Why is this list 28 things instead of 25? Because I'm a counter-intuitive guy and that's how I roll. (Sometimes it's a weakness that drives people who aren't that way crazy, but it's also a strength I bring to the table)
- Some time ago I started doing celebrity and character voices. I've lost count of how many that's created, but every once I overload and start doing them in the car. And I start laughing at myself. And then I figure, "I need to share this with someone," so occasionally I'll call up a video store and ask if they have a certain actor's movies in stock while I use that actor's voice to do it. I often hear a pause on the other end that's often quite entertaining, at least for me.
- Cooking gourmet food is something I enjoy and do fairly well... I wish I had more time to do it. It not only tastes great, but it helps me do something "instantly" (whereas working with people takes a whole lot of time).
- I wait to say "bless you" until I'm sure you're done with your sneezing. And I'm not always sure why I'm saying "bless you" since that whole thing started out of a superstition that I don't subscribe to... and yet I bless people nonetheless. Maybe I need a Popemobile.
- I used to be a picky eater, but now I will eat most anything... not because I like it, but because I went on a mission trip where I had to eat food I normally wouldn't. It made me expand my range, and so I try to eat more thankfully.
But I will send back anything that has mayonnaise on it... that stuff is gross.
- It's almost impossible for me to see a TV preview or a movie trailer and not figure out the whole plot. And not just because they give so much away, but because my mind figures stuff out even when I don't want it to. Like that movie The sixth Sense - I knew Bruce Willis was dead when I saw the preview trailer in the theater. Seriously, you didn't see that coming?
- For about 99% of our marriage, my bride and I have prayed together at night before we go to bed. Only a few times that I've been away on trips have we missed that, and even then we pray for each other. Having said that, though...
- Spending time with God in any conventional way is difficult for me. I have never had a consistent "quiet time" every day in as much as I have a flirtatious relationship with the Bible... the passion is very much alive and I am all over it, but it's hard for me to be mechanical about it. And the same is true of my prayer life, too... I have more regularity with that (like with praying my wife or be thankful before meals), but I find keeping an open conversation with God all day long works best for me versus locking myself into certain times. However...
- I grow best spiritually when I bust out of my unconventional routine with someone conventional. Go figure.
- I laugh out loud when I watch Seinfeld, although there are a few episodes I don't prefer because of content. My favorites are the one with Bookman, the one with Elaine's father, and the one with Keith Hernandez.
- My favorite candy is the "bullseye" (soft caramel that surrounds milky white sugar in the center), followed by "Nibs" (bites of Twizzlers) and Sour Patch Kids.
- TV was my teacher growing up, whether it was parenting skills from Cosby or the dad on Family Ties to how to take a really good jump on my bike off a hill (thanks, Dukes of Hazzard)!
- My feet are almost flat... which means I have a hard time running and almost every pair of my shoes eventually end up with a funky slant in them.
- I was calling her "The Oprah" long before Rush Limbaugh ever heard of her (back when she had a no-name local show in Chicago). Why have I called her "The Oprah?" Because her influence over America's female population is scary. I think if she said that she was getting spiritual truths out of the DMV driver's guide, they'd start flying off the shelves.
- For many years, I've ended almost every email I send out with the tag "Together," because I really believe that we lost something as a culture when we started thinking we can do life on our own. (And to fess up, I first became intrigued by the tag from Tony Schwartz, but the motive is mine and that's why I do it)
- On my 16th birthday, my dad handed me the phone and Pat Moritia (aka "Mr Miyagi" from the Karate Kid) wished me a happy birthday and told me some jokes.
- There are many curse words I don't use anymore because they are sort of unproductive and unnecessary when many other words can be used instead. Sometimes I want to curse, though, and will often think of a clever way to work it into a TXT message or email, but then I go back and delete it. You may not agree with that approach - you may tell me I shouldn't care what people think, but it matters to me because what I'm doing with my life is more important than "not caring what people think." On some level I guess I don't care what people think - I'm putting real stuff and challenges out there everyday regardless of the response; but on the other side of the fence there is no need to be reckless with my language just to sound like "one of the guys." And yet, I have to confess there are two slang/curse words I miss using out loud - "bastard" and "boner." (Yeah, I wrote it. I didn't delete it. See how saving those words until the end of this paragraph showed my point?)
- I'm an introvert who learned how to be an extrovert. Most of the things other people think are easy for me are things I do by choice.
- God used the movie "The Matrix" to speak into my life. I know how that sounds, because everybody who saw that movie had all sorts of spiritual analogies. That's not what I mean... I mean if I hadn't watched that movie again a few years ago (this being about 5 years after I originally saw it), I wouldn't be a senior pastor today. There's quite a story about that I'll tell you over a smoothie someday.
- Oh yeah, why Smoothies? Because they rock, and I would drink one everyday if I could.
- I've never had a cup of coffee. Never. Not ever. A swig or two have been in my mouth over the years, and I spit it out. But my main beef with coffee is the caffeine - so many people laugh off how addicted they are to caffeine instead of ever thinking to correct it. Trust me - you can do it. You really can live life without caffeine.
- My favorite places to eat are BD's Mongolian Grill, Outback Steakhouse, and Pietro's Italian Grill... and I can't afford any of them.
- 90-95% of the messages I preach come from forcing myself each time to see something I haven't seen before in God, life, and people so I can share that with others. That's not easy, and it bothers me when I see other pastors not doing that or stealing their messages from other places and people. Sure, there's 5%-10% that I've repeated, whether it's a message I've preached before (which is rare - even when I use a title from a series I've done before I feel like I'm cheating if I teach the same message), or something I really was inspired by from a favorite teacher of mine and want to share.
But 100% of the messages I share are rooted in the Bible, whether they are fresh out of my life or something I've re-wrestled with for the people I hope to present it to.
I'm sharing that not to brag or sound like I'm "all that and a bag of chips," but because this is why I take it hard when someone tells me a message didn't do it for them... or that it's not "deep" enough... or that I need to be more like _______. Seriously? Good grief. If it comes from the Bible and the Bible is presented, then maybe the "miss" isn't always in the offering... maybe it's in the receiving.
Yeah, I could be a better teacher. I work on that all the time. But it's not about being a teacher who gets applause... it's about being an invisible waiter so that at the end of a message I haven't charmed someone with a clever sales pitch but have forced them to wrestle with God - so that all week long they aren't thinking about me but talking with Him. That's why every message I share is a challenge for me to step it up from the last time... because lives are on the line and I can't get in the way of it.
- Spending time with my family fills me up. Even when I'm in the middle of a chaotic moment with the kids or a hard conversation with my wife, I wouldn't want to be any other place in the whole world.
- Spending time on Facebook is a way that I blow off some mental steam while connecting with my church, friends, and family. I also enjoy an occasional game of Spider Solitaire, though, when I need to just process a thought and need to relax the deep part of my brain for a moment.
- I'm a sci-fi and heroes fan. But not the weird stuff that's filmed in New Zealand... the stuff that makes you see the world you live in with better eyes. From the Twilight Zone and Lost to Smallville and Heroes - shows and movies that give you permission to suspend how you normally understand life so that you can better understand it when you return to it.
- The most important voices in my life are in this order - God, my wife, my boys, and close-close-close-close-friends. I will listen to other voices, always considering their potential thought, but I've learned through hard experience that most of the time you need to be like Teflon and not let anything stick that God wants you to let slide off.
Some days it's hard to do that. Today is one of those days.
- I wish I had the chance to "speak" more than I do. Granted, I've had some great opportunities on a national and local level that have been simply amazing. And I write professionally, which gives me that voice as well. But I always feel like I'm prostituting myself when I ask for the chance to speak somewhere... so often I don't. And I feel like a lot of life lessons and ministry principles I can offer get bottled up and put on the shelf.
That's one reason I'm launching a new blog (in addition to this one) in about a week. It will let me dump out "those thoughts" in a productive way.
But hey - if you want me to come speak sometime, I'm game.
- Jesus Christ changed my life... not because "that worked for me" but because Jesus Christ changed my life. Seriously, that is something so powerful that I can't even begin to find words for it.
And He can change your life, too, if you stop playing games.
So stop playing games.