Wednesday, October 31, 2012

unending fame...

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

"Your name, LORD, endures forever, Your renown, LORD, through all generations."
Psalm 135:13
this is what it's all about. all of life. all of Scripture. this universe. it's all about that Name that goes on forever (no other name will do that). it's all about His renown - that unending fame - that generations will still be talking about in 700 years and in 7,000 years.
when i think about that it doesn't seem like other names are worth talking about. everything else we call famous... well, it's all relative.
(i originally wrote and posted this to renown in August of 2010.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

a tribute to the greatest day ever

Today is the celebration of the greatest day ever.

the ____th anniversary of an epic moment.

a day that would radically change my life for the better + many others.

Crystal Lynn Pagels (maybe better known now as Crystal Mitchell) was born on this day a certain number of years ago. and today it's worth celebrating that occasion!

Crystal is the coolest & most fun person i know. i should know, i get to spend my life with her. i would do anything for her.

and, Crystal, this is always a fun day for me because for the next couple weeks we will actually be the same age :0
you will be just as old as me.

but then i will turn really old & you'll still be young.

and i know some people say that because your birthday is October 30 and Halloween is October 31 that you just barely squeaked by and you were only 1 day from being a witch!

but i think the opposite.

if October 31 is the day for the witch then you came all the way around the calendar, 364 days later. so, you couldn't be farther from a witch. :)

you're actually an angel.

that's what i think.

but for real, i don't know what i would do without Crystal. she has changed my life forever... for the WAY better.

and baby, i celebrate this day with such passion because this day is the greatest day ever to me. this is the most important day of my life. your birthday is even more important than my birthday...
because without you, my life wouldn't be complete.

thanks for being born.
thanks for being amazing.
thanks for being the one who "gets" me.
thanks for being so much fun.
thanks for loving me.
thanks for being born.

Happy Birthday, Crystal!
i love you so very much.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

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

(i originally wrote and posted this to renown on August 26, 2010. still a powerful & indicting paraphrase below.)

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

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

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

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

"I was hungry
while you had all you needed.
I was thristy
but you drank bottled water.
I was a stranger
and you wanted me deported.
I needed clothes
but you needed more clothes.
I was sick 
but you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness.
I was in prison
and you said I was getting what I deserved."
*is that us? we do that right? is that me? is that you?
i'm still just letting that sink in. i hope you'll do the same.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

i wish i spoke double digit languages

i wish i spoke double digit languages. ya know, just like 10 or 11 or something like that. i think that would be really cool.

maybe that should get added to my bucket list. i meet people in Charlotte every day from a different country. i think it would be awesome to just break off speaking in their mother tongue fluently. i would dig that.

+ i would love to be able to go to those 10 places. do cool stuff there. already speak the language.

maybe one day?

i could get Rosetta Stone? although Rosetta stone probly don't carry the languages i would love to learn.

i seem to pick up on languages fairly quickly. after 2 days in Mexico i didn't speak any more English for a week, only Spanish.
i bought this app before Kenya to teach me Swahili & it worked pretty well. just vocab though, which memorizing vocab is the part that comes easy. my grammar & sentence structure sucked. people got what i was saying though.
i learned Bemba pretty well in college after i spent a summer in Botswana. grammar was a little better because i had a human teacher.
and i was 1 class short of a minor in Greek in college. i definitely was closest to mastering that one. but it was Koine Greek. a dead language. not spoken anymore. so that one wouldn't really count, EXCEPT i spoke it... and even urbanized it with logos ana kunarion, eireina ek, and petra aionion.

that would have been 4 right there + English, so i'd be halfway to my bucket list goal... BUT, i remember VERY LITTLE of any of those languages :(
i guess it's true what they say - don't use it & lose it.

but maybe one day i'll cross the double digit barrier and be fluent in 10 languages. just for fun.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

more practices for my walking around life (part 2)

Read HERE to catch up on yesterday's post which was part 1.

below are 4 more of 7 "firsts" i am practicing to infuse my daily life - my "everyday, ordinary life".
They are "firsts" because they involve a first response to God in different areas. whereas my first response would normally go to someone/something else (namely myself), i want to discipline myself to give God the first in each of these.
with practice this has infused my life with an all the time and always sense of the presence of God.

here are the final practices...

4) Give God the 1st consideration in your weekly schedule.
loving my wife the way she should be loved. loving and raising my daughter. gathered/corporate worship. community. looking out for the overlooked.  becoming a better leader. living on mission. accomplishing The mission. loving people. serving people.
i wonder what all else God might love to see in my weekly schedule/to do list?
when i set it up each week, i'd love to give Him the 1st consideration.

5) Make God the 1st supervisor or customer for all work.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
- Col. 3:23-24

do my work as if I’m doing it for God… He’s the recipient. we make our work sacred in this way. not because some types of work are sacred and others aren't. that's ludicrous. our work is sacred when we do whatever it is we do with God as our 1st supervisor/customer.

& i'm guessin that both our secondary supervisors and customers/clients will feel a difference!

6) Give God the 1st part of every paycheck.
Just 1 more way to worship God.
it's not an obligation, it's worship.
*in fact, if it feels like an obligation i would say DON'T GIVE IT. pretty sure that's what God would say. c'mon think about it - as if God needs your money.

but giving a generous portion of my paycheck straight to God is simply a way to worship. to put Him first. to say to God that He is more important than the groceries, the gas in the car, paying the bills, etc...

how much should you give? that's the wrong question i think.
how much do you want to give? that's a better question. & give that much. give however much you truly desire to give deep down in your heart.
oh, that would be too much, you say?
i don't think so.

7) Give God the joy of your creativity.
***“Let’s apologize less and create more. Let’s think of creating for the approval of others less, and for the pleasure of God more.” - Brian McLaren

that's beautiful.

because most of the time the last approval we're seeking in our creations is God's. we care more what our boss, spouse, friend, co-worker, competitor, enemy, or person we're trying to impress might think.

*Think about when you used to create little art projects in Kindergarten and take them home to your mom. you didn't care what your classmates thought or what your teacher thought of it. you only cared what Mom thought. and Mom loved it.

I want to practice with childlike abandon bringing pleasure to the One who gave me life through my creativity. That’s worship.
who are you creating for?
“God takes pleasure in us as we take pleasure in God. God joins us in joy, and we join in God’s joy.”

i think if we grab onto these 7 "firsts" and make them practices and slowly they become habits... and then fully natural parts of our days and weeks... our lives will look very different.
we'll be living lives infused with an all-the-time worship... lives lived in the presence of God.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

practicing in the moments of my walking around life

God is here.

He is present.

we just don't always know it.

excuse me, i just don't always know it (because i certainly can't speak for you). i'm not always aware.
but i want to be.
been working on that for years. getting better at practicing His presence... at being here. but still working on it.

i love Eugene Peterson's working of Romans 12:1-2 in The Message...
"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out."

that's the idea - place every moment of my life before God as an offering. even the sleeping, eating, going to work, walking around moments!

i believe there are rhythms and habits we can build into life to help us be more aware of God's presence and worship constantly.

***here are actually a 7 habits/disciplines/practices i've been trying suggested by Brian McLaren. i recommend giving them a go for a few weeks & see what you think.

1) Give God the 1st greeting every morning.
Turn my attention to God before I even open my eyes. this is tough. but it accomplishes SO MANY things = keeps me humble, centers my attention on God at the beginning, reminds me what i'm living for, and infuses a worshipful and thankful attitude into my day from the very beginning. because usually i find myself saying - "Thanks, God. Thanks for another day. even though it's dark outside and my knees ache and i would rather go back to bed... thanks for this breath & the chance to live another day."

2) Give God the 1st thanks at every meal.
It reminds me of my "creatureliness" – like birds and animals, I’m dependent on God for my daily sustenance. and it makes me very thankful. i stopped "ritualistically" praying before meals in college. i pray for meals sometimes at beginning, middle, end, whenev the thankfulness genuinely hits me. Or a lot of times i simply raise my plate or bowl and say "to the King" - a little adaptation on this practice Crystal and i picked up at the Havilla Children's Home in Kenya.

3) Give God the 1st response to every pleasure.
This is a big one for me and one i'm really trying hard to implement at every opportunity!

here's the best way i can explain it:
do you know that feeling of seeing/witnessing something marvelous and awesome and wishing your spouse or a friend were there to see it with you? like an amazing sunset when i'm all by myself. it's the breathtaking kind. makes you say "wow" out loud. & then i think "i wish Crystal were here to see this with me."

Or like at Catalyst when 15,000 people had this app that started blinking neon colored lights on our phones synced with the blinking neon lights of the stage & choreographed with the Michael Jackson songs being played... it was amazing. but my wife was out of the room at the moment and i thought "man, i wish she were here to experience this moment with me, because i'll never be able to explain this..."

– i want to learn to share all those moments & all that joy with God who is actually there in those moments.
and really He’s sharing His joy with me as we experience it together.

it's worship for me to see the sunset and be amazed by it. but to share that pleasure with the Creator of it... that's euphoric.

and i'm talking everything. even the crazy app that made all our phones flash neon colors. even watching an amazing soccer game - i want to take a moment to share that pleasure with God. to be thankful for giving someone the creativity to invent such a beautiful game where such beauty and creativity can be expressed in the middle of a field. or even to have the ability to step out onto a soccer field on a beautiful day. that brings me such pleasure. and i want to share that pleasure with God.

or when i look into my baby daughter's eyes and she looks at me and laughs her splendidly beautiful laugh... i can't even begin to explain the pleasure that comes from her. i want to be conscious and share that pleasure with God. because He's there & He's taking pleasure in it too.

*Think about this for just 1 second (because any more & it will blow our little brains) -
God sees and experiences EVERY SINGLE one of these beautiful parts of creation ALL AT ONCE! billions of these all at the same time.
“Imagine, then, the joy of God, as God sees how wonderful these things are, and God savors their goodness, and God takes pleasure in them as artists take holy pride in their creations.” (McLaren helps our minds blow even further with that thought.)

so, in this kind of every day worship we take notice in the art & the Artist! we appreciate the art and therefore, the Artist. the creation and the Creator. In this way we share in God’s joy + add to it through our spontaneous worship.

“With practice, it becomes natural and instinctive to turn to God as our first response to all experiences of pleasure or beauty.”

we have a lot of practicing to do.

(the final 4 practices coming in tomorrow's post.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

10 people at my man cave party

(finishing off this repost series today about 10 people i would hang out with in the man cave. originally wrote & posted this one July 31, 2010.)

Catch up on these parties i'm throwing in my "man cave" HERE.

We're winding these parties down and i've had a fun time with the 10 dead people i would love to hang out with HERE and the 10 fictional people HERE. Now, today are my 10 living, breathing people i would love to hang out with in my man cave for a day. This list only includes people i've never had the privilege to hang out with before:

bono - he has to be tops on the list. too much in his favor. The front man for one of my favorite band of all time who wrote some of the best songs ever + he's Irish (as are my ancestors) + he's freaking awesome as he fights for social justice for the poor in Africa. everybody loves this guy. i would love to hang out with him.

louie giglio - this guy and bono are pretty close. Louie is like my spiritual hero. he has been one of the most influential spiritual "mentors" in my life! i've actually been able to meet Louie a couple times, but never hang out. i'd love to talk with this guy because he is one of my favorite visionaries ever. my heart resonates with most everything he says and his view of God captivates me every time.

chris rock - this is more left over from my child hood. he was the funniest man alive. i used to memorize his monologues. (probably not the best things to memorize.) you have to have a hilarious guy like Chris at every party!
derek jeter - the Yankees captain. and i love the Yankees and always have. Derek has been my favorite baseball player ever since the last Yankees captain retired, Don Mattingly (who owned the title of my fav player from the time i was born to around 13.) He will always be a Yankee and he has led us to so many World Championships. he's the face of this dynasty.
dave ramsey - this guy's simple philosophy changed our lives. So, i'd love to host him in my man cave. i would let him beat me in pool because we owe him our financial livelihood. i've had the privilege to meet him and tell him thanks before. i'd love to hear him telling all these other guys what to do with their money.

brain mclaren - one of my favorite authors. i love this guy and i think he knows the future we're heading into better than most anyone. i would LOVE to sit with this guy and ask him questions for a few hours. + he & dave ramsey could almost be twins!

alan shearer - the greatest player ever for my favorite soccer team ever = Newcastle United. Shearer was the man during the Magpies' glory days (at least in my lifetime.) he was my 1st ever favorite soccer player when i first fell in love with the beautiful game. He was Newcastle's captain and England's captain. too bad he didn't work out as the Magpies manager.

john piper - another of my favorite authors who has really shaped my view of God. i owe my view of the Greatness and Glory of God to Piper who opened my eyes to how amazing and BIG God is. i would love to have a conversation with him!

matt morginsky - the front man for my #1 band when i was in high school and even into college. The O.C. Supertones! (who are actually making a comeback.) this guy wrote the best stuff and he could flow for sure. saw them front row several times. he could just rock for us during the party in the man cave.

Bishop Desmond Tutu - i guarantee this guy has got some stories from some crazy times in South Africa! i would love to hear about how he resolved to continue to show love even though there was so much unspeakable hate all around him.
that's my 10 i would love to hang out with.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

10 FICTIONAL people i would hang out with

the saga continues.
Catch up on these parties i'm throwing in my "man cave" HERE.

if i could hang out with any 10 FICTIONAL people for a day, here's who i would invite:
Jack Bauer - Listen, Jack Bauer is the freaking man. He is the biggest pimp of all time. He is 1 of only 3 people i've ever wanted to "be". and the other 2 are the next 2 names below. (i wrote about that once HERE.) he is the hero of all heroes. i'm sticking with Jack. no doubt. (we even named our dog after him.)

John McClane - this is who i wanted to be as a little kid while growing up watching the Die Hard movies with my dad. John is like Jack Bauer from 20 years ago. a lot more "make shift". a lot more rough around the edges. it's never pretty. he's always covered in blood. John McClane is the man! i wouldn't mind seeing him & Jack Bauer go at it.

Chandler Bing - Chandler Bing would have to be like the funniest guy to hang out with. non-stop laughing. This is the guy i wanted to be when i was like 13. If you're not a Friends fan then you may not know who Chandler is. "Look at me, I'm Chandler... could i BE wearing any more clothes?"

Cal Lightman - i'm pretty sure this guy is based on a real person i read about in Blink. Cal Lightman in the TV show Lie to Me is THE MAN! he is amazing. his British accent just makes him that much cooler. his personality makes me love him. OH! and did i mention he can read your micro-expressions on your face and tell exactly what anyone is thinking at any given time! he is amazing and would be crazy at the man cave party.
Maverick (Pete Mitchell) - This is the guy i idolized as a really little kid. i memorized Top Gun line for line. Maverick was so cool. the haircut, the flying suit, the sunglasses... i started drinking ice water as a 6 year old because that was Maverick's drink. (now that's all i drink out of habit.) he was the epitome of "cool".

Danny Ocean & Rusty Ryan - These 2 are the leaders of "Ocean's Eleven". what an awesome crew. these guys are awesome leaders. in my college years these guys were really the "epitome of cool!" i remember saying MANY times that if these guys came to my house and recruited me that i would be IN in a heart beat. even though they're criminals! that's crazy i know. (but i've even said it a few times since i gave my life to Jesus and became a pastor! Don't tell anyone that.)

Harry Potter - i said FICTIONAL people remember. c'mon, Harry is cool. i hope he would bring his broom and wand to the man cave. i say "Voldemort" too, Harry.

Michael Scofield - There are some REALLY smart people in this group = Doctors, Wizards, and the smartest con man of all time (danny ocean) BUT Scofield is the smartest and most genius of them all. after breaking out of the toughest prisons in the world i would want him helping me plan everything.

Jack Shephard - with all these guys above, we'll have to have a doctor in the house! because you can pretty much guarantee that someone will get hurt. and what better doctor to do surgery with a poker chip, a ping pong paddle, and thread from pool table felt than Jack Shephard himself. The hero from the greatest ever written TV show.

Can you imagine this mix hanging out in the "man cave"? it would be straight up crazy!
That's my 10 i would invite.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

10 dead people i would hang out with

Today is Keira's 1st birthday party. read the final 3 in my list below... i would LOVE for those 3 to get to hang out with Keira and me today at her birthday party. read on & you'll see why.

*you can catch up on this whole idea in yesterday's post HERE.
i hope starting with this one doesn't seem creepy... like i'll have a basement full of ghosts. i think after you get into it you'll see how awesome it would be!

OK, here's my invite list/ wish list:

George Muller - i'm reading his biography this year. this guy was awesome. i want to start orphanages the rest of my life just like he did, so i would love to talk with him about that. + i would hope that in 1 night in the man cave his unbelievable faith would rub off on me at least a little.

William Wallace - you know... Braveheart! this guy was the coolest. everybody wants to be like William Wallace, right? well, at least i always have. i just want to hang out with a guy as passionate as he was. maybe he could pass out some blue face paint to everyone?
Jim Elliot - he was the missionary to the Auca people who were unreached with the gospel. Later he and his team were martyred by those people that God had called them to love and spread His fame to. For me Jim is representative of the probably millions of missionary martyrs throughout history. i've read a few biographies on Jim and also his journal. what an amazing guy... yet he was just this normal college kid at Wheaton. God just did amazing stuff in his heart. pretty cool.

Harriet Tubman - there is such a HATRED inside of me for racism. sometimes it makes me wish i was alive 100 and 200 years ago so i could FIGHT IT when it was even more outrageous. Harriet fought it hard core and helped to beat it through her "underground railroad." She had such courage and saved the lives of so many slaves. if i would have been alive in the 1800s i hope that i would have found her and helped her cause. and now i'd just love to hang out with this lady.
Paul (not really sure his last name or if he had one... but they also called him Saul.) - you know, the Apostle who wrote half the New Testament. supposedly the 1st foreign/ cross-cultural missionary of the Church. That's what i want to do, so who better to hang out with than the very 1st one who really paved the way. Plus, you know this guy has some pimp stories to tell!

Mother Teresa - how could you not have her on the list? what a selfless servant. one of the greatest examples of loving and serving Jesus via the "least of these" in the modern era. plus i think she and my grandma would get along :)

David Livingstone - the famous pioneer missionary to Africa. he was like the 1st Westerner to land on the continent & go into the interior! he was also a Doctor. i really want to talk to this guy. he's remembered as such a famous missionary who pioneered the way for God's fame to be spread to the people of Africa... but he only saw 1 convert in his life time! wow. can you imagine giving your life to God's cause and only seeing that "little fruit". but now look at the continent and the legacy he left behind. i'm down with God using me like that.

(*These final 3 are my grandparents who all passed away when i was a child. i would LOVE for them to be here today to hang out with their ONLY great granddaughter at her birthday party.)

Robert Hennessee - This was my mom's dad who died when i was 6 or 7. All of my family say i am most like him. they say i look a little like him, act like him, talk like him, and my personality is most like his. i'm honored because he was a great man. i hear he was a great storyteller. (plus his grandfather - Patrick O'Hennessey - came over from Ireland. I'd love to hear some passed down stories from the crazy Irishman i was named after.) i regret that i didn't get to know him better.

Estelle Hennessee - this lady had a heart of gold. i used to stay with her all the time in the summers toward the mountains of NC after her husband (Robert above) had died. She was just full of love... for everyone really. She definitely loved Jesus. She came to live with us after lung cancer started to take over her body. looking back, i'm really thankful for those months i got to spend with her day after day in our home.

Louis Mitchell - This was my dad's Dad. He died when i was 10. if i had to describe him in 1 word i would say "FUN".
i really wish my wife Crystal could have met him and i really wish he could meet her. i think he would just constantly be having fun with us! i think he and i might get along the best. we got along great when i knew him as a younger kid. his personality was infectious. he was all about positive thinking and i remember him passing that down to me when i was around. he would be a lot of fun in the man cave.

(OK, now i'm tearing up a little after thinking and writing about those last 3, so i better step out of this Starbucks i'm writing in.)

sitting around with these 10 people, can you imagine the STORIES that would be told in 1 evening? it would be awesome.

*That inspires me to live a life worth telling stories about.

Tomorrow will no doubt be the "FUNNEST" list of 10 people!

Friday, October 19, 2012

10 people i would like to hang out with

This was a lot of fun to think and write about --> 10 people i would hang out with in my man cave if i could. i wrote this and the 3 posts that follow the week of July 26, 2010. BUT i think all of them are still my top 10 picks. ENJOY!

i had this thought a couple years ago =  

"if i could go out to dinner and invite any 10 people, who would i invite?"

great question, huh?

That's what i'm going to be writing about the next few days here on renown. Except, dinner is kind of boring and with 11 people around big a table eating food it might be a little hard to "hang out" with and talk to everyone.
SO, instead of dinner i would probably just invite them to hang out in the "man cave" for a day. my "man cave" is simply my big basement with lots of "man toys" like a pool table, ping pong table, foosball table, poker table, couches, TV, dartboard, etc... That would be a much better environment to talk with all 10 people throughout the evening. i can envision great conversations around the poker table, watching a game together on TV and having some fun...

And it's not just 1 group of 10 people anymore. I've split it into 3 groups:
10 Dead people
10 Fictional people
10 living breathing people

so, check out renown the next 3 days to see the 10 people i would want to hang out with!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

don't be surprised

for years i have thought that many of us who call ourselves "Christians" or "Jesus followers" or whatev, have MISSED out on a lot of what God is up to.

i feel like there are beautiful things going on in the world all the time that have God's activity written all over them... but we don't see it that way.

is it because our eyes are closed? because we're too busy? or simply because we don't think God concerns Himself with stuff like that because it doesn't have a "Christian" label on it?

as he often does, Brian McLaren magnificently puts into words what i've been feeling. in fact he finds words to express these feelings that are much better than the jumbled mess inside my head.

“Whenever people encounter justice, joy, peace, creativity, comfort, liberation, holiness, beauty, love, or any other good thing, they are in some way encountering the Spirit, or at least the signature or aftermath of the Spirit."

that is a beautiful way to put it. so beautiful.

in other words, God introduced these things into creation. so when it occurs... it stemmed from God. it stemmed from the Holy Spirit moving in the world like He was doing over the waters back in the Genesis poem.
When these things (justice, joy, peace, etc...) happen - it's a little piece of the Kingdom of God breaking through and the Spirit is orchestrating that. doesn't matter what "realm" of the world it occurred in. [AS IF there are different realms of life & of the world.] 

or it's at least "the signature or aftermath" of the Spirit. i love that.

Brian goes on to write that...
"The Spirit, then, is bigger than any particular religion or religion in general. Nobody has a monopoly on Spirit."

YES! thanks for saying it that way. that's what many of us feel but haven't been able to articulate... The Spirit & the Holy Spirit's movement in this world is BIGGER than any movement or religion or Christianity or really any thing or category we have created. no "category" [as if] could have a monopoly on the Spirit.

THEREFORE, we see the Spirit's activity across all boundaries and outside all boxes we have set up!

So, don't be surprised next time you see something happen outside of the artificial "the-Holy-Spirit-can-only-work-like-this" boundaries we have set up. don't be surprised. "we" (whoever your "we" is) can't have a monopoly on the Spirit's activity. and i'm thankful for that.
So, stop being surprised when things happen in unlikely places and through unlikely people who you may even think of as your enemies. don't be surprised... celebrate. The Kingdom is breaking through. The Spirit is up to something.

"Get that straight and a thousand other things begin to fall into place.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Keira!!!

Happy Birthday to our amazing daughter, Keira!

it's crazy to me that it's been a year since she was born. a whole year old! wow.

a year ago right now we were chillin' at the hospital after Crystal's water broke at 1:17 AM.

**a year ago right now we didn't even know if Keira was going to be a boy or a girl! we hadn't even settled on the name Keira.
in fact, we had only settled on a boy name because we were pretty darn sure our baby was going to be a boy.

i went to bed the night before with a long to-do list of things to prep for our baby's arrival. and i still had a whole month! but by 1:17 AM when that water broke, i realized my month had vanished.

i think Crystal and i would both say that in many ways this has been the best year of our lives.

i've never known anyone like Keira. her love for life is infectious.

looking into her eyes makes me excited and thankful to be a live.

i love experiencing "firsts" with her. i love watching her eyes as she experiences some aspect of life for the 1st time.

and today is her 1st birthday. she'll get spoiled all day long. (ok, so probably not very different than every other day...)
but i'm excited to experience this 1st birthday with her.

because she is perfect. and she's ours.

today i'll write the first of 18 letters to Keira. i decided when she was born that i would write her a letter every year on her birthday and then give them all to her when she turns 18 or some time around there. that's what i'll be writing next.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEIRA! i hope your first year with us was as awesome for you as it has been for us!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


had 5-6 blogs spilling out of my brain and heart to write today.

but the internet is out at my house. that's really really really annoying.

for so many reasons.

lots to write about.

coming soon i guess...

Monday, October 15, 2012


there is so much beauty in this world.

so much absolutely gorgeous beauty.

life giving beauty.

the beauty of a perfect 74 degrees Fall afternoon.

the beauty of a baby daughter in her mother's arms.

the beauty of an amazingly well written book.

the beauty of conversations with ones you love.

the beauty of truly belonging.

the beauty of life and breath and another day lived in a beautiful world.

the beauty of just the right amount of breeze and a beautifully painted sunset that reminds you...

all this was made for glory & enjoyment.

it would really be a shame to miss it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

busy parents suck

i wonder if the mom & dad of this kid even know this sticker is on there?

i'm glad i had awesome parents!
they were always busy, i'm sure... but i never knew it as a kid. they were never too busy for me for sure. they chose time with me over the busyness.
Crystal & i both had parents who made sacrifices to spend lots of time with us. i'm thankful for that.

me & Crystal aren't gonna be this kind of parent the kid wrote about on the back of this car. we didn't have parents like that & we've chosen not to be that way either.

life is too short to be so busy. Keira's life is flying by and we've committed to not missing these moments.
certainly not just because we're "busy."

because busy parents suck.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

that's easy for you to say

(i originally wrote and posted this to renown on August 31, 2010. still just as passionate and angry about this as when i wrote it the 1st time...)

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

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

here's what he said:

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

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

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

1st of all i find his whole theology a little ludicrous based on... well... the Bible for one. even Jesus' very 1st public message in Luke 4:14-20 tells His "reason" for coming... and it's WAY off from the above quote. (surely this guy has read it. it's fascinating to me that he would ignore Jesus' own words in favor of his own little American idealistic 20th century theology.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


what compassion looks and feels like. from the old & wise Frederick Buechner...

“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. 
It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” 

                                                             - Frederick Buechner

maybe a little follow up from yesterday's post.

maybe just a thought on its own.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

a couple little dreams i have

i have a couple little dreams i was thinking about lately.

*Dream #1:

that one day i'll be standing with my little girl Keira in the middle of an African village.

Maybe Keira is 6 or 7 years old and she's holding my hand.

she looks up at me and says...

"Daddy, you mean this village hasn't always had clean water?"

*Dream #2:

i'm a little older... a grandfather in fact.

i'm probably rockin' some white dreadlocks and a long white flowing beard.

i'm just sitting around with my grandchildren who are like 12, 13, 14 & i'm just telling lots of stories like grandfathers do.

one of my grandchildren has a "eureka" moment and then they look at me incredulously & say...

"hold up Grandpa... you mean there used to be people who didn't have clean water?"


these are the kinds of (day)dreams i have ALL the time. i imagine this stuff all day long. 
it's so real i can almost experience it.
it's so vivid 

i don't know if you can feel the weight of those 2 statements... the weight of those 2 dreams becoming reality. i can. & i am fighting back the tears & this stupid lump in my throat.

the dream that my little girl will be able to stand in a village where people used to die as a way of life because they didn't have water to drink... but now the clean water flows.

the dream that my grandchildren could live in a world where they can't even fathom that there used to be people on planet earth who did not have clean water.

those are beautiful dreams.

those dreams will keep me up tonight for sure.

and most nights until they are reality.

Monday, October 8, 2012

people who work at churches

i talk to a lot of people who work at churches.
(too many probably.)

i'm in seminary & everybody there works at a church pretty much.
a lot of my friends i talk to work at churches around the country.
i know and collaborate with lots of peeps nearby who work at churches.

and honestly, from all my conversations... it seems like most of their work experiences suck. like, they don't say it sucks, but i'm thinking it when i hear some of the crap they put up with!
[and NO, i am not thinking of anyone or anything specific. just generally speaking.]

sometimes they talk to me about stuff going on at their church. i find myself having very little tolerance or patience.
i give short responses like:



FIRE that person. 

tell the volunteer they can't do that anymore.


maybe i'm just not patient enough?
or maybe i'm just spoiled.

*man, i don't know how church peeps put up with church peeps.
i literally do not know how many of the peeps i know who work at churches continue to do it. how they stick with it. i wouldn't keep doing it i don't think. i would just quit working at those kind of churches. [i did, actually.]

but i guess they're called to that or something :)

i am so thankful i don't deal with the crap they do. i'm sure i deal with my own crap, but not the normal "i-work-at-a-church-crap" that everyone else seems to deal with.

maybe when you start a church for people who don't like church - that's the secret? maybe? i don't know.
      [side note: which is interesting to me - i like our church a little too much for a church designed for people who don't like church. which probably means i just don't like "church." ;)  ]

and i'm thankful for a leader with some backbone! man, you wouldn't think it's too much to ask to have a leader who leads a church and doesn't back down from it no matter what... not afraid to make the hard calls... not afraid to lead us TOWARD the messes.
but apparently, this is not normal. i have heard about some really crappy leaders from these "i-work-at-a-church" peeps.
i'm thankful to serve with an amazing leader in Chris Brown = the pastor, not the rapper.

but i'm most thankful to get to be on mission. spreading the renown of the greatest Name in history. introducing people to the greatest thing in life.

and this is probably the thing all the other "i-work-at-a-church" peeps are most thankful for too. they probably look at me and wonder why i put up with whatever it is they feel like i put up with.
maybe they're writing a blog about me right now -- "how could my friend Patrick work at a church that doesn't even have a building or an office or tons of $ or only meets 1 time a week or has no membership or..." and i'm sure they could go on & on.

to each his own.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

she is adding life to our years

almost one year ago, this is what my little baby girl looked like.

so tiny. sleeping all the time.

now, almost a year later, she is definitely still perfect, but this is a pic from our front porch today.

still small, but not tiny like she once was. definitely not sleeping all the time (although she sleeps a lot... which makes me jealous - just not all the time.)

but just look into that face. look at her face ANY time. she is SO FULL OF LIFE! always. i don't know if i've ever met a person like Keira = full of life all the time.
& i. love. that.

i love it. i hope that never changes. & i hope Crystal and i can "add even more life to her years" as we go along this journey together. i hope this being full of life is the very thing that enables her to live a life worth telling stories about.

and i'm very thankful that Crystal and i have worked hard, been very intentional, and even made sacrifices to soak up every minute of this last year! it has not rushed by. we followed all the advice that we kept hearing = "it goes by in a flash!" so we don't get in a rush and we just soak up and cherish every moment with Keira!
glad we have done that.

because look at that face. so full of life.

no doubt she is adding life to our years.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Quotes of the week from Catalyst 2012

just a quick snapshot of the best one-liners from Catalyst 2012 this past week. Enjoy!

"Parents, the greatest thing you do as a leader may not be what you do, but who watches you do what you do." - Andy Stanley

"You don't change the world with the ideas in your head, but with the conviction in your heart." - Bryan Stevenson

"If you wait til you think you are certain you will never do anything." - Mark Burnett

"We [Christians] have been very lopsided in our Pro-Life efforts." - Chris Seay

"You will reproduce what you are not what you say." - Christine Caine

"We owe it to one another to disagree with each other." - Patrick Lencioni

"You don't have to tell people you're gifted. Just use your gift." - Perry Noble

"The opposite of poverty is not wealth, but justice." - Bryan Stevenson

"It's better to make a difference than to make a point." - Andy Stanley

"Anything you do that is new and worthwhile will be met with resistance." - Craig Groeschel

"Actions speak louder than words and sometimes they echo into the next generation." - Andy Stanley

"Brokenness can be mended by grace." - Bryan Stevenson

"Most 'suddenlys' in the Bible take about 25 years." - Christine Caine

"It is better to be marked by God than marketed by man." - Christine Caine

"We don't have to figure out how to reach the next generation. They will figure out how to reach themselves. We just have to be there for them." - Perry Noble

"God will never be handcuffed by my failures or propelled by my successes. Don't put that pressure on myself." - Jon Acuff

"If you're a leader, your people should be able to do a good impression of you when you're not around." - Patrick Lencioni

"If I blame myself for the declines, I will take the credit for the successes." - Craig Groeschel

"Leaders are made one response at a time." - Andy Stanley

any favorites? anything inspire you?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

what i'm looking forward to at Catalyst '12


tripp & tyler instead of Lanny & Reggie. no offense, they're just getting old & off their game a bit. well, Lanny at least.

Andy's opening session

simon sinek!

getting my free Quitter book in the lounge. maybe i can get a 2nd free one for someone i would love to gift it to...

experiencing it all with Crystal!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both

i was reading a book recently for a leadership class about Leading Through Conflict and it was shocking to see that the vast majority of major leaders have not been able to lead well through conflict. as in... they suck at it. beyond that even, most suck at it extremely shamefully.

but i was absolutely struck by these words from a model leader for leading through conflict. maybe the best in modern times.

Nelson Mandela's story is fascinating to me. his name was still on the lips of South Africans when i was there and in Botswana in 2003. he is a hero and rightfully so.
because leading through racist/ethnic conflict has got to be the most difficult. i don't think i could do what he did because my nature would want to lash back out at the oppressor who labeled me the Other and oppressed me. i would want to serve them their just rewards.

but i hope these stunning and beautiful words from Mandela inspire you as they have me. the applications to our own lives and leadership are endless.

“My hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people… I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away [another] man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, and is locked behind the bars of his prejudice… Both are robbed of their humanity. When I walked out of prison, that was my mission: to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both.” 
– Nelson Mandela

Monday, October 1, 2012

one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me...

having a little girl is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.

i take that back. having Keira is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.

it has changed me immensely - raising this pure-joy-ball-of-fun.

being Keira's dad has awakened so many things inside of me. it has changed me for the better.

she has absolutely captured my heart.

my heart bursts & overflows with this i-will-do-anything-for-you kind of love.

thanks for letting me be your dad, Keira.