12.29.2008

Best and Worst Movies of 2008

The judgment is based on overall buzz/expectation to actual reality of the film. Here's my list of 2008 in order of release dates. (NOTE: there are plenty of movies I didn't see this year).

BEST:
In Bruges
Bank Job
Iron Man
Redbelt
Kung Fu Panda
Wall-E
Wanted
Dark Knight
Step Brothers
Pineapple Express
Burn After Reading
Body of Lies
Bolt

WORST:
Jumper
Be Kind, Rewind
Semi-Pro
The Grand
Get Smart
Space Chimps
Day the Earth Stood Still

What is your list?

12.22.2008

Madness is not rational

"The economic situation makes no sense, because madness is not rational. Obsession cannot be overcome by reason or by moral values. Wall street and the country in general is just as addicted as any heroin addict. Feeling good at any price. The solution is never found by carping on the sins....but only in practicing the virtues."

(James Sandel, Boston, MA responding to a NY Times Op-Ed entitled "The Madoff Economy")

Review of "The E-Myth Manager"

What a book! We just finished reading Michael Gerber's "E-Myth Manager" as a staff, and I found it simply remarkable. If you haven't heard of the E-Myth, it is this: the myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs AND the fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work.

But the beauty of the work lies within its wisdom for organizations regardless of their size, mission, staff, and much more...these principles are foundational to transforming organizations. I was very skeptical of the "systems approach" to organizations especially churches but now see if is the most efficient and effective way to deliver on the promise we have been called to.

I took exhaustive notes, not because I'm so smart or geeky but because this book will be pulled off the shelf many times over the next few years. Below are 10 key concepts I found plus CLICK HERE to download all the notes for yourself if you want the "Cliff Notes" of the book.

  1. "Management, as we have come to know it, is the product of many years of insanity based on the idea that to manage means to control everything around us. Something humans were never born to do."
  2. "Most organizations are filled with empty missions today."
  3. "You must create a system to that the Vision will be optimally realized. Systems and Strategies are critical"
  4. "Actively live life, rather than let life live you. STOP living on autopilot."
  5. "Once the FLAVOR of the organization is communicated clearly as well as the standards and character...tactical components reveal themselves."
  6. "Make sure everyone in the organization understands how money works and how it doesn't."
  7. "You do not organize PEOPLE...you organize WORK."
  8. "Know the ONE thing it is you're committed to providing the people you serve and focus your energy entirely on the perfection of the ability to fulfill that commitment. PROMISE (what are we here to accomplish?) and PROCESS (what is the best way to fulfill it?)"
  9. "A systems dependent organization is significantly more humane than a people-dependent one. In a people-dependent organization, when Fred stops producing, Fred's history. In a systems-dependent organization, Fred's not the problem, the system is."
  10. "The people you look to hire should be people who recognize their weaknesses -- perhaps more than their strengths -- and truly express the desire to rise above them. People who are self-aware are generally also willing to assume full responsibility for the role they play within the organization.

12.18.2008

How do you "pay" volunteers?

I work in a very volunteer intensive environment, and we always are looking for ways to show appreciation ("pay") our volunteers. Everyone has a currency they prefer, which motivates your volunteers the most? What's their currency? The first job of a leader is to define reality, and the last job of a leader is to say “Thank You.” How do volunteers experience “thank you” with the most impact?

1. Money
(small increments, gift cards, tokens of appreciation)
2. Private Praise
(specific, pull-you-aside-and-complement, letting them know their service was noticed)
3. Public Praise
(in front of the group, calling them out as the difference maker)

4. Access to their Up-line coordinator/staff
(above and beyond everyone else, they have the up-line’s ear)
5. Input
(their input heard – but they don’t necessarily need their idea to be executed)

6. Knowledge
(they like to be kept in the loop on the inner dialogue)
7. Significance
(they like to be told how your efforts make a difference…the “why” is the motivator for them)

8. Excellence
(they have to be part of something special, an organization that is better than the rest)
9. Flexibility of Schedule
(like to know they are so valuable we are willing to accommodate their schedule)
10. Time Off
(their personal cycle is such that they work hard then hiatus after completion of a goal).
11. Give more work to me
(They are driven by feeling needed).

12.01.2008

CNN "Heroes" was truly great TV

How many times have you watched the news and thought, "Why is it that all we hear about is death, dying, doom and gloom? Isn't there something out there bringing hope and meaning to people's lives that could be reported on from time to time?" It was these questions that awoke what I believe to be my calling to enter into the media and creative fields...to possibly be a catalyst for change. And it was this presentation by CNN on Thanksgiving that brought a broad smile to my face called "Heroes :: Ordinary people, Extraordinary impact."

I only had a chance to watch about 30 minutes of this profoundly inspiring "Oscars of Charity and Kindness". Wow...amazing stories from ordinary people doing something to make a difference in people's lives all around this world. I teared up several times and kept smiling ear to ear...media at its best. John Legend's "If Your Out There" was the icing on the cake to close the celebration.

Yes...I love the actual Oscar's but in the end aren't they simply Hollywood patting itself on its back? This presentation provided more fuel to an already burning fire in many people's hearts to look beyond themselves. And as a follower of Jesus it helped me regain so often what I lose in the blur of life...the hope and sustainable change offering love to others brings.

I'm sure re-runs will be airing for the next week or two so make sure you DVR it and enjoy.

11.14.2008

Bond vs. Bond

Pierce Brosnan versus Daniel Craig...who will win?

11.07.2008

What if Starbucks marketed like a Church?

Top 10 Irritating Phrases

Researchers from Oxford University compiled a list of overused, cliched, misused, and simply annoying phrases...see how guilty you are:

#1: At the end of the day

#2: Fairly unique

#3: I personally (I'm guilty...the ultimate postmodern beginning to a sentence in order to maintain the 'politically correct' discourse.)

#4: At this moment in time

#5: With all due respect

#6: Absolutely (Currently I overuse this big time)

#7: It's a nightmare

#8: Shouldn't of

#9: 24/7 (This saying should be put out of its misery sooner than later)

#10: It's not rocket science

11.06.2008

What is it to believe?

"To believe is to commit. In the area of intellectual learning I commit myself mentally, and reject anything not related to that belief. In the realm of personal belief I commit myself morally to my convictions and refuse to compromise."

- Oswald Chambers

11.05.2008

Our passion for politics and Jesus

Here's a quote from a good friend this morning:

"I wonder if Christians who voted/loved Obama are as excited and enthusiastic about Jesus (and tell other people about him as passionately). Imagine the change in the world if that were (universally) the case ..."

10.27.2008

Catalyst Conference 2008 :: Jim Collins

• "If we only have GREAT businesses in our country we're only going to be prosperous. Greatness is not from the cards we're dealt...it's a choice and discipline." (Jim Collins, author 'Good to Great')

• "It takes time to get where you want to go...get the momentum going...turn the flywheel. Starbucks only had 5 stores in its first 13 years." (Jim Collins)

• "The great fall for most organizations is OVERREACHING. Seduced by our own success...hubris." (Jim Collins)

• "The right WHO = the right WHAT. The right WHO prepares you and your organization for everything you'll encounter, especially in turmoil." (Jim Collins)

• "Leaders of the 'Good to Great' organizations were HUMBLE. Humility defined by absolute passion for the misson and vision of the organization, not themselves. If it's about you...nothing truly great will happen." (Jim Collins)

• "Make your NOT TO DO list as robust as your TO DO list." (Jim Collins)

• "Every generation needs to develop its own practices to exemplify the values that cut across generations." (Jim Collins)

Here are 5 things Jim asked everyone to do when we get home:
1. How many key seats are on the bus for your organization? How can you get to 100%?
2. Build a personal board of directors...people who push, young people who would be in your face
3. Take intentional quiet time...nothing scheduled, no electronics
4. Ask questions versus statements
5. Ask yourself...are you ready to endure the pain to become a Level 5 leader?

• "Have an Annual top 3 to do and a top 3 not to do." (Jim Collins)

• "The moment you have to tightly manage someone, most likely you made a hiring mistake. The key is leading...not managing." (Jim Collins)

10.22.2008

Catalyst Conference 2008 :: Andy Stanley and Moral Authority

Catalyst (noun) an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.

A catalyst of learning, worship, social action, growth, leadership and action...that about sums up the Catalyst Conference experience for me. It is an intense 48 hours to say the least. A lineup that ran the spectrum from influential church leaders to marketing gurus. It was amazing to sit at their feet and absorb.

Over the next few days I'm going to post some of the top points I heard from the conference. They're amazing snippets from amazing thinkers...take some time to read them.
_________

• "Moral authority is when your creed and deed are aligned. Compromising this will jeopardize any influence you have and that's all of us mostly have...influence. We can't make people do things. So make sure your PUBLIC and PRIVATE moral authority are aligned." (Andy Stanley)

• "Everyone has sad stories of being mistreated, underpaid, stabbed in the back, etc but Jesus' example helps us move past this...there is NO excuse for bitter, angry church leaders. If we allow bitterness and anger then we lose moral authority. RESOLVE YOUR JUNK! The boldest step you'll take is to get on your knees and release your junk to God." (Andy Stanley)

• "In your family if you can't speak with moral authority...it's done! Don't sacrifice the position NO one else can fill (father or mother) for a position at work many people can fill." (Andy Stanley)

9.29.2008

The Global Pool of Money

I just finished listening to a podcast from "This American Life" about the financial crisis and man, I'm blown away by what I'm hearing. You know what a "NINA" loan is? It means "No Income, No Asset" so basically a "Liar's Loan". You know who gave these mortgages out the last few years...everyone!

Do yourself a favor...take some time and listen to this PODCAST right now.

9.17.2008

"We are not responsible for the economic crisis..."

I cannot help but write another blog today on politics...because I cannot stand when people try to pin blame solely on another in a system of checks and balances. Even a 9th grader in US History knows the President does not have the enormous power Nancy Pelosi implies in the following...and she simply has forgotten the past.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when asked Tuesday whether Democrats bear some of the responsibility regarding the current crisis on Wall Street, had a one-word answer: “No.”Pelosi (D-Calif.) ripped President Bush’s “mismanagement” of the economy and a lack of regulation that led to the current situation. (TheHill.com)

Here's the past she needs to remember:

(NY Times 5 years ago) The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

(read the rest of the this HERE)

Is President Bush to blame for this crisis? Yes. Are the Democrats in the Congress to blame? Yes. Are large companies to blame? Yes. Are you and I to blame? Yes. Greed has gotten the best of us...and we are reaping its consequences. Easy money led to long term disaster...welcome to market correction.

The BIG DAY @ Four Corners Church!

Three times a year we have what we call at Four Corners a "Big Day" where we ask everyone to invite people in their spheres of influence to church. This past Sunday was our big day this Fall...we promoted for 6 weeks leading up to it, modeling it as staff (my family invited 32 people), equipping people with invitations and door hangers, had a huge sign in front of the church itself and refreshed the overall auditorium experience (you should see what Greg and his team pulled off...unreal!) so that this wasn't just a big deal...it was THE BIG DEAL.

We had been praying for 800+ people to come hear the first message in our new series "The Naked Truth about Parenting". But God is had bigger things in store...we had 913 people show up! Almost 200 kids, almost 50 middle schoolers and a packed auditorium. It was an amazing day!

It's about political philosophy (not a candidate)

I make no bones about it...I'm conservative in my political views but I believe these views have been skewed, hacked and bludgeoned these days (as I'm sure liberals believe their views have been as well). To me it is less about the politician and more about the political philosophy they align themselves with. George Will did a great job summarizing the difference between a conservative and liberal political philosophy of governing.

"The difference is this...the liberal and conservative argument has always been governed by the two polar values of Western political thought and that is freedom and equality. They are both important, both valuable and always in tension.

Today liberals tend to stress equality understood not as equality as opportunity but also equality of social outcome. And to that end, they want the government to be very busy fine tuning society and engineering it. To that end, they think the government should redistribute wealth and, therefore, they think the multiplication of entitlement programs is a definition of a public good.

Conservatives, on the other-hand, tend to stress freedom and are, therefore, willing to accept larger disparities in unequal outcomes in order to preserve freedom and tend to view of the multiplication of public entitlements are enemetical to the public good...subversive of the attitudes and aptitudes essential of a free society."

9.10.2008

Review :: August Rush


The movie intends to capture the story pitch of "What if Mozart was born today?". At the age of 8 years old Mozart had written his first symphony as if music inhabited his very being. "August Rush" tries to capture the same feelings in Freddie Highmore's depiction of Evan Taylor, the orphaned son of 2 musical prodigies who hears music in all things as if an audible voice calling him to action. Part fairy tale, part drama, and a lot of melodrama saturate this film. Moving at times and sometimes over the top with its character depictions such as Robin Williams' character 'The Wizard' (who reminded me of Rufio in "Hook" all grown up). The film goes for the heart strings relentlessly and without apology.

PS: a word to the director...please remember that you're shooting a drama and not "Bourne Supremacy". The constant movement of the camera from cranes and hand-held everything tried to make too many scenes seem overly important. Use camera movement to emphasize, not simply as a default.

9.03.2008

What if your life had an UNDO button?

I saw this peculiar little film the other day starring Zachary Levi ('Chuck') and Tony Hale ('Arrested Development'). Check out for yourself over at Delta's Short Film series (who knew?).

Worth quoting again...

Quoted this yesterday on my Twitter:

"Unapplied truth is like upapplied paint.  It doesn't do anyone any good.  The value of paint and truth is in the application." 

-Lane Jones

9.02.2008

Review :: Lars and the Real Girl


There's so much to love about this little indie gem. Much as in the same vein as "Dan in Real Life", "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Juno" there's a compelling story with a world full of quirky, life-sized characters (and sex dolls). Ryan Gosling's performance is spot on as Lars, a social misfit living in the garage with a deathly fear of physical touch.

The story revolves around Lars' relationship with a sex-doll named Bianca. Now before you get all offended by this notion, the beauty of the story is that it deals with the idea the doll represents...a substitution for human contact with what one would imagine as ideal. He wants love and doesn't know where to find it and so manufactures it. The journey or "rite of passage" shown in the movie is often humorous and at times tragic...but touching throughout.

My wife and I loved it and the message. And to add to the enjoyment is the perfectly crafted soundtrack by David Torn. One film definitely worth an evening on the couch.

How does Pixar keep such a creative streak?

A friend just highlighted an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled "How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity" that talks about how the animation studio keeps the pedal to the metal on creativity. Some great insights to mull over and consider applying in all of our various creative enterprises.

8.25.2008

Quotable

"...as the centuries went on Christianity so permeated civilization that in the end slaves were freed voluntarily and not by force. Here is the tremendous lesson. It is proof that neither men nor the world nor society can be reformed by force and by legislation. The reform must come through the slow penetration of the Spirit of Christ into the human situation. Things have to happen in God's time, not in ours."

William Barclay (comments on 1 Timothy 6:1,2)

8.22.2008

Font Conference

Watching the Men's Sand Volleyball gold medal game and found this...funny, funny stuff:

FONT CONFERENCE

8.18.2008

How American Men die


Wiseacre found an interesting chart about how men in America die...morbid but interesting.

8.16.2008

Is this what's wrong in churches?

I often read Leadership Journal's blog and this past week an interesting post emerged. It's one of those articles I'm not quite sure about but it made me think long and hard (and continues to). "Great is Thy Effectiveness" talks as aggressively about the current leadership "culture" dominating ministries everywhere and challenges the underlying assumptions and tenets this culture operates by as any I have seen. Here are some select quotes:

"Something’s wrong. We pastors are the stewards, the spokespeople, the advocates of a message of hope, life, and peace. And yet so few of us seem to be experiencing these qualities in our own lives."

"It seems too many of us have our identities wrapped up in the measurable outcomes of our work rather than in the life-giving love of the Christ we proclaim. Something’s wrong."

"...a pastor’s success and self-worth is inexorably linked to his/her measurable performance. Stewing in this toxic brew is it any wonder why pastors’ souls are shriveling. Something’s wrong."

There's plenty more to chew on and plenty of conversation in the "comment" section as well. I have always had a flag go up when a successful model of anything gets picked apart as being the opposite of what should be...selling of the soul for success per-say. But there are some interesting things to chew on and reflect. Let me know what you think too...

8.13.2008

Lala :: streaming music online for Macs!

My brother has been telling me for years about Rhapsody and his enjoyment of listening to music online without being out a ton of money, but, alas, Rhapsody didn't support Macs. Today I found Lala through the company I downloaded an application for my iPhone through...Lala. A groovy little site that so far has been a nice little find for streaming music of my choosing.

8.07.2008

Where's the landslide?

My brother shot me a great article the NY Times writer David Brooks about why Barak Obama should be blowing it out but simply is not. A very insightful look at why many Americans still hesitate to support either candidate.

Here are some excerpts:

"And the root of it is probably this: Obama has been a sojourner."

"American voters have trouble placing him in his context, understanding the roots and values in which he is ineluctably embedded."

"If you grew up in the 1950s, you were inclined to regard your identity as something you were born with. If you grew up in the 1970s, you were more likely to regard your identity as something you created...So, cautiously, the country watches. This should be a Democratic wipeout. But voters seem to be slow to trust a sojourner they cannot place."

8.06.2008

The Naked Truth


We're in the middle of working through artwork for our Fall series "The Naked Truth about Parenting" coming on September 14th. We're attempting to mix humor and meaning to draw in the curious. Check out some of the artwork in process...

8.04.2008

It's not the work...it's the relationship

" The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influences and qualities produced by that relationship."

- Oswald Chambers, August 4 in "My Utmost for His Highest"

Remembering Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a famous Russian writer and devout Russian Orthodox Christian, died yesterday at the age of 89. I remember reading Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Commencement Address from 1978 and thinking I was reading a "prophet" of sorts. His insights and observations stung me and the society I embrace to this day. They were words to mull over and possibly even act upon. Here's a small snippet of his address that's worth reading in its entirety.

"This tilt of freedom toward evil has come about gradually, but it evidently stems from a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which man – the master of the world – does not bear any evil within himself, and all the defects of life are caused by misguided social systems, which must therefore be corrected. Yet strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still remains a great deal of crime..." (Harvard Address, 1978)

7.31.2008

Tron 2 is Coming!


I just found out that a new Tron sequel is coming and the preview footage is great. I always loved the glowing suits and the Light Bikes. Check the trailer HERE.

7.29.2008

A beautiful meditation on fathers

A friend sent me a link to this site today and it moved me very deeply. It's a photo journal of a son dealing with his father's Alzheimer's and the misty memories that are becoming more shrouded by the day. Take a few moments and visit.

Let's define before we discuss

"Some of the most emotionally powerful words are undefined, such as "social justice," "a living wage," "price gouging" or a "fragile" environment, for example. Such terms are especially valuable to politicians during an election year, for these terms can attract the votes of people who mean very different-- and even mutually contradictory-- things when they use these words. "

- Thomas Sowell

7.28.2008

The bulls@#t most designers put up with...

I know...another video but this thing is on the money and hilarious.

7.24.2008

The Dark Knight is EPIC!


The Dark Knight is nothing short of film brilliance. I had the privilege of watching the movie on the IMAX screen last night. In almost every way is screams EPIC...the twisting and turning story, the haunting and mesmerizing performance of Heath Ledger, the visceral score by Hans Zimmer and James-Newton Howard, and about all else one experiences. Hands down one of the best films I have seen in a long time...

It rightly deserves the success it has achieved...over $222 million in 6 days. I'm looking forward to seeing it at least one more time in the theater. Thanks Christopher Nolan for making such a rousing and compelling film.

7.23.2008

$3 of God, please

"I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please."

-Wilbur Rees
(Thanks Trey Taylor)

Back from the beach!!


Just got back from the Fenwick Island, DE beach from some fun in the sun. My boys had never there before so they were riveted by the ocean and sand...I think we could have been there for weeks and it would have still been a joy to them. Nolan loved racing the outgoing current with the incoming waves...laughing the whole way in. He also loved to be buried...over and over. Soren loved standing in the cold surf as it raced the grains of sand between his toes...nature's tickling machine. We ate some of the best lump crab cakes with Mojito's I have ever tasted (thanks Trip Advisor). And I almost finished a splendid book in every regard, "The Road" by Cormac MacCarthy. But I'll write more on that later.

I'm slowly posting photos from our time. I left my battery charger at home (boo!) so only captured the first 2 days. Trying some little experiments with the photos...let me know what you think.

7.14.2008

Please pray for a friend this morning

Our worship leader, Andy Reider, and his family are grieving this morning the loss of Katie Reider. I am literally speechless...this is the Reider family's second death this year and I mourn for them. They are an amazing family, and Katie was a spectacular musician. Please pray for their family as Katie leaves 2 young children behind.

7.13.2008

Extreme Home Makeover Photos :: Demolition Day!


I'm posting this 48 hours after they knocked down the house and they've already built the entire exterior of the NEW house! Did you hear that...they knocked the house down, dug up the existing foundation, leveled the property, poured a new foundation, framed, shingled, windows, stone work in 48 HOURS!! Check out more photos HERE.

7.11.2008

Extreme Home Makeover Photos :: Braveheart Parade


I will post photos throughout the week of the Extreme Home Makeover. You can always look at my Flickr page as well.

7.09.2008

Extreme Home Makeover picked a great family!

As I wrote earlier today, Extreme Makeover Home Edition is in our neighborhood this week. The family getting the makeover, the Aker's, have an amazing story. Take a moment and read it HERE...they are dealing with 2 girls who have Type II Spinal Muscular Atrophy and a father and son who have Crohn's disease.

Extreme Makeover Home Edition is HERE!


I found out yesterday from a friend Extreme Makeover Home Edition was coming to Cincinnati and it's going to be right around the corner from me! I'll post some photos soon...the bus with Ty and the crew was arriving this morning. As I drove to work PA's and Police were all over the street getting ready to close it for the week. I had a huge smile on even though my wife told me I was the grumpiest she'd seen me be in the morning (and I was). So sorry, beauty...but it's great to see people getting a gift like a new home!

The greatest handicap the Church has is...

"The greatest handicap the Church has is the unsatisfactory lives of professing Christians and the greatest argument for Christianity is the genuinely Christian life."

- Unknown author

7.07.2008

"All efforts of worth and excellence..."

"All efforts of worth and excellence are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in -- it stirs up to overcome. God's grace produces men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus, not pampered, spoiled weaklings. It's always necessary for us to make an effort to live a life of worth and excellence."

- Oswald Chambers

7.03.2008

Happy 9th Anniversary, my beauty!


It has been quite the adventure so far and I'm sure this is only the beginning. You're an amazing wife, mother, friend, lover, sister, friend, teacher and woman. Thank you for putting up with all my imperfections and embracing my strengths as we journey through this life together. I wouldn't have it any other way!

7.02.2008

Quotable

"Every man concentrates his life on something; the Christian concentrates his on obeying Christ and helping men."

William Barclay commenting on 1 Timothy 5:9-10

7.01.2008

Not going to upgrade to new iPhone...not going to be a celluar share cropper!

I bought an iPhone 1.0 at Christmas and had dreams of possibly upgrading this summer to the new 2.0 version with its sweet new features but that won't be happening.

Why you ask? It happens to be that I will have to sign a BRAND NEW 2-year contract regardless of how far into my CURRENT 2-year contract I am. AT&T tells me this is so because the phone is a subsidized or discounted price. So I ask...can I simply upgrade by paying more for a new iPhone? Silly me, of course not...that's not an option.

Boo Apple...Boo AT&T!! The answer to increasing demand and sustainable loyalty to the iPhone is not to get your customers perpetually "enslaved" to you by signing new contracts any time they want to upgrade. Basically I would become a celluar share cropper...never really owning my phone completely. This is very frustrating for a very loyal Apple customer and supporter.

The Church's Greatest Opportunity

"The Church's greatest opportunity is to increase its influence with the most devoted followers of Christ. They are the best equipped and most motivated advocated for Christ, providing them with increased coaching and encouragement could reap great gains for the kingdom."

- REVEAL study insight

6.30.2008

Great commercial for Discovery Channel

I preached yesterday for the 1st time...

Yesterday I had the honor of preaching to the amazing people of Four Corners while Ben preached next door at Zion Global. I ended up going LONG but felt pretty good about my 2nd service talk. I chatted about re-discovering the Bible and the critical nature of asking ourselves first "What DID it mean?" then we ask "What DOES it mean?". We walked through the parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-20 as an example of these practical questions in action.

If you want to take a listen...click HERE.

6.25.2008

Find your role, shut your hole

"Right people in the right roles will do the right thing in the right timing." -- Brian Tome (from 'War Room' podcast)

6.24.2008

Twitterfied!

I've given my Twitter account something to live for by finally using it! I'm using a Twitter client app called TWhirl and so far so good. The idea of micro-blogging is fascinating to me...simple and quick ways to know what's going on. Get Twitterfied today!

6.21.2008

Garage Band unleashed!

I have thought about doing a podcast for awhile and finally I did it yesterday in Garage Band...and it rocks! I was able to not only record but add sweet and high quality jingles and sound effects. I sent the podcast to all my Life Group Coaches this morning.

I had an absolute blast doing it and am looking forward to doing it again...here's a sample of my first episode.

6.18.2008

Quotable

"Isn’t an agnostic just an atheist without balls?"
Stephen Colbert

6.17.2008

What to make of "The Shack"


A good friend of mine recently finished "The Shack" by William P. Young and had high praise for it. The book currently in number 11 on Amazon's "Top Sellers" List and number 9 on USA Today's Book List. So he's not the only one finding it an interesting read.

Although I have yet to read it (it's now on my to-read list), I have heard much about it...some say it's an epiphany and others say it's blasphemy. Regardless, the author took the idea of the Trinity and fictionalized a conversation between man and "it"...a brave endeavor. Leadership Journal has a great conversation currently going on about the book.

Our children are our measuring sticks



Nolan turned 4 just a few days ago and we had a huge water party for him this past weekend. It was amazing to look how he has changed and become such a big boy. There's joy in watching children relish in water fights and slip 'n slides. Check out photos from the party HERE.

God and the Gay Issue

Today thousands of gay and lesbian couples are getting married in the state of California after the State Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to ban gay marriage. This issue causes immense passion and fervor on both sides and is much more complex than soundbites or protesting placards. I'm often angered by the proclivity of either side to oversimplify the issue.

"...we have got so much rhetoric flying to and fro and we lack a sustained, careful discussion, which we really need to have. That’s actually an underlying theme of so many issues today, that we have forgotten how to do reasoned, wise discourse." - NT Wright

Take a moment to read Relevant magazine's forum with esteemed Christian thinkers on the issue in their newest issue dealing with hot button issues...it's worth a read.

6.16.2008

Father's Day and my sons

As I write this I find myself reflective of the small moments of yesterday and even this morning. I was at the church until 2:30pm and came home wiped out. (BTW...some men enjoyed the 6lbs fillet migon steaks they won in our first ever Man Bingo with the likes of Chuck Norris and Tiger Woods) I walked in the door and not 30 seconds later one of my son runs in from the backyard begging me to come play in the water. I trudge upstairs half-heartedly, looking at my bed and dreaming of the napping that will NOT be occurring, put on my swimsuit (depressing a bit since my metabolism has slowed considerably since I was younger) and went outside.

Needless to say, it was a great time. Nolan laughed and couldn't stop talking about our time out there for the rest of the night. He "made" me ride the bouncy water slide, which I flipped over and about broke my neck on...all the while he's laughing, of course. Then Jill's family came over for steak...good times. At dinner Jill asked Nolan, "What do you like most about daddy?" To which he replied, "That he plays water with me!" I couldn't help but smile ear to ear.

Then as I woke this morning and watched Luke Russert talk on the "Today Show" about the tragic and sudden death of his father, I was struck by his deep and welling love of his dad. His dad had told him and shown him absolute love and strength, and it was that strength which made it possible for Luke to move through his grief and talk with great clarity about his dad. I went upstairs to finish getting to go to the office and saw Nolan getting out of bed. I went to him and helped him change and told him I loved him. Then Soren stirred and I grabbed him from his crib with a huge kiss to the forehead...Father's Day was one to remember!

6.10.2008

I almost died on the trail!


I used to be an avid backpacker until I had kids; so when I went out this past weekend for a strenuous hike in Tennessee with some friends I tried to channel the spirit of my youth. Mistake. I hiked almost 14 miles in one day in 96º weather up and down ridge after ridge.

We left around 7:30pm from the trail head to hike into our campsite about 2 miles in and within minutes I was sweating like a pig. We get to the campsite after dark and try to settle in for the night BUT sleeping in a sleeping bag in 80º heat is not ideal...actually it's like sleeping in a small slice of hell. Then add on the fact that one of the guys with me finds a black widow in his sleeping bag and you have a recipe for almost NO sleep (90 minutes for me, thank you very much)

The next morning we hiked through crazy trails overgrown with stickers and poison ivy (my legs look like I've been attacked by a cat), and as we moved slowly and sweatily toward our car on the other end we heard from several hikers that "it's not too far". Yeah...we thought :(

Two of us broke off to grab the cars and meet everyone ahead BUT thought we wouldn't need to water up because the hikers told us "it's not too far". THREE miles later I had almost literally collapsed of complete dehydration and heat exhaustion...marching through boulder fields, hill upon hill begging (and cussing) at the trail.

When I finally found the car, my hiking partner said I looked horrible, and we rushed to the nearest gas station to get liquid. I drank over 100 oz. of liquid in 30 minutes and didn't pee (sorry...) for hours. It was crazy! My wife asked me when I got home how I thought what I did was fun...I smiled and said, "It all makes for great stories and that's what I love!"

The future is MOBILE...get used to it

I just finished watching Apple's Keynote address about the iPhone 2.0 at the WWDC Conference in San Francisco and I'm floored. The SDK applications that will be available and have the potential to be available are unreal. We're seeing the merging of different apps into one unified app such as Flickr meets Twitter meets Google Maps meets Blog...say hello to Loopt. Some of the other apps for everything from the medical field to gaming are just mind blowing!

As a church we're starting to see mobile and web-based communications as the future of the way we can more effectively communicate with our leaders and volunteers. We did this video training for our Road Trip event and almost had 100% viewership! It's not as if we had something ahead of the curve (we're actually behind most of the digital world) but the church is just starting to take advantage of mobile/on-demand communication instead of meeting people to death.

The future is mobile and I want to be there!

6.03.2008

When your voice is taken...friends need to speak up


I've been listening to Katie Reider since I was in college. She's a Cincinnati native who's produced some great music. And, in the small world we all live in, her brother is our worship leader. Just a little bit ago she was diagnosed with rare tumor that spread to her sinuses and jaw. Needless to say, treatment of this is extensive, invasive and expensive...

So some of her friends have setup a website to help with expenses for Katie and her family. They are trying to get 500,000 visits in one year and have each person by an album by Katie for $1. An amazing offer to listen to great music and help an amazing voice sing again...thanks!

6.02.2008

The "Road Trip" that could redefine church!


I have been noticeably absent from blogging as of late mainly due to what I'm about to tell you. When things get crazy, blogging drops to the backburner BUT it's always awesome to tell you on the flip side what happened.

Yesterday, Four Corners Church went on a "Road Trip" instead of usual church. Yes, people showed up to church as they normally would, but we offered NO Kid's ministry, NO Middle School and, in fact, had everyone cram into the auditorium for the last week of our series "The Church Has Left the Building". In this series we have been talking about the critical nature of deep relationships and the essential part of Jesus' message..."They will know you're my disciples if you love another."

Then the band performed the classic "Life is a Highway" with a BMW motorcycle and Vespa Scooter illuminated on stage. We sang one worship song together, Ben talked for 8 minutes...the EVERYTHING people thought they were getting at church changed. We pulled a HUGE surprise!

People were asked to go live out community and loving one another rather than hearing another message about it. The church was told to leave the building. We had tables arranged around the room with maps to over 24 host families all across Cincinnati, a devotional CD, and our Summer "Road Trip" t-shirt...and people experienced church and community all over the city.

Hosts provided lunch, some intentional conversation and, most importantly, a friendly and safe place for relationships to grow. But instead of me tell you anymore...head to the ROAD TRIP website and see it for yourself.

Apple's Genius Bar is genius...

Today I headed in to my local Apple Store to try and find out why my Bluetooth Mighty Mouse wasn't pairing with my laptop any longer. I left with a huge smile and increased loyalty.

First, I love making an appointment for service and having the system work. My appointment was at 11:20am and I showed at 11:10am with my kids in tow. Within minutes (while my boys were enjoying the kids area) they called me up.

Second, Genius Bar is exactly what I needed (and have needed many times before). A piece of equipment isn't performing as purchased and they fix it...FREE of charge. I'm sure they charge for parts and other what not, but all the times I've gone there I've never been charged. I love that! I pay top dollar for a top performing machine and they bring me top service. That generates loyalty!

Finally, my Mighty Mouse finally paired but the scroll wheel wasn't working. So the Genius guy gets me a new one to replace it FREE of charge! I was smiling ear to ear.

Thanks Apple for a great customer service experience time and time again!

5.29.2008

If it's a mystery...

"If anything is a mystery to you and is coming between you and God, never look for the explanation in your mind, but look for it in your spirit, your inner nature -- that is where the problem is." - Oswald Chambers

5.22.2008

DRIVE Conference Last Session :: Points on Leadership (Part 1) by Andy Stanley

The last session was not the one Andy Stanley originally intended to speak about. As everyone began to open their notebook Andy spoke up and said he was going to speak about some things that were on his mind. Needless to say, the next 45 minutes were amazing.

Quote 1 :
"To reach people no one else is reaching we must do things no one else is doing" (Craig Groschel)
Points:
• We may be growing BUT there are a ton of unchurched people right nearby...that should bug us.
Take Away:
• Become pre-occupied with these people you haven't reached VERSUS those you're trying to keep.


Quote 2:

"Next generation products almost never comes from the previous generation." (Al Reis, "Focus")
Points:
• This generation has a responsibility to the next because what's coming is NOT coming from most of us.
• Fight it OR Fund it...risk finding out
• Leverage your influence for the next generation, get behind ideas that most likely will fail but keep things moving forward.
• You can be too cautious then be irrelevent.
Take Away:
• Be a student, not a critic.


Quote 3:
"What do I believe is impossible to do in my field but, if could be done, would fundamentally change my business." (Future Edge)
Points:
• Andy asked could you separate POINT SPEAKING and POINT LEADERSHIP -- Video Church was the revolution. It let leaders lead and gifted speakers speak.
• He's wrestling with this now ---- the billions dollars of underused real estate resources of churches across the country.

Nolan is almost 4!


Originally uploaded by ryanhartsock.

It's hard to believe but Nolan is turning 4 in two weeks...time has flown. He's such an amazing kid and so full of life. He's definitely a lover not a fighter...and I love that about him. Happy birthday Nols!

5.19.2008

DRIVE Conference Main Session 2 :: Becoming a Great Staff by Andy Stanley


Key Points:
>> A Great staff is made up of "great" leaders
a. The goal...a staff culture characterized by mutual submission.
b. The question that should permeate...what can I do to help?

>> Best Practices for creating a "great" staff
a. Do for one when you can't do for all
b. Create and maintain a sustainable pace
c. Celebrate and reward greatness...what gets rewarded is repeated

>> Signs that things aren't so "great"
a. Competition between departments
b. Double Standards
c. Loyalty Lectures

Quotes:
" The ultimate dysfunction of a team is the tendency of members to care about other than the collective goals of the group...team status and individual status are the prime candidates." (Patrick Lenconi "5 Dysfunctions of a Team")

Gatlinburg Get-Away


Gatlinburg, May 2008
Originally uploaded by ryanhartsock.

My family and I escaped down to Gatlinburg, TN (i.e. Hillbilly Vegas) for a few days with volunteer leaders and their families from Four Corners. It was a great time to relax and connect with people. I lost $20 in poker, got kicked off a Go-Cart track for my reckless driving and ate amazing food (thanks Greg and Amy for introducing us all to Aretha Frankenstein's Pancakes and to Randy and Yolanda for amazing Mexican cuisine!).

Time away helps give me perpective that an otherwise crowded life blurs...a deliberate place to take a breath and go back into "normal" life with renewed energy. We have some amazing people at Four Corners and their stories never cease to amaze me too. I continue to pray for God to use us time and time again in countless people's lives. Check out some more photos from the trip on my Flickr page by clicking the photo above.

5.12.2008

DRIVE Conference Main Session 1 :: The Multiple Choice Team

NOTE :: I'll be posting some notes over the next few days from our time at the DRIVE conference at North Point Church. If you haven't put it on your calendar for next year...don't miss it!

Main Session 1 :: The Multiple Choice Team
In this session Andy Stanley talked directly to the essential nature of a team that trusts each other and actively works to quell suspicion.

Key Points:
>> Often there are unexplainable gaps between what we expect people to do and what they actually do. We choose what we place in those gaps...suspicion or trust.

>> 2 things make it difficult for us to trust -- Who I am, What I see

>> Commitments teams need to make:
  1. When there is a gap between what I expect and what I experience, I will fill it with trust
  2. When observe someone filling a gap with suspicion, I will come to your defense.
  3. If what I experience begins to erode my trust, I will come directly to you.

Quote:
"Teams us trust as currency. If it is in short supply, then the team is poor. If trust abounds, the members of the team have purchase power with each other to access each other's gifts, talents, energy, creativity, and love. The development of trust then becomes a significant leadership strategy. Trust creates the load limits on the relationship bridges among team members." (Reggie McNeal)

5.09.2008

Do PSA's work?

You see them all the time on TV telling you to read more with your kids, don't drink and drive, watch for drug use in your family, and so many more messages. But just because they keep airing doesn't mean they work by default.

I highlighted the Montana Meth Project PSA campaign last year based on its raw honesty and sheer dark power. But the results are in and they are staggering.

Since the campaign was started teen meth use is down 45% and adult meth use has fallen by 72%. Other states with meth problems have begun running the ads, including Arizona and Illinois.

Wow...that's tangible results! Check out some more shocking PSA's and see if they worked. (WARNING :: some of these are shockingly realistic and gruesome)

And the prices keep going up...

Most of us are feeling the squeeze...$3.75/gallon gas, groceries skyrocketing, less pay increases, more payment increases. Economics are catching up with many of us. The debt we have managed is now beginning to manage us.

Awhile back Four Corners had a financial series, which challenged my family and many more to look seriously at our finances. Look at our debt, our budgets (or lack there of), our generousity (or lack there of too) towards God and our fellow man. Jill and I were hit between the eyes with our climbing credit card debt and lack of a crystal clear plan for how to actually, not theoretically, pull out of the hole.

Another great friend of mine, Paul Armstrong, and his family were impacted by the series. And they sprung into action. Their story is amazing and I love that they are going all out to get their finances in line with what God wants for them. Read their story HERE.

5.08.2008

DRIVE Conference

We got back home this morning at 1am from the DRIVE '08 conference at North Point Community Church in Atlanta. My mind is literally overflowing with leadership insights to the point I don't know where to start...

I'll write more details soon (lots of details) but I can say that it was an amazing experience. I have never been down to North Point or seen Andy Stanley speak and both were worth the trip several times over. Thanks North Point for some candid straight talk to church leaders throughout the world about what God is calling us to as leaders.

Search Flickr more effectively

I love Flickr...a great spot to store all of your photos and a great place to network. But searching Flickr can be frustrating especially weeding through various permissions if you want to find an image for a design piece. Never fear COMPFIGHT is here to simplify the search.

5.02.2008

Etsy...an online street fair

My wife and I have made it one of our goals to collect unique artwork for our house and offices. She has given me two prints for my birthday the last few years as well as painting one herself for my office, which all now hang proudly. That being said, I'm always on the prowl for new outlets for art and I found a great new place. Etsy is a huge online street fair of art, craft and what not. It has local options as well as people from around the world. Check it out...(Thanks Kelly Shields for the heads up)

5.01.2008

Jack Bauer is heading to Africa

The Writer's Strike put "24" on a year long hiatus. So what shall we do between now and next January? Plenty..."The Rookie" is a CTU short film series set in Mexico and a "24" movie is set to air in the Fall. Finally the show is breaking free of its Los Angeles chains and going international...Africa. Get your "24" fix right now...

Professors and Liberalism

A new study looks at the fact that most college professors are staunch liberals and the massive void of conservative academic voices. Here are 2 interesting points the study revealed:
  • The study found that in a variety of ways, conservative students were less interested than liberals in subject matter that often leads to doctoral degrees, and less interested in doing the kinds of things that professors spend their time doing.
  • Conservative students put a higher priority than liberal ones on raising a family. That does not always fit well with a career in academe, where people often delay childbearing until after they earn tenure.
Personally I find it staggering the void of varying voices in the academic world so many us have or will entrust our kids too. But this study talks more about the behavioral trends that lead to this sort of dissparity of opinions and world views on campuses. But maybe it's inevitable...as Churchill said, "Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains." (Thanks Galliblog for the links)

4.30.2008

Remembering transformation does happen...

I just sent the letter below to all my Team Leaders at Four Corners. I rarely share these but this note struck me as I wrote it because I often forget I get to be part of the "greatest news" on this little planet. Maybe this note will remind you too...

Team,

Lately I have been struck by this saying, "the greatest news ever heard". I'm an avid news reader and most news is NOT good...it's actually mostly depressing. And it is that fact that makes this above saying POP for me...

Jesus offers us hope, redemption, purpose, wisdom, direction, salvation and so much more in this often dark and confusing life...and what better news could we share with our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family!

Sometimes I find myself embarrassed or feel like I'm imposing on people with this news. I wouldn't feel this way if I found the cure for some deadly disease and I would tell my friends of a great book or restaurant I have found. But for some reason this "greatest news" makes me hesitate...

So here's the challenge...DON'T hesitate the next time you think about asking a friend about joining you at church or the next time a friend tells you of something difficult happening...tell them you'll be praying for them. Or the next time you see a new person wandering the halls of Four Corners...say hi and even think about asking them "You want to come serve alongside me...I love it and I think you would too!".

You are in a position to watch this "greatest news" transform people's lives all around you. You are in a position to watch your teams grow as you grow. You are in a position to be part of impacting this community and generations to come for eternity. God is working through you and I to transform this world...let's make the impact reach far and wide.

4.29.2008

Non-Traditional Marketing continues

It's been interesting to watch various products whether they be films, bands, TV shows, shampoo or shoes attempt to take advantage of the so-called "Internet Buzz Factor". Some campaigns lately have been the movie "Cloverfield" and the TV show "Lost", which have created an online mixture of online entertainment and promotion. The latest is "Scarlet". You may have seen ads on TV and in magazines, huge billboards and more touting this new daring TV show. It turns out it was all a campaign for a new line of LG flat screen TV's. Whether or not it is actually a successful methodology or just another flash in the pan is yet to be seen, but this kind of viral campaign seems here to stay.

4.28.2008

Interesting new films :: Henry Poole, Chaos Theory and more

Just watched a few trailers for some new little films that look worth the watch. Entertain thyself...

Henry Poole
Chaos Theory
Blindsight
The Happening

4.24.2008

FREE Church Resources for a limited time!


The Church Box has ARRIVED! Head on over to The Church Box to see Four Corners Church's resources in action. We've been working on this idea for over a year and Paul did a great job getting the final phases up and running. We're excited to help churches be better equipped to creatively talk about the message of Jesus and its impact on our lives.

While we test the beta site you can get 3 FREE downloads if you enter the coupon code CHBX2008 during checkout. Don't miss out on this great deal and give us feedback about your experience.

"Excellence gets me paid."

My brother just sent me a great blog from Larry Winget about what he believes is one of the greatest lies people are believing these days...that passion gets you success.

"Excellence is what moves you to the top. And hard work doing the right things is what makes you excellent. To tell people that passion is the key to success does those folks a great disservice. Because somewhere down the road, they will discover that no one cares or shares their passion. They will find out that while they are passionate, they haven’t done the work to be really good, they know nothing about selling or marketing, leadership, management, finance, their competition, serving customers or all the other facets of a successful life or business. All they have is their passion. Try cashing that at the bank."

I have to agree in the end. I do have a large passion about my job but in the end my passion gets little done. Instead it provides the launching pad into the things that require hours and hours of hard work very few people see and appreciate. My passion is simply the beginning.

4.23.2008

Breaking 1,000

I looked at my Google Analytics for "Beautiful and Grotesque" and it passed 1,000 unique visitors earlier this month. Thanks for taking time to read and visit!

Do you worship work?

I have said this a few times on this blog but it's worth saying over and over. Oswald Chambers is the man...his perspective always challenges me to view this life just slightly different and shakes me when I'm settling too much. Here's something that hit me today in "My Utmost for His Highest".

"Beware of any work for God that causes or allows you to avoid concentrating on Him. A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God. This will mean that all the other boundaries of life, whether they are mental, moral, or spiritual limits, are completely free with the freedom God gives His child; that is, a worshiping child, not a wayward one. A worker who lacks this serious controlling emphasis of concentration on God is apt to become overly burdened by his work. He is a slave to his own limits, having no freedom of his body, mind, or spirit. Consequently, he becomes burned out and defeated. There is no freedom and no delight in life at all. His nerves, mind, and heart are so overwhelmed that God’s blessing cannot rest on him.

But the opposite case is equally true--once our concentration is on God, all the limits of our life are free and under the control and mastery of God alone. There is no longer any responsibility on you for the work. The only responsibility you have is to stay in living constant touch with God..."

This is an issue I wrestle with constantly. I strongly identify myself with my work, especially creative projects I invest a lot in and this leaves me open for peaks and valleys. And although if you ask me about where my focus lies as a "pastor"...I would never want to admit to the extent that my intense focus could actually me called a form of worship. My prayer is to maintain my "constant touch" with God to an extent to bring true freedom in my work.

THE OFFICE :: Dwight Shrut and bears

My wife and I love "The Office". Thank God it has returned from such a long hiatus...and it returned with a bang. The dinner party may have been one of the most uncomfortable episodes I have seen on TV, ranking right alongside "Curb Your Enthusiasm". And the profound irritation Kevin shows from simply having to walk a few blocks for office renovation are the brilliant satiric pieces about the human idiosyncrasies we all have in one way or another (then they amplify it exponentially, of course) is such great comedy. Take a look at the continual wisdom of Dwight Shrut and his PSA on black and brown bears.

4.22.2008

193 Marketing Ideas

I'm always looking for new ways we can communicate to people about Four Corners Church and what God is doing there. One of my favorite blogs Brand Autopsy has a link to a great piece by Sam Decker about guerrilla marketing ideas. Maybe you'll find a few just like me...

Future Revolutions?

Time magazine published a list of what revolutions in thought, industry, politics, religion and more may be coming our way...some interesting editorials to read on each:

1. Common Wealth
2. The End of Customer Service
3. The Post-Movie-Star Era
4. Reverse Radicalism
5. Kitchen Chemistry6. Geoengineering
7. Synthetic Authenticity
8. The New Austerity
9. Mandatory Health
10. Re-Judaizing Jesus

4.21.2008

The Child-Man is rendering young men impotent?

A fascinating article in the "City Journal" by Kay Hymowitz sheds light on this disturbing trend of men (if they can be called that) stalling their development as a man until early 30's...the literal putting off of becoming a man in exchange for every self-absorbent desire imaginable matched with a complete lack of depth in almost every relationship.

Do I sound too irritated at this trend? If so, I am. When a culture puts its selfish desires ahead of all else it is only a matter of time before the core rots away...or as CS Lewis put it, "the soul shrinks and shrinks". It's the modern day hell on earth if you ask me...the idea that somehow the best years of our lives happened between 16-20 years old and the rest is downhill from there. If that's so, pass me the Zoloft.

The most disturbing part of it is the consequences this will have on families and faith communities. I watch how much my boys watch my every action and word...the influence I have without even noticing it many times is humbling and immense. In a faith community so many times, it is the wife or girlfriend that brings the grumbling man to church because she desires their relationship or parenting to have a source of authority and purpose. He sits there through the service waiting to head home to mow the lawn on his new John Deere, watch Nascar with his drinking buddies, or play hours of video games online. I may be over-generalizing but I think this is a critical issue.

Are you "Emergent"?

I have been a reader of Leadership Journal's blog "Land of Ur" for some time, and I have heard the term "emergent" Christian tossed all over the place lately. In one of their latest blog postings the following from Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck's book "Why I'm Not Emergent" is quoted and cause quite the response. I found it interesting but, moreover, it's a good laugh:

You might be an emergent Christian: if you listen to U2, Moby, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from The Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinness in the evenings, and always use a Mac; if your reading list consists primarily of Stanley Hauerwas, Henri Nouwen, N. T. Wright, Stan Grenz, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, Jim Wallis, Frederick Buechner, David Bosch, John Howard Yoder, Wendell Berry, Nancy Murphy, John Frank, Walter Winks, and Lesslie Newbigin (not to mention McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, etc.) and your sparring partners include D. A. Carson, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Wayne Grudem;...

If your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Desmond Tutu; if you don’t like George W. Bush or institutions or big business or capitalism or Left Behind Christianity; if your political concerns are poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-mongering, CEO salaries, consumerism, global warming, racism, and oppression and not so much abortion and gay marriage; if you are into bohemian, goth, rave, or indie; if you talk about the myth of redemptive violence and the myth of certainty; if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways modernism has ruined your life; if you love the Bible as a beautiful, inspiring collection of works that lead us into the mystery of God but is not inerrant; (read MORE here)

I can't figure out if this list is inerrant or simply inspired? I'm off to Starbucks to think about it. Am I emergent?

READ THIS: Parent's Tension List...brillant stuff

We just finished an amazing series called "Align" at Four Corners. Not only was the church as a whole moved but my family has been deeply stirred. Although there are a lot of insightful things talked about this list from Ben hit me. I feel this tension everyday as I raise my boys...wanting so badly to be a great dad and a great example in every way. This list summed it up for me...what I want for my kids:

  • I want my kids to buy into what is right; not simply know what is wrong.
  • I want my kids to make intentional choices; not simply go with the flow.
  • I want my kids to see themselves as God sees them; not simply by the label that sticks (smart, athletic, tall, fat, etc.).
  • I want my kids to love the truth; not simply avoid lies.
  • I want my kids to take responsibility; not simply take the easiest path.
  • I want my kids to move out when they are older; not simply hang around home.
  • I want my kids to respect me; not simply obey me.
  • I want my kids to think reflectively; not simply parrot back my answers to life questions.
  • I want my kids to own their faith; not simply mimic mine.
  • I want my kids to become learners and critical thinkers; not simply straight ‘A’ students.
  • I want my kids to choose friends; not simply become friends with those in close proximity with them.
  • I want my kids to love people; not simple avoid conflict or be nice.
  • I want my kids to take joy in healthy sexuality within boundaries; not simply “not go too far.”
  • I want my kids to respect authority; not simply avoid getting caught.
  • I want my kids to love church; not simply go without complaining too much.
  • I want my kids to follow Jesus; not simply avoid sin.
  • I want my kids to share the message of Jesus; not simply isolate from the world.
  • I want my kids to have a healthy marriage; not simply a great wedding.
  • I want my kids to give back; not simply take.
  • I want my kids to be passionate engagers of the vocation God calls them to; not simply sell out to the most dollars.
  • I want my kids to be generous; not simply do their fair share.
  • I want my kids to love growing and developing; not simply arrive.

4.17.2008

Get HULU'ed today

Most people know by now that media is not the same as it was just a few years ago. There are so many more outlets for distribution than ever before. HULU is a brand new site that offers mainstream content (current and past TV, Sports, Movies and more) for FREE. That's right...you could watch last night's "South Park" or "The Jerk" for free right now. I'm continually amazed at how the media landscape is transforming.

4.15.2008

Dear God...


I have read POST SECRET for a while. It's clever way for people to submit postcard size pieces of art that communicate often difficult and disturbing messages. And now the idea is blossoming. A friend sent me a site called DEAR GOD where people write their prayers (and/or statements) to God. Makes for an interesting read...

4.07.2008

Daft Punk and Church

I was watching Granger Church's Easter service and they have an amazing performance using Daft Punk's "Harder, Faster, Stronger" to help people understand the viral culture we live in...it's brilliant and fun.




Apparently this video is also causing a flap within the church community...so be it, I say. Innovation always has plenty of critics. Thanks Granger for a great interactive idea.

4.04.2008

Musical Nostalgia

Jill and I sat down at iTunes and started just listening to the volumes of music I have...3753 songs to be exact. We laughed and even cried at some of the songs we heard. Music is such a powerful force that taps something deep within us. Memories that have laid dormant for years suddenly jump to life with such vitality my emotions are surprised and I can't help but have a visceral reaction.

Jennifer Knapp's "Martyrs and Thieves" makes me get teary as I remember being thousands of miles away from Jill as we wrestled with our relationship. Should she move to Georgia ? Should we get married?

Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" reminds me of the sunny Spring days at Miami University throwing frisbees...emerging from hibernation of the winter with speakers propped on window ledges and laughter echoing.

Live's "Selling the Drama" has memories of freshmen year at college where my musical wings expanded and new tastes came into being. I fell in love with so many of the perfect "college" bands...Dave Matthews, Jackopierce, The Samples, Vertical Horizon, Rusted Root, Guster, Over the Rhine, Indigo Girls and so many more.

It was a fun meander down memory lane...now back to the Beastie Boys, Jane's Addiction and Metallica.

Muxtape...mix tapes are back!


I have a long history with mix tapes...ask my wife. It was the beginning of our relationship...I loved to make mix tapes that were fast-paced on Side 1 and slower-paced on Side 2 (especially for the ladies). I was what one could call a Mix Master. But the iPod has come into existence and tapes faded into the twilight. A gaping a void was left until now...

Muxtape is a website that resurrects the mix tape online. Upload MP3's into a mix tape and share it with friends. So here's mine...enjoy and maybe make your own too.

4.03.2008

"Christians love..." (a loving epic list of quirkiness)

The Christian sub-culture in America is a very funny place beneath the surface and one man has set out to list many of the quirks and quizzical observations one can make. Don't miss reading this list...here's a sample:

#106 -- The Side Hug
I'm talking of course about a "full frontal hug," one of those sinful abominations where you just wrap your arms around a friend and embrace them. That's why Christians the world over have pioneered the "side hug." In the side hug there's no risk of two crotches touching. Instead of face to face, you go side to side, putting your arm around the person and your hip against their's. Still having a hard time mastering it? Pretend you're taking a photo and you're both looking at the camera together. The side hug, or A frame as it is also called, is safe for the whole family, friendly and above all holy. I don't know the exact scripture reference but try the book of Psalms.

#105 -- Wishing your testimony was more exciting
Have you ever met someone that seemed bored by their own testimony? While they are telling it you can see them thinking inside, "I wish this was more interesting." I know a couple like that. Whenever he tells his testimony people in the room start crying. And then they laugh and then they think and reflect on their own lives. His testimony is like a George Lucas epic adventure. And then when his wife tries to follow that she usually says something like this:

"I grew up in the church. I gave my life to Christ when I was 5 years old. I had a sip of a Zima alcoholic beverage in high school and felt really convicted. I rededicated my life to God."

It's a pretty dull story, but on some level being given a new life should never be deemed as "dull," regardless of the details. On some level, we should all be happy with our stories. And, I've never met someone that recovered from a horrible car accident, defying the odds to live again and heard them say, "Yeah, I mean my recovery is cool, it's nice that I am where I am, but I wish I could have been crippled for a little while. Not forever, but just long enough so that I had to learn to walk again and could have been more dramatic and sweaty and maybe been in a Garth Brooks video."


Read some more at Stuff Christians Love.