears to be a better way to live. and they'll start to follow suit.

and then... yep, you guessed it - they will believe. it will be real. it will be personal. Jesus will capture their heart and be their Savior.

too bad the Church didn't figure this out 300 years ago. because Jesus made it pretty clear.
and even before Jesus ever showed up, God, in the Old Testament chose a people & simply asked them to "join" Him. be a part of His movement. just follow Him. it wasn't until after they did that that most of them believed.
And Jesus' example - when He called each of His apostles... He just said "come follow Me." just be a part of what i'm doing. come join me. yeah, you can belong.

how preposterous! Jesus didn't even ask them what they believed 1st? whoa.
slowly they're behavior all changed and started to be more and more like Jesus. they saw that it was way better that way.
and it wasn't until way way later that Jesus finally asks them - what do you believe? or "who do YOU say that I am?" & Peter says "You are the Messiah... the Anointed One... the Son of God!"


it's hard to know that you can believe until you belong.

that's why i love being a part of Ridge Church. one of our mantras... one of the things we set out to do with this thing we call Ridge is to create a place, a church, a community where people can belong BEFORE they believe. and it's happening.
i wrote a lot about that with Ridge specifically HERE.

so, i'm thankful that postmodernism will actually force our churches to change. but i'm even more thankful that Ridge has been doing this from day 1. i'll end this post with an echo of the words i wrote in that post about this a few years ago...

"i want to be a part of the place where people have no problem belonging way before they believe. a church FULL of peeps who are walking with us, hanging out with us, before they even know what they fully think about God. that's beautiful.
that's what i signed up for."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

the ouiji board chased me!

when i was a kid in school we would occasionally get shown these videos that had the sole purpose of SCARING us.

One of these videos was about Ouija boards and the intention was to scare anyone out of ever being near one.

basically, a Ouija board is this game that kids used to play. you would ask the board a Question, put your hands on the little pointer & it would spell out an answer for you or simply say "yes" or "no". kind of like a Magic 8 Ball.

so the video was basically saying that the Devil or demons were behind it. that Ouija boards were REAL. controlled by the power of Satan... or each one had a demon in it. something like that.

pretty freaky video for a Tuesday after lunch.

it freaked my whole class out. THEY had all never even heard of a Ouija board.

(side note: these videos they would show us were also about 20 years behind. so they would attempt to scare us out of doing stuff that everyone had stopped doing 20 years ago anyway. i guess the school just didn't know that. no wonder everyone else in my class had never heard of one.)

i was the only one who had heard of one. & i had heard of it because there was 1 sitting on the shelf in our game room!

(enter "du du du..." eerie music!)

yep, apparently a straight from hell Ouija board was sitting on the shelf in our game room right between Monopoly and Boggle. in a room i walked through every day.
It was my Mom's when she was a little girl. they used to play with it and ask it Questions, etc... probably back in whatever year people used to actually play them. and we had a lot of other old board games in the stack... stuff that had come from her house when she was a little girl. kind of like nostalgic old games, etc...

i always just thought the Ouija board was like those other old games i didn't know anything about like Othello and Backgammon. they all kind of looked the same to me. old & dusty. so they all went into the same category in my brain :)

little did i know that this one was haunted. until i watched the video, of course.

my classmates freaked out when they found out there was one at my house. they were freaked out for me. they were all like "dude,  you got the devil in your house!" and stuff like that.

i went straight home and explained the whole video to my Mom. she of course assured me it was just a game little kids play... there were no demons in it, etc...
but after that video i was convinced the game was haunted.


when my Mom wasn't looking i threw the OUIJA board away!

took it straight outside to the big trash can at the road because the truck was going to pick it up and haul it away the next morning.

i felt so much better when that demon possessed thing was out of my house.

my friends were also relieved when they heard i had disposed of it. 

but the next day when i walked in the door from school... and looked up on the shelf in the game room...


just sitting there on the shelf just like it had been for years. same spot. like it had NEVER left.

Even if i wasn't convinced before, now there was no denying that the devil was in that thing!
obviously the thing eerily moved back into my house through the help of some demons or something crazy supernatural like that. i was living out Paranormal Activity over a decade before it released!

i quickly grabbed it from the shelf and ran it straight back outside to the garbage can!

but the next day...

yep, you guessed it - it was back again!
this thing was chasing me! i think i was big time freaked out at this point. as you would have been.

this time my Mom was home and i think i frantically ran into the next room and told her what was happening and how we were gonna have to move because our house was haunted now because of the Ouija board, etc...

she just started laughing.

i'm like "this is no time to laugh - we gotta get out of here!"

then she calmly explained to me how she was surprised to see her Ouija board from childhood in the trash can & how she fished it out and put it back on the shelf 2 days in a row. she was like "i wondered who was throwing away my Ouija board?" :)

i was still pretty freaked and tried to convince her we should throw it away for real. i can't honestly remember what happened to it? i should see if my Mom still remembers that.

anyway, no point to the story really - although i'm sure you could make a million applications - just a funny story that makes me laugh every time i think about it.

that's no comment about what i think of Ouija boards either... just meant to be a funny story.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

earthquakes and tsunamis

this may be too random and unformed of a thought for a Saturday night, but we'll see i guess...

God never meant for there to be earthquakes & tsunamis. that's not the way He created the world to work.
Earthquakes & tsunamis are jacked up.

one day there will be a new earth & there will be no more earthquakes or tsunamis. The "kingdom" of God will reign and everything will be as it was meant to be.

here & now we see glimpses of that "kingdom", that new earth, all the time. we're moving in that direction. God is using us to fix broken things all the time.

is it even possible? dare i even think?
could we STOP earthquakes and tsunamis from every happening?

could we stop all the destruction they cause?

all the lives they steal?

i don't know, maybe i'm just WAY out of the loop and all the smart people have already been talking about this for years and they're onto something and by 2025 they'll have it figured out? maybe it was in TIME magazine or something. i just haven't heard about it.

but if no one is working on it then they really should be. i know it might sound crazy, but the world is not supposed to be this way. God doesn't want it to be this way. i just wonder if we could fix it?

it would be another glimpse of the new earth that will come. a glimpse into the future. when Jesus is King.

that would be way cool. i hope it happens in my life time.
no more earthquakes. no more tsunamis.

let's shut them down.

and with that, good night to a long week.

Friday, June 1, 2012


(i originally wrote and posted this to renown on July 1, 2010.)

today i read The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. it was the 1st book i had ever read by Tozer. I put a Tozer book on my list to read this year because he was a "mentor" of one of my "mentors" (using "mentor" loosely - via influence at a distance) - Louie Giglio. He has influenced me as much as anyone and he says the same about Tozer. In fact, i even asked Louie which Tozer book he would recommend that i start off with. The Pursuit of God was 1 of the 3 he said to start with.

i read the whole thing today. well, some dude read it to me as i worked all morning at my side job. i was digging it and took several pages of notes.

Here was the 1st statement i loved. it's from Tozer's preface to the book.

"If my fire is not large, it is real. And there may be those who can light their candle at its flame."

That is beautiful to me. that is what's in my heart too. there's a burning fire in my heart and it just keeps burning. it's all for God's fame. My heart is pursuing Him relentlessly.
Now, i don't know how big my fire is. it's probably not pretty or cool or current or well-worded or the best fire around... but it is real.

And one of my prayers and aims with writing this blog is that my fire might just allow someone to "light their candle at its flame."
right on A-Dub.