Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Favorite kid's olympic quotes

This was the first time my children have been old enough to really pay attention to the Olympics and they were pretty into the whole deal. Brayden (9 years old) would be come distraught and slightly agitated every time the USA lost an event. Although, he seemed to be okay with the USA's lack of presence in the badminton finals:-) Along the way my family laughed a lot. Here are my favorite insights and quotes:

First. One night during the track and field events, Josie (almost 7 years old) kept busting out laughing, and we couldn't figure out why. Finally, she came clean and said, "My favorite part is when their lips bounce." Every night she got cracked up when she would see the runners cruise the track with bouncing lips. She especially loved slow motion shots!

Second. Much to my dismay, we were watching the synchronized swimming. Maddie, (also almost 7 years old--twins) was mesmerized, but not by their skill, or beauty. She simply couldn't figure out..."How do they keep their makeup on in the water?"

Third. Maddie again. This time the event was the high dive. Maddie said with much disdain in her voice "Why are those boys wearing bikinis." I couldn't breathe I was laughing so hard.

Fourth. Yep, Maddie again. During the Olympic rowing she walked in and got really excited. She said, "Oh, yeah look paddle boating." Enough said.

HERE's my take when I watched the Olympics through the eyes of "first time Olympic watchers" it was a totally different experience. We were watching the same exact thing yet experienced something very different. A similar thing happens in church world. When people are coming to church for the first time, or the first time in a long time, what they see and experience is totally different than what us church veterans see and experience. At Ridge we are working hard and fighting hard to be very aware of this dynamic and design our church to address that tension. If you or someone you are inviting to Ridge is new to church, or returning after a break, we know Ridge will be a great experience. Setpember 7th--11AM.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Freedom to fail

If you are a leader that enjoys the huge blessing, privilege, and responsibility of leading other leaders, especially young ones, I want to extend a challenge to you that I'm still trying to figure out how to fully embrace and apply.

We simply must give young or even inexperienced leaders freedom to fail. Without some latitude and freedom to fail from time to time, we effectively strangle the possibilities of greatness for many young leaders. If they live in constant fear of our response to failure one of two things will happen:
  1. We will discourage, stifle, or kill their vision, until they stop taking risks OR
  2. They will depart from our leadership frustrated and find a place that allows them to dream
Neither of those are acceptable options. I know what some of you are thinking...Sure, they may mess up a few times and we may have to follow behind and clean up, but if they are failing they are likely dreaming and taking risks. Obviously we as leaders need to put some systems, expectations, guard rails and safety nets in place. AND, If they aren't leaders they may fail for other reasons that have nothing to do with vision and a pioneering spirit.**I get that, but that's an entirely different discussion for another day**

I'm so grateful that my first Pastor, Jon DeBell, (East Baptist Church) gave me "freedom to fail." I'm sure he shook his head a lot, and thought more than once, "Oh great, I'll get some calls about this one." But he gave me room to dream and I started believing that I was supposed to dream. I started believing "okay" wasn't good enough and it became part of my DNA. Failure is such a huge part of success. Thanks to Pastor Jon, and East Baptist for giving me such a great gift, "PERMISSION to DREAM, and FREEDOM to FAIL!

Rusty, put this video together for my day speaking at East Baptist. More of these to come as we prepare for our ONE YEAR anniversary at Ridge Church.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blast from the Past

I love learning about leadership, and systems. I love improvement. I love progress. I love growth. I am very preoccupied with the future. I dream much about what could and should be BUT, BUT, BUT... I fear the day that efforts toward good systems, newly learned leadership principles, fancy technology, social networking, slick communication, overall progress etc. overshadow or replace the pursuit and love for the raw, unfiltered power of God. KEEP READING--I will explain.

I am speaking this Sunday, 10:45am at East Baptist Church, here in Charlotte. My first full time job in ministry was at this church. In fact I was there when God began to blow up my vision and passion for Charlotte. I didn't know it then, but that vision would ultimately be named RIDGE CHURCH!! Anyway, I am speaking for what is called a "Homecoming service". If you didn't grow up in or haven't experience baptist world in the south then you have no idea what that is. Well, neither do I, really. I do know that it is a reunion of sorts for people to reconnect with individuals that have attended in the past and maybe moved away. And it's a time to cast vision for those that are new. But most of all I know that there is always good food after the service!

So I went over to East Baptist Church this week after a lunch appointment in down town Charlotte, and tooled around in my old stomping grounds for a little while. That's where my observations from the first paragraph in this post came from. I didn't know much back then, and I hadn't experienced much, but we had God. I prayed a lot, and did everything with a raw passion. I made a lot of mistakes, but we saw a lot of life change. They were powerful days because everything we did only had one logical explanation...GOD did it! It was exciting. I walked away from my visit, challenged and inspired all over again to combine the raw passion and total dependence of those early years, with the knowledge, precision, and skills that have come in the last decade. It will be explosive!!

Ridge Church-- I know you don't have church this Sunday morning, so come worship with us at East Baptist Church at 10:45PM. Directions HERE. See you there.

**By the way this picture represents all that is good about America! Funny thing that the best and worst about our country are so closely connected:-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Party people (part 4)

I know I'm not supposed to play favorites, but I'm sure you'll all understand why this was my favorite moment of the night, and probably my favorite moment at Ridge Church so far. Our first Family Birthday Celebration at Ridge Church was a great day for me as a pastor but an even better day for me as a dad. My son Brayden is a great kid. He has such a kind heart. He genuinely cares for other people, even as a nine year old. My wife and I are proud of him for trusting Jesus as his Savior and for publicly declaring his faith through Baptism.

I've told several people that he represents the next generation of Jesus followers. He came to church last week with his new Bible (a gift at the Family Birthday Celebration) under one arm and his PSP under the other:-) Watch out world.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Party people (part 3)

Little slow on this installment. My family was out of town this week without internet.

Our entire philosophy of ministry to children at Ridge Church is that we don't minister to children! I know it sounds weird at first but what we are doing is incredibly strategic. Instead of creating ministries that only consider children, we are doing our best to minister to and consider the entire family. We spend alot of time energy and money on setting up our children's environments in such a way that they come along side parents. We want to use our "one hour" a week to partner with parents in the remaining hours. We want to help them be spiritual leaders in their home. Parent are the ones in the day to day trenches and we want to encourage, equip, and inspire them along the way.

Gabby's family is just one of those families. We consider the small part that we play an honor, but we are so grateful for families that take seriously their responsibility to lead their families spiritually. So here are Gabby's words before being baptized:

Friday, August 8, 2008

Party people (part 2)

I've had comments coming in all week about the recent Family Birthday Celebration. If you missed it you truly missed a special unforgettable night. Alright, now for Susie. My comments before baptizing her were, "We might have a future news caster on our hands." The camera didn't intimidate her at all! Who knows, maybe she will remember me when she is famous:-)

*ALSO, Don't miss "Involved" this weekend at Ridge Church. This is our last official Sunday night service (6 PM Levine Senior Center). We are so excited to be moving to a morning time slot on September 7th. Be sure to be there this weekend to help us write the final words in what has been an amazing chapter for Ridge Church. Can't wait for the next chapter!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Party people (part 1)

Like I said, we partied in style as we celebrated with four children publicly confessing their belief in Jesus as Savior. It was a defining night for us as a church and defining night for these children. As promised I am posting the short video testimonies from the Upstreet children that were baptized at Ridge Church. It was a great night. We will start with Logan. He gave me a good spray with his hair on the way back change is a powerful thing, whether you are a child or an adult!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Did somebody say party?

Ridge Church, partied in style at our first "family birthday celebration". Four of our precious Upstreet children were baptized in front of an excited and packed house. Congratulations to Brayden, Gabby, Logan, and Susie. The Ridge band led with excitement and excellence. It was truly an amazing night and a great visual demonstration of why we started this church! We are passionate about celebrating the right things around here. Be sure to keep checking back over the next few days. I will be posting videos and pictures from our first two baptism services!!

I'll start with the fun interview video from the "Family Birthday Celebration" and follow throughout the week with individuals sharing their story. Enjoy!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Never Miss Group!

I don't know if my words can do justice for the strength, power, and connectedness that comes with "doing life" with a group of people. So I decided to give you and "un-edited"---which is a bit dangerous I know:-)--- inside look at my group.

IMPORTANT CONTEXT for the video:
In the last couple of months the couples in my group (all of us) have been through some incredibly difficult and trying days. From job stuff, to relationship stuff, to family stuff, to financial stuff, to death of loved ones, to dealing with mistakes and hurts from our's just been one of those bombarding seasons---the heavy stuff of life! In the midst, God is shaping all of us in major ways spiritually, and we've become incredibly close through the process.

One of our "beloved" couples couldn't make it to our last group meeting so we sent them an ENCOURAGING video can literally feel the love emanating.

Sorry---couple of inside jokes in all honesty, if you don't have a group of people that you are tracking with in life, then you are missing out on so much. God designed us in such a manner that we do best in life when we are in meaningful relationships with people. This is the heart of Ridge Church! Your next opportunity to get involved with a group at Ridge (called Group Link) will be happening early in this fall. Be sure to go online and sign up if you are interested.

**Keep checking back this week. I will be posting several videos from some recent--fun, and powerful stuff at Ridge Church.

Friday, August 1, 2008

What if it happened at work?

What if one day the monotony at work or your daily routine was broken by something like this...