Tuesday, January 21, 2014

LISTS 2013



In 2008 I started what is a fun, annual post for me. I suspect these annual "LISTS" posts will mean even more in 40 years when I want to take a trip down memory lane....

Here are my "Top Five" lists from 2013.

Top Five Movies I Saw (key words are “I saw.” I watched maybe 10 movies all year.):
1. Now You See Me (What you see isn’t always what is there)
2. Rush (Two clear, contrasting ways to live. And fodder for hours of post-movie discussion)
3. Flight (An unforgettable movie about the horrors of alcohol abuse)
4. Hunger Games: Catching Fire (I love the passion and courage and longing of justice)
5. Tangled (on video, sitting next to my daughter by the fireplace and eating popcorn!) and Escape Plan (at the theater with my son; nothing like a good break-out-of-jail flick)


Top Five Websites/Apps I Visited/Used:
1. AJC.com / CNN.com  (And their apps)
2. Pandora.com / Pandora App – LOVE IT!
3. CBSsports.com
4. ESPN.com / Sports Center App /Watch ESPN App
5. Words With Friends App


Top Seven Books I Read:
1. Heretics and Heroes by Thomas Cahill
2. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
3. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
5. Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
6. How God Became King by N.T. Wright
7. The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson


Top Five Restaurants I Ate At:
(in order of frequency)
1. Starbucks (four times/week on average)
2. McAlister’s Deli
3. Taco Mac (still for the football and friendships, not the food)
4. Sid’s Pizza (for pick-up, not dine-in)
5. Cheesecake Factory

Top Five Things I'm Really Glad I Spent My Time Doing:
1. Growing my relationship with my children
2. Being with my church family on Sunday mornings, and Wednesday/Thursday nights!
3. Volunteering at Esther Jackson Elementary School and helping to fund the digging of freshwater wells in Africa.
4. Spending time with new friends.   
5. Reading.

Eleven Great Memories
1. Going to movies and eating out and talking with my son. He is truly awesome!!
2. Tucking my daughter in at night and driving her to school every morning, Mon-Fri, and helping her with her homework, and seeing her worship God on Sunday mornings, and listening to her sing anytime, anywhere!
3. Our annual summer vacation in Hilton Head.  Great again for the 30-something-eth year.
4. Old friendships going deeper – SteveW, George/Dianne, Kristal/Warren, JC, Susie/Eddie
5. New friendships – So many!  Especially Starbucks friends and Jeff King, Nizekick! 
6. Talking on the phone with my parents, and times my parents visited us in ATL.
7. Sunday nights at Taco Mac with friends.
8. My high school friends at church – Jack, Jake, John, Chase, Hanna, Xander.
9. Christmas brunch with my church family at Altobeli’s on December 8.  Christmas Communion on December 22.
10. Thanksgiving with my family in North Carolina—SNOW on the ground and a bon-fire in the back yard.
11. The Fourth of July party and the New Year’s Eve party at my house! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Heretics and Heroes




For years I have enjoyed reading Thomas Cahill's "Hinges of History" books.  I remember when I first read "How the Irish Saved Civilization" and "The Gifts of the Jews."  They were worldview-changing books for me.

And so this October I pre-ordered the first book I have ever pre-ordered in my life.  It was Cahill's sixth book in the series, titled "Heretics And Heroes: How Renaissance Artists And Reformation Priests Created Our World."

It's a brilliant book from cover to cover.

There are dozens and dozens of fascinating stories, insights and perspectives on how the Renaissance and Reformation have truly shaped us today.

I will summarize three:
   
The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church might have re-unified the entire Christian church if not for the Sicilian Vespers in 1282, which began when a few men decided they'd had enough of French occupation. (When I read about this I was reminded of Rosa Parks. What if that one day hadn't happened in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955? What if she had stood up instead of staying seated? Just by sitting down she incited a revolution.) Seemingly small acts CHANGE the entire course of history.

The Reformation may have happened, but would have looked entirely different had Erasmus of Rotterdam's parents not died in The Plague (they did) and his legal guardians had wanted to raise him (they didn't)....... Tragedy, while awful and sad, has the power to shape and refine and change and focus and refocus an individual in ways nothing else can.

Michelangelo is a greater genius than we'll ever fully appreciate. As Cahill remarks, "If any Renaissance artist--or, for that matter, any artist in history--is worthy of being approached on one's knees, that artist is Michelangelo."  But what we do appreciate we owe, in part, and sadly, to the absolute corruption of the church.  Go figure.  Jesus would have had harsher words for the Renaissance and Reformation-era church than for the Pharisees of his day, I think.

Friday, September 6, 2013

One Question and the BETTER Answer



Sometimes people will ask me, “What denomination is your church?  What’s your affiliation?” 

And I usually say some version of this:
We are a non-denominational or an interdenominational church.  That means if every person at our church lined up against a wall and, then, one-by-one, stepped forward and said his/her faith tradition, some of us would say “Catholic”, some “Methodist”, some “Presbyterian”, some “Baptist”, some “Seventh-day Adventist”, some “No denomination,” and even some, “agnostic.”

But I got to thinking the other day…..That isn’t the most clear or accurate answer to the question of affiliation.  Our affiliation is not really a label (or at least it shouldn’t be). 

Our affiliation is more clearly articulated this way:

We are affiliated with the Roswell Firehouse every quarter when we serve them a massive and tasty lunch.  Our affiliation is with Esther Jackson Elementary School.  Over the years we have tutored hundreds of students and been able to help students and families with thousands of dollars of needed resources. Our affiliation is with the men, women and children in Ethiopia, whom we have had the privilege of helping fund 15 water projects!

Our affiliation is with the servers and staff at Starbucks and Taco Mac and McAlisters Deli.  Our affiliation is with the ushers at Turner Field each summer when we buy tickets for our entire congregation.  Our affiliation is with the owner and staff of Altobeli’s restaurant, where we enjoy our Christmas brunch each December. 

Our affiliation is with the Bible, and to following Jesus wherever he leads.  Our affiliation is with living out three realities: Everybody’s Welcome, Nobody’s Perfect, and Transformation’s Possible.

If you want to know what kind of church we are….look around, ask around, get to know the people here.  See how we care for the poor and the lonely and the hurting.  See how we grieve at funerals and celebrate at births and anniversaries. See how we throw a party (a Pumpkin Festival, a Trivia Night, a Kids Party). Hang out with us in small groups. See how we love and serve and accept and pray and give and forgive and lift up and build up and give up everything we can to the God who gave up everything for us!

That’s a better answer to the question!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SMALL = BIG

FACT:  Walmart increases shopping cart size and sales of big items go up 50 PERCENT!
FACT:  Use a round table instead of a square table and the percentage of people contributing to a conversation INCREASES significantly!
FACT: If the serving plate is more than 6.5 feet from the dining room table, the number of “seconds” goes down 63 PERCENT.
FACT: Get rid of wastebaskets under desks and recycling SKYROCKETS!
FACT: Put hand-sanitizer dispensers all over a dorm—with no signs asking students to use them—and the number of sick days and missed classes per student falls 20 PERCENT!
(these facts are from Tom Peters's book "The Little Big Things")

FACT: Small changes make BIG DIFFERENCES.

What BIG DIFFERENCES in your life might come if you engaged in the following small changes:

1.      Only drink water when eating out.
2.      Thoughtfully read a portion of scripture every day for just ten minutes.
3.      Intentionally compliment at least one person every day before noon.
4.      Go to bed thirty minutes earlier than usual.
5.      Walk/jog in your neighborhood for fifteen minutes a day.


If you did just these five things for one month, I bet the following would happen:
Your waist would be thinner, your wallet fatter, your mind sharper, you friendships richer, your patience stronger, your soul happier.

And not just by a little bit.  I bet you’d be thinner, richer, sharper, stronger, and happier in a SIGNIFICANTLY MEASURABLE way.

NEXT STEP:  Would you pray today about what small things God might like you to add to your list?  Would you write down what big things may result? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lists 2012



In 2008 I started what is a fun, annual post for me.

Here are my top five lists from 2012.

Top Five Movies I Saw:
1. Argo (Human courage and creativity at its best)
2. Life of Pi (Which story do you prefer?)
3. Lost (the entire TV series on Netflix…amazing character development)
4. Battlestar Galactica (the entire TV series on Netflix….William Adama is a hero!)
5. The Town (a few years old, but hadn’t seen it…very good)


Top Five Websites I Visited:
1. AJC.com / CNN.com / USATODAY.com
2. Pandora.com
3. CBSsports.com
4. ESPN.com
5. Ted.com


Top Seven Books I Read:
1. All Is Grace by Brennan Manning
2. The Triumph of Christianity by Rodney Stark
3. Choose Love Not Power by Tony Campolo
4. The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely
5. Humilitas by John Dickson
6. The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner
7. The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford


Top Six Restaurants I Ate At:
(in order of frequency)
1. Starbucks (four times/week on average)
2. Subway
3. Sid’s Pizza (for pick-up, not dine-in)
4. Taco Mac (still for the football and friendships, not the food)
5. McAlister’s Deli
6. Cheesecake Factory


Top Five Things I'm Really Glad I Spent My Time Doing:
1. Growing my relationship with my family.
2. Being with my church family on Sunday mornings.
3. Tutoring kids at Esther Jackson Elementary School, helping to fund the digging of freshwater wells in Africa, and officiating at weddings at Kimball Hall.
4. Spending time with new friends.
5. Reading.

Fourteen Great Memories
1. Going to movies and going on walks with my son.
2. Tucking my daughter in at night and driving her to school every morning, Mon-Fri, and helping her with her homework, and going into the church early with her each Sunday morning, and letting her vote with me in the Presidential election, and seeing her laugh and roller skate and play games.
3. Our annual summer vacation in Hilton Head.  Great again for the 30-something-eth year.
4. Old friendships going deeper – SteveW, George/Dianne, ChrisG, CharlieT, CarlosB, Susie/Eddie, EricI, AnnM, Kristal/Warren, Steve/Shelley, TimS, EricF, PatrickS.
5. New friendships – JC, Chuck/Angela, JeffK, JustinB, LaurenC, BenT, JoelF. 
6. Talking on the phone with my parents.
7. Sunday nights at Taco Mac with friends.
8. My high school friends at church – Jack, Naum, Thomas, Jake, Alex, John, Hanna, Evan, Brandon, Xander, Luke.
9. Weddings at Kimball Hall.   
10. Christmas brunch with my church family at Altobelli’s on the 9th followed by the best Christmas church service in the history of Christmas church services on the 16th. Thanks Phil, it was your idea!
11. The Cowboys-Falcons game with my wife at the Georgia Dome.
12. My wife's potato soup! Simply the best.
13. My dad, my nephew Isaac, and I saw it live and in person at Turner Field....Chipper's walk off homer on September 2 against the Phillies.
14. Christmas Morning with my family.  A horse and a car will make this an unforgettable Christmas.