quotes of the week #41

best quotes of the week
“There is no disembodied ‘reason’ which can act as impartial umpire between the rival claims.” – Lesslie Newbigin

“The Bible has a lot of principles, but it doesn’t have a lot of methods.” – Mark Driscoll

“The cost of discipleship must be compared to the terrible toll of nondiscipleship.” – Dallas Willard

“We can blame people or we can help them get better.” – Chris Brown (the pastor not the rapper)

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

“Kindness has converted more people than zeal, science, or eloquence.” – Mother Teresa

"If you aren't on a relentless pursuit to make your church better you will be critical of those who are." - Andy Stanley

"Dont expect anything back from the person you're trying to make amends to. The heart change is not about them; it's about you doing right." - Mike Foster

“Finishing well can be more important than starting well.” – Dave Ramsey

what quotes are you digging these days?

money, money, money

i love me some Proverbs. i read one everyday - the chapter number of whatever day of the month it is.

it's crazy how much Proverbs talks about MONEY! Last summerish as i read through each chapter in Proverbs i wrote down every single time it talks about Money! Pages and pages and pages i filled up. 1 day i'll write about all those thoughts and what it has to say.

but this morning i just read 1 chapter. 28. because today's the 28th. and in just that short little chapter it talks about money in verses 3, 6, 8, 10, 11,16, 19, 20, 22, 25, and 27. Ridiculous. Even more than that talk about money indirectly. pretty much half the chapter.

just a little sampling some of these for fun since it's fresh on my brain:

"Better is the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse." (6) 
It's better! i wanna be in that better category. i'll take being poor and blameless any day over rich & perverse.

"Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor." (8) 
Sweet. 1st lesson = never exploit, take interest from, or make profit off of the poor... hmmm... seems like most of business is pretty much the opposite. i don't wanna make people hate me but isn't this pretty much what a capitalistic society is all about... taken to it's logical conclusion? i'm just sayin'... i mean, do we just skip principles like this or something?
anyway, 2nd lesson is that all those guys who are exploiting the poor aren't even gonna get all that $ in the end! they're just saving it up for the peeps who are KIND to the poor! that's some beautiful irony.
i wanna be the 2nd guy, not the 1st.

"The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how DELUDED they are." (11) beautiful picture of our society

"A tyrannical ruler practices extortion, but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign." (16) nuff said.

"A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished." (20)

"The STINGY are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them." (22)

all these above are so backwards & opposite, right? opposite of how we would think and opposite of how we operate. 
try this next one on for size:

"Those who give to the poor will LACK NOTHING,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many CURSES." (27)

are you kidding me? this is so opposite. we are the opposite of this verse. we do NOT give to the poor because we think that is the way to lack nothing.
and we literally "close our eyes" to the poor... and we wonder why we're "cursed".

i already wrote a whole post on this specific verse HERE so i don't want to just repeat myself. you can go read that one.

all i'm saying is that we've got it pretty backwards when it comes to money.
what are we going to do about that?

big mistake

i read something a few years ago that i have never forgotten.

it's something Vincent Donovan wrote. he wrote them long ago but his words are resonating with me now. he spent a long time in Tanzania as a missionary. i've read some of the accounts of his work with the Masai tribe and it's pretty amazing. i'm intrigued so much by this guy from an obscure religious order that i'd like to add his book, Christianity Rediscovered to my reading list one day.

anyway, here is what he that's kind of been swimming around in my soul.

"Never accept and be content with unanalyzed assumptions, assumptions about the work, about the people, about the church or Christianity. Never be afraid to ask questions about the work we have inherited or the work we are doing.
There is no question that should not be asked or that is outlawed.
The day we are completely satisfied with what we have been doing; the day we have found the perfect unchangeable system of work, the perfect answer, never in need of being corrected again, on that day we will know that we are wrong, that we have made the greatest mistake of all."
- Vincent J. Donovan

the greatest mistake of all.

because we would be dead wrong. 

we would be saying stop. it's done. all finished. no more. this is it.

here is the painting to end all paintings. how absurd.

just like Rob Bell suggested in his 1st book which seems like AGES ago, Velvet Elvis. i just looked back at the chapter or "movement" called Jump because i was in a creative meeting for something called "Jump", searched it on my computer and my notes from the book popped up. (that's just how my brain works.)

i'll leave you with this thought that i hope i never forget:
“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.  We are dealing with somebody we made up.”
and that is simply no good. at all.

TED commandments - rules every speaker needs to know

(This was originally posted on June 15, 2009.)

Today I wanted to share with all of you the "TED Commandments" - similar to the TEN Commandments in that there are 10. But not really similar in any other way.

I LOVE checking out what's going down at TED ("TED" = technology, entertainment, design, but is also SO SO much more). I bet you are gonna wanna check them out too if you haven't already. Go HERE to see all the awesome talks!

They have some really really good stuff. This isn't just some little thing either... these peeps at TED are LEGIT! no doubt. they're making waves in the world and getting MANY peeps' attention.

Here's the list... in case you ever get to speak at a TED conference (or just for you to apply elsewhere)...
[Oh and it probably is worth mentioning that I think it's kind of funny that anyone who makes a 10 commandments list thinks it has to be written in king james english... haha]

Ok, for real this time - the list:
1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick
2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before
3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion

4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story

5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy
6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as
thy Success
7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desparate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness
8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good

9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech

10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee

*great great stuff. love to hear some of you interact with it!
obviously I don't think it's all stuff we've gotta follow like certain other commandments, BUT I think following many of these will make me and all of us better communicators. I'm diggin the list.

I'd love to hear what you think of the TED commandments! share your thoughts...


i don't know, i just made the word up.
so i guess i can invent it's definition too.

"vassion" - noun. The passion that goes along with a vision... so, VASSION.

i'm extremely familiar with vassion. it's my favorite thing about vision. and in my case (and every case i know) along with vision and passion comes emotion.

"There is NO SUCH THING as an emotionless vision."
- Andy Stanley

Andy writes some awesome stuff about passion & vision walking hand in hand in his book Visioneering.

Stuff i can relate to like: “A clear, focused vision actually allows us to experience ahead of time the emotions associated with our anticipated future. These emotions serve to reinforce our commitment to the vision.” 

YES! i LOVE that! This is the feeling i feel. Where i get all jacked up over a vision because my emotions are literally experiencing what i'm dreaming about.
i'm thinking about the world as it could be and as it should be NOT as it is... and my emotions follow along. it's hard to explain, but it's real this vassion thing, 

quotes of the week #40

quotes of the week #40!

“I have become convinced that Jesus’ worldview is better than ours.” – Brian McLaren

“Our greatest threat is that in reaching secular people we will fail to offer them anything specifically Christian…” – Bryan Stone

there is no such thing as a gospel which is not already culturally shaped
The only way in which the gospel can challenge our culturally conditioned interpretations of it is through the witness of those who read the Bible with minds shaped by other cultures. We have to listen to others.– Lesslie Newbigin

“Put your money where your vision is.” – Andy Stanley

"Jesus forgets your sins, but church people don't." – Perry Noble

“You have achieved excellence as a leader when people will follow you everywhere if only out of curiousity.” – Colin Powell

“Either the size of your vision will determine the size of your budget or the size of your budget will determine the size of your vision.” – Mark Batterson

“If time is money then that makes life become money.” - Brian McLaren

“While I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God that brings salvation (Rom. 1:16), I am ashamed of the way many Christians have presented the gospel.” – Dan Kimball

any favorites?

date night rocks! (repost)

(This was originally posted on Febrary 1, 2008.)

I feel like one of the best decisions I have ever made for my marriage is DATE NIGHT!!! Every Friday night my smokin' hot wife (Crystal) & I go on a date. It's not even on the calendar, not up for discussion, it's just a natural part of our lives. I really can't even remember when we started doing it, but it's been at least a year or so. We don't schedule stuff on Friday nights because they're just not free. If something must happen on a Friday night then we simply move date night to another night of the week... but we absolutely have a date night every week! It's in the budget. For as long as we're alive there will always be a date night.

I think a big part of the importance of a "date night" is this = no matter how crazy the week has been or how crazy the weekend is gonna be my wife KNOWS that on Friday night I am fully hers and all my focus is on her. Now, of course she has my attention the rest of the week too, but you all know how it can get with jobs & responsibilities. Without a date night it would be easy to go 3-4 weeks or even more without having a "date." So, even if everything else in the week is goin' crazy and Crystal & I haven't had very much alone time... we know that date night's comin'! Everything else stops & I focus on my wife.

This is something I won't ever budge on either. It's not like this is something that you can convince me to stop. Like you could maybe convince me to stop drinking lemon lime gatorade, or cancel my HDTV service, or sell my beloved old caddy, or stop wearing these ridiculously comfortable & pimp green, yellow, & red Pumas I wear... it would be tough, but you might be able to convince me of these things. BUT, you will never convince me to cancel date night. My wife is too important to me. Our marriage is too important.

So, if you've been married 30 years or 30 days I would really encourage you to start a "date night". I think it could totally change your marriage & definitely change the future of your marriage.

Thanks to some gift cards, in a few minutes we're going to Outback (one of our favorite restaurants) to hit up some filet mignon & then come back home to enjoy a movie together. I love date night & I love my wife... I don't know what I would do without them.

the window and the mirror

there is an amazing leadership principle i learned about a while back and i simply refer to it as "the window and the mirror."

When Jim Collins set out to write Good to Great he did NOT want it to be a book about leadership, leaders, or even contain a leadership "answer". But it's profound for leaders. 

In the book, most of the "good to great" leaders attributed their success to luck!  But it simply wasn't true. that was just humility. The Comparison leaders attributed their failure to bad luck. ironic, eh. NEITHER WANTED TO TAKE THE CREDIT.

the Window and the Mirror
When success comes the greatest (level 5) leaders look out the window to credit other factors & if there is no specific person or event to credit they simply credit "good luck!"  They go to great lengths to point out the window and credit anything rather than themselves! that's extremely humble.

and at the same time these greatest leaders look in the mirror to put responsibility on themselves, never blaming bad luck when things go poorly. So, when something fails - even if it was NOT their fault - they take the blame. they simply look in the mirror. no need to point fingers out the window.

Comparison leaders did the exact opposite with the window/mirror! (looking out the window to point blame and pointing to themselves in the mirror when success comes.)

 this doesn’t reflect objective reality, because everyone else points to those greatest leaders as the cause for success!

Again we see the duality Collins continuously points out = great leaders produce Superb results along with a compelling modesty – never taking credit or public praise.

there's a link between all this and being a great leader and leading a great organization. if we want to be great leaders we MUST be in the habit of looking in the mirror when things go wrong, but being quick to point out the window to give praise and credit when things go right!

SO, when do you look out the window? and when do you look in the mirror?

don't bury the lead

“I’ve always been a believer that if I’ve got 2 hours in which to write a story, the best investment I can make is to spend the first hour and forty-five minutes of it getting a good lead, because after that everything else will come easily.” – Don Wycliff, award winning editorial writer

wow. how seriously do the rest of us go at it?

80% & LIVE

"i realized that 80% and done/shared/live is better than 100% and in my head."
- Jon Acuff

when i heard that it was profound. i knew in that moment that i am a "100% in my head type person." and that's a curse i've gotta shrug.

i heard it from Jon Acuff (who btw has the funniest blog in the world that you should read HERE.) he was talking about this at North Point a little over a year ago when he was talking to the Children's staff.

i have learned that i have this weird thing in my personality that forces me to be ALL OR NOTHING. sometimes it's probably good, but in this case (and others) i know it's bad.

so if i can't do something all out or 100% or as grand as it is in my head... then i just wait until the day that i really can do it ALL the way. because for me - it's all or nothing.
the problem with that is there's a lot of nothing because there's a lot of stuff i'd love to do all out but simply will never have the time.

so 80% & live was a revelation for me.
i'm not talking about excellence. i still think all of us should do everything with excellence or don't even bother doing it.

i guess i'm talking more about perfection vs. function. i need to focus on getting 80% of the way there and functional. just throw it out there. do some good with it (whatever it is) & that's way better than just waiting for the day it hits 100% (if that day even ever comes).

i'm trying to operate this way from now on. not lowering my standard - like 80% is good enough. there's a healthy balance. i can take small steps.
God has given me a certain amount of time. just get it out of my head & onto the page. just get it running. have the meeting. implement the process. put it on the calendar.

get it 80% of the way and maybe bring it along the last 20% after it's up & running.

whatever that looks like for you - go for it.

we might just change the world.

80% of the way anyway. which is better than thinking about a 100% better world in our heads.

vision has its price (repost #2)

(This is the 2nd half of what i originally posted on April 6, 2009. i reposted the 1st half yesterday HERE if you want to catch up and not be lost.)

Building Block #9 – Don’t expect others to take greater risks or make greater sacrifices than you have. [great stuff for all of us leaders to remember!]

“put my money where my vision is.” = [I love it!]

[this seemed straight from Andy's lips to my soul. Like advice for me in the upcoming years. Like God used Andy to give me counsel & wisdom about what's coming up in my near future.]
“If God has birthed a vision in you, it is only a matter of time until you will come upon the precipice of sacrifice. What you do at that juncture will in all likelihood determine the future success or failure of your vision.

* “God has chosen to work through men and women who are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the ‘thing’ He has placed in their hearts to do.”
He most loves to work through peeps who “are courageously laying the things that represent safety and security at His feet for the sake of what could be and should be.” [oh yeah! I am totally on board to be that guy that God can bless because I am laying it all down!]

*This was an interesting challenege from Andy to me (and all of us). I'm gonna take him up on it... = “Search the Scriptures. Search the pages of church history. You won’t find an example of anyone God used in even a small way who did not make some kind of sacrifice in order to pursue the vision. Sacrifice and risk are always part of the equation.”
“One thing I do know. When a man is willing to give up something valuable for a God-ordained vision, God looks upon it as worship.”

[now, this is big time. Andy's not pulling any punches here!]
*** “Your vision has not truly captured your heart until it captures your wallet.”

WOW. I just unpacked all that really really quickly. This is just 1 random chapter in the middle of this almost 300 page book that spoke to me every single sentence... every word.
Now you can see I've got a lot to unpack! way more to come.

Like I said. It was like being mentored intensely by Andy himself. So personal. So practical. So awesome...

vision has its price

(This was originally posted April 6, 2009. This is just the 1st half of that post. It resonates even stronger in my soul today.)

I feel very very lucky. I get to be mentored by so many amazing leaders, scholars, visionaries, and great men. Not in person on a weekly basis or anything. But I take full advantage of everything these men are putting out there (books, podcasts, blogs, conferences, etc...) I treat it as though they are mentoring me 1 on 1. I learn everything I can from what they are saying.

One of my favorite "mentors" is Andy Stanley. I'm going to talk much more about the book later, and I mainly want to just share some awesome quotes from a particular chapter... but let me at least say this = Throughout Andy's entire book - Visioneering - It was as though Andy was sitting with me in a coffee shop speaking every single word directly to me! Seriously. I don't know if a book has ever been as personal as this one. EVERY word was specifically for me. Amazing. Like Andy wrote it just for me. (of course I'm sure it has affected thousands this way, which is awesome...)

This stuff is all from Chapter 10 that I recently went back & jotted some notes from = Vision has its Price

This 1st thought hit me right off...
**“Any vision worth pursuing will demand sacrifice and risk. You will be called on to give up the actual good for the potential best. You will find it necessary to leave what is comfortable and familiar in order to embrace that which is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. And all the while, you will be haunted by the fear that this thing you are investing so much of yourself in may not work out at all.”
[This is so crazy because that spot is exactly where I’m at right now! exactly what I needed to hear!]

“Vision requires courage and confidence. It requires launching out as if you were absolutely assured of the outcome.” [Thanks for speaking this into me, Andy! I value it big time!]

The difference between those with a burden for something and those who actually do something is not resources. It is a willingness to take risks and make sacrifices.
The people who make a difference in the world commit to what could be before they know where the money is coming from. Their vision is enough to cause them to jump in. Money usually follows vision. It rarely happens the other way around.”
*** [Man! that is what I'm talkin' about. I SOOOOO needed to hear that! I'm all in... This is some crazy valuable mentoring stuff!]

– Great Quote to keep in front of me!!! ** “Is this what I am going to do? Or is this one of those things that I am just going to talk about until I am forty or fifty years old?
[That's what someone with a vision asked their team. I am freaking going to do this thing... it's not just something I'm gonna be talking about when I hit 40 or 50! It's gonna be reality!]

(again, this was just the 1st half of the post. stay tuned for the 2nd half of the repost tomorrow.)

quotes of the week #39

some great stuff that got me thinking this week. i hope it does the same for you...

#1 Quote of the week:
“A Christian should get very nervous when the flag and the Bible start holding hands. This is not a romance we want to encourage.” – Rob Bell, pastor & author
[yep, because we've seen that happen before and it produces one ugly baby!] 

“The best criticism of the bad has always been the practice of the better.” – Richard Rohr, Franciscan Monk

“To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.” – Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister
[great statement + he looks like a pimp or something.]

“Christians are like manure. Spread them out and they help everything else grow. But keep them in one big pile & they stink horribly.”– Francis Chan, author & pastor

The church has previously wrestled with most of our issues, and those "wrestlings" are well worth our time to explore, or we cut ourselves off from the accumulated wisdom and insight of the ages." – James White, pastor, author, & my former professor

“The society shapes the person as much as the person shapes the society.” – Lesslie Newbigin, author, pastor, missiologist, Father of the current missional movement
[right on Lesslie. they’re linked. No such thing as individualism.]

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, late German author and genius

Jesus’ invitation into the Kingdom of God was an invitation into the original universe, as it was meant to be.”– Brian McLaren, author and leader

“His (Satan's) chief lie is that self-exaltation is more to be desired than Christ exaltation.” – John Piper, pastor & author

“Words are powerful. They are life-shaping.” – Andy Stanley, pastor and author

“When you think about generosity is it always future tense?”Chris Brown, (my) pastor - Ridge Church
[great question that could tell us a lot about how truly generous we are!]

Only light can do that

“Through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder.
Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth.
Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate.
Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that.” 
– MLK 
(Where do we go from Here? At the 11thconvention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference)

this is so obvious, and yet in our own day to day lives we try to do the opposite and the illogical. we fight back with the same dark tactics. 

we forget that love wins. 

we forget that more of the same only takes us further in the wrong direction. 

we forget only light can do that.


“We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something,

And to do it very well.” 
– Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador

i could write for weeks about this.

this new world is here to stay

i hear a lot of people say that this "postmodernism thing" is just a fad. it's just the "new" thing right now... it's a one hit wonder that will stick around for a few years and we'll never hear from it again.

i have yet to hear anyone say that who actually knows what postmodernism is and understands it. or else they wouldn't be saying that sort of thing.

the experts have been predicting it since at least Michael Polanyi in the 50s.

and in the words of the famous missiologist David J. Bosch -
“The ‘post’ phenomenon is not just a fad. We have truly entered into an epoch fundamentally at variance with anything we have experienced to date.”

postmodernism is a new world. 

the world as we knew it will never be the same again.

like it or dislike it. good or bad. we are living in the postmodern era.

it might even take another 50 years for it to fully arrive. but it is here now.

no need to fight it. that would be like fighting the rising of the sun. it's happening. so don't waste your energy.
spend your time figuring out how we're going to live in this new world. 

because when you live in a new world you have to figure out how to live and do everything you do all over again.

hard to even describe

it's hard to even describe what i got to be a part of last night. i am still wowed and in awe of an awesome God who does awesome and wowing things.

maybe i'll post some pics and/or videos later of Family Birthday Celebration last night @ Ridge.

it was incredible. God has radically changed the lives of 8 kids because of His overwhelming love. and we CELEBRATED that last night.

we celebrated like crazy. we partied. we cheered. we cried. we laughed.

what am i feeling that i can't explain?
proud. humbled. wowed. overwhelmed. excited. passionate. worshipful. blessed. inspired.

and since last night i have the urge to constantly throw up a fist pump.

i love each of those kids and can't even comprehend God's love for them and all of us.

quotes of the week #38

can't believe i've posted 38 editions of my quotes of the week! enjoy this one:
“Christianity is more than a matter of new beliefs. Following Jesus is an invitation to be part of an alternate society that is formed around Him. Right living within this community is more of the challenge than having the right beliefs.” – Mike Erre, pastor & author

“That everybody would worship God by serving each other. That those wouldn’t be two things, but one. This is why God continually mentions the widow, the orphan, and the refugee. Remembering them, caring for them, serving them is worshipping God.” – Rob Bell, pastor and author

“As far as the propositions of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” – Albert Einstein, late brilliant physicist [we could learn a lot about our new world from this quote.]

“In our culture, even if a Pastor doesn’t love people he can still be considered ‘successful’ as long as he’s a good speaker, makes his people laugh, and prays for those poor people every Sunday.” – Francis Chan, pastor and author 
[wow. ouch. how often does this happen?

“I’m perplexed at how anyone can hear the story of Jesus dying in our place and rescuing us out of our helplessness and have it produce arrogance in their life.” – Rick McKinley, pastor and author 
[right on, Rick. perplexed is right]

The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do… to find that idea for which I can live and die.” – Soren Kierkegaard, philosopher

“Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often become preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven.” – Brian McLaren, author & leader

“In a pluralist society there is always a temptation to judge the importance of any statement of the truth by the number of people who believe it. Truth, for practical purposes, is what most people believe. Christians can fall into this trap.” – Lesslie Newbigin, author & forefather of the postmodern missional church
[this is the world we live in!]

“I read the Gospels over and over. Nothing I was doing on Sunday was what I thought Jesus would be doing if He were here.” – Joe Boyd, pastor

"You have to follow your passion for a long time before you receive any external reward for it." – John Maxwell, author and leadership guru
[crazy true statement, eh?]

do you have a favorite quote of the week? 

i bet this was awesome

(This is a repost from RENOWN on March 28, 2009.)

I do a lot of Bible reading in the shower... no the pages don't get wet. Every morning I usually listen to a few chapters from "The Bible Experience" - it's the straight text from the Bible, but VERY dramatic. Sometimes I even listen to a whole book while I'm getting ready. It's awesome & I highly recommend it. (You can learn more about it HERE. and you can even buy it HERE.)

the other day I was journeying through the book of Acts. This stuff all comes to life while I'm in the shower. These few verses below have been stuck in my head since I heard them. My first thought was "Man! I bet that was awesome!" Check it out...

"'Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.' After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them." (Acts 4:30-34)

WOW! That's what I want to be a part of. I'm praying God does something like this right here in the middle of us. It would be awesome for God to display His glory like this @ Ridge Church and in all of Charlotte and hopefully for the rest of my life wherever I go all over the world.

funny book review of love wins

my wife picked up my copy (from the library) of Love Wins earlier this week. storming through it and will probably finish it soon.

everybody and their brother are writing thoughts and book reviews of it, but Donald Miller's  review is the best i've seen yet.

check it out HERE.

if you know about all the nonsense, hype, etc... you'll find it humorous. if not, you might just be confused.

good OR great

can't be both.

because GOOD is the enemy of GREAT.

which are you going after?

with your family? with your organization? with your calling?
we don't have GREAT families and organizations BECAUSE we have "GOOD" families, organizations, etc...

because when you already have a good _____ (you fill in the blank) you are less inclined to put in the hard work to make it great. and that's a serious problem. good is the enemy of great.

i learned this from Jim Collins in Good to Great. we have a choice --> good OR great?

one of the greatest lines i love from Jim in this book is:
"Greatness is not a matter of circumstance. Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice.

so what's it gonna be for you? settle for GOOD? or make the conscious choice to go for GREAT?

my 1st communion story (hilarious)

i want to take a minute to tell you a really funny story about the 1st communion i ever served.

communion is amazing.

when you get it. 

it's truly amazing for me and a powerful time of remembrance and worship.
communion is amazing when you understand it after someone explains it to you.

but if you're an outsider/ someone who is unfamiliar with Christian rituals... i can't even imagine what you would be thinking! = "What!? we're drinking some guy's blood & eating his body?"

i used to work at a big church and communion was pretty much this very rigid and extremely stuffy experience. all the pastors would line up at the front in black suits with trays of juice & crackers.
everything was always very insider focused. not very aware that someone might actually be at the church for the 1st time and not know what communion is or what to do.

we had just taken up an offering and then we started passing out the trays to serve communion.
of course i am CRAZY nervous. this 21 year old kid surrounded by peeps in their 40s-80s wondering what's up with my hair... + i'm carrying like 20 communion trays and they feel like they way 50 pounds. i just know i'm going to drop them all in this solemn moment.
what do i even do after i drop them?

anyway, thankfully that didn't happen. but it was SILENT in there. you could seriously have heard a pin drop on the carpet. and NO ONE would dare talk or make a sound.

i get to the back and there is a guy all by himself. and when i say all by himself, i mean that the closest person was literally 30 feet away from him.
from 1 look at this man everything about him screamed = "THIS IS MY 1ST TIME IN CHURCH!"... Or at least at this particular church/ kind of church. he stuck out big time.

so i gave him a big smile (because it would of course be forbidden to speak to/welcome this man during communion) and extended the plate of crackers to him for him to take one.

APPARENTLY an outsider doesn't recognize the difference between the offering plates we pass and the communion trays, because this guy DROPPED A $20 IN THE COMMUNION TRAY!

i was a little surprised and it took me a second to realize what just happened. then i handed his $20 back and said - "oh no man, actually you just take one of these."

he took a cracker, looked at me and said "thank you", and POPPED THE CRACKER IN HIS MOUTH AND ATE IT.

that may or may not sound weird to you but i know the guy felt really embarrassed about 3 minutes later when the Pastor gave this insider cue and 754 other people all picked up their cracker and ate it at the same time!

wow. pretty funny, but also pretty poignant. if we're going to invite outsiders into God's presence and actually want them to experience Him... maybe we should explain what the heck we're doing? knock down some barriers/obstacles for them? just a thought.

when i told some other staff about this guy's 1st communion 1 of them just said = "Don't tell Bob (the Business/Admin Pastor guy) that you gave the $20 back!"

made to stick

yesterday i wrote about this awesome book called Made to Stick HERE.
below are my extremely summarized notes on the made to stick model that i am working hard to implement in every possible avenue.

a great paradigm/framework for communicating and creating sticky ideas.

1            Simplicity – find the essential core of the idea. [the bottom line]
I need to be a MASTER OF EXCLUSION. Because if I present 10 ideas they won’t remember any.
Proverbs are the ideal [like Rick Warren & Andy Stanley] Example = the Golden Rule – a statement so profound that you can spend a lifetime trying to follow it.

2            Unexpectedness – this is how we get peeps to PAY ATTENTION! We violate their expectations. Be counter-intuitive.
Use surprise = an emotion whose function is to increase alertness and cause focus!
Generate interest and curiosity. & open gaps in their knowledge.

3            Concreteness – [CLEAR]. Explain in terms of human actions & sensory info.
(Most mission statements are ambiguous to the point of being meaningless.)
sticky ideas = full of concrete images because our brains are wired to remember concrete data.
“Speaking concretely is the only way to ensure that our idea will mean the same thing to everyone in our audience.”
[even down to the nitty gritty of “he was eating a green sour apple airhead” instead of “he was eating candy”]

4            CREDIBILITY – make peeps believe. Ideas carry their own credentials.
Help peeps test our ideas for themselves = “try before you buy” [like andy with sex talk & Reagan with 2nd election]
(stats are usually no good. We connect better with 1 person’s story than a stat)

5            EMOTIONS – make peeps FEEL something. Gottado this!
[“Stories not Stats” = my sticky phrase] peeps “are more likely to make a charitable gift to a single needy individual than to an entire impoverished region.”

6            STORIES – telling stories gets people to ACTon our ideas.
Stories help us really do it in real life

*So, tell a simple, unexpected, concrete, credentialed, emotional, story!

sticky ideas

i have spent the last 7 years of my life and plan to spend the rest of my life sharing some really really important ideas. not my ideas, but Jesus' ideas. ideas about love, about joy for all peoples of all nationalities, ideas about social justice, ideas about this Kingdom/Revolution that's coming to fix what's broken and making all things new.

but, if the ideas i share don't stick in peoples heads & hearts and CHANGE how they live... it's a waste.

i have GOT to spend MORE time on making the ideas that i present STICKY instead of spending time on just the content itself.

best book i read last year (2010) was Made to Stick by brothers Chip & Dan Heath.

so much great, practical stuff in this book, but here is just a small sampling/intro:
- The truth that there are tons of great ideas that simply NEVER stick. that's a problem. [just think about that one]
- The curse of knowledge - the authors brilliantly point out that "the curse of knowledge" works against us in trying to communicate effectively. we have so much knowledge in an area that it makes it impossible for us to imagine what it's like for someone who lacks that knowledge.
- if you have to tell someone the same thing 10 times, then the idea was NOT very well designed. [wow! how many times do we talk about this in church world!? that we have to say stuff 10 times before people even hear it once.]
- creating sticky ideas can be LEARNED! it can be systematic. that's what this model is for. and tomorrow's post is all about HOW to make your idea sticky!

that model i'll share with you tomorrow has become my Framework for all things creative and everything i communicate.

thx to the Heath bros for writing this awesome book!

staff quote of the day (repost)

(This was originally posted on February 23, 2009.)

We - the staff at Ridge Church - have a lot of fun most days. Usually there is at least 1 quote of the day. Some days there are lots of them, but one usually rises to the top as THE quote of the day...

Today there was indeed a quote that rose to the top! It is credited to Melissa & no context is needed for this quote of the day winner:
"Other than the beard she's a pretty girl."

oh wow. Is there anything that doesn't belong in that sentence? OTHER THAN THE BEARD she's a pretty girl? haha, that's like saying "Other than being ugly, she's a pretty girl." It just doesn't work. (Although this is better than the coverups people use when they think someone's ugly = "but she's really nice" OR "she has a great personality." Just for the record I think it is always wrong to say someone is ugly... no matter how you say it.)

Haha - thanks Melissa, for the good laugh. This all took place in the midst of deep and enlightening staff conversations over burgers & fries @ Five Guys. & now I'm full.

quotes of the week #37

Here are my favorite quotes of the week to share with you. 37th edition...

“Jesus’ proclamations threatens the status quo, something that would perhaps appeal to the poor and oppressed, but would inspire something less than enthusiasm among the well-to-do and powerful for whom the status quo was a nice arrangement.” – Brian McLaren, author & leader

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” – William James, psychologist and philosopher

“I have come to believe that the major threat to the viability of our faith is that of consumerism. This is a far more heinous and insidious challenge to the gospel, because in so many ways it infects each and every one of us.” – Alan Hirsch, author

“Christianity often has offered little to the world, other than the hope that things will get better in heaven.” – Shane Claiborne, activist, author, and ordinary radical

“People who are obsessed with Jesus live lives that are connected with the poor in some way or other.” – Francis Chan, author and pastor

“Many organizations are infected with ‘terminal niceness.’” – Patrick Lencioni, best-selling author and business guru
[speaking of how we keep people around who have had too many chances already]

“Never make a principle out of your experience. Let God be as original with others as He is with you.” – Oswald Chambers, late author

“What do you do when your religion isn’t big enough for God?” – Rob Bell, pastor and author

"The Bible gives us all we must know, but not all that there is to know." – James White, pastor and author

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.” – Aristotle

when you wrestle

“One always picks up a bit of whatever it is that one opposes simply by virtue of wrestling with it.” 
– old axiom of folk wisdom

i've seen this to be very true with me. 

i wrestle with A LOT of ideas. definitely a lot of ideas that i "oppose" or don't agree with. and i feel that i've picked up A LOT of "bits" from those ideas.

i'd love to wrestle with even more ideas. then i guess i'd be even more confused. 

most of Christianity would like to tell us to just keep believing this particular brand of what you've been taught. no need to wrestle with different ideas.

maybe that's why i like to do it?