outback or bologna sandwiches? (repost)

(This is a repost from Saturday, May 22, 2008.)

Peter is the young boy that Crystal and I have the awesome privilege to support through Compassion International. Make sure you go read a little more about Peter & Compassion here. That's where I wrote about him on one of my very 1st blogs.

He's our "adopted orphan" - the only kind we can afford for now. We'd love to "really" adopt an orphan in Africa one day, but for now we send support to him each month and Compassion makes sure he has plenty of food, clean water, health care, education, AIDS prevention and help for his brothers & sisters, a place to sleep, and they also make sure he hears the amazing stories about Jesus.

So, I went to the mailbox this past weekend and pulled out a letter from Peter. (He writes to us every 2-3 months.) It's always really exciting when we get a letter from him. I was stoked, but I had to wait on Crystal to get back because we always read them together. As soon as we opened it we could tell that he wrote it himself! This is the 1st letter from him that he actually wrote with his own hands. He is only 5, so a translator had to write it for him up until now! Looks like that $ is paying off as he has already learned to write REALLY well! Really well for a 5 year old anyway as there were a few backwards letters and misspellings, but not too bad. I thought I would share some of the letter with you guys:

How are you. I hope you are fine. I am also doing great because of the Lord. How was your Easter? Mine was great. I went to church and learnt about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Thank you very much for your continued support and the gift you sent to me. I bought a goat worth 972 kshs and 50 kilos of maize worth 500 kshs.
Please pray for me that may do well in my studies. Is there any special prayer you would like me to pray for you? Bye til next time.
Love, Peter

Oh man, totally jacked me up a little when I read that. Definitely choked up a little. Pumped that he learned the coolest story ever - Jesus dying and coming back to life for us.
And then I read the next part. Crystal and I sent him a little extra $ for a Christmas gift. I think it was only like $50. We figured he could buy like a soccer ball and some toys or something. NOPE, he bought a GOAT! I read that and I just busted out laughing!!! So, I guess we got Peter a goat & some maize for Christmas. Actually I had some goat & maize together for a meal when I was in Africa. It's not bad when you're really hungry. Any of you ever got a goat for Christmas?It's just really funny to me.

Anyway, reading that letter makes it worth it all right there guys. When I think about there being 30,000 children dying every day from poverty, disease, and unclean water - it's crazy. But when I realize that for a little bit of my $ every month, Peter won't have to worry about it... what's a little bit of extra $? What's $40 a month going to do for me? 1 extra night out at a restaurant. But for Peter it guarantees he doesn't become a statistic! It gives him clean water, food, an education, medical care, etc... And it guarantees that he gets to be loved by a community of believers near his village who tell him the greatest stories ever told! His life is absolutely changed because of that money.

So, what do you think is more worth it? The night out at Outback or Peter? Get with it & sponsor a child! Go to compassion.com right now and make Jesus really happy.

As for me, I'm cool with the bologna sandwich for almost free at my house.

welcome to Erick's world (video)

Erick is a boy who lives in a small village in Kenya that the kids in Upstreet at Ridge Church sponsor through Compassion International. It has been an AWESOME thing for them for the past couple years!
When Crystal and i were in Kenya a few months ago we got to actually meet Erick that these kids have been supporting and writing letters back and forth with for years! i wrote about that experience HERE.

now you can check out this video we showed at Ridge on Sunday!

Eric Movie from Ridge Church on Vimeo.

10 ideas to change the world

CNN recently had an awesome article titled "10 Ideas to Change the World". you can read it HERE.

it's short and sweet and mainly pictures. easy read.

in addition to awesome things i've written about before - like microfinance (KIVA getting props) and TOMS... there are some SWEET NEW IDEAS that can definitely change the world.
My favorites were the "portable water cleaner" (to make drinking water safe in parts of the world that don't have access to clean water), + the Hippo Roller, and donating your change to organizations like UNICEF. pretty cool.

i love ideas to change the world.

yesterday was "Blue Monday"

i'm usually not fascinated at 6am... especially by the 6am SportsCenter, but i was fascinated this morning at 6am when i learned all about "Blue Monday".

Have you heard of it? apparently it is the WORST day of the year.
Crazy formula that some smart guys came up with:
\frac{[W + D-d] T^Q}{M N_a}
where weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na.

something like that.

Good thing for me & for all of us that THIS is new every morning. so, it's Tuesday & it's all good.

(oh yeah, & i guess we're all looking forward to the happiest day of the year some time in late June.)

quotes of the week #33

Here we go with the 33rd edition of Quotes of the week:

“People consider it compassionate not to be honest with people. It’s not. That’s disrespectful.” - Carly Fiorina on dealing with poor performance

“Learning to read is at least as complex as learning to ski or to typewrite or to play tennis.” – Mortimer Adler

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas A. Edison

‘If a man will begin in certainties he will end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin in doubts he shall end in certainties.’  - Sir Francis Bacon

"Comedy is half about bringing people to a revelation that would be uncomfortable if they weren't laughing." Chris Rock (via Jon Acuff)

"SOME people are influenced by the Church but EVERYONE is influenced by family." - Reggie Joiner

“Never let anyone come to you without coming away better and happier.”– Mother Teresa [I love this!]

[speaking about capitalism] “The model did not work, but it was for years the only one available. Capitalist economists made no serious effort to deal with the justice question. Now we must create new models which are both moral and practical. What form should they take?” – Charles West

"The brave don't live forever, but the cautious don't live at all" - dahara via Carlos Whittaker

Jesus, dinner, & the poor

(This is a repost from Monday, June 9, 2008.)

"As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, 'What you are about to do, do quickly.' But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor." (John 14:27-29)

You may have read this passage hundreds of times. Obviously, the main story in this passage is Jesus' last supper with his closest disciples, but I read this and was STRUCK with a thought.

Think about it, Jesus and the boys are sitting around eating dinner. Jesus tells Judas to hurry up and do his thing. The other guys weren't in on the prior conversation so they didn't know exactly what Jesus was telling Judas to go do... BUT they just assumed Jesus was telling Judas to buy some supplies OR go out and give something to help some poor people!

Man, I LOVE this!!! Here's what it tells me about Jesus. He was the kind of guy who would just stop in the middle of dinner & go out and give something to the poor! He must have done that before many times because that's just what his disciples assumed was happening.

Doesn't that sound crazy to us though!?! Imagine you're at your family's Thanksgiving dinner this year and the food smells awesome and the turkey has been carved. You take a few bites and then stand up and say "I'll see you guys later, I'ma run out and feed some poor people." Or imagine you're at your next lunch staff meeting and right in the middle of it the boss says "OK guys, let's go out and help the homeless guys downtown."

That's just the kind of guy Jesus was & I LOVE it.
I wanna be like that. More concerned about the poor around me than my own comfort, or eating my dinner, or following dinner etiquette.

(Check out my next post and I'm gonna tell you about a friend of mine who is doing something along these lines. Jesus is pretty stoked about it too.)

my prayer in my "mid-life crisis"

“God, let me make a difference for You that is utterly disproportionate to who I am.”
– David Brainerd (journal entry)

what a beautiful prayer.

so i stole it.

not sure if you can really "steal" a prayer, but i'm praying this as mine now in this little "mid-life crisis" i'm going through.
haven't talked or written much about it because i haven't wanted to. ever since we've been back from Kenya my mind and heart have been racing. too fast for the rest of me.
i don't really have a word or phrase for it so i just call it a "mid-life crisis". can't describe it.

but, when i slow down and think about it = who cares what i have done and can do in the future. because it's probably not much.
i'm busting beyond that and begging God = "let me make a difference for Your renown that is utterly disproportionate to who i am. for Your Name's sake... not mine."

forget my dreams. give me bigger ones. forget my skills, talents, accomplishments... YOU do it and just let me be a part of it.

maybe a mid-life crisis is good? to make me realize that i'm nothing and completely dependent on the only One who can use my life to make a difference.

wandering beyond...

my heart is in some fresh embryo stages of something big.
not really something new, because the gist has been in my heart since i was 18ish. now it's even bigger. if that's possible.

dreaming about the future a lot. what God wants to do with my life. it's revolutionary, scary, world-changing, and confusing all at the same time.

Andy Stanley seems to have the unique gift of putting into perfect words what i'm feeling. so, straight from my heart but his mouth... here's what i'm doing these days:

allowing my heart and mind to wander outside the artificial boundaries imposed by the world as it is.

i'm doing (and seem to continuously do) a lot of what Andy calls "visioneering".

i'm trying to look beyond what is and paint a picture of what could be. 

it's not a picture that i'm even painting like an artist. 
i feel like it's one that is BEING PAINTED on my soul.
everything that's being painted there is big, and crazy, and audacious. revolutionary.

maybe you know what i'm talking about. maybe it's happened to you. or happening...

if you haven't experienced this... something being painted on your soul... a picture beyond what is - what could be...
if you haven't experienced that then you might just think i'm crazy.

maybe i am.

but off i go.


what I signed up for... the big 3

i hear a lot of people say in a lot of different jobs and circumstances in life = "I didn't sign up for this!"
Usually they are frustrated with how things are going. they had different expectations of what they would be doing. they are making sacrifices but getting no rewards. the organization or whatever isn't moving in the direction they had hoped. finally they blurt out "I didn't sign up for this!"

Thankfully, i feel the opposite. i have the privilege of being a part of something i did sign up for.
A while back Ridge's pastor (Chris Brown) developed these 3 things we want Ridge Church to be about. we talked about it a lot as a staff. We backed up and said - these 3 are really what our "wins" are.
(Chris even did a talk about Ridge being all about these 3. you can check it out HERE.)

i try to sum each one up in my own 1 word description [in brackets below].

1   Create a place for people to belong before they believe


i LOVE the beautiful pictures in Scripture of God inviting His future disciples & apostles to just come walk with Him and hang out with Him before anybody even knows what they believe about Him! how awesome is that. i think God is pumped when we create churches like this. (i think we need all kinds of churches, but personally i don't really have any desire to be a part of a different kind of church than this.)

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.

2   Undeniable presence of God. 


don't really know how to sum this one up besides "GOD". (maybe i could even say "renown". that's the undeniable result when God is present. He is glorified & made famous.)
we just want to Invite it. Invite God's presence. create space for asking for God's presence. not just run through the motions.

we can absolutely create #1, but not #2. we can just do our best to invite and remove barriers.

like i try to say every week = if we work hard and prepare and knock it out of the park... none of it really mattes unless God does what only He can do. so, we've gotta beg for it and be totally dependent on Him.
i've been in the places and the moments where it's undeniable that God is there. i want to invite Him to do it at Ridge. we want to constantly invite Him to do His thing in crazy, undeniable ways. further the one renown and fame that matter. that's what i signed up for.

3   Radical Participation with God's Activity.


simply - we want to be a part of what God is doing.
God's already doing His thing. we don't really have to wonder what He's up to. we don't need to come up with our own stuff.
God is on a mission and we're invited. i'm down. i'm on board. and i want to be a part of a church that is desperately hanging on for the ride.
*we want to join God in blessing our city, the world, the poor, the broken, etc...

that's what i signed up for.


This past week i read a pretty cool story about C.S. Lewis. i thought some of you might like it:

One day, Lewis and a friend were walking down the road and came upon a street person who reached out to them for help. While his friend kept walking, Lewis stopped and proceeded to empty his wallet.

When they resumed their journey, his friend asked, "What are you doing giving him your money like that? Don’t you know he’s just going to go squander all that on ale?"

Lewis paused and replied, "That’s all I was going to do with it."

i don't know, but maybe the next time a guy on the street asks me for money i'll think for a second about what i am gonna spend it on.
(Plus, i think we should go back to calling it "ale".)

quotes of the week #32

The #1 quote i picked for this week is...

"Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." - Louis Brandeis, old supreme court justice

“If all the money that is being spent on finding ways to kill people was used instead to feed them and house them, clothe them and educate them—how beautiful that would be.”– Mother Teresa
[right on Mother Teresa, right on.] 

"The entirety of our prayer is 'Your will be done' – not as a note of resignation but of desire beyond expression."- Richard John Neuhaus

"Generosity is about the condition of your heart, not the condition of your bank account." - Chris Brown, my pastor [YES!]

"Apple is simply the most influential company in the world today." - Fortune Magazine [big words]

"Only those who risk going too far find out how far they can go." - Dr. Walter Bishop from Fringe (or should we say “Walternate”) 
[this might become my life motto one of these days. i guess we'll find out...]

"When we fail to stand up for the poor, we fail to stand up for God." - Rev. Malcolm Duncan

“You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one.” – John Wooden, coaching legend 
[good advice]

"Never let your memories be greater than your dreams.” Doug Ivester
[bkuz when that happens you are either almost dead or might as well be!] 

Do you have a favorite quote? which ones make you think?

limitless generosity

i LOVE that phrase - "limitless generosity". i think it's beautiful. i just read it from Brennan Manning. not sure if he coined it or got it from somebody else? don't care... it's mine now and it's how i want to live.

when i read the proverbs it feels like "limitless generosity". it feels like that's what we're called to + it's just that generosity is limitlessly talked about!

just 2 days ago i wrote some thoughts on "backwards" or "opposite" generosity in Proverbs. you can read that HERE and now today i'm struck with this from Proverbs 14.

"Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." (14:31)

just another blunt reminder in proverbs.

what would it even mean if i could live with limitless generosity?

2011 reading list (rough draft)

i need your help! i need to trim this rough draft book list of 61 books down to only 12 books. Please give me your recommendations and comments - good or bad. i can't afford to waste any time reading books that are just "so so". and if you have read one of these and can vouch that it is awesome... maybe you can convince me to keep it on the final list.

i have a very different and new reading philosophy which is causing me to go from reading 50 books in 2010 to only 12 or so in 2011. i'll write a whole post on that soon.

(Actually, 11 of these books below are ones that i'll read no matter what. they're either audio books i'll end up reading on trips or some other built in method. so the 12 i will choose will actually be on top of the 11 i will be automatically reading accidentally. you don't know which 11 though.)

i broke them all into 8 categories this time (with the number of potential books in that category in parentheses). i will definitely read at least some from each category.

           Personal Development (9)
The Pocket Guide to Adulthood: 29 Things to Know Before You Turn 30 – Jason Boyett
Getting Things Done – David Allen
Making It All Work – David Allen
Lynchpin – Seth Godin
The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal – Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
The Likeability Factor– Tim Sanders
Mavericks at Work – William Taylor
Rework – Jason Fried
Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long – David Rock

            Vision/ Dream/ entrepreneurial/ future (7)
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard - Chip & Dan Heath
Holy Discontent – Bill Hybels
Purple Cow – Seth Godin
Wide Awake – Erwin McManus
The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship – Bill Murphy, Jr.
Making ideas happen - Scott Belsky
Rescuing Ambition – Dave Harvey

            Spirituality (11)
The Ragamuffin Gospel– Brennan Manning
Radical - David Platt
Wild Goose Chase – Mark Batterson
Humility –Andrew Murray
Fields of Gold – Andy Stanley
Cold Tangerines – Shauna Niequist
When I Don’t Desire God– John Piper
The Jesus of Suburbia– Mike Erre
Trusting God – Jerry Bridges
Brothers We are Not Professionals – John Piper
Primal – Mark Batterson
Taste And See – John Piper
            Culture (9)
Justice – Michael Sendel
Bioethics – Gilbert Meilaender
A Primer on Postmodernism – Stanley Grenz
Freakanomics – Levitt & Dubner
What the Dog Saw – Malcolm Gladwell
The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
Microtrends – Mark Penn
A Briefer History of Time – Stephen Hawking
The Grand Design – Stephen Hawking
            Theology/Mission (8)
The Mission of God – Christopher J.H. Wright
Everything Must Change– Brian McLaren
The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World – Heather Zydek
Evil and the Justice of God – N.T. Wright
                        Dead guys
The End for Which God Created the World – Jonathan Edwards
Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love – Saint Augustine
The Gospel of the Kingdom – George Ladd
Humility –Andrew Murray
The Biography of George Muller – A.T. Pierson           

            Leadership (9)
Tribes – Seth Godin
Why We Can’t Wait – MLK
Strengths Based Leadership – Tom Rath & Barry Osborne
The 17 Indispensable Laws of Teamwork – John Maxwell
The Orange Leader Handbook – Reggie Joiner
The One Thing You Need to Know – Marcus Buckingham
Simply Strategic Volunteers – Tony Morgan & Tim Stevens
The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni
Corageous Leadership – Bill Hybels
Leadership – Rudolph Giuliani  
            Marriage/Sex (4)
The Love Dare – Stephen Kendrick
Crazy Good Sex – Les Parrott
The Modern Kama Sutra– Kamini and Kirk Thomas
The Act of Marriage – Tim & Beverly Lahaye

            FUN (3)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Harry Potter
Under the Dome – Stephen King
Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 – Steve Stockman

            MONEY (2)
More Than Enough – Dave Ramsey
Think and Grow Rich – Napolean Hill 

opposite of what you think

Yesterday morning for me meant chapter 11 in Proverbs and there were a few awesome thoughts that flowed together. SO awesome that i thought i would share them with you...

"One person gives freely, yet gains even more;  another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty."(11:24)

This one is what i like to call a "Backwards Proverb". it's like it's trying to be ironic or something. it seems backwards. we would naturally think that whoever gives freely would come to poverty and the person who gives least or "withholds unduly" would have the most... right?
but again and again God flips common sense and logic on its head. it's the opposite. it's backwards.
i desperately want to be the guy who gives freely. i just want to be that kind of person. 2 open hands. i never ever ever want to withhold anything unduly. 

hopefully we're all becoming this way. if we all follow this simple advice - think about it - our world will be a radically different place! it would be ludicrous to think there would ever be any need. children wouldn't be hungry. not many people would die because of preventable stuff... because we would be giving freely to prevent it.

Then the very next verse goes on to back up this "opposite" kind of idea from verse 24:

"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." (11:25)

i love that word "refreshed" and the idea it expresses. when you are generous and you give, don't you just feel refreshed? you feel better than at pretty much any other time. why wouldn't we follow this advice? we'd have to be crazy...

"Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf." (11:28)

i think it's interesting how the author pits "those who trust in their riches" and "the righteous" as opposites. very interesting.
so - don't trust in your riches! or you'll fall flat on your face. reminds me of this.
the "thrive like a green leaf" wording doesn't really connect with me... sorry, Solomon. i guess you had to be there?  or think about green leaves more often.

but, i don't need any more convincing. i'm never going to trust in riches. that'd be crazy.

snow day 1/11/11

we had a lot of fun in the snow today.
And by "we" i mean the city of Charlotte. sounded like everybody was playing in the snow.

the beauty of having my office at home is that i can still get a lot of work done on a "snow day", but take a long lunch break and have fun out in the snow!

Check this snow fort that our neighbors built! pretty awesome. i was extremely impressed. The kids range from like 6 to 17. Their Dad told me they tried to talk him into letting them sleep in it last night : )

And of course Crystal and i busted out the old school wooden sled that i think belonged to one of my parents. lots of good memories on that sled. When the iced over street was just right we could fly down it. Later we actually took Jack Bauer (the dog) for a ride.
Not the greatest idea. he bailed!
we caught it on video, but i wish you could see what i saw in the moment = my dog doing a barrel roll off the sled and bouncing off his back on the ice!

he headed straight for the house and didn't want to ride the sled anymore! we're going to be horrible parents...

KING of Glory

(This was originally posted on June 23, 2008.)

I'm writing this on Sunday morning (yesterday for you who are reading this on Monday) and it's been a really cool morning. I've just been chillin' outside on my porch swing for an hour or so.

Experiencing the nature that God made is a mesmerizing and awe-inspiring thing for me. Just being out here on this beautiful morning is a spiritual thing for me. It's amazing. Straight across from our house is an empty lot with just grass and trees. From where I sit on the porch swing this open space is basically all I see. All the trees are so green, it feels so awesome outside, and the birds are singing like crazy. I'm just heaping glory and praise onto God for all this.

And I was reading through the Psalms and I came across this passage that keeps talking about "the King of glory." Now, for some reason this has been one of those phrases for me that kind of merges together and I don't "get" the full meaning of it. Kind of like as a kid, lots of people thought a "chest of drawers" was really "Chester drawers". Or like people used to always say "I would JUST AS SOON..." and it had no meaning to me. It just kind of all ran together like 1 word. I think this is the way "King of glory" has always been for me, so I didn't ever really get it.

Plus Psalm 24 is one of those passages that has tons of worship songs written from it and you can hardly read it without singing the song. You know what I'm talking about right? Like Tomlin or Mac Powell pops in your head as you're reading it and you just can't read it like a normal passage anymore... you're just singing the song.

This morning I think I "got" this very simple passage that most people "get" after reading one time.
"Who is He, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty - He is the King of glory." - Psalm 24:10

Glory is like the greatest, biggest thing. It's huge. It's fame, renown, unending praise. And God is the KING of THAT! Ok, so some people can be the King of Rock or the King of England... but the King of glory?!? This is amazing! God is the King of renown. Nobody gets more fame or prestige than God. He is the biggest, coolest thing in the universe. He gets glory for everything. He's the King of it. I'm sitting here surrounded by all this glory in nature & He is the KING of it all.

*Maybe the craziest part of it all is that I'm sitting out here on a porch swing having a conversation with the King of glory! Most kings are inaccessible and I'm probably not going to be having a conversation with them. But the greatest, most famous & glorious King of them all, I get to chill with and have a friendship with. flippin' amazing.

quotes of the week #31

31st edition. the best quotes for you!

my #1 quote of the week:

“To be neutral in a situation of injustice is to have chosen sides already...” Desmond Tutu, archbishop of South Africa 
"Is the life you’re leading worth the price you’re paying to live it?" - Mike Foster, visionary leader & entrepreneur
[this is a GREAT question for all of us! wow. just read that one again!]

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” - Mother Teresa

“How you respond to problems is just as important as preventing them.”Chris Brown, pastor

"You would have bet on the Roman Empire against Jesus and His followers, but we name our kids Peter, Paul, and Mary and name our dogs Nero and Caesar." – Jon Gordon, leader
[haha, this one just makes me laugh.]

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are. Changing stuff means changing us.” – VP of marketing @ CFA (via Chris Brown at staff meeting)

“The thing that usually gets in the way of what would work best is something that is already working pretty well.” – Reggie Joiner, founder of ReThink
[this is a great & very true statement!!!]

"Life is about making mistakes. And death is about wishing you had made a whole lot more." - Gerard Butler's character in The Bounty Hunter
[i resonate with that for sure. i think we'll all wish we had risked more when we get to the "end".]

"As leaders you can't predict the future. What you can do is DEVELOP your people. Doing so will take care of the future." - Jim Collins, author

"Who needs our love more than the one who is totally devoid of love? = our enemy." – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, author/pastor/martyr

God is for the poor and orphans (repost)

*(This is a repost from March 12, 2008.)

i've been journeying through the Psalms over and over for the past 3-4 years. i absolutely love it! it's one of my favorite parts of Scripture.
As i've shared before, i'm also keenly aware of one of the dominant themes throughout Scripture = the high importance that God puts on the poor, orphans, etc... So, i can't help but post a few pieces of my journey from the last few days.

"But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish." (9:18)
God is ultimately compassionate to the poor & that just fires me up. It fires me up because in my opinion much of the American church has forgotten the poor all over the world. Thankfully, we've got such an amazing God that no matter how long the Church forgets, God will not forget the poor across the world that He loves. i'm also stoked to take this promise to the poor because it will give them ultimate hope. That will be hope that they will ALWAYS have because they can ALWAYS count on God to remember them!

"But You, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; You consider their grief and take it in hand... You are the helper of the fatherless." (10:14)
i can't help but think about Peter when i read stuff like this, and all the millions of orphans across Sub-Saharan Africa. i desperately want to build places for them to live, eat, and learn, tell them about Jesus & tell them that God is their helper!

"You Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and You listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror." (10:17-18)
Man, i'm so pumped that God is an encourager to the afflicted... and He defends the fatherless so that they won't be afraid of anyone.

*Our God loves the poor & orphans! Throughout the Bible it is obvious that they are VERY close to His heart & He puts a high priority on them. He fights for them and provides for them and loves them. i'm thinking we probably should too


This is how i want to live 2011 & the rest of my life. just 1 renown to live for.
i've really been connecting with this song the past few weeks. (Thanks, Lecrae.)

"I could play the background.
I could play the background.
Cuz I know sometimes I get in the way.
So won't you take the lead, lead, lead.
So won't you take the lead, lead, lead.
And I can play the background, background.
And you can take the lead.

It's evident you run the show so let me back down.
You take the leading role, and I'll play the background.
I know I miss my cues, know I forget my lines
I'm sticking to your script, and I'm reading all your signs.
I don't need my name in lights.
I don't need a starring role.

And why gain the whole wide world, if I'm just gon' loose my soul.
And my ways ain't purified, I'll live according to your Word.
I can't endure this life without your wisdom being heard.
So word to every dancer for a pop star
Cuz we all play the background, but mine's a rock star.
Yeah. So if you need me I'll be stage right.
Prayin' the whole world will start embracing stage fright.

So let me fall back and stop giving my suggestions
Cuz when I follow my obsessions I end up confessing.
That I'm not that impressive, matter fact I'm............
A trail of star dust leading to the superstar.

I could play the background.
I could play the background.
Cuz I know sometimes I get in the way.
So won't you take the lead, lead, lead.
So won't you take the lead, lead, lead.
And I can play the background, background.
And you can take the lead. 

I had a dream that I was captain of my soul.
I was master of my fate, lost control, and then I sank.
So I don't want to take the lead
Cuz I'm prone to make mistakes.
All these folks that follow me gon' end up in the wrong place.
So, just let me shadow you. And just let me trace your lines.
Matter fact just take my pen.
Here, you create my rhymes.

Cuz if I do this by myself I'm scared that I'll succeed.
And no longer trust in You, cuz I only trust in me.
And see, that's how you end up headed to destruction.
Paving a road to nowhere. Pour your life out for nothing.
You pulled my card, I'm bluffing
You know what's in my hand.
Me I just roll to trust you to cause the dice to land.
I'm in control of nothing. Follow you at any cost.
Some call it sovereign will, all I know is you the boss.
And man I'm so at ease. I'm so content.
I play the background like it's an instrument."

no better way to start 2011

no better way to start off 2011 for me than watching Passion 2011 through their live link.

I guess being there would be better, but this is the next best thing to actually being there to experience it. i'm really thankful that Passion is gracious enough to let us all follow along via the streaming sessions for peeps like me who are too old now to be there.

crazy significant impact on my life in the college years... and still. very thankful. very nostalgic. full of awe for an amazing God who changed/is changing me.

tune in and watch the last few sessions of 2011 HERE.

what do You want in 2011?

That's the question our pastor, Chris Brown, asked this morning at Ridge Church.

but the Q is not what you want in 2011... as in me. But ever since Chris' talk i've been asking GOD = "what do You want in 2011?"

Chris challenged us to ask God - What do You want in 2011?...
for Yourself?
for them?
for me?

i think that's the biggest question we can all ask for this year. what does God want from us - for HIMSELF. for His glory and renown.
what does He want from us for them. for those around us. for those we interact with. for those around the world.
& for me. what does He want for me?

great question.

2011 - 3 years of renown

Today - January 1st, 2011 marks the 3 year anniversary of renown. I wrote my 1st post ever on the 1st day of 2008. A lot is different since then and i have written a lot.
in fact, i've written 648 times since that 1st one. that's a lot. (not to mention the 200 or so articles that are partially written and in the waiting.)

almost 40,000 people have stopped by to read renown. Actually, an all time number of renown readers stopped by yesterday (New Year's Eve) = 551. i was shocked because that's not normal. That trend won't continue today.

Although i'm thankful people are reading, i just have fun writing. i need to write to process things. but of course it's always more fun to write when people are actually reading.

The ultimate reason i write is still the same as 3 years ago. i'll leave you with my 1st ever post. it's always a good reminder for me:

the 1st ever RENOWN blog
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” – Paul (philippians 1:20)

Life’s not about me. It’s all about God and his renown. God is the greatest, most awesome, coolest, most glorious thing in the universe. He is the only One and only thing that can satisfy! We ALL want satisfaction, but like the great theologian Mick Jagger sang – “I can’t get no (pause…) satisfaction!” (it’s OK that you were singing along and rocking your air guitar. You’re supposed to have fun when you read this blog.) (I bet you were also thinking to yourself, "what possible good can come from a blog that begins with a picture of Jagger?" now you know.) I would say we can’t find satisfaction/happiness/joy because we’re looking in the wrong places. So, where should we look?

Paul understood that life is all about God, not us. He was determined to exalt Christ in any way he could. And THERE Paul found satisfaction. I feel ya, Paul! I want to magnify Christ’s renown in my life every second or if He can be exalted higher in my death, then that’s cool too. Whatever it takes. It’s all about Jesus. And in this lifestyle I am satisfied and the happiest man alive.
Like Paul, this is my life goal… to spread the renown of Jesus Christ! I’ll spend the rest of my life doing this for His name’s sake and be the happiest man on earth.

And here’s my blog that’s just another part of my life that’s attempting to spread God’s fame. I’m not an expert writer or anything close, but I’m learning and experiencing so much that I need an outlet for it. Some days I’ll be writing about my amazing wife, pimp stuff in God’s word that I’m studying, something I learned at a conference or in a book, or just something funny or crazy that’s happening. You're reading the 1st ever RENOWN blog... this is a momentous occasion. You may need to take a deep breath just to let it all sink in. It won’t always be something deeply theological like what you read above (jk). But it will always be thoughts flowing out of an attempt to be completely satisfied in a God who is worthy of all the renown and fame in the world.